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Back in Power, Pelosi Is Putting Abortion First Once Again

Thu, 2019-01-17 13:53

Every year, the anniversary of Roe v. Wade allows all of us to reflect on the battles fought in defense of the unborn, and to look ahead to what comes next. And with Nancy Pelosi back in the driver’s seat in the House of Representatives, we are sure to see bitter fights ahead.

One revealing moment for the pro-life community came when then-President Barack Obama and the once-and-current House speaker, Pelosi, negotiated a deal with fellow Democrats to pass Obamacare in 2009 and 2010.

At that time, perhaps no one proved a more difficult obstacle within the Democratic Party than Michigan’s Rep. Bart Stupak. What made Stupak so formidable was his firm commitment to the right to life for the unborn.

The events that transpired to ultimately win Stupak’s vote, along with a handful of other pro-life Democrats, was telling about the Democratic Party’s fervent commitment to abortion—and a good reminder for pro-life Americans today.

From the beginning of Democrats’ push for Obamacare, Stupak expressed support and a desire to help. There was just one problem: Stupak opposed taxpayer funding for abortion, and Obamacare used taxpayer dollars to pay for abortion through an abortion surcharge and through required coverage in most plans, which Americans would be required to purchase.

Stupak worked with Republican Congressman Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania to craft the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, which would have ensured that the unborn were protected in Obamacare.

For his efforts, he was publicly lambasted by abortion activists. Liberal filmmaker Michael Moore even said he was personally trying to recruit a primary challenger to bring him down.

So much for the party of choice.

By the spring of 2010, with an Obamacare bill passed in the Senate, Stupak was facing fever-pitch pressure to cave. Ultimately, as his coalition of pro-life Democrats dwindled, he gave in after eliciting a promise from Obama that he would protect life through an executive order, which proved to be ineffective.

This history makes vividly clear something that the pro-life community has long acknowledged about the pro-choice movement: They don’t actually support choice, they just support abortion. And after passing Obamacare, Democrats solidified their standing as the party of abortion. They became so beholden to the abortion agenda that they fought Catholic nuns all the way to the Supreme Court in an effort to force them to cover abortion-causing drugs in their health insurance plans.

These are not the actions of a party interested in “choice,” but one interested in sending taxpayer dollars to fund abortion, plain and simple.

That’s why congressional efforts to end grant funding to abortion providers like Planned Parenthood are such a big issue to them. And it’s why one of the first things they did upon regaining control of the House was to slip a little-noticed provision into their efforts to reopen the government: a repeal of the Mexico City Policy.

The Mexico City Policy was begun during the Reagan years. It blocks U.S. aid money from being used to fund abortions overseas. Consistently, polls have shown that a significant majority of Americans—around 60 percent—oppose using taxpayer dollars to fund abortions.

But the will of the people has never stopped abortion-on-demand supporters, and no amount of language about a woman’s right to choose can conceal the left’s actual agenda: not helping women, but helping groups like Planned Parenthood boost their abortion numbers.

For the next two years, moves like this will be par for the course for this Democratic majority in the House. And for the next two years, pro-lifers need to vocally sound the alarm.

That’s why House Republicans during their first actions of the new Congress tried to remove this anti-life language from the bill. And it’s why hundreds of thousands of women, men, girls, and boys, will be on the mall to remember that anniversary once again this year and stand together for life.

The post Back in Power, Pelosi Is Putting Abortion First Once Again appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Florida Governor Sanctions Airbnb for West Bank Policy

Thu, 2019-01-17 13:02

Airbnb, which lists more 45,000 Florida properties on its vacation rentals website, has lobbied hard to remove its “home-sharing” offerings from hotel/motel regulations and unshackle the state’s $31 billion short-term rental industry from local regulations.

Several bills, including last year’s Vacation Rental Act, gained momentum during the last two legislative sessions before falling short.

If Airbnb is to have any hope in 2019 of achieving its legislative goals in Florida, however, it must first deal with a new problem—the wrath of its new governor.

Gov. Ron DeSantis declared state of Florida employees will no longer be reimbursed for Airbnb stays while traveling and said further sanctions will be imposed if Airbnb doesn’t reverse its November decision to delist properties in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

DeSantis said Airbnb’s actions violate Florida law—House Bill 545, adopted last year—which imposes penalties, including divestment, on companies involved in the “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement” against Israel.

“We have a moral obligation to oppose the Airbnb policy,” DeSantis said. “It does target Jews specifically. When you target Jews for disfavored treatment, that is the essence of anti-Semitism. In Florida, as long as I’m the governor, BDS will be D.O.A.”

DeSantis issued his comments during a press conference at the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County in Boca Raton.

He said the State Board of Administration will determine if Airbnb’s West Bank policy warrants further sanctions from the state.

The board—comprised of DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody, and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis—oversees investments of the state’s pension program.

Airbnb is a private company “but they are trying to be publicly-traded and they are trying to do an initial public offering,” DeSantis said. “That would not be good if you’re already on Florida’s hit list before you’ve even gotten off the ground.”

DeSantis also instructed Moody to determine if the policy violates the civil rights of any Floridian Jews who own property in the West Bank.

Other states will follow Florida’s lead, he said. “That will end up getting [Airbnb] where they need to be. But you know what they say, if you can’t make them see the light, make them feel the heat.”

Airbnb responded in a statement that it “unequivocally rejected” the “BDS movement” against Israel and that it has “worked with the Florida State Board of Administration on this matter” and will continue to do so.

Its decision to delist about 200 properties in “the settlements in the West Bank” is not unique to Israel, the company said.

“Airbnb has previously prevented hosts from accepting reservations in other lands with unique dynamics, including Crimea—where the decision impacted more than 4,000 listings,” according to the statement.

Earlier Tuesday, Airbnb reported short-term rentals offered through its digital platform drew 4.5 million guests to Florida and generated more than $810 million in rental income for hosts in 2018.

The company will release how much it will pay in state and local bed taxes in February. Last year, it remitted $33 million to the state and $12.7 million to counties it has tax collection contracts with, including $3.3 million to Miami-Dade, $1.9 million to Broward, $1.9 million to Pinellas, and $1.8 million to Orange counties.

Ten Florida counties saw at least 100,000 Airbnb guests and at least $22 million in Airbnb rental revenues in 2018, according to the company’s report.

The Vacation Rental Act—Senate Bill 1400 and House Bill 773—proposed removing short-term vacation rentals from hotel and motel regulations, and establishing a uniform inspection program conducted by the state’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR).

SB 1400 passed the Senate Regulated Industries Committee, but never made it out the chamber’s appropriations and community affairs committees for a floor vote. HB 773 also never made it out of committee. Similar 2017 bills shared the same fates.

As of Tuesday, a 2019 iteration of the Vacation Rental Act had not been filed.

Originally published by Watchdog.org

The post Florida Governor Sanctions Airbnb for West Bank Policy appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Right Side Of History: These Presidents Were Tougher on the Media Than Trump

Thu, 2019-01-17 12:22

“The Right Side of History” is a podcast dedicated to exploring current events through a historical lens and busting left-wing myths about figures and events of America’s past.

On this week’s episode, hosts Jarrett Stepman and Fred Lucas discuss the long history of presidential wars with the press. President Donald Trump sometimes uses caustic language with his foes in the Fourth Estate, but as Lucas and Stepman explain, other presidents have used softer rhetoric and harsher official action to silence critics.

From John Adams to Woodrow Wilson to Barack Obama, presidents have often used their official—and perhaps sometimes not technically legal—powers to curtail the American media.

To read more on this subject in The Daily Signal, see Lucas’s analysis, “7 Presidents Who Were Tougher Than Trump on the Media,” and Stepman’s commentary, “The History of Fake News in the United States.”

The post Right Side Of History: These Presidents Were Tougher on the Media Than Trump appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Trump EPA Rejects Egregious Cost-Benefit Analysis of Controversial Rule

Thu, 2019-01-17 11:58

For years, the Environmental Protection Agency has been issuing some of the costliest regulations in U.S. history, especially when it comes to its air-pollution regulations.

The EPA has moved forward with these regulations, even when there have been little to no benefits to achieving the stated objectives of the rules. If this meant there was more harm than good, that was fine to the EPA.

The Trump administration’s EPA is trying to end this abuse.

A few weeks ago, the EPA released a proposed rule addressing the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards rule for power plants, the so-called “MATS rule.”

When the Obama EPA finalized the MATS rule in 2012, it didn’t bother to consider costs when deciding whether to regulate mercury and other hazardous air-pollutant emissions from power plants.

That led to a Supreme Court case, Michigan v. EPA, challenging the agency’s failure to properly consider whether the rule was “appropriate and necessary,” as required under the relevant section of the Clean Air Act (Section 112).

In 2015, the court held that the EPA, because of that “appropriate and necessary” language, must consider costs.

In 2016, the Obama administration “considered” costs and published a supplemental finding concluding that the MATS rule was “appropriate and necessary.” That was despite the fact that the benefits of reducing mercury emissions as determined by the Obama administration were $4 million to $6 million annually, and the costs of reducing such emissions was $7.4 billion to $9.6 billion annually.

The costs were as much as 2,400 times greater than the benefits.

The Obama administration’s EPA justified the rule based on what are called “co-benefits” or indirect benefits. According to the EPA’s proposed rule, the co-benefits are about 99.9 percent of all monetized benefits.

The benefits from mercury-emission reductions might be minuscule, but the purported indirect benefits from reducing other air pollutants, such as fine-particulate matter ($37 billion to $90 billion annually) exceed the costs of the rule.

These co-benefits can become a cover for regulating whatever the EPA wants, without ever having to justify the regulation of the targeted pollutant.

There is also a specific Clean Air Act process for regulating fine-particulate matter and other criteria pollutants (six major air pollutants), as well as statutory language that may preclude such regulation under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act, which was the relevant section for the MATS rule.

This gaming of the system is also misleading to the public. For example, it gives the misimpression that reductions in mercury will yield significant benefits, when in fact the supposed benefits are almost entirely derived from projected reductions in fine-particulate matter. 

The Trump administration’s EPA is proposing to make much-needed changes.

The EPA argues that the MATS rule is not “appropriate and necessary.” The agency is not proposing to get rid of the MATS rule, but is clarifying that the Obama administration’s analysis was flawed.

Instead of using some extreme analysis when determining whether  a rule is “appropriate and necessary,” the EPA will start using some common sense. From the proposed rule:

If the [hazardous air pollutant]-related benefits are not at least moderately commensurate with the cost of [hazardous air pollutant] controls, then no amount of co-benefits can offset this imbalance for purposes of a determination that it is appropriate to regulate under CAA Section 112.

