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‘Self-Sufficiency, Not a Sinkhole’: JOBS Act Updates Work Requirements for Welfare Recipients

Thu, 2019-03-14 18:13

Republicans in the House and Senate are making another legislative push to enforce work requirements for able-bodied adults on welfare.

Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., and Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday announced the Jobs and Opportunity with Benefits and Services Act.

The JOBS Act comes as the Trump administration makes a renewed push for work requirements for welfare recipients in its fiscal year 2020 budget proposal.

The successful 1996 welfare reform law is now broken, Daines said, asserting that states that find loopholes to avoid imposing work requirements undermine the aim of that law.

The 1996 law created the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, passed by a Republican Congress and signed by a Democratic president, Bill Clinton, to tie work and job-training requirements to welfare payments.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families is the largest welfare program in the country, and the Daines proposal would reauthorize and modernize it.

“Our welfare programs should be a springboard to work and self-sufficiency, not a sinkhole into government dependency,” Daines said in a statement. “My bill supports struggling low-income families and equips them with the skills and resources they need to find and keep a job—something that gives them hope, dignity, and a better future.”

Some Democrats and other critics have argued that work requirements can be onerous since welfare recipients are often more vulnerable populations.

In recent years, many states have begun to ignore the work requirements. The new legislation requires each state’s caseworkers to engage with job-seekers to help Temporary Assistance for Needy Families recipients find jobs and keep them.

The legislation also addresses matters such as mental health issues, as well as drug and alcohol addiction. It also seeks to close the “jobs gap” by connecting employers with potential workers.

The legislation could help lift more Americans out of poverty, said Heritage Foundation President Kay Coles James.

“We know the history of government assistance programs. Rather than lift people out of poverty, they have created generational poverty and left millions of Americans perpetually dependent on government,” James said in a statement. “There are few things more debilitating than not being able to provide for oneself and one’s family.

“Assistance programs must help—not harm—the people they are intended to serve,” James said. “It’s time to ensure that people not only get the temporary assistance they need to get through the tough times, but that they also get help with the more permanent solution of finding meaningful work.”

The House version of the legislation is called the Jobs and Opportunity with Benefits and Services (JOBS) for Success Act.

According to House Republicans, less than half the total program dollars sent to states go toward supporting work requirements and job training. Instead, many states use the federal funds for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families to plug state budget gaps.

The bill would also limit the use of funds dedicated for welfare recipients to those with a monthly income below 200 percent of the poverty level and require states to spend a minimum level of funding on transportation and other work-support services to help more Americans prepare for jobs and keep them.

The federal government would also track states for how many in the caseload find work under the legislation.

The bill also renames Temporary Assistance to Needy Families as Jobs and Opportunity with Benefits and Services.

“Following the GOP tax cuts, our economy continues to soar, with wages rising at their fastest pace in a decade and near 50-year-low unemployment,” said Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee and a co-sponsor of the House version.

“There are a record 7.3 million job openings, and millions of folks on the sidelines who we need—and want—to take part in this expanding economy,” Brady said in a statement. “This proposal builds on that by reforming our nation’s cash-for-work welfare program, refocusing this important program on the outcome of parents getting and keeping a job.”

A 2017 poll found 92 percent of Americans favor work requirements for welfare recipients.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children after the 1996 law. Caseloads, poverty rates, and welfare spending decreased in the near term.

However, by 2000, the trend began to reverse, according to a report released last year by Robert Rector and Vijay Menon of The Heritage Foundation. State welfare bureaucracies lapsed back into check-writing agencies, they wrote, and more than half of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families recipients in the average state is not engaged in any work or job-training program.

President Donald Trump’s fiscal year 2020 budget proposal, released on Monday, would implement a requirement of at least 20 hours a week for work or job training for certain welfare benefits, such as food stamps and assistance with the cost of rents.

A job is the best solution to poverty, said Tim Chapman, executive director of Heritage Action for America, the lobbying arm of The Heritage Foundation.

“Americans in need deserve our best efforts in assisting them,” he said in a statement. “One of the best ways to ensure people receive the help they need is to aid them in finding a job.

“That’s what the JOBS for Success Act accomplishes. It helps provide a permanent solution for Americans struggling to make ends meet. The solution is a job,” Chapman said.

The post ‘Self-Sufficiency, Not a Sinkhole’: JOBS Act Updates Work Requirements for Welfare Recipients appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Rep. Jordan Decries ‘Double Standard’ for ‘Politically Connected Class’ Like Clinton, Cohen

Thu, 2019-03-14 18:04

The former chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus says his mission now as ranking member on the House Oversight and Reform Committee remains the same, even though Republicans are no longer in the majority.

“The focus never changes,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio.

“The focus is the truth and making sure the American people understand what happens when we get to the truth when there’s any type of investigation going on,” Jordan said on the second installment of the House Freedom Caucus’ new podcast, hosted by Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga.

“There’s the broader issue of, we do want the government that Americans are taxed to support. We want it to work efficiently and effectively, so that’s the charge of the committee, if you will. I have always enjoyed being on the committee. I feel privileged to have the role we have now,” he said.

Jordan made his remarks on the new “Freedom Caucus Podcast,” which debuted last week, with Hice interviewing the current caucus chairman, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., about the group’s founding and its continued influence in the 116th Congress.

In the latest podcast, Jordan—who was named the oversight panel’s ranking member in November after Democrats retook control of the House in the midterm elections—said that he detests what he called the “double standard” of justice he sees in the American political system and wants to work to correct it.

“It’s not what this country’s about, this idea that there’s two sets of rules now, one set of rules for us regular folk … but a different set if you are part of the politically connected class—if your name is Clinton, [Michael] Cohen, [former IRS official Lois] Lerner, [former Attorney General Loretta] Lynch, [former FBI official Lisa] Page, [former FBI official Peter] Strzok, all these people we have heard about. If your name is that, it’s different,” Jordan said. “That is not how it is supposed to be in this country. It is supposed to be equal treatment under the law.”

Jordan referred specifically to former IRS division chief Lois Lerner, who reportedly targeted tea party groups and “admitted that the agency put additional scrutiny into the applications for nonprofit tax status of conservative and tea party groups,” according to NPR.

“It’s as wrong as it gets, and you know I feel like the oversight function of the United States Congress is to make sure that that kind of stuff doesn’t happen—that it’s equal treatment for all, and it’s equal treatment under the law,” the Ohio lawmaker said. “That’s why we gotta fight and make sure we expose the wrongdoing when it in fact happens.”

While Jordan said his focus on the House Oversight and Reform Committee will be to pursue the truth, he said he thinks Democrats will be focused solely on partisan attacks on President Donald Trump.

“I do think what is going to happen this Congress, and you’re already seeing it, the Democrats are going to spend their time investigating the president,” the seven-term lawmaker said. “They are so focused on getting the president, in my mind, way too focused on that, and not focused on helping the country. But I don’t see them changing.”

Listen to the full podcast below:

The post Rep. Jordan Decries ‘Double Standard’ for ‘Politically Connected Class’ Like Clinton, Cohen appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Hit the Pause Button on College Admissions Outrage

Thu, 2019-03-14 17:01

The media is baring its rancid teeth again. We have more people whose lives we can now rip apart.

In the latest frenzy of outrage and recrimination, the collective disdain and finger-pointing and “how could they-ism” of the media establishment has fresh meat: the wealthy, sometimes famous, and sometimes powerful parents who were involved in a scheme to bribe and cheat to get their children into college.

Let me be clear: What these parents did is wrong. What the coaches did is wrong. What the test-proctor cheaters did is wrong.

But let’s also consider this: The whole college admissions system is rigged and wrong. Instead of simply tsk-tsking these people who allegedly illegally paid to help their kids, maybe we should also consider why people who seem to be otherwise good and upstanding would be driven to engage in this kind of behavior.

The fact is the whole college admissions system is rigged in one way or another to give unfair advantages.

It is rigged to give preference to black students, even if their parents are wealthy, their schools are comfortable, and their lives are privileged. It is rigged to give preference to athletes. It is rigged to give preference to Hispanic students who write admissions essays (read by liberal college admissions officers) arguing that their family has been oppressed. It is rigged to give preference to people who can donate $20 million to a school, have a building named after their family, or have “helpful” calls made on behalf of their children when they apply.

Is any of that fair?

Parents love their children. They want to do right by them. Most parents would gladly give their lives for their children. Believing that admission to a particular college is crucial for their child’s success—or imagining that it is the fulfillment of a dream—these parents looked at a system that is, by any fair account, rigged to favor a few, and they tried to make their children part of those few.

Now here’s where this gets hard: My bet is that 98 percent of the people involved in this scheme are upper-middle-class white people. Their children, I bet, are mostly good people: involved in the community, good students. And the fact is college admissions are rigged against white and Asian students, who often have to have better test scores and better qualifications to gain college admittance.

The reality in many of these universities is that by the time you subtract preferences for minorities, athletes, children of donors and children of the well-connected, college admissions is a process in which the only people seemingly “guaranteed” spots are people who have the system rigged in their favor. It’s clear from reading some of the emails that many of these parents were trying to “rig” a guaranteed spot for their kid.

Think about this: Being on the board of trustees of a college, donating $20 million, and talking to the college admissions officer about your kid or a friend’s kid is legal. Being a black student with lower test scores than other applicants and still getting special preference is legal. Being a Hispanic student with lower test scores than the average applicant and writing an essay about the prejudice your family has faced, playing to the sympathies of the admissions committee, is legal. All of it plays to getting a special advantage in admissions. And all of it is legal.

What these parents did was clearly illegal. It is not justifiable. It is wrong. But for anyone who has ever loved their child, it is understandable. I’m not justifying their behavior, but I understand it.

If you love your kid, wouldn’t you do anything for them? And when you look at a system that is so clearly rigged, why wouldn’t you try to rig it in your kid’s favor?

It’s easy to blame the parents. And they should be blamed. But let’s also not let the colleges completely off the hook.

Everyone knows that the system they’ve set up is rigged. So, let’s unrig it. Make all admissions blind.

Instead of names on applications, substitute anonymous numbers. No information should be included about race or gender. No contact should be allowed between rich, well-connected donors and college admissions officers. Applications should be evaluated in the way that some law school classes are evaluated—blindly—based on their quality.

