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A Border Patrol Agent Shares What It’s Really Like at the Border

1 hour 33 min ago

“What was pretty amazing to me … is just how bold these individuals are when they’re crossing the border, giving themselves up knowing that they’re going to get released and they’re going to get released into the United States and that they’re going to be able to disappear into the shadows of society,” says Brandon Judd, a Border Patrol agent and president of the National Border Patrol Council. Read his full interview, posted below, or listen on the podcast:

We also cover these stories:

  • President Donald Trump is launching new sanctions against Iran.
  • Britain is forcing a mentally disabled woman to have an abortion against her wishes.
  • The NBA commissioner is suggesting the league move away from the term “owner.”

The Daily Signal podcast is available on Ricochet, iTunesSoundCloudGoogle Play, or Stitcher. All of our podcasts can be found at DailySignal.com/podcasts. If you like what you hear, please leave a review. You can also leave us a message at 202-608-6205 or write us at letters@dailysignal.com. Enjoy the show!

Rachel del Guidice: We’re joined on The Daily Signal podcast today by Brandon Judd. He’s the president of the National Border Patrol Council. Brandon, thank you so much for being with us today.

Brandon Judd: I appreciate you having me.

del Guidice: Well, thank you again. First off, can you give us a glimpse into what you as well as what the National Border Patrol Council does?

Judd: Yeah. … All law enforcement has associations that look out for the interest of the law enforcement agent. The National Border Patrol Council is exactly like that.

We’re the union who looks out for the interest of the agents, looks out for what needs to happen as far as border security goes from an agent standpoint.

We are then able to go back and explain to congressmen, explain to the legislative branch, to the judicial branch, and the executive branch of government what our agents are seeing and what needs to happen in order for the border to get secured.

So what we do is we represent the interest of the agents in border security and in any other matter that they would like us to represent them.

del Guidice: I actually got to see that firsthand when, in April, I was down at the border with you and some other agents and some other lawmakers.

That was a very eye-opening visit and I kind of got to experience what you guys do for the rest of the country firsthand.

After I met you at the border in April, you ended up voluntarily deploying to the Rio Grande Valley to patrol the border there. What was that experience like?

Judd: Not only am I the president of the National Border Patrol Council, but I’m a Border Patrol agent as well. I wear two hats.

I wear a uniform and I go out and I patrol the border on a regular basis. Then I also wear the political hat where I look out for the interest of the agents.

When I went down to the border, I went down there so that I could have a firsthand experience in exactly what our agents are dealing with in that particular area.

My area of expertise has been out of California and Arizona. That’s where I have spent the majority of my career patrolling the border. So I have a very good understanding of what’s going on in those locations.

I needed to get firsthand knowledge of what was happening in the epicenter right now of where illegal immigration is taking place, and that’s in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. So I went down there and I saw, again, firsthand exactly what was going on.

What was pretty amazing to me, and you saw this yourself when you were out in Yuma, … is just how bold these individuals are when they’re crossing the border, giving themselves up knowing that they’re going to get released and they’re going to get released into the United States and that they’re going to be able to disappear into the shadows of society.

In interviewing these individuals and talking to them, and they knew exactly what the process was going to be, this is what we call the catch-and-release magnet. I got to hear it from these individuals that were crossing the border illegally.

The catch-and-release magnet is what is drawing these people to our country, inviting them to violate our laws, because they know that they’re actually going to be rewarded instead of a consequence being applied.

We saw that as acting [Homeland Security] Secretary [Kevin] McAleenan testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week.

He testified that 90% of the people that claim asylum and that are subsequently released from our custody never show up to their court appearances.

So they’re deported in absentia, but because it’s in absentia, they’re not there and so they’re not actually removed from the country. They remain in the United States.

That’s a problem and that’s that catch-and-release magnet that we see.

I wanted to personally see it firsthand so I could hear from the individuals that this is exactly what they were intending, that those people that cross the border, they were intending to come here to game the system and use the asylum loopholes. That’s exactly what I saw.

del Guidice: You mentioned … I think you said 90% of people that cross the border don’t end up showing up for their court date. What percentage of illegal immigrants coming across would you say actually end up being detained?

Judd: Very few. The ones that we’ll actually detain pending their asylum or deportation proceedings, it’s normally going to be single adults. If they have children in their custody, they’re going to be released.

That’s because there’s a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals case that says we can only hold children in our custody for 20 days. If we don’t separate families, then we have to release the parents with the children as well within 20 days.

So they all know this and that’s why the vast majority of these people that are crossing the border illegally are bringing children with them. It’s because they know that they will ultimately be released.

Now, again, it’s interesting to know for your listeners that we do not have to release people except for minors.

By the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals case, we must release minors within 20 days of apprehending them, but anybody else we can hold in custody pending their deportation or asylum proceedings.

But they know that as long as they have children, they’ll be released or if they flood the system and we don’t have the bed space to hold them in custody, then we ultimately release them as well. That’s what’s happening.

So the vast majority of people that cross the border illegally are ultimately going to be released and then they’re just not going to show up to their court appearances and they’ll just be in the United States for the rest of their life.

del Guidice: Have you seen situations where you’re concerned that minors are being brought in by people who aren’t their parents but might be claiming to be or appearing to be?

Judd: Yeah, we’ve known that that’s been happening going all the way back to 2014.

We’ve known that it was happening, but … we weren’t able to prove it because we weren’t deploying the technology that was necessary, the DNA technology that was necessary, to show us that these people weren’t the parents.

Without that technology, we had to take their word for it. But we have since deployed technology to certain areas on the border and it’s called rapid DNA testing.

We’re finding that an awful lot of people that are crossing the border with children, those children that they claim are their children aren’t actually their children, and so we’re able to separate them and we’re able to prosecute them for an additional crime beyond crossing the border.

But … We don’t have the resources to test every single person that crosses the border with a child.

del Guidice: I do want to ask you too about the lack of resources that you all are facing. I know that the number of people coming over the border right now is at record levels.

How are Border Patrol agents coping with these record levels of immigrants coming over but not having adequate resources to handle that?

Judd: First off, we’re not coping well, but your listeners have to understand why it is that we’re dealing with record numbers of people.

You’re going to hear the mainstream media that are going to say, “Well, the Border Patrol has arrested more people in the past,” and that’s not true.

The Border Patrol has made more arrests in the past, but we haven’t arrested more people. Let me give you an example and let me explain that.

In 2002, when I was down on the border … I arrested the same group of people in the same skiff three times. It was a group of seven individuals. They crossed the border in the same skiff three times.

I arrested them, I took them to the station, I fingerprinted them, they didn’t have any criminal history, and so I returned them to Mexico. They were from Mexico.

Within an hour, they crossed the border again in the same location. I arrested them again, took them to the station.

This circle, this circular process, it took about three hours. So I was able to arrest the same people in one shift three times. Although it was seven people, it counted as 21 arrests.

So when the mainstream media says that we … arrested more people in the early 2000s, they’re misrepresenting what that means. We made more arrests, but we were arresting the same people over and over again.

Right now, we’re not arresting the same people over and over again because we’re not dealing with people from Mexico. We’re dealing with people from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Cuba. We’re even starting to deal with people from Africa.

We cannot return these people the same way we did with people from Mexico. So what happens? We hold them in our custody, we end up releasing them.

That pressure and that stress is being put on the limited resources that we have.

It’s horrendous. It’s horrendous working conditions for the Border Patrol agents. And, frankly, morale is taking a huge hit, which is one of the reasons why we have one of the highest attrition rates in the entire federal government.

You just can’t have that. You can’t have law enforcement agents or officers quitting their jobs because their morale is so low, but that is in fact what’s happening today.

del Guidice: Yeah. What would you say are the top three things that Border Patrol agents think would help them do their job?

Judd: You have to have the support of Congress.

When you have people like [Rep. Alexandria] Ocasio-Cortez that are comparing us to the Nazis—she’s saying that the detention facilities that we hold people in are like concentration camps, which then of course compares us to the Nazis—any time that you do that, the signal that is sent is that Congress, who is supposed to provide us with the resources that are necessary, they don’t believe in our mission, they don’t believe in our job. …

So No. 1, we have to have Congress behind our back. We have to have a Congress that is supporting us and right now, we’re just not seeing that support. Again, I use that Ocasio-Cortez quote as an example.

The other thing is we have to have good leadership.

We have to have leadership that is innovative. We have to have leadership that can recognize as new problems occur. But, unfortunately, we’re a very reactionary organization and we react very slowly to new trends that are taking place.

The other thing that we have to have is we have to have the resources that are necessary to put more agents in the field so that we can secure the border.

If we had those three things … I know we could secure the border once and for all and we wouldn’t have to continue discussing this issue.

del Guidice: Yeah. You mentioned those three things. What is your perspective on all of the talk with the wall? President Trump has talked about it.

Do you think a wall would help or it wouldn’t make much of a difference? Where do you fall on that side of the debate?

Judd: Walls, physical borders, let’s just call them physical borders, physical barriers. … Physical barriers are very effective in allowing us to dictate where illegal border crossings take place.

Unless you have a full 2,000 miles of continuous physical barriers, there’s going to be places that people are going to be able to enter the country illegally.

But if we can dictate where those locations are, it allows us to be a lot more effective in seizing the drugs that are coming across the border illegally and apprehending the criminal element that is coming across the border, the criminal aliens who are coming across the border.

That’s where the physical barriers are very effective.

If the asylum loopholes continue, then those individuals that have criminal records in the United States, they’re going to continue to be released. But if we have the physical barriers, we will be able to stop the narcotic and we will be able to stop the criminal aliens that are entering our country illegally.

del Guidice: You mentioned the asylum loophole. What are some of the other loopholes that you see currently in the law that need to be changed?

Judd: The asylum and deportation loopholes are the main loopholes that affect the way we do our job and allows the catch-and-release program to continue.

If we cannot deport people in a timely manner, then we have to hold them for up to nine months, a year until all of their appeals processes play out.

I’m all for appeals processes. I believe in the due process of all individuals, which is why we have our laws in the first place, which is why our country is just such a country because of that due process. But we have to be able to put them through that process much quicker than what we’re currently doing.

Those are the loopholes that they’re exploiting. They know that if they overwhelm the system, if we don’t have the judges in place, if we don’t have the facilities to hold these individuals, all they have to do is come across in mass and they will then get released into the interior of the United States, and those are the loopholes that have to get closed.

del Guidice: Can you talk a little bit for a second about the credible fear interviews? You talked about this during our time at the border back in April.

I believe it was you or another agent were saying how it’s important to conduct these interviews.

I don’t know if it’s been common practice to or you were hoping that it becomes that, but to ask these people who are crossing illegally and claiming asylum to determine whether or not they do have a credible fear of returning to their country.