The proposed rule would curtail the use of co-benefits in the context of the “appropriate and necessary” standard under the Clean Air Act. 

This same rationale should apply to all EPA regulations, and other agencies should follow suit. Further, Congress should codify in law protections against co-benefits abuse.

The EPA has significant power, in large part because Congress has delegated far too much power and discretion to the agency, while courts have granted the agency unwarranted deference in its interpretations of statutes. 

Usually, the focus regarding agency overreach is on how the EPA is improperly interpreting its authority under the law. 

There needs to be more attention paid to the schemes the agency engages in to justify regulations that would fail any reasonable regulatory cost-benefit analysis. 

That could help provide some limits on the EPA so it can’t just impose whatever regulations it wants without properly considering the harm and good it would be doing to the country.

The post Trump EPA Rejects Egregious Cost-Benefit Analysis of Controversial Rule appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

When Checks and Balances Fail

Thu, 2019-01-17 11:45

In February 2017, Dr. Christopher Duntsch became the first surgeon in American history known to be sentenced to prison for botching a patient surgery.

A licensed neurosurgeon, Duntsch left a string of deaths and maimed bodies in his wake: He was accused of causing the death of two surgery patients and leaving 33 others permanently damaged. His patients left their lives in his hands; he left them paralyzed or dead.

The checks and balances that were supposed to contain Duntsch failed utterly. His medical school licensed him but didn’t require the preparation necessary to instill competence. Hospitals suspended him but didn’t report him. The medical board could do nothing without forms filed against him. Patients were left without recourse.

When checks and balances fail, damage is usually the result.

That’s why when it came to our system of government, the founders were so focused on creating gridlock. They recognized that in a system in which legitimacy sprang from popular support, the easy path to perdition lay in popularly backed centralized power–tyranny could spring just as easily from a popular majority as from a king or despot. The founders didn’t trust individuals with authority, and they didn’t trust human beings to delegate authority to mere individuals.

But popular governments have always bucked against such limitations.

The majority of Americans always want action, on some grounds or others. That leads to an eternal drive to grant unchecked power to some institution of government. As Alexis de Tocqueville writes in his 1840 “Democracy in America”:

It may easily be foreseen that almost all the able and ambitious members of a democratic community will labor without ceasing to extend the powers of government, because they all hope at some time or other to wield those powers. … Centralization will be the natural government.

We’re now seeing the consequences of such centralization on two separate fronts: the president’s authority to declare a national emergency and the FBI’s investigations into the president. Proponents of President Donald Trump would like to see power centralized in the presidency; antagonists of Trump would like to see power centralized in the FBI.

Trump’s allies seem eager for Trump to declare a national emergency in order to appropriate funds for a border wall. The law cuts against such a declaration: The National Emergencies Act was written to curtail presidential authority, not increase it. No matter how much border hawks (including me) want a border barrier, the proper method is to request funds from Congress.

Meanwhile, Trump’s enemies are celebrating reports this week that the FBI investigated Trump as a possible Russian agent after his firing of then-FBI Director James Comey. Trump had authority under the Constitution to fire Comey, and there’s no actual evidence that Trump is an agent of the Russians. But Trump’s enemies want the legislature to step in and attempt to protect the FBI from executive branch checks on it.

All of this is foolish.

It’s good that the legislative branch checks the executive branch, and it’s good that the executive branch must remain in control of executive branch agencies.

Here’s the easy test: How would you feel if the situations were reversed?

How would Republicans feel about an emergency declaration from a Democratic president to shift funds to leftist priorities? How would Democrats feel about Republican attempts to seize control of the FBI for purposes of investigating a Democratic president?

Nobody ought to trust institutions enough to grant them unchecked power. And no one ought to trust the people enough to allow us to do so.


The post When Checks and Balances Fail appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Reforming the Visa Waiver Program Would Enhance National Security, Economic Growth

Thu, 2019-01-17 11:38

With the start of a new year, Congress has the ability to start fresh with new reforms. The Visa Waiver Program is one worthy candidate for such reform.

Established in 1986, the program has flourished as it has proven to support both national security and growth within the U.S. economy.

Yet it is clear that a reform to the Visa Waiver Program could be extremely beneficial. Judiciously expanding the program would enhance the security and economic benefits that it already provides.

The core idea behind the Visa Waiver Program is that it allows citizens of participating countries to travel visa-free to each other’s countries, while including a similar vetting process, but lacking a visa interview with the U.S.

A country is able to join the program if it meets all seven requirements, including improved airport security, accepting the repatriation of its citizens in a timely manner, and undergoing Department of Homeland Security-led evaluations.

Perhaps the most critical requirement, however, revolves around intelligence-sharing from foreign governments. The type of intelligence to be shared includes information about known and suspected terrorists, serious criminals, and lost and stolen passports.

There are currently 38 countries that hold a membership within the Visa Waiver Program. The majority of them are located within the European Union, but not all EU countries are included.

That could be changed through a reform that benefits national security.

The primary purpose for a reform would be to improve the quantity and quality of intelligence being shared, by allowing more allies to join the program.

This sharing of intelligence ultimately strengthens the vetting process by halting more security threats. According to the Government Accountability Office, the Visa Waiver Program has shown great utility thus far through “[enhancing] U.S. traveler-screening capabilities” and “[aiding] criminal investigations.”

Not only would reform benefit security, it would also deepen diplomatic ties. By allowing countries such as Poland, Croatia, and other allies into the program, we would affirm their partnership with the U.S., deepening trust between nations.

Another benefit to expanding the Visa Waiver Program is economic growth. It would be easier for citizens of foreign countries to conduct business or visit the U.S. as tourists if it were easier for them to travel to the U.S.

Thus, expanding the Visa Waiver Program shows potential to increase the overall value the program holds for the security and prosperity of the U.S.

A reform to the Visa Waiver Program should include a new framework. That new framework would judiciously allow more country candidates—namely, EU countries—to enter the program.

There are multiple countries that don’t quite meet the 3 percent refusal rate—the rate at which consulates deny someone a visa—or are close to meeting the rest of the requirements.

The refusal rate is the one thing standing in the way of their joining the Visa Waiver Program, and the refusal-rate requirement used to be more flexible than it is today.

Loosening the refusal-rate criteria, while strengthening the overstay-rate requirement, would change this. The overstay rate is simply the measure of how many citizens of a nation overstay their visa.

Congress also should rename the program as the Partnership for Secure Travel, to avoid the false impression the term “visa waiver” sparks. The program includes nearly the same vetting process and actually enhances vetting because of intelligence-sharing.

There are also other ways this program could be reformed.

What better way for Congress to start the new year off fresh than with reforming and expanding a program that expands security, increases the U.S. economy, and deepens ties with allies?

The post Reforming the Visa Waiver Program Would Enhance National Security, Economic Growth appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Forget Washington. Here’s How States Can Improve Health Care.

Thu, 2019-01-17 11:30

The midterm election showed that anxiety over health care remains a top concern for American voters. But gridlock in Congress is likely to stall any real effort to solve these problems in Washington. That means that the states have an opportunity to step in and take the lead.

This past year the Trump administration took several actions to provide relief from the rigid rules suppressing much needed change.

Now it’s time for the states to seize their opportunity and ensure these actions translate to meaningful changes on the ground.     

In June, the administration finalized rules to broad the ability for small businesses and self-employed individuals to join Association Health Plans (AHPs).

These health plans allow employers to band together as a group or an association, such as state or local chamber of commerce and small business associations, and offer health care to their employees. 

Expanding the definition of these associations means employers will have new ways to offer coverage to their employees.

The administration expects Association Health Plans to offer more affordable options than currently available and points to estimates by the Congressional Budget Office that 4 million people would gain coverage under the Association Health Plans –400,000 previously uninsured [individuals would gain coverage under the plans as well as 3.6 million who switch to such a plan.

In August, the administration finalized a rule to expand the availability of short-term limited duration plans. These plans, which have been in existence for decades, offer individuals another option for health care coverage.

The Trump administration’s rule allows these plans to offer coverage for a year with the option of renewal. This restores and improves the long-standing rules that the Obama administration weakened.

The administration projects that enrollment in short-term limited duration plans will increase by 600,000 people–100,000 previously uninsured and 500,000 shifting from existing arrangements to short-term plans.   

States should review their laws to make sure that they are consistent and compatible with both these administrative changes. They should also be on the lookout for and reject efforts to undermine the potential success of these options through additional layers of state rules and regulations. 

The Trump administration also released new guidance in November to provide states greater flexibility in applying for waivers under Section 1332 of the Affordable Care Act.

The State Relief and Empowerment Waivers gives states the opportunity to propose alternative ways of providing quality and affordable health care coverage to their citizens.

The administration provided several model examples for the states to consider that promote private, consumer-driven health care, help those in need, and are fiscally sustainable.

While the State Relief and Empowerment Waivers focus on providing states with additional flexibility and relief from Obamacare, the administration has also encouraged states to request reforms to their Medicaid programs through the Section 1115 waiver demonstrations.

These waivers, which have been in existence since Medicaid’s enactment, offer states the ability to test new approaches to providing care for those in the Medicaid program.

Taking advantage of both these waivers should be a priority for the states. Some have already seized the opportunity, but many states have not and more can be done. Moreover, states should oppose initiatives to roll back or undermine efforts that bring much needed reforms and changes to these programs.

States must also beware of continued efforts to push the health care system closer to a government-run, single-payer model. The Medicare-for-All movement is not just a federal effort, but targets states as well.

Several states have already contemplated testing a single-payer system of their own.

Other efforts–such as the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, Medicaid-for-All or Medicaid buy-in proposals, state-based public options, and global budgets–while not full-blown single payer proposals, are strategic and lay the groundwork for an incremental approach.

States should reject these attempts to expand government’s role in the health care.   

For the foreseeable future, it seems likely that Congress will not act in any meaningful way to address the problems that are plaguing the health care system.

However, governors and state legislators can provide much needed leadership by taking advantage of the opportunities advanced by the administration and by sending a strong message to Congress that additional statutory flexibility is a better way forward.

Such an approach is already part of the president’s budget and has been furthered by national and state leaders who have rallied around a framework to do just that.

As liberals at the federal and state level double down on more government-controlled solutions, state leaders can offer a better approach.

Governors and state legislators need to lead the way in advancing reforms that lower costs, increase choice, and improve access in a way that puts patients, not the government, in control of dollars and decisions. There is no time to waste.