Let’s unrig the way that America admits young people to colleges. What these parents did is wrong. But the system itself is wrong. Let’s see if the liberal media, the celebrities, and the college admissions officers are willing to ask hard questions about the very system they all support.

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Categories: Public Policy

House GOP Demands Nancy Pelosi Hold Hearings on Green New Deal

Thu, 2019-03-14 13:56

“As the committees to which it has been referred, we have a responsibility to fully understand how the Green New Deal will affect the cost of living and economic mobility of hardworking Americans,” 11 House GOP members wrote to Pelosi on Thursday.

“Americans. We need to get to the facts, the American people deserve answers,” wrote lawmakers, including Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Rob Bishop of Utah, Kevin Brady of Texas, and Greg Walden of Oregon.

Republicans also plan to hold a press conference Thursday to push their case, Axios reported. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is set to attend the press conference, signaling a coordinated effort to keep the Green New Deal at the forefront ahead of the 2020 elections.

While the Green New Deal has been embraced by leftmost Democrats and a handful of 2020 presidential hopefuls, Democratic leadership has withheld overt support for the resolution.

Moderate Democrats have distanced themselves from the resolution or, like West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, joined with Republicans to reject it altogether.

The Green New Deal calls for aggressive goals of achieving “net-zero” greenhouse gas emissions within 10 years, which implies more aggressive policies than cap-and-trade. Republicans worry such policies will raise energy prices and dramatically expand government control of the economy.

“Taken together, we fear the Green New Deal would hurt Americans struggling to make ends meet—the very people it purports to help,” Republicans wrote to Pelosi. “Worst of all, it could permanently put the American Dream out of reach for millions of Americans.”

Republicans’ letter comes on news Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is set to bring the Green New Deal to a vote in the last week of March. Senate Democrats are trying to avoid voting on the nonbinding resolution and even put forward an alternative bill.

Republicans in the Western Caucus, including Bishop, held a public forum on the Green New Deal in late February, and even invited the bill’s sponsor, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who wasn’t able to attend.

At the event, Bishop ate a hamburger in defiance of the Green New Deal—in reference to Ocasio-Cortez’s bungled Green New Deal rollout FAQ that mentioned getting rid of “farting cows.”

Before @AOC and @SenMarkey outlaw our hamburgers because of the Green New Deal, we have to take full advantage of this opportunity pic.twitter.com/i2gMpSPLWf

— Natural Resources GOP (@NatResources) February 27, 2019

It seems doubtful Pelosi would agree to hold hearings on the Green New Deal. Pelosi referred to the Green New Deal as “the green dream or whatever” after it was introduced in February.

Likewise, Pelosi has resisted her party’s calls for votes on Medicare for All and impeachment. Pelosi also remembers the defeat of cap-and-trade in 2010, despite Democratic control of both chambers of Congress.

Pelosi’s office did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment in time for publication.

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Categories: Public Policy

College Admissions Scandal Is Likely Tip of the Iceberg

Thu, 2019-03-14 13:47

The recently disclosed college admissions scandal has angered everyone because it involves the classic vices of greed, lying, subterfuge, dirty money, snitches, and cheating. It also underscores the notion that the rich play by a different set of rules, and that the college admissions process is not based on merit. 

By unsealing the indictment and criminal complaint against 50 people, the Department of Justice pulled back the curtain on the whole sordid underworld of side-door, backroom, dirty deals reached by select parents, coaches, college board administrators, and others who allegedly put status and greed over fairness and merit. 

Each defendant, who is presumed innocent, faces serious criminal consequences given the information contained in the indictment and criminal complaint.  

And this may be just the tip of the iceberg. 

The case centers on William Singer, the owner of a college counseling company in Newport Beach, California. Unlike other college counseling companies, Singer provided unique services that guaranteed admission of less-than-average students to the college of their parents’ choice through, as he termed it, the “side door.” 

The side door involved bribing college coaches to admit students (not actual student athletes) as a recruited athlete, cheating on SAT/ACT exams by paying off select administrators of those exams, doctoring grades, and more. In return for these services, parents paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to Singer’s fake charity, and some then took the tax deduction the next year.

Right after Singer was caught by the FBI and decided to become a cooperating witness, he tipped off some of his clients, which is why Singer was also charged with obstruction of justice. What we don’t know yet is who he tipped off, what was said, what actions (if any) those people took as a result of the tip, and whether more charges are forthcoming.

As a cooperating witness, Singer (thus living up to his last name) told the feds about his scam, and agreed to a series of recorded phone conversations with unsuspecting client parents regarding their ongoing conspiracy. Portions of those recorded conversations are contained in the complaint, and give the reader an unvarnished view into the quid pro quo nature of the scam. 

Singer’s pitch was a simple business proposition: Name the college you want your kid to attend, get your kid a fake diagnosis of a learning disability, petition the college board for extra time to take the SAT/ACT because of the learning disability, Singer gets a fixer to take the exam for the student or “correct” the student’s exam at one of two special testing sites, work with Singer on a fake athlete profile for your kid, and pay Singer the money he required—and presto, your kid is admitted to the college of his or her choice as a “recruited athlete.”

Over an eight-year period, Singer conspired with dozens of parents to get their lackluster students into elite colleges and universities. He bragged about it to his clients. The Justice Department documents mention Stanford University, Yale University, the University of Southern California, Wake Forest University, the University of San Diego, the University of Texas, UCLA, and Georgetown University.

We don’t know what other schools Singer placed students into over the years, what other parents he conspired with, and how many other college coaches, administrators, or persons he worked with to achieve his nefarious business purpose. But there certainly are others, which is why the U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts mentioned that there may be more charges. Count on it.

Singer is facing a long time in jail, even though he pled guilty. He was charged in a criminal information with racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the United States, obstruction of justice, RICO forfeiture, and money laundering. He had a strong incentive to take a plea and become a cooperating witness. No doubt he expects the sentencing judge to go easy on him when he is sentenced, but he very likely will do substantial prison time regardless of any sentence reduction. 

The charges against the parents include conspiracy to commit mail fraud, and honest services mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349, each of which carries a maximum sentence, if convicted, of no more than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss. The charges against the coaches and teachers include racketeering conspiracy in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d), and carries the same sentence. 

This case is just getting started. Several of the spouses, who were recorded in phone conversations, were not charged. Why? Either because they didn’t commit a crime, or because the government decided that not charging them at this time gives the government leverage over the indicted spouse.

It is certainly possible that as the government develops other facts, and as defendants weigh their options and decide to cooperate, other defendants may be charged. Furthermore, as individual colleges conduct internal investigations, they may uncover facts that they will turn over to the government, who in turn may charge more individuals. 

Who are the victims, if any, at this point? Certainly those actual student athletes who had a reasonable shot at gaining admission into those schools during that recruiting year, who were denied that recruited athlete slot because it was rigged in favor of a privileged kid.

Perhaps there are other students of merit who applied to colleges, but were denied admission, or were deferred, because these (and others we don’t know about) were granted admission based on bogus credentials. Time will tell. 

Stand by for more, as other shoes are likely to drop.

The post College Admissions Scandal Is Likely Tip of the Iceberg appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

California Police Blame State’s Sanctuary Policies for San Jose Slaying

Thu, 2019-03-14 13:34

Local and federal authorities are imploring California lawmakers to revise the state’s “sanctuary” policies after another illegal immigrant with a known criminal record was charged in a brutal killing in the Democrat-controlled state.

Police say Bambi Larson, 59, was stabbed to death in her home Feb. 28 by Carlos Eduardo Arevalo Carranza, 24, an illegal immigrant with a long rap sheet.

Larson, a San Jose mother of two, was beloved by her neighbors.

24-year-old transient Carlos Carranza is accused of stabbing to death 59-year-old Bambi Larson in her San Jose home https://t.co/lZ0KTJqNxl pic.twitter.com/64DgRtCIP3

— KRON4 News (@kron4news) March 12, 2019

Larson’s killing comes during a high-stakes debate over illegal immigration and sanctuary city or sanctuary state policies, which divided the nation after the 2015 shooting of Kate Steinle, 32, in San Francisco. Two years later, a jury found Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, the illegal immigrant and multiple deportee accused of killing Steinle, not guilty of murder.

According to investigators, Carranza, a Salvadoran national, was in the country illegally and had been convicted of more than 10 crimes in the past three years.

San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had placed a detainer order on Carranza, but ICE’s order repeatedly was ignored due to the state’s sanctuary policies.

“This isn’t about politics. This is about public safety,” Garcia said at a press conference Tuesday. “He could have been turned over [to immigration officials] six times.”

Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith said in a formal statement: “This is a senseless act, and very well may have been preventable. My deepest sympathy goes out to the family and friends of Ms. Larson.”

“How many more people have to be killed or injured before California lawmakers will open discussions to revise the state policy prohibiting local law enforcement agencies from working with ICE to apprehend dangerous criminal aliens?” asked Erik Bonnar, an acting field office director for ICE.

“It’s unfortunate that our communities face dangerous consequences because of inflexible state laws that protect criminal aliens,” Bonnar said. “These sanctuary policies have unintended, but very real, and often tragic consequences to public safety.”

#BREAKING: Man accused of killing San Jose woman, Bambi Larson, is an undocumented immigrant with long criminal history https://t.co/xdZtLoRewF

— KRON4 News (@kron4news) March 12, 2019

According to Fox News, the Department of Homeland Security detained Carranza at the border in Texas and deported him in 2013:

Two years later he was arrested and accused of possession of [drug] paraphernalia and convicted of burglary in San Jose. In 2016, he was arrested on charges of battery of an officer, resisting arrest and entering and occupying a property. That same year, in October, Carranza was arrested in Los Angeles on battery charges. His final arrest before the murder of Larson was in January, on charges of possession of methamphetamine and paraphernalia.

President Donald Trump has made ending sanctuary policies a priority of his administration.

In his recent State of the Union address, Trump said, “In the last two years, ICE officers made 266,000 arrests of aliens with criminal records, including those charged or convicted of 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes, and 4,000 violent killings.”

According to ICE statistics, the vast majority of arrests are of convicted criminals and illegal immigrants with pending criminal charges.

Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, long has contended that sanctuary policies can lead to dangerous consequences.

“Sanctuary policies create sanctuaries for criminals. They endanger public safety by returning dangerous aliens into local communities,” von Spakovsky said.