Judd: The credible fear interviews, the reason why they’re so important that they’re done immediately is because once a credible fear interview is done, then it gets rid of all of those loopholes that we’ve already talked about that they can exploit.

If we do a credible fear interview initially and on the spot, then that person must be held and a judge has to adjudicate their case within 10 days. Right now, an adjudication of a case takes anywhere between two to five years.

That’s simply because of the resources and because Citizens and Immigration Services do the credible fear interviews because they’re overwhelmed.

So what is then looked at is to give Border Patrol agents the authority to conduct the credible fear interviews because we arrest them on the spot.

If we’re able to give them a credible fear interview within the time that it takes to process these individuals, then it puts them into that asylum system immediately in which a judge, by regulation, then must adjudicate that case within 10 days.

It would force the government to actually do what it needs to do to deal with the current issue that we’re facing.

del Guidice: That’s amazing. We never see policy discussions like that in media.

That was my final question for you. What is your perspective on the media coverage of the situation at the border? Are there things that you would like to see be more widely reported on?

Judd: What leaves me scratching my head is why the media isn’t just honest in discussing everything that’s going on.

You can discuss the humanitarian issue if you want and that’s perfectly fine, but why not discuss all of the truth that is associated with the catch and release, with the asylum loopholes, with the deportation loopholes?

You hear the media talking about, “We have this crisis on the border because of the economic and violent situations that are going on in these countries.”

Yet, there’s not been any study that has been done that shows that the economic situation has changed in Honduras, Guatemala, or El Salvador since 2014 and that violence in some of those countries has actually gone down a little bit.

Yet, we have this huge illegal immigration crisis and the media doesn’t discuss all of the factors behind that.

All you hear is the sensationalizing of what’s taking place and you only hear one side of the story or one perspective and that’s the perspective from the illegal alien.

… As long as it’s being reported from all perspectives, I wouldn’t have a problem with it, but because it’s only being reported from a very liberal point of view, that becomes very frustrating and it becomes difficult to combat what’s being put out in the mainstream media.

del Guidice: We’ve been talking with Brandon Judd. He’s the president of the National Border Patrol Council and also a border agent. Brandon, thank you so much for speaking with us today.

Judd: Appreciate your time. Thank you.

The post A Border Patrol Agent Shares What It’s Really Like at the Border appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

After a Lawsuit, Los Angeles County Begins to Clean Up Its Voter Rolls

Mon, 2019-06-24 19:31

President Donald Trump cited a Los Angeles County legal settlement as evidence of improper voting in California, as the state’s largest jurisdiction moves to clean up its voter rolls. 

Los Angeles County began sending notices to inactive voters as part of a settlement of a 2017 federal lawsuit with watchdog groups and county residents who had sued over voters on the rolls who have moved, died, or are otherwise ineligible.

The county will send as many as 1.5 million notices to voters who haven’t cast ballots in the past two federal elections, according to Judicial Watch, one of the litigants, which was notified of the plans last week. 

Voters who don’t respond to the county notices and who then don’t vote in the next two federal elections will be removed from the voter rolls, after 2022. Federal elections, which draw the largest turnouts, occur every two years.

Thus, a person would essentially have to be an inactive voter for at least eight years—two election cycles before the notice and two cycles after—before becoming ineligible.

In a “Meet the Press” interview aired on NBC on Sunday, host Chuck Todd asked Trump if he was still bothered by not winning the popular vote in 2016.

“I’ll say something that, again, is controversial. There were a lot of votes cast that I don’t believe. I look at California,” Trump told Todd. 

Todd interrupted several times before Trump returned to his point. 

“Take a look at Judicial Watch. Take a look at their settlement, where California admitted to a million votes,” Trump said. “They [California] admitted to a million votes.”

Todd appeared unaware of the settlement, agreed to in January. “A million votes of what? What are you talking about?”

Trump responded, “Judicial Watch made a settlement. … There was much illegal voting.” 

The settlement was not an admission that 1 million votes were illegally cast, but the litigation asserted that 1 in 5 registered voters in Los Angeles County are ineligible and that the county took no action to remove them from voter lists or check their status.

With about 10 million residents, the county has a larger population than 41 of the 50 states. Moreover, the state of California has not cleaned up its voting rolls for 20 years, according to Judicial Watch.

“This Judicial Watch settlement will result in the immediate and ongoing clean-up of voter rolls in California and L.A. County,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said. “This victory for clean elections in California will set another national precedent for other states to take reasonable steps to ensure that dead and other ineligible voters are removed from the rolls.”

The county notices are listed in the settlement agreement, and list three options for a registered voter to check: “The person named on this card no longer lives at this address” or “The address information listed above is correct. Please sign below and return this card” or “The address information above is wrong. Please provide the correction information below.” 

In the 2017 case of Judicial Watch v. Dean C. Logan, the conservative watchdog group sued on behalf of Wolfgang Kupka, Rhue Guyant, Jerry Griffin, and Delores M. Mars, who are lawfully registered voters in Los Angeles County. The Election Integrity Project California Inc., a public-interest group that monitors polling and voter rolls, was also a party to the litigation.

The settlement was reached in January, but Los Angeles County notified the plaintiffs it has begun the process of cleaning the rolls just last week. 

The media relations office of the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan did not respond to phone and email inquiries from The Daily Signal as of publication time, despite an email Friday saying, “We’ll respond [as soon as possible].”

The Daily Signal followed up with an inquiry on Monday. 

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla alerted other counties to clean up their voter registration lists to comply with the 25-year-old federal National Voter Registration Act, better known as the “motor voter law.” Padilla is also updating the National Voter Registration Act manual in order to clarify that ineligible names must be removed.

Padilla’s office notified Judicial Watch on April 11 that that aspect of the settlement had been implemented, but his office said its recent actions were not a result of the settlement. 

“Judicial Watch is once again deliberately distorting this settlement to undermine voter confidence in democracy,” Padilla’s press secretary, Sam Mahood, told The Daily Signal in an email.

“The settlement was clear and simple. California will continue its work to adhere to modern list-maintenance procedures under the National Voter Registration Act,” Mahood said. “Updating the NVRA manual and providing guidance and training to county elections officials on voter-list maintenance is a regular practice for the Secretary of State’s office, which was already in progress prior to the settlement.”

The post After a Lawsuit, Los Angeles County Begins to Clean Up Its Voter Rolls appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Trump Executive Order Aims for More Hospital Pricing Transparency

Mon, 2019-06-24 18:13

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Monday that he said would “fundamentally” change the health care market by requiring hospitals to disclose in an easy-to-read format what patients pay out of pocket for services.

The order, which the Department of Health and Human Services will implement, is designed to improve consumer incentives to shop for care, which would expand the potential benefits of health savings accounts. 

“This is a truly big action,” Trump said in the Grand Foyer of the White House before signing the executive order. “Some people say, bigger than health care itself.” 

The HHS, under the order, also will require hospitals to provide more information to researchers and medical providers as a means to develop ways to cut costs.

“No Americans should be blindsided by bills they never agreed to,” Trump said. 

Today's landmark healthcare action continues President Trump's mission to put American patients first. pic.twitter.com/v49XxvVjTw

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) June 24, 2019

He said the action was the “opposite of Obamacare” because it expands consumer choice. 

“Lack of price transparency has enriched industry giants greatly,” the president said. “There’s frankly no rhyme or reason for what’s been happening for so many years.”

The order won’t take effect immediately, but commences a rulemaking process that will involve public comment. 

According to the White House, patients face wide variations in prices, often for the same services, due to a lack of transparency.

“Hospitals will be required to publish prices that reflect what people actually pay for services. Prices will come down by numbers that you won’t even believe,” the president said, adding the executive order will benefit “the good doctors, not the bad doctors.”

“Today’s action is not just about lower prices, it’s also about helping Americans find excellent care,” he said. 

Trump said he would still be deciding on what to do about “the remnants of Obamacare,” but again reiterated: “We’re always going to protect people with pre-existing conditions.” 

The post Trump Executive Order Aims for More Hospital Pricing Transparency appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Trump Ratchets Up Sanctions on Iran’s Top Ayatollah, His Inner Circle

Mon, 2019-06-24 18:02

After pulling back from the brink of a military strike last week, the Trump administration is targeting the assets of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, along with his closest associates, through a new round of sanctions against the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism.              

Iran shot down a U.S. surveillance drone last week over the Strait of Hormuz. President Donald Trump opted against a military retaliation, because the drone was an unmanned aircraft. Trump said he called off the strike because he was told it would likely kill 150 and that would have been disproportionate, because there were no U.S. casualties in the drone’s downing.      

“Our issue is not with the people of Iran. We are not looking at creating issues for the people of Iran,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told The Daily Signal during a press briefing Monday. “Having said that, we have sanctions against bad behavior, and there is no question that locking this money up worked last time, and there is no question locking the money up works now.” 

In announcing the executive order, Trump said the new sanctions “will deny the supreme leader and the supreme leader’s office and those closely affiliated with him and the office access to key financial resources.”

Mnuchin announced that the United States would be freezing the assets of three top officials in the supreme leader’s inner circle, as well as five additional military leaders. 

“The president has been clear about maximum pressure on the sanctions. That is our strategy,” Mnuchin told reporters. “And it’s not just him [the supreme leader]. It’s the leader’s office, which encompasses a whole range of activity.”

During an Oval Office announcement, before signing an executive order for more sanctions, Trump called the aggression by Iran “not good and not appropriate.”       

“Today’s action follows a series of aggressive behaviors by the Iranian regime in recent weeks, including shooting down of U.S. drones,” Trump said of the sanctions after June 13 attacks on two oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz and on the drone. “The supreme leader of Iran is the one who ultimately is responsible for the hostile conduct of the regime. He is respected within his country. His office oversees the regime’s most brutal instruments.”

In a vague reference to opting against a military strike, the president said, “These measures represent a strong and proportionate response to Iran’s increasingly provocative actions.”

But Trump was clear the U.S. would consider all options.

“I think a lot of restraint has been shown by us—a lot of restraint—and that doesn’t mean we’re going to show it in the future,” he said.

During an interview aired Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Trump warned, “I’m not looking for war, and if there is, it’ll be obliteration like you’ve never seen before.

The post Trump Ratchets Up Sanctions on Iran’s Top Ayatollah, His Inner Circle appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

5 Myths About the State and Local Tax Deduction’s Cap

Mon, 2019-06-24 17:51

Ever since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed in late 2017, Democrats and a few Republicans have decried how the law’s $10,000 cap of the state and local tax deduction harms schools, local communities, home values, first responders, and middle-class families. Fast forward almost two years later and these false claims are not going away.