The post Forget Washington. Here’s How States Can Improve Health Care. appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Lawmakers Are Pushing a $15 Minimum Wage. Here Are 3 Disastrous Consequences That Would Result.

Thu, 2019-01-17 10:58

House Democrats are looking to double the minimum wage, with little eye to the consequences.

Led by Virginia Democrat Bobby Scott, House Democrats introduced the “Raise the Wage Act,” which would more than double the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 per hour by the year 2024.

Democratic lawmakers have long been in favor of a higher minimum wage, but few have gone so far as to call for doubling it. Until now.

Despite caution from some liberal economists who warn that a $15 minimum wage would “risk undesirable and unintended consequences” and disproportionately hurt younger and less-educated workers, as well as immigrants, more than 180 Democratic members signed on to support the bill.

But the result would be quite different from what they expect. While a $15 minimum wage would raise wages for some workers, it would have disastrous consequences for many others.

Here are three consequences that these advocates need to consider.

1. Millions of lost jobs.

A Heritage Foundation analysis from 2016 estimated that a $15 federal minimum wage would wipe out 7 million jobs. Hardest hit would be workers, businesses, and economies in areas with low costs of living.

Liberal activists demand a “living wage,” but the truth is that only a tiny handful of hourly wage workers make the minimum wage or less (4 percent), according to the Employment Policy Institute. On the contrary, a whopping 44 percent of hourly workers currently earn at or below the proposed $15 minimum wage.

Now consider what the $15 minimum wage would do.

For a restaurant that employs 10 minimum-wage workers, a $15 minimum wage hike would cost them about $170,000 per year. If the restaurant currently earns profit margins of 5 percent, it would have to increase sales by $3.5 million per year, or an extra $67,000 every week.

But that is not realistic. The likely scenario is that they’ll either have to cut working hours or fire some workers altogether. Either way, most people are worse off than before.

The likely scenario is that they’ll either have to cut working hours or fire some workers altogether.

This pattern has played out countless times already. FacesOf15.com documents more than 150 businesses that have had to lay off workers, reduce hours, increase prices, or shut their doors altogether due to minimum wage hikes.

In fact, voters in Washington, D.C. passed a minimum-wage hike for restaurant workers last year, but the city council blocked the measure after waiters and waitresses came out in droves to oppose it. Their initiative was known as “Save Our Tips.”

2. Eliminating opportunities for upward advancement.

Fight for $15 advocates treat minimum-wage jobs as if they’re lifetime positions. But they’re not. The vast majority of these jobs are not filled by single mothers struggling to make ends meet—the minimum wage cannot support a family, and isn’t designed to.

Instead, minimum-wage jobs are almost exclusively entry-level positions that serve as an opportunity to gain experience that will lead to higher earnings and better opportunities down the road. In fact, most workers who start out earning the minimum wage receive a raise within a year.

Most workers who start out earning the minimum wage receive a raise within a year.

One study of Seattle’s minimum wage increase found that it caused employers to weed out workers with lower skills and experience, and reduced the rate of job entry—meaning fewer young workers could find entry-level jobs to gain experience.

By effectively cutting off the first rung of the career ladder, a $15 minimum wage could stifle young people’s long-term earnings prospects by keeping their careers from getting off the ground.

3. One step closer to a universal basic income.

At $15 an hour, the cost of employing a worker year-round would be upward of $35,000 at the very least. Many workers—particularly younger workers and those without any experience under their belt—simply cannot produce that kind of value.

It’s hard to make the case for a universal basic income in this currently thriving economy, where we have more job openings than workers looking for jobs. But cutting a large share of the population out of work by passing a $15 minimum wage would certainly take us one large step in that direction.

Artificially driving up wages so that millions of people can’t find work and have to rely on the government for a basic income—financed with more federal debt—is not just economically destructive. It’s morally wrong.

Lawmakers must do the math and accept the facts.

If lawmakers want to help workers achieve higher incomes, they should first do no harm and be sure to leave open the doors of entry-level employment that allow workers to gain valuable experience that jumpstarts their careers.

Even before they are old enough to work, policymakers can improve children’s earning potential by giving their parents school choice options. These options particularly help children of lower-wage earners escape poor and failing schools that neglect to provide them the education they need to earn a decent living.

Another way to help raise wages would be to eliminate taxes on capital gains and dividends, which amount to double taxation, since those earnings are already subject to the income tax. This would allow businesses to reinvest that money in technologies that make their workers more productive, and ultimately increase worker earnings.

Finally, lawmakers could reform our unsustainable entitlement programs by better targeting them to those in need. This could result in lower payroll taxes and in turn increase workers’ take-home pay.    

Congress has plenty of options to help workers earn higher wages. But lawmakers must do the math and accept the facts: A $15 minimum wage would do more harm than good.

The post Lawmakers Are Pushing a $15 Minimum Wage. Here Are 3 Disastrous Consequences That Would Result. appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

A Freshman Senator Outlines the Reforms He Will Push in Washington

Thu, 2019-01-17 03:01

Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., joins us to discuss how he’s ready to change Washington, D.C. The businessman-turned-politician shares why he advocates term limits and wants lawmakers to lose pay if they don’t pass a budget on time. Listen to the podcast or read the transcript below.

We also cover these stories:

  • Second lady Karen Pence is under fire for teaching at a Christian school that holds traditional values on marriage and sexuality.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asks President Donald Trump to postpone his State of the Union address.
  • The Democratic Party has officially withdrawn its endorsement of the Women’s March.

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!

This transcript has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Rob Bluey: We’re joined on The Daily Signal Podcast today by Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana. Senator, welcome.

Sen. Mike Braun: Thank you.

Bluey: You’ve been here in Washington for just about two weeks now, and I want to begin by asking you to share with our listeners your path to Congress because in some ways it’s an unusual path, having started in the private sector. How did those principles that you learned in the private sector motivate you to try to change the things then that are functioning, or not functioning, here in Washington, D.C.?

Braun: Well, I signed a term limits pledge when I did make it as a campaign statement, and of course I will stick with that. … And it’s happened in gubernatorial races where people have come from the outside and outmaneuvered the odds. Here, it has not been done often at the Senate level and I don’t think ever in Indiana.

I did it because I think we need to get more people that have had real-world experience. It sounds kind of simple in general, but I do think you take the money out of politics when you don’t make a career out of it.

And all I can tell you is I’ve made budgets in a school board, in a state House, and most importantly, year after year at my own business and accomplished good things, and sometimes maybe I’d even call it better than good.

But you don’t work in the bizarro world of the federal government where you get nothing done and you’re on trillion-dollar deficits, and pile on $21 trillion now in debt, I’m going to hopefully weigh in on that. And if I don’t make any progress legislatively, I’m at least going to talk about it often.

Rachel del Guidice: Looking ahead into this new Congress and this new year, what are some of your conservative principles and priorities that you want to advance?

Braun: A couple of things. I’m interested in reforming the system in ways that will make a difference. There is a term limit bill out there and I think it at least has a sense of grandfathering the people in, that to some extent would need to vote for it. I think that solves a bunch of problems.

I tried a campaign that would not accept senatorial pensions. So I get here, and you can’t even opt out of it. Yes, believe it or not. And I’m working on trying to make a technical correction there so I can do what I said I was going to do. If not, I would just have to forgo it when I actually earned it, which I would. But now if you do not participate in the pension, you can’t be on a 401k plan here, or use health insurance, and I no longer am on my company’s, so it’s just bizarro there.

I’m going to try to change that technically and then I’d love to see some day where senators and congressmen do not get pensions and nobody else does, they’re almost universally underfunded and you can’t support them. Those kinds of things need to change.

I don’t like the fact that you can lobby almost immediately, I think it’s a one-year gap, but I’d like to see either not being able to do it or a five-year separation so that there’s more accountability for how this whole system works. I’m sure that’s going to be kind of excruciating for some here that have nestled into here, but I’m going to talk about it.

When it comes to things I’d like to see get done, we’re too polarized on any of the major issues—you don’t get one Democratic vote, or you don’t get one Republican vote.

And I’m thinking that with the cost of health care, Democrats, I think, own the issue currently. It was manifested through Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, it was not affordable, it’s falling apart.

I took on insurance companies in my own business 10 years ago to lower costs, to make it sustainable, and my employees have not had premium increases for nine or 10 years. I tell people that, they just think you’re telling a fib, but it’s true if you know how to tackle it, put the right systems in place.

I think there will be some Democrats that listen to that, “How do you do it?” Infrastructure—we took on that hard issue in Indiana, pasted a long-term road funding bill that keeps our bridges and roads in repair and adds some, but we are a state that’s lived within our means so we can afford to do it. We passed a regional infrastructure bill that helps local areas like mine initiate a road project and help pay for it.

To control your own destiny, not asking for everybody else to pay for whatever you want to do—I’d like that to rub off here. Infrastructure, health care, and basic reforms.

Bluey: You have so much that you want to do, I want to ask, though, how has the partial government shutdown affected your start to the 116th Congress?

Braun: At the speed they operate here, it’s not going to make a lot of difference. I have to almost slow my metabolism down to be at a rate that’s even close to what it was like as a business owner or a state legislator. So we will get through that.

My “No Budget, No Pay” bill that’s out there would say that if you don’t get a budget done within a year, with all that time to prepare for it, that those of us that are here don’t get paid. So I’m hoping that has some leg to it, but there’s plenty of other stuff to learn.

I’m going to be one that is going to speak up on the stuff I know something about and try to learn a lot more about things I don’t know.

But it was just like being a state legislator. After we accomplished long-term road funding, which was a big deal to Southern Indiana, and I was able to get a regional infrastructure bill passed that we’ve got T’d up in our area now, talk about a road project, we’ve been talking about for 40 years. I hope to do a few of those things and believe me, six or 12 years will be plenty of time to see if that’s going to happen.

del Guidice: As of Friday, we’re now in the longest government shutdown that we’ve ever been in. What are your thoughts about where things stand with Democrats and how they failed to work with Trump to open the government?

Braun: I think the reason it’s standing a little longer than any before is because 75 percent of the government is funded. Here there are going to be some services like TSA and others that might start to suffer that’ll have real consequences.

I think Democrats are in a tough spot. I’m not one that likes to read a poll every time I need to see what’s happening, but I think there are more people now that view border security as a big deal than what there was a year ago. And the president and Republicans are asking for nothing more than what almost every Democrat agreed to just a few years ago, and at a magnitude level a lot higher than $5.7 billion.