The killing has shaken Larson’s San Jose community.

“My daughter just doesn’t want to step out of the house alone,” a neighbor, Nitin Miranda, told CBS affiliate KPIX-TV.

The post California Police Blame State’s Sanctuary Policies for San Jose Slaying appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Kirstjen Nielsen Says DHS Will Continue to Enforce the Law Despite Democrats’ Opposition

Thu, 2019-03-14 13:22

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said her agency will continue to enforce immigration laws, despite facing heavy opposition from congressional Democrats.

“Well, two things. One, I would say we’re a law enforcement agency. So we enforce the law,” Nielsen said Thursday on “Fox & Friends.” “You know, I said it before, but I really fear for our democracy when the body who creates the laws is telling the body who enforces the law, ‘Just don’t enforce the law.’ If they don’t like the law, they should change it. But the men and women at [the] Department of Homeland Security have sworn an oath to protect communities, to secure the homeland, and to enforce the law that Congress passed.”

“The second one is that there’s just a lot of misunderstanding,” she continued. “Many of the policies and the ways in which [Customs and Border Protection] has been protecting our community for decades are the same. They’re just suddenly now political and partisan. But these are the professionals who’ve done this for 20, 30 years, often times at risk to their own lives. This is what they say we need to do to protect the border.”

Nielsen blamed Congress, judges, and criminals for a rise in illegal border crossings and said immigration shouldn’t be viewed as a partisan issue.

“It’s interesting. If you boil it down, it’s Congress, courts, and criminals,” she said. “The criminals have found a way to take advantage of the situation. They’re trafficking, smuggling, they’re preying on the migrants. But they’re also selling them a bill of goods. We’ve had some unfortunate court decisions. They clearly did not understand either the authorities in some cases, but more importantly, the operational effects of the security concerns.”

“And then three, Congress continues to fail to act. This is not a partisan issue. It’s not partisan to want to protect communities. it’s not partisan to want to secure our border. It’s not partisan to want to secure our homeland. And yet, in this environment, Congress refuses to act.”

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Categories: Public Policy

7 Reasons Why the Equality Act Is Anything But

Thu, 2019-03-14 10:28

 Most Americans don’t want a nationwide bathroom requirement, health care mandate, or “preferred pronoun” law based on gender identity, but congressional Democrats seem to think it’s time to impose them.

Nancy Pelosi delivered Wednesday on her promise to introduce the so-called Equality Act, which would elevate sexual orientation and gender identity to protected classes in federal anti-discrimination law.

Although that may sound nice in theory, in practice sexual orientation and gender identity policies at the state and local level have caused profound harms to Americans from all walks of life.

How might a sexual orientation and gender identity law on the federal level, as introduced in the House and Senate, affect you and your community? Here are seven ways:

1. It would penalize Americans who don’t affirm new sexual norms or gender ideology.

Jack Phillips’s case went all the way to the Supreme Court after the Colorado Civil Rights Commission accused the bakery owner of discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation when the self-described cake artist declined to create a custom cake to celebrate a same-sex wedding.

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, but left the law in question, the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, intact. Until last week, Phillips was in court again defending himself against the same agency under the same law.

The day after the Supreme Court ruled in Phillips’ case, Autumn Scardina, a lawyer who identifies as transgender, requested that he create a “gender transition cake.” After Phillips declined, the state Civil Rights Commission found probable cause under the law that the baker had discriminated on the basis of gender identity.

Thankfully, the commission last week dropped the case, and Phillips agreed to drop his own lawsuit accusing the state agency of harassing him for his Christian beliefs.

Jack Phillips is just one of many Americans who have lost income because of their belief that marriage is between one man and one woman. Others cases involve florists, bakers and photographers, wedding venue owners, videographers, web designers, calligraphers, and public servants.

These cases are just the beginning. The same policies used to silence disagreement over marriage can be used to silence disagreement over the biological reality of sex.

2. It would compel speech.

Virginia high school teacher Peter Vlaming lost his job for something he did not say.

A county school board voted unanimously to fire the veteran teacher over the objections of his students after he refused to comply with administrators’ orders to use masculine pronouns in referring to a female student who identifies as transgender.

Peter did his best to accommodate the student without violating his religious belief that God created human beings male and female, using the student’s new name and simply refraining from using pronouns altogether.

Unfortunately, the school still considered this a violation of its anti-discrimination policy.

Incidents like these would increase under federal policy proposed in the Equality Act. Both federal and private employers could face costly lawsuits if they fail to implement strict preferred pronoun policies. Employees could be disciplined if they fail to comply, regardless of their scientific or moral objections.

3. It could shut down charities.

Foster care and adoption agencies, drug rehabilitation centers, and homeless centers already face challenges under state and local policies on sexual orientation and gender identity.

In Philadelphia, just days after the city put out an urgent call for 300 additional families to foster children, the city halted child placements by Catholic Social Services because of the organization’s belief that every child deserves both a mother and a father.

Although same-sex couples have the opportunity to foster children through the state or every other agency in Philadelphia, the city canceled its contract with Catholic Social Services. The agency’s approved foster homes remain available while children languish on the waiting list.

A federal sexual orientation and gender identity law would make this situation a national phenomenon, which would spell disaster for the 437,500 children in foster care nationwide.

Other charities would be affected too.

In Anchorage, Alaska, a biological male born Timothy Paul Coyle goes by the name of Samantha Amanda Coyle. On two occasions, Coyle tried to gain access to the city’s Downtown Soup Kitchen Hope Center, a shelter for homeless, abused, and trafficked women.

In one attempt, authorities said, Coyle was inebriated and had gotten into a fight with a staffer at another shelter, so Hope Center staff paid Cole’s fare to the emergency room to receive medical attention. Coyle sued the center for “gender identity discrimination.”

A federal sexual orientation and gender identity law could force any social service organization to open up private facilities, including single-sex bathrooms, showers, and sleeping areas, to member of the opposite sex.

4. It would allow more biological males to defeat girls in sports.

Two biological males who identify and compete as women easily defeated all of their female competitors in an event at the Connecticut State Track Championships. Transgender athlete Terry Miller broke the state record in the girls’100-meter dash. Andraya Yearwood, also transgender, took second place. 

Selina Soule, a female runner, not only lost to the biological males in the championships but also lost out on valuable opportunities to be seen by college coaches and chosen for scholarships.

Soule said about the 100-meter event:  “We all know the outcome of the race before it even starts; it’s demoralizing.” 

A federal sexual orientation and gender identity law would defeat the purpose of Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, which is supposed to guarantee women equal educational and athletic opportunities.

Under radical gender identity policies, female athletes have sustained gruesome injuries at the hands of male competitors. In high school wrestling, female athletes have forfeited rather than compete against transgender athletes on testosterone.

A federal law could set girls and women’s sports back permanently at every level.

5. It could be used to coerce medical professionals.

Under state sexual orientation and gender identity laws, individuals who identify as transgender have sued Catholic hospitals in California and New Jersey for declining to perform hysterectomies on otherwise healthy women who wanted to pursue gender transition.

If these lawsuits succeed, medical professionals would be pressured to treat patients according to ideology rather than their best medical judgment.

The Obama administration tried to coerce medical professionals into offering transition-affirming therapies through a regulation in the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare.

That move was stopped in the 11th hour by a federal judge. However, that could all be set back in motion if a national law imposes a nationwide health care mandate regarding gender identity.

6. It could lead to more parents losing custody of their children.

The politicization of medicine according to gender ideology will create more conflicts among parents, doctors, and the government. A federal sexual orientation and gender identity law would jeopardize parental rights nationwide.

In fact, the current issue of the American Journal of Bioethics includes an article arguing that the state should overrule the parents of transgender children who do not consent to give them puberty-blocking drugs.

This has already happened. In Ohio, a judge removed a biological girl from her parents’ custody after they declined to help her “transition” to male with testosterone supplements.

After the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital’s Transgender Health Clinic recommended these treatments for the girl’s gender dysphoria, the parents wanted to pursue counseling instead. Then the county’s family services agency charged the parents with abuse and neglect, and the judge terminated their custody.

Similar cases are proceeding through the courts with children as young as 6 years old.

Meanwhile, studies show that 80 to 95 percent of children no longer experience gender dysphoria after puberty. Politicizing medicine could have serious consequences for children who are exposed to the unnecessary medical risks of drastic therapies.

A federal sexual orientation and gender identity law would make these cases more common.

7. It would enable sexual assault.

A complaint under investigation by federal education officials alleges that a boy who identifies as “gender fluid” at Oakhurst Elementary School in Decatur, Georgia, sexually assaulted Pascha Thomas’s 5-year-old daughter in a girls’ restroom. The boy had access to the girls’ restroom because of Decatur City Schools’ transgender restroom policy.

School authorities refused to change the policy even after Thomas reported the assault. Eventually, she decided to remove her daughter from school for the girl’s emotional well-being and physical safety.

A federal sexual orientation and gender identity law would give male sexual predators who self-identify as females access to private facilities, increasing the likelihood of these tragic incidents.

It could also make victims less likely to report sexual misconduct and police less likely to get involved, for fear of being accused of discrimination.

The proposed Equality Act could impose a nationwide bathroom policy that would leave women and children in particular vulnerable to predators. It actually would promote inequality by elevating the ideologies of special interest groups to the level of protected groups in civil rights law.

***

The Equality Act defies the purpose of anti-discrimination laws. The original Civil Rights Act was enacted to protect African-Americans from being denied access to material goods and services.

The Equality Act, by contrast, would be used as a sword to attack people and force them to adopt new ideologies about human sexuality.

This extreme and dangerous legislation would create unprecedented harms to businesses, charities, medical professionals, women and children, and entire families.

The writing is on the wall: The Equality Act is anything but.

The post 7 Reasons Why the Equality Act Is Anything But appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

‘You Have to End Them’: El Salvador President-Elect Outlines His 3 Steps to Destroy MS-13, Other Gangs

Thu, 2019-03-14 03:01

Last month in El Salvador, a third-party outsider won in a landslide election, defeating his opponents, promising to crack down on corruption, to fight crime, and to improve the economy. President-elect Nayib Bukele shares with us his thoughts on immigration, gangs, and how the U.S. and El Salvador can work together. Read the transcript, pasted below, or listen to the podcast.