House Democrats recently announced a hearing scheduled for Tuesday where many of the common myths are likely to be repeated.

Here are a few of the most common misconceptions.

Myth #1: The Cap Hurts Middle Class Taxpayers

Before the 2017 tax cut capped the state and local tax deduction, 70 percent of taxpayers received no benefit from the deduction. Most of the benefits flowed to wealthy taxpayers in high-tax states.

Despite the cap, the vast majority of taxpayers still got a big tax cut for three reasons.

First, the tax law doubled the standard deduction, which means about half the people who previously chose to itemize their taxes (which allows access to the state and local tax write-off) now voluntarily choose to take the new larger standard deduction. Most of these people are better off than they were before.

Second, tax rates were lowered across the board. Even if taxable income increased slightly because of the state and local tax cap, lower tax rates mean most people still came out ahead.

Third, because the tax law raised the exemption for the ineffective and overly complicated alternative minimum tax, millions of higher-income alternative minimum tax-paying taxpayers saw the state and local taxes deduction increase from zero to $10,000 under the new law because they no longer have to pay the alternative minimum tax. Taxpayers subject to the tax are not allowed to take the deduction for state and local taxes.

Repealing the state and local taxes cap would cost $673 billion over 10 years and primarily would benefit wealthy taxpayers at the expense of everyone else. For example, with an uncapped SALT deduction, middle-class taxpayers would be forced to subsidize millionaires in California and New York who previously used the uncapped SALT deduction to write off more than $450,000 from their federal taxes.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act rightfully limited the cap to provide true tax relief to middle class taxpayers. Congress should repeal the entire state and local tax deduction and reduce taxes even further.

Myth #2: The Cap Hurts Schools and Local Communities

School districts around the nation are funded primarily by local property taxes and the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’s cap of the state and local tax deduction does not change this because it affects federal taxes, and schools are funded and managed locally.

The cap has no impact on the way schools are funded or over the amount of school funding. These decisions are rightfully in the hands of local communities, not the federal government.

All the cap does is remove a subsidy that states with high property taxes used to hide the full weight of their taxes. Without the cap, property taxes could be raised to fund wasteful projects, and residents never would feel the full weight of the tax increase because they could write it off their federal taxes.

The cap on the deduction for state and local taxes has empowered residents to be more active in their communities. They are more inclined to care about what their local taxes fund and how their tax dollars are spent.

States and local communities no longer have a subsidized money pool they can dip into without their residents caring.

Lawmakers should instead recommend their states address the primary drag on municipal budgets: unfunded pension liabilities. These liabilities divert tax dollars away from the classroom and other critical priorities.

Myth #3: The SALT Cap Will Decrease Home Values

Corporate realtor lobbyists have spent two years and more than $22 million promulgating the myth that the cap on state and local tax deductions hurts home values.

But there is no evidence home values fell after the tax cut and if had, they would have only fell for homes owned by the wealthiest Americans in the most highly taxed cities.

According to the realtor lobby’s own data, housing prices have increased by 6 percent from the prior year and home affordability has increased.  

In some areas is it property taxes themselves that have harmed affordability. In some Chicago neighborhoods, for example, median home prices are down by a third since 2006—but property tax bills have nearly doubled. To the extent the state and local tax deduction cap puts pressure on municipalities to reform their property taxes, the new cap could boost home values over time. 

This myth is one that not even the people perpetuating it believe.

Myth #4: The SALT Deduction Protects Against Double Taxation

Double taxation occurs when the same income source is taxed twice by the same level of government. The capital gains tax is a double tax on income that is also taxed as corporate profits. The same income is thus taxed twice at the federal level.

Double taxation does not occur when your income is taxed at the state level to pay for state projects—typically roads, police, hospitals, and schools—and again by the feds. Taxes at all levels of government should be lower, but this does not mean the federal government needs to subsidize state taxes and spending.

The cap on state and local tax deductions moves the federal tax code towards the bipartisan goal of treating taxpayers of similar incomes similarly. Before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, high-tax states such as California, Connecticut, and New York, were subsidized by other federal taxpayers. In the case of high-income California taxpayers, the federal state and local tax deduction reduced their overall federal tax bill by 40 percent.

Myth #5: The Cap is A Politically Motivated Attack on Blue States

The state and local tax deduction cap is not a partisan attack. Taxpayers in every congressional district and every state got a tax cut through the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.  

Among all 435 congressional districts, Democrats tend to represent areas with both the largest and smallest tax cuts, according to Heritage Foundation estimates using IRS data. Republicans tend to represent the middle of the tax cut distribution.

Data from every congressional district shows the cap is not partisan in nature.

Instead, it improves fairness by reducing an inequity in the federal tax code that allowed taxpayers with identical incomes to pay, in some cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars more or less in federal taxes, strictly based on their state of residency.

Key Takeaways

The 2017 tax cuts are benefiting Americans across the country. Taxpayers on average got a $1,400 tax cut and have benefited from quickening wage growth thanks to the strong economy.   

Instead of dwelling on the well-worn talking points that have misled millions of Americans into thinking their taxes may have increased, Congress should work together to make the tax cuts permanent before they expire in 2025.  

Repealing the state and local taxes deduction cap, or even more modest proposals to index it to inflation or double the allowance, would be an expensive mistake.

The post 5 Myths About the State and Local Tax Deduction’s Cap appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

PBS Is Indoctrinating Our Kids. It’s Time to Defund Them.

Mon, 2019-06-24 17:50

In 2015, after the Supreme Court handed down its controversial ruling declaring same-sex marriage to be a constitutional right, President Barack Obama called for respect and tolerance between citizens who hold differing viewpoints on the issue. 

In remarks following the decision, the 44th president acknowledged that many Americans’ belief in traditional marriage is deeply rooted and worthy of tolerance and respect:

I know that Americans of good will continue to hold a wide range of views on this issue. Opposition, in some cases, has been based on sincere and deeply held beliefs. All of us who welcome today’s news should be mindful of that fact and recognize different viewpoints, revere our deep commitment to religious freedom.

Yet just four years later, much of the left has all but given up on tolerating conservative religious views. One needs to look no further than Jack Phillips, the Christian baker from Colorado, to understand that. 

Since the 2015 ruling, liberals have gone beyond trying to control the business sector and the speech and religious practice of individual Americans. They are also seeking to indoctrinate the next generation with secular progressive views, using public money to do it.

A case in point is PBS—the Public Broadcasting Service—which recently aired a surprising episode of the children’s show “Arthur” titled “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone.” In this episode, PBS writers deemed it appropriate to preach their liberal views on same-sex marriage to America’s young children: The episode featured—and celebrated—a same-sex wedding.

After the episode, many conservatives, including Rev. Franklin Graham and Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, came out in opposition. Even the state of Alabama opted against airing the program and instead barred the episode from Alabama Public Television.

When confronted with criticism, Marc Brown, the creator of “Arthur,” explained: “That’s not the kind of world we want to live in, and we want children educated so they can see there’s not just one type of family.”

Taxpayers now know with complete certainty that the goal of the PBS cartoon is to impart social liberalism to children.

Enough is enough. It is time to stop sending our hard-earned tax money to support programming that is objectionable to many Americans.

That’s why I’m reintroducing a bill to cut off all federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which funds PBS.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting received $445 million a year from taxpayers over the last two years. Yet these funds only make up about 15% of the group’s annual budget. Clearly, they are already successful without taxpayer support. The government is simply shaking down taxpayers for hundreds of millions of dollars so that an already-successful media company can have budget flexibility. 

This kind of spending highlights a federal government that is simply too big. From a constitutional standpoint, there is no reason that a single dollar should be given to subsidize a public media company, even if its programming did not contain objectionable elements. 

To add insult to injury, public media programming is becoming more antagonistic toward conservative and religious viewpoints. Parents and churches should be the ones discussing marriage and family with their children—not PBS. To target children in this way is a complete affront to religious Americans.

I support the Trump administration’s call to zero out federal funds over time for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. But rather than dragging this out in spending negotiations year after year, Congress should act decisively and pass into law a measure removing federal funding for all media conglomerates.

I am pleased to have the support of a broad spectrum of conservative groups, including the Rev. Franklin Graham, the Family Research Council, Heritage Action for America, FreedomWorks, and Americans for Limited Government.

Let’s take a stand for freedom of conscience, commonsense spending, and traditional values by cutting off federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The post PBS Is Indoctrinating Our Kids. It’s Time to Defund Them. appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Retraction of 13 ‘Glowing’ Disaster Reports Throws Light on Dysfunction of Bureaucracy

Mon, 2019-06-24 17:10

Another bureaucratic fiasco simply reinforces why the nine most terrifying words in the English language are still: “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

The number of declared national emergencies—and how much we spend on them—is rising, yet one of the agencies tasked with handling national emergencies has been particularly opaque about its effectiveness.

A recent news report about the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, highlights how dysfunction within an administrative agency can get papered over for years without any kind of accountability.

According to The Washington Post, an internal investigation of a Department of Homeland Security watchdog found that the agency “whitewashed” a series of internal reports about FEMA’s disaster response. FEMA is part of the Department of Homeland Security. 

The disclosure led to the resignation of John V. Kelly, a career government auditor and the department’s acting inspector general, who had ordered the reports.

The Post reported that Kelly “chose to flatter FEMA’s staff in some reports, instead of hold them accountable.” 

As bad as that is, it gets worse.

“Investigators determined that Kelly didn’t just direct his staff to remove negative findings,” according to the Post. “He potentially compromised their objectivity by praising FEMA’s work ethic to the auditors, telling them they would see ‘FEMA at her best’ and instructing supervisors to emphasize what the agency had done right in its disaster response.”

This led to the extraordinary action in which the inspector general’s office retraced 13 FEMA reports.

Jennifer Costello, the deputy inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security, was undoubtedly correct when she wrote that the inspector general’s retraction of the FEMA reports was “not an insignificant matter” and that the reports “represent millions of wasted taxpayer dollars and understandably cast doubt on our credibility.”

So, basically, the glowing FEMA reports left the American people with no idea how to assess the work of our federal disaster response agency, which has a budget of $18 billion as of 2018.

Accountability developed only in 2016 when, according to the Post, House Republicans began to ask questions about a response to flooding in Louisiana that had received a glowing inspector general report based on an internal audit.

Something clearly was wrong with the FEMA reports, Mike Howell, senior adviser on executive branch relations at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal in an email. Howell previously was oversight counsel in the Department of Homeland Security and senior counsel at the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

“A few years ago when I was on House Oversight, we were reviewing the federal response to major flooding in Baton Rouge, [and] we found tons of issues, tons of wasted money, fraud, etc.,” Howell said, adding:

The inspector general then issued a report that said FEMA did a great job. We flipped out and confronted them with the obvious evidence of FEMA not doing a great job. The result was they retracted the report and then began a look back at the series of after action reports the office of inspector general was issuing post disaster. Turns out nearly every one gave FEMA shining stars.

