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Short Is the Road That Leads From Abortion to Infanticide, Euthanasia

Wed, 2019-02-06 11:19

A Democratic senator blocked on Monday night the “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act,” which would have ensured children who survived abortions were given medical care.

Unfortunately, this shouldn’t be a complete shock. In the years since Roe v. Wade, our culture has continued its downward trend to supporting death, not life.

The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act was sponsored by Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., and came on the heels of comments last week from Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia insinuating that he supports infanticide in some instances.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., objected to the bill, arguing that the legislation is unnecessary, and thus preventing the bill from receiving unanimous consent.

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., pointed out that the Senate unanimously confirmed legislation congratulating New England Patriots on winning the Super Bowl but, sadly, couldn’t unify on behalf of a resolution condemning infanticide.

Freshman Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., called upon American citizens to speak out against infanticide and added that he was surprised to encounter pro-infanticide sentiment so soon in his tenure.

Braun is right to be horrified by the situation and he is right to ask citizens to speak out.

But he should not be surprised to see pro-infanticide sentiment at this point in our nation’s history.

In fact, he and other pro-life senators should expect not only a movement toward the legalization of infanticide but also arguments in favor of the legalization of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.

Roe v. Wade legalized abortion by implicitly categorizing an unborn baby as the “personalty” (a legal term referring to one’s private property). Thus, ironically, merely a few years after America’s affirmation of the Civil Rights movement, the Supreme Court majority in Roe declared that there was, after all, an entire class of human beings—unborn babies—for whom there would be no guarantee of justice and equality.

Regrettably, left-leaning jurists such as Justice John Paul Stevens supported the perverse logic of Roe by arguing that an unborn baby does not become a human being until the moment of birth.

But such an argument is deeply incoherent; a being’s nature is not determined by its location.

Furthermore, as Valparaiso University law professor Richard Stith argued 20 years ago, the incoherence of this progressive argument—that the moment of birth is a “bright line” at which an infant becomes a human being—may very well lead to the embrace of infanticide.

In other words, since medical science makes clear that there is very little difference between a baby the day before birth and the day after birth, Stith speculated that progressive thought leaders would increasingly argue for the legalization of post-birth abortion.

And that is exactly what has happened in ensuing years.

Consider that in 2006, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecology surprised many people when it issued a formal statement arguing that the United Kingdom should consider legalizing infanticide in the case of disabled babies. Euthanizing the baby, the statement said, would alleviate a family’s emotional and financial burdens.

Or, consider the fact that many of the West’s most influential ethicists support infanticide. For example, John Harris, a founder of the International Association of Bioethics, argues that if abortion can be justified, so can infanticide. “There is no obvious reason,”  Harris said, per a Telegraph article published in 2004, “why one should think differently, from an ethical point of view, about a fetus when it’s outside the womb rather than when it’s inside the womb.”

Similarly, Jonathan Glover, senior ethicist at King’s College London, argues that there is no such thing as an inherent “sanctity of human life.” He argues that babies are not autonomous because they are not even aware of the difference between life and death. Thus, parents and medical personnel should evaluate whether or not the infant’s life is worth living.

Even worse is the inevitability that the movement to legalize infanticide will be accompanied by a push to legalize euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.

The career of Princeton University ethicist Peter Singer is case in point. Singer made his name by rejecting “the sanctity of human life” as nothing more than religious mumbo-jumbo, as he did in a 2009 Foreign Policy article. With the sanctity of human life thus rejected, he goes on to argue in favor of infanticide, voluntary euthanasia of the elderly, and physician-assisted suicide.

In nations that have legislated along the lines of Singer’s utilitarian ethic, the results have been disastrous.

Since the Netherlands legalized euthanasia nearly 20 years ago, doctors have taken the lives of thousands of elderly citizens annually. In the Netherlands’ culture of death, it is therefore not surprising that thousands of citizens carry cards prohibiting doctors from euthanizing them, and some elderly citizens express fear about going in for basic medical care because of the possibility of euthanasia.

Recently, The Telegraph and the Daily Mail reported that a Dutch family had to hold down their mother, as she fought against being euthanized by her doctor. The patient, who was not named in the reports, suffered from dementia and had reportedly told medical officials that she wished to be euthanized when “the time was right.”

And yet, even though she reportedly said “I don’t want to die” several times in the days leading up to the killing, the doctor, who was also not named, determined that the time was right, slipped a sedative into her coffee to relax her, and then tried to administer the lethal injection. The patient awoke and resisted the doctor, causing the physician to ask the family for help in holding down the patient down while he finished her off, per the reports.

Northam’s support for infanticide and Murray’s objection to anti-infanticide legislation should not be viewed as insignificant. However, they should likewise not be seen as entirely surprising.

Anti-life legislation is arguably the most consistent consequence of the culture of death enshrined in our legal code since Roe v. Wade. Northam and Murray represent a powerful movement to stay true to the ethic undergirding pro-abortion activism, and they are gaining support day by day.

This unashamed movement to undermine the sanctity of human life must be resisted, not only by Congress but by the citizens of our great nation. If the United States Congress can unify to support a football team, then surely they can unify to defeat any movement that threatens the sanctity of human life.

The post Short Is the Road That Leads From Abortion to Infanticide, Euthanasia appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

The Moral Rot of the Left’s Abortion Agenda

Wed, 2019-02-06 10:50

In a November 1789 letter to French scientist Jean-Baptiste Leroy, Benjamin Franklin expressed hope that new U.S. Constitution would endure, but acknowledged that “nothing is certain except death and taxes.”

The taxes part isn’t really true today. More than 40 percent of Americans pay no federal income tax, and one-third of them also pay no payroll taxes. While the death part is obviously true eventually, some lawmakers are trying to make death more likely before birth.

Unlike firearms, abortion exists for the sole intended purpose of killing human beings. Except for Satan, Sauron, and the occasional psychopath, however, killing human beings really isn’t an aspiration. War, justice, or self-defense may require it, but the killing itself has never been seen as a good thing.

In its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, the Supreme Court said that the Constitution protects a woman’s decision “whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.” The casual reference to the Constitution notwithstanding, the very next sentence revealed the court’s real motivation: the “detriment” that prohibiting abortion would “impose on the pregnant woman.”

Nonetheless, the fact remains that abortion kills human beings. Even Hillary Clinton, when she ran for president in 2008, said that while abortion should be safe and legal, it should be “rare, and by rare, I mean rare.”

Public opinion continues to echo that negative view toward the act of abortion itself. In one poll last year, younger respondents said by a margin of 47 to 39 percent that abortion is more likely to do harm than good to a woman’s life. A Gallup analysis found that “support for making abortion broadly illegal [is] growing fastest among young adults.”

This shift comes at a time when fewer abortions are being performed. The number of abortions in the U.S. has declined by nearly 50 percent in the last three decades.

Some lawmakers are determined to combat these encouraging signs. But since abortion kills human beings, the only way to feasibly argue for more abortion access is to deprive human beings of any significance at all before birth.

In New York, for example, the new law making abortion available until birth is just the beginning. That same law repeals the requirement to help babies that survive an abortion.

But New York legislators also went beyond abortion altogether, amending the state’s homicide statute so that it only applies after birth. Today, in “progressive” New York state, you can kill a human being before birth by abortion or any other method, intentionally or accidentally, whether the mother wanted the baby or not, and pay no legal price for it. 

In Virginia last week, Del. Kathy Tran introduced House Bill 2491 to weaken even the few existing protections for babies during their final three months in the womb.

Under current law, two physicians must agree with the abortionist that a late-term abortion is necessary. Tran’s bill would let the abortionist alone decide.

Today, a late-term abortion is legal if the pregnancy would “substantially and irremediably” impair the woman’s physical or mental health. Tran’s bill would delete those key words.

During a subcommittee hearing on her bill, Tran admitted that it would allow an abortion even if the pregnancy was full-term and the mother was actually in labor. Tran’s bill would greenlight an abortion, even when the baby could survive outside the womb, on nothing but the say-so of the abortionist.

Here’s how little human life before birth matters to such advocates. Tran also introduced—on the same day, no less—House Bill 2495 to prohibit spraying a pesticide “intended to suppress an infestation of the fall cankerworm” between March 1 and August 1.

According to the experts at Virginia Tech, eggs laid by this “sporadic pest” hatch in April and May and the new larvae are “voracious eaters.” Tran’s bill would make it more likely that cankerworms—also known, sometimes affectionately, as inchworms—make it to birth.

Franklin was right that death is certain for us all, but today legislators are working to make sure that time comes sooner for some of the most vulnerable.

The post The Moral Rot of the Left’s Abortion Agenda appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Stonewalling on Clinton Emails Continues Under Trump, Watchdog Says

Wed, 2019-02-06 10:01

Federal bureaucrats, defying President Donald Trump, are resisting requests for information about Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email account while secretary of state and how that may have compromised national security, the head of a legal watchdog group told The Daily Signal in an interview.

Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, said Obama administration officials originally declined to assess the extent to which Clinton’s email practices damaged national security.

But later, Fitton said, “President Trump’s appointees got in the way of us doing it.”

U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth ruled Jan. 17 that Judicial Watch could begin the process of discovery in the Clinton email case. That means former Obama administration officials and Clinton aides must respond to questions from the organization under oath and in writing.

“Obviously, Mrs. Clinton’s conduct is an issue here, but we are also talking about the conduct of the Justice Department and the State Department,” Fitton said in the Jan. 31 phone interview with The Daily Signal, adding:

The email scandal is not just a Hillary Clinton scandal. It’s a State Department scandal and it’s a Justice Department scandal. There’s a lot of powerful agencies and deep state interests who are implicated in the Hillary Clinton email scandal. That’s why they are protecting her.

Obama administration officials who will be deposed under oath as a result of Lamberth’s order include Susan Rice, the former national security adviser who also served as ambassador to the United Nations; Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser to Obama; Jacob Sullivan, Clinton’s former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff; and FBI official E.W. Priestap, who since 2015 has been assistant director of the agency’s Counterintelligence Division.

Remarkably, Fitton said, he has found that in some instances the Trump administration has been less responsive than the Obama administration to Freedom of Information Act requests pertaining to the Clinton emails and related questions about the Benghazi incident.

Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans died in the attacks on the consulate and a nearby CIA annex.

“The main scandal of the Trump administration isn’t Russia,” Fitton told The Daily Signal. “It’s the agencies’ continuing defense of Hillary Clinton’s misconduct, which is obviously contrary to the desires of the president, so it’s doubly scandalous. With some of these issues, we had an easier time with the Obama Department of Justice than we have had with the Trump Justice Department.”

“I think the president is very concerned that he is being ill served by the folks he’s appointing to these agencies, and that what they are doing is contrary to the public interest,” Fitton said.

"We are protecting @RealDonaldTrump from a coup, holding Clinton accountable for mishandling classified info, defending our country from illegal alien invasions,& making sure our elections aren’t stolen." Big @JudicialWatch speech to young patriots @TPUSA! https://t.co/wtWggfMl9Q pic.twitter.com/TtyPjq8wnV

— Tom Fitton (@TomFitton) January 17, 2019

Answers Sought

While secretary of state under President Barack Obama from Jan. 21, 2009, to Jan. 31, 2013, Clinton used an unsecure, private computer server to send, receive, and store email that contained “top secret” and classified information, the FBI determined.

Judicial Watch, a Washington-based nonprofit that says it focuses on “integrity, transparency, and accountability in government,” first brought to light Clinton’s routine use of a private email account to conduct government business.

In 2014, Fitton’s organization filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act against the Obama administration, seeking information and correspondence pertaining to the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The suit led to the disclosure of Clinton’s nongovernment email account in 2015.

Judicial Watch has four months to conduct discovery in response to Lamberth’s order. According to a press release, the group’s lawyers will seek to find out whether:

—Clinton intentionally attempted to evade the Freedom of Information Act by using a nongovernment email system.

—The State Department’s efforts to settle the Clinton case beginning in late 2014 amounted to bad faith.

—The State Department adequately searched for records responsive to Judicial Watch’s request for documents under the Freedom of Information Act.

Lamberth will hold a hearing after discovery to determine whether it is necessary for Judicial Watch to depose additional witnesses, including Clinton and Cheryl Mills, her former chief of staff, the watchdog group says.

“I have little doubt that discovery is going to confirm that [the Freedom of Information Act] was a major issue in terms of the reason for Clinton’s email system being secret,” Fitton said, adding of Lamberth’s order:

The ruling for discovery shows we are in the middle of the Clinton email scandal and not the end of it. The goal is to get the information the court wants to know about and to determine whether or not her [email] system was set up to evade FOIA, whether or not the court was hoodwinked, and whether or not there was an adequate search for documents.

Benghazi Talking Points

Judicial Watch’s 2014 FOIA request sought copies of “any updates and/or talking points” given to Rice, then U.N. ambassador, “by the White House or any federal agency concerning, regarding, or related to the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.”

The watchdog also sought all “records or communications concerning, regarding, or relating to talking points or updates on the Benghazi attack” given to Rice by the White House or any federal agency.

While appearing on multiple Sunday news programs to discuss the attacks that occurred the previous Tuesday, Rice said the attacks were not premeditated and instead were the result of a spontaneous protest in response to an “anti-Islamic” video on the internet.

Clinton had declined to go on the Sunday shows. Judicial Watch has described the written talking points Rice used as the basis for her comments as false.”

“The court, not being naïve, has asked whether or not this case is about the Benghazi talking points,” Fitton said of Lamberth. “This is the [FOIA] lawsuit that uncovered the Clinton email scandal. We had asked for Benghazi talking points documents, and they were in the Clinton emails.”

“They were giving us the runaround,” Fitton said of Obama State Department officials. “They knew they had them and didn’t want to turn them over to us. The court wants to know whether the Benghazi scandal was a reason for keeping these emails secret from and not subject to search by the State Department.”

In his Jan. 15 order, Lamberth explained why he rejected the State Department’s objections to allowing Judicial Watch to depose department officials with knowledge of the talking points on the Benghazi attacks:

Rice’s talking points and State’s understanding of the attack play an unavoidably central role in this case: information about the points’ development and content, as well as their discussion and dissemination before and after Rice’s appearances, could reveal unsearched, relevant records; State’s role in the points’ content and development could shed light on Clinton’s motives for shielding her emails from FOIA requesters or on State’s reluctance to search her emails.

The Daily Signal asked the press offices at the State Department and the Justice Department for comment on Lamberth’s discovery order and Fitton’s characterization that the agencies have resisted discovery in the Clinton email case. Neither department had responded as of publication time.

Damage Assessment

Another unanswered question for Judicial Watch dates to a lawsuit it filed in March 2017 against the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the State Department. The suit sought to compel both agencies to conduct a “damage assessment” of how hostile foreign actors may have exploited Clinton’s unsecure email server.

“A big part of the scandal here is we don’t know how compromising Clinton’s use of private email was to national security, because the federal agencies responsible for securing our classified information have refused to investigate it,” Fitton told The Daily Signal. “They presume that foreign actors got her emails, but they’ve never done the required damage assessment of the leakage of classified information.”

Fitton added:

On top of that, we have additional information suggesting that her emails were being copied in real time to another foreign actor like China. Still, no damage assessment has been done and we sued, and we were opposed. The Obama people didn’t want to do it and President Trump’s appointees got in the way of us doing it.

In a separate but related case, Clinton submitted written answers under oath in response to questions from Judicial Watch about her email system.

In that testimony, Clinton said she used the private email for the “purpose of convenience.”

The post Stonewalling on Clinton Emails Continues Under Trump, Watchdog Says appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Podcast: What Ideas Were Good, Bad in the State of the Union

Wed, 2019-02-06 03:01

In today’s special edition of the podcast, The Daily Signal’s Kelsey Harkness sits down with a number of Heritage Foundation scholars to get their take on the policy proposals in President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address.

We also cover these stories:

  • Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., asked Neomi Rao, a judicial nominee, whether she thought gay marriage was “sinful”.
  • A woman accusing Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexual assault, which he denies, is now working with the same law firm that helped Christine Blasey Ford.
  • Ivanka Trump reacts to a new art exhibit in Washington, D.C. that features a model resembling her vacuuming crumbs visitors throw.

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!

The post Podcast: What Ideas Were Good, Bad in the State of the Union appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Ignoring Biology Doesn’t Make It Less Real

Wed, 2019-02-06 03:01

Suppose I declare that I am a king. Should you be required to address me as “Your Majesty”? You say, “Williams, that’s lunacy! You can’t prove such nonsense.” You’re wrong. It’s proved by my declaration.

It’s no different from a person born with XY chromosomes declaring that he is a woman.

The XY sex determination system is the sex determination system found in humans and most other mammals. Females typically have two of the same kind of sex chromosome (XX) and are called the homogametic sex. Males typically have two different kinds of sex chromosomes (XY) and are called the heterogametic sex.

Governments are beginning to ignore biology and permit people to make their sex optional. Sex can be changed on one’s birth certificate, passport, Social Security card, and driver’s license.

In New York, intentional or repeated refusal to use an individual’s preferred name, pronoun, or title is a violation of the New York City Human Rights Law. If a person born with XY chromosomes asserts that he is a woman, then repeatedly addressing the person by the name on his birth certificate, referring to the person as “him,” or addressing him as “Mister” violates the law and subjects the villain to heavy penalties.

The law requires acknowledgment that sex is optional rather than a biological determination.

Do the people who support the optionality of sex also support the optionality of age? My birth certificate shows 1936 as my year of birth. Age cutoffs exclude me from many jobs, such as police officer, service member, and firefighter.

If one can change his sex on his birth certificate according to how he feels, why not his age? I think I’ll petition to change my year of birth to 1972.

Super Bowl LIII made history. For the first time, there were two male dancers working out with a cheerleading squad—in this case, with the Los Angeles Rams’ squad. Men being on the field with female squads is not new. They’ve helped the women with stunts. But Quinton Peron and Napoleon Jinnies danced with the female cheerleaders and performed all the same moves.

It’s nice to see cheerleader barriers fall, but there’s another form of rampant cheerleader discrimination that needs to be addressed. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a full-figured older female cheerleader for any professional sports team. Most appear to be younger than 30 and don’t look as if they weigh more than 120 pounds.

There are other forms of discrimination in sports. There’s a sensible argument that can be made for segregating sexes in football, boxing, basketball, and ice hockey. Men are typically stronger and bigger than women, so integrating sports such as football, boxing, basketball, and ice hockey would lead to disproportionate injury and possibly death to women.

But what about sports in which there’s no contact, such as tennis, bowling, billiards, and swimming? Why should there be men’s teams and women’s teams? Why aren’t feminists protesting against this kind of sports segregation?

After all, feminists have ignored the huge strength, aggressiveness, and competitiveness differences between men and women in their demands that women be assigned to military combat units.

Refusing to acknowledge chromosomal differences and giving people the right to declare their sex can lead to opportunities heretofore nonexistent.

For example, the men’s fastest 100-meter speed is 9.58 seconds. The women’s record is 10.49 seconds. What if a male sprinter with 10-second speed claimed womanhood, ran in the women’s event, and won the gold? A lower bar to achieving fame and fortune exists in women’s basketball. It would take only a few tall men who claim they are women to dominate the game.

Suppose a college honored the right of its students to free themselves from biological determinism and allowed those with XY chromosomes to play on teams formerly designated as XX teams. What if an “unenlightened” women’s basketball team refused to play against a team with a starting five consisting of 6-foot-6-inch, 200-plus pound XYers?

The National Collegiate Athletic Association should have a rule stating that refusal to play a mixed-chromosome team leads to forfeiture of the game. It’s no different from a team of white players refusing to play another because it has black players.


The post Ignoring Biology Doesn’t Make It Less Real appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

13 Fact Checks on the State of the Union Address

Wed, 2019-02-06 01:01

President Donald Trump spoke for about one hour and 20 minutes Tuesday night in his second State of the Union address, interrupted–by Fox News Channel’s count–102 times by applause.  

Trump punctuated his speech by saluting the stories of Americans in the gallery: former prison inmates, World War II soldiers, a Holocaust survivor and a hero cop, an ICE agent, and a young cancer survivor among them.

But what about the specifics Trump cited? Did the president nail the facts? We checked out some of those that stood out. Here are 13.

1. “We have created 5.3 million new jobs and importantly added 600,000 new manufacturing jobs–something which almost everyone said was impossible to do, but the fact is, we are just getting started.”

Trump touted economic growth on his watch in the White House, which began Jan. 20, 2017.

The 5.3 million number appears to be slightly higher than the official number from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which says 4.9 million jobs have been created since January 2017.  

However, the number of job openings across the nation has climbed, according to a Wall Street Journal report in November that said unfilled jobs in the United States exceeded the number of unemployed Americans by more than 1 million.

Citing the Labor Department, the Journal reported there was a seasonally adjusted total of 7.01 million job openings on the last business day of September. By contrast, 5.96 million Americans were unemployed.

Now below 4 percent, the unemployment rate has been the lowest in nearly five decades.

2. “Nearly 5 million Americans have been lifted off food stamps.”

A Dec. 7 report on the website of the Department of Agriculture, which operates the food stamp program, shows that the average annual participation in food stamps was 45.8 million in 2015,  44.2 million in 2016, 42.1 million in 2017, and 40.3 million in 2018.

The numbers show that the food stamp program saw a decline of participation from the end of Barack Obama’s administration to the beginning of Trump’s.

From January 2017 to September 2018, during Trump’s presidency, the food stamp program saw an approximate decrease of 4.1 million, according to the report.  

It wasn’t immediately clear where the president got his “nearly 5 million” number.

3. “Tolerance for illegal immigration is not compassionate — it is cruel.  One in three women is sexually assaulted on the long journey north.”

A 2017 report from Doctors Without Borders looked at crossings into Mexico from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, which it calls the Northern Triangle of Central America. The report says that “nearly one-third of the women surveyed had been sexually abused during their journey.”

In 2014, Fusion reported:

Increasingly, Central American women crossing through Mexico to the United States become victims of sexual assault. Some women choose to sell their bodies for safe passage, but others aren’t given a choice. Migrant shelter directors told Fusion [that] 80 percent of Central American women who make the journey to the U.S. are raped in Mexico.

4. “The savage gang, MS-13, now operates in 20 different American states, and they almost all come through our southern border.  Just yesterday, an MS-13 gang member was taken into custody for a fatal shooting on a subway platform in New York City.”

According to a May 2018 article from Time that cited older FBI numbers, MS-13, which originated in Central America, was operating in 42 states here.

In April, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, noted an increase of MS-13 gang members entering the United States along the southern border.

“Stunningly, and disturbingly, there’s been an increase of more than 200 percent of MS-13 coming across the border,” Abbott said.

News reports Monday, including by The New York Times, back up Trump’s reference to an MS-13 member arrested after a subway beating and fatal shooting.

“A 26-year-old man who the police said is a member of the violent MS-13 street gang was arrested Monday in connection with the brazen murder of a gang rival on a Queens subway platform the previous day,”  the Times reported.

5. “San Diego used to have the most illegal border crossings in the country.  In response … a strong security wall was put in place. This powerful barrier almost completely ended illegal crossings.”

The Daily Signal documented the dramatic results of this wall in a 2017 video report from Kelsey Harkness at the scene.

The barrier erected at San Diego’s border with Mexico in the 1990s “contributed to a 75 percent decline in crossings in the years immediately after fencing was installed in the 1990s, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data,” NBC News reported Friday.

NBC reported that “the sector went from being the top location for border crossings to a relative ghost town with 26,086 apprehensions in fiscal year 2017, according to the Border Patrol.”

6. “Unemployment has reached the lowest rate in half a century. African-American, Hispanic-American, and Asian-American unemployment have all reached their lowest levels ever recorded. Unemployment for Americans with disabilities has also reached an all-time low. ”

Unemployment for the three minority groups cited by Trump has been steadily falling, and hit record lows in 2018.

In May, black unemployment hit a record low of 5.9 percent, a number that was matched in December, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Hispanic unemployment hit 4.4 percent in December, also a record low, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number climbed slightly to 4.9 percent in January.

The unemployment rate for Asian-Americans fell to a record low of 2.2 percent in May, although the number climbed back up to 3.3 percent in January, according to the Bureau of labor Statistics.

Disabled Americans also have benefited from the growing economy.

The Wall Street Journal reported a “wave of disabled Americans joining or returning to the U.S. labor force, breaking a long-running trend that had pushed millions to the sidelines of work.”

The Journal added:

These workers have benefited from a tight economy with a very low overall unemployment rate—3.9 percent in December, just above lowest level since 1969—as employers in many sectors tackle a shortage of available workers by becoming more creative about whom they recruit.

7. “This new era of cooperation can start with finally confirming the more than 300 highly qualified nominees who are still stuck in the Senate–some after years and years of waiting.”

Trump pushed a theme of bipartisanship. As part of that theme, he asked the Senate to confirm more of his nominees for judicial and executive branch posts.

According to The Washington Times, Trump has “some 300 or so nominations that still languish, including more than 85 judicial picks that never saw final action.”

Senate Democrats have used procedural tactics to slow down the president’s nominations for the executive branch and the judiciary.

8. “It is unacceptable that Americans pay vastly more than people in other countries for the exact same drugs, often made in the exact same place. This is wrong, unfair, and together we can stop it. … Already, as a result of my administration’s efforts, in 2018 drug prices experienced their single largest decline in 46 years.”

That is in fact the case, according to The Washington Post, which reported that on average Americans spend about $1,200 more per person on prescription drugs than anyone else in the world. Some cancer drugs cost $10,000 per month in the U.S.

The biggest surge in drug prices occurred in 2014 and 2015, after four years of slow growth, the Post reported.

Among reasons for the trend is that the governments of other countries–particularly in Europe, the second-biggest drug market– negotiate directly with drugmakers.

As for the sharpest decline in drug prices in 46 years, the Associated Press reported: “A broader look at the data shows that drug prices are still rising, but more moderately.”

AP added:

The Consumer Price Index for prescription drugs shows a 0.6 percent reduction in prices in December 2018 when compared with December 2017, the biggest drop in nearly 50 years. … However, that same index showed a 1.6 percent increase when comparing the full 12 months of 2018 with the entire previous year

9. “We have unleashed a revolution in American energy–the United States is now the No. 1 producer of oil and natural gas in the world, and now, for the first time in 65 years, we are a net exporter of energy.”

Trump promoted U.S. success in energy production during his time in office.

In August, the Energy Department announced that America’s oil output hit 11.3 million gallons per day. This surpassed Russia’s output of 11.2 million.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration announced in September that the U.S. was the leading crude oil producer in the world

The agency also reported that the U.S. has been the leading producer of natural gas since at least 2011, six years before Trump took office.

10. “Our hostages have come home, [North Korea’s] nuclear testing has stopped, and there has not been a missile launch in 15 months.”

Trump previously announced that he would hold a second summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. The two will meet again Feb. 27 and 28 in Vietnam, he noted in the speech.

North Korea’s communist regime did not conduct a missile launch in 2018, although some media accounts suggest that wasn’t because of the Trump administration’s policy.

As for the hostages who have returned home, the regime released three American captives in May, ahead of the first Trump-Kim meeting.

11. “As we speak, large, organized caravans are on the march to the United States. We have just heard that Mexican cities, in order to remove the illegal immigrants from their communities, are getting trucks and buses to bring them up to our country in areas where there is little border protection.  I have ordered another 3,750 troops to our southern border to prepare for the tremendous onslaught.”

While much of his speech focused on areas of potential bipartisanship, Trump stressed the need for border security–the biggest point of division between his administration and Democrats.

This was the context of his warning about the newest movement of Central American migrants on their way through Mexico to the United States–prompting boos from Democrats in the House chamber.  

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that a caravan of 1,600 Central Americans was camped in the Mexican border city of Piedras Negras, west of Eagle Pass, Texas.

Coahuila state Gov. Miguel Angel Riquelme said the migrants arrived late Monday aboard 49 buses from the cities of Saltillo and Arteaga, the AP reported, and a smaller group was headed toward the neighboring state of Nuevo Leon.

12. “In the last two years, our brave ICE officers made 266,000 arrests of criminal aliens, including those charged or convicted of nearly 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes, and 4,000 killings.”

Trump reiterated numbers he pointed to in his Oval Office speech Jan. 8 on the need for a border wall, which The Daily Signal fact-checked at the time.

The total number of illegal immigrants arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement is the highest since 2014, according to a December report by the agency.

Trump’s arrest numbers match up with ICE Immigration statistics compiled in 2017 and 2018:

The ICE report says 158,581 illegal immigrants were arrested in fiscal year 2018, and 138,117 of those had a criminal history. This is an 11 percent increase over 2017, when 143,470 illegal immigrants were arrested, 127,992 of them with a criminal record.

“The number of people with pending charges arrested by ICE was 48 percent higher in 2018 than in 2017, while arrests of those with criminal convictions dropped slightly,” Reuters reported.

According to The Washington Post, the report “shows that 145,262 of those deported were convicted criminals and that 22,796 had criminal charges pending against them.”

A total of 5,872 known or suspected gang members were arrested, according to the report, as well as 42 thought to be terrorists.

ICE reports break down the charges and convictions following the arrests.

According to the 2017 report, 48,454 illegal immigrants were charged with or convicted of assault. The 2018 report shows similar numbers, with 50,753 illegal immigrants charged with or convicted of assault.

As for homicides, 1,886 illegal immigrants were charged with or convicted of the crime in 2017, and 2,028 last year. To reach the 30,000 sex crimes number, Trump appeared to draw from three categories: sex offenses not involving assault or commercialized sex (6,664 charges or convictions in 2017 and 6,888 last year); sexual assault (5,118 in 2017 and 5,350 last year); and commercialized sexual offenses (1,572 in 2017 and 1,739 last year).

13. “Working class Americans are left to pay the price for mass illegal migration–reduced jobs, lower wages, overburdened schools and hospitals … increased crime, and a depleted social safety net.”

A 2016 report from the National Academy of Sciences highlighted the impact of illegal and legal immigrants on American workers. In a review of the report, Robert Rector, an expert on welfare and immigration at The Heritage Foundation, wrote:

The report shows that, other than a small number of scientifically educated immigrants, immigration produces little or no overall economic gain for non-immigrants but may cause a substantial shift in income from workers to business and capital owners.  Also, immigrants overall produce a fiscal deficit due to the very large inflow of legal and illegal immigrants with low education levels in recent decades.

A Civil Rights Commission study in 2010 found that illegal immigration had a big impact on black men in particular. The report noted:

Illegal immigration to the United States in recent decades has tended to depress both wages and employment rates for low-skilled American citizens, a disproportionate number of whom are black men. Expert economic opinions concerning the negative effects range from modest to significant. Those panelists that found modest effects overall nonetheless found significant effects in industry sectors such as meatpacking and construction.

George J. Borjas, a professor of economics and social policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, wrote for Politico in 2016 on this issue, noting:

Both low- and high-skilled natives are affected by the influx of immigrants. But because a disproportionate percentage of immigrants have few skills, it is low-skilled American workers, including many blacks and Hispanics, who have suffered most from this wage dip. The monetary loss is sizable. The typical high school dropout earns about $25,000 annually.

According to census data, immigrants admitted in the past two decades lacking a high school diploma have increased the size of the low-skilled workforce by roughly 25 percent. As a result, the earnings of this particularly vulnerable group dropped by between $800 and $1,500 each year.

The post 13 Fact Checks on the State of the Union Address appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Fact-Checking 3 Claims Stacey Abrams Made in State of the Union Response

Wed, 2019-02-06 00:42

Stacey Abrams, the 2018 Democratic candidate for Georgia governor, gave Democrats’ response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union.

Abrams, who lost the governor’s race in November to Republican Brian Kemp, is viewed as a rising star in the Democratic Party.

Here’s a a look at a few of the facts she stated during her speech.

  1. ‘Rigged’ Tax Bill

Abrams slammed the 2017 tax reform package, known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which slashed corporate and individual tax rates.

“The Republican tax bill rigged the system against working people,” Abrams said in her response. “Rather than bringing back jobs, plants are closing, layoffs are looming and wages struggle to keep pace with the actual cost of living.”

She continued: “We owe more to the millions of everyday folks who keep our economy running: like truck drivers forced to buy their own rigs, farmers caught in a trade war, small business owners in search of capital, and domestic workers serving without labor protections.”

A July analysis by The Heritage Foundation found that the tax reform law cut taxes for middle-class Americans. The average taxpayer saw a tax cut of $1,400, and the average family with two children got a tax cut of $2,917. Further, Americans in every congressional district got a tax cut.

Further, labor force participation has increased because wage growth is causing Americans who previously dropped out of the job search to look for work.

2. Government Shutdown a Trump ‘Stunt’

“The shutdown was a stunt engineered by the president of the United States, one that defied every tenet of fairness and abandoned not just our people–but our values,” said Abrams.

However, both sides have blamed the other for the partial government shutdown. The shutdown, which lasted more than a month counting non-work days, hit 800,000 federal employees but affected only 25 percent of the government.

Trump said Dec. 11 during a televised meeting with House Speaker-in- waiting Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., that he would be “proud” to shut down the government.

The Senate passed a spending measure to fund the government through February without the border wall funding Trump demanded. But the House, still under Republican control, passed a bill with wall funding. The shutdown began Dec. 22.

During one of the negotiating meetings at the White House on Jan. 9, Trump offered candy to Democratic leaders. Trump said he would reopen the government immediately if Democrats agreed to funding a border wall. Pelosi said, “No,” and Trump left the meeting.

On Jan. 19, Trump offered to extend temporary protection to certain illegal immigrants under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in exchange for a wall. Pelosi rejected the compromise.

On Jan. 25, Trump announced that he would sign a bill funding the government for three more weeks until a border security deal can be reached.

3. Voter Suppression

Abrams said she accepts her 2018 loss in the Georgia governor’s race, but “cannot accept efforts to undermine our right to vote.”

She announced plans to start an organization called “Fair Fight,” which she said would fight for voting rights.

“Let’s be clear, voter suppression is real,” Abrams said. “From making it harder to register and stay on the rolls to moving and closing polling places to rejecting lawful ballots, we can no longer ignore these threats to democracy.”

To the degree that voter suppression is real, it’s not clear how widespread it is.

During eight years of the Obama administration, the Justice Department brought just five cases related to race-based voter suppression under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, said Hans von Spakovsky, manager of the Election Law Reform Initiative at The Heritage Foundation.

What Democrats often mean by “voter suppression” is a reference to voter ID laws, which require persons to produce photo identification before they are allowed to vote at their polling place.

Separately, von Spakovsky in an op-ed for National Review, noted that “nine of the 11 states that have implemented so-called strict ID Laws either saw an increase in turnout or exceeded the national average in turnout in 2016.”

Von Spakovsky added:

A University of Missouri study found that Indiana’s turnout increased 2 percent after its voter ID law was implemented, with no negative impact on minority voters in particular, and increased turnout for Democrats as a whole. Yet another study, this one by the University of Delaware and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, found that at both the aggregate and individual levels, voter ID laws did not affect turnout across racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic lines during the 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006 elections

The post Fact-Checking 3 Claims Stacey Abrams Made in State of the Union Response appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Trump Urges Congress to Pass Late-Term Abortion Ban

Wed, 2019-02-06 00:34

President Donald Trump advocated that lawmakers pass a late-term abortion ban in his State of the Union address.

“To defend the dignity of every person, I am asking the Congress to pass legislation to prohibit the late-term abortion of children who can feel pain in the mother’s womb,” Trump said.

“Let us work together to build a culture that cherishes innocent life. And let us reaffirm a fundamental truth:  all children — born and unborn — are made in the holy image of God.”

Sen. Joni Ernst is one of the Republican senators who reintroduced the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act last month. The legislation would ban abortions after twenty weeks, with a handful of exceptions.

“At five months, we know that babies can yawn, make faces, wiggle their ten fingers and ten toes and feel pain. Sadly, the United States is only one of a handful of countries around the world—including North Korea and China—where on-demand abortions after the five month mark are legal. This isn’t right, ” Ernst said in a statement in January.

Trump also specifically addressed the remarks made by Gov. Ralph Northam, D-Va., about abortion in a radio interview last week. Speaking about abortion legislation in Virginia, Northam told radio station WTOP, “The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”

“We had the case of the governor of Virginia where he basically stated he would execute a baby after birth,” Trump said.

Northam is currently facing calls for resignation, due to his yearbook page in his medical school yearbook including a photo featuring one man in blackface, and another in a Ku Klux Klan costume. Northam, who initially apologized for the photo, now says he isn’t either of the men in the photo, although he says he appeared in blackface when dressing up as Michael Jackson once.

Trump also referenced New York’s abortion legislation, saying, “Lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments before birth.”

The post Trump Urges Congress to Pass Late-Term Abortion Ban appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Trump Honors 3 D-Day Veterans During State of the Union Address

Wed, 2019-02-06 00:04

During his State of the Union speech, President Donald Trump honored the service of three veterans who served in World War II.

“On D-Day, June 6, 1944, 15,000 young American men jumped from the sky, and 60,000 more stormed in from the sea, to save our civilization from tyranny,” said Trump. “Here with us tonight are three of those heroes: Private First Class Joseph Reilly, Staff Sergeant Irving Locker, and Sergeant Herman Zeitchik. Gentlemen, we salute you.”

The three men were roundly applauded.

Trump went on to discuss economic accomplishments in the economy, a historical increase in the number of women employed, and prison reform initiatives, but toward the end of his speech, he mentioned the World War II veterans again.

“There is more to Herman’s story,” Trump said. “A year after he stormed the beaches of Normandy, Herman was one of those American soldiers who helped liberate Dachau.”

Opened in 1933, Dachau, located in southern Germany, was the first Nazi concentration camp that was intended to hold political prisoners. The concentration camp was liberated on April 29, 1945, when the U.S. Army came. According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, American soldiers liberated “approximately 32,000 prisoners at Dachau.”

Another guest at the State of the Union, Joshua Kaufman, was a Holocaust survivor who was a prisoner at Dachau.

“He remembers watching through a hole in the wall of a cattle car as American soldiers rolled in with tanks. ‘To me,’ Joshua recalls, ‘the American soldiers were proof that God exists, and they came down from the sky,’” said the president.

Herman, said Trump, “was one of the Americans who helped rescue Joshua from that hell on earth.”

“Almost 75 years later, Herman and Joshua are both together in the gallery tonight—seated side by side, here in the home of American freedom. Herman and Joshua, your presence this evening honors and uplifts our entire nation.”

Speaking of the soldiers who were part of D-Day, Trump said:

They did not know if they would survive the hour. They did not know if they would grow old. But they knew that America had to prevail. Their cause was this nation, and generations yet unborn.

Why did they do it? They did it for America—they did it for us.

Everything that has come since—our triumph over communism, our giant leaps of science and discovery, our unrivaled progress toward equality and justice—all of it is possible thanks to the blood and tears and courage and vision of the Americans who came before.

The post Trump Honors 3 D-Day Veterans During State of the Union Address appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Read the Full Text of Trump’s State of the Union Speech

Tue, 2019-02-05 23:09

This is the full text of President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address, as prepared for delivery.

Madam Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, the first lady of the United States, and my fellow Americans:

We meet tonight at a moment of unlimited potential.  As we begin a new Congress, I stand here ready to work with you to achieve historic breakthroughs for all Americans.

Millions of our fellow citizens are watching us now, gathered in this great chamber, hoping that we will govern not as two parties but as one Nation.

The agenda I will lay out this evening is not a Republican agenda or a Democrat agenda.  It is the agenda of the American people.

Many of us campaigned on the same core promises:  to defend American jobs and demand fair trade for American workers; to rebuild and revitalize our nation’s infrastructure; to reduce the price of healthcare and prescription drugs; to create an immigration system that is safe, lawful, modern and secure; and to pursue a foreign policy that puts America’s interests first.

There is a new opportunity in American politics, if only we have the courage to seize it.  Victory is not winning for our party.  Victory is winning for our country.

This year, America will recognize two important anniversaries that show us the majesty of America’s mission, and the power of American pride.

In June, we mark 75 years since the start of what Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower called the Great Crusade — the Allied liberation of Europe in World War II.  On D-Day, June 6, 1944, 15,000 young American men jumped from the sky, and 60,000 more stormed in from the sea, to save our civilization from tyranny.  Here with us tonight are three of those heroes:  Private First Class Joseph Reilly, Staff Sergeant Irving Locker, and Sergeant Herman Zeitchik.  Gentlemen, we salute you.

In 2019, we also celebrate 50 years since brave young pilots flew a quarter of a million miles through space to plant the American flag on the face of the moon.  Half a century later, we are joined by one of the Apollo 11 astronauts who planted that flag:  Buzz Aldrin.  This year, American astronauts will go back to space on American rockets.

In the 20th century, America saved freedom, transformed science, and redefined the middle class standard of living for the entire world to see.  Now, we must step boldly and bravely into the next chapter of this great American adventure, and we must create a new standard of living for the 21st century.  An amazing quality of life for all of our citizens is within our reach.

We can make our communities safer, our families stronger, our culture richer, our faith deeper, and our middle class bigger and more prosperous than ever before.

But we must reject the politics of revenge, resistance, and retribution — and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise, and the common good.

Together, we can break decades of political stalemate. We can bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions, and unlock the extraordinary promise of America’s future.  The decision is ours to make.

We must choose between greatness or gridlock, results or resistance, vision or vengeance, incredible progress or pointless destruction.

Tonight, I ask you to choose greatness.

Over the last 2 years, my administration has moved with urgency and historic speed to confront problems neglected by leaders of both parties over many decades.

In just over 2 years since the election, we have launched an unprecedented economic boom — a boom that has rarely been seen before.  We have created 5.3 million new jobs and importantly added 600,000 new manufacturing jobs — something which almost everyone said was impossible to do, but the fact is, we are just getting started.

Wages are rising at the fastest pace in decades, and growing for blue collar workers, who I promised to fight for, faster than anyone else. Nearly 5 million Americans have been lifted off food stamps. The United States economy is growing almost twice as fast today as when I took office, and we are considered far and away the hottest economy anywhere in the world.  Unemployment has reached the lowest rate in half a century. African-American, Hispanic-American and Asian-American unemployment have all reached their lowest levels ever recorded. Unemployment for Americans with disabilities has also reached an all-time low.  More people are working now than at any time in our history –- 157 million.

We passed a massive tax cut for working families and doubled the child tax credit.

We virtually ended the estate, or death, tax on small businesses, ranches, and family farms.

We eliminated the very unpopular Obamacare individual mandate penalty — and to give critically ill patients access to life-saving cures, we passed right to try.

My administration has cut more regulations in a short time than any other administration during its entire tenure. Companies are coming back to our country in large numbers thanks to historic reductions in taxes and regulations.

We have unleashed a revolution in American energy — the United States is now the number one producer of oil and natural gas in the world. And now, for the first time in 65 years, we are a net exporter of energy. 

After 24 months of rapid progress, our economy is the envy of the world, our military is the most powerful on earth, and America is winning each and every day.  Members of Congress:  the State of our Union is strong. Our country is vibrant and our economy is thriving like never before.

On Friday, it was announced that we added another 304,000 jobs last month alone — almost double what was expected. An economic miracle is taking place in the United States — and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics, or ridiculous partisan investigations.

If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation.  It just doesn’t work that way!

We must be united at home to defeat our adversaries abroad.

This new era of cooperation can start with finally confirming the more than 300 highly qualified nominees who are still stuck in the Senate – some after years of waiting.  The Senate has failed to act on these nominations, which is unfair to the nominees and to our country.     

Now is the time for bipartisan action.  Believe it or not, we have already proven that it is possible.

In the last Congress, both parties came together to pass unprecedented legislation to confront the opioid crisis, a sweeping new farm bill, historic VA reforms, and after four decades of rejection, we passed VA Accountability so we can finally terminate those who mistreat our wonderful veterans.

And just weeks ago, both parties united for groundbreaking criminal justice reform.  Last year, I heard through friends the story of Alice Johnson.  I was deeply moved. In 1997, Alice was sentenced to life in prison as a first-time non-violent drug offender. Over the next two decades, she became a prison minister, inspiring others to choose a better path. She had a big impact on that prison population — and far beyond.

Alice’s story underscores the disparities and unfairness that can exist in criminal sentencing — and the need to remedy this injustice.  She served almost 22 years and had expected to be in prison for the rest of her life.

In June, I commuted Alice’s sentence — and she is here with us tonight.  Alice, thank you for reminding us that we always have the power to shape our own destiny.

When I saw Alice’s beautiful family greet her at the prison gates, hugging and kissing and crying and laughing, I knew I did the right thing.

Inspired by stories like Alice’s, my administration worked closely with members of both parties to sign the First Step Act into law.  This legislation reformed sentencing laws that have wrongly and disproportionately harmed the African-American community.  The First Step Act gives non-violent offenders the chance to re-enter society as productive, law-abiding citizens. Now, states across the country are following our lead.  America is a nation that believes in redemption.

We are also joined tonight by Matthew Charles from Tennessee.  In 1996, at age 30, Matthew was sentenced to 35 years for selling drugs and related offenses. Over the next two decades, he completed more than 30 Bible studies, became a law clerk, and mentored fellow inmates. Now, Matthew is the very first person to be released from prison under the First Step Act.  Matthew, on behalf of all Americans: welcome home.

As we have seen, when we are united, we can make astonishing strides for our country.  Now, Republicans and Democrats must join forces again to confront an urgent national crisis.

The Congress has 10 days left to pass a bill that will fund our government, protect our homeland, and secure our southern border.

Now is the time for the Congress to show the world that America is committed to ending illegal immigration and putting the ruthless coyotes, cartels, drug dealers, and human traffickers out of business.

As we speak, large, organized caravans are on the march to the United States. We have just heard that Mexican cities, in order to remove the illegal immigrants from their communities, are getting trucks and buses to bring them up to our country in areas where there is little border protection.  I have ordered another 3,750 troops to our southern border to prepare for the tremendous onslaught.

This is a moral issue. The lawless state of our southern border is a threat to the safety, security, and financial well-being of all Americans.  We have a moral duty to create an immigration system that protects the lives and jobs of our citizens.  This includes our obligation to the millions of immigrants living here today, who followed the rules and respected our laws.  Legal immigrants enrich our Nation and strengthen our society in countless ways.  I want people to come into our country, but they have to come in legally.

Tonight, I am asking you to defend our very dangerous southern border out of love and devotion to our fellow citizens and to our country.

No issue better illustrates the divide between America’s working class and America’s political class than illegal immigration.  Wealthy politicians and donors push for open borders while living their lives behind walls and gates and guards.

Meanwhile, working class Americans are left to pay the price for mass illegal migration — reduced jobs, lower wages, overburdened schools and hospitals, increased crime, and a depleted social safety net.

Tolerance for illegal immigration is not compassionate — it is cruel.  One in three women is sexually assaulted on the long journey north. Smugglers use migrant children as human pawns to exploit our laws and gain access to our country.

Human traffickers and sex traffickers take advantage of the wide open areas between our ports of entry to smuggle thousands of young girls and women into the United States and to sell them into prostitution and modern-day slavery.

Tens of thousands of innocent Americans are killed by lethal drugs that cross our border and flood into our cities — including meth, heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl.

The savage gang, MS-13, now operates in 20 different American States, and they almost all come through our southern border.  Just yesterday, an MS-13 gang member was taken into custody for a fatal shooting on a subway platform in New York City.  We are removing these gang members by the thousands, but until we secure our border they’re going to keep streaming back in.

Year after year, countless Americans are murdered by criminal illegal aliens.

I’ve gotten to know many wonderful Angel Moms, Dads, and families – no one should ever have to suffer the horrible heartache they have endured.

Here tonight is Debra Bissell.  Just three weeks ago, Debra’s parents, Gerald and Sharon, were burglarized and shot to death in their Reno, Nevada, home by an illegal alien.  They were in their eighties and are survived by four children, 11 grandchildren, and 20 great-grandchildren.  Also here tonight are Gerald and Sharon’s granddaughter, Heather, and great-granddaughter, Madison.

To Debra, Heather, Madison, please stand:  few can understand your pain.  But I will never forget, and I will fight for the memory of Gerald and Sharon, that it should never happen again.

Not one more American life should be lost because our nation failed to control its very dangerous border.

In the last 2 years, our brave ICE officers made 266,000 arrests of criminal aliens, including those charged or convicted of nearly 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes, and 4,000 killings.

 We are joined tonight by one of those law enforcement heroes:  ICE Special Agent Elvin Hernandez.  When Elvin was a boy, he and his family legally immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic.  At the age of eight, Elvin told his dad he wanted to become a special agent.  Today, he leads investigations into the scourge of international sex trafficking.  Elvin says:  “If I can make sure these young girls get their justice, I’ve done my job.”  Thanks to his work and that of his colleagues, more than 300 women and girls have been rescued from horror and more than 1,500 sadistic traffickers have been put behind bars in the last year.

Special Agent Hernandez, please stand:  We will always support the brave men and women of law enforcement — and I pledge to you tonight that we will never abolish our heroes from ICE.

My administration has sent to the Congress a commonsense proposal to end the crisis on our southern border.

It includes humanitarian assistance, more law enforcement, drug detection at our ports, closing loopholes that enable child smuggling, and plans for a new physical barrier, or wall, to secure the vast areas between our ports of entry.  In the past, most of the people in this room voted for a wall — but the proper wall never got built. I’ll get it built.

This is a smart, strategic, see-through steel barrier — not just a simple concrete wall.  It will be deployed in the areas identified by border agents as having the greatest need, and as these agents will tell you, where walls go up, illegal crossings go way down.

San Diego used to have the most illegal border crossings in the country.  In response, and at the request of San Diego residents and political leaders, a strong security wall was put in place.  This powerful barrier almost completely ended illegal crossings.

The border city of El Paso, Texas, used to have extremely high rates of violent crime — one of the highest in the country, and considered one of our Nation’s most dangerous cities.  Now, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of our safest cities.

Simply put, walls work and walls save lives. So let’s work together, compromise, and reach a deal that will truly make America safe.

As we work to defend our people’s safety, we must also ensure our economic resurgence continues at a rapid pace.

No one has benefited more from our thriving economy than women, who have filled 58 percent of the new jobs created in the last year.  All Americans can be proud that we have more women in the workforce than ever before — and exactly one century after the Congress passed the Constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote, we also have more women serving in the Congress than ever before.

As part of our commitment to improving opportunity for women everywhere, this Thursday we are launching the first ever Government-wide initiative focused on economic empowerment for women in developing countries.

To build on our incredible economic success, one priority is paramount — reversing decades of calamitous trade policies.

We are now making it clear to China that after years of targeting our industries, and stealing our intellectual property, the theft of American jobs and wealth has come to an end. 

Therefore, we recently imposed tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods — and now our Treasury is receiving billions of dollars a month from a country that never gave us a dime. But I don’t blame China for taking advantage of us — I blame our leaders and representatives for allowing this travesty to happen.  I have great respect for President Xi, and we are now working on a new trade deal with China.  But it must include real, structural change to end unfair trade practices, reduce our chronic trade deficit, and protect American jobs.

Another historic trade blunder was the catastrophe known as NAFTA.

I have met the men and women of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, New Hampshire, and many other States whose dreams were shattered by NAFTA.  For years, politicians promised them they would negotiate for a better deal.  But no one ever tried — until now.

Our new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement — or USMCA — will replace NAFTA and deliver for American workers:  bringing back our manufacturing jobs, expanding American agriculture, protecting intellectual property, and ensuring that more cars are proudly stamped with four beautiful words:  made in the USA.

Tonight, I am also asking you to pass the United States Reciprocal Trade Act, so that if another country places an unfair tariff on an American product, we can charge them the exact same tariff on the same product that they sell to us.

Both parties should be able to unite for a great rebuilding of America’s crumbling infrastructure.

I know that the Congress is eager to pass an infrastructure bill — and I am eager to work with you on legislation to deliver new and important infrastructure investment, including investments in the cutting edge industries of the future. This is not an option. This is a necessity.

The next major priority for me, and for all of us, should be to lower the cost of healthcare and prescription drugs — and to protect patients with pre-existing conditions.

Already, as a result of my administration’s efforts, in 2018 drug prices experienced their single largest decline in 46 years.

But we must do more. It is unacceptable that Americans pay vastly more than people in other countries for the exact same drugs, often made in the exact same place.  This is wrong, unfair, and together we can stop it.

I am asking the Congress to pass legislation that finally takes on the problem of global freeloading and delivers fairness and price transparency for American patients.  We should also require drug companies, insurance companies, and hospitals to disclose real prices to foster competition and bring costs down.

No force in history has done more to advance the human condition than American freedom. In recent years we have made remarkable progress in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Scientific breakthroughs have brought a once-distant dream within reach. My budget will ask Democrats and Republicans to make the needed commitment to eliminate the HIV epidemic in the United States within 10 years. Together, we will defeat AIDS in America.

 Tonight, I am also asking you to join me in another fight that all Americans can get behind:  the fight against childhood cancer.

Joining Melania in the gallery this evening is a very brave 10-year-old girl, Grace Eline.  Every birthday since she was 4, Grace asked her friends to donate to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.  She did not know that one day she might be a patient herself.  Last year, Grace was diagnosed with brain cancer.  Immediately, she began radiation treatment.  At the same time, she rallied her community and raised more than $40,000 for the fight against cancer. When Grace completed treatment last fall, her doctors and nurses cheered with tears in their eyes as she hung up a poster that read:  “Last Day of Chemo.”  Grace — you are an inspiration to us all.

Many childhood cancers have not seen new therapies in decades. My budget will ask the Congress for $500 million over the next 10 years to fund this critical life-saving research.

To help support working parents, the time has come to pass school choice for America’s children.  I am also proud to be the first president to include in my budget a plan for nationwide paid family leave — so that every new parent has the chance to bond with their newborn child.

There could be no greater contrast to the beautiful image of a mother holding her infant child than the chilling displays our nation saw in recent days.  Lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments before birth. These are living, feeling, beautiful babies who will never get the chance to share their love and dreams with the world.  And then, we had the case of the governor of Virginia where he basically stated he would execute a baby after birth.

To defend the dignity of every person, I am asking the Congress to pass legislation to prohibit the late-term abortion of children who can feel pain in the mother’s womb.

Let us work together to build a culture that cherishes innocent life.  And let us reaffirm a fundamental truth:  all children — born and unborn — are made in the holy image of God.

The final part of my agenda is to protect America’s National Security.

Over the last 2 years, we have begun to fully rebuild the United States military — with $700 billion last year and $716 billion this year.  We are also getting other nations to pay their fair share.  For years, the United States was being treated very unfairly by NATO — but now we have secured a $100 billion increase in defense spending from NATO allies.

As part of our military build-up, the United States is developing a state-of-the-art Missile Defense System.

Under my administration, we will never apologize for advancing America’s interests.

For example, decades ago the United States entered into a treaty with Russia in which we agreed to limit and reduce our missile capabilities.  While we followed the agreement to the letter, Russia repeatedly violated its terms. That is why I announced that the United States is officially withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or INF Treaty. 

Perhaps we can negotiate a different agreement, adding China and others, or perhaps we can’t –- in which case, we will outspend and out-innovate all others by far.

As part of a bold new diplomacy, we continue our historic push for peace on the Korean Peninsula. Our hostages have come home, nuclear testing has stopped, and there has not been a missile launch in 15 months. If I had not been elected president of the United States, we would right now, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea with potentially millions of people killed.  Much work remains to be done, but my relationship with Kim Jong Un is a good one.  And Chairman Kim and I will meet again on February 27 and 28 in Vietnam.

Two weeks ago, the United States officially recognized the legitimate government of Venezuela, and its new interim President, Juan Guaido. 

We stand with the Venezuelan people in their noble quest for freedom — and we condemn the brutality of the Maduro regime, whose socialist policies have turned that nation from being the wealthiest in South America into a state of abject poverty and despair.

Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country.  America was founded on liberty and independence –- not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free, and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.

One of the most complex set of challenges we face is in the Middle East.

Our approach is based on principled realism — not discredited theories that have failed for decades to yield progress.  For this reason, my administration recognized the true capital of Israel — and proudly opened the American Embassy in Jerusalem.

Our brave troops have now been fighting in the Middle East for almost 19 years. In Afghanistan and Iraq, nearly 7,000 American heroes have given their lives. More than 52,000 Americans have been badly wounded.  We have spent more than $7 trillion in the Middle East.

As a candidate for president, I pledged a new approach.  Great nations do not fight endless wars.

When I took office, ISIS controlled more than 20,000 square miles in Iraq and Syria. Today, we have liberated virtually all of that territory from the grip of these bloodthirsty killers.

Now, as we work with our allies to destroy the remnants of ISIS, it is time to give our brave warriors in Syria a warm welcome home.

I have also accelerated our negotiations to reach a political settlement in Afghanistan. Our troops have fought with unmatched valor — and thanks to their bravery, we are now able to pursue a political solution to this long and bloody conflict.

In Afghanistan, my administration is holding constructive talks with a number of Afghan groups, including the Taliban. As we make progress in these negotiations, we will be able to reduce our troop presence and focus on counter-terrorism. We do not know whether we will achieve an agreement — but we do know that after two decades of war, the hour has come to at least try for peace.

Above all, friend and foe alike must never doubt this nation’s power and will to defend our people. Eighteen years ago, terrorists attacked the U.S.S. Cole — and last month American forces killed one of the leaders of the attack.

We are honored to be joined tonight by Tom Wibberley, whose son, Navy Seaman Craig Wibberley, was one of the 17 sailors we tragically lost.  Tom:  we vow to always remember the heroes of the U.S.S. Cole.

My administration has acted decisively to confront the world’s leading state sponsor of terror: the radical regime in Iran.

To ensure this corrupt dictatorship never acquires nuclear weapons, I withdrew the United States from the disastrous Iran nuclear deal. And last fall, we put in place the toughest sanctions ever imposed on a country.

We will not avert our eyes from a regime that chants death to America and threatens genocide against the Jewish people. We must never ignore the vile poison of anti-Semitism, or those who spread its venomous creed. With one voice, we must confront this hatred anywhere and everywhere it occurs.

Just months ago, 11 Jewish-Americans were viciously murdered in an anti-Semitic attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.  SWAT Officer Timothy Matson raced into the gunfire and was shot seven times chasing down the killer.  Timothy has just had his 12th surgery — but he made the trip to be here with us tonight.  Officer Matson:  we are forever grateful for your courage in the face of evil.

Tonight, we are also joined by Pittsburgh survivor Judah Samet.  He arrived at the synagogue as the massacre began.  But not only did Judah narrowly escape death last fall — more than seven decades ago, he narrowly survived the Nazi concentration camps.  Today is Judah’s 81st birthday.  Judah says he can still remember the exact moment, nearly 75 years ago, after 10 months in a concentration camp, when he and his family were put on a train, and told they were going to another camp.  Suddenly the train screeched to a halt.  A soldier appeared.  Judah’s family braced for the worst.  Then, his father cried out with joy:  “It’s the Americans.”

A second Holocaust survivor who is here tonight, Joshua Kaufman, was a prisoner at Dachau Concentration Camp. He remembers watching through a hole in the wall of a cattle car as American soldiers rolled in with tanks.  “To me,” Joshua recalls, “the American soldiers were proof that God exists, and they came down from the sky.”

I began this evening by honoring three soldiers who fought on D-Day in the Second World War. One of them was Herman Zeitchik.  But there is more to Herman’s story.  A year after he stormed the beaches of Normandy, Herman was one of those American soldiers who helped liberate Dachau.  He was one of the Americans who helped rescue Joshua from that hell on earth.  Almost 75 years later, Herman and Joshua are both together in the gallery tonight — seated side-by-side, here in the home of American freedom.  Herman and Joshua:  your presence this evening honors and uplifts our entire Nation.

When American soldiers set out beneath the dark skies over the English Channel in the early hours of D-Day, 1944, they were just young men of 18 and 19, hurtling on fragile landing craft toward the most momentous battle in the history of war.

They did not know if they would survive the hour.  They did not know if they would grow old.  But they knew that America had to prevail.  Their cause was this Nation, and generations yet unborn.

Why did they do it?  They did it for America — they did it for us.

Everything that has come since — our triumph over communism, our giant leaps of science and discovery, our unrivaled progress toward equality and justice — all of it is possible thanks to the blood and tears and courage and vision of the Americans who came before.

Think of this capitol — think of this very chamber, where lawmakers before you voted to end slavery, to build the railroads and the highways, to defeat fascism, to secure civil rights, to face down an evil empire.

Here tonight, we have legislators from across this magnificent republic.  You have come from the rocky shores of Maine and the volcanic peaks of Hawaii; from the snowy woods of Wisconsin and the red deserts of Arizona; from the green farms of Kentucky and the golden beaches of California.  Together, we represent the most extraordinary nation in all of history.

What will we do with this moment?  How will we be remembered?

I ask the men and women of this Congress: Look at the opportunities before us!  Our most thrilling achievements are still ahead. Our most exciting journeys still await. Our biggest victories are still to come. We have not yet begun to dream.

We must choose whether we are defined by our differences — or whether we dare to transcend them.

We must choose whether we will squander our inheritance — or whether we will proudly declare that we are Americans. We do the incredible. We defy the impossible. We conquer the unknown.

This is the time to re-ignite the American imagination. This is the time to search for the tallest summit, and set our sights on the brightest star. This is the time to rekindle the bonds of love and loyalty and memory that link us together as citizens, as neighbors, as patriots.

This is our future — our fate — and our choice to make. I am asking you to choose greatness.

No matter the trials we face, no matter the challenges to come, we must go forward together.

We must keep America first in our hearts. We must keep freedom alive in our souls. And we must always keep faith in America’s destiny — that one nation, under God, must be the hope and the promise and the light and the glory among all the nations of the world!

The post Read the Full Text of Trump’s State of the Union Speech appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Instead of Criticizing Walmart, Sanders Should Praise the Company for Giving Workers More Paid Time Off

Tue, 2019-02-05 20:14

The other day, I gave my 5-year-old daughter a cookie, and she complained, “I didn’t want just one.”

Walmart—the largest employer in the United States—recently announced that it would provide a new, paid time-off bank for workers.

It will allow Walmart’s roughly 1.5 million U.S. workers to accumulate up to 48 hours of paid time off to use for unexpected absences without affecting their quarterly bonuses.

Like my 5-year-old, instead of being grateful to Walmart for granting a new benefit to workers, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., criticized the move as “not nearly good enough.”

“Walmart can and must pay all of its workers at least $15 an hour with good benefits,” he said.

The problem with that assertion, however, is that Sanders has never run a business and doesn’t know whether or not Walmart can pay all its workers $15 per hour. Nor does he know what Walmart workers want in terms of compensation and benefits.

Walmart executives do have a good grasp of those things, however, because their success and livelihood depends on them.

With an unemployment rate of just 4 percent and more job openings than there are workers looking for jobs, Walmart has to meet workers’ desires if it wants to remain competitive.

According to Walmart’s announcement, paid time off is what their workers want.

“These changes are based directly on feedback from associates who wanted more flexibility when life happens, while also being rewarded for consistently showing up to work and serving our customers,” the retail giant said.

Choices, flexibility, and opportunity are extremely important to workers—often more so than wages.

But government-imposed rules and regulations that dictate how employers can run their businesses restrict choices and opportunities, and can end up hurting the very workers they intend to help.

Take the $15 per hour minimum wage, for example.

Numerous studies estimate that it would eliminate millions of jobs, resulting in zero income for them, instead of an intended “living wage.”

Most of those jobs would be entry-level ones that serve as steppingstones to higher-paying jobs, meaning younger workers and those with the fewest skills would be the hardest hit.

A $15 minimum wage also would devastate many small businesses and entrepreneurs that simply cannot afford—at least at the outset—to pay everyone $15 per hour.

So-called “fair pay” bills would result in rigid pay scales and one-size-fits-all jobs that could hurt more women than they help. Moreover, government attempts to force employers’ hands through punitive lawsuits could cause companies to discriminate against women in the hiring process.

Politicians’ attempts to grant workers new benefits such as paid family leave and paid vacation will only shift the costs back to workers through lower pay and benefits, or fewer hours and jobs.

These unintended effects arise from the fact that employers face bottom lines. Unlike Congress, businesses can’t just raise their debt limits and push current costs onto future workers. If they did that, they would quickly find themselves out of business. 

Micromanaging employers is not the way to increase incomes for Americans. On the contrary, top-down dictates have the opposite effect.

Instead, lawmakers should pursue ground-up policies that creating lasting and sustainable gains, such as giving parents school choice options to improve children’s potential, eliminating the double taxation on investments that otherwise increase workers’ productivity and earnings, and reducing unnecessary regulations and barriers to entry that limit entrepreneurship and innovation.   

As for Sanders’ relentless criticism of profitable companies, one cookie is better than none. That’s at least something my 5-year-old now understands.

The post Instead of Criticizing Walmart, Sanders Should Praise the Company for Giving Workers More Paid Time Off appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Here’s In-Depth Analysis of Trump’s Policy Proposals in State of the Union Address

Tue, 2019-02-05 20:01

Watch President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address above. And throughout the speech and after, I’ll update this page with takes from The Heritage Foundation’s scholars on Trump’s policy proposals tonight.

The post Here’s In-Depth Analysis of Trump’s Policy Proposals in State of the Union Address appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Exiting the INF Treaty Over Russian Violations Would Send a Signal of US Resolve

Tue, 2019-02-05 19:37

On Feb. 1, more than a decade after we now know Russia began developing a banned ground-launched cruise missile, the United States formally initiated withdrawal proceedings from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.  

Russia has been violating the treaty since 2008, and has deployed weapons that pose a serious military threat to America and its European allies.

Withdrawal from the INF Treaty would allow the U.S. to develop and deploy new weapons to regain its military advantage over Russia, while letting Russia know that the U.S. will not stand idly by while adversaries blatantly violate treaty obligations.

While the U.S. should still continue to encourage Russia to return to treaty compliance, withdrawal provides an opportunity to create a safer world for America and its allies.

On Dec. 4, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared Russia to be in material breach of the treaty for developing and deploying a ground-launched cruise missile whose range violates INF limits. 

His announcement that the U.S. would leave the treaty in 60 days if Russia did not destroy the offending missile system has drawn both ire and admiration over the past two months.

Remaining in the INF Treaty and unilaterally following its limitations creates several significant disadvantages for America.

If the U.S. remains a party to a treaty that Russia willfully violates, it would set the precedent that America does not enforce consequences on adversaries who break the rules.

Furthermore, it would allow Russia to continue developing and testing weapons that threaten America and its allies while the U.S. remained bound by the treaty restrictions and lose by default an arms race in which it was barred from participating.

Withdrawing from the treaty would allow the U.S. to increase its ability to confront today’s dynamic global threat landscape in three significant ways.

America would no longer be bound by restrictions on intermediate-range ground-launched weapons development and testing,  enabling the nation to catch up and counter the advanced ground-launched missile capabilities Russia has built over the past 10 years.

This new freedom would also permit America to counter growing intermediate-range missiles arsenals, not only from Russia, but also from almost 30 other nations, including China, North Korea, and Iran.

Second, exiting the treaty would demonstrate to Russia and the world that violating treaties with the U.S. has consequences. This demonstration of resolve would also reassure U.S. allies of the commitment America has to its treaty and international obligations, increasing their trust in our commitments and strengthening ties with the U.S. 

Strong alliances with America’s European and Indo-Pacific allies is more important than ever as the world faces today’s increased threats from Russia and other adversaries.

There are some actions the United States should take now to better prepare for a post-INF Treaty world. Specifically, America should continue developing and deploy low-yield submarine-launched ballistic missiles and low-yield sea-launched cruise missiles.

To counter Russia’s cruise-missile threat in Europe, the U.S. should rapidly develop and deploy a conventional ground-launched cruise missile in Europe.  

Finally, the U.S. should also prioritize improving air and cruise-missile defense capabilities in Europe.

Critics argue that the United States’ treaty exit could lead to a new arms race with Russia. Rather, a U.S. withdrawal from the INF Treaty would not only show the world that it will hold nations that violate treaties and arms-control agreements accountable, but also would enable America to better defend the homeland and its allies.

While the U.S. should strive to encourage Russia to return to INF Treaty compliance, arms-control experts and even our European allies hold little faith that Russia will reverse the course it set more than 10 years ago.

Rather, Russia’s announcement on Feb. 2 that it was also immediately suspending its INF Treaty obligations and would no longer initiate nuclear arms-control talks with the U.S. signals its true intentions. 

U.S. development and deployment of low-yield, sea-based missiles, ground-launched cruise missiles, and advanced cruise-missile defense systems may be the only actions that could spur Russia to re-engage in INF negotiations.

The United States’ INF Treaty withdrawal would finally allow it to deploy advanced weapon systems to counter growing military threats from Russia, as well as demonstrate the nation’s commitment to holding accountable nations that violate their legal obligations, leading to a safer and more secure world for America and its allies.


The post Exiting the INF Treaty Over Russian Violations Would Send a Signal of US Resolve appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Florida Gov. DeSantis Issues 1-Year Deadline to Eliminate All ‘Vestiges’ of Common Core

Tue, 2019-02-05 19:00

The day before Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis introduced his $91.3 billion budget request for fiscal year 2020, which includes $21.7 billion for education programs, he issued an executive order to do away with “vestiges” of Common Core standards, “streamline” standardized testing, and revise the state’s educational curriculum.

In a Jan. 31 press conference at a Cape Coral High School in Lee County, DeSantis said he had instructed newly appointed Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran—the former House speaker and longtime Common Core critic—to develop new standards for presentation to the Legislature in 2020.

He said among the most frequent issues voters asked him to address during the gubernatorial campaign was their frustration with Common Core academic standards—especially its “confusing” math requirements—and its standardized testing program.

“I’m here to say when you complained about Common Core, I hear you, I told you I’d do something about it, and today we are acting to bring those promises into a reality,” DeSantis said.

Parents and teachers constantly share their frustrations with Common Core with us. We heard you! We issued an Executive Order to end Common Core in Florida, because our children deserve better. https://t.co/PckIhmWFVU

— Ron DeSantis (@RonDeSantisFL) February 1, 2019

The 2010 Common Core State Standards Initiative spells out what K–12 students throughout the U.S. should know in English and mathematics at the conclusion of each school grade.

The initiative was sponsored by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers and was an attempt to establish consistent educational standards across all 50 states and territories.

The standards were developed by officials in 48 states and have been adopted by 41 states and the District of Columbia.

From its beginning, Common Core has been vigorously criticized and challenged, especially by Republican voters and elected officials, and especially in Florida.

In 2014, at the direction of then-Gov. Rick Scott, the Florida Board of Education adopted the Florida Standards, which changed some components of Common Core but left “vestiges” intact.

Those “vestiges” mostly relate to Common Core’s rigorous schedule of standardized testing that have drawn widespread criticism not only from lawmakers of both parties, but by educators.

DeSantis said his executive order also calls for Corcoran to “streamline some of the testing” and “identify ways to really make civics education a priority in Florida.”

Corcoran, who also spoke at the press conference, eagerly accepted DeSantis’ directive, claiming Florida has been “stuck with Common Core,” which “needs to be scrutinized.”

In a later tweet, Corcoran called DeSantis “the boldest, #1 education Governor in the nation” and vowed that Florida “will have the best standards, best civics education, and be the most literate state in the nation!”

DeSantis’ plan was lauded by Fedrick Ingram, president of the Florida Education Association, the statewide teachers union, which has rarely agreed with the state’s Republican leaders on educational matters.

“A deliberate look at what students must know is always appropriate, and it’s very encouraging to hear that Gov. DeSantis and Commissioner Corcoran plan to bring teachers and parents to the table as they go about reshaping Florida’s standards,” Ingram said in a statement. “We’re also pleased to hear that the administration will look at streamlining testing. Parents and our members cite time spent on testing—as versus on genuine teaching and learning—as one of their top concerns. If all stakeholders are heard, we have confidence that this effort can improve public education in Florida.”

“What an amazing victory for Florida’s children!” tweeted Chris Quackenbush of Stop Common Core FL.

Florida Stop Common Core Coalition Executive Director Karen Effrem said her group was “thrilled with Governor DeSantis’ great efforts to keep his campaign promise and finally listen to the frustrations of parents.”

But getting rid of Common Core will be easier said than done.

“We also know that he will be up against a very entrenched corporate and political establishment that is very much in favor of keeping these standards. So we look forward to helping him fight that battle,” she wrote.

This article was originally published on Watchdog.org

The post Florida Gov. DeSantis Issues 1-Year Deadline to Eliminate All ‘Vestiges’ of Common Core appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

4 Key Issues in Neomi Rao’s Judicial Confirmation Hearing

Tue, 2019-02-05 18:42

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday held its first judicial confirmation hearing of the year for Neomi Rao, who is President Donald Trump’s nominee for the vacancy left by new Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Rao fielded questions from senators about her college writings, whether she would recuse herself in cases involving the Trump administration, her religious views, and the limits of executive power.

Rao, 45, currently serves as the administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, an executive branch position heavily involved in reviewing regulatory policies promulgated by administrative agencies.

The D.C. Circuit often is considered the second-highest court in the land and a stepping stone to the Supreme Court. Besides Kavanaugh, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas and Ruth Bader Ginsburg all served on that federal appeals court.

Given the reputation of the court and its association with Kavanaugh, Rao has come under intense scrutiny from the left. 

Her Background

The daughter of Indian immigrants, Rao is a graduate of Yale University and the University of Chicago Law School. After graduation, she clerked for Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit and for Thomas on the Supreme Court.

She then served in the White House Counsel’s Office under President George W. Bush and on the Senate Judiciary Committee as counsel to then-Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.

Since 2006, Rao has been a faculty member at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University, where she focused on administrative and constitutional law. In 2017, Trump selected her to run the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, a post that has been instrumental in implementing the president’s deregulatory agenda.

As an expert on administrative and constitutional law, Rao is uniquely qualified to serve on the D.C. Circuit, which hears many legal challenges to actions taken by administrative agencies.

Here are four major topics of the hearing:

1. College Writings on Sexual Assault

Several senators brought up an article Rao wrote about date rape while she was an undergraduate at Yale. In the article, she suggested that women should take measures to avoid becoming victims.

Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Kamala Harris, D-Calif., both implied that Rao was placing the blame on victims rather than on rapists. Rao clarified—several times—that she was simply advocating commonsense steps young women on campus could take to avoid becoming a victim. Chief among them is not excessively drinking alcohol.

It’s the same advice her mother gave her, she said, and it’s what she tells her children today. Rao clearly stated that the blame for a horrendous crime such as rape always lies with the perpetrator and never with the victim.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., a committee newcomer, pointed out that Rao has had a remarkable career and it amazed her that so much of the hearing focused on things Rao wrote more than 20 years ago as a college student.

Blackburn is right—Rao has had an impressive career. And whatever advice she offered to fellow students 20 years ago isn’t relevant to whether she will be the kind of judge who puts personal views aside and rules based on what the Constitution and laws dictate.

2. On Recusing Herself in Future Cases

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D. Calif., the committee’s ranking member, asked Rao to commit to recuse herself in any matter that might come before her involving Trump and administrative agencies.

Rao wouldn’t give a blanket commitment but instead explained a case-by-case approach. She said she would take the issue of recusal seriously and consult the relevant statute (28 U.S.C. § 455), D.C. Circuit precedent, and the advice of her colleagues in making that decision.

Feinstein called these authorities on recusal “mumbo jumbo.”

But a judge’s impartiality is key to maintaining the public’s trust, and Rao was right not to make any promises one way or another about whether she would recuse herself in future cases.

3. Religious Views and Religious Tests

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., brought up academic articles Rao wrote discussing the Supreme Court’s decisions in Lawrence v. Texas (striking down a law criminalizing sodomy) and United States v. Windsor (striking down the federal definition of marriage in the Defense of Marriage Act).

Booker asked whether Rao had any LGBTQ employees, and Rao replied that she didn’t know the sexual orientation of her staff and that she takes people as they are.

He followed up by asking Rao about her personal views on homosexual relationships—are they sinful? Rao refused to answer.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, later said this line of questioning troubled him, and indeed it should. Asking a judicial nominee whether something is “sinful” sounds an awful lot like probing her religious views, and the Constitution expressly prohibits religious tests for public office.

Unfortunately, several members of the Senate have shown an anti-religious bias in their treatment of Trump’s judicial nominees.

Examples include Feinstein’s infamous comment that Catholic “dogma lives loudly” within now-Judge Amy Coney Barrett, and the suggestion by Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, and Harris that membership in a Catholic service organization, the Knights of Columbus, should disqualify a district court nominee from office.

4. Executive Power and the Special Counsel

No Trump-era confirmation hearing would be complete without someone bringing up special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.

Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., brought up the president’s ability to fire executive branch officials. Rao wrote an academic article arguing that the president should be able to control his administration, which includes firing agency heads.

Coons wanted to know whether Trump should be able to fire Mueller or whether Congress could insulate him from the president’s control.

Rao explained that she couldn’t comment on a matter that could come before her in court, but that a judge would have to take into consideration the competing interests of the president and Congress. She acknowledged that these are tough legal questions.

After more than two hours of questioning, it’s pretty clear where these senators stand on Rao’s nomination. It’s interesting that, although the left bemoans the fact that too many of Trump’s judicial nominees are white men, they aren’t satisfied when Trump nominates a woman of color to such an important judicial vacancy.

Neomi Rao’s race and sex have no bearing on what kind of judge she will be, nor should they. Rao explained that as an appeals court judge, she would treat all parties before her equally, follow Supreme Court precedent, and decide cases based on what the law and Constitution demand, not based on her policy views.

That’s exactly what all judges should do, and for that reason, the Senate should confirm her.

>>> Listen to “SCOTUS 101,” a podcast with Elizabeth Slattery and friends bringing you up to speed on what’s happening at the Supreme Court.

The post 4 Key Issues in Neomi Rao’s Judicial Confirmation Hearing appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Slaughter of Innocents Shows Our Culture’s Moral Rot

Tue, 2019-02-05 18:37

The uproar over New York state’s Reproductive Health Act, which allows late-term abortions performed by “health-care practitioners” when the “patient is within 24 weeks from the commencement of pregnancy, or there is an absence of fetal viability or the abortion is necessary to protect the patient’s life or health,” should come as no surprise.

These and similar efforts in other states are the rotten fruit of a culture that has long abandoned the sanctity of life. Listen to the rhetoric for proof.

Women make abortion decisions, no one else. Men lost their right long ago to have a say in the matter. The familiar clichés about “a woman’s right to choose” and “a woman’s body” are repeated as if that settles everything.

Even in cases of abortion after birth, which a 2012 article by bioethicists Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva, cited in The Washington Post, claims is not out of bounds. After-birth abortion, they maintain:

 … could be ethically permissible in all the circumstances where abortion would be. … We propose to call this practice ‘after-birth abortion,’ rather than ‘infanticide,’ to emphasize that the moral status of the individual killed is comparable with that of a fetus (on which ‘abortions’ in the traditional sense are performed) rather than to that of a child.

And then there’s Norwegian bioethicist Joona Rasanen, who argues that a case could be made for giving ” … the genetic parents a right to kill (or leave to die) their newborn infant, even if the infant has a right to life … people have a right to their genetic privacy and having the newborn infant in the world that carries the genetic material of the genetic parents violates their right to genetic privacy.”

Sound extreme? Abortion on demand once sounded extreme, too.

What has been legislated in New York, been attempted in Virginia, and may be coming soon to a state near you, can be considered nothing less than an updated form of child sacrifice. Some ancient cultures offered their children on altars of fire or killed them and presented them to gods in hopes of receiving some twisted blessing.

Instead, their uncivilized civilizations collapsed from moral rot.

Child sacrifice was specifically condemned in the Bible. In Leviticus 18:21, 20:3, and Deuteronomy 12:30-31 and 18:10, there are condemnations and laws against child sacrifice, along with human sacrifice in general. Human sacrifices are seen as the barbaric customs of idol worshippers.

“They worshiped their idols, which became a snare to them. They sacrificed their sons and daughters to false gods. They shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was desecrated by their blood.” (Psalm 106:36-38, NIV).

Modern idols—personal peace, convenience, pleasure—are more sophisticated. Our sacrifices today are justified on the basis of who is inconvenient, imperfect, or even the wrong sex. Did we think we could get away with this and not suffer national, cultural, and spiritual consequences?

Many countries disallow abortions after 20 weeks. China allows nearly universal access to contraception and abortion, except in matters of sex selection, though how that is policed is almost impossible to comprehend. How many pregnancies were terminated in service to China’s former one-child policy? Are we headed in that direction? Is it too horrible to contemplate?

Not really. It’s only a matter of time and conditioning.

We’ve abandoned the slippery slope, and now find ourselves wallowing in an ocean of blood. Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood and a eugenicist, would be happy.

“These two words [birth control],” she wrote, “sum up our whole philosophy. … It means the release and cultivation of the better elements in our society, and the gradual suppression, elimination and eventual extinction, of defective stocks—those human weeds which threaten the blooming of the finest flowers of American civilization.”

When the story of America is written in the past tense, its collapse will have been caused by our indifference to God, and to all of the horrors that historically and inevitably follow it.

(c) 2019 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

The post Slaughter of Innocents Shows Our Culture’s Moral Rot appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Meet Trump’s State of the Union Special Guests

Tue, 2019-02-05 18:29

President Donald Trump will put personal faces on the many policy issues his administration has been tackling this year with the guests he’s invited to his second State of the Union address Tuesday. Below is a list of the guests and their stories, drawing upon the information the White House provided.

Debra Bissell, Heather Armstrong, and Madison Armstrong

Debra Bissell, Heather Armstrong, and Madison Armstrong are three family members of Gerald and Sharon David who were allegedly murdered by an illegal immigrant in their Nevada home. Debra, Heather, and Madison are the Davids’ daughter, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter, respectively.

Matthew Charles

One of Trump’s bipartisan victories from the past year is the First Step Act, which was signed into law in December 2018. Since then, former inmate Matthew Charles was released from prison as a result of the new reform. At the center of Charles’ rehabilitation in prison from a life of selling crack cocaine and committing other related offenses was God and education. He completed 30 Bible studies. He also “became a law clerk, taught GED classes and mentored fellow inmates,” according to the White House.

Alice Johnson

Alice Johnson had been sentenced to life in prison without parole for a nonviolent drug case. While she was incarcerated for 22 years, she had an “extraordinary rehabilitation,” per the White House, and Trump granted her clemency on June 6, 2018.

Ashley Evans

Ashley Evans is a mother who will be celebrating one year and one month of sobriety from opiod abuse on Feb. 9. When Evans was pregnant in 2017, she relapsed. But with the help of Brigid’s Path, a medical care facility in Kettering, Ohio, Evans is doing better and will soon be living with her daughter full time.

Elvin Hernandez

Elvin Hernandez is a special agent with the Trafficking in Persons Unit of the Department of Homeland Security. Hernandez has served in federal law enforcement for 18 years investigating narcotics, gangs, and human trafficking, with an impressive track record of successful international human trafficking investigations targeting transnational organized crime groups.

Timothy Matson

Timothy Matson, a Pittsburgh SWAT team member, was a responder to the October 2018 Tree of Life synagogue massacre. Matson, who suffered multiple gunshot wounds, saved many lives in the attack.

Judah Samet

Judah Samet is a survivor of the Holocaust and the Tree of Life synagogue massacre. He immigrated to Israel after the war. He eventually immigrated to the United States in the 1960s after serving as a paratrooper and radioman in the Israel Defense Forces.

Tom Wibberley

Tom Wibberley is the father of Navy Seaman Craig Wibberley, who lost his life on the USS Cole on Oct. 12, 2000, because of a terrorist attack. Craig, who was killed at age 19, was distinguished for his service on the USS Cole and was accepted into the Information Technician School. In honor of his tragic death, a $1,000 scholarship is given each year to four students studying his former passion of computer science.

Grace Eline

Cancer survivor Grace Eline was diagnosed with a germ cell brain tumor called germinoma at age 9, and began treatment in May 2018. Grace is described as a bright presence, who “stayed positive and strong, making the rounds in the hospital, cheering up other patients, and always having a smile for the many caring medical professionals who treated her.” Today, Grace shows no evidence of cancer and plans to help other children fighting cancer.

Joshua Trump

As part of first lady Melania Trump’s “Be Best” campaign, her guest will be Joshua Trump, a sixth-grade student from Wilmington, Delaware, who has been bullied in school because of his last name. Joshua’s Uncle Cody, who serves in the United States Air Force, is his hero and best friend.

The post Meet Trump’s State of the Union Special Guests appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Why a Bipartisan Bill to Federalize Animal Abuse Crimes Is Well-Intentioned but Wrongheaded

Tue, 2019-02-05 18:06

A pair of congressman from Florida announced Jan. 23 they would be introducing a bill in Congress that would make it a federal crime to abuse and torture animals.

Reps. Ted Deutch, a Democrat, and Vern Buchanan, a Republican, said those convicted of the crime would face a maximum of seven years in federal prison.

“This is commonsense, bipartisan legislation to bring some compassion to our animal laws,” Deutch said.

“For many Americans, animal welfare is an important policy issue, and the idea of animal abuse is abhorrent,” he explained.

Yes, it is important, and yes, it is abhorrent—but common sense? Not so much.

Protecting animals is a laudable aim, but this bill would take federal law too far to accomplish that end.

The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act would make it a federal crime to crush, burn, drown, suffocate, or impale an animal or otherwise subject an animal to serious bodily harm if those acts take place on federal property or affect interstate commerce.

By criminalizing animal abuse that “affects interstate commerce,” the bill would unnecessarily interject the federal government into an issue that belongs primarily in the realm of state and local law enforcement.

In the process, the bill would spread already strained federal resources even thinner by tasking federal authorities with policing local neighborhoods and communities for animal abusers.

The fact is, animal cruelty is already illegal in every state, and local police ably enforce those laws.  

While the federal government has a compelling interest in policing animal abuse on federal property, the federal government should not be in the business of “bear[ing] down on the distinctively local concern of crimes against Fido, too,” as scholars at The Heritage Foundation argued two years ago while discussing a similar bill.

The Pet and Women Safety Act of 2017, if it had passed, would have made it a federal crime to harass or intimidate a pet in a manner that causes “substantial emotional distress” to the owner.

As the Heritage scholars stated, “While no one condones violence against any [animal], common sense and principles of federalism in law enforcement suggest that the clear and compelling federal interests to pursue gangs, cartels, and the like do not as clearly apply to hunting down animal abusers.”

Crimes like arson, carjacking, and animal abuse are serious offenses, but they are generally local in nature. Needlessly involving the federal government only continues the alarming trend toward the overfederalization of crime—a symptom of the overcriminalization phenomenon.

For many years, Heritage scholars have cautioned that overfederalization wastes government resources because it tasks federal law enforcement authorities with policing local crime, distracting federal officials who ought to be focusing their efforts on truly national concerns (see here, here, and here).

Former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese III, the leading Heritage scholar on the issue of overfederalization, explained more than 20 years ago that the federalization of crime “invites selective prosecution, and disparate enforcement and punishment. Federal officials determine, usually on the basis of political factors, whether they will get involved in a case.”

Rather than trying to solve every problem in local communities, the federal government makes best use of its resources by protecting Americans from far greater threats posed by human traffickers, violent drug cartels, cybercriminals, and terrorist organizations, to name a few.

Congress’ efforts to intervene in matters of state and local concern also greatly expand the federal government’s police power; that is, the authority of the government to regulate the safety and well-being of citizens, which is a power reserved to the states by the federal Constitution.

As that happens, then-Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist observed in 2000, the distinction between national and local government is obliterated in favor of a “completely centralized government” incompatible with the Constitution’s “dual system of government.”

The PACT Act’s broad attempt to criminalize animal abuse on land not owned by the federal government would only further obliterate that distinction, and it would do so for no clear reason.

Animal abuse is already a crime in every state, and 46 states take the issue so seriously that they have made it a first-time felony offense.

What’s more, those laws are being actively enforced.

Just last week, three people were arrested by Virginia law enforcement officers and charged with several counts of animal abuse and neglect under the state’s criminal laws.

In Pennsylvania, a former kennel owner, with a previous animal abuse conviction, last week pleaded guilty to more criminal charges of animal abuse in violation of that state’s law.

To be sure, one could envision instances of animal abuse that might warrant federal intervention on land not owned by the federal government, such as illegal dogfighting rings that involve organized crime. But here again, federal law (see here and here) already prohibits these activities.

For instance, no new federal laws were needed to take down former NFL quarterback Michael Vick, who pleaded guilty in 2007 to violating federal law for operating a dogfighting ring on his privately owned property in Virginia.

Vick spent 23 months in federal prison for his crimes.

Federal law also prohibits the recording and distribution of animal abuse videos under the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act in 2010—a law that was passed to deter the promotion of animal abuse over the internet.

Congress’ overfederalization of crime is a troubling trend that accelerated decades ago, leaving our federal government with resources spread too thin and the states with less power.

As I have written elsewhere, it’s easy to understand why the trend has continued apace: “Politicians like creating new criminal law[s] because it is an especially easy way for [them] to drum up political support, [as] it gives the public a sense that ‘something is being done’ about crime.”

The PACT Act is another bill that gives Americans that sense that Congress is “doing something” about crime. Unfortunately, once again, it is doing all the wrong things.

The post Why a Bipartisan Bill to Federalize Animal Abuse Crimes Is Well-Intentioned but Wrongheaded appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Civil Disagreement Should Be Possible in America

Tue, 2019-02-05 17:31

The veins in his forehead visibly pulsed as he barked talking points at a fellow guest. The volley back was equally intense. The volume and rapid breathlessness of the two combatants’ speech escalated to the point of being incoherent. 

I turned off the TV.

I don’t know who they were or remember why they were arguing—just that they were angry, loud, and emblematic of how modern cable news frequently devolves into the verbal equivalent of street fights.

Of course, relative to social media, the talking heads on the evening news embody a quaint, near-Mr. Rogers-like charm. In the unfettered digital sphere, facts and reason are often supplanted by unsupported opinion and raw—sometimes vulgar—emotion.

This time in history is peculiar. We have access to more information than ever before, and yet, people are more confused.

We are more connected to each other than ever before, too, and yet, people are lonely. Despite unrivaled levels of human advancement, both “sides” of the political spectrum feel as though they are losing a winner-takes-all culture war.

A confluence of factors brings us to this moment. The advent of the 24-hour news cycle is one factor. Social media, political correctness, and pervasive fearmongering play roles as well.

Together, they have stifled the honest exchange of ideas and fostered the rise of a toxic form of tribalism that threatens the fabric of our country.

To be clear, neither traditional nor social media are inherently bad. Both can be a source for good. But overtly partisan media and targeted social media algorithms carry the very real potential that Americans are exposed only to opinions that confirm our natural biases.

Because of round-the-clock coverage and access, people are deluged with those opinions. 

This is also not nostalgia for a time that never was or naivete about what are legitimate differences of opinion.

History is replete with examples of charlatans exploiting emotions, and there are serious problems, with real disagreements, that need solving. But the constant drumming of division, and the resulting ideological chasm, all but ensure that conversations that could put us on the right path don’t occur.

For as long as there have been people, there have been “tribes” that come together to provide for each other’s well-being. A family is a tribe. A church is a tribe. A community can be a tribe.

Tribalism becomes dangerous, however, when it results in reflexive hostility to new people and new ideas. 

In politics, people once united around common beliefs to form tribes, but there was recognition that the tribes had to talk to one another to get things done. 

Today, allegiance to philosophical moorings has become fungible, while our desire to find common ground has waned. Political tribes now unite primarily not to advance ideas, but to oppose “the other side.”

In this new reality, “the other side” is not merely wrong, but the enemy. The enemy deserves no respect. Intellectual rigor that involves considering alternate views is now heresy. 

Angry and loud are signs of strength and courage; civility, a mark of weakness. We are, after all, at war.

Except that Americans are not actually at war with each other. People who disagree with us are not the enemy, evil, or even dumb. They have a different worldview rooted in their own experiences.

It takes little courage to be a hothead or blindly follow the edicts of your tribe. It takes a lot of courage to listen to someone who sees things differently, to speak uncomfortable truths and question power.

We are worse off in a world where we are isolated from people and ideas that challenge us, where meaningful discussion of hard issues can’t occur without having allegiances and motives questioned, and where we overlook the faults of our tribesmen and assume the very worst of those in other tribes. 

We live in a beautiful, complex, and broken world filled with beautiful, complex, and broken people. We need to recognize that most of our fellow Americans, regardless of how they label themselves, want to see a stronger America.

We all want more opportunities for our families, communities, and future generations. We all have hopes that inspire us and fears that bind us.

The moment for a New Year’s resolution has passed, but it’s never too late to resolve to do the right thing.

We should resolve to turn off our television sets and smart devices long enough to actually speak to people who look, think, and act differently from us and to learn from them.

We should resolve to be decent to one another, even when we disagree.R

The post Civil Disagreement Should Be Possible in America appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Reintroducing Tax Subsidies That Benefit Only a Few Americans Is a Terrible Idea

Tue, 2019-02-05 17:20

Every few years, Congress renews a list of expiring tax subsidies called “tax extenders” at the behest of powerful industry lobbyists. Instead of returning to business as usual in the swamp, Congress should focus on fixing a few mistakes in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that would benefit all Americans.  

The 2017 tax reform package was suppose to end the practice of implementing temporary extenders, but wealthy corporate interests haven’t gone quietly into the night.

There are about 26 narrowly tailored special-interest tax privileges that expired at the end of 2017. At the end of 2018, a bipartisan group of policy organizations recommended, “Congress should not insert these policies back into the tax code now or in the future.”

It was right.  

Each extender grants an economic privilege, tailored to some particular group or business interest. By picking winners and losers, these corrupt policies reduce opportunity for individuals and businesses that Congress does not shower with special favors.

The list of extenders includes subsidies for three different alternative fuels, two special types of vehicles, short-line railroads, and certain coal owned by Indian tribes, among others.

One tax credit program gives a subsidy of over a dollar per gallon for certain biofuel producers. The credit is so complicated that three government agencies—the Environmental Protection Agency, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Department of Justice—have been unable to properly enforce the provision. In fact, the credit resulted in several fraud cases, including one group of executives who plead guilty to a $64 million fraud scheme using the tax credit.

Another credit for an alternative fuel is just as worrisome. By one estimate, the credit provides a $555 million-a-year subsidy to oil and gas companies for butane, a naturally occurring byproduct of oil refining, which, “even without the added tax incentive … has typically been added to gasoline to reduce vapor pressure,” as Doug Sword explains. A subsidy for something that would have happened anyway is a windfall profit, not an incentive to change business behavior.

Even if tax credits did work as intended, periodic temporary extensions are a poor way to construct tax policy, budget policy, and economic policy.

Temporary reauthorizations mask the true cost of what are effectively permanent policy features. They provide an opening for politicians to request patronage from special interests on a semiannual basis, and create economic uncertainty. If extended permanently, the 26 expired provisions would cost about $92 billion over 10 years.     

Furthermore, most of the credits have already expired, so retroactively extending them would do nothing but transfer taxpayer funds to the hands of corporate lobbyists. Last year’s business decisions have already been made. Retroactively reviving tax credits that expired in 2017 cannot change business behavior that has already taken place. The extenders are a waste of taxpayer money.  

So what can Congress do?

Congress can focus on building a consensus to make the individual tax cuts permanent, something that even has support among a few Democrats. Smaller reforms in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act also need attention.

For example, one of the more important problems to fix is the “retail glitch,” which unintentionally denies the benefit of business expensing to building improvements, called qualified improvement property. The 2017 law allows businesses to immediately deduct the cost of most new investments. This makes expanding or modernizing a business a bit easier, raises wages, and grows the economy.

Fixing the retail glitch would make sure grocery stores and restaurants can access the benefit as Congress intended. This change doesn’t even have a new budgetary impact as the revenue estimates were already included in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Rather than reintroduce expired tax subsidies at the cost of $90 billion, Congress should work on improving the tax code for all Americans.

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Categories: Public Policy