We also cover these stories:

  • After dozens of countries suspended use of the Boeing 737 MAX 8, President Trump is following suit.
  • Neomi Rao has been confirmed by the Senate, and will now take Brett Kavanaugh’s old seat on the D.C. Circuit Court.
  • Paul Manafort has now been sentenced to 7 years in prison.

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.

Daniel Davis: Welcome to The Daily Signal. I’m Daniel Davis. And today, I have the pleasure of being joined by the president-elect of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele. Mr. President, I’d like to thank you for joining us.

Nayib Bukele: Thank you for having me. And thank you to The Heritage Foundation and the people that are watching us.

Davis: You were elected in February in an overwhelming vote. And it was the first time, I believe, in the last 20 or 30 years that a third party candidate had been elected president in El Salvador. You’re going to start your five-year term in June, and now you’re here in Washington. What are some ways that you hope to build the U.S.-El Salvador relationship?

Bukele: The U.S. and El Salvador have had a relationship where, for over 100 years, it has been a great relationship. And El Salvador has been an ally of the United States forever. A third of our population lives here. We use the U.S. dollar as our currency. Eighty percent of our exports come to the United States, 80 percent of our imports come from the United States.

But the fact is, the last 10 years, we had a government that has been eroding the relationship with the United States, siding with Venezuela, siding with Nicaragua, the international organizations. And what happened is that we have been eroding our relationship with our greatest ally, our greatest friend. And it just doesn’t make sense.

So the election gives us an opportunity to fix that relationship, basically. It’s a change of government that is not only a change of government, but also a change of era for El Salvador.

… We had a civil war in the ’80s that ended 1992. But after those peace accords were signed, the two sides of the war still continued to govern the country. ARENA did one side and the former guerrilla, the FMLN, on the other side. They go on and continue to rule the country for the next 27 years. They’re still in government, right now. They’re leaving May 31.

So on June 1, not only is a new government coming in, but also a new era for El Salvador is coming in, because we’re turning the page on the postwar era.

El Salvador decided overwhelmingly on February 3 that they want the postwar era to end. And now, we have a clean slate. We have a clean page to write on. And we’re not abided by the speeches of the ’80s. We’re not abided by the ideologies of the ’80s, by the fight of the ’80s. But a new generation that wants to build something. We don’t need to invent the recipes. The recipes are there. The United States is an example of that.

So we just want to build a country that works with commonsense solutions and doing the commonsense things like being in Washington and reaching out to our friends. And we just want to do the commonsense things. We know that as a result, we will have prosperity for our people. And our people are happy and they’re eager to do that and willing to work on that.

It’s obviously going to work because everybody is on board and we’re trying to send the right signals. And the right signals are being received by the right people and by the right countries. And I think that, at the end of the line, we’ll have prosperity in El Salvador.

That’s not only good for El Salvador, but it’s also good for the other countries that could see El Salvador as an example of how an underdeveloped country can have progress and can have economic growth and can solve its problems by doing the right things and the commonsense things.

Davis: You mentioned that a third of Salvadorans live right here in the United States?

Bukele: Yes.

Davis: And we also continue to have more migrants arriving at the U.S. border. But you mentioned in your speech at Heritage that you plan to end all, I think your words were, “forceful emigration … “

Bukele: Yes.

Davis: ” … to the United States in the next five years.” What key steps do you plan to take to achieve that?

Bukele: Forceful emigration, which is 95 percent of our emigration. You have other types of emigration, right? Like professional emigration … but you have forceful migration. It means when you have emigration caused by other factors, like, for example, lack of opportunities or violence or both of them, both of those factors.

This is really shameful for our country. It should be really shameful. In the immigration debate, we always talk about the borders. We always talk about the countries that get the influx of immigrants. But we seldomly speak about what are we doing in our country for the people not fleeing?

People are not fleeing the states, right? Why people are fleeing our country? We should be doing things really badly for our own people to want to flee our country. So we want to end that.

It’s not a favor to the United States. It’s just a matter of common sense that our country has to provide the opportunities and the security for people to want to stay in their country. For us, it’s not cheap, either, to be exporting our young population, our population that is willing to work, that is willing to work really hard for their families.

We have a demographic bonus. We have a huge demographic bonus because we have a huge, young population. And by any observation, that should be the best thing a country can have. And we’re expelling them, like we want to export people. And that shouldn’t be an industry. Exporting people to get remittances, that’s the worst thing a country can do, exporting its own population. So we want to change that.

And the way to change that is … a gigantic job. But it’s actually really simple in the way that it’s a commonsense thing that you have to provide opportunities, you have to provide jobs, and you have to provide security.

Now, someone might say, “Hey, really, that sounds good. But how do you provide security?” Right? Well, you have to fight the gangs. In El Salvador, a gang member makes, on average, $300 a month. So they’re not making a huge income.

Of course the state may come and provide better opportunities for them. Education, scholarship, sports, culture, art. And we can allure the young people to go into the right path and not into the wrong path. And we can fight. The gangs are not sophisticated. They’re not the big drug cartels. They’re not sophisticated. So we can fight them.

It’s straightforward with technology, with things that we don’t have, because crooks have been stealing the money for the last 40 years. So let’s invest the money that the people are paying in taxes in services to the people.

One of the best services we can provide to the people, to companies, to international investors, to tourists, for tourism to grow, is investing in making our country safe. And then, when you Google El Salvador, you will not find gangs, corruption, emigration, caravans. But you will find economic growth, tourism, surfing beaches–they are battling corruption. So you will find the right ways.

That will allure people to come in to invest, to Salvadorans to go back to their country, retirees to want to retire in El Salvador because we have nice weather, because we have beautiful beaches, because we have beautiful places to go, because we have summer all year long.

But we have to do the right things to change the culture. They seem gigantic. But at the same time, it’s really simple. If you could define it in a minute, it should be simple to do it. And we haven’t done it because the previous administration and the current administration have been focusing on stealing money and haven’t been focusing on giving ambition to our country and putting the money where it should be and putting the country on the right path.

Davis: Yeah. I want to ask you about that. One of the major issues in your election was corruption.

Bukele: Yeah.

Davis: What are some specific ways that’s been happening? And what are key steps you plan to bring reform and accountability to government?

Bukele: Yes, well, you said it. We have to bring reform and accountability. In the first part, we have to reform some laws and we have to set the example. Like the president of Mexico just said, “You cannot clean the stairs from the bottom-up. You have to clean the stairs from up-down.”

So we have to start leading with the example. If the president’s stealing money, all of his Cabinet will do the same. But if the president is not stealing money, and he tries to choose … and I say “try” because out of 3,000 people there might be a crook, right?

Davis: Right.

Bukele: But if you choose the right people, and then you put in place the checks and balances that will control when one of those 3,000 confident posts do you have, if they go, if they stray, somebody will catch them and somebody will turn to the justice system and to the authorities and be punished for his crimes. Corruption will stop.

And one of the things that will do it fast is we have called for an international commission led by the OAS or by the U.N., both organizations are interested in it.

Dr. Almagro, secretary-general of the OAS, just said, “We’re all in in that commission.” And an international commission has the benefit, I don’t want to sound redundant, but it has the benefit that it’s international. So they don’t have the influence of the internal powers or the internal mafias.

You will have an international commission that is totally independent, that is going after the crooks. Not only the ones in the past, but also the ones in the present and the ones in the future.

Somebody asked me in the audience, “What would I do with the crooks in the opposition?” And I said, “Not only the crooks in the opposition, in our own party, if there’s somebody stealing money, he will have to pay for what he has done.” And that will also dissuade some people of doing bad things, because they will fear the consequences.

Davis: Earlier you mentioned the problem of gangs. And it’s a problem we have here in the United States. MS-13 is a challenge. That gang has roots in El Salvador. But I want to ask you how that gang has affected the people in El Salvador? And what are some of the key steps that you plan to take to really push back on the gangs?

Bukele: Gangs are really bad. They are responsible of 80 percent of our homicides. They extort money out of poor people. They have control of whole communities controlled by gangs, where if you want to sell something, you have to pay the gang. They are a quasi-state because they function like a … they collect taxes. They provide security, which means, “I’m not going to kill you.” Right?

Davis: Right, right.

Bukele: But the fact is that these organizations, they have to end. We have to end these organizations. And the right way to do it is with three steps.

First, we have to compete to get the young people. They are recruiting 12-year-olds, 13-year-olds. Those kids, you can compete them. If you get them, those kids will go in the right way, with scholarship, with education, with the sports, with programs. You can get those kids.

You have the other, which are graduated criminals. You cannot fix them. You have to combat them. But you can do it with technology. You can do it by putting the money to people and combating them.

In El Salvador, we don’t even have a forensic lab. We’re just going to build the first one. But if you go to a crime scene, you can have their fingerprints, you can have DNA, you can have the bullet, the gun, and the letter from the killer saying, “I killed this guy,” and they wouldn’t even know who wrote the letter because they don’t have calligraphers to match the letters.

The fact is that we don’t even have the common things police departments in the United States have. So how can we fight the gangs if you’re not acquiring the technology and equipment and the tools that our men and women in the police need to fight the gangs?

The opportunity is that the gangs are not sophisticated. They’re really low sophistication. They’re not like the drug cartels that they have the submarines. We’re low sophisticated. And they are very low in income. So if we cut their income, it’s very easy.

When I was mayor of San Salvador, we just did a plan in the historic downtown district. And we turned the most dangerous area in the country into the most touristic area in the country. So you can do it in small. You can scale it in big. That’s the second one, combat them.

And the third one is reinsertion in the jail system. Right now, in our jail system, they are practically universities of crime. They go inside because they have stolen the chicken, and then … they order homicides and extort people from the jails because the whole ambit of the jail does that.

But if you turn jails into correctional facilities, that actually you are trying to correct people, then a big chunk of those criminals that are getting out, because their sentences are ending, you will get a huge chunk of them in the right path. And if they go astray, well, you get them back. And you send them back to jail. But you need the system to work.

I mean, we’re not inventing hot water. It’s just doing the right things that commonsense law enforcement has to do. We have to fix our social fabric so kids don’t feel the necessity to go into the gang. And we have to fix our jail system.

Davis: Lastly, I want to ask you about your election. Last month, as we mentioned, you were elected by wide margins. A third-party candidate. And you’ve got a huge social media, as well. I understand you’re 37 years old. Is that correct?

Bukele: Yes.

Davis: So what do you think most resonated with your campaign? With the people?

Bukele: I think it was a couple of different factors. One of them, I was mayor of the capital, San Salvador. And when we ended our term, we ended with an 84 percent approval rating. So people like our promises, but also people know that we will keep our words and our promises, because we have done that already. That’s for one.

The second is I think we connect better with most of people that are … most people are watching their phones more time than are watching their TVs. So, it’s good to have ads on TV, but it’s better to connect people via social network in our times.

And the other thing is that I think people were also fed up of the status quo, of the two-party system that has been the crooks on one side and the crooks in the other side that has been ripping off and stealing the people’s money.

You will see former presidents with $300 million, $400 million from the public money. And the country with no medicine, with schools with no roofs. We have 80 percent of our schools that don’t have internet access. People were fed up of that, so people wanted a change.

And right now, we had a huge electorate. We won in the 14 departments. We won in 59 of the 60 most important cities. We won in 262 cities in the country. We won in every sector and every niche. But right now, that transforms into a responsibility, because the expectations are so high that if we don’t fulfill those expectations, it could be really bad. So we have to fulfill or exceed the expectations that people have in us.

Davis: President-elect Nayib Bukele, we really appreciate you taking the time to join us.

Bukele: Thank you.

The post ‘You Have to End Them’: El Salvador President-Elect Outlines His 3 Steps to Destroy MS-13, Other Gangs appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Bernie Sanders Says ‘Many Thousands’ Will Die as Budget Chief Predicts Stronger Medicare

Wed, 2019-03-13 18:26

President Donald Trump’s budget proposal would extend the life of Medicare by eight years, the administration’s budget chief told a Senate committee Wednesday.

But Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., had a sharp question during the Senate Budget Committee hearing.

“How many thousands do you think will die because of massive cuts to Medicare and Medicaid?” Sanders asked Russ Vought, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Several Democrats on the panel also accused the Trump administration of wanting to cut Medicare.

That’s not the case, Vought said.

“Our Medicare reforms that provide savings to lower pricing costs–and attempts to make other program integrity reforms– they push out the expiration date of the Medicare trust fund by eight years,” he told the Senate committee.

Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., sounded impressed by Vought’s description of an extended life for Medicare.

Perdue had decried federal spending  that led to $22 trillion in debt and left the Medicare trust fund at zero in eight years and the Social Security trust fund projected to reach zero in 12 years.

The Social Security and Medicare Trustees’ report last year projected that the Medicare trust fund would be depleted by 2026 if Congress did not reform the entitlement program.

The Trump budget proposal, released Monday, would limit what Medicare recipients have to pay for prescription drugs.

Currently, Medicare has a 5 percent co-pay for high-priced medicines that may cost as much as $1,000 per pill.

Sanders, the committee’s ranking member, took another take on the budget–and stuck with a rhetorical question.

“You obviously studied how many people would die as a result of a lack of access to health care,” Sanders said. “What kind of conclusion did you reach? How many thousands do you think will die because of massive cuts to Medicare and Medicaid?”

Vought replied that the budget outline doesn’t propose any cuts to Medicare.

“Senator, those numbers you cited are not accurate. We do not cut Medicare or Medicaid.” Vought said.

As he explained some of the reforms, he told Sanders: “There is no cut at all, because Medicare is going up each and every year.”

Trump’s $4.7 trillion budget proposal for fiscal year 2020, which projects a $1.1 trillion deficit, also asks Congress to cut discretionary spending. Lawmakers haven’t done that in recent years, even when Republicans controlled both the House and the Senate.

The proposal would cut nondefense discretionary spending by 5 percent across the board, for a total of $2.7 trillion in savings for taxpayers over 10 years.

The OMB projects a balanced budget by 2034. Deficit spending, now 5 percent of gross domestic product, would fall to 1 percent by 2029, according to the projections.  

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., complained to Vought: “When I look at your budget, it offers up an almost inexhaustible supply of bad ideas for working families, for seniors, for the vulnerable.”

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., showed visible frustration in describing her view of the budget proposal.

“We have this outrageous budget in front of us,” Stabenow said. “The administration may claim to care about women and children. There is no way that’s true, obviously. … I don’t even know where to begin with all this. I would suggest that we just throw it out the window.”

After those remarks, Perdue asked his colleagues to be serious about the nation’s fiscal problems.

“Let’s just talk about the reality here, instead of the emotion,” Perdue said. “In 2000, this government had $6 trillion of debt. At the end of President [George W.] Bush’s eight years, we had $10 trillion in debt.”

The Georgia Republican also called out the Obama administration that followed for eight years, though not by name, saying:

[After] 2016, we know what doesn’t work, because we had eight years of the lowest economic output in U.S. history.  We added more debt as a government than all prior presidents before. We doubled the debt in eight years. Now, we want to hide behind that the tax bill that made our corporations more competitive with the rest of the world, created 5 million jobs over the last two years.

Vought said interest payments on the debt are projected to exceed military spending by 2024.

He also noted that federal tax cuts have not been the cause of the government’s fiscal crisis.

“Contrary to fearful predictions before passage of historic tax reform, revenues are increasing and are in line with 50-year historic averages,” Vought said. “The problem is not that Americans are taxed too little, it is that Washington spends too much.”

The post Bernie Sanders Says ‘Many Thousands’ Will Die as Budget Chief Predicts Stronger Medicare appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

We’ve Asked for a Vote 18 Times to Ban Infanticide. Democrats Have Blocked Us.

Wed, 2019-03-13 17:57

This week, I asked a question, of Congress and our country, on the floor of the House of Representatives.

I requested unanimous consent for the House to consider the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which would ensure that any infant born alive after a failed abortion would receive the same care “as reasonably provided to any other child born alive at the same gestational age,” to quote the text of the bill.

The legislation, which I cosponsored, would provide equal protection under the law for abortion survivors as for any other newborn.

Democrats denied my request, preventing this legislation from even being considered. It was the 18th time they blocked it.

But the central question remains to be answered, especially in the wake of legislation in New York and the Virginia governor’s inflammatory comments: If a child is born alive after an attempted abortion, should that child be refused the lifesaving medical care any other newborn baby would be entitled to?

Now let’s be clear—this question goes beyond the long-standing debate over whether abortion is moral, because in this case, the abortion has already failed. We’re not debating that. In this case, we’re deciding whether a living, breathing child, born alive after a botched abortion, should be refused standard medical care.

What this does do is shine a hard, ugly light on what the pro-choice logic looks like when taken to the extreme. If a child’s life can be taken inside the womb, why not outside of it, if the abortion failed? If it’s not a human being when it’s unborn, why is it wrong to let it suffer and die without medical care once it has been born?

In refusing to consider this bill, the Democratic Party is saying yes to this extreme view. They are supporting an unjust legal double standard, and an automatic death sentence to a viable human being outside of the womb, simply because of the circumstances of their birth.

This is the reality of where pro-choice logic takes us.

Perhaps this ugly truth is enough to push Americans to unite around commonsense protections for human life. A recent Marist poll, commissioned by the Knights of Columbus, found that Americans are now equally as likely to identify as pro-life (47 percent) as pro-choice (47 percent). For the past decade, Marist has been polling the public’s attitudes on abortion, and this is reportedly the first time that as many respondents identified as pro-life as pro-choice.

A Marist survey also found that 80 percent of Americans support limiting abortion to the first three months of pregnancy—a 5 percent bump since the last poll a month before.

As Nelson Mandela once said, “To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.” To deny the survivor of an attempted abortion the same legal protections as any other newborn blatantly does both. And, as always when we devalue the humanity in others, we end up diminishing our own humanity in the process.

This is important, because it isn’t just a question for Congress to answer. It is a question with deep ramifications for the country we will pass on to future generations, a question we all must answer. And it is a decision that we also will individually be answerable for—you and me, each one of us, all of us.

It’s up to us. What will that answer be?

The post We’ve Asked for a Vote 18 Times to Ban Infanticide. Democrats Have Blocked Us. appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

House Republicans Urge Sending Michael Cohen to Justice Department for Alleged Perjury

Wed, 2019-03-13 17:20

Two leading House Republicans are ramping up pressure on House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings to refer former Trump attorney Michael Cohen to the Justice Department for allegedly perjuring himself during congressional testimony.

Republicans Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan and North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows claimed in their letter that Cohen lied about six separate topics during sworn testimony before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Feb. 27. They said Cohen lied when he claimed he did not want a position in the Trump administration and that he did not seek a pardon from his former boss.

Several Trump associates came forward after Cohen’s testimony to say that Cohen spoke often about working in the Trump White House. Some said that Cohen fumed when he ultimately was not hired. Cohen’s attorney, Lanny Davis, also told a reporter earlier in March that Cohen instructed his previous lawyer to broach the topic of a pardon with Trump’s attorneys.

Trump’s team dismissed the possibility of a pardon, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“This Committee cannot stand idly by when a witness comes to a hearing, swears an oath to testify truthfully, and provides material testimony that appears on its face to be demonstrably false,” Jordan and Meadows wrote to Cummings, a Maryland Democrat.

“In light of mounting evidence, it appears Cohen likely lied under oath during his appearance before the Committee,” they added, noting that California Rep. Katie Hill, a Democrat, said in an interview Sunday that she expected Cummings to refer Cohen for prosecution.

Cohen, who was sentenced to three years in prison on Dec. 12, claimed at his hearing that he had “never asked for, nor would I accept, a pardon from President Trump.”

In a letter to Cummings sent Monday, another Cohen lawyer, Michael Monico, said his client stands by his testimony, though he acknowledged that Cohen “could have been clearer” about the timeframe of the pardon discussions.

Monico claimed that Cohen was referring to his interactions with Trump’s legal team after he had decided to exit a joint defense agreement he had with Trump’s lawyers. Monico also said that “at no time” did Cohen ask Trump for a pardon or did Trump offer one.

Cohen pleaded guilty in the special counsel’s investigation as well as one being conducted by federal prosecutors in Manhattan. He admitted to tax evasion, bank fraud, making illegal campaign contributions, and lying to Congress regarding efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

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 House Republicans Urge Sending Michael Cohen to Justice Department for Alleged Perjury appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Senate Confirms Rao to Succeed Kavanaugh on D.C. Circuit Court

Wed, 2019-03-13 17:17

President Donald Trump’s nominee to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit left by now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed by the Senate on Wednesday 53-46.

The vote to confirm Neomi Rao to the appellate court was entirely along party lines, with Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., not voting.

“I just voted to confirm Neomi Rao to the D.C. Circuit Court,” Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., tweeted after casting her vote. “In my visits with Ms. Rao, I was impressed by her expertise, preparation, and diligence.”

Rao, 45, is an Indian-American who previously served as the administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, an office within the Office of Management and Budget focused on regulatory review.

She also formerly taught structural constitutional law, administrative law, and legislation and statutory interpretation at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University and is a former intern at The Heritage Foundation.

“Thank you, Leader McConnell, for standing up to Senate Democrats’ bullying tactics and spearheading Neomi Rao’s confirmation,” Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director of the Judicial Crisis Network, said in a statement. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is the Senate majority leader.

Rao came under fire from liberal activists seeking to derail her nomination to the court by attacking pieces she wrote in college that criticized irresponsible drinking and calling race a “hot, money-making issue,” as The Daily Signal previously reported.

“Rao’s experience and intellect make her uniquely qualified to fill Justice Kavanaugh’s shoes on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals,” Severino said. “Rao will fairly apply the law and honor the Constitution; she’ll be a phenomenal judge serving on one of our nation’s highest courts.”

Many Democrats were vocal in their opposition of Rao, among them Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who tweeted Wednesday that she “was nominated by Pres. Trump for ONE REASON: her lifelong mission to ‘get rid of regulation.’ Even if it means polluting our clean air, denying access to healthcare, & undermining victims’ rights.”

When we were considering Justice Kavanaugh’s nomination, people said they didn’t want a rubber stamp for Pres Trump’s agenda—but Republicans jammed through his nomination. With Neomi Rao’s confirmation to fill Kavanaugh’s seat, Republicans ignored these concerns once again.

— Senator Patty Murray (@PattyMurray) March 13, 2019

Judges must be independent and impartial. They also must be empathetic and understand the people whose lives and livelihoods can be deeply impacted by the decisions that they make. Neomi Rao fails these tests and I will vote NO. pic.twitter.com/VDNk53pfho

— Sen. Maggie Hassan (@SenatorHassan) March 13, 2019

“America has the best, most independent, judicial system in the world, and we need the right kind of judges to keep it that way,” Kay Coles James, president of The Heritage Foundation, said in a statement Wednesday. “America needs judges who know their proper role and will not bend to public or political pressure. Neomi Rao is well-qualified to serve on any federal court—even the American Bar Association says so—but especially for the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington.”

The post Senate Confirms Rao to Succeed Kavanaugh on D.C. Circuit Court appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

What Liberals Forget: Before the Welfare State, Americans Took Care of Each Other

Wed, 2019-03-13 17:11

Over the weekend, Democratic fresh face and socialist darling Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., spoke at the South by Southwest conference. While sitting amidst the enormous bounty provided by capitalism–top-notch electronic equipment, a massive crowd of paid ticket holders–AOC tore into capitalism.

She called the system that has raised 80 percent of the globe from extreme poverty since 1980 “irredeemable.” She railed against the injustice of people having to work jobs rather than write poetry–as though socialist countries are famous for ensuring that people work only the jobs they find spiritually rewarding.

Finally, she settled on her most damning line of attack: America as it currently stands is “garbage,” because in the United States, “if you don’t have a job, you are left to die.”

That’s an odd critique given the long history of death associated with socialism–some 45 million deaths under Mao, some 30 to 40 million under Stalin, and some 2 million under Pol Pot, for starters.

But it’s an even odder critique given the fact that life expectancy has radically increased under capitalism: In 1850, the average European life expectancy was 36.3 years, while today, the average life expectancy across Europe stands at approximately 80.

Furthermore, the United States currently boasts effective full employment. Our poor are in danger of dying of obesity, not starvation.

And we spend, on a state and federal level, at least $1.1 trillion per year on means-tested welfare programs. By census data, that amounts to nearly $9,000 per household in the United States annually, or nearly $28,000 for every person living in poverty in the United States.

But let’s take Ocasio-Cortez’s argument to the logical extreme. Presumably, she’s in favor of these expensive government programs and thinks that in their absence, the poor would be left to die in the United States. Is that true?

Absolutely not.

Ocasio-Cortez makes the same mistake so many on the left do: She conflates government redistributionism with the social fabric itself. In her view, there is no social fabric absent government.

What’s more, nongovernmental social fabric is a threat to equality–as Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., put it in 1981, “I don’t believe in charities.” The New York Times reported that Sanders questioned the “fundamental concepts on which charities are based,” since government was the only entity positioned to help the impoverished.

That’s sheer nonsense.

Before the rise of the massive welfare state, Americans gave massive amounts of charity. In 1926, religious congregations spent more than $150 million on projects other than church maintenance and upkeep, with state governments spending just $23 million and local governments spending $37 million, according to economists Jonathan Gruber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Daniel Hungerman of the University of Notre Dame.

Americans have always given enormous sums to charity. And those charitable activities come along with something government redistributionism can’t achieve: a feeling of social belonging and of membership in a social fabric.

Free markets create prosperity. And government isn’t the social fabric. Recognition of those two simple facts explains what made America thrive–and can help us thrive again, in spite of those who would prefer to tear down markets and social fabric and replace them with the heavy hand of centralized government.

COPYRIGHT 2019 CREATORS.COM

The post What Liberals Forget: Before the Welfare State, Americans Took Care of Each Other appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

If You Don’t Remember Cold War, Communism, Getting Free Stuff From Government Sounds Great

Wed, 2019-03-13 17:08

One of the rotten fruits produced by what passes for today’s American education system is the ignorance some young people have about socialism.

According to a new Harris Poll given exclusively to Axios, the news and information website, Generation Z (comprised of those born in 1995 or later), “has a more positive view of the word ‘socialism’ than previous generations, and–along with millennials–is more likely to embrace socialistic policies and principles than past generations.”

This ignorance is a direct threat to the future of the country, because, according to Bloomberg research, “Gen-Z will surpass millennials in 2019 as the most populous generation, comprising roughly 32 percent of the population.”

For young people who weren’t alive during the Cold War and the horrors that came from socialism and its evil twin, communism, the notion that they can get free stuff from the government is addictive.

Having sacrificed little for their country (members of the military excluded), too many young people have bought into the idea that rich people and big corporations are evil because they have “stolen” money from others, especially the poor.

According to Mark J. Perry, Ph.D., a professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan’s Flint campus, and a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank based in Washington, D.C., socialism fails “because it’s a flawed system based on completely faulty principles that aren’t consistent with human behavior and can’t nurture the human spirit.”

Accurate polling results depend on how a question is asked, as well as a person’s level of understanding of the subject.

The American Enterprise Institute’s research reveals that while a majority of younger people like the idea of “Medicare for All”–just one of the issues they say is important to them–“that support turns to opposition if people would have to pay more in taxes, if private health insurance were eliminated, if it threatened the current Medicare program, or if it led to delays in medical tests or treatment.”

All of these outcomes are likely if socialism replaces capitalism.

Ironically, one of the top issues for Generation Z is the national debt, now at $22 trillion. Have young people considered that socialist programs will significantly add to the debt? Apparently not, because to them, it seems that feelings are more important than observable results.

Socialist policies, in one form or another, are part of the platforms of some of the announced Democratic presidential candidates, especially Democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

Vermont was once conservative, but now appears to be occupied by left-leaning radicals. Retreating fast into history is the notion “we can’t afford it,” an economic mantra accepted and taught to children by a previous and experienced generation that believed in living within one’s means.

The rapid demise of socialist Venezuela has apparently had little impact on younger Americans who think the U.S. government is a large ATM and all they need do is insert a card and money will slide out.

How unaware young people are about the effects of socialism was revealed early on by Jake Tapper of CNN when he noted that even left-leaning organizations have calculated that the proposals of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., would cost $40 trillion. When he interviewed her during the 2016 campaign, Tapper said that since her proposed tax increases would raise just $2 trillion, how would the then-candidate make up the difference?

She launched into a non-answer answer. Watch it and weep for the nation, if she has her way.

Ronald Reagan said: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”

Will this be the generation that fulfills his prophecy? Much is riding on the 2020 election.

(c) 2019 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

The post If You Don’t Remember Cold War, Communism, Getting Free Stuff From Government Sounds Great appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

It’s a Myth That High Tax Rates Would Actually Lead to Rich People Paying More

Wed, 2019-03-13 16:44

Do you pay enough taxes? What is enough?

When asked on “60 Minutes,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., didn’t seem to have a specific tax rate in mind, but then she said, “back in the ’60s … you see tax rates as high as 60 or 70 percent.”

Suddenly, 70 percent tax rates are a progressive plan, although Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., added, “We’ve had it as high as 90 percent.”

She’s right.

That was the top tax rate when I was a kid, and today, many Democrats say if we’d just raise rates on rich people, government would have plenty of money to pay for our wonderful programs.

But it’s a myth.

What progressives don’t say, perhaps because they don’t know it, is what economic historian Dr. Phillip Magness explains in my new video: “No one actually paid anywhere close to those rates.”

For more than a decade, Magness has researched old taxes.

He discovered that America’s 90 percent tax bracket didn’t bring in much extra money. That’s because rich people found loopholes.

Then, because of that, and because the high tax rates discouraged work, President Kennedy backed a bill that lowered the top rate to 70 percent.

But it turned out that the 70 percent rate wasn’t very real either.

“A millionaire on average would pay 41 percent,” says Magness, because of “all these deductions and exemptions and carve-outs that are intentionally baked into the tax code.”

If you look at newspapers of that time, you see ads promoting things like free $2,499 ocean cruises.

“[B]asically take a vacation around the Caribbean,” explains Magness, “but while you’re onboard the ship you attend, say, an investing seminar or a real estate seminar, and then write off the trip.”

Some rich people bought musical instruments for their kids and deducted the cost because, say, a clarinet would supposedly provide “therapeutic treatment.”

Instead of investing in ideas that might create real wealth, rich people hired accountants to study the tax code.

“Who can afford the best accountants? It’s always the wealthy,” says Magness.

Today, our top tax rate is 37 percent. A dozen years after President Kennedy’s tax cuts, Ronald Reagan proposed reducing the 70 percent rate, saying, “Our tax system could only be described as un-American.”

“Democrats actually agree with him,” recounts Magness. “Reagan goes to the table and says, ‘Let’s make a deal … cut the rates … and in exchange, we’ll consolidate the tax code.”

They did.

Surprise–the lower rates brought in just as much money.

It turns out that tax revenue as a percentage of gross domestic product stays about the same no matter what the top bracket is. Higher tax rates don’t necessarily get rich people to pay more taxes.

“They’ll change where they earn their income,” economist Art Laffer told me about what he’d once said to President Reagan. “They’ll change how they earn their income. They’ll change how much they earn, when they receive the income. They’ll change all of those things to minimize taxes.”

President Trump, who in some years paid zero income tax, understands that. Before he became president, I asked him about a proposed tax hike.

“Look, the rich people are going to leave–and other people are going to leave!” he told me. “You are going to end up with lots of people that don’t produce. And then, that’s the spiral. That’s the end.”

That happened in Europe, recounts Magness: “France attempted a massive tax on its wealthiest earners. … the business people left in a mass exodus from the country.”

But today’s progressives are selective when they look at history. On TV, Ocasio-Cortez said, “Under Republican administration … Dwight Eisenhower, we had 90 percent marginal tax rate.”

I asked Magness what would happen if the U.S. were to return to those rates–while also eliminating the deductions that came with them.

“You’re asking for an economic disaster,” he answered. “I ask the question: Do we leave [wealth] in the private sector where the market decides? Or do we subject it to corrupt politicians?”

Please, let’s leave most of America’s wealth in private hands.

DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

The post It’s a Myth That High Tax Rates Would Actually Lead to Rich People Paying More appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

With an Eye to Russia, Ukraine Considers New Missiles After Cold War-Era Arms Control Treaty Collapses

Wed, 2019-03-13 16:16

KYIV, Ukraine—The impending demise of a Cold War-era arms control treaty has sparked pledges from the leaders of both Ukraine and Russia to develop and field more intermediate-range missiles, highlighting a new flashpoint between the two erstwhile Soviet allies, which have been locked in a limited land war since April 2014.

“We are no longer bound by any limitations either on the range of our missiles or on their power,” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said in a March 9 speech.

“We have additional opportunities in Ukraine due to the fact that the Russian Federation has de facto broken the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, and the United States legally withdrew from it,” Poroshenko said.


Rockets on the front lines in eastern Ukraine. (Photos: Nolan Peterson/The Daily Signal)

Signed by U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or INF Treaty, banned missiles with ranges between 300 and 3,400 miles.

At its inception, the INF Treaty was meant to reduce the risk of war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union—and it remained a cornerstone of European security after the Cold War. When the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, the INF Treaty rolled over to apply to post-Soviet countries, including both Russia and Ukraine. For its part, the U.S. continued to respect the pact, too, even though it did not apply to other countries like China and Iran.

In February, however, the U.S. suspended its obligations under the INF Treaty, claiming that Russia had been developing and deploying missiles in violation of the pact’s limits for years. The U.S. said it will completely withdraw from the treaty within six months of the announced suspension unless Russia returns to compliance.

In turn, Moscow denied any violations and announced that Russia was likewise suspending its participation in the INF Treaty. Then, in a February address to Russian lawmakers, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow had plans to develop a new generation of missiles and target them at the U.S. if Washington follows through on canceling the Cold War pact and deploys new missiles to Europe.

That news spurred officials in Kyiv to consider whether Ukraine should follow suit and ditch the INF Treaty to begin building a new arsenal of intermediate- and short-range missiles of its own—unbound by any payload or range limitations.

“Ukraine can’t be inside of the INF Treaty simply because the INF Treaty doesn’t exist anymore,” said Mykhailo Samus, deputy director of the Center for Army, Conversion, and Disarmament Studies, a Ukrainian think tank.

“So, no obligations for Ukraine now,” Samus said.

Unbound

Ukraine has a legacy of rocket and missile technology from the Soviet era. Roughly 40 percent of the Soviet Union’s space program industry was located in the Ukrainian city of Dnipro during the Cold War. It’s where Soviet engineers designed and built rockets such as the Satan intercontinental ballistic missile, which was designed to strike the United States with nuclear weapons.

After the Soviet Union’s breakup—and despite the ongoing war in the Donbas—Ukraine never developed a missile capable of launching from Ukrainian soil to strike Moscow. With the INF Treaty’s demise, however, that looks likely to change.

“Our design bureaus and the industry are no longer bound by any restrictions regarding missile range,” Poroshenko said on March 11, according to Ukrainian news agencies, adding: “This means the issue of creating high-precision, extended-range missiles capable of hitting targets far behind enemy lines is on the agenda.”

Yet, some experts warn that Ukraine’s prospective missile development program, no matter how limited it might be, could spur Moscow to retaliate—and with potentially devastating consequences.

“Any attempt [by Ukraine] to develop [intermediate-range ballistic missiles] targeted on Russia immediately provides a justification for Russia to escalate the war with its own pre-emptive missile strikes across Ukraine. It is senseless and, frankly, suicidal,” Stephen Blank, senior fellow for Russia at the American Foreign Policy Council, told The Daily Signal.

Necessities

After nearly five years of constant combat in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, Ukrainian forces remain engaged in a static, trench war against a combined force of pro-Russian separatists, foreign mercenaries, and Russian regulars. The war has, so far, killed more than 13,000 Ukrainians and displaced 1.7 million people.

Ukraine’s military budget is already stretched thin by the immediate needs of the war as well as a top-to-bottom military modernization program meant to overhaul Ukraine’s combined armed forces to defend against a Russian invasion.


The INF Treaty’s demise could add another flashpoint to the ongoing war in eastern Ukraine.

Many experts downplay the likelihood that Ukraine could mount a serious challenge to Russia’s superiority in missile technology. For one, Russia’s military budget is more than 20 times greater than Ukraine’s. Thus, some say that Ukraine simply can’t afford to compete with Russia’s missile program.

“If we want a real arms race, Ukraine needs an appropriate budget for it,” Ukrainian international relations expert Anton Kuchukhidze told The Daily Signal.

Kyiv has pledged to spend $7.45 billion on defense and security in 2019. Of that number, $3.6 billion will go to the Ministry of Defense. As a point of comparison, Ukraine’s entire 2019 military budget is less than one-third the $13 billion price tag of the newest U.S. aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford.

“I am skeptical that such a missile program would be developed by Ukraine soon,” said Alex Kokcharov, country risk analyst for Ukraine and Russia for the financial services company IHS Markit.

“Keeping robust defense capabilities, which are able to deal with hybrid warfare and with trench warfare in the Donbas, are much bigger priorities currently,” Kokcharov said. “I doubt that would change any time soon.”

However, Ukraine wouldn’t have to build its new missile systems from scratch.

After Russia launched military hostilities in 2014, Ukraine began developing new short- and intermediate-range missile systems—all of which complied with the INF Treaty’s limits. Notably, the Neptune cruise missile and the Grom-2 ballistic missile, both of which have reported maximum ranges of about 300 km (186 miles).

Ukrainian experts say that with some relatively inexpensive modifications, these existing missile systems could have ranges within the INF Treaty’s prescribed range window of 300 to 3,400 miles. In that case, Ukraine would have the capacity to strike Moscow with domestically launched missiles.

“I think it’s possible that the Neptune missile will reach Moscow after modifications, because there won’t be any limitations,” Samus said. “It will be natural for Ukraine to make these modifications.”

Consequences

Under the 1992 Budapest Memorandum, Ukraine voluntarily gave up its Soviet-era nuclear arsenal, as well as most of its missiles, in exchange for security assurances from the U.S., Russia, and the United Kingdom.

Many in Ukraine now see the Budapest Memorandum as a blunder, leaving their country without the means to deter Russia from conventional and hybrid military aggression. Therefore, in the eyes of some Ukrainian leaders, building new missiles could be a means to regain some of their country’s lost military clout.

“We need high-precision missiles and we are not going to repeat the mistakes of the Budapest Memorandum,” Poroshenko said.

The conflict in eastern Ukraine is moderated in intensity and geographically quarantined according to the rules of a February 2015 cease-fire deal, known as Minsk II. Still, the daily fighting constantly threatens to spark a much bigger, more devastating conflict.

For example, a November 2018 Black Sea naval confrontation, in which Russian military units attacked and captured three Ukrainian navy vessels, nearly ignited a bigger war. In the weeks that followed, Ukraine declared martial law and fortified its southern seaboard against the threat of a Russian amphibious invasion.

Since 2014, the war has upheaved the post-Cold War military balance of power in Eastern Europe. Ukraine, for its part, went from fielding just 6,000 combat-ready troops in early 2014 to a force that now comprises 250,000 active-duty military personnel and 80,000 reservists.

In terms of manpower, Ukraine has the second-largest military force in Europe. Only Russia’s is bigger.

The war in Ukraine has also spurred countries across the region to rapidly militarize to defend themselves against the Russian threat. And with the U.S. and Russia now on their way out of the INF Treaty, and with Ukraine apparently ready to follow suit, an already dicey regional security balance is under even more pressure.

Amid that backdrop, some voices have criticized the U.S. withdrawal from the INF Treaty, warning that the move could provide the catalyst for a destabilizing regional arms race.

Mark Hertling, former commanding general of U.S. Army Europe and the Seventh Army, said the U.S. move “may portend additional action on the part of Ukraine, but it could also contribute to other nations getting into the fray as well.”

“It appears that without restraint from the U.S., and our continued adherence to the protocols of the INF, there will be various governments that will begin doing things like this, that will continue to cause the deterioration of the relative peace and stability that has been in Europe for the past 70 years,” Hertling said.

Yet, other experts say it was high time for the U.S. to withdraw from Cold War-era pact, especially since Russia had been violating its terms for years.

“Continued efforts by the U.S. government over the last five years to engage Russia to persuade them to return to compliance with the INF Treaty have failed.  All U.S. inquiries and efforts have been met with lies, deceit, and denial,” Thomas Spoehr, director of The Heritage Foundation’s Center for National Defense, told The Daily Signal in an earlier interview.

For their part, top Ukrainian officials say that if Russia is set to expand its missile arsenal, then Ukraine must reciprocate out of military necessity.

“We must use everything to protect ourselves,” Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Pavlo Klimkin said in February. “We already have certain potential in the field of missile weapons, and it is we who will decide which missiles we need for the future.”

The post With an Eye to Russia, Ukraine Considers New Missiles After Cold War-Era Arms Control Treaty Collapses appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Some States Abuse This Provision to Block Critical Projects. Here’s What Congress Can Do.

Wed, 2019-03-13 14:47

There are seemingly endless regulatory obstacles for critical infrastructure projects.

One of these obstacles is starting to get some much-needed attention: abuse of Section 401 of the Clean Water Act.

The Congressional Research Service has explained that Section 401 “requires that an applicant for a federal license or permit provide a certification that any discharges from the facility will comply with the act, including state-established water quality standard requirements.”

This provision is a good example of the cooperative federalism that characterizes the Clean Water Act. Under this federal statute, states can use the Section 401 certification process to ensure that state water quality will not be harmed through federally permitted activities.

But some states may be abusing this important power. 

Last year, during a hearing that addressed Section 401 abuse and considered a potential legislative remedy, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., pointed out that some states have abused the Section 401 certification process:

Recently, a few states have hijacked the water quality certification process in order to delay important projects. The state of Washington has abused their authority to block the export of coal mined in Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, and Montana. The state of Washington has refused to grant a water quality certification for the Millennium Bulk Terminal project.

That Millennium Bulk Terminal project is a proposed large coal export facility along the Columbia River that would help export coal to Asia. 

The state of Washington’s decision to block the project might have significant economic implications and may even harm foreign commerce. But this, by itself, is not evidence of Section 401 abuse. After all, states are afforded significant power under Section 401.

Here’s the abuse: In order to deny the Section 401 certification, the state of Washington heavily relied upon factors that have nothing to do with water, such as vehicle traffic, train noise, and rail safety. This section of the Clean Water Act does not give states a green light to veto projects for whatever reasons they desire. 

The Water Quality Certification Improvement Act of 2018, sponsored by Barrasso, would have clarified that Section 401 reviews are limited to water quality issues. 

Some organizations, such as the Western Governors’ Association, have expressed concerns about altering the Section 401 process in a manner that would limits the states’ ability to manage their water resources. Those concerns are understandable.

Any legislation to address this specific abuse should be drafted narrowly so that it only prohibits the consideration of non-water factors under Section 401, and in no way affects existing authority to directly address water concerns.  

The Water Quality Certification Improvement Act of 2018, as Barrasso pointed out, would also have clarified that “states, when evaluating water quality, can only consider discharges from the federally permitted or licensed activity itself—not from other unrelated sources.”   

In addition to this important clarification, any legislation should also address a closely related Section 401 abuse in which states are not merely considering unrelated discharges, but also expecting a federal permit applicant to take action to address pollution arising from unrelated discharges. 

For example, in Maryland, Exelon is seeking to renew its Federal Energy Regulatory Commission license for its hydroelectric power plant. As a condition of securing a 401 certification, Maryland is allegedly requiring Exelon to remove water pollution that is not coming from the project, but instead coming from other sources.

The Section 401 certification process is not supposed to be a scheme for states to compel permit applicants to fix the state’s water problems. There are likely many other Section 401 abuses that Congress should address, including unnecessary delays imposed by states. But at a minimum, Congress should make these commonsense clarifications to existing law.

The post Some States Abuse This Provision to Block Critical Projects. Here’s What Congress Can Do. appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Bill Would Give Congress Tighter Rein on National Emergencies

Wed, 2019-03-13 14:14

Congress would reclaim powers it conceded to the executive branch more than 40 years ago in the declaration of national emergencies, if a bill introduced by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, becomes law.

“If Congress is troubled by recent emergency declarations made pursuant to the National Emergencies Act, they only have themselves to blame,” Lee said in a statement Tuesday marking introduction of his bill.

“Congress gave these legislative powers away in 1976 and it is far past time that we as an institution took them back,” Lee said of his bill, called the Article One Act in a reference to the section of the Constitution establishing the legislative branch and its powers.

President Donald Trump provoked some Republicans as well as Democrats by declaring a national emergency Feb. 15 in order to unlock funding for his promised barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border.  

The National Emergencies Act, passed in 1976, put a statutory framework in place allowing a president to declare a national emergency, with some limitations. It also allows Congress to end any emergency declaration if it has the votes to do so, and stipulates that a president must renew the declaration after 180 days.

Lee’s bill would revise the law to say that an emergency declaration automatically expires after 30 days unless the House and Senate vote to keep it.

Lee says it’s time for Congress to reclaim the powers it gave to the executive branch in the National Emergencies Act.

Although Trump acted within the scope of the law as written, Lee’s proposal makes sense, John Malcolm, who directs the Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation, said in an email to The Daily Signal.

“I am very sympathetic to Senator Lee’s position that Congress has delegated an excessive amount of its lawmaking authority to the executive branch—mostly to executive branch agencies, but occasionally to the president himself,” Malcolm said.

“As a general matter,” he said, “Congress should stop passing the buck and should reclaim its legislative power, which will strengthen the separation of powers that the Founders considered, and correctly so, essential to preserving our liberties.”

Republicans and Democrats alike openly opposed Trump’s emergency declaration to obtain wall funds that Congress denied.

I, too, want stronger border security, including a wall in some areas. But how we do things matters. Over 1,000 pages dropped in the middle of the night and extraconstitutional executive actions are wrong, no matter which party does them.

— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) February 14, 2019

We have a crisis at our southern border, but no crisis justifies violating the Constitution.

My statement on the potential national emergency declaration –> https://t.co/O16rxLXAvt pic.twitter.com/miru6OTJMQ

— Senator Rubio Press (@SenRubioPress) February 14, 2019

When @realDonaldTrump wanted his wall in December, he threw a temper tantrum and shut the government down, hurting 800,000 federal workers.

Now that the President is still not getting his wall, he thinks his temper tantrum should be a national emergency.#FakeTrumpEmergency

— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) February 15, 2019

This “national emergency” is a fraud and should be thrown out in court immediately. @realDonaldTrump, take a look at the Constitution someday. You might learn something.

— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) February 15, 2019

“If we don’t want our president acting like a king, we need to start taking back the legislative powers that allow him to do so,” Lee said. “The Article One Act will go a long way to restoring the balance of powers in our republic.”

Lee’s Republican co-sponsors include Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Jim Moran of Kansas, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Rob Portman of Ohio, Todd Young of Indiana, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Roger Wicker of Mississippi.

The Senate is scheduled to vote Thursday to reverse Trump’s emergency declaration, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has hinted that the Senate may reform the 1976 law.

“There’s a lot of discomfort with the law—not that the president doesn’t have the authority to do what he is doing,” McConnell said Tuesday.

“I think most of my members believe this is not a constitutional issue in that sense, but rather: Is this grant of authority to any president—not just this one, any president—was it too broad back in the ’70s when it was passed?”

The post Bill Would Give Congress Tighter Rein on National Emergencies appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Amid This Immigration Crisis, Border Patrol Deserves a Break

Wed, 2019-03-13 13:36

A new report from the U.S. Border Patrol proves that only the willfully ignorant can doubt that we’re dealing with an immigration crisis.

“The entire system right now is at full capacity,” agent Manuel Padilla said. “Actually, it’s overwhelmed.”

Border Patrol agents apprehended more than 66,000 migrants at the U.S.-Mexican border in February. That’s the highest total for a single month in almost a decade.

The makeup of the migrant population has changed as well. It used to consist primarily of single men from Mexico. Now it’s more likely to be families and children, arriving by the busload from Guatemala.

In February 2017, families and unaccompanied children made up 27 percent of those arrested or deemed inadmissible at the southern border. Two years later, it’s 62 percent.

Why the change? According to immigration expert David Inserra, loopholes in U.S. immigration law are the culprit. Combined with a weak asylum process, they “are creating incentives for adults to use children as pawns to get into the U.S.,” he writes in The Wall Street Journal.

Consider the unintended consequence of the Trafficking Victim Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008. It requires the Border Patrol to treat unaccompanied alien children from countries other than Mexico differently. Border Patrol turns them over to the Department of Health and Human Services and lets them enter the U.S. pending an immigration-court hearing—one that may be years in the future.

“Many alien children are reunited with their families, who are often in the country illegally as well, and never heard from again,” Inserra writes.

It took time for word of this provision to spread to prospective migrants. The number of unaccompanied children crossing the border rose gradually for several years, then spiked in 2014. Yet even after President Obama called this an “urgent humanitarian situation,” Congress didn’t act.

Another loophole is more recent: a 2016 court case that requires the Department of Homeland Security to release all children, including those accompanied by parents, from custody. Detaining the entire family is, by law, off the table.

So when a family is arrested crossing the southern border, officials have two choices. One is to release the child while detaining the parents as their request for asylum is processed. But this so-called family separation is naturally unpopular, which leads to the second choice: Release the entire family and hope they show up at an immigration court hearing.

Spoiler alert: Most of them don’t.

They aren’t the only ones who fail to show up when and where they’re supposed to. U.S. law ensures that aliens who enter illegally aren’t promptly removed—they’re entitled to get a ruling on their asylum claims first. So there’s been a spike in asylum claims by those who say they face a “credible fear” of prosecution.

It’s not hard for most of them to pass their initial hearing, but the immigration-court system that is supposed to give them a final ruling has a backup that averages two years. What happens in the meantime?

“Most then simply disappear into the U.S.,” writes Inserra. “Some become victims of human trafficking or gangs. Few are ever removed from the country.”

Now you can see why proponents of a border wall often stress the need for “immigration reform.” Because while a border wall is a necessary component—one that will certainly help control the tide of illegal immigration—it’s actually part of a larger solution.

It doesn’t make much sense to build a wall while we continue to leave untouched laws that are drawing huge numbers here in the first place.

So as we pursue a better physical barrier, let’s also change the law to reduce these unhelpful incentives—and give the Border Patrol a much-needed break.

Originally published by The Washington Times

The post Amid This Immigration Crisis, Border Patrol Deserves a Break appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

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