Americans generally expect the federal government to play an active role in responding to natural disasters and crisis.

The resources drawn from taxpayers are vast, but they aren’t infinite and shouldn’t be treated as such.

As the nation’s debt piles up, we need to be more cautious before we throw our hard-earned money into the salad bowl of endless acronyms that defines the modern federal government.

Even causes that have broad support can become wasteful calamities.

It’s clear that handing enormous power solely to unchecked bureaucratic agencies opens the path for both monumental waste and outright abuse of power.

This is not the constitutional system of checks and balances that the Founding Fathers had in mind.

The FEMA report disaster is just the latest evidence that demonstrates the need for Congress to more actively take back the power it has surrendered to the “fourth branch” of government—our vast and growing federal bureaucracy.

The post Retraction of 13 ‘Glowing’ Disaster Reports Throws Light on Dysfunction of Bureaucracy appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Supreme Court Deserves Praise for Reversing Itself on Takings Clause

Mon, 2019-06-24 17:02

Our constitutional system assumes that federal courts serve to remedy an injustice created by officials in the legislative and executive branches. Unfortunately, federal courts, even the Supreme Court, sometimes are responsible for creating an injustice.

Thirty years ago, the Supreme Court did that for property owners in Regional Planning Commission v. Hamilton Bank of Johnson City. On Friday, in Knick v. Township of Scott, the court ended that injustice by overruling Williamson County by a 5-4 vote.

For more than 30 years, people with claims under the Fifth Amendment’s takings clause have been told, “Get in the back of the bus. You are not allowed to go to federal court to seek relief for a claim that a state official has taken your property without just compensation.”

A reasonable person might say, “Huh? How can that be? Everyone else can go to federal court to sue the state over a constitutional violation. People can sue in federal court for a First Amendment free speech clause violation, a Fourth Amendment search and seizure violation, and so forth. Even a prisoner convicted of murder can sue the state for an Eighth Amendment cruel and unusual punishments clause violation. Why not me?”

Those are fair questions. The answer is that the Williamson County decision—a ruling only a lawyer could love—was responsible for that outrage.

Before I discuss that case—and its offspring, San Remo Hotel, L.P. v. City and County of San Francisco—let me mention three settled background principles.

First, the Fifth Amendment’s takings clause expressly prohibits federal and state governments from taking someone’s private property without providing “just compensation.”

Second, overly burdensome state regulations can amount to a “taking” of private property if those rules deny someone the opportunity to make use of, or make a profit from, his land without guaranteeing him “just compensation.”

Third, federal law—the Civil Rights Act of 1871—expressly guarantees everyone a right to sue for relief for a state or local federal constitutional violation.

Together, these three well-established principles should permit someone to claim that a state or local statute, ordinance, or regulation, or the action of an executive official, has the effect of taking his land, which would then entitle him to some type of relief for the harm he has suffered.

This may seem simple, but few legal issues can’t be mucked up by judges, even those on the Supreme Court.

In Williamson County, the Supreme Court concluded that a person has not stated a takings clause violation until he proves that the state will not compensate him for his losses, and he cannot know the answer to that question until the state courts have rejected his takings clause claim.

That is far from obviously reasonable. If the state has not already paid the property owner, and if there is no state law equivalent of a workers’ compensation system—that is, if a property owner cannot just file a claim and receive payment—there should be no doubt that the state will not pay him. Requiring him to ask the state courts to tell him the obvious is just a waste of time.

The one saving grace of the Williamson County decision is that it appeared to give the landowner the opportunity to return to federal court once the state courts told him the government would not compensate him.

Rather than cutting him off at the knees, Williamson County seemed merely to order the landowner to wade out to knee-level before returning to federal court.

But that’s not how it worked out.

This brings us to the Supreme Court decision 20 years later in San Remo Hotel, L.P. v. City and County of San Francisco. There, the court held that a person whose just compensation claim is rejected by the state courts cannot relitigate that issue. Why? Because the state court decision is final and cannot be relitigated in federal court.  

The average person would find it shocking to see a lawyer try to persuade a court to adopt such an obvious catch-22, but the Supreme Court bought the argument and this injustice was allowed to stand for over 30 years. 

Rose Mary Knick owns land in Pennsylvania on which a graveyard might contain the ancestors of her neighbors.

In 2012, the township passed an ordinance saying that cemeteries must be open and accessible to the pubic during daytime. The township later told Knick that she was in violation of the ordinance. She sued to have the township’s actions declared a “taking,” but ultimately lost because of Williamson County.

On Friday, the Supreme Court finally owned up to the mistake it made in the Williamson County decision.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts reasoned that, “Contrary to Williamson County, a property owner has a claim for a violation of the takings clause as soon as a government takes his property for public use without paying for it.” The text of the takings clause makes that obvious.

The clause reads: “[N]or shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” It does not say: “[N]or shall private property be taken for public use, without an available procedure that will result in compensation.”

The rationale underlying the takings clause, the court reasoned, also demanded that result. Once the state has taken someone’s property, the owner enjoys “an irrevocable” federal constitutional “right to just compensation,” regardless of whatever procedures the state might adopt to pay him.

As Roberts quite colorfully put it, “A bank robber might give the loot back, but he still robbed the bank.”

After finding its decision in Williamson County to be wrong in a variety of ways, the court decided that stare decisis—or respect for precedent—principles did not prevent overruling it.

“Williamson County was not just wrong,” the court concluded. Its “reasoning was exceptionally ill-founded” and inconsistent with the court’s earlier takings clause cases.

The Williamson County “state-litigation requirements has been a rule in search of a justification for over 30 years.” Stare decisis considerations also count for less when remedial decisions are at stake, because they “do not ‘serve as a guide to lawful behavior.’”

Justice Elena Kagan, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor, dissented. She concluded that Williamson County was correctly decided and that, in any event, stare decisis principles militated against overruling it.

The Knick majority deserves kudos for its action. For more than 80 years the Supreme Court has relegated property rights claims, as the court noted in that case, “to the status of a poor relation.”

Members of the intellectual class have long deemed property rights too plebian to be worthy of their interest or robust legal protection, notwithstanding the fact that only a strong, legally protected system of property rights enables the academy to be both condescending and employed because of the contributions made by people who own property.

Property rights, they contend, must be gradually withered in the same way that a slowly dripping stream of water will erode the strongest boulder onto which it falls.

Were it not for public interest organizations, such as the Pacific Legal Foundation, which represents people such as Knick for free, state officials would, through litigation, wear out all but the wealthiest property owners.

After all, the Knick case was captioned “Rose Mary Knick v. Township of Scott,” not “Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page, or Sergey Brin v. Township of Scott.” Any one of them could buy a county or state that sought to take their land. People like Knick cannot even defend their own land in court.

Finally, the court properly decided that stare decisis considerations did not justify leaving in place the “preclusion trap” set by Williamson County and sprung by San Remo.

I have harshly criticized the court’s decision in Williamson County because its ill-considered ruling jeopardized the property rights of average people.

It is always difficult to admit that one made a mistake, particularly a big one, and the Supreme Court consists of nine people, so it is difficult for them to confess that they flubbed one. That the court did so in Knick is praiseworthy.

Courts expect people to “fess up” when they go astray. Just ask any offender facing sentencing. It is only reasonable to expect the same response from a judge who makes a mistake.

Five members of the Supreme Court did just that Friday. We owe them our thanks for doing what they expect everyone else to do in the same circumstances.

The post Supreme Court Deserves Praise for Reversing Itself on Takings Clause appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Europeans Work 2 Months Longer Than Americans Do to Pay Their Tax Bill

Mon, 2019-06-24 16:47

On June 22, German workers celebrated their Tax Freedom Day—the day when taxpayers have finally earned enough money to pay the country’s tax bill. Germany’s Tax Freedom Day falls more than two months after taxpayers in the United States celebrated our freedom on April 16.

Germany is not alone in Europe when it comes to high taxes. European workers have to work on average more than two months longer than Americans to pay the taxman. In France, they have to work for more than half the year, twice as long as Americans.  

The United Kingdom has one of the lower tax burdens in the European Union, but its Tax Freedom Day still comes 43 days after America’s. Even Canadian workers have to work 60 days more than their American neighbors to pay off the nation’s taxes.

The reason these countries have such high tax burdens comes down to one policy choice: expansive government welfare systems.

A large welfare state is increasingly popular among American voters. Presidential candidates on the left almost universally have endorsed some version of “Medicare for All,” free college, a Green New Deal, paid family leave, and other expensive government programs.

We are told not to worry about the cost. The rich will pay for all the new spending. But popular proposals, such as a financial transactions tax, a 70% top tax rate, or a wealth tax would raise only about 6% of their proposed spending.  

In Europe, it’s not the rich who pay for these programs. Lower- and middle-income workers pay for the expensive European welfare state through high taxes on wages and consumption.  

Workers in Europe making two-thirds their country’s average wage—the equivalent of $37,000 a year—pay a 50% marginal tax on every additional dollar they earn.

If a below-average wage earner gets a raise, the government takes half of every additional dollar. That same worker also has to pay a 20% value-added tax—EU-style sales tax—when they spend whatever income they are allowed to keep.

A $37,000 salary is not wealthy based on American or European standards. In the U.S., that same taxpayer is charged a 32% marginal wage tax and pays only a 6% sales tax on average.

In France, lower- and middle-income workers face some of the highest tax burdens. Marginal tax rates on below-average income earners are 70% in France and they have to work a full three and a half months longer than workers in the U.S. to reach Tax Freedom Day.

High tax burdens have negative effects on the well-being of the country’s citizens. And the programs they fund are less effective at meeting their goals than the private-sector alternatives.

The reason is simple. Private providers have to compete for business by producing value for consumers. Government monopolies can perform poorly and stay in business as taxpayers aren’t given the choice to take their money elsewhere.

High taxes and generous government-provided benefits reduce the value people gain from working harder to get a promotion or pay raise because they know the government will take half their new income.

When you don’t benefit from the fruits of your own labor, there is less incentive to start your own business or be an entrepreneur. High taxes facilitate a culture of complacency.

Americans should be thankful they do not have to work as long as their European counterparts to pay the nation’s tax burden.

When candidates talk about increasing spending, U.S. taxpayers should understand that big government is expensive and must be paid for by all taxpayers, not just the rich.

The 2017 tax cuts put more money back in the pockets of American workers, expanding the advantage Americans have over similar European workers.

These savings are only temporary if Washington’s spending growth continues on the current destructive course. Growing annual deficits without spending controls mean Congress eventually will raise taxes.  

The Heritage Foundation’s 2020 “Blueprint for Balance” adopts spending controls and entitlement reforms to balance the budget in 10 years and make the 2017 tax cuts permanent.

Following this roadmap would prevent European-style tax burdens on Americans in the years to come, securing opportunity and prosperity for this generation and the next.

The post Europeans Work 2 Months Longer Than Americans Do to Pay Their Tax Bill appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

After Legally Receiving Food Stamps, This Millionaire Is Trying to Change the System

Mon, 2019-06-24 16:24

Rob Undersander, a retired engineer in Waite Park, Minnesota, wasn’t eager to go public about being a millionaire, but he wanted to expose a loophole that would allow wealthy—or at least those not needy—to qualify for food stamps.

So, in June 2016, he filled out an application form at the Stearns County social services office, and said he used an “abundance of honesty and caution” in applying for food stamps.

He recalled even talking to a top county official regarding social services, and told him about his assets upfront.  

“I begged him to find some reason to deny my application for food stamps,” Undersander, 66, told The Daily Signal after a congressional hearing Thursday. “He said there is nothing he can do, because he doesn’t make policy.”

Undersander intentionally set out to expose the systemic flaw in the “broad-based categorical eligibility” policy of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, more commonly referred to as the food stamp program.

The policy allows applicants to bypass an assets test, so someone could qualify for food stamps even if he has property and bank accounts, as long as his income is low enough.

Minnesota is among 34 states that, along with Washington, D.C., use the “broad-based categorical eligibility” loophole to avert the need to check assets, according to the Foundation for Government Accountability, a Naples, Florida-based fiscal watchdog group.

Three weeks after applying, Undersander received the electronic benefits transfer card in the mail that he said he hoped would be denied. It came with a letter informing him he had $278 per month of benefits on it to spend.

He notified a local newspaper, the St. Cloud Times. After the newspaper published a piece, he said, two women from the county’s fraud and abuse investigation unit came to his home, asked a few questions, and left.

Although he’s retired, he doesn’t yet collect Social Security, which would be enough income to make him ineligible.

Over 19 months, Undersander received $6,000 from the government—which he donated to charity.                

Undersander contends that an asset test that ensures only the needy can access food stamps would ensure that needy people will be helped.

The Agriculture Department, which administers the food-stamp program, is considering a regulation that would eliminate the broad-based policy, to ensure the program would measure whether someone is genuinely in need.

At a Thursday hearing of the House Agriculture Committee’s nutrition, oversight, and department operations panel, Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., said that Undersander “intentionally defrauded the federal government.”

Because he was just attending the hearing, and not testifying, he couldn’t respond to majority Democrats on the subcommittee who excoriated him as a fraudster or to minority Republicans who praised him as a whistleblower.

“These were not the first Democrats that wanted to send me to jail,” Undersander said, recalling he testified several times before the Minnesota state Legislature on bills. “The problem is, I was following their rules and the laws that they support.”

Undersander had been a volunteer for the Central Minnesota Council on Aging, where he helped seniors with annual Medicare re-enrollment and with various social services.

All other state and federal programs measure income and assets, he said, but he discovered the food stamp program considers income only.

“I was shocked,” he said. “I don’t like it when taxpayer money is wasted.”

The loophole is “egregious and unnecessary,” said the subcommittee’s ranking member, Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D.

“A man with assets in the millions—who was able to receive more than a nominal SNAP benefit month after month because of Minnesota’s abuses of their administrative flexibility—Mr. Undersander is not alone,” he said.  

“Mr. Undersander didn’t lie on his forms. He exposed the flaws of a failed system,” Johnson said. “It’s not his fault that we in D.C. haven’t done our job. Receiving a welfare check shouldn’t be easier than applying for a job. If millionaires are receiving those benefits—as they have—this committee has work to do.”     

The “broad-based” policy also allows states to make decisions outside the federal guidelines. For example, Johnson noted that Vermont determined that receiving a mailer about public assistance can convey food stamp eligibility.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the “broad-based categorical eligibility” also allows someone to qualify for food stamps based on receiving a heating assistance flyer in the mail.        

However, subcommittee Chairwoman Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, rejected the notion that there is a need for any reforms to the system and instead targeted Undersander.      

“I heard about that ridiculous millionaire stuff,” Fudge said, looking at Undersander. “You willfully and maliciously gamed the SNAP system. You, an alleged millionaire, used mischaracterizations of your finances.

“You took benefits from the very citizens you serve in your volunteer work. You did all this to continue your right-wing crusade against poor people,” the Ohio Democrat said.

During the hearing, Fudge said of Undersander’s donations of his food stamp benefits to charity: “It wasn’t yours to give.”

Undersander countered in an interview after the hearing that he “did a better job of distributing that money than the government did.”

“I didn’t give it to millionaires,” he said.

Fudge also questioned why Republicans chose this particular program to oppose giving states more flexibility.

“Republicans love talking about states’ rights, promoting state flexibility, and handing over to states the administration of federal safety net programs,” Fudge said. “But when it comes to putting that rhetoric into practice for SNAP, they want something very different.”

Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, a Democrat, was among those testifying for the need to maintain the program.

“If the broad-based categorical eligibility were to be eliminated, it would have a profound impact on the health and well-being of children in Wisconsin,” Barnes told the subcommittee. “Roughly 24,000 children in the state would lose access to nutritious food under the proposed rule change. That’s 41% of those who qualify for SNAP under broad-based categorical eligibility.”

Fudge cited a Congressional Budget Office estimate that eliminating the “broad-based” policy would result in 400,000 fewer people eligible for food stamps.

Johnson referenced an Agriculture Department report that estimated most food stamp income-eligible homes have financial resources that exceed the federal limit of $20,000 in assets. One in five had more than $100,000 in assets, while tens of thousands had more than $1 million in assets, the South Dakota Republican said.

A Congressional Research Service report from January said eliminating broad-based categorical eligibility would save roughly $12 billion over the next decade.

With regard to fraud, a separate Congressional Research Service report last year found 11% of food stamp overpayments resulted from fraud. However, it found just 5% of food stamp recipients were overpaid.

However, a Government Accountability Office report from 2012 “found that a greater percentage of SNAP households eligible under broad-based categorical eligibility that had incomes over the federal limits had errors than other households (17.2 percent compared to 6.7 percent) in fiscal year 2010.” It warned that fraud could rise.

Undersander told The Daily Signal he’s glad he didn’t testify because of the criticism he thinks would have been leveled against him. Still, he would have preferred the chance to tell a fuller story.

“I wish I could have told the committee I never told anyone in the county something that wasn’t true,” Undersander said. “I wasn’t trying to become famous.”

The post After Legally Receiving Food Stamps, This Millionaire Is Trying to Change the System appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Hidden Clue on Website Belonging to Ilhan Omar’s Sister Adds to Evidence About Marriage History

Mon, 2019-06-24 13:32

Rep. Ilhan Omar swore under oath in a 2017 divorce filing that she hadn’t seen her husband Ahmed N. Elmi in six years and didn’t know anyone who might be able to locate him—yet he appears to have designed a website for Omar’s sister this year, according to data hidden in the source code of that website.

The Democratic Minnesota congresswoman swore that she had not been able to locate the man she married—who the Minneapolis Star Tribune says may or may not be her brother—since 2011.

She swore she didn’t know the names of anyone in her husband’s family and that the two had no mutual acquaintances who might know how to contact him.

According to Elmi’s Facebook profile, after attending college in North Dakota, he moved to England and then to Nairobi, Kenya—the same city where Omar’s sister, Sahra Noor, lives and works as CEO of Grit Partners.

Grit Partners’ website code contains data that indicates Elmi was involved in the creation of either the company’s website or its Instagram account.

The ties between Omar’s supposedly long-lost ex-husband and Omar’s sister appear to contradict Omar’s sworn testimony and add to the body of evidence that the ex-husband may be her brother, making all three siblings.

Other elements of her sworn filing also contain discrepancies.

In arguing that she should be granted a divorce without her husband’s consent because he could not be located, she claimed that she did not know the name of a single member of her husband’s immediate family.

She also claimed that her attempts to find him included unsuccessfully searching on social media—but he has been on Twitter since 2012 and Facebook since 2007 and is also on LinkedIn and other platforms.

Lying on a sworn form is perjury and each charge carries five years in prison, according to Minnesota law. Questions have been raised about the accuracy of approximately six statements on the sworn form.

Hidden Code

Grit Partners’ website contains code generated by its web design software Squarespace that includes certain data that is not visible on the page itself.

In a section of code powering the site’s links to its Twitter and Instagram pages, Elmi’s name is included, tying him to the Instagram account. It says “screenname: Ahmed Elmi” and “UserName: ahmednelmi.”

Elmi’s LinkedIn says he works as a freelance creator of “content, communications strategies and editorial for nonprofits, start-ups and global brands.”

The hidden code was discovered by David Steinberg, a veteran journalist most recently with PJ Media, who has published significant information about Elmi over the last years.

He has previously published screenshots that appear to show the person with the “ahmednelmi” Instagram was photographed with Omar during the period that Omar swore she had no contact with him, had the same birthdate as Omar’s husband, and held Omar’s baby soon after it was born, calling her his “niece.”

Democratic activist Barb Lickness confirmed to the Star Tribune that the man in one of those screenshots—billed as being from Omar’s Instagram and depicting the now-congresswoman with Elmi in London in 2015—was the same Ahmed Elmi who was a neighbor of hers in Minneapolis but who never mentioned being married.

The media has been hesitant to accept the screenshots as proof that Elmi is Omar’s brother because the Instagram accounts were deleted, so the papers could not independently corroborate the screenshots’ authenticity.

However, the Grit Partners code is still online and has been corroborated by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The Daily Caller News Foundation also archived it on the Internet Archive and another archiving service so that date-stamped copies are preserved even if the website is changed. It can be verified by right-clicking, selecting “view source” and searching for Elmi’s name.

Domain registration records show the Grit Partners website was registered on Jan. 10, 2019, and the code that mentions Elmi’s name says the Instagram account was linked to the site on Jan. 17.

A Missing Husband

Omar requested a “default” divorce from Elmi in 2017, an unusual proceeding used where one spouse has disappeared and cannot be located.

Since the process deprives one party of contesting the divorce, it required Omar to swear under oath that she had no clues whatsoever about how to contact him through other people.

On the form above, she swears her “most recent contact” with Elmi was in June 2011 in London and the “last known location of respondent’s employment” was unknown.

She swears the “names and locations of respondent’s parents, siblings, children and other close relatives are as follows: Unknown.”

She swears the “names and locations of other persons who are likely to know the respondent’s whereabouts are: Unknown to me.”

It continues: “I believe that it is not likely that respondent’s location will become known to me, but there is a reasonable possibility that mail will be forwarded or otherwise reach respondent if addressed as follows: No known address.”

The document says, “I have made the following efforts to locate the respondent: Looked for on Social media.” It concludes: “I declare under penalty of perjury that everything I have stated in this document is true and correct.” It is signed and dated Aug. 2, 2017.

The Most Recent in a Line of Unanswered Questions About Her Marriage

Omar visited Nairobi in December 2016, days after winning election to the Minnesota state Legislature and not long before the divorce papers were sworn, PJ Media reported.

From Nairobi, she flew to Somalia. Omar praised the newly formed Somalian government in a speech in March 2017. Two days later, Noor’s husband, Mohamed Keynan, got a top political job working for Somalia’s prime minister, PJ Media reported.

This month, the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board fined Omar in an investigation that revealed she filed joint tax returns with another man during her marriage to Elmi. That man also fathered children with Omar both before and after the marriage to Elmi.

Omar “was living with her current husband, Ahmed Abdisalan Hirsi, throughout her entire legal marriage to Ahmed Nur Said Elmi, contradicting the story she tells to explain her multiple marriages,” the Washington Examiner reported Sunday based on an extensive review of local records such as speeding tickets that display addresses.

The Star Tribune wrote Saturday that “New investigative documents released by a state agency”—detailing Omar’s frantic formation of a “crisis committee” to try to keep the press from examining the nature of her relationship to Elmi—“have given fresh life to lingering questions about the marital history of Rep. Ilhan Omar and whether she once married a man—possibly her own brother—to skirt immigration laws.”

“Omar’s sister Sahra Noor was a high-profile executive of the Twin Cities health care nonprofit People’s Center Clinics & Services until 2018. She declined interview requests in 2016. She currently runs her own health care consultancy in Kenya. An e-mail to her was not returned and efforts to call her there were unsuccessful,” the Star Tribune reported.

Noor did not return a request for comment from The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Omar’s spokesman, Jeremy Slevin, also did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Caller News Foundation.

To the Star Tribune, he responded with an ad hominem saying the questions from the district’s largest media outlet were illegitimate because conservative-leaning media had also asked them and that attempts to get to the bottom of the story by asking members of Omar’s family amounted to harassment.

“Whether by colluding with right-wing outlets to go after Muslim elected officials or hounding family members, legitimate media outlets have a responsibility not to fan the flames of hate,” he said.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities for this original content, email licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

The post Hidden Clue on Website Belonging to Ilhan Omar’s Sister Adds to Evidence About Marriage History appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

A Sign of Hope From the 9th Circuit

Mon, 2019-06-24 12:51

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals used to be the closest thing Democrats had to a sure thing.

Chock-full of activists, the West Coast bench has been so wildly out of step with the law that it used to hold the distinction as the “most reversed” appeals court in the country.

Now, after three years of record-shattering judicial confirmations, President Donald Trump is on the verge of balancing the “Nutty Ninth”—and most Americans couldn’t be happier.

It’s a feat no GOP president has managed: taking the “liberal” out of “liberal 9th Circuit.”

Thanks to the White House’s laser-like focus on courts, the possibility grows stronger every day.

With the help of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Trump has all but leveled the field—placing six judges on the bench and bringing the number of Republican appointees to 11.

If Daniel Aaron Bress is confirmed (after his hearing last month), the Senate will have brought that total to an “even dozen” of the court’s 29.

In some cases, the shift is already being felt. On Thursday, three judges from the 9th Circuit handed the president a significant victory, voting 3-0 to let his “family planning” rule take effect while the legal challenges play out.

“Absent a stay,” the trio wrote, “HHS will be forced to allow taxpayer dollars to be spent in a manner that it has concluded violates the law, as well as the government’s important policy interest in ensuring that taxpayer dollars do not go to fund or subsidize abortions.”

Under the administration’s policy, family planning programs wouldn’t just be financially separated from abortion—but physically separated, too.

After years of sending Title X dollars to the same location as some abortion centers, Trump announced an important change. Restoring the policy of Ronald Reagan, he decided that groups like Planned Parenthood could only keep their family planning money if they moved their abortion activities offsite.

It was a significant move—one that could cost Leana Wen’s group as much as $60 million, the single largest drop in Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funding in almost 50 years.

The abortion industry sued. As far as it’s concerned, abortion is family planning—and it refuses to stand by and allow the White House to sever any strand of its taxpayer-funded ties.

At least for now, the 9th Circuit is giving the administration the benefit of the doubt, letting HHS draw a bright line between abortion and family planning programs—just as courts have upheld.

That’s just one reason Justice Department spokesperson Kelly Laco is “confident we will ultimately prevail.”

The [DOJ’s] position is supported by long-standing Supreme Court precedent … We are pleased that the 9th Circuit has cleared the way for this important executive branch action to take effect while our appeals are pending.

And even more pleased, no doubt, that the president’s policies are starting to get a fair shake in the court where lawlessness almost always prevailed.

Originally published in Tony Perkins’ Washington Update, which is written with the aid of Family Research Council senior writers.

The post A Sign of Hope From the 9th Circuit appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

The Border Crisis Is Getting Worse. Why Are Democrats AWOL?

Mon, 2019-06-24 12:19

America is facing an unprecedented surge in illegal immigration, but it seems House Democrats would rather block every proposed solution than act to fix the border. It’s time for them to do their jobs.

Our southern border is facing a massive wave of immigration, mostly comprised of migrants from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras seeking asylum in the United States. Yet Washington has refused for months to act in a sufficient way to help our law enforcement or provide reforms to the asylum process.

Contrary to Democratic claims of a “manufactured crisis,” the current wave of migration is unprecedented. Our law enforcement agents at the border made 132,887 border apprehensions in May 2019—330% higher than the same month in 2018, and 915% higher than in 2017.

We are on track for 1 million border apprehensions this year. That would be the largest year-over-year increase of illegal immigration in our nation’s history.

The alarm is sounding across the country. A Customs and Border Protection official recently stated: “When we have 4,000 people in custody, we consider that high. When we have 6,000, we consider it a crisis. Right now, we have 19,000 people in custody. It’s just off the charts.”

Former Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson admitted we were in a crisis nearly three months ago. Even the liberal New York Times editorial board called for an emergency border funding package.

So why haven’t Democratic leaders acknowledged the emergency, even when four-fifths of Americans say the border is a crisis or serious problem?

It seems lawmakers on the left don’t feel an urgent need to help our hard-working law enforcement, keep our border secure, or provide humanitarian aid for immigrants caught in the morass at our border.

Early reports now indicate that a congressional deal for the White House’s $4.5 billion humanitarian request could be found within the week.

Fulfilling the president’s humanitarian request is important, as these funds would be used to tackle the urgent needs at detention centers, ensuring that enforcement dollars can go to the Department of Homeland Security’s enforcement efforts and Department of Health and Human Services funds can go to the humanitarian aspect of the crisis.

Unfortunately, Democratic leadership has introduced poison pill provisions in the House version which would restrict the ability of law enforcement to remove illegal aliens and would not include funds for detention beds.

While passing the president’s requested humanitarian supplemental and providing much-needed funds for Health and Human Services is an important first step, continually passing piecemeal supplementals is only a band-aid fix. There will still be more work to get done.

The first step should be giving our law enforcement and judicial systems the funding and tools they need to do their job, process asylum-seekers and migrants, and secure the border. More than 1 million individuals in the country have been ordered by our courts to leave, but our immigration agencies don’t have the funding or manpower to enforce the law. That can’t go on.

Second, Congress must reform our asylum process, the root of this wave of mass migration.

Most asylum-seekers do not qualify for asylum in immigration courts, yet under current procedures every seeker must be allowed into the country. Once they arrive, two-fifths never show up for their court hearings. And when it comes to actual removal hearings, even less show. According to the Department of Homeland Security, 90% of asylum-seekers skipped out on such hearings in a recently instituted program.

A major driver of mass family migration is the knowledge that if you come with a child or claim asylum, you can likely stay as long as you’d like.

By necessity, Homeland Security makes it a priority to remove family units that have exhausted all legal remedies and have been ordered removed—in other words, people with no legal right to be in this country.

Instead of allowing migrants to abuse the system, Congress should instead close the loopholes and focus on helping legitimate refugees. That means ensuring more asylum-seekers stay in Mexico to await hearings instead of coming to overpacked, underfunded U.S. detention centers.

Finally, Congress has to fund border security. Those on the left may not like it, but we have to control our border and enforce our laws. Our current crisis has made that abundantly clear.

The strain on our detention facilities is largely caused by the record number of illegal border crossings. No amount of diplomacy will stop that—only a secure border and well-funded law enforcement can. While politicians bicker over a thousand miles away from the border, our law enforcement agents are crying for help.

A border emergency is no time for Congress to sit on its hands and play partisan games with our national security. It’s time for Democrats to join the table with Republicans to fix this crisis.

The post The Border Crisis Is Getting Worse. Why Are Democrats AWOL? appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Antitrust Lawsuit Against Qualcomm Is Unjust Government Overreach

Mon, 2019-06-24 11:45

Every so often, a case comes along that screams government misuse of power. The Federal Trade Commission’s antitrust lawsuit against Qualcomm Inc. is just such a case, and thus warrants scrutiny.

The commission’s action was questionable from the start, based entirely on conjecture and allegations raised by antagonistic competitors—China’s Huawei included. Even the Department of Justice expressed misgivings about the prosecution.

The May 21 ruling against the company by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh compounded the injustice. In the absence of evidence that Qualcomm’s business practices harmed competition, the judge ignored real-world data to the contrary and ruled instead that Qualcomm’s actions might cause harm. Moreover, she cited Qualcomm’s success as de facto proof of monopolistic misbehavior.

A good many antitrust experts have expressed alarm. Commissioner Christine Wilson, for example, published a commentary in the Wall Street Journal calling the opinion “bad law and bad policy.” Legal scholar Richard Epstein, in a Hoover Institution journal, characterized Koh’s take as “spectacularly misguided.”

Alas, judicial overreach and regulatory heavy-handedness are prevalent these days, reflecting the imperiousness of the administrative state and, in this instance, the revival of Progressive-era antitrust dogma.

Despite a fiercely competitive wireless market and robust indicators of consumer welfare, two Obama-appointed commissioners and a federal district judge effectively decided that they are better equipped to manage wireless network licensing and chipset prices than those who actually produce and purchase the technology.

Some background: Qualcomm develops and manufactures mobile technologies, including modems for cellular phones and the Snapdragon processors to run them. The company supplied chipsets and other wireless network elements for hundreds of millions of Apple iPhones from 2011 to 2017, among others. The companies’ association generated sizable profits for both, as well as protracted litigation.

The Federal Trade Commission filed its antitrust complaint against Qualcomm on Jan. 17, 2017—a mere three days before the end of the Obama administration. Only three of five commissioners were active at the time, and the vote to proceed with the case was split 2 to 1. The single “no” vote was cast by then-Commissioner Maureen K. Ohlhausen, who denounced the lawsuit as “an enforcement action based on a flawed legal theory that lacks economic and evidentiary support.”

Some observers contend that the commission was “encouraged” to act by executives of Apple Inc., which likewise filed a lawsuit against Qualcomm on virtually the same grounds three days after the commission’s filing. Indeed, the testimony of Apple executives was a central component of the commission’s case.

It is widely known that the commission and company signed a “common interest agreement,” which allowed them to secretly share information and coordinate their legal strategies. But it is largely unknown that internal Apple documents describe how, in an effort to “[r]educe Apple’s net royalty to Qualcomm,” Apple planned long before filing suit to “[h]urt Qualcomm financially” and “[p]ut Qualcomm’s licensing model at risk,” by filing lawsuits with claims similar to those of the  Federal Trade Commission. Whether the commission was an unwitting player in Apple’s plans is unknown.

Ohlhausen’s objections to the commission’s filing were entirely validated during the 11-day bench trial, which concluded on Jan. 29, 2019. The commission’s lawyers and witnesses proffered plenty of unsubstantiated theories about Qualcomm’s (purported) abuse of monopoly power and subsequent “strangling” of competition and innovation—but no empirical research to prove that Qualcomm’s business practices produced artificially high prices or restricted supply.

In fact, Qualcomm’s licensing framework has been an industry standard for decades, and the commission’s theories are contradicted by real-world data.

The commission targeted what they called Qualcomm’s “no license-no chip policy,” claiming that the company threatened to withhold chips from handset manufacturers to extract unduly high payments for the bundle of patents necessary to operate the phones and to access the cellular network. Qualcomm’s (purported) chip monopoly was said to have increased its negotiating leverage, thereby forcing phone manufacturers to accede to the inflated royalties.

The rates were also imposed on handset manufacturers who sourced chips from other companies because Qualcomm’s bundle of patents is essential to the functioning of the wireless network. According to the commission attorneys, the royalty rates demanded by Qualcomm constituted a “tax” on competing chip manufacturers by eroding their price advantage, if any.

The commission also claimed that Qualcomm’s royalty framework forced competitors to cut costs—including research and development investment—which supposedly reduced industry innovation and increased the retail cost of wireless phones.

In reality, chip demand expanded in the market defined (artificially) by the commission, and the average price of smartphones declined by more than 30% between 2010 and 2017. Qualcomm’s market share also declined (in the defined market), while companies such as MediaTek, Samsung, Huawei and others all gained share.

Perhaps most telling, Qualcomm did not increase royalty rates as its market share expanded, nor did it halt chip shipments for negotiating leverage—both of which contravene the commission’s theory.

The burden of proof in this type of antitrust case is supposed to be evidence of actual harm, according to Senior Circuit Judge Douglas Ginsburg of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and Professor of Law Joshua D. Wright of George Mason University School of Law (himself a former commissioner).

“[W]hile the risk of anticompetitive foreclosure is real,” they wrote, “courts have sensibly responded by requiring plaintiffs to substantiate their claims with more than just theory or scant evidence that rivals have been harmed.”

The commission built its case around the theoretical assertions of Carl Shapiro, who also was the commission’s expert in its challenge to the merger of AT&T and Time Warner. In that case, however, U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon shredded Shapiro’s pronouncements as “assumptions that are implausible and inconsistent with record evidence,” and “not sufficiently grounded in the evidence—a fact that undermine[s] my confidence in the reliability and factual credibility of his projections.”

The Federal Trade Commission lawsuit and subsequent ruling are also problematic for the commission and Koh in light of the recent settlement of all litigation between Apple and Qualcomm.

Opening arguments in Apple U.S. lawsuit had just commenced on April 16 when the settlement was announced. In addition to the dismissal of litigation worldwide, the deal includes a six-year patent licensing agreement, a multiyear chip supplier agreement, and an end to all patent disputes between the two companies. Apple will make a $4.5 billion settlement payment to Qualcomm, as well.

Simply put, what is the point of continuing litigation if the principle parties have already settled the disputes?

Alas, the judge also ignored a formal request from the Department of Justice for a hearing “on issues related to a remedy,” further noting that “in fashioning a remedy, the court should take careful consideration of all relevant issues and effects of such a remedy. That includes the principle that, although a proper remedy must restore any competition lost due to actions found to have violated the antitrust laws, a remedy should work as little injury as possible to other public policies.

By most accounts, the Justice Department is referring to the effect on deployment of the 5G network. The term “5G” refers to the fifth generation of cellular wireless technology that will move data exponentially faster and in greater volume. It will also dramatically reduce “latency” (the time it takes for a data message to reach its target and initiate a response).

Qualcomm is a global leader in 5G technologies, and the only major American company producing the necessary network elements. It is also the principle competitor to Huawei, also a global provider of technology networks—with annual sales exceeding $86 billion. A report released last month by the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence concluded that Huawei technology is conjoined with Beijing’s intelligence operations.

There is, understandably, a great deal of concern that severe sanctions would handicap Qualcomm. As noted by the Justice Department:

Indeed, there is a plausible prospect that an overly broad remedy in this case could reduce competition and innovation in markets for 5G technology and downstream applications that rely on that technology. Such an outcome could exceed the appropriate scope of an equitable antitrust remedy. Moreover, it has the distinct potential to harm rather than help competition.

Alas, the Justice Department’s request was summarily dismissed by both the commission and the judge, who has ordered Qualcomm to renegotiate its contracts with customers and competitors worldwide—and for products and markets in which Qualcomm is not a dominant player or which did not exist in the timeframe addressed in the commission’s complaint.

Qualcomm has filed for a stay of Koh’s order and will seek an expedited appeal, company officials have said, noting that the order “threatens to upend the entire wireless communications industry … and undermine incentives to contribute the foundational technology underlying cellular standards and systems.”

A stay of Koh’s order is the least of what is needed to erase the judicial overreach and regulatory heavy-handedness represented by this case. But there is potential for years of additional litigation unless the Federal Trade Commission refrains from appealing an appeals court ruling in Qualcomm’s favor.

It is difficult to imagine that even the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals would allow Koh’s ruling to stand. But these are the days of the administrative state and the revival of Progressive-era antitrust dogma.

The post Antitrust Lawsuit Against Qualcomm Is Unjust Government Overreach appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

True the Vote Took on the IRS and Won. Its Founder Explains Why It Matters.

Mon, 2019-06-24 03:01

On today’s episode of The Daily Signal Podcast, we feature an interview with Catherine Engelbrecht, founder of True the Vote. She explains how her organization took on the IRS and won an important victory in court.

“There is power in speaking out,” says Engelbrecht. “There’s power in telling the truth boldly … even if it means that you have to say some uncomfortable things to agencies, institutes, or individuals that wield extreme power. And that was the case with the IRS.”

Plus, American colleges and universities were at one time highly regarded and trusted institutions. Today, they are more often in the news for suppressing free speech and driving up student loan debt. We bring you a commentary from Lindsey Burke, director of The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Education Policy.

We also share letters to the editor from our readers about Daily Signal reporter Fred Lucas’ recent article, “19 Arrests Later, a Texas Town Is Torn Apart Over Voter Fraud.” Your letter could be featured on our show; write us at letters@dailysignal.com or call 202-608-6205.

And finally, a good news story about one man who is making a big impact in his community and across the country in a very simple way.

The Daily Signal Podcast is available on the Ricochet Audio Network. You also can listen on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, or your favorite podcast app. All of our podcasts can be found at DailySignal.com/podcasts.

Help us spread the word about The Daily Signal Podcast. Please give us a 5-star review and share this episode with your family and friends. That will help us make sure we are continuing to grow and reach more listeners.

Enjoy the show!

The post True the Vote Took on the IRS and Won. Its Founder Explains Why It Matters. appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

College Costs Are Out of Control. Here’s What Can Be Done.

Mon, 2019-06-24 01:05

American colleges and universities are failing in one of their most basic missions: to equip students with the tools they need for a career.

Many students graduate ill-prepared to earn a living and pay off the debt they’ve accumulated getting their degrees—40% of those who start college don’t finish within six years.

Additionally, students are often subject to indoctrination into socialist ideology. They face hostility toward opinions that don’t conform to the predominantly leftist thinking on campus.

They’re also immersed in identity politics that pit students of different backgrounds against one another.

Despite these problems, colleges continue to raise tuition. Because federal loan money is handed out with little scrutiny as to the student’s ability to pay it back, colleges have had free reign to raise prices at levels often double the inflation rate.

Flush with all that money, their first spending priority often isn’t the classroom but the bureaucracy.

From 1987 to 2012, America’s higher education system added more than half a million administrators, doubling the number of administrators relative to the number of faculty.

To pay for these ever-increasing costs, students are borrowing more money and taking on more and more debt.

And with federal loans accounting for much of the $1.5 trillion in outstanding student loan debt and more than a million people defaulting on their loans, taxpayers are picking up much of the tab for this broken system.

So, what’s the solution?

While politicians often suggest throwing more money at the problem, that will only make things worse.

In fact, the surest way to stop the sharp rise in both college tuition and student debt is to get the federal government out of the student loan business.

That cuts off the open spigot of money that has allowed colleges to increase costs virtually without limit.

Restoring private lending will make the loan market more responsible and cause colleges to rein in costs, creating more affordable choices for students.

Private lending will also limit taxpayers’ exposure to billions of dollars in loan defaults.

One emerging private lending solution is coming from colleges themselves in the form of income share agreements.

Such agreements allow students to obtain financing from their schools and pay it back based on a percentage of their income after graduation.

That means their monthly loan payments are lower when their income is lower, ensuring that loan payoffs are more affordable, or that they can pay them off quicker when their income is higher.

This system allows students to see—before they take on debt or choose a major—what types of careers will allow them to pay off their loans quicker and what kind of future they are investing in.

This kind of cost savings and transparency is a win for students, for taxpayers, and for fiscal sanity.

The post College Costs Are Out of Control. Here’s What Can Be Done. appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

3 Years After Brexit Vote, Dire Warnings for UK Economy Have Proved Wrong

Fri, 2019-06-21 17:30

Pollsters had heart palpitations in June 2016 as the people of Great Britain voted to leave the European Union.

A dismayed media spouted speculative hysteria about the British economy that spread faster than a fire at a match factory. Three years after the June 23, 2016, referendum, however, the establishment in Westminster remains incapable of admitting it was wrong.

The reality is that the uncertainty surrounding Brexit has had little obvious effect on the British economy.

Despite doomsday predictions, the British economy since the Brexit vote has not lived down to Brexit opponents’ expectations and has managed to outperform and outrank the other large economies of the European Union.

According to The Heritage Foundation’s 2019 Index of Economic Freedom, the United Kingdom has the world’s seventh-freest economy and scored more than 10 points higher than the regional average.

Three economies that have been integral to the European Common Market since its inception, Germany, France, and Italy, by contrast, ranked 24th, 71th, and 80th, respectively.

The United Kingdom’s economy grew at an annualized rate of 1.4% in the first quarter of 2019. At first blush, that number isn’t particularly impressive, but it quickly becomes commendable when compared with economic performances across the English Channel and parroted economic forecasts.

France grew 0.9% and Germany grew 0.6% in the first quarter, while Italy registered no growth at all. The entire eurozone grew at only 1.1%. Despite predictions of gross domestic product losses of up to or greater than 5%, the British economy has grown every quarter since the referendum.

Unemployment is below 4%, the lowest it’s been since the early 1970s, according to the Office for National Statistics. The unemployment rate in Britain is half the eurozone rate (7.8%), and less than half of Italy’s and France’s at 10.2% and 8.8% unemployment, respectively.

Some 800,000 new jobs have been added since the referendum despite the U.K. Treasury’s predictions of job losses of up to 500,000 after the people voted “leave.”

The U.K. took the top spot in a recent survey performed by EY, a global consulting firm, of investment trends, edging out the United States due to a 6% increase in foreign direct investment in 2017. Britain boasts an 18% market share in foreign direct investment to Europe.

According to the survey, foreign direct investment has created more than 50,000 jobs in the U.K.—19,000 more than Germany and more than double that of France.

Britain deserves to (and should) become a more dynamic and global hub because trade and investment aren’t solely about market openness—although that remains crucial. It’s also about the rule of law, regulatory efficiency, and government size, areas where Britain performs much better than its regional competitors.

Absent its European Union regulatory shackles, the U.K. will unquestionably be an attractive trading partner for many countries around the world.

A successful, timely Brexit would not only ensure a truly sovereign and global Britain, but would also provide a tremendous incentive for a U.S.-U.K. free trade agreement, which would advance economic freedom on both sides of the Atlantic.

It also would further enhance the special relationship between two of the world’s largest and freest economies.

As Kim Holmes, executive vice president of The Heritage Foundation, penned in a recent commentary:

In the nineteenth century, free trade was liberal Britain’s great cause. Today, it should command the support of liberals and conservatives alike in both countries.

A British-American free-trade agreement offers the finest opportunity for reinvigorating the global free-trade agenda.

It is an opportunity we must seize.

The time to act is now.

The post 3 Years After Brexit Vote, Dire Warnings for UK Economy Have Proved Wrong appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

What the UK’s Orwellian Gender Policy Gets Wrong About Men and Women

Fri, 2019-06-21 16:45

The British government has adopted a concerning new policy regulating speech. The New York Times reports a new policy banning the use of “harmful” gender stereotypes in advertising—yes, private ads.

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority announced last week that it will “ban ads that connect physical features with success in the romantic or social spheres; assign stereotypical personality traits to boys and girls, such as bravery for boys and tenderness for girls; suggest that new mothers should prioritize their looks or home cleanliness over their emotional health; and mock men for being bad at stereotypically ‘feminine’ tasks, such as vacuuming, washing clothes, or parenting.”

The new policy was developed after a report from the agency supposedly found that ads containing such stereotypes “can lead to unequal gender outcomes in public and private aspects of people’s lives.”

I’m not even sure how this could be quantified, but that’s the springboard for these gender-neutral regulations.

There are several issues to point out here.

First, this is a dangerous incursion on free speech. Admittedly, the UK has always lacked the same affinity for free speech that America has, so it’s not completely surprising the public would tolerate this regulation.

But second, there is a more important cultural issue at stake here, one that is also starting to circulate in the United States. While we can all dismiss certain stereotypes as crass and unwarranted—for instance, that women are worse than men at driving—this policy drives at something deeper and more radical.

In banning a wide range of gender stereotypes, the British government presumes that boys and girls are essentially the same and that any notion of “male” and “female” career tendencies is inherently oppressive.

In the name of equality, the state is enforcing a policy of “sameness.” It has essentially banned private companies from operating on the rational belief that men and women really are different, and that those differences factor into how men and women buy products.

In the name of equality, the state is enforcing a policy of “sameness.”

The Advertising Standards Authority has passed similar policies before. A few years ago, they hit Gucci hard for making ads with a model who looked “unhealthily thin,” to name just one example.

I can partially appreciate where this comes from. As a woman who has seen advertisements of airbrushed women selling makeup or clothing, I know these ads can be misleading and even frustrating. Often these ads perpetuate false stereotypes that can be harmful to a woman’s self-esteem.

And yet, I don’t think a regulation against such stereotypes is the way to go. If people don’t like the ad, they should boycott the company.

But there is a difference between unhealthy stereotypes and ordinary stereotypes that might actually reflect reality. The U.K.’s new regulations ban the latter.

There is nothing wrong with stereotypes that generally reflect reality: Women tend to be drawn to careers with more nurturing aspects; men are often drawn to careers that utilize bravado—like construction or the military, or perhaps the STEM fields.

This doesn’t mean men can’t stay home with the kids or that a woman can’t be an engineer. That’s not the point. The point is that, in general, there is a career divide that is largely driven by innate biology, not simply society’s expectations for men and women.

There is nothing wrong with stereotypes that generally reflect reality

We know this because in countries that have tried to engineer gender “equality,” like Sweden, there is still a gender divide. In fact, Scandinavian countries now have lower levels of women entering STEM fields than other countries considered less egalitarian, like Albania and Algeria.

Many of the careers that men and women pursue—and the accompanying stereotypes—exist, and continue to exist, because men and women are naturally drawn to them.

For starters, it’s scientifically proven that men and women’s brains are different, and these differences contribute to how both function in different vocational fields.

Consider this piece in Stanford Medicine, which explores the difference:

Women excel in several measures of verbal ability—pretty much all of them, except for verbal analogies. Women’s reading comprehension and writing ability consistently exceed that of men, on average. They out­perform men in tests of fine-motor coordination and perceptual speed. They’re more adept at retrieving information from long-term memory.

Men, on average, can more easily juggle items in working memory. They have superior visuospatial skills: They’re better at visualizing what happens when a complicated two- or three-dimensional shape is rotated in space, at correctly determining angles from the horizontal, at tracking moving objects, and at aiming projectiles.

These are scientific facts. Men and women are different. To neutralize all advertisements that suggest as much—or worse, to flip reality on its head—might actually produce a feeling of shame among boys and girls, and men and women, for wanting to pursue the career that comes naturally to them.

The notion that men and women are wired the same, want the same things, and can do the same things at work or at home, is one of the most dangerous myths animating the social-justice left today. Not only are these things false, but male and female differences complement one another, helping men and women to accomplish equally important, yet often different tasks.

It’s a shame to see the British government bow the knee to political correctness and go into regulatory overdrive, banning stereotypical ads from the public. This perpetuates the myth that men and women are biologically the same, and refuses to acknowledge that their propensity toward various vocations might just be due to those innate, and incredible differences. 

The post What the UK’s Orwellian Gender Policy Gets Wrong About Men and Women appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Cartoon: The Iran Problem

Fri, 2019-06-21 16:42

The post Cartoon: The Iran Problem appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Abortion Survivors Deserve a Voice

Fri, 2019-06-21 16:26

We can all recognize that neglecting an older child is abhorrent and illegal, regardless of whether or not the parents “want” the child. Why should a live newborn be any different?

No human being should be deprived of lifesaving medical care because he or she is unwanted by the people in the room.

In 2002, Congress passed the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002, whichclarified that all babies who are born alive, including those that survive an abortion attempt, are considered human beings under the law.

Unfortunately, this law lacks any federal enforcement mechanism and has failed to prevent abortionists from either actively killing babies who survive an abortion attempt or leaving them to die.

This was made gruesomely evident in the story of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, who severed the spinal cords of babies who survived his abortions during his 30-year career, and was finally convicted of murder by the state of Pennsylvania in 2013.

One of us, Dr. Kathi Aultman, is a retired OB-GYN and former medical director for Planned Parenthood of Jacksonville. For years I performed abortions before becoming pro-life. While I was actively practicing as an OB-GYN, a woman came to me suffering from prolonged bleeding from a late-term abortion.

What she told me was shocking. She described being given medication and then being left in a cold room overnight with no blanket or call button. The next day, she was given more medication, and eventually told to sit on the toilet and push. She delivered a living 20-week-old baby boy into the toilet, where he drowned.

The experience traumatized her, and she described having emotional problems following the abortion. I knew from experience that this was not an isolated case.

At the time, only six states required abortion clinics to report babies born alive after an abortion attempt to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Florida was not one of them. This meant that cases of infant death after abortion were not included in the agency’s widely quoted 2015 “Abortion Surveillance” report.

Of the six states that did report these numbers between 2003 and 2014, 143 babies were recorded as having died after being born alive after an abortion attempt.

This issue is also personal for me. I know what it’s like to love a family member who has survived abortion. I have a wonderful cousin who was born alive after an attempted abortion. Her Bangladeshi mother was raped by a Pakistani soldier during the Bangladesh Liberation War.

While the Bangladeshi government provided free abortions for women who became pregnant, Mother Teresa’s nuns would visit the clinics and rescue babies who survived.

My aunt and uncle, who now run multiple homes in India for destitute children, went to Bangladesh after the war, knowing that there would be unwanted babies of mixed race. It was there that they fell in love with that tiny abortion survivor and adopted her.

We need to recognize as a country that there are babies, each year, who survive an abortion attempt and are killed afterward. There are babies who survive abortion and are then denied health care. The Born Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002has not been enough to protect them.

To address the insufficiencies in that law, Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., and Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Mo., recently introduced companion bills to require that any child born alive after an abortion be given the same degree of medical care provided for any other child born alive at the same gestational age, and that the child be transferred to a hospital.

Unfortunately, the bill failed to meet the 60-vote threshold needed for passage in the Senate. In the House, Democratic leadership led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not allowed the bill to be voted on.

That led Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., to file a discharge petition to force a vote on this critical legislation, and over 60 Republican members have pushed for a vote on the House floor, yet to no avail.

The discharge petition needs 218 signatures to force a vote. So far, it has 201.

Let us hope and pray for this petition to succeed. The children who have been born, and then killed, deserve to have a voice.

The post Abortion Survivors Deserve a Voice appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy