U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal was rejected once again by Parliament, throwing the country deeper into political crisis and raising the prospect that the divorce will be delayed or even reversed.
May's deal -- renegotiated late on Monday night -- was defeated by 391 votes to 242. That was less than the record 230-vote margin she suffered in January, but still a resounding repudiation of two years of painstaking work.
With the deal all but dead, Parliament will probably vote to postpone Brexit later this week, and lawmakers -- including some of May's own Cabinet -- will likely try to maneuver to force the government to rip up its Brexit plans and start again.
Members of Parliament are expected to move on Wednesday to take the chaotic no-deal option off the table. May told Parliament she will offer a free vote, meaning the government will not whip Conservative lawmakers to take a particular side.
But there's a risk all they manage to do is postpone the drama for another few months. It was notable that she included a second referendum on Brexit among the choices Parliament may face in coming months. The pound pared losses after May spoke.
May's job, which she has clung to through one crisis after another, is now in greater peril than ever.
May herself has said that if her deal was rejected, Parliament would force the U.K. to maintain closer ties with the bloc in a betrayal of the referendum result of 2016. She's also warned of the risk that the divorce would be stopped altogether. Campaigners are pushing for a second referendum and could use an extension to the exit day to push for one.
The prime minister wielded the threat of Brexit being blocked to try to get hardline Brexit backers to support her deal. But in the end it wasn't enough. They object to her deal more than they fear a rerun of the referendum. That's because they see a risk that the agreement will keep the U.K. chained to EU rules forever, and consider that even worse than membership.
May was sent back to Brussels to renegotiate the deal and while she didn't come back with what she wanted, she did secure some key tweaks.
Dashed Hopes For Brexit Vote
But hopes they would swing skeptical lawmakers behind her were quickly dashed. First, Attorney General Geoffrey Cox issued new legal advice warning that the risks hadn't changed for the U.K. Then the pro-Brexit European Research Group of Tories urged Conservatives not to support May's new exit agreement, and the Democratic Unionist Party, which props up May's minority Tory government, also criticized it.
With just 17 days left until the U.K.'s scheduled departure date, talks have been stuck on the same issue that has blocked progress for the past year: the backup plan intended to ensure there's never any need for customs checks at the land border between Ireland and the U.K.
Pro-Brexit politicians in May's Tory party insist that the plan -- known as the backstop -- threatens to trap the U.K. inside the EU's trade regime forever, because it would be impossible for Britain to leave. In his legal advice on the revised deal, Cox said the risk of this has been reduced, but not eliminated.
Attempting to pass the so-called Green New Deal in Congress could hold political peril for the Democratic Party in 2020, a new IBD/TIPP Poll suggests.
Partisan Divide Over Green New Deal
Among those queried by the poll, 43% said they would be "less likely to vote for" a candidate who supported the Green New Deal, or GND. Just 30% said they would be "more likely" to do so. Another 25% said it wouldn't affect their decision.
Not surprisingly, a sharp partisan split exists among those who took part in the poll.
"Americans divide on party lines when it comes to the Green New Deal," said Raghavan Mayur, president of TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence, which conducted the poll.
"Democrats and Republicans are diametrically opposite on what they believe will be the impact of the Green New Deal on jobs," he said. "Democrats believe it will help job creation, while Republicans think it will hurt. While it may perk up support of Democratic candidates who favor it, overall it may hurt. Independents are more likely to view Green New Deal candidates in an unfavorable light."
The numbers tell the story. Among Republicans, 77% said they'd be less likely to vote for a Green New Deal supporter. Just 3% said it would make them more likely to vote for the candidate. Meanwhile, 56% of Democrats said they'd be more likely to vote for a GND supporter, versus just 7% who said they wouldn't. Among independents, who now make up more than a third of the electorate, 41% said they would be less likely to vote for a Green New Deal candidate, versus 35% that said they'd be more likely.
Green New Deal: Like WWII?
The poll of 909 adults nationwide took place from Feb. 21 to March 2. IBD/TIPP asked whether they would be more likely or less likely to vote for a candidate that supported the Democrats' New Green Deal. The IBD/TIPP Poll only counted responses from those who said they were following the New Green Deal "closely."
The far-reaching Green New Deal resolution released by Democrats calls for a "new national, social, industrial, and economic mobilization on a scale not seen since World War II and the New Deal."
Its key element promises a transition to "clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources" in just 10 years, along with getting rid of all greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, manufacturing and farming. It would also seek to upgrade all buildings for "maximal energy efficiency." Just as important, it vows to provide jobs and health care for all.
But a plurality of those answering the IBD/TIPP Poll — 43% — said the Green New Deal plan would lose jobs, while 36% said it would create jobs. Again, the partisan split was stark: 79% of Republicans thought GND would lose jobs. Only 9% thought it would create them. Among Democrats, just 7% thought it would lose jobs, versus 61% who thought it would create them. As usual, independents stood somewhere in the middle: 39% said it would lose jobs, but a slim plurality of 42% said it would create them.
A significant share also questioned the intent behind the Green New Deal. Some 37% agreed that "the proposal is really ... aimed at placing private industry and production under government control," not combating climate change. A slight plurality, 39%, disagreed, including 22% of Republicans, 45% of independents and 53% of Democrats.
Placed in context, the CBO has estimated that total government spending over the next decade will be roughly $57.82 trillion, with government taking an amount roughly equal to 22% of total estimated GDP during that time. The Green New Deal could raise the government's share of the economy to as much as 57% and require an increase in taxes of 160%.
However, Green New Deal supporters say that climate change is such a grave threat that extraordinary measures must be taken, regardless of the cost.
As of yet, there is only a resolution to support a New Green Deal, but no actual legislation with details. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has signaled little enthusiasm for pushing forward with the idea.
With the government shutdown over and the prospect of a wide-ranging China trade deal, the nation's mood has brightened considerably. Reflecting this, President Donald Trump approval ratings snapped back smartly in March after dropping sharply the month before, a new IBD/TIPP Poll shows.
The March poll showed across-the-board strong gains in key IBD/TIPP confidence indexes and subindexes. Among the biggest gainers in March were Presidential Leadership (up 9.2%), Federal Policies (14.3%), U.S. Standing in the World (10.7%), Morals and Ethics (17.4%) and, largest of all, Direction of the Country (27.6%).
Overall job favorability for President Trump rose two percentage points, from 39% in February to 41% in March. Meanwhile, his job disapproval dropped from 57% to 53% in March.
On a separate leadership measure, the president's net favorability rating improved to -9, as 42% held a favorable opinion of Trump's leadership, up from 40% in February. Meanwhile 51% held an unfavorable view. March's -9 net favorability is a sharp gain from February's -15.
Trump also improved sharply in the IBD/TIPP Presidential Leadership Index. That measure, exclusive to IBD/TIPP, combines questions on presidential approval, favorability and leadership. The index rose 7.2% to 44.9 in March, from 41.9 in February, when it fell 4.8%.
IBD/TIPP: Direction Of The Country
Elsewhere, in February, just 35% said they were satisfied with the direction of the country, while 63% were dissatisfied, the IBD/TIPP Poll said. But in March, that key measure of national well-being jumped back up to 46%, up 11, while dissatisfaction dropped 10 points to 53%. Likewise, the Federal Policies component, often below the make-or-break level of 50, surged 14.3% to 52.9 in March from 46.3 in February.
Why the big turnaround? The end of the shutdown no doubt played a major role, as did news that China and the U.S. might be close to a comprehensive trade deal. China trade deal optimism has fueled the current stock market rally. President Trump may have also gotten a boost from his meeting with North Korea's Kim Jong Un in Hanoi.
"The government shutdown is already fading in people's memories — a big reason for improvement in Trump approval," said Raghavan Mayur, president of TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence, which conducts the monthly IBD/TIPP Poll. "President Trump performed better among 17 of the 24 segments we track. Large improvements came from households with $50K to $75K incomes and Conservatives. The negative press Trump got from Michael Cohen hearings has been largely neutralized by his meeting with Kim Jong Un."
In February, IBD/TIPP asked Americans to grade President Trump on how he was doing in budget talks with Congress. Just 31% of those queried gave him a grade of A or B, while 54% gave him a D or an F.
In March, 35% gave Trump an A or B, while 50% gave him a D or an F. Still, while his grades improved, neither Democrats nor independents give Trump high marks in his negotiations with Congress over the budget, despite the end of the shutdown.
While 79% of Republicans gave Trump grades of A or B, just 3% of Democrats and 29% of independents did.
That even appeared to have an impact on the monthly question about the direction of "morals and ethics" in the country. That index rose 17.4% to 29 from 24.7.
"The economic picture showed better clarity in February," IBD/TIPP's Mayur added. "Americans are expecting a trade deal with China soon. The stock market has had a good run-up in January and February. The job market is still strong. Gasoline prices are stable. All these factors go to help stabilize approval ratings for President Trump."
Socialism Takes A Hit
The IBD/TIPP Poll also asked respondents a series of general policy questions, mainly having to do with the current national debate over the role of government in the economy.
A key finding: The Democratic Party's embrace of policies that some have described as socialist took a hit. President Trump, in particular, has hit on this theme repeatedly in recent days.
Some 55% of Americans said they had an "unfavorable" view of socialism, vs. 20% who called their view favorable. 22% said they didn't know enough to have a definite opinion.
But, as often the case, Republicans and Democrats split sharply on the question. Some 40% of Democrats said they had a favorable opinion of socialism, while 24% viewed it unfavorably. And 32% said they didn't know enough to have an opinion.
Republicans, not surprisingly, represented the other edge of the political spectrum on this question. Just 3% called their view of socialism "favorable," while 84% called it unfavorable. Once again, independents came somewhere in between, with just 21% favorable to socialism, and 54% unfavorable.
IBD/TIPP also asked Americans how they felt about capitalism, the free-market idea most associated with the U.S.
Overall, 54% had a favorable view, while only 18% had an unfavorable view. But once again, data show a clear partisan split.
Just 39% of Democrats had a favorable view of capitalism, while 26% called it unfavorable. And 29% said "they're not familiar enough" with capitalism to say one way or the other. And, surprisingly, more Democrats had an unfavorable opinion of capitalism than of socialism.
Among Republicans, 76% had a favorable view of capitalism, while 7% called it unfavorable. And 15% weren't familiar enough with capitalism to have an opinion. Among independents, 57% were favorable, while 21% were unfavorable.
How Much Government Do We Want?
The IBD/TIPP Poll also asked a number of questions intended to find out how Americans feel about the size and scope of government.
When asked if they were "willing to pay higher taxes in order to support more social programs," 53% disagreed while just 32% agreed. As usual, the Republican-Democrat split was wide, with just 8% of GOP members saying they would be willing to pay more taxes, compared to 57% of Democrats and 32% of independents.
In another question, the poll asked respondents whether they "believe the government should control or own key industries such as health care and energy?"
Some 60% disagreed, while just 22% agreed. But 40% of Democrats supported the idea, compared to just 8% of Republicans and 20% of independents.
Another strong response came to a question whether it was the government's "role to redistribute wealth and income."
On that question, 57% said no, and 23% said yes. Among Democrats, 44% supported the idea, while just 10% of Republicans and 19% of independents did.
Which Way Will U.S. Go?
IBD also asked Americans whether they felt the U.S. was "evolving into a socialist state?"
In a response that might cheer up free-market supporters, 50% disagreed, and just 21% agreed. And all three major political groups were fairly close to one another in their view. No group showed a big belief that socialism was in the U.S.' future, though a large component of people overall — roughly 25% of those who answered — indicated no strong feeling either way.
Finally, by a whopping 66% to 24% margin, Americans said the economy performs better with "less government control" than with "more government control." Only among Democrats did "more government control" beat "less government control," by 45% to 37%.
Methodology: IBD/TIPP conducted the March poll from Feb. 21 to March 2. It includes responses from 907 adults nationwide, who were asked questions by live interviewers on phones. The poll's margin of error is +/-3.3 percentage points. (Toplines from the poll will be posted here later this week.)
The IBD/TIPP Poll has been credited as being the most accurate poll in the past four presidential elections, and was one of only two that correctly predicted the outcome of the November 2016 presidential election.
Each month, the IBD/TIPP Poll, a collaboration between Investor's Business Daily and TechnoMetrica, produces an exclusive Presidential Leadership Index. In addition to tracking President Donald Trump's job approval rating, the index combines results from several questions in the monthly IBD/TIPP Poll to gauge how well the president is viewed when it comes to leading the country, both domestically and internationally.
The index includes questions on presidential job approval, favorability measures on the president's handling of domestic and foreign policy issues, and whether the president is providing strong or weak leadership.
In addition, IBD/TIPP each month asks questions focused on the public's outlook overall. These questions gauge satisfaction with the direction of the country, respondents' quality of life, and the United States' standing in the world.
The IBD/TIPP Presidential Leadership Index rose 7.2% in March to 44.9, more than erasing February's 4.8% decline. The highest reading President Trump has scored on this index was in his first full month in office, when it stood at 49.2. The lowest came in August 2017, when it fell to 35.9.
The Leadership Index comprises three subindexes measuring the president's favorability (up 5.4% in February), job approval (up 7.2%), and whether he is providing strong leadership (up 9.2%).
Presidential Job Approval
The March poll found that President Trump's job approval rose 2 points, with 41% saying they approve of the job he's doing. Fifty-three percent say they disapprove of the job he's doing, which is down four points from February.
Direction Of The Country
The Direction of the Country Index surged 27.6% to 44.8 in March, after plunging by 12.3% in February. This index is now back above its 17-year average of 41.7. It's also above the average of 37 under President Obama. Anything under 50 registers dissatisfaction with the direction of the country.
Quality Of Life
The Quality of Life Index also rose in March, growing 5.1% to 61.4 after dropping by 1.4% in February. It remains above the average for this index under President Obama, which was 53.7. Unlike other measures, the Quality of Life Index has been relatively steady over the past 17 years.
Standing In The World
The Standing in the World Index rose 10.7% to 45.6 after dropping for four-straight months. It's now just above the 17-year average for this index of 45.5. It averaged 42.6 under Obama. Over the past 17 years, the highest this index ever reached was immediately after 9/11, when it hit 74.9.
While many people in the media and scientific community claim the climate change science is settled, do the facts back that up? Derisively called "deniers," climate change skeptics continue to challenge the so-called conventional wisdom, asking "Is global warming a hoax? Is man-made global warming the dire threat environmentalists claim?"
Recent global warming agreements brokered by the U.N. seek steep reductions in world C02 output to slow the presumed warming of the earth's atmosphere, while also seeking alterations in the economy that would move energy sources away from fossil fuels toward renewable natural energy.
But a growing contingent of scientists and economists call into question the climate change dogma, saying that the temperature data show no clear recent warming and noting that the benefits of global warming, if it existed, might be greater than the costs. This split will define the political debate in the near term.
Former president Barack Obama and most of the Democratic Party signed on eagerly to the U.N. agenda, which entails major reductions in the size of the U.S. economy.
President Donald Trump, by naming a Cabinet filled with energy executives and global warming skeptics, has made his policy far more friendly toward conventional fossil fuels than Obama's was.
Is Global Warming A Hoax? Or Is Climate Change Real?
Get our latest coverage of the great global warming debate.
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"This is the flip side (of) tax the rich, tax the rich, tax the rich. The rich leave, and now what do you do?" said New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Feb. 4.
After the Trump tax cut went into effect one year ago, we predicted that the Trump tax reform would supercharge the national economy but could cause big financial problems for the highest-tax states: New Jersey, Illinois, Connecticut, and New York.
The capping of the state and local tax deduction at $10,000 raised the highest effective state tax rates by about 66% (for example, in New York City, the rate on millionaires rose from about 8% to 13.3%). In New Jersey, the highest rate has risen from 7.5% to 12.75%.
Impact of State and Local Tax Deduction Cap
Now, we have Andrew Cuomo conceding that the trend of rich people moving out of New York has caused the loss of $2.3 billion of tax revenue in Albany's coffers. Cuomo called this tax change "diabolical." We think it was a matter of tax fairness. No longer do residents of low-tax states have to pay higher federal taxes to support the blob of excessive state/local spending and pensions in the blue states.
As we predicted, the wealthy are fleeing these states. The new United Van Lines data were just released that are a good proxy for where Americans are moving to and from. Guess what four states had the highest percentage of leavers in 2018: 1) New Jersey, 2) Illinois, 3) Connecticut and 4) New York. Even high-tax California had more Americans pack up and leave than enter.
Ironically, liberals like Cuomo who argued for years that businesses don't make location decisions based on taxes in their states are now forced to admit that the cap on the state and local tax deduction (which primarily affects the richest 1%) is depleting their state coffers. The rich change their residence by moving for at least 183 days of the year to low taxers such as Arizona, Florida, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.
We advised Cuomo and other blue state governors to immediately cut their tax rates if they wanted to remain even semi-competitive with low-tax states. They are doing the opposite. Connecticut, Illinois and New Jersey have led the nation in tax increases on the rich over the last three years, while "progressives" have cheered them on.
Last year, legislators in Trenton went on a taxing spree, raising the income tax on those making more than $5 million a year to 10.75% -- now the third-highest in the country -- and then enacting a health care individual mandate tax on workers, a corporate rate increase and an option for localities to impose a payroll tax on businesses. And they are still short of cash. Idiotically, these tax hikes were passed after the state and local tax deduction cap was enacted, thus pouring gasoline on their fiscal fires.
How has this worked out for them?
Deficits Growing In High-Tax States
In addition to New York's fiscal woes, the deficit in Illinois is pegged at $2.8 billion (with a $7.8 billion backlog of unpaid bills), and Connecticut faces a two-year $4 billion shortfall despite three tax increases in five years.
New Jersey has a $500 million deficit this year (even after the biggest tax hike in the state's history) and Moody's predicts that gap will widen to $3 billion over the next five years. This is all happening at a time when most states have healthy and unexpected surplus revenues due to the Trump economic boom and the historic decline in unemployment.
A Pew study published late last year on which states are bleeding the most red ink ranked New Jersey worst, Illinois second worst and Connecticut seventh worst. New York was also in the bottom 10.
Let us state this loud and clear in the hopes that lawmakers in state capitals across the country are paying attention: The three states that have raised their taxes the most now have the worst fiscal outlook.
Worst of all, things don't look like they are going to get better in any of these states.
More Taxes To Come
Last fall, Connecticut, Illinois and New Jersey voters elected mega-rich Democratic Govs. Ned Lamont, J.B. Pritzker and Phil Murphy, who have promised to sock it to the rich -- the ones who haven't yet left. In Illinois, Pritzker would eliminate the state's constitutionally protected flat tax so that he can raise the income tax on the rich by as much as 50%. After raising income taxes three times in the last five years, Connecticut's legislature now wants to raise the sales tax rate. No one in any of these progressive states even dares utter the words tax cut. In just one decade, New York lost 1.3 million net residents; Illinois 717,000, New Jersey 516,000 and Connecticut 176,000. California has lost 929,000.
There is also a useful warning for the soak-the-rich crowd of progressives in Washington. If a rise in the state tax rate from 8% to 13% because of the state and local tax deduction cap can have this big and immediate negative impact, think of the economic carnage from doubling of the federal tax rate from 37% to 70% as some want to do. The wealthy would relocate their wealth and income in low-tax havens like Hong Kong, the Cayman Islands and Ireland. That would do wonders for the middle class living in those countries.
We are sticking with our warnings from last year. If the four states of the Apocalypse -- Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey and New York -- do not reverse their taxing ways and choose to keep making things worse, these once very rich and prosperous states will see thousands more rich taxpayers leave. The politicians in these states just don't seem to understand math. A soak-the-rich tax rate of 8%, 10% or even 13% on income of zero yields zero income when the wealthy leave the state. Cuomo was right: The bleak outlook for the four states of apocalypse is "as serious as a heart attack."
Moore is a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and an economic consultant with FreedomWorks. He is the co-author of "Trumponomics: Inside the America First Plan to Revive the American Economy."
Environmentalism: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has declared herself "boss" of the "Green New Deal." Maybe she can explain were the money will come from to pay its $93 trillion cost. Because taxing the rich won't even scratch the surface.
At an event on Friday, Ocasio-Cortez complained about criticism of the Green New Deal — much of it coming from her own party — that it's a pipe dream. Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, for example, said that "there are things that are great goals, but are unrealistic."
Ocasio-Cortez's response: "Some people are like, 'Oh, it's unrealistic, oh it's fake, oh it doesn't address this little minute thing. And I'm like, 'You try! You do it.' 'Cause you're not. 'Cause you're not. So, until you do it, I'm the boss. How 'bout that?"
Try to do what? Come up with an equally unrealistic plan that would bankrupt the nation? Because that's precisely what the Green New Deal would do.
Green New Deal's Gargantuan Price Tag
A new analysis from the American Action Forum finds that the Green New Deal, as laid out by New York Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey, would cost up to $93 trillion in the first ten years.
Remember, the GND isn't just about converting the entire U.S. energy supply to renewable energy in a decade and establishing a "zero emissions transportation system."
The plan also includes things like "guaranteed" federal jobs, "universal health care," and "food security."
Beyond the bumper-sticker labels, the grandiose plan is vague on any of the details. Still, the AAF, which is headed up by former Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin, was able to rough out the 10-year costs for each of the proposals.
A zero-carbon electricity grid would cost $5.4 trillion, the AAF calculates. A "zero-emissions transportation system," an additional $1.3-$2.7 trillion. "Guaranteed green housing" will cost anywhere from $1.6 trillion to $4.2 trillion.
Despite the GND's name, it's the proposals that have nothing to do with climate change that cost the most. The price tag for a federal guaranteed jobs program could run as much as $44.6 trillion over the next decade. The "universal health care" plan? $36 trillion.
Cost Will Likely Be Higher
If anything, these are lowball estimates.
To calculate the cost of converting to 100% renewable energy, for example, the authors simply assume that no new transmission lines would be needed, and that much of the renewable energy would come from nuclear power. Neither is realistic.
The price tag for a nationwide high-speed rail system that could replace airplanes doesn't factor in the massive cost overruns endemic to every other government infrastructure project — and which are wrecking California's attempt to build its own bullet train.
The $36 trillion cost for "universal health care" is in line with other estimates for "Medicare for all." And as we've noted in this space, those are lowball figures.
All told, the cost of the "green" part of the Green New Deal would run from $8.3 trillion to $12.3 trillion over the next 10 years, according to the AAF report. The rest of it would cost an additional $42.8 trillion to $80.6 trillion.
Let's put this in perspective. At the low end, the GND would more than double the size of the federal government.
At the high end — roughly $9 trillion a year — even taking every single penny earned by tax filers with adjusted gross incomes over $50,000 would not be enough money to pay the costs.
Looked at another way, economists expect the entire U.S. gross domestic product over the next decade to total $266 trillion.
More Than A Third Of GDP
That means the Green New Deal would account for up to 35% of the nation's economy from 2020 to 2029. That's on top of existing federal government programs, which already consume more than 20% of GDP each year.
To call this "unrealistic" is the understatement of the year. It would be cataclysmic.
What's most shocking about the Green New Deal, however, isn't the unprecedented economic destruction it would cause. Nor is the fact that it will do nothing to prevent "climate change" from happening. Nor the fact that a 29-year-old socialist and her legions of followers think this would be neat.
What's most shocking about the Green New Deal is that so many leading Democrats, many of whom very much hope one day to be president, are blindly embracing it.
Socialism: "Maduro must go," Vice President Mike Pence said, following talks with Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido about how to best get rid of that country's socialist dictator who has presided over the collapse of a once-wealthy country. Pence is right of course. But it may be easier said than done.
President Trump supports Guaido "100%", Pence said. And on this major diplomatic point, Trump's not alone. Some 50 countries support Guaido as the legitimate leader of troubled Venezuela, given that the previous election of President Nicolas Maduro was clearly fraudulent and rigged.
And, indeed, Guaido is legitimate. He's the leader of Venezuela's National Assembly. He became acting president after , sensationally declared himself acting president in January after the legislature declared Maduro's election fraudulent. Under Venezuelan law, the National Assembly can name a new president.
But getting Maduro to go might be tough. The greatest concern is that, as with Italy during World War II, Maduro will be forced out and left to the tender mercies of an angry mob. Not the ideal way to start anew if you're a hopeful, forward-looking nation.
That's why the Trump-Pence plan to tighten sanctions — and to use diplomacy to get others to go along — is the best we can hope for, at least for now. Latin American nations, because of the U.S.' reputation for both being powerful and willing to involve itself in others' affairs, are wary about supporting the U.S. in taking more concrete action.
Maduro: A Cruel Regime
This is not really about politics, at least not at this point. Millions of Venezuelans are suffering horribly from Maduro's insane rule. He's murdered his own citizens, starved them, deprived them of medicine, destroyed much of the economy, and, worst of all, left them with no hope. He's now attacking aid convoys, and destroying food and medicine. He has utterly destroyed any legitimacy that he might have claimed.
Worse, the impact of Maduro's policies aren't limited to Venezuela. They're having a major impact on his neighbors and on the U.S., which have all had to bear the brunt of a massive exodus of Venezuelans citizens.
Many, if not most, of the professional class has left, according to various political reports. Over three million people, going on four million. Soon no one will be left to run the shambles of an economy that Maduro, and his socialist predecessor Hugo Chavez, created.
That remark echoed Guaido, who earlier vowed that "all measures" would be considered. That, along with Pence's remarks, mean a military intervention might be in the cards. Maduro should take the hint.
Unfortunately, Venezuela's neighbors, though plainly fed up with Maduro's crazy and destructive rule, aren't on board yet. The 14-nation Lima Group, formed in 2017 to help return Venezuela to democracy, has consistently pledged to pursue a peaceful resolution to the crisis.
But what if Maduro, who has shown a survivor's instinct in maintaining his grip on power, doesn't relent? How many of his own citizens will his neighbors allow him to kill? How many refugees from Venezuela will be too many? It's not clear.
What is clear is this is a dangerous time. It's complicated by the fact that both Cuba and its long-time patron, Russia, have suggested they might act in solidarity with their socialist brother, Maduro. And in Russia's case, seeing the U.S. struggle is partial payback for the U.S.' aid and military support for Ukraine, the Czech Republic and Poland, neighbors that have all sought closer ties to Europe and the U.S.
Lima Group's Vital Role
"To leaders around the world: It's time. There can be no bystanders in Venezuela's struggle for freedom," Pence told the Lima Group at a crisis meeting held in Bogota, Colombia.
There's still time for diplomacy, but the time is running short. If things get worse, the U.S. may have to do the once unthinkable: military action. Knowing the region's history and sensitivities, it's unwise to act without the explicit approval of Venezuela's neighbors.
If not, we will have to continue to encourage and support Venezuela's opposition and its military to abandon Maduro before it's too late. Because when this kind of suffering and chaos is taking place, it's a far greater sin to do nothing than to take action.
Just before the holidays, Senator John Barrasso, R-Wyo., pointed to innovation as our best hope to curb carbon emissions. "Technology breakthroughs," he said, "have led to an American energy renaissance and a growing economy."
Senator Barrasso is absolutely right: Technology has improved the quality of American life and American energy consumption. Only by embracing tomorrow's solutions can we begin to solve today's most pressing problems.
While many innovators have turned their attention to carbon emissions, some are turning to the stars for answers. Literally.
Nuclear fusion — the same process that powers our sun — is being replicated in labs around the world. To say that our economy may soon be powered by man-made stars sounds like science fiction, but such is the beauty of innovation. After all, today's energy sources look much different than they did a century ago.
In 1908, coal accounted for three-quarters of total U.S. energy consumption. In the 1940's and 50's, cities like Pittsburgh and Chicago had to turn street lights on in the middle of the day because clouds of soot blotted out the sun. Today, coal accounts for just 14% of total energy consumption in the U.S. — an 82% reduction. These reductions were made possible in large part by innovative alternative energy sources such as hydro, nuclear, natural gas, solar, and wind power.
Fusion Power: Truly Green Energy
Fusion power could likely be the next source of energy added to that list.
Currently, all nuclear power is created through a process known as nuclear fission. While it sounds a lot like fusion, there is one major difference between the two. In a fission reaction, energy is created when a large atom, like uranium, becomes unstable and splits. Fusion, on the other hand, produces energy by combining atoms under intense pressure and heat to produce a much more powerful nuclear reaction.
This process produces four million times more energy than coal and four times more energy than current nuclear fission processes of equivalent mass. And unlike nuclear fission, fusion does not produce any long-term, highly radioactive waste.
There are a number of scientists working to make fusion a reality. ITER, a multi-nation backed fusion reactor in France, plans to see results from its fusion reactor by 2025. Commonwealth Fusion Systems, a group of engineers from MIT, is working on a scalable fusion reactor design that they expect to be able to prototype in the next 15 years. CFS has received millions in private funding from various groups, including an energy investment company backed by investors including Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos.
There are a handful of other companies as well, all working to find ways to make fusion power a reality.
Advancing On Many Fronts
Combine these efforts with the carbon-mitigating advances being made in nuclear fission technology, carbon capture, natural gas, and battery technology for renewable energy storage and the future of clean energy consumption certainly looks hopeful. As policymakers seek to decarbonize our economy, it is crucial that they recognize the role technology and innovation can and should play in that process.
Beyond the technical difficulty of making fusion power a dependable energy source, however, our current regulatory structures may be just as important a factor in whether or not this technology is ever brought to market. After regulatory burdens were blamed for contributing to delays and cost overruns at two nuclear facilities in the southeast (one of which has been shuttered due to high costs), Congress took steps to streamline the permitting process for fission nuclear reactors.
The Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act, which was passed in December of 2018, requires the Nuclear Regulatory Commission — the group tasked with regulating the nuclear industry — to streamline a permitting process that currently can take 5-10 years to complete. This law may not provide relief for current applicants, but it could set a useful precedent for future regulatory approaches to new technologies.
There is little doubt that innovation will continue to improve the lives of Americans and provide solutions to what may seem to be today's most intractable problems. Nuclear fusion is just one of many moonshots being taken to solve them. If we can get our regulatory posture right today, there's a good chance we may eventually land among the stars.
Isom is a Research Manager at the Center for Growth and Opportunity at Utah State University.
In Foreign Affairs, economists Jason Furman and Lawrence Summers take on "deficit fundamentalists" and assert that "it's time for Washington to put away its debt obsession."
To which even casual observers may respond, "what debt obsession?"
In the past two years, the President and Congress have enacted $2.5 trillion in tax cuts and another $2.5 trillion in higher discretionary spending (assuming both are fully extended over the decade). Annual budget deficits are about to surpass $1 trillion and are on their way to $2 trillion within a decade.
The national debt has more than doubled from $10 trillion to $21 trillion since 2008, and is projected to surpass $37 trillion within the next decade. Over the next 30 years, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) forecasts an $84 trillion avalanche of new debt.
And against that backdrop, Republicans are proposing even more tax cuts, while leading Democrats are proposing a staggering spending spree that would cost $42.5 trillion over the decade, and $218 trillion over 30 years.
Washington's only "debt obsession" is to increase debt.
Both economists are highly respected and accomplished. Furman was the top economist in the Obama White House, and Summers served as Treasury Secretary under President Clinton. While they have long provided valuable economic research, their assertion that Washington should worry less about skyrocketing debt is mistaken and potentially dangerous.
The crux of their argument is that low interest rates make servicing national debt generally affordable for taxpayers, and that a growing federal debt will not crowd out investment or significantly burden taxpayers with interest costs.
Indeed, interest rates have remained low even as the debt has grown from 39% to 78% of GDP over the past decade. Yet the interest costs are projected to increase rapidly even if rates remain low.
Soaring Interest Payments
Interest on the national debt — which cost taxpayers $263 billion in 2017 — is set to soar past $1 trillion by 2029 under the CBO's current-policy baseline. That is $1 trillion in federal spending that will not feed any children, provide medical care for any seniors, maintain any infrastructure, or assist any troop.
Within three decades, CBO projects that interest on the national debt will match Social Security as the largest federal expenditure — larger than Medicare, and twice as large as defense. By that point, one-third of all federal taxes will go to paying interest on the debt.
Remarkably, these 30-year numbers are the rosy scenario. They assume the 2017 tax cuts expire, discretionary spending is slashed, no entitlements are expanded, and the economy does not experience another recession. The more plausible outcome is even more debt and higher interest costs.
These estimates also assume that the average interest rate paid on the federal debt — which averaged 6.9% in the 1990s and 4.8% in the 2000s — will never again rise above 4.4 percent despite all the new debt.
Hopefully, Furman and Summers are correct that rising debt will not push up interest rates. But what if they are wrong? CBO estimatesthat each one percentage point rise in interest rates adds $1.8 trillion in higher interest expenses over the decade — similar in cost to the 2017 tax cuts.
Gambling On Low Interest Rates
Over 30 years, each one percentage point interest rate increase adds roughly one percent of GDP in budgetary interest costs. So a 3-percentage point interest rate increase would cost taxpayers as much as an additional Defense Department. It would be extraordinarily irresponsible for Washington to continue borrowing at this rapid pace on the hope that interest rates remain low forever.
Furman and Summers claim that long-term deficits are primarily driven by tax cuts and collapsing revenues, rather than rising entitlement costs. The CBO clearly shows otherwise.
Let's begin in 2000, which was the last year before budget surpluses were compromised by tax cuts, 9/11 costs, and retiring baby boomers. CBO projects that, between 2000 and 2048, spending on Social Security and health entitlements will surge from 7.1% to 15.5% of GDP.
Don't Blame Tax Cuts For Deficits
By contrast, tax revenues — which were 20% of GDP in bubble-inflated 2000 — are set to average 18% of GDP (or 17.5% if the 2017 tax cuts are extended) between 2000 and 2048. Clearly the 8.4% of GDP entitlement cost increase is driving deficits much more than a revenue dip of, at most, 2.5% of GDP.
The authors contend that post-2000, tax cuts have robbed what would have been a 3% increase in GDP revenue due to "real bracket creep," whereby rising inflation-adjusted incomes push families into ever-higher tax brackets.
Setting aside whether cancelling these automatic tax rate increases should be classified as pure tax cuts, the fact remains that 3% of GDP in tax cuts are still dwarfed by an 8.4% of GDP entitlement cost increase. It is simply not true that falling revenues or tax cuts are the lead drivers of long-term deficits.
Moving on to policy recommendations, the authors seem a bit muddled. As background, the debt has risen from 39% to 78% of GDP over the past decade, and is projected by CBO to surpass 150% of GDP within the next three decades, even if the 2017 tax cuts expire.
On the one hand, Furman and Summers see no problem with this trendline. They assert that "politicians and policymakers should focus on urgent social problems, not deficits." They add that cutting entitlements "is a mistake," that Social Security should not be cut at all, and that a laundry list of liberal initiatives means that "the federal government will clearly have to spend a lot more."
In fact, they advocate a "simple approach" that keeps the debt on a path to 150% of GDP. Budgetary offsets would be required only of additional tax and spending legislation on top of this trendline — and only during periods of economic growth.
Furman and Summers describe this path — with a debt-to-GDP ratio that grows forever — as "sustainable." Yet in the same article, they admit that the "debt cannot be allowed to grow forever" and "it would be imprudent to allow the debt-to-GDP ratio to rise forever in an uncertain world."
Confusion Over Debt
Therefore "it would be prudent to keep government debt in check in case they turn out to be more harmful than expected." It is not clear how they reconcile these seemingly contradictory frameworks.
Furthermore, while asserting that "the federal government needs to raise more revenue" to pay for these additional initiatives, the authors do not grapple with the lack of any plausible tax options that could finance even a fraction of the $42 trillion liberal wish list. Nor do they identify what remaining tax options — after financing some of this wish list — would remain available to address the underlying baseline deficits in the event that a debt crisis eventually does occur.
What's Worth Paying For?
Finally, the authors assert that all new initiatives should be offset because "if something is truly worth doing, it should be worth paying for." Yet they undermine themselves in the next paragraph by suggesting exemptions for their own priorities.
Furthermore, why does the principle of "if something is truly worth doing, it should be worth paying for" apply only to new initiatives? Aren't existing programs like Social Security and Medicare — which face enormous cash shortfalls moving forward — also worth paying for?
Don't Encourage Irresponsible Lawmakers
Furman and Summers are undoubtedly brilliant economists. Yet encouraging Washington to worry less about deficits represents both dangerous policy and dangerous politics.
On policy, it is reckless for Washington to make long-term spending commitments — and refuse to phase-in spending restraint — on the hope that interest rates will remain low forever. The interest costs on the national debt are set to soar even with low interest rates and it would be extraordinarily expensive and painful to impose deep fiscal consolidations down the road if America does hit a debt crisis.
An ounce of prevention is indeed worth a pound of cure. Just ask Greece.
On politics, Washington just cut taxes by $2.5 trillion, increased spending by $2.5 trillion, and has a party promoting an unprecedented $40 trillion spending spree. All the spenders need is an academic justification for their dangerous political pandering.
Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) — which encourages funding new initiatives by printing money — is increasingly popular in Washington because it gives politicians permission to ignore trade-offs and be irresponsible.
The authors admirably criticize MMT, yet their assertion that "politicians should not let large deficits deter them" from expensive initiatives has the same effect. Any nuance will be ignored, and Washington will stampede towards irresponsibility – just in time for the 2020 campaign.
Riedl is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. This piece first appeared on the Economics 21 blog at the Manhattan Institute. Follow him on twitter @Brian_Riedl.
As Democrats swing left, it becomes increasingly difficult to imagine what their triumph in the next election would mean for America. The presidential candidates endorse a variety of far-reaching proposals that, if adopted, would represent the largest expansion of government since Lyndon Johnson's Great Society. The added federal spending, taxes or deficits could total hundreds of billions.
Are these sound economic policies or partisan pipe dreams?
Let's review the main proposals. For context, remember the following: The U.S. economy (gross domestic product) is about $20 trillion, so a federal program costing $200 billion would be 1% of GDP. It would also be about 5% of the $4 trillion federal budget.
Federal Spending Galore
Here's the rundown:
Guaranteed job program: Several candidates have proposed creating an employer of last resort to hire anyone who wanted a job but couldn't find one. Economists at Bard College estimated that such a program would initially hire 15 million workers at $15 an hour; health insurance and retirement benefits would add another 20 percent. The initial cost would be around $300 billion annually.
Medicare-for-all: Bernie Sanders proposed this, and it has become a proxy for almost any proposal that attains universal health insurance coverage. Its cost is unclear (in 2017, there were an estimated 27 million uninsured), says a report from PolitiFact of the Poynter Institute. Sanders thinks replacing private insurance with Medicare could cut expenses. Other experts disagree. There would be pressures to sweeten benefits. In a recent New York Times column, economist Paul Krugman wrote that "we'd need a lot more (tax) revenue" to implement for Medicare-for-all.
"The Green New Deal": Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., propose putting the country on a war footing to purge U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions over a decade. The costs aren't known, because the "new deal" manifesto contains no concrete proposals. However, it must be sweeping and expensive if the government is to subsidize "clean" energy and suppress fossil fuels.
Everything else: There are smaller proposals that, in other years, would seem large. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., backs subsidies for child care at an annual cost of $70 billion. Sanders would provide free tuition at state colleges and universities for most students. That's perhaps another $50 billion. Then there's "infrastructure" spending — more billions — and a proposal to raise Social Security benefits.
Counting plausible costs from programs without official estimates, the total could easily equal the existing budget deficit ($779 billion in 2018). The actual amount could be more — or less. No one really knows.
How would Democrats pay for this? Some federal spending would be offset by taxes on the wealthy. Krugman doubts these would suffice. Adopting any major health proposals would probably require sizable increases in "payroll taxes and/or a value-added tax that hit the middle class," he writes.
How To Pay Massive Federal Spending
Of course, there is another choice: more deficit spending. Last week, I tried to educate myself on so-called "modern monetary theory." Embraced by some Democrats, its central thesis seems to be that deficits are not nearly as dangerous as we've been led to believe. Here's the case for that view, as best I can determine.
"The biggest mistake we make is thinking of the federal government as a household" that has to repay its debt, says Stephanie Kelton, an economist at Stony Brook University and an adviser in 2016 to Sanders.
The United States won't default on its governmental debts, because it can always create more dollars — through the Federal Reserve — to honor U.S. Treasury bonds and bills, she says. She rejects the argument that the Fed might generate inflation by flooding the economy with too much money. To prevent that, inflationary pressures can be offset through higher taxes and interest rates, just as occurs today.
Federal Spending and 'Obsession' With Deficits
The obsession with controlling government deficits hinders us in stabilizing the economy and promoting maximum employment, she contends. This may or may not be good economics, but it's certainly expedient. No one likes to raise taxes and cut federal spending, and that may explain why benign neglect of deficits is now going mainstream.
Check out the latest issue of Foreign Affairs. "Washington should end its debt obsession," urge Lawrence Summers and Jason Furman, top economic officials in the Clinton and Obama administrations. Interest rates are low. It's better to borrow and spend on "education, health care and infrastructure."
What's missing from this picture is old-fashioned prudence. True, the government doesn't have to default on its debt in a legal sense. But if financial markets worry about the escalating debt, Treasury bonds will lose value. If the fall in confidence is great enough, it might trigger a panic, made worse by the reality that the dollar is the main international currency.
Our ever-ascending debt increases our vulnerability to a future crisis that we cannot see but, almost certainly, awaits us.
Samuelson has written about business and economic issues for the Washington Post since 1977.
For decades the Supreme Court has entangled itself in Establishment Clause decisions that have been, in the words of Alice in Wonderland, curiouser and curiouser. On Wednesday, it can leaven with clarity the confusion it has sown.
The First Amendment's first words say, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." The court conducts its business after a chant that includes "God save the United States and this honorable court" and both houses of Congress have taxpayer-paid chaplains who pray for divine guidance.
The court has, however, held that any policy or practice by a public entity that touches religion, however marginally, violates the Establishment Clause unless (a) it has a secular purpose and (b) its primary effect neither advances nor inhibits religion and (c) it does not foster excessive government entanglement with religion.
Past Rulings on Religious Freedom
In 1983, the court held, rudely but prudently, that Nebraska's Legislature could continue being prayed over by its paid chaplain, thereby implying that the chaplain negligibly advanced religion. (The First Congress hired a chaplain, but James Madison, principle progenitor of the First Amendment, later said tersely that this "was not with my approbation.")
The court has refereed controversies involving, among many other things, the permissible quantity of religious symbols in Christmas displays on public property, where and what kind of displays of the Ten Commandments are constitutional, and what cannot be said to "solemnize" a high school football game in Texas, where football hardly needs solemnity infusions. The court has held that books but not maps can be provided by public funds to parochial schools, causing the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan to wonder: What about atlases, which are books of maps?
Come Wednesday, the court will worry about a war memorial 4.8 miles away in Bladensburg, Maryland.
Religious Freedom and the Peace Cross
In 1925, the Peace Cross, privately built on land given by the town to an American Legion post, was dedicated to 49 local men killed in World War I, when crosses marked most overseas graves of U.S. dead, regardless of their religious affiliations. Time passed, the population grew, a local government commission acquired the land, which is now in a traffic roundabout. A commemoration event occurs there each Veterans Day. There is no record that a religious event has ever been held at the cross in 94 years.
But a few cranky, persnickety, hairsplitting secularists say, with religious zeal, that the cross is now on public land so the Establishment Clause is violated. A district court affirmed the obvious: Honoring the war dead is a secular purpose. But a divided three-judge circuit court panel reversed. Engaging in something akin to Jesuitical casuistry, two judges said a cross must everywhere and always be a primarily symbol of Jesus' death, and because government provides maintenance for the plot in the roundabout, this cross excessively entangles government with religion.
In 1984, the court added an "endorsement" consideration: Would a commonsensical observer of a government display that includes a symbol with religious overtones — an observer knowing how the display came about — think the government is using it to "endorse" religion?
Getting Closer To Wisdom On Religious Freedom
In 1989 the court sidled even closer to wisdom, with a "coercion" criterion. Rather than ignite tens of thousands of skirmishes aimed at scrubbing all visual religious references to religion from this nation's public spaces (including the names of Corpus Christi, Texas, and Las Cruces, New Mexico), let's say this: Religion is not "established" when a passive monument on government property in no way coerces reasonable, informed passersby to believe, practice or support religion.
It was for reasons of traffic safety that the government in 1961 acquired the ground on which the Bladensburg cross sits. If, 58 years later, a few people in this age of hair-trigger rage choose to be offended by a long-standing monument reflecting the nation's culture and traditions, those people, not the First Amendment, need help. The court should so rule when, sometime before this term ends in June, it announces its decision in this case, as the nine justices sit beneath a frieze that includes a symbol of religion: Moses with the Ten Commandments.
Bladensburg last had the nation's attention because of the shambolic events of Aug. 24, 1814. President James Madison fled from there, where feeble American resistance enabled British soldiers to proceed to torch the president's house and the Capitol. At Wednesday's oral argument, the court, sitting across the street from the Capitol, can begin to tidy up its Establishment Clause jurisprudence that Justice Clarence Thomas correctly says is "in shambles."
Will is a columnist for the Washington Post and a contributor to MSNBC.
In the streets of Caracas, the failed socialist/communist dictator of Venezuela — Nicol?s Maduro — is killing his own people to stay in power. Naturally, he is backed by Russia, China, Iran, Hezbollah and other collectivist dictatorships.
But Maduro is also receiving support from his fellow socialists in the U.S.: Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), left-wing California Rep. Ro Khanna, and other Democrats.
The Free World and the U.S. are backing the legislatively appointed new president of Venezuela — Juan Guaid?, who is president of the national assembly, demonstrating how out of step the U.S. socialists are.
These new Democrat Socialists are also calling for ramping up grievously costly regulations to shut down the fossil fuel industry in the U.S. with their "Green New Deal."
The first New Deal was at least targeting increased jobs in America. The so-called "Green New Deal" would instead kill millions of American jobs with higher cost energy, tripling current costs to American workers, families, and manufacturers, as have similar policies in Germany and elsewhere in Europe.
Reconsidering Climate Change
Alleged global warming isn't happening, and poses no threat of catastrophic results. The fears of former bartender and now Congresswomen Anastasia Ocasio Cortez that the world is ending in 12 years has no basis in fact (see the careful and thorough science to the contrary in " Climate Change Reconsidered II," published by the Heartland Institute).
This confirms once again that Socialism/Communism is a world-wide threat to everything Americans hold dear, not some middle America, home-spun, garden variety, "ah shucks" philosophy.
Throughout the 20th century, socialism failed miserably everywhere it was tried, from the old, now dead, Soviet Union, to North Korea, East Germany, Cuba, and now Venezuela, which used to be the most prosperous country in Latin America. Today it suffers 90% poverty, and starving Venezuelans are rioting in the streets for food.
Meanwhile, the New Socialist Democrats are calling for 70% income tax rates, 77% death (estate) tax rates, increasing payroll taxes to the highest in American history, and a major domestic "wealth" tax, while the bottom half of all workers don't pay federal income taxes, but get paid by the IRS.
Socialism, Destroyer Of Prosperity
That would cause renewed recession, short-circuiting Trump's booming jobs recovery from Obama's long-term stagnation, which has produced the lowest unemployment in decades and renewed pay increases. Not even to mention Socialism.
We are seeking to end the "deep state" of European Union (EU) style bureaucracy that England (Brexit) — as well as old socialist Sweden — have been trying to throw off. Even the EU's OECD member nations have largely abandoned Wealth Taxes — and estate (death) taxes — because of the difficulty in valuing assets and net worth.
Every nation goes through political, intellectual changes — even "revolutions," as has America. We are in the midst of one now with the Pelosi-Schumer/Trump combat over very serious issues of border control, economic growth, international relations and trade, and protecting our nation militarily.
Socialism: Just Say No In 2020
In the midst of this combat for the very soul of capitalist/Judeo-Christian values in America, the last thing we need is a domestic reassertion of failed 20th century, collectivist/atheistic, Socialist values that we fought against in two deadly World Wars, and which have brought even America to the brink of bankruptcy — financially and morally.
Smaller, "right-sized" government with lower taxes and explosive growth of the private sector — greater wealth for all who are willing to work for it — is the American answer.
Uhler is founder and chairman of the National Tax Limitation Committee and National Tax Limitation Foundation (NTLF). He was a contemporary and collaborator with both Ronald Reagan and Milton Friedman in California and across the country.
Ferrara is a senior fellow with NTLF, teaching economics at Kings College in New York. He served in the White House Office of Policy Development under President Reagan, and as associate deputy attorney general of the United States under President George H.W. Bush.
Huawei: When Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday that China's telecom giant Huawei threatens U.S. relations with Europe, it turned heads. Is this a serious fight against a predatory, state-tied telecom behemoth, or just another salvo in the U.S. trade wars with China? Correct answer: Both.
The Trump administration showed it wasn't kidding late last month when it made public its criminal charges against Huawei for allegedly stealing trade secrets, lying to banks about its business, and violating U.S. sanctions law. That the move came just as the U.S. and China met for a crucial round of trade talks may have been mere coincidence, but it doesn't look that way.
Now as the U.S. gets down to the short strokes on a trade deal with China, Huawei has again hit the headlines with Pompeo's comments.
"If a country adopts this and puts it in some of their critical information systems, we won't be able to share information with them," Pompeo told Maria Bartiromo of Fox Business. "In some cases there's a risk — we won't even be able to co-locate American resources, an American embassy and American military outpost."
What's the problem? Plenty. The U.S., in addition to its specific criminal charges, believes that Huawei is the sharp end of China's tech spear. Huawei is now the world's largest maker of cellphone gear. For those who worry about Chinese President Xi Jinping's apparent return to Mao-style totalitarian rule, the idea that he wouldn't use Huawei to spy on the U.S. isn't believable.
Huawei: The 5G Leader
But the U.S.' tough stance is meeting with opposition. The problem is, Huawei is way ahead in developing next-generation 5G technology. The U.S. isn't even close. And other nations want 5G. Now.
"The stakes are high, as the company is positioned to be the dominant player in 5G mobile networks," Dan Blumenthal, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, noted recently. "If Huawei wins this competition against U.S. companies, much of the world's data will pass through the mobile networks of a (Chinese Communist Party)-backed company that does business with the world's most troubling regime."
'High-Tech Police State'
It will also help Xi further cement his "high-tech police state" into place, and put 5G to use in military equipment ahead of the U.S.
The U.S. has pretty much banned Huawei equipment since last August, for national security reasons. While President Trump may soften that prohibition somewhat as a concession during trade talks, Huawei remains a security threat.
As you read this, the annual telecommunications trade show will be taking place in Spain. And U.S. government officials will be there, asking Europe to get tough. It's a tough sell. Germany has already said no to the U.S., and others will follow. So here's a better idea: As former chief judge of the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals Paul Michel argued recently in IBD, maybe the U.S.' best plan would be to stop pursuing mindless antitrust actions against our own best telecommunications companies. Instead, let them compete, for 5G and everything else.
Progressive lawmakers in Congress just rolled out their "Green New Deal," a sweeping bill designed to end America's reliance on fossil fuels. They hope to ultimately eliminate gas-powered cars, airplanes, and even outdoor BBQ grills.
Environmental activists aren't the only ones delighted with the proposal. Petro-state dictators like Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro are grinning too. They know the bill would make Americans dependent on foreign oil and gas production, weaken American influence abroad, and drastically shrink the U.S. economy.
The United States is now the world's leading producer of both oil and natural gas, thanks to the recent revolution in drilling technologies and no thanks to progressives. These innovations such as fracking and horizontal drilling have enabled U.S. firms to recover previously inaccessible oil and natural gas from shale rock formations. Oil production has more than doubled in the last decade. Natural gas production has surged about 50%.
This energy renaissance has reduced electricity and fuel costs for American consumers.
Just as importantly, it has bolstered our national security and expanded our geopolitical influence. The United States recently became a net energy exporter for the first time in decades — a development that has reduced the free world's reliance on fuel from unstable, dictatorial countries like Russia, Iran, and Venezuela.
Death Of The Energy Revolution?
The Green New Deal would undo this energy revolution which America has worked so hard to achieve. In addition to massively subsidizing solar and wind power, it would place enormous restrictions on drilling and fracking. The 14-page document is light on details, but its ultimate goal is clear — effectively eliminate fossil fuels and generate "100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources."
No word from a fan of this plan, presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker, on how exactly this renewable energy production will avoid rolling blackouts in every city and town in America. Perhaps his imaginary drug dealer friend "T-Bone" relayed an invention to Sen. Booker that makes the plan possible.
The Green New Deal would also put many oil and gas firms out of business.
If America gives up its role as the global leader in oil and gas production, hostile foreign governments will gladly take our place and weaponize their energy resources. The bill would transport us back to the 1970s, when the Arab oil embargo brought the U.S. economy to a standstill and caused gas lines and fuel rationing. America produces more than 11 million barrels of oil a day. Removing that supply from global markets would give Putin and his ilk a stranglehold on the entire world economy.
Progressive activists dismiss such concerns, arguing that America will generate almost all its energy from renewable sources and thus be immune to oil market fluctuations. But that's fantasy. Leading researchers doubt it's possible to transition to renewable sources within three decades — much less the 10 years called for in the Green New Deal.
In addition to hurting U.S. consumers, the Green New Deal would undermine the security of America's closest allies. Consider that the European Union gets more of its oil and gas from Russia than from any other country — an arrangement that stymies Europe's ability to check Russian power.
Should Russia seek to expand its influence and control in the region, as it did when it annexed Crimea in 2014, Europe will be forced to choose between standing up for its values and protecting its energy imports. That's a precarious position. Supporters of this plan have been screaming from the rooftops about Russian influence in the 2016 election, but seem eager to hand over power to Russia in exchange for some vague promises of new things that haven't yet been invented.
A Gift To Putin
The United States is Europe's best hope of breaking its dependence on Russian energy. American firms have been ramping up their sales of liquefied natural gas to the continent. In October 2018, the United States traded more LNG with the EU than any month on record.
The Green New Deal would make such trade impossible. Our rapid exit from the oil and gas sector would be a gift to the Putin regime.
The Green New Deal would be a geopolitical disaster for America. Lawmakers shouldn't give it the time of day.
Barton is the founder of Hyatt Solutions and speaks around the country on energy and energy security matters. He previously served as the deputy director of Middle East policy at the Pentagon.
Health Reform: How do you enact a massive new program, and then keep it from being repealed after it fails? It's simple. Just pull the numbers out of thin air. That's basically what happened with ObamaCare.
When centrist Democrats were deciding whether to support ObamaCare in 2010, the "nonpartisan" Congressional Budget Office told them not to worry. The law, it said, would cut the deficit. It would bring 24 million people into the new ObamaCare exchanges. Subsidy costs would be modest. And the number of uninsured would fall by more than half. Those Dems signed on.
ObamaCare Repeal Thwarted
Seven years later, as centrist Republicans contemplated an ObamaCare repeal-and-replace plan, the CBO warned that doing so would boost the number of uninsured by 22 million. That scared enough Republicans away to kill the bill.
Turns out, all those forecasts were way off.
ObamaCare boosted the deficit in its first 10 years. Only 8 million, not 24 million, people enrolled in the ObamaCare exchanges. The average cost of ObamaCare subsidies is 11% higher, and the number uninsured 36% higher, than the CBO projected.
Had the CBO been better at predicting the future of health care under ObamaCare, it's likely that Democrats would have scaled back their plans, while perhaps seeking Republican input.
Now we learn that the CBO wildly exaggerated the impact of the Republicans' repeal effort when it said that 22 million would lose coverage as a result. Almost all that loss was from repealing the individual mandate.
Wildly Inflated Numbers
CBO said 7 million people would drop out of the individual insurance market. Another 4 million would lose employer coverage. And 4 million would cancel their Medicaid — even though it's free. All in the first year.
At the time, we argued that the CBO had hugely inflated those numbers because it vastly overestimated the effectiveness of the individual mandate.
Ironically, Republicans ended up repealing the individual mandate tax penalty, but keeping the rest of ObamaCare. So what happened?
This week, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services released its latest annual report on national health spending. The intrepid Philip Klein at the Washington Examiner noticed that, buried in a footnote, was a stunning rebuke of those CBO forecasts.
The report says that the mandate repeal will result in only 1.5 million dropping out of the individual insurance market, and 1 million from employer plans. CMS says Medicaid enrollment will "be unaffected."
In other words, the CBO was off by a factor of six.
These forecasting errors don't even rise to the "good enough for government work" level. But they were good enough to get ObamaCare on the books, and then keep it there.
When Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., proposed a 70% rate on personal income of more than $10 million, one could easily anticipate this was just the beginning of the calls to soak the rich. As expected, former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro noted approvingly that "There was a time in this country where the top marginal tax rate was over 90%."
Given how much money would be required to pay for Ocasio-Cortez's Green New Deal, a 90% tax rate on all income would not even come close to paying for all the federal freebies.
Supporters of Ocasio-Cortez hastened to explain that 70% would be a marginal tax rate, applying only to income over $10 million. And it would apply only to earned income, not to capital gains and dividends, which are taxed at a much lower rate. Journalist and latimes.com blogger Michael Hiltzik says because "the wealthy" receive more than half their taxable income as capital gains or dividends, "Someone with $100 million in income would still only be paying about 67%."
That's good news for Warren Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway. Not long ago, Buffett disclosed that on his $27 million income he paid a lower tax rate than his secretary. Warren Buffett's net worth was about $84 billion in 2018, according to Forbes. So even if he were taxed at a 67%, or 70%, or even a 100% rate on his income, it would amount to only a pittance of his wealth, and raise only pocket change compared to the redistributionist requirements of social justice.
So how did Buffett gain a net worth of $84 billion with an income of only $27 million?
Warren Buffett: Useful Wealth
In reality, Buffett's $84 billion in wealth consists mainly of "unrealized" capital gains — the gain in market value of his shares in Berkshire Hathaway. Unless he sells his shares — "realizing" his gains — his wealth will not be taxed during his lifetime. If he passes his wealth on to heirs, it could be subject to the estate tax. Instead, he plans to give almost all of it away — thus depriving the government of much of that potential $84 billion in revenue.
But Buffett's billions would not be safe from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. She understands that income is different from wealth — which would escape getting caught in the government's tax net, even at the highest marginal tax rates. She has proposed a 2% annual tax on wealth above $50 million, and an additional 1% tax on wealth above $1 billion — in addition to the income tax.
In doing so, she has outdone Ocasio-Cortez. Warren proposes to take capital out of the hands of people like Warren Buffett.
Capital is the stock of what has been saved, rather than consumed, in society. In earlier times, it was literally the seed corn, the portion of the harvest that was saved to plant the next year's crop, rather than eaten during the lean months of winter. Warren proposes to take the seed corn and have the government redistribute it, so that people may consume it.
Today, capital is not idling in the warehouse, or even the gold vault. It is out there, in society, supporting production and the workers who produce. As The Wall Street Journal's Richard Rubin notes, "Ms. Warren said the money could be used for child care, relief of student-loan debt, environmental initiatives or health care."
Taxing Away Capital
That is, the government would tax away the capital in the hands of the wealthy and redistribute the money to others so that they can increase their consumption.
Though the government would have more revenue to spend, each year there would be less capital to invest — fewer Buffett-owned Nebraska Furniture Marts employing hundreds of people, for example. With less capital, the economy would grow less rapidly, and there would be less income, and less wealth, for the 99%.
The socialist Left thinks capitalists call high progressive tax rates "unfair" because they are greedy, and want to keep their hands on the proverbial pot of gold. However, high marginal tax rates are "unfair" to everyone. They are especially unfair to people without capital or high incomes, who depend on the savings and investment decisions of others — those entrusted by the marketplace with the capital stock, the seed corn of society.
Problem Of Tax Avoidance
Analysts say a tax on wealth would likely raise much less than the trillions of dollars Warren claims. After all, up to this point the wealthy have been pretty good at tax avoidance. But Warren has a plan to stop them, says Rubin: "She would also seek more money for the Internal Revenue Service to enforce the tax, require minimum audit rates for the wealth tax and create new ways for the government to get information about Americans' assets."
"She would also create a 40% exit tax on assets above $50 million for people who renounce their citizenship," Rubin says.
Warren and Ocasio-Cortez promise free goods paid for by taxes on the wealthy, but ignore the heavy costs this would impose, not just on those with high incomes or great wealth, like Warren Buffett, but on all of us.
Just like his boss and hero former FBI Director James Comey, former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe has written a Trump-trashing book. And like Comey, he's getting hours and hours of airtime to sell laughable notions, like the idea that the FBI has been utterly nonpartisan.
This man will say anything. Truth means nothing. He's worse than Comey.
It barely matters to his interviewers that he was fired from the top of the FBI for ... allegedly lying his face off to the FBI. The Justice Department inspector general, Michael Horowitz — appointed by former President Barack Obama, not President Trump — charged McCabe with lying three times under oath about having leaked to the newspapers, and not for a national security reason, just to make himself look good. While the media relish the idea of jail time for Trump aides caught lying to investigators, this man gets a red carpet and a pat on the back.
Gushing Interviews Of Andrew McCabe
McCabe's book tour has created headlines like this, from a CNN interview: "McCabe: It's Possible Trump Is a Russian Asset." Let's be blunt. This is as credible as birtherism. It's exactly as responsible and reliable as broadcasting a headline that says, "Trump: It's Possible Obama Was Born in Kenya." McCabe is the Jussie Smollett of the Justice Department.
McCabe's publisher, St. Martin's Press, is reaping a bonanza of book advertising. Thirty minutes on CBS' "60 Minutes," 15 minutes on NPR's "Morning Edition," 24 minutes on ABC's "The View," an hour on NPR's "Fresh Air," 30 minutes on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," 40 minutes on MSNBC's "The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell," 20 minutes on CBS' "Late Show With Stephen Colbert." Then more MSNBC: On Feb. 20 alone, he had 40 minutes on "Morning Joe," another 40 minutes on "Deadline: White House" and then 20 minutes on "All In with Chris Hayes." Then came the "PBS NewsHour."
There's an obvious term for a media that offers a shameless partisan liar this much free advertising/mudslinging. It's the "Opposition Party."
Andrew McCabe despises Trump. The press (and Hollywood) despises Trump. The media love Andrew McCabe. Most of these journalists have presented McCabe as nonpartisan and skipped asking (or even reporting) about how his wife, Jill McCabe, ran for the Virginia state Senate as a Democrat in 2015, and how Clinton crony Terry McAuliffe directed almost $500,000 in PAC money to her campaign. This created an obvious conflict of interest if McCabe was later working on the Hillary Clinton email probe. The media forced then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from the Russia probe, but McCabe never recused. It was never an issue.
Lying Largely Ignored
The toughest pushback on McCabe's lying came from ... Meghan McCain on "The View."
She said to his face: "I don't believe you're a reliable narrator. And I'm not convinced this not just some kind of PR campaign to stop yourself from getting indicted. You were fired at the recommendation of the FBI." Republican members of Congress like Rep. Jim Jordan have sounded this same alarm — including new charges of lying — but their objections aren't included in the gushy interviews.
McCabe's lying under oath also drew several minutes on NPR's "Morning Edition," and even then, NPR cut the interview into two segments and eagerly promoted the other half — the Trump-and-Russia half.
Most interviewers flunked. "60 Minutes" and "Morning Joe" strenuously made excuses for lying under oath. Anderson Cooper arrived on the subject only as the interview wrapped up. NPR "Fresh Air" host Terry Gross tossed one perfunctory question. MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell and Nicolle Wallace didn't ask a single question about it over their 40-minute interviews.
Unsurprisingly, comedian Stephen Colbert did worse than avoid the question. As he asked McCabe to grade the press on their Trump-scandal coverage, he joked with McCabe that he was "under oath right now." Those words mean nothing to Andrew McCabe. That's why he smirked.
Bozell is the president of the Media Research Center. Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org.
Compromise reached. Donald Trump is going to build — his administration is said to be building already, with appropriated funds — the border wall, er, barrier. Congressional Democrats have reportedly inserted provisions that make it easier for purported asylum seekers arriving with children to disappear and augment the illegal population.
Compromise unreached. Recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program haven't received the legalization both sides say they should. Central Americans are still advised to drag their children on a dangerous journey through Mexico to the border. Border apprehensions in January were up sharply from those in 2018, indicating increased inflow but far below levels from 1992 to 2007.
Border Wall: A Longer Look
But let's take a longer look at this unsatisfactory compromise, the result of President Trump's failure to get legislation from Republican congressional majorities, which is exacerbated by Democrats' determination to humiliate him.
Trump campaigned against quarter-century-long bipartisan policies toward Mexico, the NAFTA trade agreement and toleration of loose immigration enforcement. But as president, rather than reversing them, he has made relatively modest, arguably constructive changes.
That's because those policies have had some success in reducing the economic and cultural gap between the United States and its southern neighbor. That was the goal of the policies' prime architects, most of whom had Texas-Mexico border roots — the two George Bushes; former Senator and Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen; and Mexico's 1988-94 president, Carlos Salinas.
Or so argues Andrew Selee, president of the Migration Policy Institute, in his recent book, "Vanishing Frontiers." I think he overstates the convergence in entertainment and sports preferences. And he doesn't convince me that the pessimistic fatalism of Mexico's heavily Mesoamerican culture, noted by writers from Octavio Paz to Jorge Castaneda, has morphed into the optimism of Americans' traditional belief in a connection between effort and reward.
Mexico's informal, off-the-books economy is much larger than America's, its endemic public sector corruption more deep-seated even than Chicago's.
Cross Border Investment
Selee is on solid ground, however, in describing how the two countries' economies are tied together, and not just by auto supply chains. There's plenty of cross-border investment, with Mexican firms creating U.S. jobs and vice versa. Then-President Enrique Pena Nieto's 2013 reform has opened Mexico's oil industry to U.S. investment, reversing its previous deterioration.
Electric grids and gas pipelines have been linked. Incomes are up, and nearly half of Mexicans, in Selee's view, are solidly middle-class. Pickup trucks fill Walmart parking lots in northern Mexico, just as in Texas.
This has had policy consequences. Candidate Donald Trump disparaged NAFTA and Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, inaugurated in December, made a career of Yanqui bashing. But AMLO (as he's always called) allowed the outgoing Nieto to renegotiate. Trump sought and approved, and only marginally changed and cosmetically renamed NAFTA. Any 25-year-old agreement could use some adjustments, and neither president dared to rip apart economies now so closely linked together.
AMLO has also been helpful to Trump on border enforcement, stopping some of the caravans of asylum seekers from Central America short of the border and making provision for some to stay in Mexico. The current border problems are due primarily to U.S. judge-made law, which Congress refuses to change and which allows adults with no legitimate asylum claim — "a well-founded fear of persecution" — to use accompanying children as a get-out-of-detention card.
In any case, the resulting inflow of low-skill migrants, with possible wage-lowering effects, will be much smaller than that of Mexicans, legal and illegal, from 1982 to 2007. That inflow dropped suddenly, from hundreds of thousands annually to near zero comparatively. The housing market collapse and financial crisis, and resulting mortgage foreclosures and construction job disappearances, turned many Mexican immigrants' dreams into nightmares.
Border Wall and Immigration Flows
Now we get more immigrants from India or China annually than from Mexico, and the small inflow is more highly educated than before 2007. We have moved toward Trump's proclaimed goal — more high-skill immigration, less low-skill immigration — without legislation. Trump's extension and strengthening of current 600-mile border barriers will contribute marginally to that, despite Democrats' insistence walls are "immoral."
And despite the hostility of university and media elites, assimilation seems to be advancing during this dozen-year slowing of Mexican immigration. As evidence, Selee cites increasing English fluency, and sociologist Richard Alba cites extensive intermarriage. I'd add that like the Ellis Island immigrants a century ago, and despite the efforts of Democrats obsessed with identity politics, Hispanic immigrants seem to lack an adversarial attitude toward America.
So despite angry rhetoric and an unsatisfactory compromise, there's also reason for some long-term progress in narrowing the gap between two nations on each side of a border that's been problematic since 1846.
Barone is a senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and longtime co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.
Deep State: The plot, as always in the Russia investigation, thickens. It never thins. Now we find out, contrary to what former FBI Director James Comey said, that top FBI officials wanted to charge Hillary Clinton for criminally misusing her homebrew email server and compromising American secrets. The lies continue to unravel.
This is the Deep State on steroids. If newly appointed Attorney General William Barr decides to clean house, and we hope he does, he'll have his hands full.
Of course, as we've said, it's possible Special Counsel Robert Mueller has a surprise up his sleeve when he wraps up his Trump-Russia investigation. But if not, then the actions of key leaders in both the FBI and Justice Department constitute an extra-constitutional effort to subvert America's democratic republic. That is, a silent coup.
That's the clear subtext of testimony last October from FBI General Counsel James Baker, the FBI's top lawyer in 2016, indicating both Comey and Clinton lied. Though he spoke to Congress in October, Baker's actual remarks only came to light this week.
Hillary Clinton: Unpunished Crimes
Baker told Congress that, despite her denials, Clinton and her team mishandled "highly classified" information on her server, and that they should have known they did so. That's a crime.
Contrary to Comey's glib self-serving comment that "no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case," Baker said that he still thought Clinton should be prosecuted "pretty late" in the game and that FBI debates over charging her with a crime continued "I think, up until the end."
Baker backed off from seeking prosecution for Clinton after being convinced by higher-ups — like Comey — that they couldn't prove she intended to expose classified documents across her unsecured email server. So therefore, a prosecutor couldn't prove criminal intent.
In other words, Clinton's clear reckless negligence itself warranted charges. But because of Comey, Andrew McCabe, and others at the FBI and Justice Department, she was never charged. Instead, they used charges contained in an unverified dossier financed by Hillary Clinton to begin their relentless pursuit of Donald Trump.
This isn't the first time we've talked about this, by the way. Way back in October of 2016, we led our editorial with this: "When FBI Director James Comey dismissed the case against Hillary Clinton he said it was because no reasonable attorney would take the case. Now we learn that there were plenty who would have done so."
In short, we said, she should have been charged. She wasn't.
At the time, we based our opinion on a 2016 Fox News report that noted, "Career agents and attorneys on the case unanimously believed the Democratic presidential nominee should have been charged."
If anything, Baker's testimony confirms that two-year-old Fox report.
Will Barr Act?
So career investigators and attorneys wanted to charge Clinton, but were derailed, as Baker said, by higher-ups. For the record, that means Comey and the ever-growing cast of characters in the Justice Department and FBI lied, dissembled and covertly supported Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election. It was a clear violation of the law.
The attempted coup by the Deep State cannot go unpunished. It will seriously endanger the rule of law in our country. The only real question is who should be charged first? Clinton? Or her Deep State allies who did all they could to undo a legitimate American presidential election on her behalf?
Our own government is, once again, undermining the nation's economic and security interests by launching an unnecessary antitrust attack on a leading domestic company. This time, the company is Qualcomm, our leader in 3G, 4G and emerging 5G mobile communications technologies. Leadership in 5G will be global and foundational to nearly all the new advanced technologies, including the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, autonomous vehicles, robotics, and automated health care.
Our main rival, China, has adopted the Made in China 2025 Plan to dominate all these new technologies. To reach its target date, it has invested massive amounts of both private and government capital to develop its own advances in technology.
China is also acquiring new U.S. technologies by a variety of methods, including forcing U.S. companies operating in China to take Chinese "partners" and disclose to them advanced technologies, by using its massive military resources to obtain advanced technology via cyber-hacking, and by deploying countless human agents and "collectors" at U.S. companies and universities.
This global competition pits Chinese government-supported giants like Huawei against U.S. companies in the race to important foundational technologies such as 5G, first and foremost Qualcomm. But instead of supporting Qualcomm, our government — via the Federal Trade Commission — is suing Qualcomm.
The FTC is currently seeking to invalidate scores of Qualcomm licensing agreements long ago voluntarily signed by Apple and others, agreements that gave the licensees permission to use technologies Qualcomm developed and patented after many years and many millions of dollars in R&D expenditures.
Will FTC Kill Qualcomm?
The FTC's requested remedy would destroy Qualcomm's decades-old licensing program and, most importantly, crimp revenues it uses to fund further development of the complex engineering technologies needed to enable 5G. The likely result? Huawei will dominate the world-wide foundation of 5G and all the technologies and industries 5G will support.
This nightmare scenario is all the more regrettable because we should have learned our lesson long ago. Decades earlier, our antitrust authorities attacked U.S. TV makers, sending the entire consumer electronics industry to a rising Japan. Later, they repeated the same mistake against Xerox and still later against IBM, shrinking those industry leaders and unintentionally assisting the rise of foreign competitors.
In all these cases, patents and patent licensing were at the heart of our government's dispute with our own leading companies. So too with the FTC's current dispute with Qualcomm.
As the former Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, the nation's patent court, I can only shake my head in disbelief and dismay. The patent system relies on widespread licensing that authorizes use of technology by all who need it (and are willing to pay for it), while assuring return on investment to the inventors based on the market value the licensees themselves accord to the patented technologies. The very point of patents — which unlike antitrust law is rooted in the U.S. Constitution (Article I, Section 8) — is to guarantee rewards to the inventors of technology as an incentive to invest in further research and development.
Here the FTC effectively is saying to Apple and the other licensees, who are the experts in their markets and have vast cash resources and batteries of lawyers: "You may be the experts, but we think you paid too much for the technology you needed permission to use; therefore, all these private license agreements, although in place for years, should now be overturned."
Antitrust law has a proper place in the patent space, mainly to prevent Patent Misuse, a well-defined wrong, but that is not what the FTC charges here. Rather, it is suing to force renegotiation of private contractual agreements and to devalue patents, a form of private property. Given that the license fees were agreed to by sophisticated, highly successful and cash-rich companies who know well the value of the patented technology, these private contracts should not be the business of government.
Some commentators express concern that patents may not always significantly contribute to the advance of the particular technology, but all must agree that the huge portfolio of patents on dozens of technologies Qualcomm developed and licensed are central to mobile communications, including the smart phones we use every day. And despite the fees paid for the licenses, smart phone makers like Apple appear to have suffered no fundamental harm.
No Harm, No Foul
Indeed, they have amassed astronomical profits, holding cash reserves in amounts larger than the national budgets of many nations, while often buying back stock, acquiring other companies, boosting their own R&D expenditures and increasing dividends.
I myself am a satisfied Apple customer and admire their astounding phones and other devices, but I do not see how it can honestly be concluded that the Qualcomm licenses have impaired the economic health of Apple or other the mobile equipment makers. As for consumers, we have enjoyed ever better devices at ever lower prices.
The FTC also alleges that Qualcomm wrongly refuses to license its chip-making competitors, such as Intel. While the cellular industry norm for decades has been to grant licenses to equipment makers but not to chipmakers, Intel hardy seems to have been impaired by Qualcomm's adherence to the established industry practice. To the contrary, Intel's chips have replaced Qualcomm's chips on all new Apple phones. Clearly competition in the chip industry is still viable and healthy.
Courts Making Economic Policy
In its lawsuit in Federal court in San Jose, the FTC has essentially asked a Federal trial judge to make national economic policy of enormous global consequence — and all without the massive record the Congress develops over years of hearings when doing the same. More to the point, is it really necessary for one unelected official to make economic policy decisions that will have repercussions for decades because some tech companies worth billions now say they paid too much for licensing agreements?
There is even a still greater danger. Every day, we see news accounts of intellectual property theft of American technology by Huawei, allegedly at the direction of its top officials, and we read about its alleged ties to the Chinese government and military. The number two Huawei official is under arrest in Canada and being sought for extradition to the United States.
In the meantime, the FTC has relied heavily on Huawei-related witnesses, including their lead licensing attorney, and a licensing consultant who has long worked for Huawei, including as a consultant in negotiating its licenses with Qualcomm.
Our military and intelligence agencies now ban use of Huawei equipment, and even the U.S. Treasury Department's Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) has made clear in a March 2018 letter its concerns about the race for global dominance in 5G: "Given well-known U.S. national security concerns about Huawei and other Chinese telecommunications companies, a shift to Chinese dominance in 5G would have substantial negative national security consequences for the United States."
Furthermore, the CFIUS went on to say that the cause of its concern is that "a weakening of Qualcomm's position would leave an opening for China to expand its influence on the 5G standard-setting process."
As a concerned citizen, I have to ask: Why are we letting an over-zealous antitrust agency, once again, needlessly threaten our nation's future?
Michel is the former chief judge of the United States Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.
Jay: "What do they call it when everything intersects?"
Sam: "The Bermuda Triangle."
— Sleepless in Seattle
Sometimes events come magically together to provide what Modern America calls a "teachable moment." That opportunity could be here on taxes — if our populace and political class could spot the true lessons behind some recent sensational headlines.
Take Amazon's pullout from New York. The lesson here is a) threats to retract billions in tax giveaways obliterated 25,000 jobs b) it's obscene to shower a nearly trillion-dollar company with largesse instead of investing in government services or c) none of the above.
If you answered c), go straight to the head of the class. Like a stopped clock at the right time, media darling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was correct for once — but for the wrong reasons. Research has repeatedly revealed two conclusive lessons: first, incentives rarely produce the jobs and growth promised. And second, the actual way to bump business creation and expand employment is a lower tax base for everyone, not goody bags for big-name enterprises.
Zero Corporate Taxes
How about the predictable expressions of horror that the selfsame Amazon, along with Netflix, paid zero corporate taxes last year? The correct lesson: a) huge, profitable companies should capitalize on proffered tax breaks b) it's disgraceful that huge, profitable companies exploit such loopholes or c) none of the above.
If you chose c), you're smarter than a fifth-grader — or at least most of our demagogic "leaders." Once again, two principles to emphasize: first, the real scandal is not that sizable and profitable companies pay zero taxes — but rather, that they get better returns from investing in armies of lawyers and accountants and unproductive dodges than from investing in job creation and growth.
Both Netflix and Amazon reportedly reaped big benefits from a few favorable provisions. But certainly, their returns, and those of other tax avoiders, run into thousands of pages to exploit every possible tax break. And the fact that business decisions are directed by Washington, rather than the best interests of stockholders and stakeholders, is folly.
The second concept to be repeated ad infinitum by thinking politicians (I know, an oxymoron) is that corporations don't pay taxes: people do. We pay these tech Gargantuas' tax bills — or tax avoidance bills — in every item we order or movie we watch, as the cost of government is passed down in the least transparent manner possible with huge inefficiencies attached.
Ergo, zero should be the correct amount of corporate taxation — for all companies.
No Tax Refunds
Yet the biggest tax policy teaching of all comes from a third imbroglio: over worries that the 2017 reform may produce some lower-than-expected tax refunds.
The lesson to be gleaned from the media's panicked reaction is a) per presidential candidate Kamala Harris, smaller tax refunds prove the legislation represented a tax hike on the middle class, b) taxpayers should adjust withholding to get bigger refunds, or c) none of the above.
If this time you answered c), you're catching on. The outrage of the whole refund situation, to be shouted out the window Howard Beale-style, is that how Americans pay for government is insane.
Consider this scenario: a company knowingly overcharges customers every year, and earns interest on those overcharges. To get those overcharges back, consumers must correctly fill out a complex form or series of forms — sometimes running into dozens of pages — and ask for the correct amount. The company won't tell them in advance of their filling out those forms what that amount is. And if the customer asks for too much money back, the company can charge them penalties and interest.
Picture the howling media. Politicians falling over each other to shout denunciations. State attorneys general and consumer organizations pouncing faster than you can say "class-action settlement."
But that's the mind-numbing reality we sheeplike taxpayers accept from revenooers — year in and year out.
Transparent Government Costs
Another favorite line from Sleepless in Seattle comes when Jonah, the son pining to meet a potential mate for his widowed father, asks Jessica, daughter of travel agents, how much it costs to fly to New York. "Nobody knows," she shrugs. "It changes practically every day."
Nobody knows the real cost of government — because it's different for every taxpayer every year.
It depends on how much you make. How you make it. Where you live and the price of your house. How many kids. Gifts to charity. How organized you are and how good your accountant is. It depends on what changes Congress has made — and it made an estimated 4,680 to the code just between 2001 and 2013, even before the latest "reform." Not to mention, again, that you pay the piper in a million hidden economic distortions and costs beyond your tax return.
The real teaching from Amazon's misadventure, zero corporate tax bills and the refund ruckus is that we need — nay, we must demand — a dramatically simpler, easier, less expensive, truly fairer, more transparent, less intrusive way to pay for the service called government.
Is it at all possible that some straight talkers, like maybe that otherwise notably shy denizen of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, could shout down the inflamers drawing all the wrong lessons from these recent events — and connect the dots to the right "mad-as-hell" conclusions for taxpayers?
Maistros is a messaging and communications strategist, crisis specialist and former political speechwriter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Redistribution: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says billionaires are immoral. She also thinks the U.S. should be more like Sweden and Norway. So she wants more billionaires here?
Democrats have recently discovered a new threat to the American way of life: billionaires.
An interviewer recently asked socialist Ocasio-Cortez: "Do we live in a moral world that allows for billionaires? Is that a moral outcome?"
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Says Billionaires Are Immoral
Her answer: "No, it's not. It's not. It's not. And I think it's important to say that."
Her policy advisor, Dan Riffle, said that "every billionaire is a policy failure."
Not to be outdone, fellow socialist and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders complained that "We live in a nation owned and controlled by a small number of multibillionaires whose greed, incredible greed, insatiable greed, is having an unbelievably negative impact on the fabric of our entire country."
Elizabeth Warren calls billionaires "freeloaders" who don't "pick up their fair share."
She's urged Democrats to eschew them as candidates and campaign contributors. "This is a moment for all of the Democratic nominees, as they come into the race, to say … no to the billionaires. No to the billionaires."
Let's leave aside the fact that a substantial portion of the 530 or so billionaires in the country are liberals. These include Mark Cuban, Oprah Winfrey, Sheryl Sandberg, Marc Benioff, Warren Buffett, George Soros, Tom Steyer, David Geffen, Sumner Redstone, Laureen Powell Jobs, Michael Bloomberg and Howard Schultz.
They Give Generously To Dems
A few years ago, the liberal-leaning fact-checking site PolitiFact looked at political donations by U.S. billionaires. Of the 100 biggest donors to outside spending groups, it found, 22 were billionaires. "Of those 22 billionaires, 13 — or more than half — gave predominantly to liberal groups or groups affiliated with the Democratic Party."
When these top Democrats aren't railing against billionaires in the U.S., they are extolling the virtues of allegedly socialist countries like Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland.
Not too long ago, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in defending herself against the charge that her policies would turn the U.S. into a Venezuela-like hell hole of deprivation and dictatorship, said: "What we have in mind — and what of my — and my policies most closely resemble what we see in the U.K., in Norway, in Finland, in Sweden."
During his last run for president, Bernie Sanders often said he yearned to make the U.S. more like those countries. In a debate with Hillary Clinton, he declared that: "We should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway, and learn from what they have accomplished."
They're Plentiful In 'Socialist' Paradises
Turns out these countries do have something to teach the U.S. — namely, how to produce billionaires.
An Op-Ed in, of all places, the New York Times notes that Sweden and Norway have more billionaires per capita than the U.S. Finland and Denmark have only slightly fewer. In fact, the U.S. comes in 10th place on this list, according to the author of that piece, Will Wilkinson.
"If there are billionaires in all the places where people flourish best, why think getting rid of them will make things go better?" he asks.
Wilkinson goes on to note that most of the world's richest got that way by making other people's lives better.
"Innovators capture about 2% of the economic value they create," he writes. "The rest of it accrues to consumers. Whatever that is, it's not a raw deal."
We can hear the response from the likes of Ocasio-Cortez now. Yes, those countries have billionaires, but they also have lower rates of income disparity and more wealth distribution.
Maybe so. But those countries are also relatively tiny and almost entirely homogeneous. Sweden, Norway and Finland, in fact, are among the least diverse nations in the world. (Parents even must pick from a list of government-approved baby names.)
They also don't have uneducated immigrants pouring across their border. And they spend almost nothing on defense, which makes it far easier to finance generous public benefits.
Not A Good Economic Strategy
What's more, those countries are moving away from their welfare-state pasts toward freer and more open economies. As we noted in this space, they have things like lower corporate taxes, partially privatized social security, school choice, and minimal if any minimum-wage laws. And they rank higher than the U.S. on economic freedom indexes.
Bashing billionaires might excite the people who tend to vote in Democratic primaries. But stoking class envy won't lead to good economic policies. And it won't make the country more prosperous.
The reinvention of vocabulary can often be more effective than any social protest movement. Malarial swamps can become healthy "wetlands." Fetid "dumps" are often rebranded as green "landfills."
Global warming was once a worry about too much heat. It implied that man-made carbon emissions had so warmed the planet that life as we knew it would soon be imperiled without radical changes in consumer lifestyles.
Yet in the last 30 years, record cold spells, inordinate snow levels and devastating rains have been common. How to square that circle?
New Vocabulary For Global Warming
Substitute "climate change" for global warming. Presto! Any radical change in weather could be perceived as symptomatic of too much climate-changing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Suddenly, blizzards, deluges and subzero temperatures meant that typically unpredictable weather was "haywire" because of affluent Westernized lifestyles.
Affirmative action originated as a means of making up for past prejudices against the African-American community, which comprised about 12% of the population.
By the late 1960s, slavery, Jim Crow and institutionalized segregation were finally considered unique stains on the American past, to be redeemed in the present by set-aside programs in college admissions and hiring predicated on racial considerations.
Affirmative Action Is Now 'Diversity'
The problem with affirmative action is that the very name implied redress for historical wrongs that could be "affirmed" by compensatory action for a particular minority of the population. But lots of other groups wished to be included in an ever-expanding catalog of the oppressed.
Mexican-Americans were soon added on the basis on past biases. Yet weren't Asian-Americans discriminated against in the past as well, especially during the construction of the railroads in the 19th century and during the Japanese-American internments of World War II?
Then, a host of other nonwhite groups — especially newly arriving immigrants with no prior experience of supposed American racism — sought inclusion in set-aside categories. By the 1980s, a new and vaguer term, "diversity," had increasingly replaced "affirmative action."
Diversity meant that it was no longer incumbent upon job or college applicants to claim historical grievances or prove that they were still victims of ongoing and demonstrable discrimination from the white-majority population. Diversity also meant that members of any group that declared itself nonwhite — from Arab-Americans to Chilean-Americans — were eligible for advantages in hiring and college admissions.
Unlike affirmative action, diversity meant that approximately 30% of the country — in theory, more than 100 million Americans — were suffering as aggrieved minorities, regardless of income or class.
If united simply by shared nonwhite-victim status, the resulting new pan-minority group could prove a far more formidable catalyst for particular political agendas.
Illegal Alien To 'Undocumented Immigrant'
"Illegal alien" — a term still used by official government agencies — described any foreign national residing in the U.S. without government sanction. But when the numbers of those who fit the old classification grew, and the number of people invested in relaxed immigration policies expanded across the political spectrum, the term gradually metamorphosed.
If "alien," a Latinate word deriving from the idea of "other" or "different," sounds too outer space-like, why not substitute "immigrant"? Yet "illegal immigrant" still sounded as if breaking federal immigration laws was somehow a serious legal matter. So the vague "undocumented immigrant" superseded the old term.
As the numbers of those crossing the southern border grew and the power of those invested in expanded immigration — employers, identity-politics activists, Democratic operatives, the Mexican government — peaked, even more euphemisms emerged to downplay illegality.
Often, "undocumented" was dropped, leaving just "immigrants" — conflating applicants who waited years for legal entry with those who swarmed the border illegally.
Increasingly we now hear just "migrants" — a vague term that further divorces illegal immigration from reality by conflating the acts of leaving and entering the country.
Liberal? No, 'Progressive'
Democrats used to self-identify as "liberals." The Latin etymology means "free," as in the context of "free" thinkers not burdened by oppressive traditions, ideological straitjackets and unworkable norms.
But the problem with "liberal" is that even conservatives occasionally used the term, as in "classical liberals" who judged issues by facts and reason rather than rigid orthodoxy.
Moreover, "liberal" included little notion of evolution and advancement. So gradually, "progressive" has eclipsed the stuffy "liberal."
"Progressive" infers an activist, not a neutral, ideology — one that is always moving the country in the supposedly correct direction.
After all, who favors "regression" in any field over "progression," an inherently positive noun implying beneficial advancement?
A liberal Democrat was once someone seen as a free thinker. But "progressive" implies that one is more action-orientated and has an evolutionary agenda, not just a methodology.
Beware of euphemisms. Radical changes in vocabulary are usually admissions that reality is unwelcome or indefensible.
Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the author of the soon-to-be released "The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won," to appear in October from Basic Books. You can reach him by e-mailing email@example.com.
Socialist Goodies: Senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has yet another bright idea to fuel her White House ambitions: A sweeping plan to provide free, high-quality childcare for everyone earning less than $50,000, and subsidized childcare for the rest of us. No one would ever spend more than 7% of income for childcare. What could possibly be wrong with such a wonderful idea?
That's definitely the case for Warren's plan. First off, let's begin with a fact: There is no such thing as "free." Someone always pays. The question is "who?" and "how much?"
To pay for this "free" service, Warren would impose an "ultra-millionaire tax" on those with a net worth of more than $50 million to pay for the estimated cost of $700 billion over a decade.
But the estimate of "just" $700 billion for her program's cost is highly deceptive. Because Warren's cost estimates include the supposed economic benefits of childcare for families, but not the cost of less investment by those who are taxed. Costs would likely soar way above the initial estimate, leading to higher taxes for all. Not "free" at all.
As Philip Klein of the Washington Examiner observes, "(Warren's) proposal to extend affordable childcare to everybody relies on dishonest accounting to create the impresion that it is more fiscally sound" than it really is.
Par for the course for socialist policies, of course. It boils down to this: Promise everything, but deliver as little as possible. Watch the costs, always underestimated, grow out of control. Then blame the political opposition — or capitalism, or the "free market" — for your program's failure.
It happens over and over again, and we all fall for it. As the shampoo commercials say, "lather, rinse and repeat."
It happened in Britain. There, childcare subsidies for government-run centers pushed costs below the market rate. So private businesses that provided childcare couldn't compete.
The same, no doubt, will happen here.
"In short, instead of reducing the costs of providing care through much-needed supply-side reform, this new demand-side scheme will further drive up the market price of childcare, with taxpayers on the hook now for increased use of formal care," wrote Cato Institute's Ryan Bourne, who holds the R. Evan Scharf Chair for the Public Understanding of Economics at the Cato Institute.
Government Takeover Of Childcare
What emerges from all this looks a lot like a government takeover of childcare, similar to what happened with healthcare and education. The cost soars, but the quality declines. And, in this case, the private companies that continued in business would become little more than appendages of a new federal childcare bureaucracy, with all the idiotic and costly rules that entails.
Parents would deliver their precious children to be guided by, as Warren's plan would have it, "curriculum standards" and "standards similar to those that now apply to Head Start." In other words, the federal government would be teaching your kids and instilling their values and morals. Parents lose control as the state raises their children.
As the Heritage Foundation recently noted, "The Department of Health and Human Services released the scientifically rigorous Head Start Impact Study in 2012, which tracked 5,000 3- and 4-year-old children through the end of third grade. The results? Head Start had little to no impact on the parenting practices or the cognitive, social-emotional, and health outcomes of participants. Notably, on a few measures, access to Head Start had harmful effects on participating children."
High Costs, Dubious Benefits
Other studies of pre-school and childcare programs are equally inconclusive as to benefits. Yet the costs are enormous.
Moreover, in surveys, most parents would prefer caring for their children at home — not putting them into the hands of strangers. But Warren's plan is specifically intended to institutionalize children in federally run institutions nearly from the time they're born until the time they leave school.
The point is, "free" isn't really free, and you get what you pay for. Leftists like Warren love to promise free things paid for by others, but then walk away when the quality turns out to be poor or just plain awful. This is the essence of socialist thinking, and also the way it gets voters to keep falling for socialists' impossible promises of heaven on earth.
Role Models: Amtrak, Postal Service
If you want care for your children, the last place you should look for help is the federal government. Think of letting Amtrak or the Postal Service care for your kids, and you get the idea.
Even if you still believe federal government should involve itself in your private arrangements, a better plan would be to give vouchers to families based on need.
"Universal" preschool or childcare will not solve any problems, but it likely will cause many others, while further tearing apart American families and institutionalizing their children from an early age. A bad outcome for families, and a worse outcome for America.
Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., not only believed black and openly gay actor Jussie Smollett and his tale of being attacked by two N-word-spouting homophobic Trump-supporters, she — and many other big-name Democrats — knew exactly whom to blame.
Waters said: "I know Jussie. I love him. His family's a friend of mine. I know his sisters, I met his mom and I called already to Jazz, one of the sisters, to talk to her about what's happening, what's going on. ... I'm pleased that he's doing okay. But we have to understand this is happening for a reason. Why, all of a sudden, do we have people unable to study while black, unable to mow a lawn while black, unable to have a picnic while black, and being attacked? It's coming from the President of the United States. He's dog whistling every day. He's separating and dividing, and he is basically emboldening those folks who feel this way."
Jussie Smollett Reactions
The Rev. Al Sharpton, who became famous by falsely accusing an assistant district attorney of raping a black teenage girl, weighed in. He said: "(The Jussie Smollett attack) is only a reminder of the times that we are living in, that people feel empowered to express their hate and feel there will be no accountability. ... The President should have said, 'My brand shouldn't stand for that.' This hate-filled climate is set by ... the President of the United States, who gets the award for climate setting, if he is not at fault for a direct act."
The Rev. Jesse Jackson released a statement: "Hatred against another simply because of who they are is like acid rain. It falls from the top down and pollutes the environment." Former Vice President Joe Biden tweeted: "What happened today to @JussieSmollett must never be tolerated in this country. We must stand up and demand that we no longer give this hate safe harbor; that homophobia and racism have no place on our streets or in our hearts."
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., in a tweet, called the alleged attack "a modern day lynching."
Isn't it good news that the story is alleged to be false? Isn't it good news that Trump-supporting goons are not patrolling the streets at night, armed with bleach and a noose, to find, attack, whitewash and lynch black and gay Trump-bashers? A PeopleTV host actually said she was "hoping" and "praying" that Smollett's story was true.
Why did so many uncritically buy the Jussie Smollett story?
One reason is that an Axios poll last November found that 61% of Democrats believe Republicans are "racist/ bigoted/sexist." Thirty-one percent of Republicans feel that way about Democrats. And most Democrats and members of the media believe Trump is a racist. So why doubt such a juicy story that falsely advances two narratives? Trump is Exhibit A that racism remains a major problem in America. And if Trump is a "racist," therefore so are his supporters.
Why So Many Hoaxes?
But what does it say about America's alleged "systemic," "structural" and "institutional" racism when, in 2019, the cupboard is so bare that "racist attacks" have to be manufactured?
Last year, in a span of a few weeks, three black motorists claimed they were victims of racism by the white cops who pulled them over. One, a reverend, was the president of a local branch of the NAACP. He posted on social media a long, detailed description of the alleged interaction with the cop whom he claimed racially profiled him and made harassing comments.
A black female motorist took to social media to say she had a "traumatic experience" in Virginia when she was pulled over for speeding and "threatened" by a "white cop, who "degraded" her "as an African-American."
And a viral post by a civil rights "activist" claimed a Texas trooper sexually assaulted another black woman following a traffic stop and then arrested her for DUI.
But they were all unaware that they were being recorded. The tapes show all three were lying. The cops involved were courteous, polite and respectful. The black motorists lied about the white cops. But if not for the recordings, who knows what might have happened to the careers of the officers.
As to the belief that racism remains a serious problem in America, can we agree that nirvana is not an option? In a nation of 330 million people, bad actors abound. After all, one survey in 2017 found that 7% of adult Americans believe chocolate milk comes from brown cows. That works out to over 17 million adults. And a 1997 Gallup poll found that 4% of Americans believed Elvis was still alive.
But today's definition of "race relations" pretty much comes down to this: how black people feel about white people and how white people feel about how black people feel about white people.
Racism has so receded as an impediment to progress that new terms became necessary to describe offensive "racist" behavior, such as "microaggressions." This means whites are racist, even if they don't think they are, because of their "white privilege."
If white people spent as much time thinking about how to oppress black people as black people think they do, white people wouldn't have enough time to oppress black people.
Elder is a best-selling author and nationally syndicated radio talk show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit www.LarryElder.com. Follow Larry on Twitter @LarryElder.
Elizabeth Warren, one of the — what is it now, 211? — candidates for president, seems intent on proving that having been a Harvard law professor is no bar to fatuous policy prescriptions. She has endorsed the farrago of foolishness called the Green New Deal, promises to tax the rich to "make the economy work for us" and recently proposed a shiny new policy idea fresh from 1971 — government-funded universal preschool.
Decade after decade, this old chestnut is trotted out as a pro-family, pro-middle class reform, and every time, assumptions about government's competence to perform this task are blithely assumed.
Universal Preschool Is Massively Expensive
Any sentence that begins "In the wealthiest country on Earth ..." is bound to introduce a massive government program of some sort and Warren's statements are no exception. She urges that "affordable and high-quality child care and early education should be a right, not a privilege reserved for the rich." Sounds expensive. Who will pay? Warren proposes to tax the wealth of "ultra-millionaires — those with a net worth of more than $50 million."
Two things about taxing the rich: 1) They don't have enough to pay for the fond schemes of politicians, and 2) they can afford to pay the estate planners and tax lawyers who know how to minimize taxes.
But even supposing the "ultra-rich" would hold still while the state extracted a fixed yearly portion of their net worth, any plan for universal pre-K deserves skepticism — the opposite of what most news stories convey. ABC News, for example, contends, "The benefits of early child care have long been documented, even showing taxpayers can make money back when investing in high-quality early education."
This is tendentious and wrong.
No Evidence That It Works
The links ABC provided don't even support its assertion. The first is to a National Education Association publication (hardly a neutral arbiter), citing one famous study of extremely high-quality day care, the Abecedarian Early Childhood Intervention Project.
That program got good results, but it was utterly unrepresentative of most day cares in the U.S. It was generously funded and staffed by college graduates. Teachers read aloud to the children, responded to their questions and encouraged their abilities. According to a 2006 survey by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, only 9% of American preschools were rated "very high quality."
The second link ABC provided also references the small unrepresentative Abecedarian program, but this paper, far from agreeing that the benefits of day care are "documented," notes that the matter is "strongly contested."
Not only are high-quality day cares rare, there is abundant data that day care can be harmful in large doses, especially for very young children, and particularly for boys.
A Tennessee study found that kids enrolled in pre-K seemed at first to perform well on cognitive tests, but they fell behind their peers by third grade. "You have school systems that are pushing pre-K when they have demonstrably failing K-12 systems," Dale Farran, one of the study's authors told FiveThirtyEight. "It makes me cringe."
The Children Suffer
The sort of program Warren envisions has already been implemented — in the Canadian province of Quebec. Universal preschool for just $5 (later $7) a day was introduced in 1997. The number of families placing their children in day care increased by 33%. But a follow-up study in 2015 found that boys in day care showed more hyperactivity and aggression, while girls showed more separation anxiety. Quebec's teenagers who had "benefitted" from the program were less happy with life in general than those from other provinces, and Quebec experienced a "sharp increase" in criminal behavior among those who had been in the program.
Among the many cautionary notes to arise from the Canadian experience was the effect universal preschool had on parents. As the Atlantic reported, a 2015 study found that "the parents of girls were two times less likely to spend time reading to, laughing with, or doing special activities like going to the library with their child."
There is a relentless push to move children and even babies into the arms of the educational establishment even as there is near universal agreement that our schools leave much to be desired. Who has confidence that Sen. Warren's scheme would produce quality care at a reasonable price? And who doesn't worry about the 3-year-olds pushed too soon from the nest?
Charen is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Her new book is "Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense."
Economics 101: When Amazon pulled out of New York, the loss of 25,000 future jobs made headlines. What isn't making headlines are the thousands of jobs being destroyed right now thanks to the city's new $15 minimum wage.
Over the past four years, the minimum wage for New York City restaurants that employ more than 10 workers went from $10.50 an hour to $15. That's a whopping 43% increase. Next year, every restaurant, big and small, will have to pay their workers at least $15 an hour.
A big victory for workers, right? That's how it's depicted by the "Fight for $15" crowd. And, yes, if you held a full-time minimum-wage job over those years, your gross income would have gone up by $9,360.
But those massive wage hikes come at a painful cost that backers refuse to acknowledge. They kill jobs. Just like they're doing right now in New York City.
In just the last three months of last year, 4,000 workers lost jobs at full-service restaurants, Bureau of Labor Statistics data show.
By the end of last year, there were fewer restaurant workers in the city than in November 2016. Even though overall employment climbed by more than 163,000.
Job Losses Coming
There will be more job losses this year.
A New York City Hospitality Alliance survey found that 47% of full-service restaurants expect to cut jobs this year to cope with the latest wage hike. Last year, 36% said they'd eliminated jobs. The picture is worse at limited-service restaurants. The survey found half reported cutting jobs last year. And 53% say they'll do so this year.
"It usually takes an economic recession to cause year-over-year job losses at NYC's full-service restaurants," notes economist Mark Perry, "so it's likely that this is a 'restaurant recession' tied to the annual series of minimum-wage hikes that brought the city's minimum wage to $15 an hour at the end of last year."
Perry compiled the nearby chart, which shows the recent year-over-year declines since New York started hiking its minimum wage.
Even during the Great Recession, restaurant workers didn't suffer as much as they are now. In fact, over the course of the recession, which lasted from December 2007 to June 2009, the number of restaurant jobs in the city actually increased by 1,800.
It's getting so bad that fast-food workers now want the city to protect them from getting fired without "just cause."
Those who keep their jobs aren't necessarily better off, either.
The Hospitality Alliance survey found that more than three quarters of New York restaurants cut worker hours in 2018 to offset that year's wage hike. Seventy-five percent say they want to cut hours this year.
"Though the new regulations are intended to benefit employees, some restaurateurs and staffers say that take-home pay ends up being less due to fewer hours — or that employees face more work because there are fewer staffers per shift," notes Tara Crowl in an article in New York Eater.
This is all in keeping with numerous economic studies that have documented the ill effects of mandatory wage hikes.
University of Washington economists found that the average low-wage worker in Seattle saw their earnings drop $125 a month because of the city's wage hikes, which had gone from $9.47 in 2014 to $13 in 2016.
Illinois Makes Same Mistake
A study by the American Action Forum concluded that minimum-wage hikes that went into effect in cities and states around the country this year will kill 261,000 jobs right away, and 1.7 million jobs over the long term.
Yet advocates for a $15 minimum wage press on. This week, in fact, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a bill to raise that state's minimum wage to $15 over the next six years.
"Today is a victory for the cause of economic justice," Pritzker said.
Pritzker should go to New York. And then try to explain the wonders of "economic justice" to the thousands of people who lost their jobs because of it.
The left would expect mere mortals to understand that as opposed to them, the left rises above the rumormongering and misinformation of social media. As with so much else regarding the left, that's nonsense. It cuts, pastes and amplifies the unsubstantiated ardor of liberal Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at will — if it advances the narrative. See the case of Jussie Smollett, actor/singer in the Fox hip-hop drama "Empire."
Jussie Smollett's "MAGA country" hate-crime hoax is just the latest example. Coming on the heels of the smears of Covington Catholic High School MAGA hat-wearing teens, we must conclude the left is too blind, or too stupid, or maybe just doesn't give a hoot.
Nothing says "viral" like a black gay celebrity claiming he was beaten by Trumpster thugs. For two weeks, the left went nuts. Celebrities took to the celebrity talk shows, politicians to the political talk shows and the "news" media to the "news" media to denounce racist conservative Trump World. Now the actor's "modern-day lynching" narrative, as Sen. Cory Booker declared it, has imploded.
Gasoline on the Jussie Smollett Fire
As we've come to expect, the arrogant defenders of the "high-quality news organizations" are once again refusing to take responsibility for the gasoline they tossed on the fire.
See "Reliable Sources" host Brian Stelter of the so-called "Facts First" network. He claimed, "ultimately, this is not about the media, or about politicians or activists, or any other people that might have been fooled. It's about Jussie."
Translation: It's all about the fooler ... not the fools.
Later, in his email newsletter, Stelter asked: "Was it newsworthy when the police opened an investigation into Smollett's accusation? Yes. Did high-quality news organizations approach the case with caution? Yes."
This is pure nonsense, and Stelter knows it. The national media jumped into the allegations like children jump into a mud puddle. Only ABC, CBS and NBC have devoted 157 morning and evening minutes to the Smollett fraud. Some of these stories call the fraud "alleged." Some didn't even bother.
Ignoring Anti-Trump Violence
Compare. Two years ago in that same city, there was another attack. Four black thugs bound and gagged an innocent, defenseless 18-year-old mentally disabled white man. He was beaten, kicked, made to drink from a toilet bowl and bloodied from cuts to his scalp. The suspects laughed at him and shouted, "F--- Trump" and "F--- white people." The entire attack was captured on video — and streamed live on Facebook. They were arrested; he went into the emergency room.
"If it bleeds, it leads"? Not on your life, not something like this. The networks gave the story and all its gore a whopping 27 seconds that night.
Smollett's story collapsed shortly after ABC's Robin Roberts gave him an embarrassingly supportive interview. Call the show "Good Fawning America." Roberts did not approach with "caution." She chose not to use the word "alleged." It was true because he said so, and she wanted to believe him because she believes this is what Trump supporters do. She asked, "What do feel people need to hear the most from this story?" Smollett said, "just the truth." Her most ridiculous question was this: "If the attackers are never found, how will you be able to heal?"
Kudos to Michelle Malkin, who called out the media early for not asking these obvious questions:
Obvious Holes In the Jussie Smollett Story
How many racist homophobes wander around an upscale neighborhood of liberal Chicago at 2 a.m. carrying rope and bleach and yelling about "MAGA country"?
How many racist homophobes have heard of "Empire" and could recognize Jussie Smollett from his gay character on the show?
Red flags were visible everywhere, including the fact that the Chicago police told Malkin they initially hadn't heard the "MAGA country" claims. Early claims that Smollett had broken ribs were false.
President Trump, no doubt advised not to mutter "fake news" about the story, called the story "horrible." But in the end, it underlined why so many conservatives feel the "news" business isn't defined by the maxim "Facts First." It's "Fakes First."
Bozell is the president of the Media Research Center. Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org.
Ever since Amazon's breakup with New York on Valentine's Day, dejected Mayor Bill De Blasio is complaining that corporations shouldn't be able to play off one local government against others for tax breaks. "I don't think it's really fair to pit city against city and state against state," De Blasio whined like a jilted suitor.
Grow up, Mr. Mayor. Localities will always vie to woo companies. The real problem is that New York is pursuing a losing strategy. Winning requires low taxes and deregulation that benefit every company — whether it's big or small, new to the state or homegrown.
Instead, New York pols keep taxes at intolerable heights. Then they boast about negotiating tax breaks with a few big companies like Amazon. These pols aren't job creators. They're job buyers, willing to bid whatever it takes (with our money) so they can brag about luring in a plum employer.
NY's Amazon Strategy: Unfair and Costly
The whole strategy is unfair both to smaller companies that have to do business absent these tax breaks and to the state's taxpayers, who have to pay more in taxes to make up for the lost revenue from these deals.
We're footing the bill for these pols' phony job-creation theatrics.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor De Blasio did a victory dance in November, when Amazon ( AMZN) said it would build a second headquarters in Long Island City. Give the two credit. At least they were willing to deal with Amazon. The same cannot be said for Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her anti-capitalist ilk, whose vocal opposition may have been what drove Amazon out.
The Amazon deal aside, New York lost the overall competition for job growth in 2018, coming in below national average. Which states won? Nevada, Texas, Washington and Florida, which have no income tax, as well as Colorado, Arizona and Utah.
Cuomo blames bad weather for New York's mediocre showing and the exodus of New Yorkers to other states. That's laughable. Utah, hardly tropical, has a booming economy.
Cuomo's tailor-made tax breaks are an abysmal failure. Since taking office in 2011, he's doled out more than $10 billion in costly giveaways. Failures include the $90 million factory in upstate Syracuse for Soraa LED lighting company, which walked away from the deal. New York's taxpayer-funded corporate handouts are the most expensive in the U.S. and among the least effective, according to the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
A Nationwide Flop
In New York and nationwide, the strategy is a flop. Since 1990, states have tripled the amount of tax credits they're offering companies to set up shop. But the states winning economically are pursuing a wiser strategy: across-the-board tax cuts and regulatory relief instead.
States that woo big companies with special packages are getting slapped in the face. Three years ago, General Electric moved its corporate headquarters from Connecticut to Massachusetts, sweetened with a $25 million tax break package. Thursday, General Electric canceled plans for an office tower on the Boston waterfront and pared its staffing plan from 800 jobs down to 250.
Lawmakers in several states, including Massachusetts and New York, are acting like embittered suitors. They're proposing interstate compacts to prevent any future bidding wars. De Blasio says he wants to end "economic warfare." New York State Assemblyman Ron Kim insists that states "can't be pitted against each other like this."
Stopping state politicians from competing for jobs? When pigs fly.
Just minutes after Amazon spurned New York, officials from New Jersey sent the company heart balloons, cupcakes and a message saying, "NJ & Newark Still Love U, Amazon."
Pushing A Rigged System
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., celebrating Amazon's pull out, suggests that companies shouldn't be allowed to shop for relocation deals. "How long will we allow giant corporations to hold our democracy hostage?"
Sorry, senator, but competition is inevitable — and a good thing. It's part of our capitalist system. New York and other high-tax states just need to compete intelligently. That means lowering taxes for all companies and putting out a sign that says, "Business Welcome."
So far extreme leftists would rather bash the system as "rigged" and continue to lose.
McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York State. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of the more memorable lines from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is when the evil Capt. Barbossa, confronted with the fact that he's breaking the sacred Pirate Code, points out that, "The Code is more what you call guidelines, than actual rules."
This was a clever line in an action-comedy, but it's no joke when the same level of moral ambiguity is applied in the real world, as is currently the case with our banking industry.
In response to the financial crisis, Obama-era regulators initiated an "us vs. them" supervisory process where bank regulators had free reign to come down hard. This adversarial approach doesn't work.
That is why the Federal Reserve and other agencies that oversee the banking industry need to clarify supervisors' roles and bring an end to the Obama overreach that is doing more harm than good to the $17 trillion industry.
In other words, the agencies need to make it clear that rules are rules and guidelines are guidelines.
Subjective Bank Examinations
Industry representatives have long thought the examination process was too subjective, and even many regulators are now saying the same. Individual examiners wield too much power and have too much discretion, with some overly zealous examiners enforcing as hard-and-fast rules matters that should only be guidelines.
"An examiner in Atlanta may look differently at a bank than an examiner in San Francisco," said FDIC Chair Jelena McWilliams, noting that advances in AI could further help level the playing field against the whims of a capricious supervisor. But for now, simple clarification will suffice.
Supervisors may flag items for attention that amount to their own personal organizational preferences, but lack a genuine threat to the banking public. Examiners cite guidance as the basis for Matters Requiring Attention (MRA) even though agency leaders insist disobeying guidance is not grounds for punitive action.
An MRA should only be given in the case of something serious, critics in the banking industry say, so there should be a definable standard for what qualifies. But that's not what banks are getting; for many, it's like they're getting dragged into court for going one mile over the speed limit.
Vigilantes Or Regulators?
This needs to be clarified. Banks need supervisors, they don't need vigilantes.
Luckily, banking regulators issued an Interagency Statement confirming that supervisory guidance indeed does not have the force of law behind it, and that such guidance does not give bank examiners a license for enforcement actions.
The announcement came in September from the Federal Reserve, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC).
Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., called this "an integral first step towards restoring sanity and clarity in the regulatory regime," but regulators need to formalize the Interagency Statement with a binding regulation, so that it applies to all supervisors across the country from here on.
One of the problems leading up to the financial crisis was a lack of supervision. The Obama administration overcompensated — which certainly may have been the right reaction at the time — and now the Trump administration is tapping on the brakes with kinder, gentler treatment. This includes Fed examiners even giving positive feedback, not just criticism!
Our bankers are not devils and black sheep and really bad eggs — they're the engineers of our economy. They deserve a top-down clarification on how supervisors can treat them, both now and for the future.
Democrats Go Sharply Left
The 2,074 potential Democratic nominees for 2020 are all racing as far to the left as they possibly can, and bad ideas are multiplying among them these days like proverbial rabbits. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is trying to differentiate herself as the one who will be toughest on the banking industry, even though it's driving her more sensible colleagues nuts.
The problem is, no matter how many times she gets caught lying about being an American Indian, her message is going to pollute the race and give ammunition to whomever eventually becomes their nominee.
The bad news for banks is that even if Warren's candidacy fizzles out," as American Banker wrote, "the financial regulatory issues that she trumpets will be front and center in the next fight for the White House." God help us all if a Democrat wins in 2020, because imagine what these financial vigilantes will do if they have total discretion and a license to kill the banking industry.
Leftist minions with an agenda and the rule of law will chase as much money as they can to kinder, gentler banks around the world.
So let's urge the Trump administration to take action on banking as soon as possible. Rules should be rules. Guidelines should be guidelines. We're running the most complex, most important economy on planet Earth. It's not a pirate ship.
Whitley is a long-time DC politico who has also lived in Dubai and Berlin. He has an MBA from Hult International Business School.
Last week Rep. Nancy Pelosi warned President Donald Trump that if he declared an "emergency" to build a wall, "think what a president with different values can present... Why don't you declare (the epidemic of gun violence in America) an emergency, Mr. President? I wish you would... A Democratic president can declare emergencies as well."
Her fellow Democrats Sen. Kamala Harris and Sen. Elizabeth Warren quickly agreed.
Warren tweeted: "Gun violence is an emergency. Climate change is an emergency..."
Not every problem in America should be declared an emergency — or used by a president to justify acting without Congress.
But why are guns on the Democrats' "emergency" list anyway?
One reason is sloppy reporting by lazy media.
Last year, they claimed that there were school shootings at "hundreds of schools." It was "an almost daily occurrence" in the U.S., some said.
This was nonsense. NPR reporters looked into the 235 shootings reported by the U.S. Dept of Education and were only able to confirm 11 of them.
It turned out that schools were added to the list merely because someone at a school heard there may have been a shooting. Good for NPR for checking out the Education Department's claim.
Economist John Lott, president of the Crime Prevention Research Center (and father of one of my producers) spends much of his time researching gun use and correcting shoddy studies.
A few years ago, much of the media claimed that the U.S. has "the most mass shootings of any country in the world." President Barack Obama added it's "a pattern now that has no parallel anywhere else."
CNN and The L.A. Times wrote about "Why the U.S. Has the Most Mass Shootings." ("The United States has more guns.")
But the U.S. doesn't have the most mass shootings, says Lott. It's a myth created by University of Alabama associate professor Adam Lankford, a myth repeated by anti-gun media in hundreds of news stories.
"Lankford claimed that since 1966 there were 90 mass public shooters in the United States, more than any other country," says Lott. "Lankford claimed 'complete data' were available from 171 countries."
But how could that be? Many governments don't collect such data and even fewer have information from before the days of the internet.
A shooting in say, India, would likely be reported only in local newspapers, in a local dialect. How would Lankford ever find out about it? How did he collect his information? What languages did he search in?
He won't say.
"That's academic malpractice," says Lott in my video about the controversy.
I'm not surprised that Lankford didn't reply to Lott's emails. Lott is known as pro-gun. (He wrote the book "More Guns, Less Crime.") But Lankford also won't explain his data to me, The Washington Post or even his fellow gun control advocates.
When Lott's research center checked the data, using Lankford's own definition of a mass shooting, "four or more people killed," the center found 3,000 shootings around the world. Lankford claimed there were only 202.
Lankford said he excludes "sponsored terrorism" but does not define what he means by that. To be safe, Lott removed terrorism cases from his data. He still found 709 shootings — more than triple the number Lankford reported.
Deep State: Now that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has said he'll leave the Justice Department in mid-March, it's time to take stock of the damage Rosenstein and others in the Deep State did by quietly plotting to remove President Trump from office. This bureaucratic coup attempt has no parallel in modern U.S. history.
It was made even worse by McCabe's allegation that Rosenstein also offered to wear a wire on a trip to the White House. Rosenstein claims he was being sarcastic.
So, for Rosenstein, the walls were closing in.
Remember, it was Rosenstein who appointed Robert Mueller as special counsel a mere eight days after FBI Director James Comey was fired for lying. No doubt Rosenstein wasn't happy that straight-shooter William Barr was confirmed as attorney general in February, putting Rosenstein on a very hot seat.
Even so, Mueller's findings are largely irrelevant when it comes to the actions of Rosenstein, McCabe, Comey, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, Bruce and Nellie Ohr, and other Deep State denizens, who planned behind the scenes to remove Trump. (We even hear reports that at least two of Trump's cabinet members were open to supporting the plot).
What they did was plainly illegal, outside the scope of their duties, a violation of the Constitution.
The 25th Amendment is specific as to how it's to be applied: "Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President."
Abusing The Constitution
The operative phrase here is "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office." That implies a physical or mental incapacity to do the job. The 25th Amendment was passed in 1965 and ratified in 1967 in response to the assassination of President Kennedy, which left a power vacuum until then-Vice President Lyndon Johnson could be sworn in.
While it had been tradition to elevate the vice president to the presidency following a president's death, it was not a constitutional requirement.
Today, as any Democrat and tell you, Trump is able to discharge the powers and duties of his office. And that's why they want him gone. He's been too effective.
That non-elected government insiders would plot such a gambit suggests both desperation and a frightening lack of adherence to American constitutional norms. Perhaps they thought that Vice President Mike Pence would go along with it. They reportedly had at least two Cabinet members signed on to the idea, so who knows?
Lies From The Deep State
But this is not how our Constitution works. There is a constitutional remedy for a dishonest president. It's called impeachment. If Democrats really feel that Trump is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors, they can impeach him. Or try to. But they're on shaky ground. They've been calling for his impeachment since before he took office. Impeaching someone for profound policy differences isn't a part of the Constitution.
Remember, McCabe, Rosenstein and others lied repeatedly. They lied about what they were doing against Trump, to hide it from closer scrutiny.
Calling it an "attempted bureaucratic coup," Sen. Lindsey Graham on Monday vowed to launch a Senate investigation into the actions of FBI and Justice Department officials.
Good for him. We need to investigate the discussions Rosenstein held with others about taking action against Trump under the 25th Amendment. It reeks of a Banana Republic mentality that is not fitting for a nation guided by the rule of law.
They were so sure she would win they used her campaign's shaky opposition research — the so-called Trump Dossier put together by former British spy Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS, both funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign — to spy on Trump and, later, to launch their investigation of Trump's alleged ties with Russia to influence the 2016 election.
There is ample evidence that Hillary Clinton committed actual crimes. She did so both as Secretary of State and as an officer in the Clinton Family Foundation. If so, they warrant prosecution.
And yet, the Justice Department has done nothing but pursue what, at least up to now, appear to be phantom, politically motivated charges of "collusion" against Trump.
Congress should spend some time on the real collusion that occurred between Hillary Clinton's campaign, the CIA, the FBI and the Justice Department, as part of a larger effort to remove President Trump from office. Her ties and favors to the Russians while secretary of state — and even as the Clinton Foundation received Russian money — looks a lot like old-fashioned graft.
We welcome Graham's investigation, but that won't be enough. It's a job for new Attorney General William Barr. He has the experience, gravitas and clean hands to investigate this criminal mess. We hope he starts soon.
Election 2020: When Bernie Sanders announced on Tuesday that he was running for president, the only surprising thing was how much competition he'll have on the far left. The current crop of 2020 candidates is so liberal, in fact, that it makes the Barack Obama of 2008 look positively right wing.
When Obama first ran, he tried to position himself as something of a fiscal moderate.
Obama complained about "the orgy of spending" under President George W. Bush. He pledged that all his spending plans were more than offset with spending cuts.
"What I've done throughout this campaign is to propose a net spending cut," he said.
Obama the Moderate?
He attacked Hillary Clinton for wanting to mandate the purchase of health care, and John McCain for proposing a tax on employer-provided health benefits. About the latter, Obama warned that it would unravel the country's employer-based private health insurance system.
"That, I don't think, is the kind of change that we need," he said.
Instead, Obama said he'd focus on lowering health costs to make insurance a more affordable option.
As for the rich, the only tax hike Obama promised was to return the top rate to 39.6%, where it had been under President Bill Clinton.
Obama also promised regulatory reform and tax cuts for the middle class. On child care, he talked only about boosting the child tax credit to make it more affordable for parents.
On immigration, Obama promised to improve border security. "We need stronger enforcement on the border and at the workplace," he said.
Obama promised only to fill in the financing gap for Social Security, but never mentioned expanding benefits.
Of course, Obama betrayed many of those promises and failed to keep others. And he was much more liberal than he let on.
Double The Size Of Government
Nevertheless, were he campaigning on his 2008 proposals today, he'd likely be written off as an uninspired, centrist establishmentarian.
Think about it. Where Obama was railing about an "orgy of spending," today's Democrats are pushing plans that, combined, would more than double the size of the federal government.
In fact, the 12 Democrats who've already announced seem to be in a race to see who can propose the biggest, most expensive new government programs, paid for by substantial tax hikes on the "rich," including a confiscatory "wealth tax."
Of the seven major candidates who've declared, most have signed on to the radical "Medicare for all" plan developed by Bernie Sanders. It will cost $32 trillion in its first 10 years, and that's a lowball estimate. It would outlaw private insurance, including all employer provided health plans. And it would be bigger in scale and scope than the health care program of any other nation, with the possible exception of Cuba.
Even the supposedly moderate former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, another possible 2020 presidential contender, is on board.
Socialist Green New Deal
Every major candidate now in the race has also endorsed socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's "Green New Deal." As we pointed out, the GND is nothing less than " a call for enviro-socialism." It would put the government in charge of virtually every corner of the economy.
The cost is impossible to calculate, but the disruption and harm it would cause the economy would be unprecedented. Just trying to convert half the nation's energy to renewables would double or triple household energy costs. And the GND wants to go 100% renewable in a decade.
Most of the candidates also support the idea of "guaranteed federal jobs" — a guarantee last seen in the Soviet Union's constitution. The price tag: about $7 trillion over a decade.
Bernie Sanders wants to guarantee a job for every American worker that pays at least $15 an hour, and comes with health care benefits, a retirement plan and the same generous paid leave that federal workers get today.
When Sen. Corey Booker introduced a bill that would test a jobs guarantee in 15 local areas, Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren — all running in 2020 — signed on as co-sponsors.
This week, Warren announced a plan to provide free child care to anyone who makes less than twice the poverty rate, and cap costs at 7% of income for anyone else. The cost: $700 billion in the first decade.
The candidates are also calling for things like universal Pre-K education ($150 billion) and free college ($750 billion). Several of the 2020 candidates signed on to a bill that expands Social Security benefits — at a cost of $326 billion in the first five years and $560 billion over the next decade. Instead of border security, Democrats are talking about knocking down existing border barriers.
As we noted in this space recently, combined, this agenda would create a government that commands a bigger share of the economy than any other industrialized nation.
Will Moderate Dems Have A Chance?
True, it's possible that some moderate Democrats will enter the race, such as former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.
But how are they going to attract the support and enthusiasm in a field dominated by leftists who are willing to propose any new government program, no matter how massive?
And how are they going to appeal to the increasingly radicalized Democratic base? Not by blathering on about fiscal responsibility and the need to offer "realistic" proposals.
President Donald Trump was right to warn in his State of the Union address that Democrats want to import socialism into the U.S. The fact that there are so many Bernie Sanders clones running next year is proof of it.
I first discovered this as a graduate student studying the Soviet Union and left-wing ideologies at the Russian Institute of Columbia University School of International Affairs. Everything I have learned since has confirmed this view.
Individuals on both the left and right lie. Individuals on both the left and right tell the truth. And liberalism, unlike leftism, does value truth. But the further left one goes, the more one enters the world of the lie.
Why does the left lie?
Reasons for Leftist Lies
There are two main reasons.
One is that leftists deem their goals more important than telling the truth. For example, every honest economist knows women do not earn 20% less money than men for the same work done for the same amount of hours under the same conditions. Yet leftists repeat the lie that women earn 78 cents for every dollar men earn. Why any employers would hire men when they could hire women and get the same amount of work done at the same level of excellence for the same number of hours while saving 20 cents on the dollar is a question only God or the sphinx could answer.
So, when New York Times columnists write this nonsense, do they believe it? The answer is they don't ask themselves, "Is it true?" They ask themselves, "Does the claim help promote the left-wing doctrine that women are oppressed?" Whatever serves that end is morally justified.
The second reason is leftism is rooted in feelings, not reason or truth. From Karl Marx to Bernie Sanders, left-wing preference for socialism over capitalism is entirely rooted in emotion. Only capitalism creates wealth. Socialism merely spends what capitalism creates. Do leftists not know this? Even if they know it, the emotional pull of socialism prevails.
Do leftists believe there are more than two sexes? Of course not. That's why they renamed "sex" "gender" — and then redefined "gender" to mean whatever one wants it to mean.
So then, on the left, truth is subservient to two higher values: doctrine and emotion.
Do They Believe Them?
This leads to the question of this column: Do those on the left believe their lies?
Do leftists believe global warming will destroy the world as we know it in 12 years, as recently suggested by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez? I don't know. They seem to talk themselves into believing their hysterias. But they don't act on them. Here's a simple proof that the left is lying about the imminent threat of global warming to civilization: Leftists don't support nuclear power. It is simply not possible to believe fossil fuel emissions will destroy the world and, at the same time, oppose nuclear power. Nuclear power is clean and safe. Sweden, a model country for leftists, meets 40% of its energy needs with nuclear power. If you were certain you were terminally ill yet decline a medicine that is guaranteed to cure you, the rest of us would have every reason to assume you didn't really believe you were terminally ill.
Here's more evidence the left doesn't believe its global warming hysteria: How many leftists with beachfront property anywhere in the world have sold it? If leftists really believe global warming will cause the oceans to rise and soon inundate the world's coastal areas, why would any leftist not sell his beachfront home while he could not only make all his money back but make a profit as well?
Don't Act Like They Do
Another example of left-wing rhetoric leftists don't act on: The left tells us that colleges are permeated by a "rape culture," yet virtually all left-wing parents send their daughters to college. If you were to believe any place has a culture of rape, where 1 in 4 or 5 women is raped or otherwise sexually assaulted, would you send your 18-year-old daughter there? Of course not. So how do any left-wing mothers or fathers send their daughters to college? The answer would seem to be they know it's a lie — but that doesn't matter, since the left views telling the truth as incomparably less significant than combating sexism, sexual assault, misogyny, toxic masculinity and patriarchy.
One more example: "Walls don't work."
It is inconceivable that people who say this — especially those with walls around their home — believe it. Yet leftists say it with the same degree of ease Stalin labeled Trotsky a fascist, even though Trotsky and Lenin were the fathers of the Bolshevik Revolution.
The question is not whether truth is a left-wing value. The only question is whether leftists believe their lies. And, believe it or not, I still don't know. So, conduct the following tests and decide for yourself:
Ask anyone you know who says global warming will destroy most life on Earth in 12 years why they don't advocate nuclear power. If they tell you it's too dangerous, you know they are hysterics, not followers of science.
Ask anyone you know who believes the global warming threat is an existential one and owns beachfront property why they aren't selling their beachfront property.
Ask anyone who believes colleges have rape culture why they sent (or are sending) their daughter to college.
It is possible to love truth and be liberal, conservative, libertarian, an atheist, a believer, a Jew, a Christian, a Muslim or a Hindu. But you cannot be a leftist.
Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His latest book, published by Regnery in April 2018, is "The Rational Bible," a commentary on the book of Exodus. He is the founder of Prager University.
Does anyone know where all those free trade Democrats went?
Since Donald Trump burst onto the scene, liberal policy wonks and their Democratic allies have had a field day torching him for his tariff policies. Last year when I testified before the Senate on auto tariffs, nearly every Democrat on the committee, including Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, spoke derisively of what they called Trump's "dangerous," "destructive" and "mindless" trade restrictions. They protested that protectionism was harming our relations with our friends and raising prices on our consumers and could thrust the economy into recession.
They all sounded like Milton Friedman and Adam Smith prot?g?s. Democrats were defending the virtues of global capitalism and international commerce and stiff-arming the Trumpian "America first" nationalist theme. Wall Street and Silicon Valley started steering even more of their campaign cash to reward these pro-business Democrats.
Trump Gets A Better Deal
Now President Trump has renegotiated a new North American free trade deal — with some impressive improvements, including greater protections of American drug patents and a reduction in Canadian agricultural tariffs. Yes, there are some dubious protectionist policies, too, such as requiring that Mexican autoworkers get paid $16 an hour. Despite these flaws, the overriding value is it preserves the free trade architecture of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Just six months ago, it looked as if free trade among Canada, the United States and Mexico was going to blow up into a mutually destructive trade war.
Now this new deal, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, is grounded in Congress. Will those virtuous free trade Democrats put up or shut up? So far, they aren't showing up at all. Every vote count analysis finds that support from Democrats is nowhere near where it must be to secure ratification through the House.
The born-again free trade Democrats are inventing every possible excuse for stonewalling. They are saying that it lacks protections for American workers from low-priced Mexican labor and plant closings. This is a farcical argument. In addition to the minimum wage requirement, Mexico must enact a host of workplace measures that support and protect women, unions and migrant workers. There are also new "made in America" domestic content requirements for manufacturing. These sops to the unions are the very reason some free trade Republicans are legitimately worried about the deal.
But the GOPers will be fine. The fate of the USMCA rests in the lap of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Will she free up her caucus to provide the votes to approve a Trump initiative that would be good for all three nations? Or will she ramrod Democrats back into their safe space of resistance to anything Trump is for — even if it would advance the interests of Democratic constituents and the nation as a whole?
Free Trade Hypocrites
Even the liberal intellectuals who were ringing the bells for free trade internationalism are now stoically silent on the USCMA. These free trade hypocrites are apparently for every trade deal — unless it is negotiated by Donald Trump.
What is worse, killing the USMCA would hurt the voters and hometown businesses in the districts the Democrats represent. A pro-trade group called the Metropolitan Policy Program reports that major cities — including New York, Houston, St. Louis, Chicago, Austin and even Detroit — have become major export centers, with tens of billions of dollars of goods and services shipped abroad. Urban areas are now major trade centers, and free trade is imperative to their prosperity.
Since 1994, when Ronald Reagan's vision and Bill Clinton's new Democratic promise to sign NAFTA was delivered, trade across borders in North America almost quadrupled, from roughly $290 billion in 1993 to more than $1.1 trillion in 2016, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. This has been one of the great bipartisan economic successes of modern times.
Will Dems Kill USMCA?
Voting down the USMCA would weaken the entire North American continent as we compete for continued supremacy against the European Union and the Asian Tigers. Democrats must get on board.
Trump has threatened that if they won't, he will rescind NAFTA and reinstall the high-tariff policies of the previous era. But it would be better policy and politics to keep NAFTA in place and blame Nancy Pelosi and the other fake free trade Democrats for preventing an even better deal for American businesses and workers.
Moore is a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and an economic consultant with FreedomWorks. He is the co-author of "Trumponomics: Inside the America First Plan to Revive the American Economy."
Hidden in President Donald Trump's State of the Union address last week — and practically uncommented upon — was the seed of a revolutionary political platform.
"An amazing quality of life for all of our citizens," the Chief Executive mooted, "is within reach."
President Trump defined that "amazing quality of life" in part as making "our middle class more prosperous than ever before."
Reversing Redistributionist Drift
But why stop there? Why not refocus government on making all Americans wealthier — by reversing our culture of wealth redistribution and destruction?
As it happens, the very week of the President's oration, Democrats trotted out more evidence of their vision for America: doubling down on redistributionism in all its forms.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Elizabeth Warren's calls for a 70% income tax rate and a wealth tax, respectively, were the most obvious Robin Hood schemes to share media shelf space with the speech. But how about the Divine Ms. AOC's "Green New Deal," ostensibly about climate change — but actually the most outrageous wealth-transfer scheme ever devised?
Her freshman fantasy would shift trillions in resources from a revived fossil-fuel industry and everyday Americans to favored Democratic "green energy" constituencies. Not to mention the throw-in guaranteed income that, in a true "oops" moment, was promoted as providing income security to those "unable or unwilling to work."
Meanwhile, presidential wannabe Kamala Harris was affirming that progressives' beloved Medicare for All unicorn would deep-six private health insurance — finishing Barack Obama's work of converting the world's best healthcare system into a platform for stupendous relocations of capital.
Redistributionist Policies & Well Being
But that's the point: Programs from Social Security to Medicare to Medicaid to welfare to studentloans require galactic asset movements with little improvement in well-being — and in many cases, pooroutcomes.
Even as our Internal Revenue Code taxes savings, investment, work and payrolls — insanity for a country seeking to create jobs — and obliterates wealth through compliance costs running to hundreds of billions of dollars yearly and unproductive tax avoidance activity.
All of which also creates mis-incentives contributing to the mother (pun intended) of all economic and social downers: falling family formation and plunging birth rates. The loss of workers to pay for old-age entitlements is driving fiscal chaos and secular stagnation that has us headed toward Japan in a handbasket. In other words: it's the fertility, stupid!
Yet progressives are calling for more of the same? Thanks, but no thanks.
But what if President Trump and the GOP were to counter progressives' harebrained redistributionist hustles with an equally radical but truly "Green" New Deal — "Green" as in money? A plan to create wealth, not just tread water, in every social stratum at every stage of life?
A 'Green' New Deal
I'm not an economist, but since progressives are going wild and putting every crazy idea on the table, here goes:
Clear-cut colossal subsidies and preferences that crowd out markets, create disincentives and reward rent-seekers.
Further chop the $2 trillion of regulatory red tape that impedes competition and lards costs onto everything from homes to phones.
Pull out the props supporting a rotting education apparatus paralyzed by edifice complexes, administrative bloat, radicalism and increasingly worthless four-year degrees. Replace it with an affordable, digitally-driven system giving students the choices needed to thrive in the 21st-century work world. And find a way to free young people from the $1.5-trillion overhang of debt hawked to them like so many Florida swamps, and now depriving them of any opportunity at the American dream.
Go back to the future — the 1996 welfare reform — and reposition assistance as a temporary pathway to productive work, rather than a downward spiral into despondency and dependency.
Convert Social Security and Medicare from crumbling pay-as-you-go entitlements to savings plans accessible throughout life, that make every working American an investor instead of a supplicant. Thereby switch from unfunded liabilities as far as the eye can see to massive investment pools funding next-gen technologies instead of bike paths, bullet trains and Bridges to Nowhere.
Pursue tax reform that stops pummeling aspiration, productivity and job creation — and rewarding debt, over-housing, and health overutilization — and install a simple-to-administer consumption levy with a "prebate." If necessary, start with a transitional plan like Herman Cain's 2012 9-9-9 proposal, which by itself would set off a growth spurt unsurpassed in world history.
Most of all, purge the endless disincentives to preserving the greatest wealth-creation program of all: marriage and families ( lookitup). For starters, alongside student loan and tax reform, call a truce in the Nanny State's war on men and boys making all too many unsuitable marriage partners. (Tucker Carlson is dead on in lamenting how elites are failing to focus on family woes.)
JFK defended tax cut proposals by insisting, "A rising tide lifts all boats." If progressives can treat radical, redistributionist reveries like serious policy proposals, why shouldn't the President expand on his thought-provoking SOTU suggestion with an ambitious but realistic "Deal" that would raise, not wreck, riches for everyone?
I am rereading "The Affluent Society" with pleasure and profit.
Written by Harvard economist John Kenneth Galbraith and published in 1958, "The Affluent Society" survives as one of the most influential books of the last half of the 20th century. Galbraith foretold that private prosperity would lead to a larger public sector. But this has also left problems that linger today.
Galbraith — who died in 2006 — was rare among economists in that he had a distinctive writing style that was, at once, authoritative (even when he was later proved wrong), arrogant and charming. Humanity, he argued, was at an historic inflection point. For centuries, "poverty was the all-pervasive fact of the world." People constantly contended with "hunger, sickness and cold." Even after good harvests, everyone knew that famine "would strike again."
An Affluent Society
By the 1950s, this was no longer true in the United States and some European countries, Galbraith wrote. Just the opposite: "The ordinary individual has access to amenities — foods, entertainment, personal transportation and plumbing — in which not even the rich rejoiced a century ago."
Of course, Galbraith wasn't the only one to notice this. In his 1952 book "The Big Change," historian Frederick Lewis Allen reported that from 1900 to 1950 car ownership jumped from 13,000 to 44 million, and life expectancy rose from 49 years to 68. In "The Great Leap," published in 1966, John Brooks indicated that from 1940 to 1960, the share of homes without bathtubs and showers had dropped from about 40 percent to about 12 percent.
Air travel, television, interstate highways, credit cards, air conditioning and suburbanization all flourished during these decades.
What Galbraith brought to the table were ideas about how the economic system worked and how it might be improved. He argued that the social usefulness of private spending was reaching its limits. True, it was important to maintain production; this held unemployment down. But to do so, companies artificially stimulated demand for products and services of decreasing value.
The "direct link between production and wants is provided by the institutions of modern advertising and salesmanship," he wrote. "Their central function is to create desires — to bring into being wants that previously did not exist."
Expanding the Public Sector
Meanwhile, the public sector — aside from defense — was starved for funds, Galbraith contended. Schools, hospitals, local roads and police and other public services were all shortchanged.
The solution, he said, was to expand the public sector. This would provide useful services and help stabilize the economy, because the supply of public services would be less erratic than either consumer or business spending, underpinned by debt. (A half-century before the 2008-09 financial crisis, Galbraith identified private-sector debt as a major economic threat.)
To a large extent, Galbraith's vision has triumphed. Federal spending — excluding the military — has soared since 1950. We have a large welfare state; social regulation, led by the environment, is pervasive. And yet, all is not well.
The premise of "The Affluent Society" was that the economy would remain robust forever. Our important needs could be satisfied; the crucial decision was deciding what we needed. "The Affluent Society" barely mentions foreign competition. In the 1950s and early '60s, it was inconceivable to most Americans that other countries could pose a threat to U.S. economic dominance.
Galbraith shared this optimism, believing that mega-companies of the order of General Motors, IBM and AT&T guaranteed U.S. superiority. He generally disparaged the role of entrepreneurs in founding new industries and technologies.
Likewise, Galbraith's theory of consumption, though it seems plausible and probably describes some behavior, collides with most everyday observation. Advertising does not foist products on most consumers that they would not otherwise want. People don't have to be convinced to fly, to use the internet, or to go to a good restaurant. Advertising determines mostly which brands people buy.
Economic stabilization has also proved more difficult than Galbraith assumed. The Great Recession of 2007-09 was proof of that, if nothing else. Most economists failed to forecast it.
Still, Galbraith's achievement — providing a coherent and literate view of the whole economy — is no mean feat. Unfortunately, the affluent society is not as affluent as he and others expected. This explains many of our problems, because it confronts us with choices that we'd rather avoid.
Presidents Day is unique among American holidays in providing the opportunity to remember and appreciate why George Washington and Abraham Lincoln — whose birthdays fall in February — were the two greatest U.S. presidents.
While Washington was the founding father of the United States, Lincoln would later save the nation from division and collapse — bringing an end to the Civil War and the scourge of slavery. In short, Lincoln saved the republic that Washington made possible.
And two remarkable men they were, whose insight and wisdom is timeless and as relevant today as it was in their times many years ago.
George Washington had proven himself through the Revolutionary War, raising up the ad-hoc colonial militia into a fighting force worthy of the title: Continental Army. In the first few years of engagement there were more setbacks than successes against the British.
But Washington's men were willing to sacrifice and press on even when their cause appeared hopeless because they saw in their general a compelling moral excellence. He deeply cared for his men's wellbeing, led by example, and continuously put his life on the line — unhesitatingly and calmly charging to the front — seemingly oblivious to fear.
But Washington also knew when to protect his troops in retreat so as to be able to fight another day.
In the end, his execution of key strategic victories and his will to wear down, outlast and demoralize the more numerous and professional British forces paid off. More than six years after he first engaged the British in Boston, the stage was set with the help of the French army and navy, to deliver a final knockout blow and victory at Yorktown, Virginia in October of 1781.
General Washington had pulled off the impossible: that of leading the inexperienced and poorly equipped Continental Army to defeating Great Britain — then the world's most powerful empire and advanced military power.
Washington overcame the overwhelming odds on the ground with a spiritual power that combined faith in the cause of American independence with unwavering perseverance, making possible a final victory little short of miraculous.
Paris Peace Treaty
Four years after peace was formalized through the Paris Peace Treaty of 1783, a second convention was summoned in Philadelphia to draft a new Constitution — attended by George Washington, James Madison, George Mason, Alexander Hamilton and Ben Franklin and some 50 others, eight of whom had signed the Declaration of Independence.
Washington's reputation for undaunted courage in battle, dedication to his troops, reverence for the Almighty and personal modesty preceded him to Philadelphia, and he was the unanimous choice to serve as president of the Constitutional Convention.
And, not surprisingly, after the Constitution's ratification by the states, on February 4, 1789, the nation's first Electoral College unanimously chose George Washington to be the first president of the United States. He was reelected unanimously for a second term, and the American people clamored for him to stay on for a third, but the founding father knew it was time to step aside.
Washington's final gift to his country was his Farewell Address, calling it "a warning from a departing friend." Prophetic in nature, it was a penetrating articulation of the key threats to freedom and the republican form American democracy: the failure of institutions to keep people informed and enlightened, the problems of factions and hyper-partisanship, and the decline of religious obligation and national morality.
So impressive was it, that Washington's Farewell Address was more widely printed than the Declaration of Independence.
A Memorable Farewell
That parting exposition from Washington specifically described the problems facing the American republic in the need "for enlightened public opinion," and the harm from "the alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge… (which) serves always to distract the public councils…enfeeble the public administration…agitate the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms."
Washington also believed that the inner strength and morality of the nation could not be sustained without religion. On this, the Farewell Address is as relevant today as it was 222 years ago, wherein Washington asked, "Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice?"
Lincoln's Humble Beginnings
Abraham Lincoln was born in 1809, some 12 years after Washington left office, He would be elected 16th president of the United States in 1860, and immediately confront the greatest crisis in American history with the nation being literally torn in two as a result of numerous states asserting their rights to secede from the Union, claiming Constitutional state's rights to manage the issues associated with slavery and its abolition.
What makes Lincoln one of the greatest presidents was in part that he embodied the American Dream, being born in poverty and self-taught with almost no formal schooling. Growing up in a Christian home, he was acquainted with Biblical teachings, but when he came of age he didn't join a church because he took issue with denominational dogmas seemingly at odds with Christ's essential teachings.
Lincoln was also a late bloomer, holding many jobs before deciding to run for the Illinois state assembly and pursuing the practice of law when he was 26.
Lincoln's address to the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois when he was just 29, expressed similar concerns about internal threats to America's sovereignty that were raised by Washington. There Lincoln said, "If (danger) ever reach us it must spring up amongst us; it cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time or die by suicide."
Lincoln's Keen Mind And Faith
Perhaps more significant than the humble circumstances of his upbringing, the greatness of Lincoln was clearly in his mind, his moral compass and his trust in God in the face of difficulty.
Confronting the greatest crisis in American history upon taking the oath of office — 72 years after Washington — Lincoln declared, "Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him, who has never yet forsaken this favored land, are still competent to adjust, in the best way, all our present difficulty."
Lincoln knew the solution to the challenges he faced with secession, Civil War and the abolition of slavery were beyond his or anyone's capability.
He described the Declaration of Independence as a beacon to provide clarity and instill courage, "so that truth, and justice, and mercy, and all the humane and Christian virtues might not be extinguished from this land; so that no man would hereafter dare to limit and circumscribe the great principles on which the temple of liberty was being built."
Gettysburg: The Turning Point
Gettysburg was a victory and turning point for Lincoln's Union forces on that long and agonizing road to final peace. The bloodiest battle, it was also a turning point in the personal life of Lincoln, who acknowledged that, "when I went to Gettysburg and saw the graves of thousands of our soldiers, I then and there consecrated myself to Christ."
Lincoln often said that the duration of the Civil War was in God's hands, but in the Gettysburg address he left no room for doubt about the final outcome, that America would, "have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
In Washington as the founder and Lincoln as the savior we are confronted with qualities of character that made America great and exceptional. Presidents Day offers us the opportunity to recapture and celebrate those virtues.
It also affords us time to reflect on both presidents' observations that citizens need to moderate partisan behavior for the lasting common good, and to maintain heightened vigilance to preserve freedom and the rule of law.
Powell is senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and teaches in the graduate program in Global Development at Palm Beach Atlantic University. Reach him at email@example.com.
"From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!" — Karl Marx
Norman Thomas was not easily discouraged. Running for president in 1932, three years into the shattering, terrifying Depression, which seemed to many to be a systemic crisis of capitalism, Thomas, who had been the Socialist Party's candidate in 1928 and would be in 1936, 1940, 1944 and 1948, received, as this column previously noted, fewer votes (884,885) than Eugene Debs had won (913,693) as the party's candidate in 1920, when, thanks to the wartime hysteria President Woodrow Wilson had fomented, Debs was in jail.
In 1962, Michael Harrington, a founder of the Democratic Socialists of America (it succumbed to a familiar phenomenon: Two American socialists = three factions), published "The Other America." It supposedly kindled President John Kennedy's interest in poverty, which had not escaped his attention while campaigning in West Virginia's primary. Harrington, like "democratic socialist" Sen. Bernie Sanders today, thought socialism should be advanced through the Democratic Party.
Angry Advocates of Socialism
Today, socialism has new, angrier advocates. Speaking well of it gives the speaker the frisson of being naughty and the fun of provoking Republicans like those whose hosannas rattled the rafters when the president vowed that America would never become socialist. Socialism is, however, more frequently praised than defined because it has become a classification that no longer classifies.
So, a president who promiscuously wields government power to influence the allocation of capital (e.g., bossing around Carrier even before he was inaugurated; using protectionism to pick industrial winners and losers) can preen as capitalism's defender against socialists who, like the Bolsheviks, would storm America's Winter Palace if America had one.
Time was, socialism meant thorough collectivism: state ownership of the means of production (including arable land), distribution and exchange. When this did not go swimmingly where it was first tried, Lenin said (in 1922) that socialism meant government ownership of the economy's "commanding heights" — big entities.
After many subsequent dilutions, today's watery conceptions of socialism amount to this: almost everyone will be nice to almost everyone, using money taken from a few. This means having government distribute, according to its conception of equity, the wealth produced by capitalism. This conception is shaped by muscular factions: the elderly, government employees unions, the steel industry, the sugar growers, and so on and on and on. Some wealth is distributed to the poor; most goes to the "neglected" middle class. Some neglect: The political class talks of little else.
Two-thirds of the federal budget (and 14% of GDP) goes to transfer payments, mostly to the non-poor. The U.S. economy's health care sector (about 18% of the economy) is larger than the economies of all but three nations, and is permeated by government money and mandates. Before the Affordable Care Act was enacted, 40 cents of every health care dollar was government's 40 cents. The sturdy yeomanry who till America's soil? Last year's 529-page Agriculture Improvement Act will be administered by the Agriculture Department, which has about one employee for every 20 American farms.
Socialists favor a steeply progressive income tax, as did those who created today's: The top 1% pay 40% of taxes; the bottom 50% pay only 3%; 50% of households pay either no income tax or 10% or less of their income. Law professor Richard Epstein notes that in the last 35 years the fraction of total taxes paid by the lower 90% has shrunk from more than 50% to about 35%.
In his volume in the Oxford History of the United States ("The Republic for Which It Stands," covering 1865-1896) Stanford's Richard White says that John Bates Clark, the leading economist of that era, said "true socialism" is "economic republicanism," which meant more cooperation and less individualism. Others saw socialism as "a system of social ethics." All was vagueness.
Today's angrier socialists rail, with specificity and some justification, against today's "rigged" system of government in the service of the strong. But as the Hoover Institution's John H. Cochrane (aka the Grumpy Economist) says, "If the central problem is rent-seeking, abuse of the power of the state, to deliver economic goods to the wealthy and politically powerful, how in the world is more government the answer?"
The "boldness" of today's explicit and implicit socialists — taxing the "rich" — is a perennial temptation of democracy: inciting the majority to attack an unpopular minority. This is socialism now: From each faction according to its vulnerability, to each faction according to its ability to confiscate.
Will is a columnist for the Washington Post and a contributor to MSNBC.
Business Un-Friendly: Amazon's decision to pull the plug on the New York half of its "HQ2" shows just how inhospitable the state has become to businesses. Even a $3 billion sweetheart deal couldn't overcome its toxic economic environment. There's a lesson here.
Socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been running around claiming credit for Amazon's decision, calling it a big win for the "people" over "corporate greed."
But the "credit," such as it is, doesn't belong to her social media campaign or the protesters with makeshift signs marching around.
Why Amazon Ditched N.Y. HQ2
Instead, it goes to years of bad public policy decisions that have created one of the most hostile states for businesses in the country.
New York ranks No. 48 on the Tax Foundation's ranking of business tax-friendly states. It comes in second to last on the Chief Executive Magazine's list of "Best & Worst States for Business." It shows up in No. 44 place on the CNBC Global CFO Council's ranking for cost of doing business. Governing Magazine gave New York a D+ grade for small business friendliness.
And in a "economic freedom" ranking of the 52 largest metro areas in the country, three of New York's metro areas — New York City, Buffalo and Rochester — show up in the bottom five. The rankings are based on nine separate measures, including government spending, taxes, regulations and labor policies.
Studies consistently show that anti-business states like New York reap what they sow. They lose jobs, lose population, lose tax revenues. No amount of targeted tax breaks will overcome these trends.
Losing More Than Amazon's HQ2
From 2010 to 2017, New York lost 1 million people to other states. In 2017 alone, it lost more than 160,000. And with them went tens of billions of dollars in taxable income.
And once Amazon learned that Democrats in the state senate might scuttle the massive incentive package it had arranged, it fled New York, too.
The same thing is happening in other openly business-hostile states. California saw 556,000 leave from 2010 to 2017. Illinois lost 642,000, New Jersey 201,000, Connecticut 153,000.
Economist Dean Stansel found the exact same phenomenon at the local level, as well.
Freedom Means Prosperity
Metro regions that ranked as the most economically free saw their populations grow four times faster than the least free.
"The most-free areas were also more prosperous," Stansel notes in a nearby Op-Ed, "with per capita personal income 5.7% above the metro area average, while the least-free were 4.9% below average. That means per capita income was nearly 11% higher in the freest areas."
If New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to bring companies like Amazon to the state, here's an idea. Cut New York's taxes across the board, rein in the state's regulatory behemoth. And then get out of the way. Same goes for other anti-business states.
The FDA recently issued new draft guidance that could accelerate the development of breakthrough medicines — thereby saving millions of patients' lives.
The draft guidance encourages pharmaceutical companies to embrace "adaptive trial designs," which can shave years off the traditional drug research and testing process. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb hopes the guidance will make drug development "more efficient and less costly."
It certainly will. The millions of Americans who are battling cancer, Alzheimer's and other life-threatening chronic diseases should cheer the move.
Before approving a medicine for sale, the FDA requires drug manufacturers to prove it's safe and effective by conducting clinical trials, which traditionally take place in three phases. In phase I, researchers give doses of an experimental drug to a few dozen patients to ensure the medicine is safe for human consumption. In phase II, researchers give the medicine to several hundred sick patients to test a drug's efficacy and side effects.
During phase III, researchers offer the drug to hundreds or thousands of patients and monitor for less common side effects they may have missed in the previous phase.
New Drugs Take Time
Importantly, it can take more than 10 years on average to navigate through clinical trials and the FDA approval process. Unfortunately, cancer patients do not have the time to wait.
Adaptive clinical trials could significantly speed up the approval process. These trials allow researchers to modify their testing midcourse based on data they've already collected. By discontinuing dead-end research, scientists can save valuable time and money.
Consider the "Precision Promise" responsive adaptive trial sponsored by the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. Starting this year, researchers will simultaneously test multiple drugs on pancreatic cancer patients, rather than testing just one new medication at a time, as in traditional clinical trials. Some patients will receive SM-88, a promising, investigational cancer therapeutic that is designed to kill cancer cells without sacrificing quality of life.
SM-88 specifically targets cancer cells' metabolism, the processes that are necessary for the cancer cell to live, and does not target normal cells. Other therapies expected in this Precision Promise trial include investigational immune-based drugs, investigational therapies for patients with specific genetic mutations, and investigational agents designed to improve drug delivery to the tumor.
As the trial advances, patients will receive the investigational treatments showing the most promise.
A Revolution For Cancer?
This new trial design could revolutionize the treatment of pancreatic cancer, which claims 44,000 American lives each year and has a fatality rate of 95%.
I've experienced the horror of this disease firsthand. Two of my brothers, Eddie and Artie, and my business partner, Ervin, died from pancreatic cancer. In one of my last conversations with Eddie, he implored me to help researchers develop a cure. I promised him I would. I'm convinced that responsive adaptive trials are key to finding such a breakthrough.
Finding and securing FDA approval of investigational treatments faster could also save employers and taxpayers billions of dollars. That's because many new drugs are significantly more effective than previous treatments — and have fewer side effects. As a result, patients miss fewer days of work. Currently, employers lose more than $200 billion a year due to workers' disease-induced absenteeism.
Improvements like these also help reduce the total costs across the entire health care system — a much-needed reprieve.
Faster drug launches could also help reduce the toll of our most costly chronic diseases, such as Alzheimer's. There is currently no treatment capable of slowing the disease's progression. It afflicts 5.7 million Americans, and that total is projected to rise to 14 million by 2050. A treatment that merely delays the onset of Alzheimer's by five years could save Medicare and Medicaid $218 billion annually by 2050.
Accelerating drug launches by even a few months could make all the difference for Americans battling fatal illnesses. It's heartening to see the FDA recognize the need for speed, and that will help honor my promise to Eddie and to all patients suffering from these illnesses.
Thompson is a former Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Governor of Wisconsin. He is also a board member of Tyme Technologies, which is a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing novel cancer therapeutics intended to be safe and effective across a broad range of tumor types.
Border Wall: After President Donald Trump said Thursday he'll sign the budget deal, he ended the possibility of a second government shutdown. Now, for part two of this saga: his declaration of an emergency to build the border wall Trump promised to Americans.
We urged him to take that step before the deal had been struck. We did so because the deal actually includes Democrats agreeing to spend money on a wall, a key concession that weakens all their previous arguments against the wall.
Now that he's declared an emergency, it gives him the ability to start building.
The new budget deal, though it contains just $1.4 billion for the wall — way below the $5.7 billion Trump requested and the $18 billion he initially asked for — gives the president a start. And with a declaration of an emergency, he now can do even more.
Indeed, Trump has already scraped up $8 billion in funds for building the border wall. His Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said Friday the president has already lined up emergency funds totaling $600 million from the Treasury, $2.5 billion in drug-interdiction funds from the Defense Department, and $3.5 billion from military construction funds.
With the $1.4 billion already in the budget, that's a grand total just under $8 billion. Not enough, of course, but a good start.
Yes, It's An Emergency
Then there's the declaration of a national emergency, which has come under fire.
As we continue to face wave after wave of illegal immigrant "caravans" egged on by Democrats and open-borders advocates — and the possibility of drug dealers, terrorists and criminals crossing into our country unhindered — Trump's declaration became an imperative. As we've said for years, a nation that doesn't control its borders ceases to exist. Period.
Then there's the idea that this represents some kind of "abuse" of the government's power to issue emergency declarations. Please.
Since 1976, there have been 60 presidential emergency declarations, and 31 of them are still in force. President Obama alone signed 12. Most of them have been for foreign emergencies, far from the U.S. Given this, the idea that protecting our own border from a surge of illegal incursions doesn't rise to the level of "national emergency" is absurd.
Border Wall: Build It
We keep hearing the Democrats will challenge it in court. Well, let them. It's pretty clear that Trump has the authority to do what he's doing. And, if the Dems pursue a policy of foot-dragging and legal harassment, the Democrats will once again show their lack of seriousness about doing anything about protecting our porous southern border.
The U.S. has already started work on the border wall near El Paso, Trump says. Great. He should keep at it, using whatever funds he can gather through the emergency declaration and from future budgets.
But whatever happens, the wall won't be done in time for 2020, the next national election year. That means Republicans and Democrats will face the border as a major campaign issue in 2020. That's as it should be. Let Trump start building, then let the people decide.
Americans continue to be on the move. According to North American Moving Services, California and New York were losing residents and had some of the highest rates of outbound moves (based on moving truck rental data) in 2018, while Texas and Florida were among the states with highest rates of inbound moves.
Broadly speaking, Texas and Florida tend to have public policies that support a free-market economy, whereas states like New York and California tend to do the opposite. The case can be made that residents seem to be voting with their feet in favor of economic freedom.
The "U.S. Metropolitan Area Economic Freedom Index" uses nine different measures of state and local government policies to produce an overall score for each of the nation's 382 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs). For purposes of rankings, the 52 largest with over a million residents were examined separately.
In California, for example, San Jose, home to many of the tech companies in Silicon Valley, ranked in the middle of the pack (at 27th), but Los Angeles ranked in the bottom 10 and Riverside ranked last (52nd).
Similarly, in Tennessee, Nashville scored well, ranking as the 6th most free metro area, but Memphis was only 20th.
This variation within states helps explain why some areas within a state can thrive while others struggle.
From 2012 to 2016, San Jose's metro area population grew by 4.4%, while Los Angeles' grew less than half as fast (2.1%).
Nashville's population grew by 8% while Memphis' barely budged (0.2%).
Overall, the five most-free large areas were Houston, Jacksonville, Tampa-St. Petersburg, Richmond, and Dallas-Fort Worth. The bottom five were Riverside, Calif.; Rochester, Buffalo and New York City in New York state, and Cleveland.
Faster Population Growth
The study shows that population grew four times faster in the freest areas. The most-free areas were also more prosperous, with per-capita personal income 5.7% above the metro area average, while the least free were 4.9% below average.
That means per capita income was nearly 11% higher in the freest areas. (See nearby chart.)
The positive relationship between economic freedom and economic prosperity at the local level is similar to findings at the state and country levels.
In one recent study, economists at West Virginia University and Louisiana State University found that a 10% increase in economic freedom was associated with a 5% increase in real per capita gross state product (a measure of the total output of the economy per person).
For lawmakers, this means policy and regulatory decisions may have much more impact than they think.
Interventions in the economy, such as exorbitant increases in government spending, high income tax rates, and minimum wage increases tend to be associated with poorer economies. The opposite policies — slower spending growth, low (or no) income taxes, and fewer labor market interventions — tend to be associated with more prosperous economies.
For struggling local economies, the lesson is clear: Policy changes that support a free-market economy can help slow the exodus of people and businesses seeking freer pastures elsewhere.
But burdensome interventions in the economy may lead to even more people packing their stuff into moving vans and leaving the area.
It's official. After first saying yes to an offer that most people thought they couldn't refuse, Amazon has changed its mind and will not be building a new headquarter in New York City.
New York officials offered Amazon an incentive package worth up to $3 billion in combined state and local tax breaks in response to a promise the company will "create" 25,000 jobs by investing $2.5 billion in a headquarters located in Queens. Do the math. The tax breaks would more than cover the entire cost of Amazon's investment.
Cities in my home state of North Carolina wanted badly to land Amazon's second headquarters and, like New York and many other states, were willing to throw hundreds of millions at the most valuable public entity in the world. That's why when Amazon passed on North Carolina, I was happy.
New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other left-wing activists have been protesting the deal. They, rightly, identify it as a giant wealth transfer from city and state taxpayers to one of the wealthiest corporations in the world.
The controversy in New York has, apparently, gotten hotter than Amazon is willing to endure. Media speculation over the past week that Amazon would be changing its mind has become a reality. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who completely supported the deal, was concerned this would happen. Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Cuomo was warning "that local opponents could derail the project."
A $3 Billion Giveaway
Let's be clear about the economics. The $3 billion giveaway was bad economic policy in the first place. Gov. Cuomo and the people of New York City should be relieved Amazon has decided to pick up its marbles to go play with someone else's tax dollars. What the state and city governments were actually doing is subsidizing Amazon to bid valuable land, labor, and capital resources away from existing businesses who are paying taxes and risking their own investment dollars.
Amazon would have needed 25,000 new workers and the capital resources necessary to build a new $2.5 billion campus. If these decisions were being based on an unsubsidized decision-making process, it certainly would be something for New Yorkers to cheer. An unsubsidized deal would telegraph that New York is a truly profitable place to locate, as dictated by actual market conditions. The rearrangement of resources that would result would indeed contribute to efficient economic growth.
But because the company's decision would have been the result of a subsidized transfer of wealth, it would have generated a misallocation of resources and harmed overall economic growth. The reason is simple. The resources that Amazon would have been using, particularly labor, but also capital, are not laying idle. They are scarce and valuable to other potential investors and existing businesses in both New York City and throughout the state.
The Subsidy Game
As of December 2018, the unemployment rate in New York City was 4%. For New York State as a whole it was 3.9%. By any economic standard, this is full employment. The supply necessary to fill the demand for 25,000 additional employees would have to come from somewhere. If Gov. Cuomo and others expected these positions would be filled by New Yorkers, and the decision to transfer $3 billion from state taxpayers to Amazon was not meant to provide jobs for out-of-staters, Amazon would have been bidding workers away from existing businesses.
This would drive up labor costs and make it more difficult for those businesses to operate profitably or expand, or for other unsubsidized businesses to make new investments. This also applies to the cost of other local resources such as capital and land that Amazon will be competing for in the marketplace.
Economics tell the tale. Any state that plays the taxpayer subsidy game with Amazon will be driving up the cost of doing business in the area and will destroy more jobs than it creates. The result will be less economic growth, not more.
Cordato, Ph.D., is senior economist and resident scholar at the John Locke Foundation, and editor of "Political Economy in the Carolinas." These comments are the opinion of the author, and do not necessarily express the position of the John Locke Foundation.
There's an old joke about an egotistical politician whose disgruntled speechwriter, just before quitting, prepares a draft that promises the moon, and specifics for how to pay for it, on the first two pages, and leaves the third page blank except for the words "You're on your own now."
That's the position that freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Green New Deal package, co-introduced by Sen. Edward Markey, has left the several Democratic presidential candidates who rushed to endorse it. AOC (as she's often called) herself has tried to repudiate some of it, as an early draft or a Republican prank. New York Times and Washington Post reporters have indulged her alibis.
But someone wrote it, someone whose goal is to "achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and" — incidentally — "create economic prosperity for all" in just 10 years.
Drastic Green New Deal
One representative plank: "build out high-speed rail at a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary." Another: "create affordable public transit available to all, with goal to replace every combustion-engine vehicle." A third: "Work with farmers and ranchers to create a sustainable, pollution and greenhouse gas free, food system that ensures universal access to healthy food."
Sounds kinda drastic, especially if you sometimes fly several hours to vacation or visit relatives, or if you drive an SUV or a pickup truck, or eat meat from methane-emitting cattle or hogs.
But in their FAQs, which they maintain was sent out by mistake or something, AOC's folks assure voters that their goal is "net-zero, rather than zero emissions, in 10 years because we aren't sure that we'll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast." These people who say they couldn't put out the right press release assure us they "can ramp up renewable manufacturing and power production, retrofit every building in America, build the smart grid, overhaul transportation and agriculture" in 10 years.
By this point, it should be apparent that the Green New Deal — "the green dream, or whatever they call it," in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's words — is never going to happen. If you had any doubt, this week, California's new Democratic governor, Gavin Newsom, announced he was ditching his predecessor Jerry Brown's state high-speed rail line, which he said "would cost too much and take too long." It was sold to voters in 2008 as costing $40 billion. Current estimates are it will take $77 billion until completion in 2033.
But it's worth reflecting on what the GND tells us about American leftists. Far from encouraging 21st-century technology, they want to abandon 20th-century tech (planes, non-electric autos) and go back to 19th (trains). Far from accommodating individual choices, they want to boss everyone around.
Those family farmers they extol will have to wait to get to town if their electric vehicle is out of juice because the wind isn't blowing and the sun isn't shining and they're still waiting for the "affordable public transit" to reach their farm. Maybe they can use bike lanes.
Withering Contempt For Regular People
And it's not at all clear that coastal sophisticates will be content to be stuck on slow-moving trains and stuck off on sidings for 20 or so hours out in what they like to call flyover country until someone cleverer than Gavin Newsom can gin up the federal printing press to pay for high-speed rail tracks between Manhattan and Hollywood.
Those on the political left — whether struggling Generation Z bartenders from Queens or rich homeowners in Brentwood, California — share a withering contempt for and thinly veiled hostility toward ordinary middle-income people, raising families and shopping at malls and navigating enormous SUVs (needed for kids car seats) into the fast-food carryout lanes.
Leftists love to confine vulgar people to rail lines — high-speed rail or urban subways — and force them into high-rise apartments, which they design. They hate single-family-home suburbs and the automobile that let ordinary people go where they want to go, when they want to and with as many stops as they like.
Voters feel differently. In France, where most people live beyond walking distance of the Paris Metro, the gilets jaunes have led a successful rebellion against a carbon tax, i.e. a tax on driving. In Washington state last November, voters, even in the county that includes Seattle, soundly rejected a carbon tax.
Now Markey says it's unfair to bring the Green New Deal to the Senate floor. The label polls well. But, he suspects, the substance won't. So why have presidential candidates Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren endorsed this foolishness?
Barone is a senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and longtime co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.
NBC late-night comedian Seth Meyers recently dedicated one of his "comedy" diatribes to denouncing "scaremongering about socialism."
Liberals have a right to lecture us on some things, but scaremongering ain't one of them. These are the same people who relentlessly scaremonger the American people about "climate change."
In a recent video to promote a World Government Summit in Dubai, legendary "Star Wars" actor Harrison Ford offered the usual litany of doom. "What does living in a 4-degrees-warmer world look like? Fresh water shortages. Higher greenhouse gas emissions. Unprecedented fires. Worldwide destruction. Is this the world we want?"
Harrison Ford: Climate Expert
Ford added: "Our planet, the only home we've got, is suffering. This is the bare truth. This is our reality. It's up to you and me to act now to face the greatest moral crisis of our time, to take action. It is time to make a difference."
Leftists can make this kind of unproven doom case forever, and it never loses its "moral authority." It doesn't matter that they've been selling the end of humanity since at least 1968, when Paul Ehrlich published his ludicrous manifesto "The Population Bomb." Did we all die over the last 50 years? Does anyone point and laugh at the elite media who eagerly pushed that "fake news"?
In 1989, Ehrlich himself narrated several long "news" segments with comical predictions on NBC's "Today" show. He actually predicted that end-of-days flooding would force folks to hitch their boats to the Washington Monument. Thirty years later, we're still on terra firma.
The next year, actress Meryl Streep hosted a 10-part PBS documentary series called "Race to Save the Planet" and predicted: "By the year 2000, that's less than 10 years away, the Earth's climate will be warmer than it's been in over 100,000 years. If we don't do something, there will be enormous calamities in a very short time."
It wasn't true, and it never mattered, because doom is apparently always 10 years away. People didn't believe Streep is an actual science expert. She enjoys a higher qualification. She is a movie star, used like a commercial pitchman, the same way George Clooney tells you to drink Nespresso coffee.
A Middle Ground?
Harrison Ford has used his movie star charisma for this cause for years on behalf of a group called Conservation International. As part of this crusade, he told CNN at the summit in Dubai that this isn't a left-right issue: "It's not about political ideologies. ... we've been disaggregated into political ideology groups, and we've got to find this middle ground to get things done."
As you can see from the laughable details of the "Green New Deal," the left's prescriptions are in no way in the middle ground, unless government being mandated to end the scourges of airplane travel and cow flatulence is mainstream.
Harrison Ford gave a speech and pointed the finger at President Trump and "climate deniers" in general. True to form, Ford muttered, "In 10 years, it may be too late."
"We are the only member of the animal kingdom whose behavior, whose hubris can destroy the planet," Ford lectured. "Around the world, elements of leadership — including in my own country — to preserve their stake in the status quo, deny or denigrate science. They are on the wrong side of history."
And yet, it's history that these people keep denying — that the ecological scaremongers have been wrong for 50 years. The hubris of the left is overwhelming, and it is shameless.
Bozell is the president of the Media Research Center. Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org.
The "Green New Deal" is upon us, and the question is what to make of it.
The Democratic proposal mandates that, within a decade, virtually all fossil fuels — which represent about four-fifths of the nation's energy supply — shall be replaced with clean fuels that don't worsen global warming. Just how is this task to be accomplished? The main sponsors of the Green New Deal — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass. — don't say.
The difficulties are made apparent by new projections of energy use between 2017 and 2050 by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Over these years, the EIA expects the U.S. population to grow by 19% to 389 million, while the American economy expands by roughly 90%. There will be more vehicles, homes and offices. To prevent fossil-fuel use from expanding requires the substitution of clean fuels (wind, solar, nuclear) or greater efficiencies in energy use.
Green New Deal Fantasy
To put it mildly, this seems a tall order. Nevertheless, the EIA thinks it is possible with current policies. In 2050, projected U.S. carbon dioxide emissions (5 billion metric tons) are slightly below today's U.S. emissions (5.1 billion metric tons). Why? Car gasoline mileage improves substantially, pushed by government regulations. Natural gas continues to displace coal in electricity generation, lowering CO2 emissions.
But these gains don't satisfy the requirements of the Green New Deal. It decrees "a 10-year national mobilization," comparable to the commitment to win World War II, to eliminate all greenhouse gases. The trouble is that the technology doesn't seem to exist to win this war without causing the economy to collapse.
This is the crux of the matter. Do a thought experiment, urges David Hart of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a Washington think tank. For the sake of argument, let's assume that the Green New Deal achieves its stated goals over a decade.
So what? asks Hart in a blog post. Other countries will continue emitting, and the technologies that work in the United States won't necessarily work elsewhere. "Until low-carbon energy is cheaper than high-carbon energy for the bulk of the globe's energy needs, the pace of global emissions will not slow down very much," he says. The emphasis, he argues, needs to be on research and development and the faster introduction of superior technologies.
To be fair, some gains in de-carbonizing the economy can be easily achieved. A starting tax of $25 a ton on carbon dioxide — which would rise slightly faster than inflation — would hasten the retirement of coal-fired power plants, says Adele Morris, policy director of the Climate and Energy Economics Project at the Brookings Institution, another think tank.
What's not well appreciated is that the Green New Deal also would require a host of non-energy changes. As Howard Gleckman of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center notes, it is "an ambitious manifesto demanding — among other things — a massive infrastructure initiative, a guaranteed job with a 'family-sustaining wage,' and universal access to high-quality health care, affordable housing, economic security, high-quality education, and healthy food."
Granting the usual congressional penchant for exaggeration, this is still over the top. Most of it is make-believe. No one knows how much the program would cost. Gleckman says it would be "staggering." The total would easily run into trillions.
Been Here Before
We've been here before, as the eminent U.S. historian Richard Hofstadter once pointed out:
"We go off on periodic psychic sprees that purport to be moral crusades ... (to) wipe out the saloon and liquor forever ... (or to) destroy the political machine and put an end to corruption, or achieve absolute, total and final security against war. ... Very often (these evils do exist) ... and something can be done about them. (But our enthusiasm) often wanders over the border between reality and impossibility."
This is surely true of the Green New Deal.
Samuelson has written about business and economic issues for the Washington Post since 1977.
Andrew McCabe: In pushing his new book, former FBI acting Director Andrew McCabe dropped a bombshell on CBS News. The Justice Department held meetings to consider removing President Trump from office under the 25th Amendment, after Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey for lying. If that doesn't convince you there's a Deep State, perhaps nothing will.
We have maintained since early 2017 (see here, here, here, here, and here) that the supposed "Russia-Trump collusion" was in fact engineered by the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton campaign working with Deep State officials and bureaucrats who hoped for advancement and perhaps even posts in the coming Hillary Clinton administration.
They wouldn't, of course, have to worry about rules, the law or moral propriety, since Clinton once in office would no doubt squelch any unwanted investigations.
And McCabe admits he began the obstruction of justice investigation against Trump, despite having virtually no evidence.
Andrew McCabe: Hobbling Trump
"The most illuminating and surprising thing in the interview to me were these eight days in May (2017) when all of these things were happening behind the scenes that the American people really didn't know about," Pelley said
Yes, and those eight days culminated in the appointment of Robert Mueller as "special prosecutor."
That ensured that no matter what happened to James Comey, Andrew McCabe or any of the others, Trump's presidency would be hobbled from the very beginning by an unjustified investigation.
This is nothing less than an attempted silent coup against a sitting president. The machinations of the FBI, CIA and Justice Department plainly indicate a conspiracy. A crime against the Constitution and the people of the U.S.
A large cast of characters ranging from presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, CIA Director John Brennan, current deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, senior Justice Department Official Bruce Ohr and his wife and sometime CIA asset, Nellie Ohr, FBI Director James Comey, FBI attorney Lisa Page, FBI official Peter Strzok, and, of course, Andrew McCabe, took part.
Deep State's Anti-Trump Collusion
They all worked together to undermine Trump using what they knew was an unreliable "dossier" based on hearsay from questionable foreign sources and paid for by Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee. Discussions of removing a legitimate American president under the 25th Amendment shows their desperation after Trump's surprising 2016 victory.
And they lied about it. Or kept quiet about it. Or misrepresented what they did, even to the Foreign Intelligence Security Court. That is real obstruction of justice. And a real conspiracy.
Remember, the extraordinary events related by Andrew McCabe happened just months into Trump's time in office. And Comey's own perfidy took place just as Trump entered office.
This wasn't because they had evidence of a crime.
A Silent Coup?
Inside-the-Beltway elites fought to subvert the presidency of someone they, not the rest of America, deemed unfit for the presidency.
The more we learn, the more tenuous the evidence seems. And the more devious and partisan the major Deep State players seem. Is it possible the Mueller investigation has something of which no one is aware? Sure. But he hasn't shown anything yet. Nor has he even hinted he has something.
And if, indeed, he doesn't, the legal scrutiny should turn away from Trump to those who, from the apparent safety of their taxpayer-funded Deep State offices, planned to take down a president they didn't like.
She tweeted that "men are not women," and for that, Meghan Murphy, feminist journalist, was banned from Twitter.
An anodyne statement of biological reality qualifies as "hate speech" for some of the gnomes at Twitter HQ. Murphy received a rote notification that "you may not promote violence against, threaten, or harass other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease."
Excuse me, but that sound you heard was me spitting my coffee across my desk.
Abuse Is The Twitter Brand
I cannot count the number of times I've been harassed on Twitter ( TWTR) on some of the above grounds. Twitter has benefits, but let's face it, threats, vile abuse and harassment have become a key part of Twitter's brand. Louis Farrakhan has an account. Terrorists romp through its pixels with ease, and the Russians deploy bots like biological agents. Only a select few offenders are punished or banned.
When founder Jack Dorsey was asked on Sam Harris's podcast why suspensions and other disciplinary actions always seem to go in a PC direction, Dorsey was phlegmatic, "I don't believe we should optimize for neutrality." That was Silicon Valley-speak for, "We are not fair."
That is his right. It's a free country, and, though hailed as the national cyber town hall, Twitter is a private company. It has declined to engage Murphy directly (Dorsey: "We don't have a robust appeals process"), but has churned out agitprop about "hateful conduct" with metronomic regularity.
This is not to say that Twitter applies even its own vague and shifting standards evenly. I and others have tweeted concerns about the trans movement — particularly with regard to children — without repercussions. But that must have been sheer luck.
In Murphy's case, the company targeted her for violating a policy that it had changed without any public notice. This is the new ban on so-called "deadnaming" — using the former name of a person who transitioned to the other sex. If Murphy's lawsuit gains any traction, the company may have to explain itself. Until then, we are left to consider the Orwellian dystopia that travels under the name progressivism.
Twitter Thought Crimes
One of Meghan Murphy's thought crimes consisted of asking, in response to someone else, "How are transwomen not men? What is the difference between a man and a transwoman?" That is what is known as a challenge, not an epithet. It earned her a warning. She also referred to a trans-identified male as "he" — that is the forbidden practice of "misgendering."
Murphy, along with many feminists and some conservatives, resists the trans movement's efforts to permit people who are born male to enter women's restrooms, locker rooms, prisons and other environments where, as Murphy puts it, "women feel uncomfortable seeing a penis."
This is a live issue. In Washington, D.C., women at a downtown health club have retreated to toilet stalls to change clothes since the club now refrains from stopping men who enter the women's changing room. Who's to say who belongs where? Wouldn't want to put a foot wrong in the new gender neutral utopia. One trans person Murphy identified in print as male was seeking to counsel women at a rape crisis center in Vancouver, though the center hires only women.
Murphy's website, Feminist Current, has questioned the science and ideology behind transgenderism, and Murphy is indignant that people with XY chromosomes can compete in women's sports. Personally, I might have taken a softer tone, adding some acknowledgement that people with gender dysphoria deserve compassion. But Murphy is expressing a point of view, dammit, and way too many opinion arbiters here in Oceania won't have it.
Twitter is hardly alone. Many a mandatory diversity workshop, college orientation and hotel policy does the same. Three female undergraduates are suing Yale for a fraternity culture that they say enables harassment. Fraternity parties, they claim, place men in positions of power. OK, but notice the language in the lawsuit: "Simply put, fraternities elevate men to social gatekeepers and relegate women and nonbinary students to sexual objects." Nonbinary students?
Murphy's objection is that this sudden reimagining of what it means to be human has been imposed, not agreed upon, and certainly not discovered by science. Many women, concerned about hurting someone's feelings, especially — as Murphy phrases it, someone from "a marginalized group" — are shy about standing up for themselves and their own comfort. Above all, these matters need frank discussion, not authoritarian diktats issuing from our Twitter overlords.
Charen is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Her new book is "Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense."
Amid all the hoopla about Democrats wanting to raise taxes on the rich, they are quietly working on a bill that would increase taxes on every working family in America. Why? To fund expanded benefits for baby boomers hitting retirement.
The Social Security 2100 Act would hike the combined payroll taxes paid by workers and their employers from 12.4% today to 14.8% by 2043. The bill would also apply the payroll tax on incomes over $400,000.
According to the Social Security Administration, in the first 12 years alone, this would amount to a $1.5 trillion tax hike.
A Staggering Social Security Tax Hike
Once the tax hike's fully phased in, workers and employers will be paying $340 billion more a year in payroll taxes.
As a share of GDP, Social Security taxes would rise to 6.5%, up from the current 4.5%.
For families making the median income, it means paying an extra $720 a year to Social Security. But that's only half the tax bite. The employer's share effectively comes out of workers' pockets as well, in the form of lower wages. So, the real increase is more like $1,400 a year.
It is, in other words, a staggering tax hike.
The economic effects of this hike will not be pleasant. Andrew Biggs, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, explained to the House Ways and Means Committee earlier this month, the impacts will likely be: a reduction in the labor supply, as well as less private savings and more household debt, particularly among lower-income families.
Biggs also notes that such a tax hike will raise far less money than predicted, not only because there will be fewer jobs, but because the payroll tax hikes will suppress wage growth, which will mean less income tax revenue.
The bill's sponsor, Rep. John Larson, says that, even so, this plan will not only keep Social Security solvent, it will allow for a big increase in benefits.
More Social Security Benefits
Among other things, Larson wants an across-the-board increase in benefits for current and future retirees. A higher annual cost of living adjustment. And a stronger minimum benefit.
"The Social Security 2100 Act shows that Social Security is affordable," Larson says. "It increases benefits and strengthens the Trust Fund, and it is fully paid for." The bill has some 200 co-sponsors — all Democrats.
On paper, at least, Larson is correct.
Number crunchers at the Social Security Administration said that, even with the added benefits, the plan would keep the program solvent for at least the next 75 years.
But that's just an educated guess. And not a very good one.
First, it doesn't account for the negative effects the tax hike would have on jobs, wages and economic growth.
A Bad Track Record
Second, the Social Security Administration doesn't exactly have a stellar record when it comes to making such long-term projections.
For example, in 1983, the federal government boosted Social Security taxes, and cut benefits. This was supposed to keep Social Security on a sound footing for 75 years or more. In fact, the Social Security Administration predicted that the program would be running annual surpluses until about 2025.
In reality, Social Security started running annual deficits in 2010. By 2025, these annual shortfalls are on track to likely top $202 billion. The Trust Fund is now on track to become insolvent by 2034.
By expanding benefits now, and hoping the tax hikes will fill in the gap later, Larson risks only further destabilizing the program's already shaky finances.
A Better Way
There's a bigger problem with this plan, however.
Social Security is already too gargantuan. (It eats up 24% of the federal budget.) It takes too large a share of workers' incomes, discouraging private savings. And for most people working today, it provides a lousy — often negative — rate of return.
Rather than expanding Social Security, the U.S. should be moving in the opposite direction through partial privatization. Let workers put more of their own hard-earned money in personal savings accounts that can't help but perform better than Social Security.
After all, that's what Sweden did in the 1990s, when it realized its public retirement program was going bankrupt.
And we all know how much Democrats love to compare the U.S. to countries like Sweden.
In 1994, the Clinton administration decreed a bright shining future for education. Its Goals 2000 legislation proclaimed that by that year America's high school graduation rate would be 90% and American students would lead the world in math and science achievements. Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, D-N.Y., was unimpressed: "That will not happen." It didn't, to the surprise of no one with an inkling of reality's viscosity.
Bill Clinton's (then Congress') goals, which Moynihan compared to the Soviet Union's penchant for delusional grain quotas, illustrated what the senator called the "leakage of reality from American life." Speaking of which:
Democrats, including many presidential candidates, have endorsed something that makes Goals 2000 look like the soul of sobriety. The Green New Deal's FAQ sheet says:
What The Green New Deal Reveals
In 10 years America will have only non-carbon renewable energy. (Exxon Mobil plans to produce 25% more oil and gas in 2025 than in 2017.) By then, "every building in America" will be environmentally retrofitted, "farting cows" (methane gas; say goodbye to hamburgers) will be on the way out, fast electric trains will make airplanes unnecessary, "every combustion-engine vehicle" will be gone (but relax: charging stations will be "everywhere").
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, averse to government by arrested-development teenagers, dismissed the Green New Deal (GND) as a "suggestion." Its enthusiasts, buffeted by gales of derision, responded with gusts of dissembling as implausible as the GND: Their fact sheet was a mere draft, or a dirty trick ("doctored"), or something.
Do they know how the actual New Deal fared? Devoted to curing unemployment, the unemployment rate never fell below 14 percent until 1941, eight years into the New Deal, as America prepared for war. The 1937-38 "depression within the Depression" was the twentieth century's third-worst recession.
Every endorser of the GND thereby endorses its claim to life-and-death urgency, yet — cognitive dissonance alert — every endorser knows that none of it will happen. Its authors say, "There is no time to waste." Strange. The last Democratic administration, which departed just 25 months ago, proposed approximately none of what the GND says we cannot survive without.
The Green New Deal has no practical importance but much significance. First, it underscores the rise of the politics of gestures that are as flamboyant as they are empty: Donald Trump has his wall, the left has its Green New Deal. Second, it reprises the progressive desire to militarize everything but the military, to conscript everyone into vast collective undertakings that supposedly justify vast excisions from personal liberty and the setting side of pesky constitutional impediments. See Franklin Roosevelt's call in his first inaugural address for power "as great as the power that would be given to me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe."
Frivolity and Mendacity Of Green New Deal
Third, the Green New Deal reveals progressives' embrace of Trump's political style, a stew of frivolity and mendacity. Remember his campaign boast that he would erase the national debt — not just the budget deficit, the then $19 trillion debt — in eight years, meaning by more than $2 trillion a year? This was ludicrous, but not more so than the GND, which is not the only example of the Trumpification of the left. The Wall Street Journal's James Freeman notes that last year Elizabeth Warren said this on NBC:
"My mother and daddy were born and raised in Oklahoma. My daddy first saw my mother when they were both teenagers. He fell in love with this tall, quiet girl who played the piano. Head over heels. But his family was bitterly opposed to their relationship because she was part Native American. They eventually eloped."
"Bitterly"? Because of the mother's Native American "part"? Which could not have been much more than Warren's still-hypothetical miniscule part? As Freeman writes: "If Native American ancestry was so distant on her mother's side that the senator has never been able to name any native relatives — and even now her own DNA expert cannot rule out the possibility that she has no such relatives at all — how would her father's family have known enough to object?"
What a tangled web we weave ... . It is now reasonable to conclude that Warren has made "birther" claims for self-serving reasons that remain opaque, claims that are no more factual or unimportant than the birther fabrications Trump concocted for use against Barack Obama. What explains Trump and his progressive emulators? No doubt many things, but begin with the leakage of reality from American life.
Will is a columnist for the Washington Post and a contributor to MSNBC.
Some polls put 76-year-old Joe Biden as the Democratic front-runner for the 2020 presidential election. There is certainly some logic to that reckoning.
Biden has far more experience than any of his likely party rivals — 36 years in the Senate, eight years as Barack Obama's vice president and two past presidential runs.
He may be the only Democratic candidate who could likely win back some of the "deplorables," "irredeemables" and "clingers" of the critical Midwestern swing states.
Joe Biden Judicious?
But all of that said, the folksy Biden is hardly the sober and judicious alternative to a supposedly reckless Donald Trump.
In many ways, Biden has been far wilder in his speech and decorum — despite nearly a half-century in politics.
Could a Biden campaign withstand #MeToo-era scrutiny? Biden was widely criticized for his handling of Anita Hill's sexual harassment allegations against Clarence Thomas during Thomas' Supreme Court confirmation hearings in 1991. In 2015, New York Magazine ran a photo essay showing nine instances when Biden, in creepy fashion, leaned in closely and whispered in women's ears, with several of those women appearing visibly uncomfortable with such interaction.
Biden was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee that grilled Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork in such a crude fashion as to turn the failed nominee's name into a verb. "Borked" is now synonymous with the sort of character assassination that Biden led. His later aimless and incoherent questioning of Thomas during his confirmation hearing managed to enrage both critics and supporters.
Joe Biden was accused of — and confessed to — plagiarism in law school, and he withdrew from the presidential primaries in 1987 after being caught plagiarizing British Labor Party labor Neil Kinnock in campaign speeches (while also inserting fabrications about his family's background).
Saying Something Stupid
On the 2008 campaign trail, Biden committed so many verbal gaffes that President Obama reportedly lamented in frustration, "How many times is Biden gonna say something stupid?"
More recently, Biden — who has called for more civility in public discourse — has boasted that he would like to take Trump (whom he referenced as "the fattest, ugliest SOB in the room") behind the proverbial high school gym "and beat the hell out of him."
Sometimes Biden reveals abject ignorance, even as he tries to sermonize on American history. During the 2008 financial crisis, Biden urged then-President George W. Bush to address the nation in the supposed fashion of President Franklin Roosevelt: "When the stock market crashed, Franklin D. Roosevelt got on the television and didn't just talk about the, you know, the princes of greed." Biden was apparently unaware that Herbert Hoover was president during the 1929 stock market crash, that FDR did not take office until 1933, and that televisions weren't commercially available until the late 1930s.
But Biden has two far greater problems with the modern progressive movement. His past record has often been centrist. As a result, he recently has been apologizing to left-wing Democrats for prior politically incorrect votes, such as authorizing the 2003 invasion of Iraq and supporting a punitive 1994 crime bill that he helped write.
Joe Biden Racial Missteps
Even more problematic, Joe Biden has a long history of racial missteps. In an age where there is no statute of limitations on, or forgiveness for, prior stupidity, and every careless remark is regarded as a window into a dark soul, Biden will have a lot of explaining to do to the identity-politics guardians of the Democratic Party if indeed he runs for president.
It recently came to light that in 1975, Biden followed the lead of Sen. Robert Byrd and spoke against federally mandated busing to integrate public schools. He offered the weird rationale that segregation was good for "black pride."
"There are those of we social planners who think somehow that if we just subrogate man's individual characteristics and traits by making sure that a presently heterogeneous society becomes a totally homogeneous society that somehow we're going to solve our social ills," Biden said at the time. "And quite to the contrary."
In 2007, Biden said of Obama, "I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy."
Did the condescending Biden not realize that for decades before the advent of Obama, brilliant black politicians such as Sen. Edward Brooke and Rep. Barbara Jordan were popular "mainstream" political figures?
No one knew what to make of Biden's 2006 comment that, "You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I'm not joking."
In 2012, Biden used a stereotyped accent to warn a largely African-American audience that Republicans would "put y'all back in chains" — as if Republican candidate Mitt Romney were a racist and blacks could be forced back into slavery.
Joe Biden's gaffes are often brushed off as examples of "Joe being Joe," but Biden has long displayed the sort of sloppy, gross and politically incorrect behavior that progressives routinely and ironically attribute to the current president.
Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the author of the soon-to-be released "The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won," to appear in October from Basic Books. You can reach him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The "blackface scandal" proved beneficial for two things. It displaced the frenzy over Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam's support for a law lifting many restrictions on late-term abortion. It also took away headlines and news print space from the commonwealth's Democratic lieutenant governor, who faces two sexual assault allegations.
But the blackface controversy has legs.
Northam's 1984 medical school yearbook page depicted a photograph of someone in blackface and someone in a KKK outfit, both apparently holding cans of beer. At first, Northam apologized for the pictures, arguing that they do not accurately reflect his character.
The next day he said that, upon review, he is neither the person posing in blackface nor the one in the KKK outfit. Nor did he know how the photos ended up on his yearbook page. He admits that he once learned the moonwalk and applied black shoe polish to his cheeks to appear as Michael Jackson for a dance contest.
Blackface and Moonwalks
When a reporter asked Northam if he could still do the moonwalk, Northam's wife stepped in, calling the request "inappropriate." Maybe she had seen him do it and was not impressed.
A page designer of that yearbook explained the process. Each student, he said, submitted the pictures to appear on the student's page. This means, whether or not Northam is the person in blackface or in the KKK outfit, he nevertheless selected the photographs. The page designer doubts the pictures somehow got mixed up. Still, Northam insists he will not resign. "I have thought about resigning," he said, "but I've also thought about what Virginia needs right now. And I really think that I'm in a position where I can take Virginia to the next level, and it will be very positive."
But there's more. Turns out there are two Virginia blackface scandals.
Democratic Virginia Attorney General Matt Herring admits that he, too, wore blackface to a party to imitate "rappers we listened to ... like Kurtis Blow." Herring was 19. In his statement of apology, he said, "the shame of that moment has haunted me for decades." The "shame" of wearing blackface on one occasion to a party to impersonate a rapper Herring listened to "haunted" him "for decades"?
Virginia Democratic lawmakers demand Northam's resignation, as have many Republican members of the Virginia legislature. Hillary Clinton tweeted: "This has gone on too long. There is nothing to debate. He must resign." Presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., tweeted, "The governor of Virginia should step aside so the public can heal and move forward together."
But wait. Blacks, the group presumably the most offended by blackface pictures, want the governor to stay in office. A new Washington Post-Schar School poll asked, "Considering everything, do you think that Northam should step down as a governor of Virginia or not?" While Virginians as a whole are split evenly on whether Northam "should step down," 58% of black Virginians want him to stay, with 37% disagreeing, a 21-point margin in favor of the governor. Apparently, blacks in Virginia have resisted the call to hop up and salute the flag of victimhood.
Critics of President Donald Trump accuse him of coarsening "race relations," of creating an atmosphere through the use of "racist dog whistles" to "normalize" racism. But according to Gallup polls since 2001, non-Hispanic whites' ratings of "relations between whites and blacks" as "very good" or "somewhat" good peaked at 75% in 2007, during the George W. Bush administration. It declined steeply during the presidency of Barack Obama, reaching a low of 45% in 2015.
For blacks, ratings of "very good" or "somewhat good" race relations also peaked during the Bush administration, at 70% in 2001. As recently as 2013, the number for blacks stood strong at 66%, but by 2016, it had dropped to 49%. The drop in those perceiving "race relations" as "very good" or "somewhat good" occurred well before Trump descended the elevator at Trump Towers to announce his candidacy for president.
Get out the magic wand, wave it over America and remove the racism, along with any blackface makeup.
Nearly 70% of black kids are born to unwed mothers. The dropout rate in some urban high schools approaches 50%. Of those who do graduate, many cannot read or do math at a 12th-grade level.
The No. 1 cause of preventable death for young white men is accidents, such as car accidents. The No. 1 cause of preventable death for young black men is homicide, almost always committed by other young black men. In Chicago, a city approximately one-third white, one-third black and one-third Hispanic, blacks accounted for nearly 80% of homicide victims in 2018, and most of these cases remain unsolved. According to a 2017 report by the Centers for Disease Control, a black child is almost 10 times more likely to be a victim of a gun-related homicide than a white child.
But let's talk about 35-year-old blackface pictures.
Elder is a best-selling author and nationally syndicated radio talk show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit www.LarryElder.com. Follow Larry on Twitter @LarryElder.
Robert Mueller: Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation is winding down, the Justice Department says. It now appears likely, but not certain, that Mueller will close up shop without finding collusion between President Trump and Russia to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. If so, expect howls of hate and derision for Mueller from his one-time ardent admirers, the Democrats.
In fact, it's already begun. On Sunday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, leader of the "impeach Trump" brigade in the House, told NBC's "Meet the Press" that Mueller hadn't investigated Trump's financial dealings with Deutsche Bank well enough. The bank loaned money to Trump in the 1990s after several bankruptcies of Trump properties.
Obviously, Schiff is desperately casting about for new avenues of investigation against Trump. Even though Trump has been investigated to a fare-thee-well by Mueller for Russian "collusion," Schiff vows to continue his own efforts now that he controls his committee.
He wants to look into everything Trump, and blames Mueller for not doing the job for him.
"If we had waited to do any of our investigative work for the Mueller investigation, we should have been waiting a year and a half," he said, a clear swipe at Mueller.
Robert Mueller: Dems' Next Target?
Schiff and other Democrats say they're only looking for information related to Russian influence on Trump. "What we are interested in is, does the president have business dealings with Russia such that it compromises the United States?" Schiff told NBC.
The problem is, that's the focus of the Mueller investigation, too. So Schiff's sudden focus on Deutsche Bank and Trump's business dealings in the distant past seem a bit far afield. Irrelevant, in fact.
Schiff, and House Financial Services Committee Chair Rep. Maxine Waters, are moving full-speed ahead. They want something, anything, with which to attack and impeach Trump. "If the special counsel hasn't subpoenaed Deutsche Bank, he can't be doing much of a money laundering investigation," Schiff insists.
Mueller beware. The Democrats are setting you up for what George Orwell's dystopian classic "1984" called the "Two Minutes of Hate."
In the book, that's when the totalitarian regime requires everyone, on cue, to express their rage, anger and disgust at the despised enemy.
Collusion, Or Not?
If Mueller's report fails to show collusion between Trump and the Russians, he can expect the same treatment.
John Dowd, the former head of Trump's legal team during the initial phases of the Mueller investigation, told ABC News he'll be surprised if anything comes of Mueller's efforts.
"I don't think there'll be a report," he said. "I will be shocked if anything regarding the president is made public, other than 'We're done.' "
The Democrats' greatest fear is that once accusations will have been proved a sham, their whole two-year-plus effort to destroy Trump will be over. It will have been revealed for what it really is: a political ploy.
And, of course, it would cover for their party's own decades of playing footsie with Russians. This ranges from Sen. Teddy Kennedy's efforts in the early 1980s to get the Soviets to help thwart Ronald Reagan's re-election, to Hillary Clinton's approval of a complicated deal that gave Russia control over 20% of the U.S. uranium supply.
Six months ago the Democrats were lining up to protect Mueller from being fired by Trump. They even promised him a job on Schiff's committee if he got the boot.
Expect the "Two Minutes Of Hate" to be extended if Robert Mueller doesn't find criminal wrongdoing by Trump. And remember, he's a Republican. There will be no holding back.
The Democrats have shamed themselves with their attempt to undermine Trump's presidency for purely partisan reasons. History may record this as one of the party's most disgraceful episodes. But then again, there are still nearly two years to go in Trump's term.
Infrastructure: California Gov. Gavin Newsom just pulled the plug on the state's bullet train boondoggle. President Trump should demand the $3.5 billion the federal government dumped into this black hole back, so he can put it to better use building the border wall.
In his State of the State speech, Newsom said he was shelving plans for a high-speed rail line from San Francisco to Los Angeles. A plan plagued with endless delays and massive cost overruns.
"The project, as currently planned, would cost too much and take too long," he said. "There's been too little oversight and not enough transparency."
Bullet Train To Nowhere
Before you celebrate the sudden outbreak of common sense in California, Newsom made it clear that he still wants a bullet train that runs from Merced to Bakersfield.
For those unfamiliar with California geography, Merced is a town in California's Central Valley, about 100 miles away from San Francisco. Its population is a mere 82,000.
Bakersfield (population 365,000) is almost 100 miles shy of Los Angeles. In between the two is Fresno, population 428,000. Other than that, there's pretty much nothing.
So, Newsom plans to dump another $7.6 billion — on top of the $3 billion the state has already spent — over the next three years to build a 119-mile high-speed rail that goes from nowhere, to nowhere.
As Republican state Sen. Jim Nielsen aptly observed: "We're going to put more billions into a train in a place where there is no ridership and no freight will be hauled. What economy is that going to improve in the Central Valley? "
Newsom's reason for keeping this zombie infrastructure project going makes even less sense.
"Abandoning high-speed rail entirely," he says, "means we will have wasted billions of dollars with nothing but broken promises and lawsuits to show for it."
So, he wants to waste billions more just to save face?
Wasted Federal Grant Money
The real reason is what Newsom said next: Abandoning the project entirely would mean "sending $3.5 billion in federal funding back to Donald Trump."
Turns out the federal government gave the state $3.5 billion to help finance this boondoggle, as part of President Obama's 2009 "stimulus" plan.
Of that, California has so far spent roughly $2.5 billion.
The state was supposed to match that grant money dollar for dollar. But thanks to a sweetheart amendment to the original deal made in 2012, it was able to spend the federal money first, without matching it.
As a result, while California had poured $3 billion into the bullet train by the end of last year, only 15% of it came from state funds, according to the High-Speed Rail Authority.
Whether Newsom tries to finish his bullet train to nowhere or not, he should still have to send back the entire $3.5 billion.
In fact, the Department of Transportation's inspector general is right now looking into whether California "complied with the applicable laws and regulations" when it spent the grant money.
The terms also stipulated that California had to be able to "complete the project in accordance with the terms of this agreement."
That, too, is now off the table.
So, Trump should insist that California return its ill-gotten grant money. And then he could add those funds to the $1.4 billion Congress has already agreed to give him for the border wall.
Trading a pointless, wasteful infrastructure boondoggle for something that would actually benefit the nation would be a win for everyone. Except maybe Gavin Newsom.
Update: Last night, President Trump tweeted that "California has been forced to cancel the massive bullet train project after having spent and wasted many billions of dollars. They owe the Federal Government three and a half billion dollars. We want that money back now. Whole project is a 'green' disaster!"
That prompted a response from Newsom, who tweeted: "Fake news. We're building high-speed rail, connecting the Central Valley and beyond. This is CA's money, allocated by Congress for this project. We're not giving it back. The train is leaving the station — better get on board! (Also, desperately searching for some wall $$??)"
Late last year, President Donald Trump published an op-ed criticizing Democratic proposals to replace private health insurance with a "Medicare for all" system.
His move came as progressive forces, led by Bernie Sanders and now declared presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, continued to reorient Democratic Party ideology toward more socialized government control over health care markets.
One of the major sticking points of Trump's op-ed was the detrimental effects government-run health care would have on American seniors. "The Democrats' plan also would mean the end of choice for seniors over their own health care decisions. Instead, Democrats would give total power and control over seniors' health care decisions to the bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.," he wrote.
Drug Prices Set By Government
Many of the president's criticisms were valid, insofar as he correctly pointed out the potentially devastating impacts of putting a bureaucratically burdensome straight jacket over America's health care system.
So it's ironic that just two weeks later, the Trump administration publicly announced a proposal to create an "international pricing index" (IPI) model as a way to cut drug prices. The plan would peg how much Medicare pays for certain drugs to the average price for those drugs charged in 16 other countries, where government price controls keep them artificially low. But this plan would fundamentally disrupt patient access to life saving treatments and add unprecedented layers of bureaucracy between patients and their doctors.
Despite the administration's earlier assertion that state regulated health care markets would harm seniors' decision-making ability and access to preferred treatment options, the proposed IPI model will do just those things. By making participation in the IPI model mandatory, it will coerce Medicare Part B beneficiaries to unwillingly take part in an unsubstantiated experiment that could limit their access to certain health care providers and preferred treatment regimens.
Mandatory Scheme On Drug Prices
What's more, the compulsory nature of the IPI model would disrupt treatment by inserting a third party vendor between doctor and patient. Most therapies — particularly those used to treat cancer — often use highly specialized and case-specific drug regimens which require constant adjustment by highly-trained physicians.
Under our current system, these physicians are able to make meticulous adjustments based on a patient's drug sensitivity or weight variation. This not only ensures patients have timely access to personalized (or tailored) treatment regimens, but it also gives doctors the ability to modify a patient's drug dose or make substitutions.
By giving third party vendors control over the acquisition and circulation of Medicare Part B drugs, the IPI model throws a bureaucratic wrench into patient-centered care.
The introduction of these outside vendors will not only delay access to timely treatment, but also introduce unprecedented and unnecessary levels of bureaucratic complexities that will increase administrative burden over all aspects of care. Providers participating in the IPI model could be forced to navigate separate supply channels and maintain duplicative inventory management systems for drugs, something that would add substantial overhead costs and operational complexities into the system.
Flaws In The Drug Prices Plan
Many of the nation's leading physician and patient groups have already drawn attention to these flaws. In a series of letters written to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, patient and provider groups rightfully argued the IPI model will outsource treatment decisions to vendors with no clinical or medical expertise, thus increasing the probability of treatment delays and restrictions. These criticisms only added to the growing chorus of health care providers, patient advocates, and even lawmakers on Capitol Hill who have come out against the administration's proposal.
Given all the unpredictable and potentially devastating consequences of the mandatory IPI model, it's clear the administration's previous critiques against a "Medicare for all" type system can be used to describe its own proposal.
In what can only be described as a paradox, the IPI model embodies many of the "anti-senior, anti-choice and anti-consumer" critiques the president leveled against the socialized health care systems of other countries only weeks before.
Topping is a lawyer in the Washington, D.C., office of Mintz, where he represents health care and insurance clients. He has held CEO roles with a health technology company focused on data and privacy and a specialty health insurer. He served as a DOJ lawyer during the Bush Administration, representing the Secretary of HHS in matters involving pharmaceuticals and vaccines.
Corporate executives and their lawyers often complain about large jury awards against corporations. Almost always, they have in mind individuals or classes of individuals suing corporations. Increasingly, though, corporations are suing other corporations for large amounts of money, often involving intellectual property — patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets.
The second largest verdict in 2018, for example, involved two corporations: Amrock (formerly, "Title Source") versus HouseCanary.
The Amrock case is particularly interesting in that the defendant, HouseCanary, won the large verdict. Amrock (Title Source), an affiliate of Quicken Loans, was a large plaintiff suing a small, start-up company, HouseCanary, for $6 million. Amrock's original claim is that HouseCanary failed to fulfill a contract because it created unusable software products. Amrock refused to pay, and sued for breach of a contract. But HouseCanary went on the offensive by counter-suing for theft of intellectual property.
A Texas, state-court jury awarded HouseCanary $706 million. The trial judge denied Amrock's motion for a new trial and added prejudgment interest, along with attorney's fees, for a total of $740 million.
Very few civil suits ever go to trial. But when they do, generally the plaintiff either wins money or loses and gets no money. Here, however, the plaintiff Amrock not only failed to win any money, but got slammed by an incredibly large verdict.
The case has since become one of competing charges of fraud. At trial, HouseCanary successfully argued that Amrock took its intellectual property by fraud. Now, in a second motion for a retrial, Amrock claims newly discovered evidence of fraud by HouseCanary from one of its former executives who says HouseCanary never had any intellectual property to steal. The intrigue of the combined allegations of fraud presents a plausible plot for a John Grisham novel.
The right to jury trial is fundamental — even though few civil cases actually go to trial. Nevertheless, jury trials are not available in all civil cases. The availability of the right depends on whether the case is filed in federal or state court and, if in a state court, in which state.
In federal court, the Seventh Amendment controls the right to jury trial in civil cases. As in 18th Century England, the right applies only "In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars." Thus, suits in equity and admiralty, non-common-law cases, are not entitled to jury trials in federal courts. Given, however, that British common-law courts had special juries, including commercial juries made up of merchants, the Seventh Amendment would not seem to bar commercial juries in federal court.
Theoretically, Congress could legislatively provide for juries of citizens with business experience in complex commercial cases. Politically, however, that will not happen.
Creating Commercial Juries
Creation of commercial juries, if it comes, will be in the states. The Seventh Amendment currently does not apply to the states.
For its first 150 years, the Bill of Rights did not apply to the states. States had their own bills of rights. The Bill of Rights was added as a control on the federal government. Then the Supreme Court decided, one by one, to apply most provisions of the Bill of Rights to the states. So far, however, the Court has exempted the Seventh Amendment.
All states provide civil jury trials, protected by state constitutions in all but one or two states. Nevertheless, a number of states have created commercial courts. In such courts, cases are tried to a judge. But the parties in those cases must consent to trial without jury.
Creating commercial juries in state courts would depend on the language of each state's constitution and related statutes. The wording of some state constitutional provisions for civil jury trials may be consistent with the common-law inclusion of commercial juries. Therefore, in such states, a change in the state constitution may not be necessary before the legislature could enact a statute allowing commercial juries. In states like Texas, with a constitutional protection of civil jury broader than that of the common law, however, a constitutional change would be necessary.
Amending State Constitutions
Many state constitutions are easily amended — generally much too easily. Nevertheless, any change in a state's civil-jury-trial right would be controversial. Still, as long as any amendment clearly applied only to commercial disputes — not tort cases — the political opposition by the plaintiff attorneys would likely be significantly less.
Any state attempting to create commercial juries would have to avoid violating the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause, as applied particularly to women and minorities. Therefore, state law would have to ensure commercial juries chosen from a cross-section of persons in the community with knowledge of business.
The increasing complexity of commercial litigation should be a concern to those beyond companies that litigate such issues. A loss of confidence in the ability of courts fairly to dispose of commercial cases — especially those involving intellectual property — will have a severely negative impact on the American culture of innovation.
Baker, Ph.D., is professor emeritus at Louisiana State University Law Center.
A bold new crew of radicals swept into Congress to remake environmental policies, and the news media immediately called out their poisonous and extreme proposals.
If you're thinking about this freshman class of knuckleheads who has given us the 2019 "Green New Deal," the answer is no. We're not talking about them.
We're talking 1995, when Newt Gingrich and Co. took over the House. They were the nuts. And, by God, were they dangerous!
ABC's Peter Jennings narrated a promo on July 9 of that year, saying: "Next week on ABC's 'World News Tonight,' a series of reports about our environment which will tell you precisely what the new Congress has in mind: the most frontal assault on the environment in 25 years. Is this what the country wants?"
That's not subtle -- "the most frontal assault on the environment." It's as if the Republicans wrote legislation to poison the air and water and execute all the endangered species.
Jennings wasn't alone. NBC News was pretty sure we were all going to die. It offered a competing promo on July 17: "Safe food, safe water, safe air, safe transportation: You have this protection now, but you might be about to lose it. Why? Watch a special In Depth report on 'NBC Nightly News' tomorrow."
Who needs paid political advertisements with the "news" networks offering free commercials like this?
Days later, NBC reporter Roger O'Neil concluded a report on changes to the Endangered Species Act. "(I)f the plants and animals can't survive, what future is there for the human species?" he asked. As the Snail Darter goes, so goes all humanity.
Now the socialists are running the show at the Democratic National Committee, and to say they're not ready for prime time is an understatement. Theirs are policies grade schoolers might love. Or maybe even they would laugh at the inanities prescribed.
So are the media at all concerned?
When leftist radicals in Congress led by Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez held a press conference on Feb. 7 pushing their Green New Deal, for once there were no nightly news stories on ABC or CBS or NBC. Even they were ashamed. They've been promoting AOC for months ... and now this?
These radicals called for building "high-speed rail at a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary," as a now-removed blog post of frequently asked questions released by Ocasio-Cortez's office said. Because instead one could take the train to Guatemala? Brazil? Mongolia? This was no typo. They weren't kidding.
"We set a goal to get to net-zero, rather than zero emissions, in 10 years because we aren't sure that we'll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast," the post said.
"Get rid of farting cows and airplanes" in 10 years? This was not an elaborate April Fools' Day prank. This was a sincere proclamation of a radical agenda. They also believe in providing economic security "for all who are unable or unwilling to work."
How to get out of this mess? Saikat Chakrabarti, chief of staff to Ocasio-Cortez, arrived at a solution as incoherent as the proposals. Ol' Saikat tweeted: "An early draft of a FAQ that was clearly unfinished and that doesn't represent the GND resolution got published to the website by mistake. ... Mistakes happen when doing time launches like this coordinating multiple groups and collaborators."
So the first draft was idiotic. How could a polished proposal based on these inanities be any better?
But Ocasio-Cortez had an even more ridiculous explanation. She tried to claim there were "doctored" versions floating around the internet, but these proposals came from her own social media accounts. Even the Washington Post "fact-checkers" concluded, "No one created 'doctored' versions of the Green New Deal that included these outlandish proposals."
This part of the story is delicious. Just days before, CNN "Reliable Sources" host Brian Stelter hailed and interviewed Chakrabarti with the words "AOC'S MASTERY OF SOCIAL MEDIA" on screen.
It's so nice to be a Democrat with today's network-news environment. No ABC or NBC anchor will narrate a commercial sternly warning, "Air travel. A cheeseburger. A glass of milk. You may have them today, but you may be about to lose them! Is this what the country wants?"
Bozell is the president of the Media Research Center. Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org.
In the past few weeks, prominent Democrats have endorsed infanticide; admitted to dressing in blackface; called for an end to fossil fuels, airplanes and farting cows; and trafficked in open anti-Semitism. None of this is a serious problem for many in the media. For members of the media, the real story is that Republicans keep pouncing.
Two weeks ago, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam stated in an interview that he favors legislation that would allow a woman to abort a baby at the point of dilation and then added that in certain cases in which a baby would be born alive, the baby would be kept "comfortable" while parents and doctors decide what to do with it. This seems rather radical.
Here was the Washington Post's take, as said in a headline: "Republicans seize on liberal positions to paint Democrats as radical." The positions, you see, are actually mainstream. It's just that Republicans seized on them and painted them as radical.
Last week, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., released a Green New Deal backgrounder and FAQ on her website -- and her staff sent the six-page document to a variety of media outlets. The document happens to be fully insane. It calls for America to be carbon emissions-free within 10 years without use of nuclear power. It suggests that every building in the country be either replaced or retrofitted. It calls for universal health care, free college education, replacement of airplanes with high-speed trains, replacement of "every combustion-engine vehicle," government-provided jobs, abolition of "farting cows" and, best of all, total "economic security" for anyone "unwilling to work."
The proposal is so farcical that even Democrats ran from it screaming. AOC took down it down from her website and then deployed campaign aides to state that the document was "accidentally" released as an "early draft." Unsurprisingly, no revised draft has been posted.
Here is The New York Times' headline: "Ocasio-Cortez Team Flubs a Green New Deal Summary, and Republicans Pounce."
This week, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., engaged in open anti-Semitism, suggesting that American support for Israel is "all about the Benjamins" and then doubling down on that comment by blaming the American Israel Public Affairs Committee for America's pro-Zionist attitude.
This follows years of overtly anti-Semitic content from Omar, as well as from Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., who suggested back in January that Americans who like Israel suffer from dual loyalty and "forgot which country they represent."
Politico tweeted: "The Republican Party has a new trio of Democratic villains: Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez."
Now, pouncing is never a story. Ever. It is a simple fact of politics that when people screw up, their political opponents react with alacrity. Highlighting that response rather than the underlying screw-up is the equivalent of a headline that reads "Sun Rises in Morning."
Yet that's what the media do ... whenever Democrats screw up. Republican gaffes are a story in and of themselves. Democratic gaffes aren't a story; Republican nastiness is.
All of which demonstrates that a huge swath of the media is inseparable from the Democratic Party. If your first response to Democratic nut-jobbery is to get defensive about Republican blowback, you're no longer a journalist. You're merely a hack.
You are, as President Trump would put it, "fake news" -- an activist masquerading as a journalist.
I suppose this means I'm pouncing on the media, though.
Shapiro is host of "The Ben Shapiro Show" and editor-in-chief of DailyWire.com.
There must be a better way to keep kids interested in school than drugging them.
Today, 1 in 5 school-age boys is diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Many are given drugs that are supposed to help them pay attention.
"I was the rowdy kid, the bad kid," says Cade Summers in my latest video. "They really pressured my parents to put me on ADHD medication ... Adderall, Ritalin. It was like I had been lobotomized. My parents said, 'This is not our son.'"
They sent him to different schools; he hated them all.
Education Reform: A New Way To Teach
Then he heard about the Academy of Thought and Industry, a private school in Austin, Texas, that has a different way of teaching.
To raise the $20,000 tuition, Summers got a job at a coffee shop. He had to get up at 3 a.m. every day to open the shop. "I would get the bacon frying, get the breakfast items ready."
That's a lot of work for a kid who hated school, but his drive doesn't surprise the man who started Thought and Industry, Michael Strong. He tells parents that kids learn better by doing actual work.
"Teens need responsibility. Ben Franklin, Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Edison started their careers at the age of 12 or 13," he says.
I pointed out that today people would call that "abusive child labor." Strong answered: "I worked as a teen. I loved it. Teens very often want to work."
At his school, students get Fridays off to work on their own projects. There are no lectures. Instead students read things and then discuss them.
It's different from schools Strong attended — and hated.
Schools Teach Passivity
Too often, says Strong, "school is 13 years of how to be passive, dependent. ... Sit still, read, listen to your elders, repeat ... aim, aim, aim, and never get stuff done."
By contrast, at Strong's schools (there are now two, with more on the way) teachers tell students, "Try to start a business in one day."
Most of those businesses fail, of course, but Strong says: "I want students to go out there and get stuff done, fail, get up, try again. That's how we become creators, entrepreneurs. We want them to do what they love, now."
Cade Summers says the possibility of making money made him much more interested in school. He tried to start a marketing business. "We got to create a project and immediately start feeling the rewards of it," says Summers.
Education Reform: Getting Kids Ready
Other students we interviewed were into things like music festivals, costume design and computer programming. They got to study the fields they were passionate about.
A few of the student businesses succeed. Dorian Domi started a music business at the Academy. Today, his music festival, Austin Terror Fest, brings in tens of thousands of dollars.
Other students launched a website for an "American Idol" finalist. The finalist used the students' work "for about nine months," says Strong. "Then he fired the team — a high school team — and got a better team. That was a great experience for my students — to get fired by a client ... Do that several times and that's how you get better at getting stuff done."
So companies are eager to hire Strong's students. Summers got a marketing job right after he graduated.
Strong is proud of students like Summers who flourish at Thought and Industry after struggling at regular schools. He described one who, in New Jersey's public schools, "needed a full-time aide. He was costing the state an enormous amount of money. He came to our school, he did not need an aide."
It's true. We interviewed that student. He told us: "In middle school, elementary school, I was incredibly socially isolated ... Coming here is just healing."
The key for him, and many, was following his own interests, rather than following orders.
That's what motivated Cade Summers to get up at 3 a.m. to work in that coffee shop.
"It was me choosing my life," he says.
Stossel is author of "No They Can't! Why Government Fails — But Individuals Succeed."
Government Shutdown: Is a deal about to be struck by congressional negotiators that would end the possibility of a shutdown? It's no sure thing, but it looks that way. The deal involves President Trump getting a minuscule $1.375 billion, not the $5.7 billion he requested, to build the border wall. Trump's not happy. He should take the deal anyway.
Americans are getting tired of the Washington two-step, which involves Trump proposing something, anything, and the Democrats en masse opposing it for no reason other than...well, Trump. Even the now much-hated border wall, which Democrats supported in both 2006 and 2012, is an example of that.
Trump's response, as usual, was pithy and blunt: "I would hope that there won't be a shutdown. I am extremely unhappy with what the Democrats have given us. It's sad. They're doing the country no favors."
Border Wall Or Shut Down?
With other battles looming, including a possible impeachment effort by far-left Democrats, Trump plainly doesn't want to fight over the shutdown for eternity.
So does that mean the Democrats win?
Not necessarily. In fact, the deal could be an important victory for Trump.
Not only can he "be presidential" by making what to some looks like a humiliating compromise on the wall, he can also claim a big victory of sorts: If the Democrats offer to fund the wall, even at a tiny, reduced amount, the Democrats become Trump's de facto partners.
That's a huge win for Trump.
It's true that the pittance Democrats want to give Trump can't build an effective wall — can't build much of a wall at all, in fact.
But as Trump himself has noted, there are other ways to get the job done. In particular, he could declare an emergency, which other presidents have done routinely, and spend the funds to finish the job. President Obama was one of the biggest users of this maneuver, declaring 13 separate national emergencies during his administration.
So there's a precedent.
Those who argue that a flood of illegal crossings over an unguarded border doesn't constitute an emergency either don't live near the border or don't understand why we have borders. The rising toll in violent crime, welfare and medical spending it's taking on communities across the nation is growing in cost and magnitude.
Make El Chapo Pay?
Any president who doesn't try to stop this is irresponsible. Yet, the money the Democrats want to give Trump will pay for just 55 miles out of the 2,000 miles of border wall Trump wants to build. Apart from declaring an emergency, is there another way?
Some, in particular Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, have suggested an even-more creative solution: Use some of the $14 billion to $22 billion of the drug cartel assets seized from the just-convicted Narco-criminal Chapo Guzman to fund the fence.
There is also a clear military rationale for funding a border wall, out of the defense budget if necessary. According to public sources, at least 15 members of terrorist groups, mostly in the Mideast, have been apprehended since 2001, according to the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS).
The terrorist groups include ISIS, Hezbollah, the Pakistani Taliban and al-Shabbab. And, according to the CIS, "The 15 terrorism-associated migrants who traveled to the U.S. southern border likely represent a significant under-count since most information reflecting such border-crossers resides in classified or protected government archives and intelligence databases."
During Monday's appearance by President Trump in El Paso, he made clear he plans to build the wall, a major unfulfilled campaign promise from 2016.
"Just so you know, we're building the wall anyway," Trump said. "We're setting the table, we're doing whatever we have to do. The wall's being built."
Sounds pretty definitive to us.
By the way, this is an enormous problem for the Democrats, whether they realize it or not. Support for the border wall in recent polls is growing.
Wall Popularity Grows
An ABC News/Washington Post poll released last month showed 42% of Americans now support a wall, the most ever. The previous high was 37% in 2017. Likewise, opposition shrank from 63% a year ago to 54% last month.
An IBD/TIPP Poll taken earlier this month found an even-higher level of support at 46%, with 53% opposed. No shock, Democrats overwhelmingly oppose it, and Republicans overwhelmingly support it. Independents are in-between.
The open-borders wing of the Democratic Party have held government hostage with their extreme ideas. If offered to him, Trump should sign the new budget. And immediately start building our badly needed wall.
Middle-Class Economics: USA Today ran a surprising story on Tuesday headlined "Can the middle-class revival under Trump last?" It's surprising — shocking really — because it might just be the first time a major news outlet has admitted that there has been a middle-class revival under Trump.
We did a search for news stories that used the phrase "middle-class revival" since Trump took office. Other than the USAT story and a syndicated column written a year-and-a-half ago, we found none.
Even a more generic search for "Trump middle class" turns up mostly stories about how Trump's tax cuts supposedly aren't helping them. And how his trade war with China will hurt them.
Only Bad News For Middle Class
The press was also happy to feature comments from Democrats bashing Trump. Such as this one from Sen. Elizabeth Warren: "The president and his administration have not just been indifferent to workers, they have launched an all-out attack on workers."
Reporters made no attempt to set the record straight on that lie.
Nor did the army of media fact checkers bother to correct Stacey Abrams, who in her response to Trump's State of the Union" painted a grim picture of the middle class under Trump.
It that speech, she declared that "families' hopes are being crushed by Republican leadership that ignores real life or just doesn't understand it." That "far too many hardworking Americans are falling behind, living paycheck to paycheck." She said the GOP tax cuts "rigged the system against working people." She said "plants are closing, layoffs are looming, and wages struggle to keep pace with the actual cost of living."
None if it is true. But for the most part, fact checkers simply overlooked it.
To be sure, USA Today only mentions these gains so it can then paint a dark picture for the middle class on the horizon. Nevertheless, the fact that the paper was willing to admit to a middle-class revival under Trump is in itself newsworthy.
This isn't a surprise to regular readers of these pages. We thoroughly documented the middle-class stagnation during the Obama years, as his policies choked off what should have been a powerful economic recovery.
Shouldn't Be A Surprise
For the past two years, we've been tracking the sudden and unexpected rebound that's occurred once Trump started to undo and reverse those Obama-era anti-growth policies.
Last week, in fact, we pointed out that our own polling shows a sharp increase in the public's estimation of their own quality of life under Trump.
It's a safe bet that had a Democrat been in the White House over the past two years things would be different. Front pages would cheer the good news. Broadcasters would lead with it each night.
Then again, there wouldn't be any middle-class revival if a Democrat had been in the White House over the past two years.
Economics — not just the economy, but theory — best explains President Trump's 2020 advantage. While presidents seeking re-election have a compelling track record of victory, this president would appear likely to challenge it.
But where simple incumbency's explanatory power falls short, a cross-disciplinary tool — behavioral economics' "endowment effect" — argues there is more to President Trump's 2020 White House chances than him simply residing there.
Elected presidents have done remarkably well winning re-election. Usually having survived a severe winnowing to get there, once there only three in the last century have lost. And of the eight winners, only Obama failed to increase his popular vote percentage in his second race. Finally, the three elected vice presidents who succeeded a dead president and sought a term — a de facto second one — all won too.
Re-election may have become commonplace, but it has never been easy. Congress' comparative incumbency cocoon does not extend to the White House.
Presidents have won re-election despite the opposition controlling Congress when they ran and after they won. They have won despite going from the lofty promises of initially seeking office to the hard realities of occupying it. They have won despite becoming old news after four years of microscopic coverage. And they have done it not simply surviving, but with winners increasing their popular vote by a staggering average of 5.7%.
Behavioral Economics And Trump
If any president appeared destined to confound this trend and join Hoover, Carter, and Bush I as elected presidents who lost re-election, it is President Trump. He won office but lost the popular vote, having a far lower popular vote percentage than any of the three who lost. His popularity continues to hover just below 50% — despite enjoying the robust economy that eluded those three presidents. He also remains polarizing, not unlike those three at their worst. And he is more unconventional than any of them.
What then besides incumbency argues for President Trump's re-election? Politics offers little explanation, but economics does.
The American economist Richard Thaler won the 2017 Nobel Prize for his work in behavioral economics. This branch of economics, in which he was a trailblazer, deals with those quirks that do not appear to follow the classical path of rational individual behavior. This is the study of economic anomalies, and as Thaler writes: "It is in the nature of economic anomalies that they violate standard theory."
President Trump is a political anomaly who violates "standard theory." The explanation of an economic anomaly has startling application to why Trump's re-election prospects are better than many believe.
Thaler writes: "(T)he fact that people often demand much more to give up an object than they would be willing to pay to acquire it — is called the endowment effect." This irrational preference is also known as a "status quo bias." Both are forms of "loss aversion" — "the disutility of giving up an object is greater than the utility associated with acquiring it."
This occurs despite the presidency's travails that argue for the opposite outcome — and which routinely manifest themselves when voters reject the same party holding the White House for more than two consecutive terms (occurring only twice in 100 years: FDR-Truman and Reagan-Bush).
Behavioral economics through its study of anomalies reveals irrationality in the rational world of classical economics. In the case of the endowment effect, it serves to bring a rational explanation to the seemingly irrational world of American politics. Presidential incumbency advantage seemingly should not exist, yet it resoundingly has.
However, attributing outcomes for America's most important office on the basis of incumbency alone lacks an explanatory dimension. Behavioral economics supplies that. As Thaler writes: "One implication of loss aversion is that individuals have a strong tendency to remain at the status quo, because the disadvantages of leaving it loom larger than the advantages."
This helps supply the cause why voters become more attached to presidents once in office — despite obstacles such as president's and voter's party affiliation — than they were when they first considered them. It also argues that President Trump, even with questions about his support, is likely to be far harder to un-elect than re-elect.
Young served under President George W. Bush as the director of communications in the Office of Management and Budget and as deputy assistant secretary in legislative affairs for tax and budget at the Treasury Department. He served as a congressional staffer from 1987-2000.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York Democrat, has released her Green New Deal plan to the nation — and to great applause from the Democratic Party.
This multitrillion-dollar manifesto isn't just about saving the planet from climate change — though that is the centerpiece. It also includes a whole social justice agenda that includes everything from "Medicare-for-all," to a guaranteed job for all Americans, a $15-an-hour minimum wage, and even regulations on how often you will be able to drive your car and fly in an airplane.
The centerpiece of the plan is to move to 100% renewable energy (wind and solar power) within 10 years. No one with any knowledge of energy use and production believes this is remotely possible given that we are today at about 8% renewable — even after $150 billion of taxpayer handouts to green energy producers.
Green New Deal Would Kill The Economy
To get anywhere close to 100% renewable energy over the next 10 or 30 years would be economically crippling; taxpayer costs would exceed $2 trillion and some 10 million Americans in high-paying oil and gas industries would be displaced.
Energy costs for home heating and electric power would likely double or triple, as a Heritage Foundation study shows — and that's simply to get to 50 percent renewable. Without U.S. mass production of shale oil, gas prices at the pump could easily reach $5 a gallon. Price hikes like these are what incited the riots in Paris last month.
Initially, the Green New Deal planned to abolish nuclear and natural gas from the energy mix — which is absurd given that shale gas has contributed to a major reduction in carbon emissions and nuclear plants emit no greenhouse gases. Along with hydropower, these are the cleanest forms of energy today. A recent GND fact sheet published by Ocasio-Cortez's offices has been disavowed by Democratic Senate backer Ed Markey over the dogmatic anti-nuclear stance.
This is why the GND frothy rhetoric about this "national, industrial, economic mobilization" being a "historic opportunity to eliminate poverty and make prosperity, wealth and economic security available to everyone participating in the transformation," is disoriented from reality.
How does eliminating the fossil fuel industry, which has produced the fastest growth of new jobs over the past decade, eliminate poverty? Are we really going to convert oil workers into wind farmers?
There are other utopian ideas to advance this green agenda, including a job-guarantee program, universal heath care and tens of billions of dollars for new mass transit and electric cars. In one of the original versions of the Green New Deal, the plan requires "replacing nonessential individual means of transport with high-quality and modern mass transit." No more driving the kids to soccer practice. Everybody on the bus.
Ocasio-Cortez says that to replace the millions of jobs the GND would destroy, the new guaranteed-jobs program would work like the original New Deal. But despite the fake history of the Great Depression, FDR's make-work programs, such as the Works Progress Administration, failed miserably in their quest to end joblessness and poverty. During the eight years of the WPA, the unemployment rate averaged above 12 percent, some three times higher than today.
The architects of the GND are to be commended for acknowledging that this "transformation" of the U.S. economy won't come cheap. They place the price tag at roughly $1 trillion a year.
These costs will be absorbed by Federal Reserve Bank borrowing (i.e., running up the budget deficit), and "various taxation tools including taxes on carbon and other emissions and progressive wealth taxes." Say hello to those 70 percent tax rates liberals have been touting.
We will need these to pay for this deindustrialization of America.
Conservatives have tended to laugh and sneer at the GND (me included), but these frontal assaults on free market capitalism are quickly becoming Democratic orthodoxy.
Green is the new red, as the saying goes, and unless conservatives defeat and discredit these dingbat ideas, Donald Trump will be proven wrong. America will be on its way to becoming a socialist nation.
Moore is a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and an economic consultant with FreedomWorks. He is the co-author of "Trumponomics: Inside the America First Plan to Revive the American Economy."
U.S.-China Trade: This week's U.S.-China trade talks won't likely result in a final resolution of all trade disputes between the two countries. Even so, President Trump will come under pressure to accept a deal, any deal. Bad idea.
We've noted before that we are free traders at IBD. It's really the linch-pin of the free-market system. But whatever you might think about Trump's tariffs on China — and, for the record, we didn't like them — they have been effective in getting China to treat U.S. demands seriously.
But on U.S. requests for greater access to China's markets for U.S. goods, Trump shouldn't bend. Nor should he ease off the pedal when it comes to China respecting our intellectual property and copyrights, while also forcing U.S. companies to give up their secrets to Chinese "partners" as the price of doing business in the Middle Kingdom.
And, yes, China should level the playing field by lowering its massive subsidies to state-owned firms that often make it impossible for U.S. goods to compete with Chinese ones.
This is important, since most Americans know little of China's plans. They include a massive revamping of their entire industrial economy by 2025, focused on 10 strategic sectors. Among them are industries the U.S. now dominates, including aerospace, semiconductors, artificial intelligence, alternative-energy vehicles and robots.
Leapfrogging The U.S.
That's the goal, just as it was with the European Union 20 years ago: To leapfrog the U.S. economically.
Of course, no one should expect China's Xi Jinping to give up his grandiose plans. We simply ask that, in pursuing them, he plays by the same rules as the rest of the developed world. China doesn't do that now. As kids often say in the schoolyard, no cheating allowed.
Right now, Trump is in a good position to get what he wants. In case you haven't been paying attention, China's economy has entered a serious slowdown, with
Last week, Reuters ran an intriguing headline suggesting just how tough things are getting in China: "China unveils tax cuts for graduates, low-income workers in stimulus drive." Meanwhile, in recent weeks, China's central bank has pumped out billions of dollars in liquidity, pushing banks to make more loans to strapped, struggling enterprises.
The New York Times explains: "With economic growth in China weakening to its slowest pace in nearly three decades, thousands of Chinese workers are holding small-scale protests and strikes to fight efforts by businesses to withhold compensation and cut hours. The authorities have responded with a sustained campaign to rein in the protests, and most recently detained several prominent activists in the southern city of Shenzhen late last month."
China's Economic Woes
China depends on the U.S. for trade. Without it, businesses will go belly up, and workers will get angrier and angrier. And President-for-life Xi's tenure in office might be more tenuous than he thinks.
Trump slapped tariffs on some $250 billion in Chinese imports last year. That included a 25% levy on $50 billion in high-tech equipment, machines and semiconductors. The remaining $200 billion in goods, including building materials, chemicals, household goods and consumer electronics, faced a less-steep but still significant 10% tariff.
If a deal isn't reached by March 2, Trump says he'll impose tariffs on $267 billion in other Chinese goods. That's basically everything China sells here. It will include shoes, cellphones, computers and clothes, consumer items now excluded entirely from tariffs.
There's a good reason why the stock market has been acting skittish for the past half year or so: It worries about damage to our lucrative trade ties to China. It's also worried about Europe, which looks like it's on the verge of a recession after the EU again downgraded its growth outlook. In short, the global economy is at stake in these talks.
Deal, No Deal?
As far as negotiating goes, Trump is in a good position to fix much of what's wrong with U.S.-China trade. But it's also a risky move, a gamble really, that the other guy will blink.
And what if Trump's trade gambit fails? A new study by the Trade Partnership Worldwide finds that an all-out trade U.S.-China trade war with tariffs imposed by Trump and retaliation by China would cost the U.S. just over one percentage point in GDP growth, lower the average family of four's income by $2,294 a year, and cost the economy more than two million jobs.
That's an enormous economic cost, one that could potentially end Trump's re-election hopes — and the Trump boom.
U.S.-China Trade Costs
But there's a political cost, too. For Trump to give in and abandon what he wants from these U.S.-China trade talks, after nearly a year of trade-related turmoil, would be a big error. It would anger his base at home, confuse markets, and let Xi forget about making any reforms at all.
Border Security: Not only are Democrats opposed to a border wall, now they want to ensure that those who make it across the border can't be returned. Tell us again how Democrats aren't the party of open borders?
On Monday, talks between congressional Republicans and Democrats over funding for border protection had broken down. Not because of Republican intransigence. They've already agreed to a third or less of the relatively small $5.7 billion President Trump wants for a border wall.
Nope, it was because Democrats suddenly insisted that there must be a cap on the number of detention beds that ICE — Immigration and Customs Enforcement — can have. Democrats wanted it limited to 16,500 beds for illegals caught in the interior of the country.
A Cap On Border Protection?
This would have amounted to a strict cap on the number of illegal immigrants that ICE can detain, because in order for them to be detained, ICE has to find a bed for them.
Democrats claim that this cap would be sufficient to allow ICE to detain and deport illegals who commit violent crimes, but not those who aren't lawbreakers — other than the fact that they broke the law by sneaking across the border.
But when Republicans pushed for lifting the cap should there be more than 16,500 criminals in custody, Democrats at first refused.
Democrats weren't even trying to hide their true intent. As California Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard said: "A cap on detention beds associated with interior enforcement will rein in the Trump administration's deportation agenda."
Breitbart's Neil Muno said it much better: "The plan would create an invisible bureaucratic amnesty for economic migrants who do not commit violent crimes."
So, to sum up: in their heart of hearts, Democrats want to make it easy for illegals to cross the border, and easy for them to stay once they're here.
Yet, any time someone accuses Democrats of being for open borders, they scream "unfair!"
No Money For Security
Now, it's true that Democrats involved in the negotiations agreed to provide more money for border protection. But look at their opening bid, which the Washington Post obtained and posted on its website. They're don't seem interested in improving border protection at all.
Democrats proposed zero funds for new Border Patrol agents. And they want to forbid hiring more Enforcement and Removal Operations personnel.
The only hiring they approved of was for more customs agents, more detention oversight officials and inspectors and more Health Service Corp staff.
They are eager to throw more money for things that will make illegals' stay here more comfortable. Such as additional funds for better medical care, more efficient transportation, food and other consumables for detainees. They proposed more money for border technology, which has already proven itself inadequate to the task.
By Monday evening, reports of a deal between the two sides emerged. We'll wait to see what's in it. Our guess is that it won't result in any real improvement in border security.
The Democrats have made it clear that they won't stand for that.
The question now is what will Trump do to live up to his campaign promise.
The late Stan Lee, comic book king and father to a slew of American superheroes, was a futurist as well. It was Lee whose fertile mind more than 50 years ago "invented" Vibranium, the imaginary metal used for Captain America's shield, IronMan's exoskeleton, and Black Panther's energy-absorbing suit.
Vibranium may not be found on the Periodic Table of Elements, but Lee seems to have sensed that many arcane metals and minerals would come to be essential to the closest the real world comes to a superhero — the 21st Century American warrior.
Consider the gear carried by the SEALs, the U.S. Navy's elite special operations force. When today's SEAL goes into combat, he takes one-quarter of the Periodic Table with him.
The problem is, unlike the comic book world, these metals and minerals can't be imagined — they must be mined and refined into advanced materials.
That's the finding of the U.S. Geological Survey, which notes that a Navy SEALs' gear contains at least 23 critical minerals and metals "for which the U.S. is greater than 50% net import reliant." It gets worse: for 11 of them, our dependence is total — the U.S. produces zero. And for 15, the world's leading producer is China, a nation that the 2017 U.S. National Defense Strategy identifies as presenting a "central challenge to U.S. prosperity and security."
Without access to these metals and minerals, it's no exaggeration to say that our premier special operators would literally be disarmed.
Start with night vision goggles, the devices that allow the SEALs to "own the night" to such lethal effect, as demonstrated in the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound. Night vision goggles require three Rare Earths and four other rare metals — all from China, and for five of those seven, the U.S. is 100% import-dependent, producing zero.
Then there's the standard SEAL carbine, the M4, which requires four metals from China and South Africa, with the U.S. 100% dependent for two of them.
How about ammunition, something it's hard to have enough of? The SEALs' ammo is dependent on potassium from Canada — so far, so good — but also on four more metals and minerals from China.
Critical Metals And Minerals
And it's not just weapons and tactical gear. Consider the SEALs' communications suite. Like so much of our technology these days, it relies on lithium ion batteries — powered by four metals and minerals from China, South Africa and DRC Congo, including graphite and manganese, of which the U.S. produces precisely zero.
The GPS interface relies on a dozen metals and minerals, six from China, three from South Africa and two from DRC Congo. For four of these minerals, the U.S. is 100% foreign-dependent.
Even the warfighter's essential infra-red strobe — the signal that protects SEALs from friendly-fire strikes — would go dark, with three key metals produced by China. In the case of gallium and arsenic, once again, our foreign-dependence is 100%.
Admittedly, never bet against a SEAL — even if he's armed with nothing more than a paper clip and pocket lint. But there's something wrong about equipping the United States' elite force with weapons and support systems that depend on metals and minerals we import from unstable regimes and doctrinally-declared adversaries.
And we can upgrade that to profoundly wrong, when we recognize that — for all 23 of the critical minerals and metals essential to SEALs gear — known resources exist in the United States, from Texas and the southwestern states, north through the Rockies and in Alaska. In other words, the United States' minerals deficiency is self-inflicted.
Likewise, the dangers of dependence are drummed home by a new Defense Industrial Base study, which states that "a key finding of this report is that China represents a significant and growing risk to the supply of materials deemed strategic and critical to U.S. national security."
Yet, neither the president nor the pentagon have put forward policy changes that would address the U.S.'s strategic materials vulnerability. And in a sharply divided Congress, there is little hope for a legislative fix.
But if the U.S. is slow in recognizing the dangers of resource dependency, the same cannot be said of China. "Made in China 2025", the Chinese Politburo's strategic development blueprint, lists among its 10 target areas "new materials," defined as Essential Strategic Materials. These include "high-end equipment with special alloys, high-performance separation membrane materials, high performance fiber and related composite materials, new energy materials, electronic ceramics and artificial crystals, biomedical materials, rare earth materials, advanced semiconductor materials, and materials related to the advancement of the strategic emerging industries."
Stan Lee's Vibranium is not on the list, but just about everything else is.
A Strategic Clue From Sun Tzu
"To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill": Those words come down to us across 2,500 years of human history from Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu.
This dictum from the"Art of War" raises an urgent question: Could it be that China's rising role as a technology metal provider — while the U.S. military becomes more and more dependent on metals and minerals we produce less and less of — is an asymmetry China is cultivating with an eye towards exploiting it in time of conflict?
Because the fact is it won't matter how razor-sharp skilled and implacably dedicated our forces are, if the U.S. Defense Industrial Base lacks the materials needed to provide them the weapons they need for the fight.
Unlike Marvel Comics or the movies, we can't make up the metals superheroes need to triumph over evil. If we want our real-world warfighters to keep their edge over America's enemies, it's time we mine those metals right here at home.
McGroarty, former White House special assistant and presidential appointee at the Department of Defense, has testified on critical mineral issues in both the U.S. House and Senate.
In a recent federal filing before the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, lawyers for Apple ( AAPL) maintained that the tech giant should not have to consider increasing its leadership's ideological diversity and that arguments made in support of greater viewpoint variance were "without merit."
Because of that decision, at next month's annual meeting of Apple investors, its shareholders will have the chance to vote on whether the Silicon Valley-based company should seek to increase ideological diversity or continue operating in a progressive prepotency.
The dispute arose from a shareholder proposal that I submitted to Apple in my capacity as the director of the National Center for Public Policy Research's Free Enterprise Project (FEP), the nation's leading conservative shareholder activist organization. Our proposal merely requests that Apple include the concept of ideological diversity in its calculus when it nominates new members to its board of directors.
Apple then filed what's known as a no-action letter to the SEC, seeking permission to exclude our proposal from its proxy statement and proffering three distinct reasons for its request. The SEC rejected all three.
The goal of the FEP proposal is to help Apple's leadership avoid groupthink.
Groupthink is a major threat to long-term investors in any corporation. And in an era when companies are increasingly taking strong political stances, the risk of ideological hegemony in corporate leadership is a growing concern. Nowhere is this more of an issue than in Silicon Valley. As Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged in congressional testimony, Silicon Valley is an "extremely left-leaning place."
Apple is no exception.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has been as much a social justice crusader as he's been a businessman since assuming the helm in 2011. Cook has supported massive government regulation of carbon emissions, opposed religious liberty efforts and protested President Donald Trump's immigration policies.
Specifically, in his opposition to state-level religious freedom efforts, Cook made it clear that he wasn't speaking as a private citizen, but rather he spoke " on behalf of Apple."
That's a precarious statement, as it sends a message to all of Apple's employees that the iPhone maker expects conformity to liberal policy positions. After all, Cook has already spoken for you. His statement contradicts the liberal sensibilities of free speech he purports to uphold, and this orthodoxy can be disastrous for business. If staff can't question Cook on politics or public policy, under what circumstances can they question the boss?
Cook famously came out as gay in 2014, becoming the highest-profile American corporate executive to do so. But one has to wonder if right-wingers working at Apple would feel as welcome coming out of the "conservative closet," or if they would rather stay silent and not upset the applecart. If the latter, Apple's future performance may suffer. Pushback is massively important in corporate problem-solving and innovation.
In its no-action letter, Apple's lawyers repeatedly insisted that they didn't understand the term "ideological diversity" and that its shareholders would likewise be unable to discern its meaning. That the company spent resources to resist greater diversity should bother all investors as much as the insult that Apple thinks they can't comprehend common English terms. As I wrote in our response to Apple's letter, "Most middle-school civics students would understand our proposal."
The idea for our proposal came after three tech shareholder meetings last year in which Amazon, Alphabet ( GOOGL) and Facebook ( FB) each adopted left-wing board diversity proposals pushed by groups such as the Service Employees International Union. These proposals also had the stated goal of reducing corporate groupthink, but called on the companies to interview an underrepresented minority and a woman for each open board spot.
This isn't diversity. It's racism and sexism. Not all women think alike based on the fact that they are women. Similarly, not all Asians or Latinos or black Americans think the same based on their respective skin color.
Diversity derives from an individual's thoughts, beliefs, ethos and experiences. Anyone seriously committed to diversity knows this.
We proposed an honest diversity addendum to Apple's board selection procedures and the company tried to quash it. By voting to approve our shareholder proposal, investors in this Silicon Valley mainstay have the opportunity to show the company that diversity indeed has merit.
Danhof is director of the Free Enterprise Project at the National Center for Public Policy Research.
As the partial government shutdown continued, more and more people found themselves discomfited, inconvenienced or harmed in some way. With it came hope from the political left that those problems would convince people how central and valuable government is to each of us, moving people their way at the ballot box.
This was illustrated by a Washington Post article by James Hohmann and Joanie Greve. They wrote that "One enduring result could be that Americans collectively come to appreciate the value government provides in their everyday lives to a greater degree." They then contrasted the resulting "teachable moment on what exactly the government does and how important it is to people's lives," with Ronald Reagan's statement that rather than providing solutions to problems, "Government is the problem."
They document some problems from the shutdown. However, long wait times at airport security, problems providing food stamps, difficulties with affordable housing contract expirations, meeting payrolls, etc., do not disprove "government is the problem."
A major reason is that the government does things it has no business doing.
Failure To Deliver
Suppose the government created a bureaucracy with the power to selectively issue "free speech" permits, which were sold to those approved to speak on particular public issues (you might think that could never happen, especially given the First Amendment, but it differs little from the effects of the fairness doctrine for radio before the Reagan administration eliminated it). Or it created a bureaucracy that administered the civil asset forfeiture abuses of citizens.
Neither advances our general welfare. Neither comports with the logic or core documents of America's founding. Neither involves a constitutionally enumerated federal power. Yet people would adapt to the rules they faced, defensible or not. If a government shutdown then cut those bureaucracies' funds, the failures to deliver services as expected would cause people problems. However, those problems do not prove government policies make us better off.
Crowding Out Private Sector
Similar logic applies to functions that often have been provided by the private sector (e.g., education and services offered by private insurers and friendly societies), but have largely been crowded out by government because of its special treatment (e.g., exemption from property taxes), coercive power (e.g., regulation and eminent domain) and access to taxpayers' pockets for financing.
In those areas, government bureaucrats know our circumstances and preferences less well than we do and care about us less than we do. They operate without the constraint of covering their bills through voluntary transactions. And they will predictably serve us worse, and at a higher cost, than what they crowded out.
The only other alternative relies on government theft from others, which is diametrically opposed to "liberty and justice for all." Again, if a government shutdown further eroded how well "public servants" served Americans compared to voluntary arrangements, that does not prove such government policies make us better off.
Government's Broken Promises
Further, even in areas many believe government should determine our choices, the shutdown teaches a far more important lesson than extolling the value of government services. It demonstrates that government cannot be counted on to deliver on its promises, however valuable they might be if reliance was justified.
After all, all the problems resulting from the shutdown involved government failure to deliver on commitments it has made. Further, there is no assurance it will not happen again, or be even worse, in the future (very possibly the very near future).
When that unreliability is added to the unfunded liabilities from a cornucopia of government programs — Social Security, Medicare, etc. — they become so large, they cannot be delivered on. The more people realize how untrustworthy government commitments really are, the less they will rely on them or be manipulated by promises that aren't credible.
The government shutdown certainly created problems. And it reminded us that our octopean government has thrust its tentacles virtually everywhere in our lives. But the problems were caused by government failure to perform duties it arrogated to itself, not because extending its power over us advanced citizens' well-being.
Galles is professor of economics at Pepperdine University, a research fellow at the Independent Institute, an adjunct scholar at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and a member of the Foundation for Economic Education Faculty Network. His books include "Apostle of Peace" (2013), "Faulty Premises, Faulty Policies" (2014), and "Lines of Liberty" (2016).
Sen. Elizabeth Warren's insistence that she is Native American has drawn racial taunts from President Donald Trump, who frequently refers to her as "Pocahontas," as well as reprimands from tribal leaders, who note that tribes themselves determine tribal membership. She has frequently said that she grew up believing she had Native American ancestors and occasionally claimed her family is Cherokee and Delaware, even offering a recipe for a cookbook titled "Pow Wow Chow."
Earlier this year, Warren released the results of DNA tests that showed she did have a very distant relative — in the neighborhood of six to 10 generations ago — who was Native American, but that is hardly the impression she has tried to give over the years. Last week, The Washington Post revealed a handwritten document, submitted in 1986 when Warren became a member of the Texas state bar, in which she listed her race as "American Indian." This latest controversy in Sen. Warren's identity politics threatens to complicate her bid for the presidency.
Why should it matter what race or ethnic origin Sen. Warren claims? Under usual circumstances, it wouldn't.
Elizabeth Warren and Discrimination
Looking at Elizabeth Warren — with her fair skin, blue eyes and blond hair — one would assume she is of northern European ancestry. But because she has taken it on herself to assert that she is not what she appears but is rather a member of a group that has long faced discrimination in America, the claim takes on significance — especially in the Democratic Party.
The field of Democratic candidates who have announced their candidacy for president or are about to is a veritable rainbow of minorities. From former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, whose grandmother was a Mexican immigrant, to Sen. Kamala Harris, whose parents were born in Jamaica and India, to Sen. Cory Booker, a man whose ancestors include both blacks and whites, as noted in an episode of "Finding Your Roots," to Tulsi Gabbard, born in American Samoa to a white mother and part-Samoan father, the Democratic candidates are the most ethnically diverse in the history of U.S. presidential politics.
There is much to be applauded in such an ethnically and racially broad group of candidates, but more because of what it says about success and assimilation in the American model than it does about discrimination.
The new industry of DNA testing has made it possible for Americans to get a better idea about their origins than relying on family myth. In melting-pot America, the desire to discover more about ancestry is driven by a sense that most of us have ancestors who hailed from someplace else and the wish to learn more about where that was.
But Sen. Warren's quest seems very different. By asserting actual kinship with Native Americans, she has frequently used her "roots" to play a role in identity politics. She listed herself as Native American on prestigious law school faculties where she taught and as a "minority" professor in the Association of American Law Schools' staff directories, among other places.
But nothing in Warren's background suggests that Native American culture, much less tribal affiliation, was hers to claim. Whether she gained any benefit from her "minority" status in affirmative action hiring is difficult to assess, but it definitely made her a part of the cool diversity crowd on campus, where being a white woman wouldn't automatically have entitled admission.
Rebuke for Elizabeth Warren
Perhaps the best rebuke to Elizabeth Warren was inadvertently given by her rival for the Democratic nomination, Kamala Harris. When asked whether she had ever grappled with introspection about her own mixed-race status, Harris quickly answered, "No."
She explained to The Washington Post that when she first ran for office, she didn't like having to define herself into a compartment: "I am who I am. I'm good with it. You might need to figure it out, but I'm fine with it."
Harris has solved her own racial identity by calling herself "an American." Elizabeth Warren might think of dropping the "Native" and do the same.
Chavez is chair of the Center for Equal Opportunity and a senior fellow at the Niskanen Center.
One of the great challenges of our time is to prevent Social Security and other programs for the elderly from taking over the national government. It may already be too late. Recently, the Congressional Budget Office reported that federal spending on the 65-plus population now amounts to 40% of non-interest outlays, up from 35% in 2005. By 2029, the CBO projects it to be 50%.
Here is how the CBO describes the outlook:
"Over the next decade, as members of the baby-boom generation age and life expectancy increases, the number of people age 65 or older is expected to continue to rise — by about one-third, from 16% of the population in 2018 to 20% in 2029. ... Federal spending for older people is anticipated to … (take) up a greater share of federal resources."
By the CBO's math, two-thirds of the projected growth in federal spending over the next decade, after adjustment for inflation, will stem from programs for the elderly — mostly Social Security and Medicare, but also long-term nursing home care under Medicaid and civil-service retirement.
Against that backdrop, raising Social Security benefits would seem a non-starter. Guess again.
Congressional Democrats have proposed legislation to increase spending. There are four main provisions: (1) an across-the-board benefit increase of about 2%; (2) a cost-of-living adjustment that would raise future benefits faster; (3) a larger minimum benefit for the poor; and (4) tax cuts (Social Security benefits are taxed if non-Social Security income exceeds $25,000 for singles and $32,000 for couples; these thresholds would be raised to $50,000 and $100,000.).
Rep. John B. Larson, D-Conn, a main sponsor of the bill, believes the U.S. faces a retirement crisis.
Actually, we don't, as recent testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee by Andrew Biggs of the American Enterprise Institute makes clear. (Biggs was deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration in 2007 and 2008.)
The most convincing evidence is what retirees say about themselves, Biggs notes. According to Gallup, more than three-quarters of retirees (78%) say they "have enough money to live comfortably." The Federal Reserve's Survey of Consumer Finances finds that 75% of Americans 65 and over have "at least enough to maintain (their) standard of living." That is up from 61% in 1992.
The polling organization NORC at the University of Chicago regularly asks respondents about their financial situation. "In all recent years," says NORC, "those 65-plus have shown the least financial dissatisfaction."
In 2014, 45% of 65-plus respondents were "satisfied" with their finances and 37% were "more or less satisfied." Only 18% were "not at all satisfied." By contrast, 21% of the 35-to-49 group were dissatisfied, 50% were "more or less satisfied" and only 30% were "satisfied."
True, most people's incomes drop when they retire. But their expenses also typically drop. The stereotype of most old people tumbling into poverty is wrong, in part because their incomes are significantly underreported. An important recent paper by economists Adam Bee of the Census Bureau and Joshua Mitchell of Welch Consulting estimated that, after correcting for the missing money, the median income of elderly households in 2012 jumped almost a third, from $33,800 to $44,400. The poverty rate among the elderly, already much lower than in the general population, also fell by a quarter. The main sources of underreporting involve income from IRAs, 401(k) plans and traditional pensions.
There are roughly 50 million Americans 65 and over. In a population so large, there are bound to be some Americans who are in dire straits because they don't have retirement savings or have retirement plans that are tragically underfunded. There may be targeted remedies that can help them. But the notion that there is pervasive poverty among older Americans is a political fantasy that is used to justify spending that, as a society, we cannot afford.
One way that the Democrats would pay for their new benefit is by imposing payroll taxes on wages above $400,000. Another way is to increase gradually the payroll tax on all workers. By 2050, the added taxes would equal an estimated 4.9% of current law payroll. Budget deficits might, it seems, be contained. Isn't that responsible? Well, no. Under existing policies, the CBO projects deficits of nearly $12 trillion over a decade. Higher taxes are needed to trim these deficits. That will be harder if they're committed to paying more for Social Security.
It is conventional wisdom in Washington that the Republican addiction to tax cuts is mainly responsible for the huge budget deficits. This is, at best, a half-truth. Democrats are equally responsible, because they refuse to come to grips with the massive spending on retirement and health care. Expanding Social Security is mostly a political bribe that comes at the expense of other programs and workers, who must pay the resulting taxes.
Samuelson has written about business and economic issues for the Washington Post since 1977.
Soon, in a federal court that few Americans know exists, there will come a ruling on a constitutional principle that today barely exists but that could, if the judicial branch will resuscitate it, begin to rectify the imbalance between the legislative and executive branches.
It is the "nondelegation doctrine," which expresses John Locke's justly famous but largely ignored admonition that institutions like the U.S. Congress, vested with the power "to make laws, and not to make legislators ... have no power to transfer their authority of making laws, and place it in other hands." The doctrine's revival might result from the Peanut Butter Criterion.
Acting under authority improvidently given by Congress to presidents in Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, the current president has, in the name of national security, imposed tariffs (taxes, collected at the border, paid by American consumers) on steel and aluminum imports from, among other nations, Canada, a U.S. military ally. How Canada threatens U.S. national security by selling inexpensive metals to U.S. defense industries, thereby effectively increasing the U.S. defense budget, is a puzzle for another day.
International Trade Discretion
The U.S. Court of International Trade, which sits in New York, is mulling the argument, made on behalf of American steel importers and foreign steel producers, that the discretion that presidents enjoy under Section 232 is so vast that it amounts to unconstrained lawmaking. Hence it is an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power.
The Trump administration not only makes the dubious assertion that imports have imperiled vital domestic metals manufacturers, it breezily says national security depends on a vibrant economy that is imperiled by imports. How the administration squares its fears about the dangerous fragility of the U.S. economy with the president's boasting about the economy's awesome strength is another puzzle.
During oral argument in December, one judge on the three-member panel asked a lawyer defending the administration's position if there is any product that the president does not have the congressionally conferred power to restrict imports on national security grounds: "Could he, say, put a tariff on peanut butter?" The judge got a foggily evasive answer.
Gary Lawson of Boston University School of Law has argued that the Constitution's structure and a "background" or "embedded" principle permit Congress to delegate to presidents discretion regarding matters "ancillary" to a statute but not regarding "fundamental matters." He says that the Constitution's Framers were not redundant when they said Congress could make laws "necessary and proper" for the exercise of an enumerated power (e.g., "to regulate commerce with foreign nations").
International Trade and Separation of Powers
The two words have independent meaning: A "proper" law is not only necessary but consistent with, among other things, the separation of powers. Larry Alexander of the University of San Diego School of Law and Saikrishna Prakash of the University of Virginia School of Law have argued that a law cannot properly give to the president discretion to "make rules for the governance of society," which is legislating.
As when a president has an unreviewable power to impose taxes (tariffs) on an unlimited number of things (peanut butter?) in the name of an uncircumscribed goal (national security). Not since the Supreme Court's accommodation of — actually, capitulation to — the New Deal, has the court held (in the 1935 Schechter case) that although Congress may permit an executive agency or other entity to make subordinate rules within prescribed limits, it must stipulate policies and standards. In another 1935 case, the court voided a congressional grant of vast discretion to the president because, in the granting statute, Congress did not declare or even indicate any policy or standard to guide or limit the president.
If the Court of International Trade revives the nondelegation doctrine, this might reach the Supreme Court, which upheld Section 232 in a 1976 case that did not turn on the constitutional questions now presented. The court might flinch from the task of defining "excessive" delegation that makes a law not "proper." However, that task — judging — is the court's raison d'?tre.
The Constitution's first words after the Preamble are: "All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress." All. James Madison was, as wise people usually are, an accomplished worrier who rarely worried about the wrong things. It turns out, however, that he did when, in Federalist 48, he worried about Congress "drawing all power into its impetuous vortex." For generations, Congress has been a centrifugal machine, spinning off powers. Limited government requires a limited president, which requires limits on what Congress can give away.
Will is a columnist for the Washington Post and a contributor to MSNBC.
Illinois: The state of Illinois has struggled for years with its finances. As with other troubled states, it boils down to a simple formula: Too much spending, especially on government employee pensions, and not enough revenue. Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker thinks a tax hike on the rich will solve the problem. It won't.
Pritzker ran for office in 2018 promising more spending on schools, health care and jobs, while cutting taxes and imposing a new $15 minimum wage.
Well, the state is spending a lot more, but tax cuts are now off the agenda. Instead, Pritzker will propose to double taxes paid by those with income over $225,000, the so-called rich, to 7.65% from 3.75% now.
As Moody's noted, "the population loss and relatively sluggish employment trends suggest a degree of economic vulnerability that poses a conundrum: revenue growth from existing sources will be too tepid to offset escalating fixed costs, while new taxes could threaten to increase the outflow of residents."
In a recent piece, IBD focused on New York's ills, which, no surprise, are similar to Illinois' — high taxes, a huge out-migration of wealthy taxpayers, massive pension liabilities, chronic deficits. But, as we noted, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo wisely ruled out raising taxes on the rich. "God forbid if the rich leave," he said.
Illinois: The Wealthy Leave
As Moody's noted, Illinois lost some 544,541 residents to other states from 2013 to 2018, or 4.2% of its 2013 population. The people leaving represent wealth, skills, education, know-how and, often, local roots. Illinois is watching the only thing that can save it from bankruptcy — its most talented people — flee to other states where taxes, corruption and incompetence aren't so bad.
Worse, the state Senate approved a hike in the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025. That will lead to thousands of low-skilled, untrained workers losing jobs. A minimum wage, after all, is a tax on hiring low-wage workers.
Pritzker's call to raise taxes on successful residents and on those at the bottom is a huge unforced error, one that shows his lack of basic economic understanding.
Good Times: When Trump rattled off a series of economic successes in his State of the Union, he could have added one more. The public's quality of life has improved sharply in the past two years.
"We have created 5.3 million new jobs and, importantly, added 600,000 new manufacturing jobs," Trump said at one point in this address. "Wages are rising at the fastest pace in decades ... . Unemployment has reached the lowest rate in half a century. African-American, Hispanic-American and Asian-American unemployment have all reached their lowest levels ever recorded. Unemployment for Americans with disabilities has also reached an all-time low."
Unemployment at historic lows? Wages climbing at a fast pace? Who knew? The news media, fixated on Trump scandals, hasn't exactly been broadcasting that good news. And media fact checkers busied themselves after the speech nitpicking Trump's economic boasts.
But the upbeat assessment clearly resonated with the public, most of whom gave Trump's speech top marks. Turns out they have been firsthand witnesses to the strength of the economy over the past two years.
How do we know? Look at the IBD/TIPP Quality of Life Index, which asks the public whether they think their quality of life will be better, worse or the same over the next six months.
In the 17 years IBD has been compiling this index, it's averaged 56.2. Under President Obama, it averaged just 53.7. Even if you only include Obama's second term, it was well below the 17-year average.
Under Trump? The Quality of Life Index has averaged 59.3. That's a 10% increase over the average during the Obama years.
To be sure, there's a partisan element to this. Republicans tend to rate their quality of life higher than Democrats when there's a Republican in the White House, and vice versa. But look at independents: Their quality of life averaged 52 under Obama. It's averaging 58.8 under Trump — a 13% bump.
What' more, the gains are across the board. Households making from $35,000 to $50,000, for example, saw an 8% gain in this index when you compare Trump to Obama. Those making from $50,000 to $75,000, an 11% gain.
We see the same phenomenon with the IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index, which has been in positive territory — over 50 — since Trump's been president. It averaged only 46.8 under Obama.
The public is clearly giving Trump credit for the turnaround. While his overall approval ratings hover around 40%, he regularly gets much higher marks for his handling of the economy in the IBD/TIPP poll.
Our guess is that if the press were to let up even a little on the 24/7 criticism of Trump, and spend some time reporting on what's happening in the economy, Trump would get higher ratings on both measures.
Like many retail investors I have found low-fee passive investments such as index funds highly attractive. Pioneered by the late Jack Bogle, these products give investors the ability to own a diverse portfolio of stocks at an affordable cost, in the process delivering financial prosperity for millions of Americans.
However, the benefits conferred by index funds are increasingly being exploited by an opaque subsector of Wall Street known as proxy advisory firms.
This trend has gained momentum because retail investors participating in these funds are required to surrender their voting rights to managers, who represent all the members en bloc.
As the number of shareholders investing in funds has exponentially grown in the past decade, fund managers have begun to wield tremendous influence over corporate governance at American public companies, even though these managers do not actually own any stock themselves.
Unfortunately, too many asset managers expend little effort in determining how to properly execute their newfound proxy voting power.
The Rise Of Proxy Advisors
Instead they rely heavily on the advice of proxy advisory firms, outside consultants who not only lack any statutory authority to regulate companies or acknowledge an obligation to issue guidance directed toward maximizing returns, but in some cases do not even admit to having a fiduciary responsibility to fund investors.
As a consequence, proxy firms are vicariously exercising significant influence over whether a shareholder resolution at a given company passes or fails. Research shows that a recommendation by the market leader, ISS, can influence a vote by as much as 25%.
Of more concern to retail investors, proxy advisors have a track record of promoting shareholder resolutions aimed primarily at addressing political issues. Research by law firm Sullivan & Cromwell has shown that ISS supported 74% of social proposals in 2018, including 84% of proposals that would force businesses to comply with extralegal environmental standards that are higher than those set by government regulators.
Although supporting politically motivated resolutions is not inherently problematic, evidence that these proposals materially enhance enterprise value is mixed at best.
No Financial Benefits
According to another study authored by a leading Harvard academic, politically oriented proposals on average create greater costs for publicly traded companies — and therefore, shareholders like me — than financial benefits.
That conclusion is also indirectly corroborated in a study conducted by Broadridge and accounting giant PwC showing that during the 2018 proxy season retail investors who voted shares they hold directly were half as likely as fund managers to support environmental and social proposals.
In other words, when retail investors do vote they rarely use their investments as a means to further social initiatives.
To compound the problem, a study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that proxy firms routinely support ballot proposals that have been resoundingly rejected by a majority of other investors in prior years.
Support from proxy advisors helps keep these initiatives alive, creating "zombie proposals" that company management is perennially forced to assess, draining capital and resources from other profit seeking activities.
As recognition of these intrinsic problems at proxy firms has mounted, BlackRock, the world's largest fund manager with almost $6.5 trillion under management, is now calling for greater transparency from proxy advisors, suggesting that they must improve the quality and accuracy of their guidance to serve the interests of retail investors.
Thankfully, the Securities and Exchange Commission has taken notice of the growing consensus for reform, a step I feel is long overdue.
I am hopeful the commission will design and enforce a regulatory regime for the proxy advisory industry to ensure it is held to the same fiduciary standards as the rest of the financial services industry, requiring them to adhere to the singular goal of maximizing returns for retail investors.
Bauroth is a retail investor and member of the Main Street Investors Coalition Advisory Council.
The liberal desire to rebut President Trump is so overwhelming that they're now "fact-checking" him live or the moment he utters his last sentence. There is an Official Democratic Politician Rebuttal of the State of the Union, but why bother? They need only give links to national "news" sites, since the "news" anchors will offer their "context" as soon as the speech is over.
Or better yet, leave it to the "comedians."
One could easily consider the late-night talk shows to be the Democrat rebuttal. Start with "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central, where Trevor Noah quipped, "The real theme of his speech was that we're all going to die, Mexican style. ... This part of his speech was so scary he should have just done it with a flashlight under his chin."
'Comedy's' State of the Union
Trump was dismissed as dumber than a fifth-grader. "There was one thing we can all agree on," Noah announced. "He read really well. ... I don't know if he's ready for a second term, but he's definitely ready for the second grade."
ABC's Jimmy Kimmel had the same lame thought. "President Trump spoke with all the elegance of a book report written by a third-grader on the bus," he said. Kimmel was surely angry that he declared the president a grade smarter than Noah.
Kimmel also joked: "Trump said, 'We must step boldly and bravely into the next chapter of this great American adventure.' And that chapter is 11." Bankruptcy, get it? Who needs to tell the truth about the economy? Not the comedians.
CBS' "Late Show with Stephen Colbert" is a hot stop for the 46 or so Democrats considering a run for the White House, and Colbert is trying hard to be the most hateful Trump hater of them all. His post-State of the Union show offered a fake translation of Russian President Vladimir Putin. "Good evening, I'm Vladimir Putin," the female translator said over footage of the real Russian autocrat speaking. "I agree with President Trump's call for unity. Both sides must come together and do exactly what he says. That I told him to say."
State of the Union 'Jokes'
Fake Putin then makes this unfunny joke: "We built a wall in Germany, and not one Mexican got into East Berlin." Liberals can never tell the difference between a wall to keep citizens in and one to keep illegal immigrants out.
Colbert then added his own thoughts. "This was not a particularly great speech," he said. "But what it lacked in quality it made up in length. This speech was like watching paint lie." Yes, these "joke" writers get paid for this.
TBS "comedian" Samantha Bee had to wait a night to offer her feckless feminist fusillade. "My ovaries just tried to move back to Canada," she joked about the president's passionate pro-life remarks. "I always knew someday a Republican president would try to take away my right to choose," she said, skipping over the fact that she's almost 50. "I just didn't think it would be the kind of president who's definitely tried to go Dutch on an abortion!"
This isn't new. Last May, she told viewers, "If Trump hasn't paid for at least half a dozen abortions, I will eat this blazer."
Bee was only echoing panicked Hollywood feminists who can't imagine an abortion limit they could abide. Bette Midler tweeted after the speech: "Buy stock in coat hangers! Here we go, 60 years, back to the back alleys!" Alyssa Milano added, "Government doesn't get any bigger than when it is in a uterus."
When you're the Resistance, the counterarguments don't have to have internal logic, and they certainly don't have to be funny. They just need to be loaded with passionate fear and loathing. The cultural elite offers a perpetual geyser of hate.
Hollywood would like America to believe it reflects our nation's pulse. Well, 76 percent of Americans approved of this speech by the second- or third-grader who's destroying our economy as a pawn of Russia because he wants to kill pregnant women.
Bozell is the president of the Media Research Center. Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org.
"This year," President Trump stated in his widely viewed and positively rated State of the Union address, "America will recognize two important anniversaries that show us the majesty of America's mission and the power of American pride."
"On D-Day, June 6, 1944, 15,000 young American men jumped from the sky, and 60,000 more stormed in from the sea," he said. And in July 1969, "brave young pilots flew a quarter of a million miles through space to plant the American flag on the face of the moon."
None of the commentators I've seen have questioned why Trump chose to spotlight these events. He is not usually given to historical references; his trademark slogan is vague about just when American was great. Celebrating others' past achievements has not been his thing. But beginning the speech by celebrating these two American triumphs provided a shrewd framing with the potential to elevate his image.
Trump's State of the Union
Trump has obviously paid heed to the political numbers that show him likely to lose the next election. He got 46% of the popular vote in 2016 and won because he threaded several needles to win enough electoral votes.
His job approval is now down to 41%, and in November, his party lost 40 House seats, almost all in affluent, high-education districts. Losses were especially great among upscale women, hence his generous salute to the increasing number of (mostly Democratic) women in Congress.
But that came later in the speech. The larger point made at the beginning, underlined by the appearance of three D-Day veterans and astronaut Buzz Aldrin, was a refutation, without specific mention, of an argument that underlies so much of the upscale loathing of Trump and his politics.
That is the idea — call it the cosmopolitan argument — that nationalism is always bad, a primitive and unsophisticated bias in favor of the home team, a short step (if that) from Nazism. The argument is attractive to many because it makes them feel more sophisticated than the rubes who always praise America.
But the argument is weak, if you know more history. "I ask you to join with me in prayer," then-President Franklin Roosevelt said in his fireside radio chat on the evening of D-Day. "Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity."
Yes, it's nationalism and a prayer; Roosevelt mentioned allies only in passing. Trump underscored Roosevelt's assertion that American nationalism is for the good by introducing (and leading the singing of "Happy Birthday" for) 81-year-old Holocaust survivor Judah Samet. As Trump explained: "Judah says he can still remember the exact moment ... when he and his family were put on a train and told they were going to another camp. Suddenly the train screeched to a halt. A soldier appeared. Judah's family braced for the worst. Then, his father cried out with joy, 'It's the Americans!'"
Today, Trump argued, American nationalism continues to be benign, whether it's trying to stop Iran's nuclear and genocidal ambitions by withdrawing from the Obama nuclear deal, or seeking, while deftly following up on Latin nations' initiatives, to oust the disastrous Maduro dictatorship in Venezuela.
This State of the Union can also be seen as a refutation of the identity politics conceit that white cisgender males are inevitably the villains of history, ever ready to oppress women and people of color, and that virtue inheres only in their intended victims.
That just doesn't compute when you watch Trump's salute of SWAT Officer Timothy Matson, who "raced into the gunfire and was shot seven times" at the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh and brought down the hateful murderer.
There was less emphasis on divisive issues — the border "barrier," as Trump has taken to calling it, and abortion — than many predicted. On these, Democrats are at risk of getting out on flimsy limbs.
The state legislation that abortion-rights groups passed in New York and pushed in Virginia legalizes and would legalize abortions up to, and apparently after, birth — not a majority view, to say the least. And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's argument that border walls are "immoral" may not be sustainable if it segues into a case for open borders.
Absent from Trump's speech was the note of contempt for those with different views that is typical of many of his tweets. Instead, he moved from his opening positive framework to celebrate his accomplishments and assert his views without disparaging others.
That suggests he approached this State of the Union speech with deeper reflection and more self-discipline than usual. Will that continue?
Barone is a senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and longtime co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.
Green New Deal: The far-left Democrats finally unveiled their plan for their "Green New Deal." It's a shocking document, essentially a call for enviro-socialism in America. It's no doubt prompting many across the nation to wonder: Has this once-respectable political party of the working class gone collectively mad?
It sure seems that way. Reading the Green New Deal (GND) plan, put out Thursday by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey, one is tempted to think it's not real, just a joke from the satirical "The Onion." The individual planks in the plan, individually and collectively, sound like the rantings of someone who should be institutionalized, not like a rational political plan to solve a real problem.
Let's begin with what the plan promises: "a massive transformation of our society with clear goals and a timeline."
That's a sweeping, explicit pledge of radical socialist change. And that's not all. It offers "a 10-year plan to mobilize every aspect of American society at a scale not seen since World War 2 to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and create economic prosperity for all."
That's right: 10 years. They've made it the "moral equivalent of war," that phrase by American philosopher William James that the left pulls out every time they want to impose radical change on the rest of us.
This is how all truly radical disasters begin, with a glorious Utopian promise of "massive transformation."
But whether it was the French Revolution, the Bolshevik Revolution, or China's Great Leap Forward and its subsequent Cultural Revolution, or any other glorious socialist revolution, they all end the same way: With declining standards of living, loss of freedom and even death. That's how socialism always works.
" 'upgrading all existing buildings' in the country for energy efficiency;
working with farmers 'to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions ... as much as is technologically feasible' (while supporting family farms and promoting "universal access to healthy food");
'Overhauling transportation systems' to reduce emissions — including expanding electric car manufacturing, building 'charging stations everywhere,' and expanding high-speed rail to 'a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary';
A guaranteed job 'with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations and retirement security' for every American;
'High-quality health care' for all Americans."
Let's untangle all this. The Democrats would eliminate all air travel. Upgrade and retrofit all buildings, whether they need it or not, at indeterminate cost. Have more electric cars built, not because consumers want them or can even afford them, but because government demands it; would guarantee government jobs for all; and, of course, "high-quality health care" for everyone.
Cost? They Don't Know
Oh, and, by the way. They don't know how much it will cost. But of course, those who support this don't care. As with socialists everywhere, this is about power and control. Cost be damned.
It is, essentially, a government takeover of the entire economy, with "global warming" or "climate change" as the pretense. The likes of 29-year-old AOC and extreme left Sen. Ed Markey, of all people, would would determine your quality of life.
In a tweet, Scott Parker, former deputy director of research at the Republican National Committee, did the basic math on just one item: the "upgrading" or replacing all buildings.
It sounds innocent enough, but isn't. "That means retrofitting 39,179 buildings/housing units every day for 10 years straight," he notes, based on the 137.4 million housing units and 5.6 million commercial buildings in the U.S., according to government data.
But the Congressional Budget Office now estimates federal spending of roughly $62 trillion over the next decade. So even without estimates, taxes clearly would have to rise sharply — that is, more than double — to even come close to paying for some of the Green New Deal wish list.
Green New Deal: Doubling Taxes?
Do you want to double your taxes for their agenda?
Calling this a "plan" is far too polite. Call it instead organized theft disguised as a plan. Sound harsh? It isn't. Those who support this rancid Green New Deal policy idea would steal your wealth, your freedom and your future, while leaving you living in a dirtier, more dangerous and far more impoverished world. That's theft.
Nor is the Green New Deal forward-looking, "progressive," as its socialist promoters insist. It's the opposite. It's retrograde: An attempt to kill off the free-market system, the only truly successful economic system ever devised.
"The so-called Green New Deal resolution presented today by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., is a Back-to-the-Dark Ages Manifesto," said Myron Ebell, director of the Competitive Enterprise Institute's Center for Energy and Environment. "It calls for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in ten years, 'upgrading all existing buildings', and replacing our vehicle fleet with electric cars and more mass transit. And turning our energy economy upside down must be accomplished while ending historic income inequities and oppression of disadvantaged groups. Needless to say, the costs would be stupendous, and the damage done by its policies would be catastrophic."
We're grateful that President Trump threw down the gantlet against socialism during his Tuesday night State of the Union address. As he said, "America will never be a Socialist country." And he drove that point home by adding: "We were born free and we will stay free."
Scourge Of Socialism
We hope he's right, and America's declining education system and the increasingly far-left mainstream media have't made socialism a palatable choice against the extraordinary success of the free market. Socialism is among humanity's worst ideas and it has failed everywhere — everywhere — it has been tried.
Those who don't think the socialist disaster of Venezuela can happen here are sadly — tragically — mistaken.
It should never be tried again, anywhere, but especially not here.
Election 2020: Starbucks tycoon Howard Schultz had barely gotten the words out of his mouth about a possible independent bid for president before an angry Democratic mob descended on him. He should ignore them.
It's a "pathetic vanity project," one said. Others threatened to boycott Starbucks. Neera Tanden, head of the left-wing Center for American Progress, called the prospect of Schultz's running "disgusting" and said it will "help destroy democracy." Former Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon said if Schultz runs it would put him at the top of the "all-time list of villains."
When Schultz returned home to Seattle, protestors greeted him with signs like "Grande ego. Venti mistake," and "Compost your campaign."
At a book signing event, someone in the audience shouted "Don't help elect Trump, you egotistical, billionaire a**hole!"
Now David Brock, the sleazy pro-Clinton operator who runs various left-wing groups funded by George Soros, is peddling opposition research on Schultz to the press. The complaints include how his foundation spends its money and past settlements Starbucks made with employees.
Brock's super PAC, American Bridge 21st Century, "is mounting an offensive against Schultz, whom many Democrats see as a threat to potentially siphon votes away from the party's nominee in 2020," noted CNBC this week. A spokesman for the PAC called Schultz "another arrogant billionaire who takes advantage of anyone he can, just like the man currently sitting in the Oval Office."
Advisors said that the ferocity of these attacks took Schultz by surprise. They shouldn't have. This is standard operating procedure for today's Democrats.
So far at least, the attempt to bully him from the stage hasn't deterred him. He's even showing some Trump-esque spine when it comes to responding to attacks.
Last week he told Fox News: "I think the Democrats need a little bit less caffeine right now ... I think the whole thing is just an overreaction in 24 hours."
When Elizabeth Warren complained Schultz only wanted to run "to keep a rigged system in place," Schultz shot back, saying "I find that so offensive."
"First of all," he said, "Elizabeth Warren doesn't know me. I mean I started from nothing. I'm self-made. Isn't that the promise of America that regardless of your station in life or where you come from that you can be successful in this country?"
Then for good measure he noted how Warren "a number of years ago knocked on my door and asked me for money when she was running for the Senate."
Democrats say they're worried that a Howard Schultz candidacy will siphon moderate voters away from the Democratic presidential candidate, and guarantee a Trump reelection victory. To them, that's tantamount to treason.
He notes that Schultz's fiscal conservatism and social liberalism appealed to many Trump voters in 2016. As a result, "the effect of a Schultz-like candidacy is less predictable than what the pundits are telling you."
There's another reason why Democrats are so desperate to keep Howard Schultz off the stage. He exposes just how far to the left the Democratic Party has drifted over the years.
Case in point is the ridiculous Green New Deal that the party's leaders are now embracing, which would essentially hand control of the entire economy over to government.
Schultz, to his credit, hasn't been shy about criticizing the Democrats' embrace of the far left. When Kamala Harris admitted that " Medicare for All" would outlaw private health insurance, Schultz responded: "That's not American. What's next? What industry are we going to abolish next? The coffee industry?"
He called Warren's " wealth tax" idea "ridiculous," saying, "You can't just attack these things in a punitive way by punishing people."
He blasted all the promises of free stuff now coming from Democrats. "Free Medicare-for-all, government-paid free college for all — first of all, there's no free. I mean nothing is free."
No wonder they don't want him around. Common sense has no place in today's Democratic Party.
None of this is meant to say that we support Schultz's policy proposals, such as they are. But the Democrats' frantic attempts to intimidate him into staying at home are, we dare say, also "not American."
The once-unimaginable is now a reality: Last year, the United States became the top oil producer in the world.
For the first time in over 40 years, America "likely surpassed" Russian oil production this past summer, according to preliminary estimates from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The United States outpaced Saudi Arabia's oil output at the beginning of 2018.
It's difficult to overstate how unlikely the prospect of American energy independence seemed just a couple of decades ago. Back in 1973, Arab members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries radically restricted our oil imports in retaliation for America's support of Israel during the Yom Kippur War.
The OPEC embargo quadrupled the price of oil, forcing the American government to tightly ration fuel and forcing drivers to wait in long lines to fill up. The embargo severely handicapped the American economy.
Putting The '70s Behind Us
After that, America officially committed itself to achieving energy independence, but our domestic oil and gas industry simply didn't have the production capacity to make good on that ambition.
But then, the birth of a technological miracle: hydraulic fracturing. Commonly known as " fracking," this technique involves injecting a high-pressure mixture of water and chemicals into deep underground rock formations, breaking up the formation and releasing the embedded oil and gas.
Fracking enabled developers to tap into vast underground oil and gas reserves previously assumed unreachable.
This launched an American energy renaissance. Fracking has made America the top natural gas producer in the world. And it is powering an unprecedented expansion in our oil production. The EIA estimates that America produced 10.9 million barrels of oil a day in August, compared to Russia's 10.8 billion.
Our energy exports will have profound geopolitical benefits. Right now, Russia is using its huge energy wealth to undermine America's interests abroad, primarily by funneling oil to prop up regimes opposed to U.S. interests, such as Venezuela and North Korea.
Energy Independence = Geopolitical Clout
America could use its own exports to counteract this pressure. Countries currently dependent on Russian imports, such as Ukraine, could wean themselves off, migrate to American oil and gas, and liberate themselves from undue Russian influence.
Such energy independence would cement key diplomatic relationships and beat back Russian aggression.
Reaping these rewards will require vigilance from government officials. Energy independence is likely, but not guaranteed.
Whatever other issues the White House may be facing, on energy the Trump administration is on the right track. Since taking office, President Donald Trump has racked up an impressive record of energy deregulation, targeting and eliminating a vast array of economy-killing rules imposed by President Obama.
And officials have explicitly framed these efforts as steps toward an energy-independent future; a 2017 executive order rightly noted that the "prudent development of these natural resources is essential to ensuring the Nation's geopolitical security."
Having lost in electoral politics, activists have turned to the courts, firing off frivolous lawsuits to gum up new energy projects and slow down production expansion.
Environmental nonprofit NRDC, for example, has filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration "about every eight days," according to the organization's litigation director. NRDC has taken issue with the administration's plans to open up oil and gas leases in federal waters and remove redundant Obama-era methane rules.
Green activist gambits must fail. American energy independence is not predestined. Independence depends on thoughtful leadership that rejects any attempts by environmental extremists to sabotage energy development and the immense geopolitical benefits it entails.
Fuller is executive director of Principles That Matter, a Colorado-based organization. It is committed to advancing the principles of a free market, limited government, and individual liberty through research and education on public policy issues.
Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick's attorney accused the musical group Maroon 5 of crossing the "picket line" to perform at the Super Bowl and called the explanation by Adam Levine, the lead singer of the musical group, a "cop-out."
Kaepernick, when he played in 2016, kneeled during the national anthem to protest what he considers an unjust criminal justice system that he believes allows cops to systematically "oppress" blacks. Kaepernick said: "There's a lot of things that need to change. One specifically is police brutality. There's people being murdered unjustly and not being held accountable. The cops are getting paid leave for killing people. That's not right."
No one doubts the existence of bad cops or of cops who make poor decisions or who use poor judgement. But where's the evidence of "systemic" racism?
When black Harvard economist Roland Fryer conducted a 2016 study of police use of force, he expected to find widespread evidence of police officers disproportionately using deadly force against blacks. Instead, he found the opposite. Police, he concluded, were more hesitant to use deadly force against blacks than against whites.
"It is," he admitted, "the most surprising result of my career." This tracks another study published in 2014 by researchers at Washington State University, who reached the same conclusion, finding "there was significant bias favoring (emphasis added) blacks where decisions to shoot were concerned."
According to the Manhattan Institute's Heather Mac Donald: "In 2016, the police fatally shot 233 blacks, the vast majority armed and dangerous, according to The Washington Post. The paper categorized only 16 black male victims of police shootings as 'unarmed.' That classification masks assaults against officers and violent resistance to arrest. Contrary to the Black Lives Matter narrative, the police have much more to fear from black males than black males have to fear from the police. ... Black males have made up 42% of all cop-killers over the last decade, though they are only 6% of the population."
While most people can name several recent high-profile police killings of unarmed blacks or deaths that occurred while in police custody — Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, to name some — few people can name a single instance of an unarmed white who was killed by police or died in police custody. Yet the police kill more unarmed whites than unarmed blacks.
As to the claim of "institutional racism," government studies have debunked this. In 2013, the National Institute of Justice, the research arm of the Department of Justice, examined traffic stops by race, as traffic stops are the most common reason for a person to interact with a cop in any given year. Seventy-five percent of blacks stopped by police admitted that, in fact, the cops had a "legitimate reason" for stopping them. The NIJ study found that blacks were disproportionately stopped by the police, but that any numerical disparities resulted from "differences in offending" in addition to "differences in exposure to the police" and "differences in driving patterns."
Since Kaepernick began his protests, voters elected President Donald Trump. Trump posthumously pardoned former boxer Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight champion, who was arrested and convicted on a bogus morals charge. Trump commuted the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, a black woman serving a lengthy sentence after being convicted for involvement with drug traffickers and illegal drug money laundering. Trump also publicly asked the NFL protesters to provide names of those "people that they think were unfairly treated by the justice system." Trump promised to review their cases and, if warranted, he would "pardon them, or at least let them out." To date, the protesting players have yet to give him the requested list of names.
Also, Trump, with no input or participation by Kaepernick, signed a wide-ranging criminal justice reform bill. Even Trump critic Van Jones of CNN, a black pundit who attributed Trump's 2016 election victory to "whitelash" attended the Oval Office signing of the criminal justice bill that Jones called "a Christmas miracle."
Yet many players still support Kaepernick and feel that but for his political activism, he would have a QB job in the NFL. Really? NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana, who once played for Kaepernick's team, the San Francisco 49ers, and won four Super Bowl rings, sure sees it differently. In 2017, Montana called Kaepernick's protest a "distraction" but said that it "comes down to his play as much as anything." Montana said: "But what it comes down to is 40% completion or even in the low 50s. You can't win in the league with that. You won't be in the league very long."
So, the cops do not engage in systemic, institutional or structural racism. One cannot have a meaningful discussion about alleged police misconduct without acknowledging the disproportionate amount of crime committed by blacks, which in turn results in the disproportionate interaction blacks have with the police.
Next season, how about we just enjoy some football?
Elder is a best-selling author and nationally syndicated radio talk show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit www.LarryElder.com. Follow Larry on Twitter @LarryElder.
In the latter half of the 19th century and early in the 20th century, as Catholic immigrants poured in from Ireland and eastern Europe, an anti-Catholic wave spread over a mostly Protestant United States. The majority slur then was that Catholic newcomers' first loyalty would be to "Rome," not the U.S.
Anti-Semitism grew even more deeply rooted, marked by Ivy League quotas on Jewish applicants and exclusionary clauses against Jews in clubs and neighborhoods. It was no accident that the Ku Klux Klan often targeted Catholics and Jews as well as African-Americans.
In the late 19th century, with the influx of Japanese and Chinese immigrants arose the "yellow peril" scare, a racist distrust of supposedly workaholic automatons and unassimilable immigrants whose first loyalty was to their close-knit Asian communities and homelands, not the U.S.
Most of these injustices grew from both original prejudices (as evidenced by slavery) and fears of demographic change. An original population that was mostly British, Protestant and white gradually was augmented by people who were not northern European, often Catholic and increasingly non-white.
The stereotyped hatreds were battled by the melting-pot forces of assimilation, integration and intermarriage. Civil rights legislation and broad education programs gradually convinced the country to judge all Americans on the content of their characters rather than the color of their skins or their religious beliefs. And over the last half-century, the effort to end institutional bias against African-Americans largely succeeded.
But recently, other ancient prejudices have been insidiously returning. And this time, the bias is more subtle, and it can be harder to address than traditional racism against non-white populations. The new venom, for example, is often spread by left-wing groups that claim victim status themselves and thus, by their logic, should not be seen as victimizers.
Progressive senators such as Dianne Feinstein, Kamala Harris, and Mazie Hirono have attacked judicial nominees on grounds that they are Catholic, apparently because the Catholic Church and its affiliates officially disprove of abortion and gay marriage.
Feinstein complained that one appeals court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, was a dubious choice because "the dogma lives loudly within you." Hirono claimed that judicial nominee Brian Buescher was suspect because the Knights of Columbus held "extreme positions." Harris whined that the public-service Catholic organization was an "all-male society comprised primarily of Catholic men."
Recently, a number of newly elected congressional representatives — Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib — have voiced virulent anti-Israel bias that came off as anti-Semitic. Rep. Hank Johnson compared Jewish settlers on the West Bank to "termites." CNN pundit Marc Lamont Hill (who has since been fired) parroted the Hamas eliminationist slogan "Palestine from the river to the sea," which is code for the destruction of the Jewish state.
Universities feel free to discriminate against Asian-Americans because their hard work and excellent preparation often leads to superb grades, test scores and application credentials. In other words, Asian-Americans supposedly distort progressive agendas of proportional representation, disparate impact and diversity by overachieving and being overqualified — purportedly robbing spots from other minority applicants.
Asian-American achievement also disproves the old canard that prejudice makes it impossible to find parity in the United States.
What is behind the rebirth of these old prejudices? In short, new, evolving prejudices.
First, America seemingly no longer believes in striving to achieve a gender-blind, racially and religiously mixed society, but instead is becoming a nation in which tribal identity trumps all other considerations.
Second, such tribal identities are not considered to be equal. Doctrinaire identity politics is predicated on distancing itself from white males, Christians and other groups who traditionally have achieved professional success and therefore enjoyed inordinate "privilege."
Third, purported victims insist that they themselves cannot be victimizers. So, they are freer to discriminate and stereotype to advance their careers or political interests on the basis of anything they find antithetical to their own ideologies.
The Democratic senators who questioned the morality of judicial nominees' religion likely would not treat a Muslim nominee in the same manner — although one could make the argument that contemporary Islam has had as many or more problems with gender equity than Western Catholicism has.
Calling any other ethnic group other than Jews "termites" might have earned Rep. Johnson congressional censure. And if professional football and basketball franchises turned away talented but "over-represented" African-American athletes to ensure greater diversity in the same manner that universities now systematically discriminate against Asian-Americans, there would be a national outcry.
What once helped to diminish ancient prejudices was the American creed that no one had a right to discriminate against fellow citizens on the basis of race, gender, class or religion.
And what fuels the return of American bias is the new idea that citizens can disparage or discriminate against other groups if they claim victim status and do so for purportedly noble purposes.
The more attitudes and agendas may change, the more they stay the same.
Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the author of the soon-to-be released "The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won," to appear in October from Basic Books. You can reach him by e-mailing email@example.com.
The Yellow Vest protests, which began late last year in rural areas, have spread throughout the country. They are now the most violent demonstrations central Paris has seen since 1968. And despite many concessions by the French government, there is no sign that the protesters will stand down any time soon.
The social, economic and political turmoil gives Moscow's operatives fertile fields in which to sow instability. Hybrid tactics work the best where people perceive poor governance, a lack of economic freedom and opportunity, and growing distrust between law enforcement agencies and the average citizen.
France today checks all three boxes to varying degrees.
President Emanuel Macron's popularity stands at an abysmal 27%. The economy is growing at but a snail's pace, and the European Commission's latest Economic Sentiment Indicator report suggests France is on the verge of falling into recession.
The Kremlin is already moving to take advantage of the situation, sowing even more discord and mistrust between the average Frenchman and the ruling elite.
The German Marshall Fund's Alliance for Securing Democracy, which tracks malign Russian social media influence in western democracies, estimates that more than 600 Russian Twitter accounts were using hashtags to push the protests in France. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian recently announced the launch of an investigation into Russian meddling on French social media.
Another hybrid tactic — using sleazy business practices to advance the Kremlin's interests — is also in evidence. Alexandre Benalla was President Macron's personal security adviser until video footage of him fighting with protesters went viral last year. He was sacked for that, but has since been accused of taking nearly €300,000 from Russian multi-billionaire Iskander Makhmudov.
Makhmudov who with business partner Andrei Bokarev used to own the Kalashnikov arms company, is widely suspected of having links to organized crime. More importantly, he was named in the U.S. Treasury's January 2018 list of oligarchs closely tied to Vladimir Putin.
Dirty Kremlin Cash
The Kremlin has a long tradition of having its crony capitalists use cash to buy influence close to the heart of Western political establishments. The tangled web of Makhmudov and Benalla is the latest example.
And then there is the troublesome ideological and financial connection between Putin and Marine Le Pen, leader of France's far right National Rally party (formally known as the National Front). Le Pen's positions often mirror those of the Kremlin — whether it's calling Syrian President Bashar al Assad "the most reassuring solution for France" or backing the Russian takeover and occupation of Crimea.
During the most recent French presidential elections Le Pen met with Putin in Moscow, a curious thing to do at a time when France had joined other European countries to slap economic sanctions on Russia. Meanwhile, her party is still trying to pay off a loan worth $12.2 million from a small — and now defunct — Russian bank.
Considering her party's literal indebtedness to Russia, Le Pen's pro-Kremlin positions should come as no surprise. The scariest aspect is that she made it to the run-off vote in France's last presidential elections, and the National Rally is leading in French opinion polls ahead of May's European elections.
Although Russia is savvy enough to take advantage of the situation, Moscow has not created these problems for France. Failed economic and social policies coming from Brussels and Paris over the years have.
Ultimately, France's best way out of this mess is to restore stability and opportunity through good governance, economic freedom, and responsible police behavior.
Meanwhile, Macron can count on Russia to continue exploiting the turmoil in France to discredit his government and deepen the divides in French society. It all helps Russia achieve its wider goal of disrupting the political institutions of the West.
Coffey is the director of The Heritage Foundation's Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies.
Big Lie: Presidential wannabe Elizabeth Warren's obfuscation about her Native American heritage may have finally done her in. The latest shoe to drop is her 1986 registration card for the Texas bar, in which she claimed her race is "American Indian."
This week, seven years after the public first learned that she'd been claiming to be a Native American, the Massachusetts senator sort of apologized for doing so. But only after the Washington Post unearthed her Texas bar registration card, filled out by hand nearly 33 years ago.
The Post notes that this is "the first document to surface showing Warren making the claim in her own handwriting."
"The Texas bar registration card is significant, among other reasons, because it removes any doubt that Warren directly claimed the identity. In other instances Warren has declined to say whether she or an assistant filled out forms," the Post story noted.
Only Sen. Warren can clear up the mystery of why, in the mid-1980s when she was in her 30s, she suddenly started calling herself Native American, only to stop doing so in the mid-1990s. But one thing is perfectly clear: The various and ever-changing explanations she's given don't hold water.
The Making Of A Lie
Here's a brief summary:
When the Boston Herald first reported in early 2012 that Harvard Law School had been touting Elizabeth Warren as a Native American faculty member, it came as a surprise to everyone. Not just because her looks made it so implausible, but because she'd never once brought it up when she became a public figure.
At first, Warren, who was campaigning for her first term in the Senate, said she had no idea how Harvard came to list her as Native American. "I think I first learned about it when I saw it on the front page of the Herald," she said.
Then, as more evidence came to light, she admitted that she'd made the claim both to the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard.
Warren also initially said she'd never listed herself as a Native American or a minority on any other forms or applications.
Also false: She'd done so in her Association of American Law Schools listing starting in 1986 and through 1994 — the year before she went to Harvard — when she dropped it.
Confronted By The Lie
When confronted with that lie, Warren said she labeled herself a minority in the association book to meet other "people who are like I am." What, fakers?
In trying to explain why she kept labeling herself Native American in other places, Warren said that her great, great, great grandmother was Cherokee, and that it was a part of her family lore.
"Being Native American has been part of my story I guess since the day I was born," she said. "These are my family stories, I have lived in a family that has talked about Native American and talked about tribes since I was a little girl."
But genealogists failed to confirm that her lineage, and the DNA test Warren took — which was supposed to prove her heritage — thoroughly debunked it. (She appears to have less Native American DNA than the average American.)
At one point after the story broke in 2012, Warren spun a yarn about how her parents had to elope because her father's family didn't approve of her mother's Cherokee and Delaware ancestry. But her parents actually got married in a nearby church, which their local paper proudly announced.
Tales Of 'Aunt Bea'
She also said her Aunt Bea would look at a picture of Warren's grandfather and remark that he had high cheekbones "like all the Indians do." But a Cherokee genealogist found that Warren herself listed Aunt Bea as "white" on her death certificate.
The only thing Elizabeth Warren has been consistent about over the past seven years has been her claim that she never used her phony minority heritage to get a job.
"And I want to make something clear," she said a year ago. "I never used my family tree to get a break or get ahead. I never used it to advance my career."
If that were the case, then why did she only start labeling herself as Native American at the start of her career, and then suddenly stop making any reference to her "proud heritage" when she was comfortably ensconced at Harvard?
Apology Not Enough
Now, with no more fables to tell, Warren now hopes an apology will suffice. "I can't go back," she told the Post. "But I am sorry for furthering confusion on tribal sovereignty and tribal citizenship and harm that resulted."
That's hardly a sufficient apology. She should instead be begging forgiveness for having repeatedly dissembled about her past, both in making her ridiculous claim to be a Native American, and then lying about why she did so.
Before Democrats board the "Elizabeth Warren for President" train, they ought to ask what else has she been lying about?
Like every Donald Trump speech, the President's second State of the Union speech was all over the place and offered a little of everything.
Soaring rhetoric. Smug ad-libbing. In-your-face audience-baiting. And naturally, big-time, over-the-top boasting. (We would be at war with North Korea had Trump not been elected? Seriously?)
Along with the SOTU's usual legislative laundry lists and living drama, in the form of a world-record long parade of inspirational balcony guests and likely the first spontaneous rendition of "Happy Birthday" in a national address.
State of the Union: A Sluggish Start
Yet in the oration's early moments, a surreal somnambulance seemed to settle over the President and the chamber. After mailing in introductions of three World War II veterans and Apollo 11 astronaut-hero Buzz Aldrin, the Chief Executive launched into an almost lyrical and uplifting passage that — on paper — might have done my hero, the Great Communicator, proud.
It was practically a primer on political speechifying, featuring elevated rhetoric; long, rhythmic series; contrasting pairs and groups of three; a sprinkling of alliteration; appeals to unity, patriotism and optimism. And not one but two calls to action: "We must create a new standard of living for the 21st century" (a terrific theme the President should return to — and soon), and "I ask you to choose greatness" (a higher-toned articulation of the Trumpian "Make America Great Again" slogan).
Yet he delivered what should have been a stirring segment and impassioned plea in a practically whispered monotone with a thoroughly dispassionate expression. (I dunno — was he still under a spell from the Stupor Bowl two days before?)
But much worse was what was happening in the "sea of suffragette white" worn by Democratic women Congresswomen. In gleaming uniforms and stone-faced expressions, they came across less as legislators and more as a cohort of Stepford women, creepily programmed not to offer the President any vestige of bipartisan encouragement.
State of the Union: Trump Comes Alive
Suddenly, though, something happened. The President woke up, thanks to another inspired device from his speechwriting squad. An impassive recitation of the impressive achievements of his Administration was punctuated with a confident statement that often comes at the top of the speech: "the State of the Union is strong."
Instantly, the hall came to life, with Republican members chanting "USA." And the President was soon baiting his audience with a jab at "foolish wars, politics, or ridiculous, partisan investigations."
Then he was off, launching into a call for action on stalled judicial nominations; a reminder of recent legislative compromises between the parties; an impassioned defense of his immigration policy; red meat for his base on abortion and Israel; and an overlong menu of policy proposals and positions. All the while mixing in (too many) moving stories of reformed inmates, a child with cancer, concentration camp survivors and a soldier who helped liberate them.
But although President Trump found his feet, the Democrats in his audience all too rarely found theirs. He did coax the women in white into a display of mutual mirth with good news about female employment and the record number of their gender in Congress.
Yet Speaker Nancy Pelosi's lips were largely locked in pursed mode. The face of the millennials, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had to look down her row for affirmation before deigning to rise to an applause line about rescuing immigrant women and children from sex trafficking — while presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand remained glued to her seat. Fellow White House wannabe Kamala Harris incredibly sat shaking her head at the President's emphatic insistence on "putting ruthless coyotes, cartels, drug dealers, and human traffickers out of business."
And far too many Democrats joined self-proclaimed socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders in remaining motionless at the 45th President's statement of resolve that "that America will never be a socialist country."
State of the Union: Terrible Optics for Dems
The President concluded with a far-stronger delivery of a terrific, poetic recounting of what we have accomplished and who we are as a nation as a prelude to one last call "to rekindle the bonds of love and loyalty and memory that link us together as citizens, as neighbors, as patriots." It was reminiscent of the moving closings of campaign rally addresses pledging that "forgotten Americans" would be "forgotten no more" — which gave the first hint that something was stirring in the heartland.
In appealing to his fellow leaders to join him in putting these working-class people first, President Trump rediscovered his voice.
But Florida Rep. Lois Frankel had promised in a pre-speech tweet that her ivory-clad colleagues would be "sending the message loud and clear." The problem is that they and fellow Democrats were sending a message to their fellow Americans: "resistance" has deeply infected their party's bloodstream and "investigation" is engraved in its agenda.
While President Trump snapped out of it to save a presentation that was in equal parts disjointed and delightful, his opposition never awoke to a simple reality: the white garb may have been dazzling, but the overall optics of openly rejecting his olive branch were not good.
Maistros is a messaging and communications strategist, crisis specialist and former political speechwriter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
State Of The Union: President Trump took the big stage on Tuesday night and didn't disappoint. In his State of the Union speech, he recited his accomplishments, which few Americans know about, gave credit to American heroes who attended the speech, and even reached out to the political opposition.
"I think the president had a pretty good night," Britt Hume of Fox News said.
Perhaps that's not surprising. But we think that might be an understatement.
Trump repeatedly struck mostly conservative themes that even Democrats had to agree with. Carefully, all during his speech, he went out of his way to reach across the aisle to the opposition.
Driving that point home, he called for "cooperation, compromise and the common good," not more partisanship and "the politics of revenge" — the endless investigations of Trump's political, business and personal life planned by the Democrats.
"I will build the wall," he said. But even there, he carefully qualified how much of a wall needed to be built. His wording suggested wiggle-room for a compromise that will keep the government from shutting down on Feb. 15. More reaching out to the Democrats.
And Trump continued to make his powerful appeal to bipartisanship, one that no doubt resonated with the American people, if post-speech polls are any guide.
'We must choose between greatness or gridlock, results or resistance, vision or vengeance, incredible progress or pointless destruction," Trump said. "Tonight, I ask you to choose greatness."
One of his coups of the evening was to get the "women in white" — a group of congressional women who wore all white to show solidarity with the early 20th-century women's rights activists — to applaud, and even stand, for a number of Trump's proposals and achievements.
Olive Branches To Democrats
In particular, when he said, "no one has benefited more from our thriving economy than women, who have filled 58% of the newly created jobs last year," the women representatives not only applauded but stood.
"You weren't supposed to do that," he said.
They again applauded when he noted, and lauded, the record number of women currently in Congress.
It was an unexpected moment.
And when he ran down some of his economic accomplishments — 5.3 million jobs created, including 600,000 in manufacturing; the lowest unemployment rates in history for all major minority groups and for the disabled; wages rising faster for blue-collar workers than for white-collar workers; small business confidence at record highs; $8 trillion in stock market gains that have bolstered middle-class American retirements, and so much more — even some far-left representatives stood and applauded.
He didn't end there. The economy, after all, has been perhaps his strongest suit. He continued by reciting his other economic accomplishments, many not exactly beloved by Democrats — but that appeal to middle-class Americans.
"We passed a massive tax cut for working families and doubled the child tax credit."
"We virtually ended the estate, or death, tax on small businesses, ranches, and family farms."
Too bad that perhaps his greatest economic accomplishment, broad-based tax cuts for virtually all, got mainly partisan applause. Corporate America isn't popular among Democrats, at least outside of their political contributions.
But Trump reminded listeners that those tax cuts have made virtually all Americans better off.
"We slashed the business tax rate from 35% all the way down to 21%, so American companies can compete and win against anyone else anywhere in the world," Trump said. "These changes alone are estimated to increase average family income by more than $4,000. A lot of money.
"Small businesses have also received a massive tax cut, and can now deduct 20% of their business income."
State Of The Union: Growing
This is why, by the way, job growth and wage growth are so strong.
He talked about the three million Americans who got "tax-cut bonuses," and increased investments by major companies here in the U.S.
"This in fact is our new American moment," Trump said. "There has never been a better time to start living the American Dream."
And one of the more powerful moments in the lengthy but entertaining speech came when Trump openly challenged the Democratic Party's shocking drift toward socialism.
He threw down the gauntlet to the extreme left of the Democratic Party, after referencing Venezuela's socialist disaster: "We will never become a socialist country," he said. Even Nancy Pelosi applauded.
It was a bold comment, and showed just how powerful it was in the grim televised faces of socialists Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders.
We could go on, of course. After all, it was a nearly one-hour and 20-minute speech.
But it was an effective political speech that touched on everything from D-Day and the Holocaust during World War II to criminal reform in the U.S. and seeking cures for childhood cancer and AIDs. Trump hewed closely to conservative principles, while still holding out a hand of compromise to the opposition.
He made creative and frequent use of visitors in the gallery, ranging from astronaut Buzz Aldrin to a Holocaust survivor. It was a disarming piece of political theater.
Post-speech polls showed overwhelming support for Trump's State of the Union. A CBS News poll showed 76% approved of the speech, and over half of those polled were Democrats or Independents. Other polls showed a similar strong, positive response.
So for now, it's a win, a big win, for Trump as he gears up for more battles with Congress and the 2020 presidential campaign.
New York Taxes: We don't often praise New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, but we have to say, we appreciate his recent frankness on taxes.
On Monday, he told his state's citizens that income tax revenues were coming in $2.3 billion below the expectations of just a month ago. "That's as serious as a heart attack," he said.
He's right. The question is why?
A little budget talk is in order. New York plans to spend about $176 billion in the coming fiscal year, starting April 1. About $100 billion of that, according to Carl Campanile of the New York Post, will come from federal funds.
That means the actual deficit in state funding after just one month is 3%. Cuomo says it's due to the new federal tax code, which limits state income tax deductions to $10,000, and recent volatility in the stock market.
But because of the unexpected shortfall, Cuomo, as governor of one of the deepest-blue states in America, will almost certainly soon be pushed hard to raise taxes on the rich. Wisely, he's taking a stand against such a move.
No War On The Rich
"I don't believe raising taxes on the rich," Cuomo said. "That would be the worst thing to do. You would just expand the shortfall. God forbid if the rich leave."
He's absolutely correct, though he'll no doubt get royally roasted by the far-left of the New York Democratic Party. The state already has a steeply progressive tax code. The top 1% of earners pay 46% of all the income taxes. That's punitive.
In support of his comments, Cuomo cited "anecdotal" evidence that showed high-income earners are leaving the high-tax Empire State for other low-tax states.
But the evidence isn't merely anecdotal. It's a fact.
Just last month, United Van Lines released its 42nd annual " National Movers Study," which tracks comings and goings from all the states.
No, not all the people who left New York were rich. But many were. And recent changes in the deductibility of federal taxes certainly hasn't helped high-tax states like New York. As we said, the wealthy have choices that others don't. One of those choices is to move if taxes become not merely burdensome, but punitive. That's what's happening in New York.
By the way, we also compared the Wallet Hub data with the states that were gaining population, and lo and behold: Five low-tax states — Texas, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Washington — gained the most population.
In short, high taxes drive people away; low taxes attract them. It's simple economics, yet so many Blue States don't get it.
Cuomo, to his credit, does get it. Many high-income taxpayers are leaving New York for low-tax states, tired of paying the state's bills and then being demonized leftist activists for being "rich" and told they must give more. He knows that sending the wrong signals could lead to a mass exodus of higher-income residents from his state, one that would leave a massive hole in the budget.
That's the road to fiscal insolvency. When those who pay the bills leave, the bills no longer get paid.
It's an important lesson for other big, blue states dependent on wealthy taxpayers — we're talking to you, Left-Coast California — if they're smart enough to learn it.
San Francisco is one of the richest cities it the world. It's given us music, technology and elegant architecture.
Now it gives us filthy homeless encampments.
One urban planner told me, "I just returned from the Tenderloin (a section of San Francisco). It's worse than slums of India, Haiti, Africa!"
So I went to San Francisco to make a video about that.
The Slums of San Francisco
I've never seen slums in Africa, but I've seen them in Haiti and India.
What I saw in San Francisco looked similar. As one local resident put it, "There's s--- everywhere. It's just a mess out here."
There's also lots of mental illness. One man told us, "Vampires are real. I'm paranoid as hell." San Francisco authorities mostly leave the mentally ill to fend for themselves on the street.
Other vagrants complain about them. "They make it bad for people like us that hang out with a sign," one beggar told us.
San Francisco is a pretty good place to "hang out with a sign." People are rarely arrested for vagrancy, aggressive panhandling or going to the bathroom in front of people's homes. In 2015, there were 60,491 complaints to police, but only 125 people were arrested.
Public drug use is generally ignored. One woman told us, "It's nasty seeing people shoot up — right in front of you. Police don't do anything about it! They'll get somebody for drinking a beer but walk right past people using needles."
Each day in San Francisco, an average of 85 cars are broken into.
"Inside Edition" ran a test to see how long stereo equipment would last in a parked car. Their test car was quickly broken into. Then the camera crew discovered that their own car had been busted into as well.
Some store owners hire private police to protect their stores. But San Francisco's police union has complained about the competition. Now there are only a dozen private cops left, and street people dominate neighborhoods.
We followed one private cop, who asked street people, "Do you need any type of homeless outreach services?"
Most say no. "They love the freedom of not having to follow the rules," said the cop.
Generous To A Fault
And San Francisco is generous. It offers street people food stamps, free shelter, train tickets and $70 a month in cash.
"They're always offering resources," one man dressed as Santa told us. "San Francisco's just a good place to hang out."
So, every week, new people arrive.
Some residents want the city to get tougher with people living on the streets.
"Get them to the point where they have to make a decision between jail and rehab," one told us. "Other cities do it, but for some reason, San Francisco doesn't have the political will."
For decades, San Francisco's politicians promised to fix the homeless problem.
When Sen. Dianne Feinstein was mayor, she proudly announced that she was putting the homeless in hotels: "A thousand units, right here in the Tenderloin!"
When California Gov. Gavin Newsom was mayor of San Francisco, he bragged, "We have already moved 6,860 human beings."
Last year, former Mayor Mark Farrell said, "We need to fund programs like Homeward Bound."
More Money Doesn't Work
But the extra funding hasn't worked.
One reason is that even if someone did want to get off the street and rent an apartment, there aren't many available.
San Francisco is filled with two- and three-story buildings, and in most neighborhoods, putting up a taller building is illegal. Even where zoning laws allow it, California regulations make construction so difficult that many builders won't even try.
For years, developer John Dennis has been trying to convert an old meatpacking plant into an apartment building — but it has taken him four years just to get permission to build.
"And all that time, we're paying property taxes and paying for maintenance," says Dennis. "I will do no more projects in San Francisco."
People in San Francisco often claim to be concerned about helping the poor. But their many laws make life much tougher for the poor.
Stossel is author of "No They Can't! Why Government Fails — But Individuals Succeed."
His tractor is so noisy that, when driving it, the man who calls himself "just a farmer from Butler County" puts his cellphone under his cap, set on vibrate. Charles Grassley, 85, who has served in the Senate longer than all but 11 of the 1,983 other senators — and who still runs 3 miles four mornings a week — does not have ample time for farming because he has visited all of Iowa's 99 counties every year for 38 years, and last missed a Senate vote 8,300 votes ago, when Iowa was flooded in 1993.
He is a non-lawyer who just left the chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee to become chairman of the Finance Committee. In his 45th year in Congress (he was in the House 1975-1981), he will help this institution recover some of the power it has improvidently — and perhaps unconstitutionally — delegated to presidents.
His committee's purview is vast — he intends to address prescription drug prices — but trade policy will be at the top of the committee's agenda. There is the revised agreement with Mexico and Canada to approve, and a developing agreement with Japan to partially undo the damage done by the president's scrapping of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Recently a representative of the European Union was in Grassley's office explaining why agriculture could not be included in a trade agreement. Grassley affably but unbendingly explained to her that there would be no agreement without agriculture. In order to dispel any fact-free superstitions about GMOs (genetically modified organisms), Grassley took from a small bag a genetically modified soybean and, to demonstrate its safety, chewed it as farmers do to test whether a bean's moisture indicates the crop is ready for harvest.
Grassley, who is the right Finance chairman for a Senate interested in clawing back powers, says: "The Constitution tasks Congress with the authority to regulate trade with foreign countries." And: "I do not believe that we should alienate our allies with tariffs disguised as national security protections."
President Trump has imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from, among other places, placid, tranquil Canada, a military ally, because, he says, they threaten "national security." This is absurd, and he might soon pioneer a new dimension of preposterousness by saying that automobile imports do, too. Perhaps some contemporary Longfellow will celebrate the president as a Paul Revere, spreading the alarm to every village and farm: "The Audis are coming! The Audis are coming!"
Presidents can unilaterally impose taxes, which tariffs are, because 57 years ago, during the Cold War (11 days before President John Kennedy told the nation about the Cuban missile crisis), the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 became law. Its Section 232 empowers the president, upon a finding from the secretary of commerce (the president's employee) that this or that import jeopardizes "national security," to impose tariffs. The president's decision is almost completely immune to review.
Legislation sponsored by Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Doug Jones, D-Ala., would require the Defense Department, not Commerce, to argue any national security rationale for Section 232 tariffs, and would empower Congress to disapprove Section 232 actions concerning tariffs on any products. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., proposes even better legislation that would require Congress to approve a presidential act under Section 232. Because 41 senators could filibuster a resolution of approval, that number could block Section 232 tariffs. And Toomey's bill is retroactive to require congressional approval of Trump's metals tariffs.
Grassley, who thinks Congress has delegated too much power over trade, probably will be decisive regarding measures to narrow the scope of presidential discretion, thereby reclaiming some of Congress' powers. Having served in Congress during eight presidencies, Grassley knows that they come and go, while Congress endures, although it has not always been conscientious regarding its responsibilities. The arguments for term limits on members of Congress are convincing, but Grassley, who in seven terms has developed a stronger attachment to the prerogatives of his institution than to any president, illustrates a benefit of long careers.
When Daniel Patrick Moynihan — a New York chauvinist, and properly so — came to the Senate in 1977, he sought, and got, a seat on the Finance Committee. He considered it scandalous that no senator from the capital of American finance had been on the panel in 50 years. But Moynihan would be content that the committee is now chaired by the man on the tractor.
Will is a columnist for the Washington Post and a contributor to MSNBC.
Foreign Affairs: At the tail end of his State of the Union address Tuesday night, as President Donald Trump touted his foreign policy achievements, Democrats sat stone faced. Not a surprise. But outside the House chamber, even some of Trump's harshest critics have grudgingly acknowledged that he's had several big wins.
Shortly before the November 2016 elections, a group of 50 top Republican foreign policy experts signed an unprecedented letter forcefully denouncing the Republican candidate for president.
"From a foreign policy perspective, Donald Trump is not qualified to be president and commander-in-chief," the letter stated. "Indeed, we are convinced that he would be a dangerous president and would put at risk our country's national security and well-being."
It went on: "Mr. Trump lacks the character, values, and experience to be President. He weakens U.S. moral authority as the leader of the free world. ... He continues to display an alarming ignorance of basic facts of contemporary international politics. ... He has little understanding of America's vital national interests, its complex diplomatic challenges, its indispensable alliances, and the democratic values on which U.S. foreign policy must be based."
Now, two years into the Trump presidency, even former Obama administration officials are admitting that, while Trump's methods are certainly unorthodox, he is getting results that those Republican foreign policy experts — with their deep understanding of "complex diplomatic challenges" — could only dream about.
An article in Politico — a liberal news outlet — reports that Trump's harshest critics "are grudgingly conceding that Trump's bulldozer mentality" is producing results "that have long troubled U.S. leaders" but where "there was little or no movement until Trump took office."
Politico quotes Obama's NATO ambassador, Ivo Daalder, who called Trump a "disrupter" and noted that "this is leading to some very healthy debate about what are our goals."
The article goes on to list several major Trump victories.
On Venezuela, which had been descending into socialist chaos throughout Obama's eight years in office, Politico notes that one of the first things Trump did when taking office was to impose sanctions. Obama had refused to do so out of "fear that it could undermine diplomacy."
Now, Venezuela is on the cusp of shedding socialist dictator Nicolas Maduro. And by being the first to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela's legitimate leader, "Trump forced the issue on the international stage," and forced other countries to follow his lead.
On Afghanistan, Trump announced a major breakthrough in talks with the Taliban. "Even some of Trump's skeptics say this is the best chance yet of ending the 17-year-old war," Politico notes.
North Korea and NATO
On North Korea, where previous administrations stood by as the communist nation developed its nuclear weapons program, top State Department officials say that Kim Jong Un has, for the first time, agreed to the "dismantlement and destruction of North Korea's plutonium and uranium enrichment facilities."
Politico says that "some North Korea analysts are hailing it as a significant sign of progress."
On NATO, Trump managed to get allies to do something that previous presidents couldn't: get them to boost their defense spending.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg gave Trump credit for this turnaround, saying "we see some real money and some real results. And we see that the clear message from President Donald Trump is having an impact."
Progress on China
Then there's Trump's progress on China — another festering problem that experts failed to resolve. As a result of his willingness to risk an all-out trade war, Politico notes, "there's a growing bipartisan consensus in Congress and beyond that Beijing is exploiting the West's trade rules."
Meanwhile, National Public Radio, of all places, acknowledged that Trump has arguably been tougher on Russia than his predecessors, just as Trump repeatedly insisted.
Substance vs Rhetoric
"When you actually look at the substance of what this administration has done, not the rhetoric but the substance, this administration has been much tougher on Russia than any in the post-Cold War era," Daniel Vajdich, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, told NPR.
Vajdich goes on to list examples, including agreeing to send lethal weapons to Ukraine — which Obama refused to do — sanctions on Russian oligarchs, and aggressively pushing U.S. energy exports.
That's to say nothing of Trump's swift defeat of ISIS, which came after years of Obama telling the country that victory would be elusive. Or Trump's muscular defense of Israel. Or the president's decision to pull out of Obama agreements that conservatives had derided as dangerous or toothless.
Who's Ignorant About Foreign Policy Now?
This isn't to say that Trump hasn't made mistakes. Or that there won't be setbacks. Or that the world isn't still full of dangers. Name one president who could make such claims. Nor is this to say that Trump doesn't exaggerate and bend the truth.
But it should be clear by now that Trump's aggressive and abrasive manner is working on the foreign stage in ways that his critics never expected.
It should also be clear that those policy experts who warned that Trump "would put at risk our country's national security and well-being" are looking more foolish by the day.
A new California law has gone into effect this year that requires publicly traded firms to place at least one woman on their board of directors by the end of 2019. According to the Los Angeles Times, female directors occupy just about 18% of the seats of the boards of the U.S.'s 3,000 largest publicly traded companies.
While some companies have been responsive to the idea of increasing female representation, others have claimed they can't find enough, or any, qualified female candidates to fill those spots. In November, when BlackRock sent letters to companies in the Russell 1000 index with fewer than two women on their boards, this was the story behind many of the responses.
But we can tell you: There are thousands of smart, accomplished and exceptional women out there who want those board seats, and who are waving their hands asking for a shot.
This is a similar battle to the one women once faced in the tech industry; while women still make up a smaller percentage of the industry than men, times have changed. Thanks to influence of women like Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook and Susan Wojcicki of YouTube, the prevailing attitude is no longer that women can't do the job. The challenge now is encouraging girls to pursue STEM fields and ensuring that the culture of tech companies are ones women actually want to work in (this means no more strip-club business meetings).
In December, we attended a conference that brought together powerful female leaders, many of whom held prominent positions in the business world. At one point in the conference, a panel moderator asked how many of us wanted to be on a board. Every hand went up.
This was a great reminder that there are remarkably qualified women out there who just need an opportunity to prove their value.
Research shows that more diverse boards lead to better profits. A recent report from McKinsey showed that companies in the top 25th percentile for gender diversity on their executive teams were 21% more likely to experience above-average profits. This is because diversity in leadership — which should not only be limited to gender but also extend to religion, age, race and socioeconomic background — allows for broader perspectives.
Women have grit — the ability to work hard, remain committed to their goals, and persevere through struggles and failure. Ursula Burns, the first African-American woman to run a Fortune 500 company, grew up in a neighborhood populated by gangs and drug addicts. Kat Cole, the COO and President of North America's FOCUS Brands (which own chains like Cinnabon, Auntie Anne's and Carvel) started out as a Hooters waitress with no college education.
These kinds of corporate positions shouldn't be considered token spots but obvious choices, especially when women make or influence 70% of the consumer purchases in this country.
Wanted: Fresh Perspectives
The challenge for women looking for board seats is that most board committees first think of women who have already served on previous boards. As a result, boards are asking many of the same women, who cannot fill all the available roles. Boards selection committees should expand their search pool to the many qualified women who haven't yet served in their first-time seats. Additionally, women who currently serve on boards should use their networks to help other women who are looking for board seats.
There are a number of resources for women looking for their first board seats, as well as for boards looking for female members. TheBoardlist helps find and refer women for company boards; Him for Her is a not-for-profit venture that engages men to introduce talented women to corporate board service; and many executive and board search companies, like Levia Partners, which specializes in finding diverse leaders with fresh perspectives, are actively seeking to place women on boards. Another way women can network is by introducing themselves to companies that are considering an IPO, which will be needing board members.
Accomplished, exceptional and qualified women want to be welcome voices at the table. All over the country, we are waving our hands. Let us show what we can do.
Combs is chief revenue officer for 3Pillar Global, an Inc. 5000 developer of client-facing web and mobile applications.
Irons is the VP of marketing and communications for 3Pillar Global.
Let's coin a new law of politics. Call it Neuman's Law after Alfred E. Neuman of Mad magazine fame, whose philosophy is, "What, me worry?"
Neuman's Law postulates that there is never a good time to raise taxes or cut federal spending. This explains why, since 1961, the annual federal budget has been in deficit 52 times and in surplus only five times (1969 and 1998-2001). Unsurprisingly, all the surpluses occurred at the end of economic booms that automatically raised tax revenues and curtailed spending.
The latest champions of Neuman's Law are Lawrence Summers, Treasury secretary under President Clinton and director of the National Economic Council under President Obama; and Jason Furman, the last chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers under Obama. Both are economists; both teach at Harvard.
Writing in Foreign Affairs — published by the Council on Foreign Relations — Summers and Furman discuss the budget outlook in great detail, throwing hordes of facts and figures at readers. But their conclusion corroborates Neuman's Law.
"Deficits ... should not cause policymakers much concern, at least for now," they write. "It's time for Washington to put away its debt obsession," they conclude.
"Obsession"? They must be kidding. This inverts the truth. If Washington feared debt, Congress would long ago have tamed budget deficits. (Deficits are the annual gap between federal revenues and spending. Debt is the accumulation of all past budget deficits.)
What both Democrats and Republicans actually fear are the highly unpopular steps — spending cuts or tax increases — they might have to take to reduce or eliminate the deficits, which are huge. The Congressional Budget Office's latest "baseline" estimate for 2019 is nearly $900 billion. This equals 4.2% of the economy (gross domestic product) and 20% of federal spending.
So why bother? ask Furman and Summers. Budget deficits aren't now doing the economy much harm. Interest rates are low and may well stay that way. If budget deficits are cut too abruptly, the present economic expansion could falter. These are possibilities, but doing nothing also poses dangers, as even Summers and Furman concede.
Higher debt levels could make it hard for future governments "to stimulate the economy in a downturn," they say. If escalating debt raises interest rates, it could crowd out private investment, undermining the economy's long-term growth potential. Or some sort of financial crisis might occur if investors become sated with U.S. Treasury bonds.
Curiously, Furman and Summers say that we can't simply borrow indefinitely as much as we'd like. "The debt cannot be allowed to grow forever," they write. "The government cannot set budget policy without any limiting principles or guides as to what is and what is not possible or desirable," they say at one point. At another, they warn: "Sooner or later, government spending has to be paid for."
But what are the "limiting principles"? And when and how might government spending be paid for? They don't say. Their promises are vague, rhetorical throwaway lines that, in isolation, have no credibility.
To be fair, there is brief mention of a proposal to accept the existing increases in government debt but insist that any new spending or tax cuts not raise the debt further. Details are few, and this provides little restraint. In 2018, the federal debt held by the public was 78% of GDP, more than double the 35% in 2007. The CBO projects that under present policies it will be 93% of GDP in 2029 — and rising.
No one really knows the long-term effects of these continuously large budget deficits. But there is a crude analogy in the recent past that provides a warning: double-digit inflation. Consumer prices went from about 1% in 1960 to 13% in 1980. Many economists argued then that a little more inflation wouldn't harm the economy, but a little more soon became a lot more, and only the harsh 1980-82 downturn (peak unemployment: 10.8%) brought it under control.
It's doubtful that Summers and Furman will be much impressed by Neuman's Law. But they are living proof of its power. The message that a reasonable person would take from their essay is that the government can borrow unlimited amounts for the foreseeable future. This also seems to be the position of the Trump administration.
The essay's true purpose seems to be to provide intellectual support for what self-interested politicians would do in any case: enjoy present pleasures and postpone any future unpleasantness. Let someone else worry about the future. That's Neuman's Law, and it's mad.
On Jan. 10, just weeks after word got out that the Air Force will not support SpaceX's reusable rockets without further analyzing the company's performance, the Wall Street Journal reported that Elon Musk's company is cutting its workforce by 10%.
While the Air Force's announcement could have played a contributing role in its decision, SpaceX already seemed to have massive cash problems as it was, with Bloomberg noting in November that SpaceX may have had negative earnings for its then-most recent period when excluding customer prepay totals.
The clear lesson here is that government subsidization of private companies, while sometimes providing temporary relief and comfort, is rarely effective in the long run. Like stubborn backyard weeds, market realities always come back home to roost, no matter how often they are ignored, chopped up, or suppressed by policymakers.
Yet, in a clear case of the blind leading the blind, Tesla — run by the same man who is currently watching his government-supported aerospace company falter — is lobbying the federal government to maintain the $7,500 electric vehicle tax break for its luxury vehicle buyers, which is currently being phased out. Taxpayers have seen this movie before, and they don't want to see it again.
As SpaceX has recently demonstrated to the American people, Elon Musk seems to have a penchant for creating businesses that are completely dependent on the government and likely wouldn't exist without taxpayers' help. Tesla is of no exception.
Why should taxpayers continue to throw life vests to a private company that is barely capable of standing on its own?
In other areas of the world, Tesla's presence faded soon after the government took away its incentives. When Denmark phased out its EV credit in 2015-2016, Tesla car registrations dropped by close to 95%. Sales plummeted to zero in Hong Kong when the country trimmed down its electric vehicle tax subsidies. All this data underscores the scope of the market disturbance caused by the existence of this tax credit.
Picking Winners Vs. Losers
As the old saying goes, when government picks winners and losers, it pays to be one of the winners. It is just as ineffective with cars as it is with rockets.
Unquestionably, Elon Musk is a true innovator with powerful ideas; however, that does not mean Washington should put his thoughts and products on a pedestal or protect them from feeling everyday market pressures. Consumer choice and buying power, not government subsidies and aid, should dictate which companies thrive and falter in the marketplace. As shown through SpaceX's struggles, the laws of supply and demand will ultimately prevail even when they are repressed by the heavy hand of government.
When dealing with Tesla, the White House must, for the sake of American taxpayers, finally come to recognize this reality and ignore its EV credit lobbying calls. The company's artificial marketplace has lasted for long enough.
Busler, Ph.D. is a public policy analyst and a Professor of Finance at Stockton University where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Finance and Economics.
Democrats, now the majority in the House of Representatives, are trying to turn that body into the House of Resistance. They vowed to use the State of the Union to voice their claims that the nation is in bad shape, rigged to benefit only the rich. But facts are stubborn things.
Fact number 1: An amazing 304,000 jobs were created in January, according to Labor Department data, up from an average monthly gain of 223,000 in 2018 and 182,000 in 2017. A steady upward march.. Too bad President Trump couldn't invite all the new hires to attend his speech, so he could show off the impact of Trumponomics on real people who have to put food on the table and make mortgage payments.
In January, 2017, just before Trump took the oath of office, number crunchers at the Congressional Budget Office predicted a measly 94,000 jobs per month would be created in 2018. The actual gains were more than double that. What explains that change? Trump's tax cuts and broad scale de-regulation.
In addition to pushing eco-boondoggles, the Green New Deal would make Uncle Sam the employer of last resort to guarantee "living wage" jobs and eradicate poverty, according to a draft circulating around Congress.
Admittedly, there are millions of working age people idle, watching TV, playing video games, and subsisting on food stamps. The participation of working age men in the workforce is lower in the U .S. than in almost any other developed country. That's tragic. What's the remedy? Welfare reform, plus skills training.
Dems brag they'll raise the federal minimum wage to $15. Beware. In many states and cities that hiked their local minimum wages, including New York, consumers are paying more for Uber rides, French fries, and lunches out. Worse, the workers these Dems claim to be helping are losing out. Businesses are cutting hours and eliminating jobs. Instead of a hostess at the front of the restaurant, there's a sign that says "please seat yourself." Fast food restaurants are replacing cashiers with automated kiosks.
Ask yourself what's more worker friendly? Trump's booming economy or the Democrats' misguided meddling.
From a material perspective, life in America gets better and better. From a moral perspective, the same claim cannot be made. One manifestation of our moral decline is how the country, thanks to the Democratic Party and the left, is getting meaner.
The case of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and a 35-year-old racist photo from his medical school yearbook is the latest example.
A generation ago, Americans not only forgave the sins of public figures; they sometimes forgave too easily. But throughout American history, Americans understood that sinners can turn their lives around. They understood that what someone did 30 or 40 years ago does not forever disqualify the individual from being deemed a decent person if he or she led a decent life after that.
Americans understood that people can morally change, and that we should embrace such change. It was called repentance. And in a religious America, penitence and forgiveness were considered vital to the moral health of society.
The most famous Christian prayer, the Lord's Prayer, recited by both Catholics and Protestants, is about forgiving others: "Our Father, who art in Heaven ... Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us."
Judaism's holiest day is the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), and its most sacred work after the Bible, the Talmud, teaches, "In the place where penitents stand, even the righteous do not stand." In other words, those who have done wrong and then repented are on a higher moral plane than those who've never had to repent.
Having abandoned the Bible and religion, the sources of wisdom in America and the West, our society has become both dumber and meaner.
To our grandparents, the notion that a man who had exhibited no racism in 30 years should be driven from office because of a racist photo in his medical school yearbook page would have struck them as un-Christian, un-Jewish, stupid and mean. Not today. Thanks to the corrosive influence of the left and the party that has forsaken liberalism for leftism, America is a less compassionate nation. Its heart has been hardened. And its mind has been weakened.
I said this with regard to former Judge Roy Moore, who was accused of having acted inappropriately with teenage girls 40 years ago, and who has led an honorable family life all the decades since.
I said it when Judge Brett Kavanaugh was accused of having sexually assaulted a girl at a party 30 years ago, when he was in high school — after having led a universally acknowledged honorable family life since.
And I say it here. Gov. Ralph Northam had a racist photo on his medical school yearbook page but has led a life free of racism for the 30 years since.
All three of these men should have been forgiven. (I need to note here that I believe Judge Kavanaugh was falsely accused of sexual misconduct). None of them should have had their names and reputations dragged through the media mud, or been driven from office or driven from seeking office. But thanks solely to the left, we are an increasingly mean and foolish nation.
Having said that, Northam brought this treatment on himself. His race-baiting ads attacking Ed Gillespie, his Republican opponent for Virginia governor, were vile and, by all counts, played a significant role in his winning.
Ralph Northam's campaign defended what is one of the most morally obscene ads in American political history. The 60-second video shows a pickup truck flying a large Confederate flag driving toward children of color — a Latino, a black, a Muslim and an Asian — who are urging one another, "Run! RUN!" as they flee for their lives. During the pursuit, the camera pulls back, showing the truck from the rear and a bumper sticker that reads, "Ed Gillespie for Governor."
In other words, because of Northam's cynical and immoral use of the racism card, he deserves these calls for his resignation. As I watch the monster he and his Democratic Party have created devour one of its own, I can only conclude that maybe there really is karma. The tragedy is that while he deserves it, America doesn't.
The only hope for America is if liberals and conservatives awaken to the mortal threat leftism poses to everything good about us. Let's pray that what happened to Moore, Kavanaugh and now Ralph Northam sounds the alarm that will awaken them.
Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His latest book, published by Regnery in April 2018, is "The Rational Bible," a commentary on the book of Exodus. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at dennisprager.com.
Well, what do you know! It turns out that amateur economist Donald J. Trump knows more about sound monetary policy than Fed chairman Jerome Powell and his team of hundreds of Ph.D. economists.
Call it street smarts or call it business moxie, but Trump was dead right when he attacked the Fed, first in September and then even more savagely after the Fed's Christmas Eve rate hike massacre, which closed the day on a 650-point crash in the Dow Jones industrial average. More than 500 points of that blood spillage occurring while Powell was making his economically hapless rate hike announcement.
The political left and the media rallied around the Fed's actions and could hardly have been more disdainful of the president on this issue. They seemed to want the economy to falter so as to discredit Trump's policies.
The New York Times and others scolded: How dare Trump attack the economic oracles at the Temple? The left has acted as if Powell has some kind of divine infallibility — as if he were the pope.
But of course, we learned with the $4 trillion meltdown in the stock market that the Fed is not just fallible, but has lost its grip on the steering wheel.
Fortunately, this week, the Fed put its tail between its legs, and, as The Wall Street Journal put it, issued its "apology" by signaling to financial markets that no more rate hikes are likely this year. The retreat by the Fed began shortly after Christmas and — eureka — markets are healthy again (though still rightly skittish about the China trade war). After the Fed started backing off the threat of even tighter money in 2019, commodity prices pulled out of their dangerous deflationary spiral.
From the time of the Fed's September rate hike through the end of December, general commodity prices — lead, copper, silver, soybeans, wheat, etc. — collapsed by nearly 13 percent. Then, in December, consumer prices fell by 0.1 percent. The only logical reason for the Fed to raise interest rates and/or sell off the assets on its balance sheet would be to fight inflation, but there was NO inflation at the time of their last two rate hike decisions.
The Fed should have been cutting rates, not raising them. But at least by calling off the dogs with their turnabout on future rate hikes, the Fed enabled commodity prices to rally — although they are still too low.
Unfortunately, the Fed severely damaged its credibility with the financial markets and the voters via its acts of economic malpractice late last year. The wild swings in the markets caused by the Fed are destabilizing and add risk and uncertainty. Jerome Powell's job is to dampen market volatility, not to stimulate it.
Trump saw the perils of excessively tight money before nearly anyone else. He said that the rate hikes were colliding with his pro-growth tax cut and deregulatory policies and thus preventing the 3 to 4 percent growth that America wants and deserves. The Trump growth agenda increased global demand for dollars at the very time the Fed started pulling back on dollar supply. This set in motion the destructive deflation of the last quarter of 2018 that left so many investors standing on the ledge. The Fed was responsible for the worst December for the stock market in 60 years.
What is doubly confounding about the Fed-inspired financial collapse is that mistakes like this are so easily avoided. The Fed could have simply adopted the rule that the two of us have been pushing, and targeted for stable commodity prices. This is the strategy that Paul Volcker employed in the early 1980s to break the back of hyperinflation. Had the Fed done this, the stock market collapse would have been avoided and the real economy wouldn't have been jolted.
Stock prices and the CRB index have been highly correlated. Stock values fell and then rose primarily in nominal terms, not in real terms (as gauged by the CRB Index).
The Fed can keep commodity prices stable by selling bonds when prices are rising and buying them when prices are falling. Investors were pleased when the Fed also pulled back on its "unwinding of the balance sheet," as this also stops the unwise yanking of dollar liquidity out of the market in a deflationary environment.
Many investors are looking at the Fed's recent policy switch toward stable money with an attitude of "better late than never." However, that isn't good enough. The Fed should hardly be congratulated for cleaning up its own mess. That's why we want a permanent change in Fed monetary policy that will ensure stable money. If the Fed does this, President Trump's other economic policies will continue to produce rapid growth.
Moore is a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and an economic consultant with FreedomWorks. He is the co-author of "Trumponomics: Inside the America First Plan to Revive the American Economy."
EMP: If you're like most people, you probably don't know what an Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) weapon is. Maybe you've never even heard of one. And maybe you don't care. But, really, you should.
A number of countries that aren't always friendly with the U.S. are actively developing EMP weapons, including Russia, Iran, North Korea and China, among them. China in particular is a concern, given its fast-rising defense spending and its clear intention of becoming the dominant superpower.
That comes from recent Defense Department intelligence assessments and, in particular, a repor