Bluey: Coming from the private sector, I’m sure you’ve had your share of negotiations.

Braun: Yep.

Bluey: What’s your take on how these negotiations are playing out between President Trump and Congress?

Braun: I think a lot of times negotiations have more nuance subtleties to them, here I don’t think it’s very nuanced.

If you believe in border security—which apparently Democrats don’t now, even when it comes to spending money outside of a barrier or a wall, which they all said they would be OK with that very recently.

I think that it’s, again, part of what ails D.C., is things get so political, and you leave a real problem out there like border security unattended to because, in one case, you know you need to have border security and national security to some degree, and Democrats now don’t think that that makes sense.

del Guidice: You just mentioned the importance of border security to national security, was this a big issue for your constituents back home?

Braun: During the entire campaign, through the primary and the general, border security, the cost of health care, people actually worried about the integrity of Medicare and Social Security were even with jobs in the economy, and jobs in the economy would normally be above all three of them.

That’s because jobs in the economy are doing so well, and conservatives need to do a better job of explaining how good tax reform has been and how it’s benefiting people across the board, and companies. I challenge business owners ever day, you’re sending less money to the federal government, if you’re successful, share those benefits with your employees.

Bluey: I’m glad you mentioned that issue because obviously as a successful and winning candidate, you were able to break through in terms of your communication. What advice do you have for other conservatives when talking about issues like tax reform and some of the benefits that have come from that?

Braun: My first piece of advice would be: Get out there and communicate. I did a podcast with Major Garrett that was nearly 50 minutes and I knew upfront that there was going to be no editing, it was just “let’s talk.”

He indicated that he has trouble getting Republicans or conservatives to do it, and I can see why. Because a lot of times you’re set up for a “gotcha” moment, but you need to know how to avoid that, and if somebody’s doing it, kind of tell them, “Hey, you want to have a real discussion? Let’s be a little better in your presentation.” But I think we’ve got to do that.

When it comes to tax reform for conservatives, and for the average American, it’s more than crumbs. But for it to really hit home, I think you’re going to have to do what we did in my own company and what many did early on, which is, invest in your employees the best you can, with better benefits, higher wages so they don’t look to government to do it. That’s a failed promise if you think you’re going to go there and get anything done, you’re going to pay for them.

del Guidice: So Friday will be the 45th annual March for Life, why do you think this event is important and how do you think it’s playing a role in the pro-life movement?

Braun: I’ve been a pro-life proponent and ran on it. I was endorsed by the Indiana Right to Life, the National Right to Life, and the Susan B. Anthony List, they knocked on, I think, close to half a million doors for me in Indiana, because it is important.

I think it’s a divisive issue and I we need to stay out there and talk about it and not be afraid of the issue. Don’t demonize anybody along the way that disagrees with you, but we can’t be shy about any of the things we believe in, whether it’s the right to life, whether it’s border security, or defending why keeping more of your own resources makes sense. We just need to articulate it in a way that shows that we do have the ability to see the other point of view and try to find some ground where it’s a win-win.

Bluey: This is the first time in a number of years that Indiana has two Republican senators. What priorities do you have for the delegation for the people of Indiana that you’re hoping to focus on in terms of their constituent needs?

Braun: It’s really nice when you come from a state like Indiana that is probably one of the best business environments in the country. Where I live, in Southern Indiana, and, in fact, Jasper just got named as one of the best towns in the state, if not the country, to live in due to low cost of living and higher-than-average incomes.

Indiana is a place that I think will keep doing well because it’s based upon certain principles that make sense: live within your means, be very engaging when you try to get enterprise into your state, be a real champion of everybody having a great opportunity to succeed, and do it all in a context where it’s not falling apart as you try to do these good things.

That’s the difference between a state like Indiana and the federal government, and I think a lot of it will be to make sure that the federal government doesn’t impact a great state like ours in a way that takes us away from how well we’ve performed.

del Guidice: You briefly mentioned earlier the “No Budget, No Pay” legislation that you introduced with Sen. Manchin, why is this legislation so important?

Braun: To me, one of the things that I said I’m going to focus on reforming a few areas, I think when you’re an institution that’s got a 15 percent approval rating, that’s just one of the few things that would lend toward that. And I think that you’ve got to have real consequences other than just lip service or saying that, “Gosh, I wish we got a budget done.”

All I know is that as a CEO of my company, if I couldn’t find ways to reduce costs in such a modest way, is all it would take to make this to where we would get our budgets in order. And the fact that we don’t get one done when that’s a primary responsibility of the Congress, you need to have some repercussions if that doesn’t happen.

So I think there’s plenty of notice over a year’s time. If you don’t get it together, we can’t keep running the government on continuing resolutions and a structural budget deficit that we’re now losing close to $1 trillion a year that we finance on top of $21 trillion in debt, that’s got to change.

Bluey: And finally, Senator, in a time of divided government in Washington, Democrats patrolling the House, one of the focuses that is on the Senate, it certainly comes in, as Mitch McConnell says, “the personnel business.”

Braun: Yep.

Bluey: You have a number of appointments for the Trump administration, the attorney general, the EPA administrator, both coming before the Senate this week, a record number of judges confirmed last Congress with a whole lot more waiting. What can you tell our listeners about that, and the role that the Senate can play over the next two years when it comes to judicial nominees and other employments?

Braun: We have at least two more years where that will happen and I think that had gotten so political as well. We know the consequences if we don’t win the presidency in 2020, we’d be in a defensive mode, and it’ll go the other way. I think that that is something you take advantage of when you’ve got the position to do so.

I want to quickly segue to an area where, we talked about it a bit earlier, but I think the real pivotal issue is going to be health care. I think conservatives have been too apologetic for the industry. I had to deal with it myself and I think there’s going to be some real common ground if we can take that issue I think the Democrats own.

Republicans and conservatives have got to focus on how we lower costs. The Affordable Care Act did something I’ve always believed in, you should never go broke because you get sick or have a bad accident, and built that into the plan I offer my employees, and I held premiums flat for 10 years. We’ve got to get that done.

I don’t think Democrats really care about controlling costs other than if it just happens and I think that if you do migrate to a one-payer system, like they think that will solve that issue, we won’t like it, you may in the long run lower some costs, but I’m going to think the quality of health care will suffer, too.

Bluey: Well, Senator, I’m glad you brought that up because I had a conversation with a couple of freshman congressmen last week on the House side.

Braun: Yeah?

Bluey: Both of them were enthusiastic about health care as well. It seems there is an appetite among Republicans and conservatives to return to that issue.

Braun: There is, and I think conservatives and Republicans are often seen as defending business, and I think we defend it for free and open markets, and robust competition, and it’s what’s made the country great. It’s a productive side of our economy of entrepreneurs and enterprisers.

The health care industry doesn’t fit into that classification in the way that it should. It’s been shrouded with so much lack of transparency, through an insurance system that doesn’t make sense anymore, and the industry which I am going to really encourage, you need to fix these things yourselves or you’ll be apart of a one-payer system, and you know what the problems are, get with it, I’m going to encourage that and go them to do it.

Bluey: Senator, thanks so much for joining The Daily Signal.

Braun: You’re very welcome.

del Guidice: Thanks for being with us today.

The post A Freshman Senator Outlines the Reforms He Will Push in Washington appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

6 Takeaways from New EPA Chief’s Confirmation Hearing

Wed, 2019-01-16 18:53

America is “the gold standard for environmental progress,” Andrew Wheeler, the president’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency, told a Senate committee Wednesday during his confirmation hearing.

Committee Democrats, while accusing him of favoring the fossil fuel industry, avoided personal attacks on Wheeler, who took over as acting EPA administrator after Scott Pruitt’s resignation in July under partisan fire.

Wheeler highlighted the Trump administration’s regulatory reform agenda and its goals in an opening statement to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

“In 2018, EPA finalized 13 major deregulatory actions, saving Americans roughly $1.8 billion in regulatory costs,” Wheeler said. “To date, under President [Donald] Trump, EPA has finalized 33 major deregulatory actions saving Americans almost $2 billion. The U.S. is the gold standard for environmental progress.”

Wheeler said policymakers don’t need to make a trade-off between economically damaging government regulations and environmental protection.

“Through our deregulatory actions, the Trump administration has proven that burdensome federal regulations are not necessary to drive environmental progress,” he said. “Certainty, and the innovation that thrives in a climate of certainty, are key to progress.”

Democrats on the committee, however, said Wheeler is biased toward producers of coal and other fossil fuels and ignored the need to protect the environment and for “urgent action” to prevent catastrophic climate change.

They asked Wheeler, 54, to offer his opinion on the recent findings of the National Climate Assessment, an interagency government report, and the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Democrats also pressed Wheeler on his relationship with the coal industry and took the opportunity to comment on the partial government shutdown and its impact on the EPA’s ability to perform vital functions.

Committee Republicans credited Wheeler with working to “provide greater regulatory certainty” while upholding environmental standards. They cited his long record of public service, including work he previously did for the committee.

Wheeler, Pruitt’s deputy,  assumed his responsibility for implementing key parts of Trump’s regulatory reform agenda. These included ending the practice of “sue and settle” and rolling back restrictions on the private sector that the administration viewed as costly and duplicative.  

>>> Related: Trump’s EPA Chief Charts a New Course: An Interview With Scott Pruitt   

The Senate confirmed Wheeler to serve as deputy EPA administrator in April 2018, so this marked his second confirmation hearing in 14 months.

Prior to rejoining the agency, the Ohio native was Republican staff director for the same Senate committee.

A lawyer who was an Eagle Scout, Wheeler began his public career in the administration of President George H.W. Bush as a special assistant in the EPA’s Pollution Prevention and Toxics office.

Wheeler worked as a lobbyist for Murray Energy, a coal mining company based in Ohio. Robert E. Murray, the company’s founder and chief executive officer, is a prominent supporter of Trump. His name came up during the hearing.

Here are six key takeaways from Wheeler’s confirmation hearing.

1. Democrats Cast Wheeler as Extreme

Sen. Thomas Carper of Delaware, the panel’s ranking Democrat, set the tone with an opening statement in which he favorably compared Wheeler with his predecessor while objecting to Wheeler’s policy stances.

“Mr. Wheeler is certainly not the ethically bereft embarrassment that Scott Pruitt proved to be and–to be fair–he has engaged more frequently and substantively than Scott Pruitt with both Congress and EPA career staff,” Carper said, adding:

I knew that Mr. Wheeler and I would not always agree. But I hoped that he would moderate some of Scott Pruitt’s most environmentally destructive policies, specifically where industry and the environmental community are in agreement. Regrettably, my hopes have not been realized.

In fact, upon examination, Mr. Wheeler’s environmental policies appear to be just as extreme as his predecessor’s, despite the promises that Mr. Wheeler made when he first appeared before our committee.

Later in the hearing, Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., criticized Wheeler for describing concerns over climate change as an “issue” instead of a “crisis.”

“I think you are 100 percent wrong,” Markey told Wheeler. “We are having a climate crisis.”

Markey cited last fall’s National Climate Assessment, which draws from the EPA and 12 other federal agencies, to bolster his point. He also criticized Trump’s response to the report.

Markey: “How did President Trump respond when asked about the conclusion of the National Climate Assessment …? He said, ‘I don’t believe it.’ Do you agree with Donald Trump?”

Wheeler: “I believe that President Trump was referring to the media reports of the assessment itself, and I question the media reports as well because they focused on the worst-case scenario and they also focused on one study that was not actually in the report. And that’s the study that said there would be a 10 percent hit to the GDP [without strong government action].”

2. Shutdown Politics  

In the runup to the hearing, some committee Democrats criticized Wheeler for making use of EPA staff to prepare amid the partial government shutdown, which began Dec. 22.

In a letter to the EPA, they expressed concern that Wheeler was operating in violation of a U.S. law that prohibits executive branch agencies from spending money or incurring obligations outside those provided by Congress or federal law.

Carper, among the Democrats to sign the letter, commented on how the shutdown affects federal workers and the public.

“With much of EPA shut down, rules are not being written.  Drinking water and power plant inspections are not being performed,” Carper said, adding:

Superfund sites are not being cleaned up. The safety of new chemicals is not being assessed. Public meetings are being cancelled. Just as important, 14,000 furloughed EPA employees are unsure if they will be able to afford their mortgages, day care providers, or grocery and electricity bills. Some of those furloughed employees appear to have been asked to help prepare for this very hearing …

In his opening remarks, Wheeler noted that the EPA “deleted all or part of 22 [Superfund] sites from the National Priorities List” in fiscal 2018, calling it the “largest number of deletions in one year” since fiscal 2005.

“And we are in the process of cleaning up some of the nation’s largest, most complex sites and returning them to productive use,” he added.

3.  Facts on Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., a leading skeptic of climate change, sought to set the record straight on the trend of carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S.

Although Trump critics have blamed the administration’s “rollback” of environmental regulations for rising carbon dioxide emissions in 2018, Inhofe said these critics overlooked key facts.

The Oklahoma Republican cited an article from Forbes that said carbon dioxide emissions are still down 11 percent since 2005 and that the recent uptick can be attributed to robust economic growth. Inhofe invited Wheeler to comment.

“Our CO2 emissions peaked in 2005 and it’s been on a decline since then,” Wheeler said. “We believe, and I was just briefed on this by my career staff, that we are going to continue to see a decline in CO2 emissions.”

“We had an uptick in manufacturing and industrial output that brought our CO2 emissions up slightly,” he added, “but overall we don’t expect that to continue. The downward trend is going to continue in the long term.”

4.  Ties to Coal Industry Executive

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., who once proposed using a law designed to fight organized crime to prosecute individuals and organizations who don’t support his climate change agenda, criticized Wheeler for favoring fossil fuel interests.

Related: Secret Deal Among AGs to Prosecute Climate Change ‘Deniers’ Challenged in Court

Whitehouse asked Wheeler about his relationship with Murray, the coal industry executive who owns and operates Murray Energy. He focused on an “action plan” Murray had presented to the Trump administration.

“You have your thumb, wrist, forearm, and elbow on the scales in virtually every determination that you can in favor of the fossil fuel industry, and I think that is very unfortunate,” Whitehouse told Wheeler.

“We learned by published reports that on March 29, 2017, you attended a meeting between your client Bob Murray and Energy Secretary Rick Perry where this action plan was discussed.”

Whitehouse presented photos of the meeting, saying the “action plan” was in the room. Whitehouse also said this plan was presented to Pruitt and to Vice President Mike Pence.

At the time, Murray was a client of the lobbying firm where Wheeler worked.

Whitehouse: “Can you tell me now how many meetings with Trump administration officials for Bob Murray did you arrange, attempt to arrange, or attend, and with whom?”

Wheeler: “I didn’t try to arrange the meeting with Scott Pruitt. Someone else at my firm did that. The purpose of that meeting was talking about the relief …”

Whitehouse, interrupting: “My question was quite specific, how many meetings with Trump administration officials did you arrange or attend for Mr. Murray?”

Wheeler: “The meeting with Secretary Perry, and then I believe we had an additional meeting at the White House. …But I did not arrange or attempt to arrange …”

Whitehouse interrupted again, saying he would continue to pursue this line of questioning in writing.

5. Presidential Contenders and Climate Change

Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., both viewed as likely presidential contenders in 2020, asked Wheeler his views on climate change.

Sanders: “President Trump has indicated his belief that climate change is a hoax. … Do you agree?”

Wheeler: “I believe climate change is real and that man has an impact on it.”

Sanders: “The president has said that climate change is a hoax. Do you agree with him?”

Wheeler: “I have not used the hoax word myself.”

Sanders also expressed dismay that Wheeler did not refer to climate change in his opening statement.

Booker asked Wheeler about his views on the U.N.’s climate change report as well as the U.S. government assessment, highlighting dire forecasts in both documents.

“There’s this urgency to move as quickly as possible,” Booker said. “We face growing challenges not just now, but really over the next 25 years. …Why are you pulling back on regulations that will ultimately help us to deal with what our climate scientists say we need to do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?”

In response, Wheeler said he and his team are “moving forward on a proactive basis” to further reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

He cited the Affordable Clean Energy Rule, which replaced the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, as a key component of ongoing efforts.

6. Balancing Environment With Economy

Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., who chairs the committee, praised Wheeler for implementing regulatory reforms that balance environmental protection with economic growth.

Summing up his EPA tenure, Barrasso said:

Acting Administrator Wheeler has led efforts to issue commonsense regulatory proposals like the Affordable Clean Energy Rule and the revised definition of ‘Waters of the United States’; implement this committee’s 2016 bipartisan reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act in an effective and efficient manner; reduce lead exposure, including through the Federal Lead Action Plan; provide greater regulatory certainty to states, to tribes, localities, and to the regulated community; and improve enforcement and compliance assistance.

The post 6 Takeaways from New EPA Chief’s Confirmation Hearing appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Marking Anniversary of Religious Freedom Law, Acting AG Whitaker Laments Loss of Support From Left

Wed, 2019-01-16 18:27

In 1993, President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, signed broad consensus legislation to protect religious liberty, with support from religious conservative groups and the American Civil Liberties Union alike, which helped it sail through Congress.

Twenty-five years later, however, religious freedom has become a highly contentious issue, and many Democrats and liberal groups have sought to undermine the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said Wednesday.

Whitaker expressed regret about the shift by Democrats.

“Today, many of [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act’s] original supporters, including the ACLU, have changed their mind,” he said in remarks at The Heritage Foundation.

“In recent years, when some states have attempted to pass their own version of [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act], they have been met with bitterness and hostility,” Whitaker said. “Meanwhile, others have disregarded both the spirit and the letter of [the law]. They have tried to use the power of the state to make people choose between following their core beliefs and being ‘good citizens’ even when it is not remotely necessary.”


The 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, sponsored by then-Rep. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., cleared the House unanimously and passed the Senate 97-3, when both chambers were controlled by Democrats. It took effect in November of that year.

The law states the federal government can’t burden an individual’s exercise of religion unless it is in seeking to further a compelling public interest, and even then must do so by the least restrictive means.

Whitaker cited cases where the federal government tried to force nuns to provide contraception and of the Supreme Court ruling in favor of a Colorado baker penalized by that state for refusing to design a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

He also noted that Democratic senators have attacked President Donald Trump’s nominees for their religious views.

“Religious freedom makes our country strong,” Whitaker said. “That is why threats to our religious freedom are also threats to our national strength.”

Under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, “religious freedom is not absolute, but is protected by the highest standards under constitutional law,” Whitaker said.  “Government is still able to fulfill its purposes, just without infringing on other people’s rights. It is a remarkable thing for a government to impose such a restraint on itself, and it is unique to the American system.”

Clinton signed the bill in a White House ceremony that had the backing of both religious conservatives and the ACLU.

“It would have been much easier for a government to disregard the cost upon individual liberty and conscience,” Whitaker said. “In all too many countries … that’s exactly what governments are currently doing. But the enactment of [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act] was a bold affirmation that religious freedom and the freedom of conscience are precious and deserving of protection—even if it makes things a little harder for the government.”

Whitaker noted the efforts the Trump administration has made to defend the first freedom of the First Amendment.

Trump’s Justice Department has obtained 14 indictments and 10 convictions in cases involving attacks on, or threats against, houses of worship and individuals based on religion. It also secured 50 hate-crime indictments and 30 convictions regarding attacks on people based on their religion.  

Further, the administration defended parents in Montana who claim that the state barred their children from a private-school scholarship program because they attend a religiously affiliated school.

The administration filed five amicus briefs in cases alleging religious discrimination in local zoning laws that included cases on behalf of a Hindu temple and a Catholic church, Whitaker noted. The administration is also defending the constitutionality of a World War I memorial in the shape of a cross in Maryland.

Those are among the issues that Whitaker said he has worked closely on, first as chief of staff for then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions and then as acting attorney general.

“Religious liberty and the rule of law are two subjects that [Attorney General] Sessions felt passionate about,” Whitaker told The Daily Signal in an interview after his remarks. “When I came in, I personally drove some of these cases to conclusion.”

If you notice, some of these cases were resolved in October and November, and it’s because I came in and knew how important these were, and really drove them to conclusion. I feel really strongly about this.

I take great pride [in], and very seriously, our obligations under [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act] and protecting all people of faith from undue burdens of the federal government. I hope it continues under Attorney General [nominee William] Barr, and I expect it will.  

Congress took up the Religious Freedom Restoration Act legislation after the 1990 Supreme Court ruling in the case of Employment Division v. Smith seemed to be overly broad in addressing a lawsuit by an employee fired for ingesting the hallucinogenic drug peyote while at work.

The court ruled the employee could not claim the right to do so as a practice of his Native American religion.

During the 1993 bill-signing ceremony, Clinton said, “It is interesting to note … what a broad coalition of Americans came together … to protect perhaps the most precious of all American liberties, religious freedom.”

Then-Vice President Al Gore also spoke, saying, “When you have the National Association of Evangelicals and the ACLU … we’re doing something right.”

“The country was very different 25 years ago,” Heritage Foundation President Kay Coles James said at Wednesday’s event with Whitaker. “A coalition from across the ideological spectrum, including everyone from Nadine Strossen of the ACLU and Mike Farris, who is now the CEO of Alliance Defending Freedom, came together to bolster freedoms that were limited by an unfortunate Supreme Court decision. …

“Boy, have times changed. I wish we could get that kind of bipartisan support today for something that is so important, like this. The political left has actively worked to undercut our freedoms,” she said.

James cited attempts by government to force religious institutions and even pro-life groups to pay for abortion-inducing drugs, and forcing small businesses to act contrary to their religious values.  

Whitaker cited the Founders’ vision for religious freedom; namely, that of Thomas Jefferson.

“On his tombstone, it does not say he served as president of the United States,” Whitaker said of Jefferson. “It says three things, that he authored the Declaration of Independence, that he founded the University of Virginia, and that he authored the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom.”

It was James Madison who championed the religious-freedom statute in the Virginia legislature.  

“Within a few years, Madison became the father of the Constitution and the author of the First Amendment,” Whitaker added. “Jefferson, Madison and the rest of the Founders took great care to protect the rights of religious people in this country, and we look back now, and we can see why: Because religious freedom has made this country stronger.”

The post Marking Anniversary of Religious Freedom Law, Acting AG Whitaker Laments Loss of Support From Left appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

A CNN Analyst Accused Black Radio Host of Benefiting From White Privilege. Now He’s Speaking Out.

Wed, 2019-01-16 18:20

Black radio host David Webb spoke out on “Fox & Friends” Wednesday after he was accused of benefiting from white privilege by CNN analyst Areva Martin.

Webb was interviewing Martin on his show Tuesday about diversity in media when she mistook him for a white male and said he had “the privilege of doing what people of color don’t have the privilege of.”

When Webb asked for an explanation she said, “David, by virtue of being a white male, you have white privilege.”

“Areva, I hate to break it to you, but you should’ve been better prepped. I am black,” Webb replied. “You’re talking to a black man who started out in rock radio in Boston.”

Webb accused Martin of launching into a false attack against him and said she failed to gather the facts before speaking out. He also said there is no such thing as white privilege.

“We were on the radio. Which is what makes this really interesting to me. Forget tone, voice, being prepped as I said to her. She immediately defaulted to an attack, which is a false narrative,” he told “Fox & Friends.”

“There is no such thing as white privilege,” Webb continued. “There’s earned privilege in life that you work for. There are those who may have a form of privilege that they exert on others in the form of influence. But this is about more than just what she said and the embarrassment and she should be [sic].”

He said Martin apologized for her behavior but also sold out her media team by blaming them for her failure.

“I have never done that to anyone that’s ever worked on any of my shows on radio or television. I would never do that. So frankly, they should consider why they’re being thrown [under the bus],” Webb added. “But, I have a question. Who gives you the wrong information that I’m white to come on my radio show? Think about that for a minute.”

Webb also said Martin likely made assumptions about his race due to his show being on a conservative radio station and presumed he was white.

“I talked about qualifications. I’d been through different genres in radio as you know, rock, urban, hip hop, you name it. And I’ve been through different genres in talk. And it was because I did the work and that’s why I made the qualifications statement. But being on Patriot Radio with me and being on a conservative talk station, well I must have been white, was in her head,” 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 A CNN Analyst Accused Black Radio Host of Benefiting From White Privilege. Now He’s Speaking Out. appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

‘No Deal’ on Brexit Is the Best Deal for Britain and the United States

Wed, 2019-01-16 18:10

British Prime Minister Theresa May has suffered a seismic defeat. The House of Commons on Tuesday rejected her proposed withdrawal agreement with the European Union by a 230 vote margin.

Among those voting against her: 118 rebel Conservative MPs who saw the deal as a weak-kneed surrender to the European Union.

This is the biggest defeat suffered by a UK prime minister in a major vote in modern times. Doubtless it will prompt immediate calls for May to step down.

If she does resign, there would be a Conservative Party leadership race, with a new prime minister in place within weeks.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has already called for a vote of no confidence in the government, but is unlikely to succeed, as the Democratic Unionist Party is committed to keeping the Conservative government in power.

Whatever the fallout from the vote, it should emphatically sink the prime minister’s poorly negotiated agreement with the European Union, which would tie Britain indefinitely to the EU Customs Union.

If May decides to cling on as prime minister, or if a new leader takes the helm of the Conservative Party, the best course of action for Great Britain would be to move forward with a “no deal” Brexit, under which there is a complete separation from the European Union.

A “no deal” scenario would place Britain completely outside the EU’s Customs Union and Single Market, with no transition period. Britain would trade with the EU under World Trade Organization rules. Meanwhile, it would be free to fully control its borders and negotiate and sign free trade agreements with nations across the world.

A “no deal” Brexit is the best path forward to ensure that Britain is a truly free sovereign nation, able to shape its own destiny on the world stage. It is also a plus for the United States.

A “sovereign Brexit” would provide a tremendous impetus to a U.S.-UK free trade agreement, advancing economic freedom on both sides of the Atlantic and further enhancing the special relationship between the world’s largest and fifth largest economies.

Such a deal already enjoys strong support from the Trump administration and on Capitol Hill. It could be in place by the end of 2019.

In June 2016, 17.4 million Britons voted to retake control of their own country from the European Union. The vote was the greatest blow for liberty and self-determination on the world stage in many decades.

Brexit is already firmly written into legislation passed overwhelmingly by Britain’s Parliament. It is due to begin on March 29, 2019.

A successful Brexit, based upon a truly sovereign Britain, will be great for Britain, for Europe, and for the United States. In 73 days’ time, the American and British people should celebrate a historic moment that will bring the United States and United Kingdom closer together.

Originally published by Fox News

The post ‘No Deal’ on Brexit Is the Best Deal for Britain and the United States appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

The Left Attacks Trump’s Pick to Replace Brett Kavanaugh for Her Smart College Writings

Wed, 2019-01-16 18:04

Young conservatives, be warned: Reasonable ideas written in college–such as the notion that binge drinking can lead to dangerous consequences for young women–can and will be twisted and used against you should you be nominated for high-powered positions two and a half decades later.

That’s what’s happening to Neomi Rao, President Donald Trump’s nominee to replace Brett Kavanaugh on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and who reportedly is on the short list for the Supreme Court.

Rao, a 45-year-old Indian-American, has become the latest target of liberal activist groups and media smears, including BuzzFeed News, CNN, Mother Jones, Alliance for Justice, and Lambda Legal.

She is a brilliant legal scholar with decades of experience writing as a lawyer and law professor at George Mason University, but that’s now being overlooked because of some columns in college.

Her writings were published in the early 1990s, when Rao wrote for the Yale Free Press student newspaper as an open conservative at Yale University. She also briefly wrote for The Weekly Standard.

“’[S]he described race as a ‘hot, money-making issue,’ affirmative action as the ‘anointed dragon of liberal excess,’ welfare as being ‘for the indigent and lazy,’ and LGBT issues as part of ‘trendy’ political movements,” wrote BuzzFeed News. “On date rape, Rao wrote that if a woman ‘drinks to the point where she can no longer choose, well, getting to that point was part of her choice.’”

Reading Rao’s original work might take a significant amount of time, but the experience is worth it to see how easily a journalist with an agenda can cherry-pick the most provocative few words in a person’s long, thoughtful work.

Take the example of Rao’s 1994 op-ed in The Yale Herald, headlined “Shades of Gray,” where she did indeed write that if a woman “drinks to the point where she can no longer choose, well, getting to that point was part of her choice.”

Activists groups are twisting this line to suggest Rao believes it’s women’s fault when they get raped, but that’s not what she said at all.

Rao wrote firmly that men should be prosecuted and held responsible for rape—not once, but twice, in case the point wasn’t clear.

“A man who rapes a drunk girl should be prosecuted. At the same time, a good way to avoid a potential date rape is to stay reasonably sober,” she wrote.

Provocative, sure, but Rao’s being punished for predicting the sexual assault crisis that’s now exploded on college campuses, and for raising important questions we still haven’t solved. Do women hold any responsibility when they drink too much and consent to something they later regret? Rao concluded:  

Clearly, if the male student forced the woman to have sex against her will, then he should be held responsible. Yet the role of alcohol severely complicates the scenario. People often drink precisely so that they may limit their responsibility. They want to forget about their papers and their problems. They want to have fun, and not think so hard.

“Since the case rests only upon the testimony of the students who were involved, who decides the truth? A woman makes an accusation, a man denies it. At Yale, this gives the Executive Committee another opportunity to exercise their particular brand of judgment.”

More than two decades later, the U.S. Department of Education is still asking these important questions, with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos most recently working to restore the rights of those accused.

But somehow, liberal media and activist groups find these ideas unacceptable for a college student in 1994 to explore.

One side says #BelieveAllWomen, while the other wants evidence and facts. In context Rao simply asks:

Can the liberated ’90s woman freely choose whether to drink or not? Unless someone made her drinks undetectably strong or forced them down her throat, a woman, like a man, decides when and how much to drink. And if she drinks to the point where she can no longer choose, well, getting to that point was part of her choice. Implying that a drunk woman has no control of her actions, but that a drunk man does, strips woman of all moral responsibility. It creates a culture of victimization in which men are prowling and uncontrollable, and women are weak and helpless. Any self-respecting person should be troubled and offended by such ideas.

Nan Aron, president of the liberal advocacy group Alliance for Justice, which “first highlighted Rao’s college writings to BuzzFeed News,” claimed Rao’s columns were “hostile to sexual assault survivors.”

Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec responded to the inflammatory allegation, telling BuzzFeed News that Rao’s contributions to her student newspaper were “intentionally provocative,” which is any good writer’s job.

Rao’s arguments were reasoned and courageous. They demonstrate her ability to raise countercultural arguments and articulate their defense—an important quality in any good judge.

Instead of punishing Rao for addressing controversial topics on college campuses, society should be doing the opposite. We should praise her for having the courage to swim against the current because, right or wrong, college is the time to explore.

And instead of writing splashy headlines about the writings of a 19-year-old, we should look at Rao’s professional record and achievements since then.

After receiving a B.A. from Yale University and a law degree from the University of Chicago, Rao clerked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. She was named intern of the year at The Heritage Foundation.

She served in all three branches of government, then went on to found the Antonin Scalia Law School’s Center for the Study of the Administrative State at George Mason University.

Currently, Rao is serving as administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Office of Management and Budget, known as “the most important office you’ve never heard of.”

There, she oversees Trump’s ambitious deregulatory agenda. She’s respected by colleagues as a brilliant legal mind, and is considered one of the foremost experts in administrative law.

In other words, Rao is a force to be reckoned with in Washington and beyond. An Indian-American woman from Detroit, she’s an obvious threat to the those on the left.

If digging up old, provocative works from college is the worst they’ve got, Rao will sail through her confirmation hearings for the D.C. Circuit and eventually, possibly the Supreme Court.

But we learned from the Kavanaugh hearings that the left won’t stop at anything, so conservatives best come prepared. There’s no telling how low they’ll go.

The post The Left Attacks Trump’s Pick to Replace Brett Kavanaugh for Her Smart College Writings appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

We Will Look Back and View Abortion as We View Slavery Today

Wed, 2019-01-16 17:46

Tennessee’s new senator, Marsha Blackburn, has just introduced the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act. This coincides with this year’s March for Life, noting 46 years since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

The legislation would end all federal funding to all abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood.

This is the first legislative initiative by Blackburn, elected to the Senate in 2018 after serving eight terms in House of Representatives. Blackburn has been a principled, unwavering pro-life conservative in all her years of public service, and I commend her for this.

It is about time that as a nation we understand the scourge of abortion in the broadest context of how it impacts our nation’s health and wealth.

I have spoken and written often about this, comparing our social upheavals of today to those of the 1850s, when slavery was the issue tearing our nation apart.

The 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act, championed by Sen. Stephen Douglas, provided that citizens of these new territories could vote to determine whether slavery would be permitted.

The act was, on the issue of slavery, pro-choice.

Abraham Lincoln touched the heart of the matter in his famous speech, Oct. 16, 1854, in Peoria, Illinois.

“Judge Douglas interrupted me to say,” said Lincoln, “that the principle (of) the Nebraska Bill was very old; that it originated when God made man and placed good and evil before him, allowing him to choose for himself, being responsible for the choice he should make.”

Lincoln answered that “the facts of this proposition are not true as stated. God did not place good and evil before man, telling him to make his choice. On the contrary, he did tell him there was one tree, of the fruit of which, he should not eat, upon pain of certain death. I should scarcely wish so strong a prohibition against slavery in Nebraska.”

Many sided with Stephen Douglas then on the proposition that it made sense that legality of slavery in a given territory be decided by vote, by choice. What American today would agree with this?

On the contrary, who among us did not learn American history without a sense of disbelief that once slavery existed in our nation, founded on the principles of freedom and equality?

On the issue of slavery, Lincoln was pro-life.

He knew that human life is not a creature of political definition, but a divine truth toward which we need to be in deference and awe, as we are in awe of the God that created it.

There is little doubt in my mind that one day Americans will look back on our history with disbelief that it was once legal in America for women to be judge and jury of life itself and to destroy the miracle of life within them.

Meanwhile, we see the warning signs around us of a society falling apart as result of a sickness in the soul.

Family and marriage are collapsing. Birthrates are collapsing.

New Census Bureau data shows U.S. population growth this past year is the lowest in 80 years. They project that in just 17 years, for the first time ever, our population over the age of 65 will exceed our population under 18.

For some reason, we seem to need to plunge into the darkness before we see the light.

But the good news is we have leaders like Marsha Blackburn and Americans like the hundreds of thousands who will arrive in Washington for the March of Life.

The incidence of abortion has dropped dramatically since its peak after Roe v .Wade, and it has dropped significantly among young women. Activism by pro-life groups is making a difference.

Slowly, albeit too slowly, awareness is building in America that true freedom starts with respect for the mystery and sanctity of life.


The post We Will Look Back and View Abortion as We View Slavery Today appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Liberals Bash Karen Pence for Teaching at Christian School

Wed, 2019-01-16 17:33

OSecond lady Karen Pence is under fire from some liberals for her decision to teach art at a Christian school in Virginia.

The Pences never seem to miss an opportunity to show their public service only extends to some. https://t.co/d7IqWzFRDg

— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) January 16, 2019

This sends a terrible message to students.

Do we want to live in a country with leaders who are willing to disavow LGBTQ youth? https://t.co/XZ8ar5uunm

— ACLU (@ACLU) January 16, 2019

The school considers homosexual relationships and transgender identity examples of ‘moral misconduct' #NOH8 https://t.co/AItyhWT4RA

— NOH8 Campaign (@NOH8Campaign) January 16, 2019

Karen Pence is a terrible human being. https://t.co/Nu5myssUst

— Mark Harris (@MarkHarrisNYC) January 16, 2019

Mike Pence is an extremist bigot. Karen Pence is an extremist bigot. She's unfit to even be around kids, let alone teach them. Anyone willing to allow their kid to be taught by a dangerous monster like Karen Pence is unfit to be a parent. Ask me how I really feel.

— Palmer Report (@PalmerReport) January 16, 2019

“Mrs. Pence has returned to the school where she previously taught for 12 years,” Kara Brooks, Pence’s spokeswoman, said in a statement, per Politico.

“It’s absurd that her decision to teach art to children at a Christian school, and the school’s religious beliefs, are under attack.”

Immanuel Christian School’s application for employment states its position on marriage, and asks applicants to affirm that marriage is “the uniting of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive covenant union as delineated in Scripture and that God intends sexual intimacy to occur only between a man and a woman who are married to each other and that God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity is engaged in outside of marriage between a man and a woman.”

In the parents agreement, the school makes clear it expects adherence to traditional Christian sexual morality:

I understand that the school reserves the right, within its sole discretion, to refuse admission to an applicant or to discontinue enrollment of a student if the atmosphere or conduct within a particular home, the activities of a parent or guardian, or the activities of the student are counter to, or are in opposition to, the biblical lifestyle the school teaches. This includes, but is not limited to contumacious behavior, divisive conduct, and participating in, supporting, or condoning sexual immorality, homosexual activity or bi-sexual activity, promoting such practices, or being unable to support the moral principles of the school. (Lev. 20:13 and Romans 1:27.)

Ryan T. Anderson, a senior research fellow in American principles and public policy at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal in an email that the school isn’t guilty of discrimination.

“It’s absurd that anyone objects to a Christian school that seeks to promote Christian values and foster community around those values,” Anderson said. “The school community is open to anyone—without discrimination—who strives to live according to Christian teaching.”

Pence will be teaching elementary art two days a week at the school. Pence, who illustrated her daughter Charlotte Pence’s book “Marlon Bundo’s Day in the Life of the Vice President,” previously taught at Immanuel Christian School for over 10 years during her husband Mike Pence’s time in Congress.

The post Liberals Bash Karen Pence for Teaching at Christian School appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

The Shutdown Shows How Unnecessary Much of Government Is

Wed, 2019-01-16 14:07

This government shutdown is now longer than any in history. The media keep using the word “crisis.”

“Shutdown sows chaos, confusion and anxiety!” says The Washington Post. “Pain spreads widely.”

 The New York Times headlined, it’s all “just too much!”

But wait. Looking around America, I see people going about their business—families eating in restaurants, employees going to work, children playing in playgrounds, etc. I have to ask: Where’s the crisis?

Pundits talk as if government is the most important part of America, but it isn’t.

We need some government, limited government. But most of life, the best of life, goes on without government, many of the best parts in spite of government.

Of course, the shutdown is a big deal to the 800,000 people who aren’t being paid. But they will get paid. Government workers always do—after shutdowns.

Columnist Paul Krugman calls this shutdown “Trump’s big libertarian experiment.” But it’s not libertarian. Government’s excessive rules are still in effect, and eventually government workers will be paid for not working. That makes this a most un-libertarian experiment.

But there are lessons to be learned.

During a shutdown when Barack Obama was president, government officials were so eager to make a point by inconveniencing people that they even stopped visitors from entering public parks.

Trump’s administration isn’t doing that, so PBS found a new crisis: “Trash cans spilling … [P]ark services can’t clean up the mess until Congress and the president reach a spending deal,” reported “NewsHour.”

But volunteers appeared to pick up some of the trash.

Given a chance, private citizens often step in to do things government says only government can do.

The Washington Post ran a front-page headline about farmers “reeling … because they aren’t receiving government support checks.”

But why do farmers even get “support checks”?

One justification is “saving family farms.” But the money goes to big farms.

Government doesn’t need to “guarantee the food supply,” another justification for subsidies. Most fruit and vegetable farmers get no subsidies, yet there are no shortages of peaches, plums, green beans, etc.

Subsidies are a scam created by politicians who get money from wheat, cotton, corn, and soybean agribusinesses. Those farmers should suck it up and live without subsidies, too.

During shutdowns, government tells “nonessential workers” not to come to work. But if they’re nonessential, then why do we pay 400,000 of them?

Why do we still pay 100,000 American soldiers in Germany, Japan, Italy, and England? Didn’t we win those wars?

We could take a chainsaw to so much of government.

The New York Times shrieks, “Shutdown Curtails FDA Food Inspections!”

Only if you read on do you learn that meat and poultry inspection is done by the Department of Agriculture. They’re still working. And the Food and Drug Administration is restarting some inspections as well.

More important, meat is usually safe not because of government—but because of competition.

Food sellers worry about their reputations. They know they’ll get bad publicity if they poison people (think Chipotle), so they take many more safety measures than government requires.

One meat producer told me that they employ 2,000 more safety inspectors than the law demands.

Lazy reporters cover politicians. Interviewees are usually in one place—often Washington, D.C. Interviewing politicians is easier than covering people pursuing their own interests all over America. But those are the people who make America work.

While pundits and politicians act as if everything needs government intervention, the opposite is true.

Even security work is done better by the private sector. At San Francisco’s airport, security lines move faster. Passengers told me, “The screeners are nicer!” The TSA even acknowledged that those screeners are better at finding contraband. That’s because San Francisco (Kansas City, Seattle, and a dozen smaller airports) privatized the screening process. Private companies are responsible for security.

Private contractors are better because they must compete. Perform badly, and they get fired.

But government never fires itself.

Government workers shout, “We are essential!” But I say: “Give me a break. Most of you are not.”


The post The Shutdown Shows How Unnecessary Much of Government Is appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Gillette’s Toxic Sanctimony

Wed, 2019-01-16 13:37

One of the world’s most successful brands committed ideological hara-kiri this week. Recognized around the world as a symbol of manly civility for more than a century, Gillette will now be remembered as the company that did itself in by sacrificing a massive consumer base at the altar of progressivism.

To which I say: R.I.P.-C. (Rest In Political Correctness).

In case you hadn’t seen or heard, parent company Procter & Gamble launched a Gillette ad campaign blanket-demonizing men as ogres and bullies. Guilt-ridden actors gaze ruefully at their reflections in the mirror—not because they’ve neglected their hygiene, but simply because they’re men. Various scenarios of boys being boors and males being monsters flash across the screen before woke interlocutors show how “real” men behave in nonaggressive, conciliatory, and apologetic ways.

At home and at work, in the boardroom, on the playground, and even while barbecuing in the backyard, Gillette sees nothing but testosterone-driven trouble. Message: Y chromosomes are toxic. The “best a man can get” can no longer be attained without first renouncing oppressive manliness.

Self-improvement must begin with self-flagellation.

A Gillette company statement explained that after “taking a hard look at our past” and “reflecting on the types of men and behaviors we want to celebrate,” officials decided to “actively challenge the stereotypes and expectations of what it means to be a man everywhere you see Gillette.”

But Proctor & Gamble, which bought Gillette in 2005 for $57 billion, doesn’t spell out which part exactly of the 118-year-old company’s past it now rejects. Was it founder King Gillette, the relentless entrepreneur who appealed to “red-blooded” young American soldiers? Was it the decades of multimillion-dollar promotional campaigns catering to physically superior athletes?

Or perhaps the mau-mauing marketers have adopted the radical feminist position that shaving itself is sexist. Is the ultimate goal to undermine the very raison d’etre of the $15 billion shave care industry?

I ask only half in jest. How else to explain this latest suicidal episode of collective consumer-shaming? Gillette’s two-minute, man-bashing missive may have racked up 7 million views on YouTube, but the “dislikes” outnumber “likes” by 4 to 1.

And the reviews are brutal:

“How to destroy your company in 1 minute 48 seconds.”

“Companies attempting to make profit should stick to that.”

“The single male is the most attacked maligned ridiculed and forgotten person in today’s society.”

“You can buy High Quality Razors that are NOT Gillette at the 99 Cents Store with NO lecturing on how to be a Man.”

“I’ll buy P&G products again when I see them release an equivalent ad targeting negative female traits: toxic femininity/paternity fraud/fake accusations … doubt that’s going to happen any time soon!”

“So now Gillette thinks that it is the arbiter of what all men should think, say, and watch. Screw Gillette, bought their products for almost 50 years, I will never buy another Gillette product. NEVER!!!”

“Thank you Gillette, I purchased your razors and chopped off my testicles with it. No more toxic masculinity!”


You may remember that P&G, which I unfondly refer to as Protest & Grumble, has dipped its sanctimonious toe into social justice waters before.

In 2017, the company tackled identity politics with a video called “The Talk.” The preachy ad stoked fear and hatred of police and perpetuated racial stereotypes of officers lurking around every corner waiting to pounce on innocent black children and teenagers—alienating law enforcement families across the country and insulting every minority cop to boot.

The backlash against that ad apparently didn’t faze Protest & Grumble’s activist zealots. Once again, industry marketers are proving they’re not satisfied with selling useful products people want and need. No, they’re hell-bent on exploiting successful businesses to cram odious politics down consumers’ throats.

Like many Silicon Valley giants (hello, Facebook and Twitter) and SJW-hijacked sports enterprises (hello, NFL and ESPN), Gillette is now openly discriminating against its consumers-turned-critics to curry political favor with the #MeToo movement.

Savvy social media observers caught the company throttling negative comments and dislikes on its YouTube video. They can manipulate likes and de-platform dissenters. But they won’t be able to disguise the bloodletting effect of toxic sanctimony on their bottom line.

Falling on your virtue-signaling blade may win you awards and headlines, but ultimately, it’s a fatal proposition.


The post Gillette’s Toxic Sanctimony appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Teacher Strike in Los Angeles Underscores Need for Education Choice

Wed, 2019-01-16 12:22

Public school teachers in Los Angeles are on strike, affecting half a million children attending some 900 public schools in the district.

Although students in the Los Angeles Unified School District—the second-largest school district in the country—can still access the schools, classes are being taught by substitute teachers while teachers outside are striking.

Many students are staying home—leaving some parents scrambling for child care.

Students who are going to school during the strike are passing the day playing games on iPads. Missing school or being relegated to busy work as a result of public education employee strikes are critical learning days lost. 

Students in Los Angeles can ill afford that: Just 18 percent of fourth-graders can read proficiently, a figure which jumps just one point to 19 percent for eighth-graders. Only one-quarter of Los Angeles fourth-graders score proficient in math, a figure that declines to 18 percent for eighth-graders.

Among the striking teachers’ demands are increased pay and smaller class sizes, along with regulations on charter schools and a push to increase the number of nonteaching personnel, such as librarians and counselors.

Yet since 1992, nonteaching staff in California has increased nearly 50 percent, greatly outpacing the 24 percent increase in the number of students.

As economist Ben Scafidi of Kennesaw State University in Georgia found, had California just kept the nonteaching staff levels on par with increases in student enrollment, the state would have saved nearly $3 billion—which could have gone toward unfunded pension liabilities.

The state’s unfunded pension liability—the gap between benefits owed and funding available for that purpose—was $107 billion in 2018.

That $3 billion also could have funded 373,000 children with $8,000 education savings accounts.

The increase in nonteaching personnel only exacerbates existing spending issues in the district.

As Chad Aldeman points out, from 2001 to 2016, the Los Angeles Unified School District increased overall spending by more than 55 percent. Public employee benefits in the district increased 138 percent.

My colleague Jonathan Butcher closely followed teachers union strikes, which last year disrupted learning in Colorado, Arizona, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and West Virginia. He draws three important lessons from those strikes.

First, Butcher notes, strikes are hard on families, and send parents scrambling. Strikes can test parents’ patience, even when they support the demands of the strikers.

Second, it’s school districts, rather than state lawmakers, who are ultimately responsible for teacher salaries. Third, tax increases on California taxpayers will not necessarily lead to increased teachers’ salaries.

Ultimately, school districts should be transparent in their spending, making administrators’ salaries publicly available, and they should reduce—not increase—the number of nonteaching personnel.

Furthermore, they should reward excellent teachers by basing teachers’ compensation on job performance.

During the strike, more than 117,000 students in Los Angeles are still able to attend school without being affected by the walkouts; namely, those in charter schools.

So, most critically, parents should be empowered with choice, including more charter school options and private school choice options.

Increasing spending and the number of nonteaching personnel, and further regulating education choice options, such as charter schools, will only amplify a failed status quo in California.

Instead, California should immediately empower families to choose learning options that are effective and meet their needs by moving toward increased school choice opportunities.

The post Teacher Strike in Los Angeles Underscores Need for Education Choice appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

New Study Dispels Misconceptions About ‘Motherhood Penalty’ and ‘Fatherhood Premium’

Wed, 2019-01-16 10:47

When a couple has a child, the woman’s earnings tend to decrease, while the man’s increases. This is known as the “motherhood penalty” and “fatherhood premium.”

Economists have pegged the resulting gap at about 20 percent of earnings over the long run, due to changes in labor-force participation, hours of work, and wage rates.

Advocates of complete pay parity conjecture that gender-based discrimination is to blame for the gap in pay between mothers and fathers, suggesting that employers wrongly perceive women as less valuable once they become mothers and fathers as more valuable.

Fresh evidence from a study by Valentin Bolotnyy and Natalia Emanuel of Harvard University suggests the “motherhood penalty” and “fatherhood premium”—at least at the level experienced in this study—is the result of choices mothers and fathers make, and not gender-based discrimination.

The study, “Why Do Women Earn Less Than Men? Evidence from Bus and Train Operators,” examined the earnings and hours of male and female operators within the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

The unionized environment within the transportation authority prohibits gender-based discrimination. Even if a manager wanted to discriminate, they couldn’t, because pay and workers’ options depend exclusively on tenure.

Despite the rigid pay system, women made 11 cents less, 89 cents on the dollar, compared with men.

The authors concluded that the gap “can be explained entirely by the fact that, while having the same choice sets in the workplace, women and men make difference choices.”

As a whole, women chose to work only half as many overtime hours—80 hours per year, compared with 160 hours for men.

Women also took an average of 17.5 days of unpaid leave (often to avoid undesirable schedules) through the Family and Medical Leave Act, compared with 10 days of leave for men. (The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 requires employers with 50 or more employees in the U.S. to grant up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave a year for family and medical purposes.)

More overtime pay and fewer days of unpaid leave resulted in higher average weekly earnings for men.

Looking specifically at the gap between mothers and fathers, the study concluded that “women with dependents—especially single women—value time away from work more than men with dependents.”

While women become less willing to work overtime and more likely to take unpaid FMLA leave after becoming a mother, men accept more overtime work and take less unpaid leave.

Stereotypical as it may be, the average woman responds to motherhood by wanting to spend more time with her family, while the average man responds to fatherhood by wanting to spend more time providing financially for his family.

This is an important finding. Past studies have found a nonlinear gap in earnings within certain occupations based on flexibility and hours worked, particularly when it comes to highly paid occupations, such as law and medicine.

This study shows that flexibility and hours play a significant role for workers with average earnings and hours as well.

Moreover, the study found that some policy changes that reduced the earnings gap actually left women and men worse off.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority implemented two policies: one making it more difficult to take FMLA at a moment’s notice and another limiting workers’ ability to game overtime hours.

These changes reduced the earnings gap from 11 cents to 6 cents on the dollar, but at the price of reduced workplace flexibility and a significant reduction in earnings for both men and women.

As noted by the authors, “Because women have greater revealed preferences for this flexibility, women likely fared worse from these policies than men.” Instead of taking FMLA leave, women took more unexcused leave when their schedules did not meet their needs or desires, but unexcused leave can result in suspensions or termination.

The authors suggested that allowing workers to trade shifts could improve workplace flexibility without hurting performance.

Another policy that would help workers without hurting companies is the Working Families Flexibility Act. That bill would allow private-sector employers to provide their workers with the option of taking time-and-a-half pay or time-and-a-half paid leave when they work overtime hours.

The post New Study Dispels Misconceptions About ‘Motherhood Penalty’ and ‘Fatherhood Premium’ appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy