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Rep. Liz Cheney Defends College’s ‘World Needs More Cowboys’ Slogan

Wed, 2019-03-13 12:54

Republican Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney responded Tuesday after the University of Wyoming’s new slogan “The World Needs More Cowboys” drew criticism for being “racist” and “sexist.”

“The world does need more Cowboys,” Cheney told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Cowboys and cowgirls embody the no-nonsense, never-back-down grit at the heart of our Wyoming heritage.”

The cowboy has long been the University of Wyoming’s logo and mascot, however, outrage ensued after the college released a promotional video in July that introduced the new tagline “The World Needs More Cowboys.” Nearly two dozen faculty members have complained since its release, claiming it represents bigotry and genocide.

Tracey Owens Patton, a communications professor, accused the cowboy of “erasure, racism, sexism, heterosexism, and genocide,” reported The Wall Street Journal. The University of Wyoming’s Committee on Women and People agreed, noting that it “risks casting UW as a place where only people who identify with white, male, and able-bodied connotations of ‘cowboy’ belong.”

The promotional video, which lauds grit, courage, and self-reliance, also explains what makes a cowboy and addresses the inclusiveness of the logo despite the criticism otherwise.

“The world needs more cowboys and not just the kind that sweep you off your feet and ride you off into the sunset—ours are diverse cowboys who come in every sex, shape, color, and creed,” the video outlines. “It’s not what you are that makes you a cowboy or cowgirl, but who you are. It’s a shared spirit. It’s the spirit of the underdog, the trailblazer.”

“Washington could learn a lot from Wyoming’s values of courage, leadership, and hard work, and those principles are exemplified in the University of Wyoming’s slogan,” Cheney added.

The ‘World Needs More Cowboys’ promotional video has received critical acclaim since it aired. It was awarded Best in Show and earned the silver award for “integrated marketing campaign” category on Friday during the 34th annual Educational Advertising Awards competition. The following day, the video took home the “Addy” award in the American Advertising Federation’s American Advertising Awards competition.

The university has also defended the slogan and will continue to use it for the upcoming year.

“While we recognize there are some who don’t like the tagline, the response to our campaign has been overwhelmingly positive, and we are making plans to continue with the campaign for a second year,” Chad Baldwin, associate vice president for marketing and communications for the University of Wyoming, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

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

The post Rep. Liz Cheney Defends College’s ‘World Needs More Cowboys’ Slogan appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Government Lays Out $4.6 Million on Lobster and Crab in Spending Spike

Wed, 2019-03-13 12:49

Against the backdrop of a record-breaking $22 trillion in national debt, the revelation that the federal government spent $4.6 million on lobster tail and crab is only one line item in a report that may disturb cash-strapped taxpayers.  

OpenTheBooks.com, a government watchdog nonprofit working to put all government spending online, has published “The Federal Government’s Use-It-or-Lose-It Spending Spree,” showing that through fiscal year 2018, federal agencies spent $544.1 billion on contracts, 10 percent of it in the final week ending Sept. 30.

According to the report released Thursday, federal spending was at its highest in September, the last month of the fiscal year, where the government spent $3.2 billion per day on contracts. On Sept. 27 and 28, the government spent $10 billion each day.

In addition to the $4.6 million forked over for lobster tail and crab, the spending spree consisted of contracts to lay out $9,241 on a Wexford leather club chair; $53,004 on china tableware; $308,994 on alcohol; $673,471 on golf carts; $1.7 million on musical equipment; $7.7 million on iPhones and iPads; and $9.8 million on workout and recreation equipment.

“The spike in use-it-or-lose-it spending at the end of 2018 reiterates the fact that the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 was another irresponsible budget deal,” Justin Bogie, senior policy analyst in fiscal affairs at The Heritage Foundation, said in an email to The Daily Signal.

According to a Heritage Foundation report, that spending bill shattered the limits put in place by the Budget Control Act of 2011, approved additional disaster relief for areas hit by hurricanes and wildfires, and extended many special-interest tax provisions.

The federal government’s spending spike of $97 billion on 509,828 contracts in the final month of the fiscal year, Bogie said, is because of the time restraints legislators put on agencies to spend.

“Appropriations were not finalized until nearly six months into the fiscal year, allowing agencies little time to spend a whopping $143 billion in additional funding, and leaving billions of dollars to be wasted away on unnecessary purchases,” Bogie said.

In addition to incentivizing reckless spending, the Bipartisan Budget Act also is estimated to “increase the federal deficit by $342 billion over 10 years, not including increased interest payments on the national debt,” according to The Heritage Foundation report.

“Congress should work to end the use-it-or-lose-it budgeting approach and return unused funding to the Treasury to pay down the $22 trillion national debt,” Bogie said. “Taxpayers can’t afford any more wasteful spending.”

The post Government Lays Out $4.6 Million on Lobster and Crab in Spending Spike appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Ocasio-Cortez Blames Pipeline That Hasn’t Been Built Yet for an Oil Spill

Wed, 2019-03-13 12:22

Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez blamed the Keystone XL pipeline for leaking about 5,000 barrels of oil in rural South Dakota about two years ago.

There’s just one problem: The Keystone XL pipeline has not been built yet.

During a House hearing Tuesday, Ocasio-Cortez claimed that “Keystone XL, in particular, had one leak that leaked 210,000 gallons across South Dakota” while she questioned Wells Fargo President and CEO Timothy Sloan.

.@RepAOC: "Mr. Sloan, why was the bank involved in the caging of children?" @AOC to #WellsFargo CEO pic.twitter.com/Pvfuv2wfXe

— Alexis Goldstein (@alexisgoldstein) March 12, 2019

Ocasio-Cortez probably confused the Keystone XL pipeline with the Keystone pipeline, which has been operating since 2010. Keystone XL is still under construction, but would also bring oil sands from Canada to Nebraska where it would connect to existing pipeline.

Environmentalists spent years opposing the Keystone XL pipeline, filing court challenges and successfully lobbying former President Barack Obama to personally reject the project in late 2015. President Donald Trump reversed that decision in early 2017, but Keystone XL’s progress has since been delayed by activist lawsuits.

The existing Keystone pipeline, however, was responsible for leaking up to 9,700 barrels in South Dakota in 2017. The initial estimate for the spill was about 5,000 barrels, or 210,000 gallons of oil. Both Keystone and the planned XL line are operated by Canadian pipeline giant TransCanada.

TransCanada said it repaired the pipeline and cleaned up the spill, Reuters reported in 2018, though the event has been used by environmental activists to gin up opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline.

Ocasio-Cortez, who recently introduced the Green New Deal resolution, also took aim at Wells Fargo’s financing of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which sparked violent protests along the project’s planned route throughout 2016.

Like Keystone XL, the Trump administration reversed the Obama administration’s blocking of the project. Dakota Access went into service in 2017. TransCanada had plans to begin building the Keystone XL pipeline later this year, but a February federal court ruling could delay construction until 2020.

Ocasio-Cortez also grilled Wells Fargo’s Sloan over their financing of the Dakota Access Pipeline, asking the bank CEO if his company should be responsible for cleaning up any oil spills. The freshman Democrat also claimed the Dakota Access Pipeline has leaked five times since it began operating two years ago.

“So, hypothetically, if there was a leak from the Dakota Access Pipeline, why shouldn’t Wells Fargo pay for the cleanup of it, since it paid for the construction of the pipeline itself?” Ocasio-Cortez asked in Tuesday’s hearing.

“We don’t operate the pipeline, we provide financing to the company that’s operating the pipeline,” Sloan said, also noting Wells Fargo had an environmental oversight group.

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

The post Ocasio-Cortez Blames Pipeline That Hasn’t Been Built Yet for an Oil Spill appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Trump’s Military Budget Request Would Build On Recent Gains

Wed, 2019-03-13 11:54

The Pentagon on Tuesday released the president’s budget request for defense, which calls for the resources needed to sustain the increase in military readiness experienced over the last two years.

The total funding request of $750 billion would represent an increase of 4.7 percent over the 2019 budget, largely aligned with the needs expressed by the Pentagon leadership and reinforced by the bipartisan Commission on the National Defense Strategy.

Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford have outlined the need to increase the defense budget to the tune of 3 to 5 percent above inflation until 2023 in order to meet the challenges outlined by the current defense strategy.

This growth is in line with The Heritage Foundation’s recommendation of $742 billion for defense. The $8 billion gap between our recommendation and President Donald Trump’s request owes to the emergency funds that the administration is requesting to reinforce our southern border and provide hurricane relief.

From the total request number of $750 billion, $576 billion would constitute the base defense budget, which is limited by the Budget Control Act caps. In addition, the administration requests $165 billion for the Overseas Contingency Operations account, which is not limited by the caps.

In this budget proposal, the Trump administration decided to use the Overseas Contingency Operations account as a way to back-fill the defense budget. By restricting themselves to the Budget Control Act caps, the budget request aims at the laudable goal of avoiding another budget deal that increases non-defense discretionary spending.

The budget outlines the same funding scheme for defense in the 2021 budget, which has a $156 billion placeholder for Overseas Contingency Operations. Yet by utilizing an emergency spending account to do so, they are taking yet another step away from transparency and accountability and will likely encounter stiff resistance in Congress.

The Heritage Foundation has long advocated for having an Overseas Contingency Operations account that is truly dedicated to emergencies, not to augment base funding requirements.

A better way forward was expressed by my colleague, Justin Bogie:

…the president should follow his previous two proposals and propose eliminating the firewall between defense and nondefense spending. This would force Congress to focus on its constitutional obligations, like ensuring a strong national defense, without breaking the budget caps.

When it comes to growing our forces, this budget request aims low, asking for a modest growth. The budget requests an increase of 6,215 personnel to active duty. Of those, 2,000 would be in the Army, 1,623 in the Navy, 100 in the Marine Corps, and 2,492 in the Air Force.

These increases are substantially below the 16,000 recommended by The Heritage Foundation and would be insufficient to fill all the readiness gaps. The timid request number might reflect the growing recruitment challenges faced by the services.

The 2020 defense budget represents a modest step toward consolidating the readiness gains from the previous two years, but it does not offer a clear path forward for the military to grow the end strength needed to face the challenges of great power competition.

Now, it will be up to Congress to decide if and how the Pentagon will be able to move forward with the implementation of the National Defense Strategy. Congress should take a long-term view of the competition and focus on properly investing in our military, not just passing temporary boosts from year to year.

The post Trump’s Military Budget Request Would Build On Recent Gains appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

First Study on School Choice and Crime Reduction Holds Good News for Low-Income, Urban Students

Wed, 2019-03-13 10:56

A first-of-its-kind paper on private school vouchers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, looks beyond student test scores and focuses on the impact the school choice vehicle has on crime reduction.

“We took a representative sample of participants in the [Milwaukee Parental Choice Program] and carefully matched them to similar Milwaukee public school students and then tracked their outcomes over time,” Patrick Wolf, professor at the University of Arkansas’ Department of Education Reform, told The Daily Signal in an interview about the new paper.

“Initially, those outcomes focused on test scores,” Wolf said, “but test scores are not everything that we want from a child.”

Wolf and Corey DeAngelis, an education policy analyst with Cato Institute, evaluated the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, first launched in 1990. It is commonly referred to as the nation’s first modern school choice program, providing vouchers to Milwaukee’s low-income students for use in private schools.

The test score analysis, which began in 2007 and ended in 2012, found the program had positive effects on students’ reading scores, but little impact on math. However, in the the latest analysis titled “Private School Choice and Character: More Evidence from Milwaukee,” the evidence is clear: school choice alleviates young adult crime.  

In this paper, Wolf and DeAngelis evaluated non-test score impacts of school choice such as student character.

“It was mainly driven by our appreciation that test scores aren’t the only things that matter in the formation of young people,” Wolf said. “We expect [schools] to shape all young citizens. Avoiding arrest and conviction for crimes–that’s really an important measure of how successful schools have been in preparing responsible young citizens.”

According to the paper, students who took advantage of the school choice option committed fewer crimes than counterparts in public schools. As young adults, these students committed about 53 percent fewer drug crimes and 86 percent fewer property crimes.

The results also show 38 percent fewer paternity suits filed once students reach their mid-20s. These suits occur when there is difficulty identifying a child’s biological father so child support can be properly paid.

“The simple interpretation is that access to private schools of choice for students in urban environments lead to certain payoffs in terms of character development,” Wolf said. “Somehow these private schools are doing a more effective job of shaping the character and influencing the responsible decision-making of young adults.”

Since Wisconsin is the only state in the U.S. that publishes every citizen’s record of criminal charges and convictions in a database searchable by the public, the report’s research team was able to easily cross-reference their voucher student information with the state’s criminal records database.

In the mid-2000s, Wolf said, policymakers were conflicted about changes to be made to the voucher program, which had not been analyzed since 1995.

“There was a group of legislators who wanted to put additional restrictions on the program, and there [was] a group of legislators who wanted to raise the cap on enrollment and expand the program,” Wolf said. “And they came to a compromise that included a call for an evaluation of the [Milwaukee Parental Choice Program].”

When Wolf and DeAngelis pitched the legislators on their idea to study the program in 2007, supporters and skeptics agreed on a new regulation that lifted the enrollment cap so more students could be evaluated.

So it was lawmakers’ reaching across the aisle that later would reveal the hidden gem of school choice’s benefits in preventing crime among young adults.

The post First Study on School Choice and Crime Reduction Holds Good News for Low-Income, Urban Students appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

How the Loss of Communities Fueled Enthusiasm for Trump

Wed, 2019-03-13 03:01

Why is life so tough in some parts of America? Is the American dream still possible everywhere in the nation? What’s behind the appeal of President Donald Trump–and socialism? Tim Carney, author of “Alienated America: Why Some Places Thrive While Others Collapse, joins us to discuss. Read the transcript posted below or listen to the podcast to catch the interview.

We also cover these stories:

  • Not all House Democrats are on board with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “no impeachment” directive.
  • Should state employees get gender transition treatments covered? That’s what’s at stake in a new lawsuit alleging discrimination in North Carolina.
  • Indiana now lets people identify as male, female, or neither on driver’s licenses.

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

This transcript has been lightly edited.

Daniel Davis: I’m joined now in studio by Tim Carney. He is the commentary editor of the Washington Examiner and visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. He’s also author of the new book “Alienated America: Why Some Places Thrive While Others Collapse.” Tim, thanks for being on.

Tim Carney: Thanks for having me.

Davis: Tim, your book follows a theme that has become prominent after Trump’s election in 2016. It paints a picture of two Americas. It’s a picture that we’ve seen more and more.

Get into some of what causes the division between the America that you describe in Chevy Chase, Maryland—a kind of upper-class, upper-middle-class America—and some of the other, western Pennsylvania types of America. What is at the root of the division?

Carney: At the root of the division is the institutions of civil society, which is to say the strength of community as determined by how many little platoons are there, to use Evan Berk’s term. This can be churches. It can be Little League, bowling leagues was the image that Robert Putnam used when he wrote about this problem in “Bowling Alone”. The strong public schools also count.

In addition to the elites having it together, which is something Charles Murray touches on in “Coming Apart” and others, I also talk about the strong religious communities that are a lot more middle class that have the same sort of good outcomes as far as fewer out of wedlock births, less drug addiction, less high school dropouts.

All of those things happen not only in the elite communities, but also in western Michigan where there’s a strong Dutch Reformed Church, Salt Lake City with the Mormon church. These two very different types of places, liberal, elite, and socially conservative built around a strong church. Both have those intensely strong community institutions that produce good outcomes and are the stepping stones to the good life.

Davis: You acknowledge up front the book is largely about President Trump’s core supporters. You say that the 2016 election was really a referendum on whether the American dream is still alive.

Carney: Yes. So to be very precise talking about the early primaries. Not Hillary vs. Trump where it’s a referendum on a million things. I have people who voted on both sides for countless reasons.

Early on when there were 17 Republicans on that stage, you had people choosing Trump over the other 16. You had people who had never been active in politics going to a caucus in Iowa, which takes all night. Going to a rally outside of Milwaukee, which takes all day to stand in line there. Or people who had been Democrats then becoming active in Republican primaries. This was a sign of this extraordinary motivation early on to Trump in a way that wasn’t just a conservatism or a Republican Party loyalty.

Yes, that alienation was a big part of what motivated them. You saw the least of these extraordinary early Trump supporters in places like Utah, like western Michigan. You saw most of them in places that had crumbling civil society. It was people who looked around and said, “I have neighbors getting on drugs. I have neighbors not getting married while the same people like them a generation ago would’ve gotten married. My community is crumbling. Washington doesn’t have any solutions and so I need somebody totally different.” A lot of them turned to Trump.

Davis: It was interesting during that primary season. A lot of the critiques of the establishment, or in terms of policy coming out of Washington, trade policy, the solution is tariffs. All sorts of economic policies. The account that you give in the book is a bit different. You can see it in retrospect looking back on the campaign. Why has it not received as much attention as some of these other policy items?

Carney: Again, it certainly isn’t the way Donald Trump talks. He didn’t walk around saying you guys had lost your Boy Scout troops and your Little Leagues and that’s why your lives are crumbling. Even though a much more complex version of that phenomenon is at the root of it. It’s a very standard thing.

Alienation, one definition of it that I use throughout the book is from Robert Nisbet. It’s not only a disconnection from society, but a failure to see a point in that society.

When people end up in these stages where they’re not connected to their neighbors, to other people very well, they don’t necessarily long for more of that connection as much as they think there’s got to be some bigger solution.

Trump was a guy who in the early primaries really was promising that. That trade policy was going to put us back in 1962. He was skipping over the step of the thing in 1962 that these middle-class places that have lots of employment, what they did with that money and with that employment was build really strong communities where raising a family or living your life was much easier.

Davis: Speaking of family in those communities, I want to read just a paragraph from the preface actually, which really sets the tone for the book. It’s a very personal angle.

You write about when one of your children had a health issue. You write Katie, I believe your wife Katie. You say:

Katie had gone to a late morning mass at our parish with our oldest daughter. When she finally looked at her phone and ran out of mass to meet me at the urgent care center, she turned to Lucy and said, ‘Go sit with Dory,’ pointing to the mother of an old school friend, ‘She’ll give you a ride home after mass, if not, somebody else will.’ Katie simply knew that we could count on our parish, on the people in that community to help. That knowledge, the certainty that someone can help you when you need it, was always there. We hadn’t noticed it until we needed it. This is the key part. Like the heath insurance that paid most of the bill, the insurance of the social networks had provided great peace of mind without ever rising to the front of our consciousness.

I want to ask you about that parallel here between insurance and this social capital that you talk about throughout the rest of the book. How big of a factor really are networks, social capital, compared to all the other considerations?

Carney: It’s everything. It is your safety net. It is what makes life convenient. … When you have little kids, you can’t just leave your 2-year-old and your 4-year-old running around the house. If you have to do something simple, say pick up your 6-year-old or run to the store, or make a meeting, having to go through the process of either bringing the kids or finding a babysitter or something like that is actually a lot of work, even in our information technology day.

If you can just say to your neighbors, “Hey, I’m stepping out. Can I drop the kids off at your house? Or can you just come over and watch them for a minute?” That little thing is incredibly valuable. The things we get from being immeshed in these tight networks are things that we would pay tens, hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for.

Then on top of those things that we know we need, there is this sense of purpose. The fact that we are needed. So much of the problem of the working class today is not just necessarily unemployment. A lot of them have jobs, but they can seem like a cog in a machine. Then men are increasingly not getting married, including not getting married to the mothers of their children. They’re feeling almost unnecessary in all these aspects of our life.

One thing that makes us feel very needed is belonging to something where somebody is going to walk up to and they’re going to ask you to man the cotton candy table at the fair, or whatever it is. You’re needed the more that you’re in a community. It sounds cheesy, but I think that’s indispensable to people living good lives.

Davis: That sense of belonging, that explains lots of people joining gangs and that sort of thing.

Carney: Yeah, drugs, gangs, white nationalism, all that stuff. ISIS even. There was an interview with an ISIS bride and she said, “When we first showed up we were like, ‘Wow, we’re important here.'”

It sounds almost perverse, but that’s certainly—when you look at the man who killed the woman in Charlottesville, a white nationalist, his life story was a bunch of nothing and nowhere. He grew up without a father. He was kind of from Kentucky, kind of from Ohio. From these faceless, nameless suburbs. No religion, didn’t belong to anything, but he knew he was white. He knew he was an American and somebody came by with an ideology that could explain why things weren’t going better and boom, he joins it.

People are going to join something. I hate it when people use the word “tribalism” as a bad word because we all need to belong to tribes. Some of these tribes are bad tribes and some of these tribes are rooting for Ohio State or belonging to your local synagogue or just belonging to your local swim club.

Davis: A lot of these problems that you talk about run so deep to the fabric of our social life. It’s hard to imagine how Washington could even bear upon that. How does this change the policy conversation? When we look to politicians and people running for office, how does this change what we should ask for?

Carney: The first thing is to realize exactly what you said at first. It’s not big federal solutions because centralized government often crowds out these local institutions where people get meaning, where they get real human-level support. That should be Rule No. 1.

Rule No. 2 is the government now is actually actively pushing a lot of these institutions out of the public square, particularly religion. It was part of the Obama administration’s legal arguments in Hobby Lobby that you lose your free exercise rights when you enter into commerce at least. Then the next step would be a nonprofit as well.

They would use the term “freedom of worship” as if our free exercise of religion was confined to observing the Sabbath and our private prayers behind closed doors. Not acknowledging that our free exercise of our religion is involvement in the public square.

We need to start by the government not crowding out and not chasing out the core institutions of civil society. Then I think on the state and local level there’s got to be a lot of creative policies that do make sure that local institutions are protected—at times promoted and certainly not chased away. That’s just what I would look for.

If you care about the struggling working class, you have to care about how do we get them to be surrounded more by these strong institutions?

Very few policies, subsidies, anything like that is going to help. But there will be some policy changes that will do that. Once you start surrounding them in building this ecosystem around them, good outcomes will follow.

Davis: We’ve heard a lot, even in recent days, about increasing approval of socialism, at least the idea of it. Do you think that may stem from a misplaced desire for this kind of social solidarity?

Carney: I think it does. I think a lot of people think of socialism as us all being in something together. That’s not the way it manifests itself in the real world. It’s elites telling the rest of us how to live and taking all our money to do it.

Also, there’s real material needs and services and goods that a lot of us can count on our neighbors for. A lot of young people don’t have that connection. They think only in terms of the individual and the state. If they say, “I as the individual can’t take care of that,” or even, “Us as a family unit can’t handle this,” then their next step is to say, “The state should be providing this.” Rather than the way of the American tradition of saying, “Well, this is where we’re part of a community. We put into the community and we pull out what we need.”

Davis: A lot of people in America, many who might consider themselves conservatives, would say, “Look at the arc of history. Things have gotten so much better, even for those who might now be considered on the lower end economically. Things aren’t so bad if you look at numbers and economics.” What would you have to say to that argument?

Carney: Life expectancy among Americans has been going down for the last few years. That’s while it’s still going up among the elites. That means that among the working class in America, there is a dramatic turn toward bad outcomes, even death.

White men in their 50s are dying at a higher rate now than any time in recent decades. That, on the most material level—without me getting into questions about spirituality, I think people should go to church, I think it’s really bad that they don’t, you might say that’s a valued judgment on my part—without getting into anything that could be called a value judgment, there are pockets of America where life is getting nastier, more brutish, and shorter.

That means that there’s something that’s off and that to just point at some aggregate good trend is inhuman. It’s ignoring the suffering that exists in real parts of America.

Davis: Your book gets into a discussion of something that I think is often missing from the political conversation, which is this question of the good life. It’s often assumed that we know what good is. It’s prosperity. It’s all of these things that we’ve come to appreciate because of modernity. It seems like you’re pushing back on that a little bit.

Carney: I argue that maybe the American dream and the good life is actually a parish potluck, it is actually a community Memorial Day parade, that it is actually a family supported by its neighbors. These are the things that make us happy and help us fulfill our destiny as well as her destiny helping to shape the world around us. We can’t just look at [gross domestic product]. We can’t just look at the provision of material needs.

I look at a lot of those in the book because the fact is that the more that we move away from human nature, the more we are actually going to see bad outcomes. A lot of the way that we get to that problem where we’re setting up communities, setting up an economy in the wrong way is because we’re just focused on things that are measurable at the top line like a GDP and that sort of thing.

In the long run, even those measures will start to see the decay. I’m saying we should go before those measures. Go to things that are more closely related to happiness. I think this is not something new. This is something old and it’s going to be community, faith, family, and work that feel satisfying. Those things are the fundamental parts of the good life. You can’t pull them away and replace them either with just a booming economy or a robust social safety net.

Davis: The book is called “Alienated America: Why Some Places Thrive While Others Collapse.” Tim Carney, thanks for being in studio.

Carney: Thank you.

The post How the Loss of Communities Fueled Enthusiasm for Trump appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Class Warfare Only Benefits Elites, Politicians

Wed, 2019-03-13 03:01

Some Americans have much higher income and wealth than others.

Former President Barack Obama explained, “I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.”

An adviser to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., who has a Twitter account called “Every Billionaire Is A Policy Failure,” tweeted, “My goal for this year is to get a moderator to ask ‘Is it morally appropriate for anyone to be a billionaire?'”

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., in calling for a wealth tax, complained, “The rich and powerful are taking so much for themselves and leaving so little for everyone else.”

These people would have an argument if there were piles of money on the ground called income, with billionaires and millionaires surreptitiously getting to those piles first and taking their unfair shares. In that case, corrective public policy would require a redistribution of the income, wherein the ill-gotten gains of the few would be taken and returned to their rightful owners.

The same could be said if there were a dealer of dollars who—because of his being a racist, sexist, multinationalist, and maybe a Republican—didn’t deal the dollars fairly. If he dealt millions to some and mere crumbs to others, decent public policy would demand a re-dealing of the dollars, or what some call income redistribution.

You say, “Williams, that’s lunacy.” You’re right. In a free society, people earn income by serving their fellow man.

Here’s an example: I mow your lawn, and you pay me $40. Then I go to my grocer and demand two six-packs of beer and 3 pounds of steak. In effect, the grocer says, “Williams, you are asking your fellow man to serve you by giving you beer and steak. What did you do to serve your fellow man?” My response is, “I mowed his lawn.” The grocer says, “Prove it.” That’s when I produce the $40. We can think of the, say, two $20 bills as certificates of performance—proof that I served my fellow man.

A system that requires that one serve his fellow man to have a claim on what he produces is far more moral than a system without such a requirement.

For example, Congress can tell me, “Williams, you don’t have to get out in that hot sun to mow a lawn to have a claim on what your fellow man produces. Just vote for me, and through the tax code, I will take some of what your fellow man produces and give it to you.”

Let’s look at a few multibillionaires to see whether they have served their fellow man well.

Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, with a net worth over $90 billion, is the second-richest person in the world. He didn’t acquire that wealth through violence. Millions of people around the world voluntarily plucked down money to buy Microsoft products.

That explains the great wealth of people such as Gates. They discovered what their fellow man wanted and didn’t have, and they found out ways to effectively produce it. Their fellow man voluntarily gave them dollars.

If Gates and others had followed Obama’s advice that “at a certain point” they’d “made enough money” and shut down their companies when they had earned their first billion or two, mankind wouldn’t have most of the technological development we enjoy today.

Take a look at the website Billionaire Mailing List’s list of current billionaires. On it, you will find people who have made great contributions to society.

Way down on the list is Gordon Earle Moore—co-founder of Intel. He has a net worth of $6 billion. In 1968, Moore developed and marketed the integrated circuit, or microchip, which is responsible for thousands of today’s innovations, such as MRIs, advances in satellite technology, and your desktop computer.

Though Moore has benefited immensely from his development and marketing of the microchip, his benefit pales in comparison with how our nation and the world have benefited in terms of lives improved and saved by the host of technological innovations made possible by the microchip.

The only people who benefit from class warfare are politicians and the elite; they get our money and control our lives.

Plus, we just might ask ourselves: Where is a society headed that holds its most productive members up to ridicule and scorn and makes mascots out of its least productive and most parasitic members?


The post Class Warfare Only Benefits Elites, Politicians appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Why the Commerce Secretary Shouldn’t Testify to Lawmakers About the Census

Tue, 2019-03-12 18:58

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is scheduled to testify Thursday before the House Oversight and Reform Committee in a hearing on the Trump administration’s reinstating a standard citizenship question on the U.S. census. 

But with civil litigation over that very issue now before the Supreme Court, the House committee should cancel the hearing in recognition of the fact that having Ross testify is inappropriate and could, as the Justice Department has recognized in the past, jeopardize the government’s litigation.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments April 23 in Department of Commerce v. New York, in which the state of New York challenged the addition of the citizenship question to the 2020 census form. 

The case presents two issues. First, whether a lower district court erred when it enjoined Ross, as secretary of the Department of Commerce, from reinstating the citizenship question. Second, whether the district court could compel the testimony of Ross to, as the government’s brief says, “probe the mental processes of the agency decision-maker” outside of the administrative record in the case. 

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., chairman of the Oversight and Reform Committee, says in a press release that Ross will testify about the “ongoing preparations for the census” and “the addition of a citizenship question.” 

No one questions the fact that Congress has oversight authority over the executive branch. As the Justice Department said in a letter dated Jan. 27, 2000, oversight is “an important underpinning of the legislative process.”

Oversight provides Congress with information necessary to “rectify practical problems in current law or to address problem not covered by current law,” the agency wrote to then-Rep. John Linder, who was chairman of a House subcommittee on rules and organization.

However, as Justice said in the letter, while its goal is to “satisfy legitimate legislative interests,” it also must protect the executive branch’s “confidentiality interests.” Examples of confidential information include “information the disclosure of which might compromise open … civil cases.” 

Congressional inquiries “during the pendency of a matter,” Justice wrote, “pose an inherent threat to the integrity of the Department’s law enforcement and litigation functions.” 

Although such confidentiality considerations are particularly important in criminal matters, the Justice Department (and thus the executive branch) have “similar interests in the confidentiality of internal documents relating to its representation of the United States in civil ligation.” 

Such files, it said:

[C]ontain confidential correspondence with client agencies as well as the work product of our attorneys in suits that frequently seek millions of tax dollars. They also contain ‘road maps’ of our litigation plans and preparations, as well as confidential reports from experts and consultants. Those plans could be seriously jeopardized and our positions in litigation compromised if we are obliged to disclose our internal deliberations including, but not limited to, our assessments of the strengths and weaknesses of evidence or the law, before they are presented in court. That may result in an unfair advantage to those who seek public funds and deprive the taxpayers of confidential representation enjoyed by other litigants.

Moreover, according to Justice’s 2000 letter, such congressional inquiries about ongoing litigation matters—such as Department of Commerce v. New York—“inescapably create the risk that the public and the courts will perceive undue political and Congressional influence over law enforcement and litigation decisions.”

The Justice Department argues in its brief filed with the Supreme Court that Ross acted fully within his authority under federal law, 13 U.S.C. §141(a), to determine the “form and content” of the census and to “obtain such other census information as necessary.” 

The department also points out that the high court previously stayed an order from the district court compelling Ross’ testimony.

Requiring Ross to answer questions from lawmakers about reinstating the citizenship question on the census potentially would reveal confidential information, as outlined in Justice’s 2000 letter to Linder in the midst of an open case. It also would be obtaining testimony from the commerce secretary when the legitimacy of a lower court order compelling his testimony is a subject of contentious debate before the Supreme Court.

While the Supreme Court hasn’t issued a final decision on the latter issue, it temporarily has stopped that lower court order from going into effect until it resolves the case. Forcing Ross to testify before the House committee would be an end run around the Supreme Court.

Under these circumstances, it is inappropriate for Ross to appear before the committee to answer questions. If the commerce secretary appears at all, no one should be surprised if the Justice Department advises him to refuse to answer any questions relevant to the issues being fought over in the courts. 

As the Justice Department recognizes, “the process of Congressional oversight is an important part of our system of government.” Executive branch agencies such as the Justice and Commerce should cooperate with Congress when it is properly engaged in oversight.

But there are exceptions to that, including when Congress potentially is interfering with the executive branch’s defense of its actions and policies in civil litigation. The Justice Department has an obligation to maintain the confidentiality of the internal deliberations, communications, and decisions of an agency that has been sued when Justice is defending that agency.

Once this case is over, and the Supreme Court has rendered a decision, congressional oversight may be appropriate to the extent it is needed for legislative purposes. 

But now, with litigation in full swing and oral arguments only a month away, is not the time.

The post Why the Commerce Secretary Shouldn’t Testify to Lawmakers About the Census appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Leftism Eradicates Character

Tue, 2019-03-12 18:37

Every year, many thousands of American parents find that the son or daughter they sent to college has been transformed by college into a leftist. For left-wing parents, this may be a blessing, but for parents who are not leftist—not to mention conservative—it is often painfully jolting.

It is jolting because their beloved child now holds America in contempt; prefers socialism to capitalism; regards all white people and police as racist; believes the Bible, Christianity, and Judaism are not only nonsense, but dangerous nonsense; no longer believes men and women are inherently different—or even that male and female objectively exist; is disinterested in getting married and having children; believes the president of the United States is a fascist—as are all those who voted for him; and supports the suppression of speech that he or she regards as “hate speech.”

While this is music to the ears of left-wing parents, most traditionally liberal parents will not be all that happy with this transformation.

Unlike leftists, most liberals do love America and think that, despite its flaws, it is worthy of respect. They do not believe male and female are subjective categories, and they believe in free speech—even for “hate speech.”

For conservative parents, the transformation is far worse. “Nightmare” is not too strong a description. Not only does their child hold everything they cherish in contempt, their child, who loved and respected them a year or two before, now holds them in contempt.

It is a nightmare for another reason: Young people who are transformed into leftists almost always become less kind, less happy, and more angry.

It’s hard to imagine the opposite could occur—that is, that a young person could buy into all the left-wing views described above and become a sweeter human being.

It is a sad rule of life that whatever the left touches, it ruins; music, art, literature, religion, late-night TV, the Academy Awards, sports, economies, the family structure, the Boy Scouts, and race relations are just a few examples. It also ruins people—their character and their happiness.

How could it not?

One of the prerequisites of good character—as well as of happiness—is gratitude, and leftism is rooted in ingratitude. If you are grateful to be an American, you are, by definition, not a leftist.

If you are, for example, a black who is grateful to be an American, you are a “traitor to your race,” an “Uncle Tom.”

If you are a woman who is grateful to be an American, you are a “traitor to your gender.” Feminist icon Gloria Steinem once called female Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison a “female impersonator” because a real woman cannot be a conservative.

In addition, the left drills into every nonwhite and every woman the idea that they are victims, and people who see themselves as victims are ungrateful and angry, two traits that always make a person meaner.

Every parent whose child came home from college (or, increasingly, high school) a leftist should be asked: “Is your daughter or son happier as a result of becoming a leftist? Is he or she kinder? More tolerant? More respectful?”

So it is not only institutions that the left ruins, but also the character of its adherents.

Where are the prominent conservative equivalents of Robert De Niro shouting “F— Trump” at awards ceremonies?

Of Sarah Silverman tweeting to the president of the United States: “I’m just gonna go with F— YOU, and also add that you are a smelly penis hole with balls that touch water. Eat s—, you greedy t—“?

Of Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., telling supporters, among whom were children, “We’re gonna impeach the motherf—er”?

Every American should watch how a group of 10-year-old girls recently treated 85-year-old California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. Being indoctrinated into leftism apparently permitted them to treat a U.S. senator, not to mention a woman 75 years older than them, with contempt.

It is inconceivable that a group of 10-year-old conservative kids, accompanied by their teachers, would ever treat an 85-year-old, senator or not, so condescendingly.

When you send your child to college, you are not only playing Russian roulette with their values. You are playing Russian roulette with their character and the way they will treat you.

Left-wing parents do not have a similar worry. If their child somehow returns home from college a Christian or a religious Jew, not only will they not be treated with contempt, they will probably be treated with even more respect than before.

Leftism makes you worse. Judeo-Christian religions make you better. That might not be the fashionable view, but it just happens to be true.


The post Leftism Eradicates Character appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Trump’s Budget Reaffirms Commitment to Work-Based Welfare Policy

Tue, 2019-03-12 18:27

President Donald Trump issued an executive order last April that called for policy reforms to, among other things, “improve employment outcomes and economic independence.”

Nearly one year later, the president’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2020 doubles down on this goal by renewing policies to promote work in means-tested welfare programs.

Trump’s “Budget for a Better America” proposes to strengthen work requirements in programs such as food stamps and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, to help work-capable adults move toward greater self-support.

Many Americans agree with the president’s goals. 

Nearly 90 percent of Americans say they agree with the principle that adults who are able to work should be required to work or prepare for work in exchange for government assistance.  Americans see work requirements as one important way for welfare programs to merge compassion and fairness.

Americans also broadly recognize work as a fundamental source of well-being in their own lives.

Most report that work gives them a sense of identity, as opposed to being something they just do for a living. In fact, more than two-thirds say that they would work in a paying job even if they didn’t need the money.

Job satisfaction has been consistently high (at around 90 percent) since Gallup started polling on it in the early 1990s.

These positive feelings toward work should come as no surprise.

As social psychologist Jonathan Haidt describes in his book “The Happiness Hypothesis,” humans have a “basic drive to make this happen,” and one way this commonly manifests itself is through work.

In other words, work empowers us to connect and engage productively with our environments, and thus provides us with a sense of meaning and purpose.

Yet despite the inherent value of work, the government’s current means-tested programs generally do little to promote work. Instead, these programs often discourage work by reducing benefits as recipients earn more income.

Last year, the White House Council of Economic Advisers reported that most recipients of means-tested assistance who are capable of work actually work few hours or not at all.

Even in the program at the core of the successful 1996 welfare reform, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, nearly half of work-capable individuals currently are idle, neither working nor preparing for work.

Low levels of work keep people from achieving their full potential.

For example, an additional year of employment for a low-skilled adult aged 18-35 boosts his long-term future wages by 4 percent, on average. Less work, therefore, undermines his earnings capacity and ability to flourish.

Yet recent calls for expansive policies such as universal basic income are completely devoid of work provisions. The now-deleted FAQ page for the left’s Green New Deal promised “economic security” for those who are “unwilling to work.”

Advocates of universal basic income, which guarantees cash payments to everyone regardless of need, often cheer the fact that the idea decouples work from income.

However, we know from social psychology and public opinion that work has value in and of itself. Dismissing this basic idea—and failing to apply it to public programs—would be a damaging development.

The Trump administration is right to focus on work in its new budget proposal.

In addition to strengthening work in TANF and food stamps, Congress and the administration should consider reforms proposed by The Heritage Foundation to go further. A good place to start: Reform the earned income tax credit to increase work incentives.

The earned income tax credit is a broadly supported program that rewards work among low-income earners. Congress should reform the credit to encourage work more effectively, namely by linking the credit to hours worked, as well as to reduce fraud and marriage penalties.

Our policies must do more to promote work for those who are able to work. The Trump administration is doing its part, calling in its budget outline for “bold proposals to help able-bodied adults … enter the job market and work toward self-sufficiency.”

The president’s budget proposal offers a great start toward advancing a vision of greater self-reliance and human flourishing.

The post Trump’s Budget Reaffirms Commitment to Work-Based Welfare Policy appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

FBI Exposes Wealthy Parents Rigging College for Kids. But It Was Always Rigged.

Tue, 2019-03-12 18:00

The FBI dropped a new bombshell on Tuesday, and this time the scandal is Russian-free.

Dozens of wealthy parents, including notable celebrities, were charged in a college admissions scandal and accused of paying a total of $25 million in payments to cheat their children into school.

According to Politico, “parents paid a college counseling test prep business in Newport Beach, Calif., called ‘The Key’, which bribed college coaches and administrator and organized a scheme to help students cheat on college entrance exams, including the ACT and SAT.”

It is disappointing that these parents would resort to such measures to ensure that their children get into elite colleges. But Americans should not be surprised that the system is broken. It always has been, and working-class Americans are paying for it.

Take, for example, our student loan system.

For the most part, students who earn bachelor’s degrees have higher lifetime earnings than students with only a high school degree. So why have lawmakers promulgated policies like loan forgiveness, the in-school interest subsidy, and even “free” college, to remove financial responsibility from the elite one-third of Americans who obtain the highly sought-after bachelor’s degree?

The hardworking two-thirds of Americans who have bypassed this system altogether should not have to absorb the cost for students who are far more likely to achieve high career earnings.

Additionally, left-wing politicians have recently pushed for “free college” options that would entirely remove all financial responsibility from students and transfer those costs to taxpayers. California, for example, is considering legislation that would grant all citizens access to free college, including the children of Hollywood elite.  

These policies fuel the troublesome trend of degree inflation. It is true that higher levels of education indicate higher levels of earnings, and some may argue that this is because a college degree equips students with the skills necessary to succeed in the workplace. But it appears increasingly apparent that the simple attainment of a degree carries far more weight than the actual attainment of knowledge or marketable skills.

The signaling that occurs when a student obtains a degree tells employers that they have followed through on their education, but says little about their human capital development.

While most would not put it in so many words, this is a phenomenon that most Americans, including the wealthy parents wrapped up in this scandal, are well aware of.

As George Mason University’s Bryan Caplan has noted, if average students were presented with this scenario: You can either receive a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University without going to a single class, or you can take classes at Georgetown but you walk away without the degree, most Americans would pick the former option, rather than the latter.

This is because most Americans with a small amount of motivation and an internet connection can seek out alternative means for obtaining career knowledge outside of the classroom. However, getting your foot in the door without a college degree is another story.

This admissions scandal should cause all Americans to rethink the system they are paying into. Celebrities such as Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin were able to cheat the system because of their elite celebrity status and high financial capital.

This is not the system President Lyndon Johnson sought in his vision for a “Great Society.” His hope was to grant all Americans, regardless of socio-economic status, a pathway to the American dream.

Instead, higher education in America today embodies a system that shackles American students and taxpayers alike with high student loan debt, and fails to create a proper education-to-workforce pipeline that enables graduates to pay down their loans.

American taxpayers should not have to spend roughly $75 billion per year on a broken system. Furthermore, students and taxpayers should not suffer under $1.5 trillion in student loan debt for degrees of questionable value.

In order to reinstate academic integrity in the higher education system, lawmakers should eliminate policies that favor the elite at the expense of working-class Americans. Loan forgiveness and “free college” only serve to pour money into a broken system that perpetuates elitism at the expense of working Americans and other viable pathways to upward mobility.

The post FBI Exposes Wealthy Parents Rigging College for Kids. But It Was Always Rigged. appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

California Audits DMV for 100,000 Voter Registration Errors

Tue, 2019-03-12 17:58

California’s secretary of state and Legislature have launched investigations of the state’s automatic voter registration system, which officials say enrolled noncitizens and minors and got addresses wrong.

Democrats in Congress are promoting automatic voter registration nationally, as part of legislation dubbed the For the People Act, also known as HR 1.

But a nonpartisan, nonprofit group called Election Integrity Project California has urged Congress not to pass HR 1.

The state’s automatic voter registrations in question occurred through the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

The Election Integrity Project trained 200 volunteer poll observers in election law and reported DMV errors at sites in eight counties—Los Angeles, San Diego, Monterey, Ventura, Calaveras, San Bernardino, Riverside, and Orange.

“Our poll observers documented hundreds of voters who attempted to vote at the polls [but] had been changed to vote-by-mail voters by the DMV without consent, had not received vote-by-mail ballots, and were forced to vote provisionally,” Ellen Swensen, chief analyst for the Election Integrity Project California, told The Daily Signal.

Since California implemented its automatic registration system in April 2018, the DMV has admitted to mishandling related information for 23,000 drivers—including noncitizens and those who are too young to vote.

Clerical errors led to double-registering as many as 77,000, the department said.

Swensen said the system added three to five times more provisional ballots being cast in 2018.

“A lot of voters did not receive their vote-by-mail ballots. Others were registered at the wrong address,” Swensen said. “There were people who were disenfranchised because they had to cast provisional ballots, through no fault of their own, and there is no guarantee provisional ballots will be counted.”

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, a Democrat who oversees state elections, agreed early last month to audit the DMV’s automatic voter registration system as part of a legal settlement including two left-leaning plaintiffs, the League of Women Voters of California and the American Civil Liberties Union.

“I am committed to working with new leadership at DMV and the new administration to ensure integrity of the motor voter program and accuracy of the data,” Padilla said last month in a written statement, referring to Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat.

Padilla’s office did not respond to phone and email inquiries from The Daily Signal.

State legislators also want to probe the DMV’s handling of voter registration, KFSN-TV (ABC 30) in Fresno reported.

“The problems with motor voter have risen to such a degree that there is a bipartisan effort in this,” state Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno, told the TV station.

“The errors include registering 16-year-olds to vote,” Patterson added, and “we have numbers of people who have their registration changed without their approval or knowledge.”

Problems for voters included “sending them ballots they could vote through the mail,” he said.

California’s Legislature passed and then-Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, signed the motor voter law in 2015 and it had been phased in by April 2018.

About 4,600 errors involved registered voters who didn’t want to register to vote, according to the Lawyers Democracy Fund, an advocate of clean elections. In October, shortly before the Nov. 6 election, the state DMV said an additional 1,500 people were registered who should not have been registered.

In some cases, late-counted ballots in California reversed the results on election night.  

For example, Rep. Mimi Walters, a Republican, appeared to have won re-election with a 6,200-vote lead. However, after mail-in and provisional ballots were counted, Democrat Katie Porter won the race to represent the 45th Congressional District.

Similarly, Republican Young Kim led Democrat Gil Cisneros on election night in their race for the open seat in the 39th Congressional District. But Cisneros was declared the winner after new votes came in days later.

“This is not just conservatives concerned about this,” Logan Churchwell, communications and research director for the Public Interest Legal Foundation, told The Daily Signal, noting the ACLU’s involvement.

“What I expect to shake out from the audit is that noncitizens will be registered,” Churchwell said. “That minors, 16-year-olds getting their license, and 15-year-olds with a learners permit will be registered. Addresses will be incorrect. The least surprising will be that party registration was wrong.”

On the subject of party registration, Churchwell said that after Oregon adopted automatic voter registration before the 2016 election, a clerical error put voters who opted not to register as either Republican or Democrat into the Independent category.

The problem for Oregon is that the state has an official Independent Party. So, Churchwell said, primary voters who thought they were unaffiliated were required to vote in a third party’s primary.

“Anytime you change the voter registration laws, it’s justified as a way to help more people vote,” Churchwell added. “DMV clerks already have to ask someone if they want to register to vote. That logic falls apart when this doesn’t increase voting, but does increase data. The California secretary of state’s office sees a six-figure increase in records.”

California clearly wasn’t prepared to implement the automatic voter registration system, said Hans von Spakovsky, a former Justice Department lawyer and member of the Federal Election Commission who manages The Heritage Foundation’s Election Law Reform Initiative.

“The whole push behind automatic voter registration is a fallacy,” von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at Heritage, told The Daily Signal:

The fallacy is this belief that not getting registered to vote is what keeps people from voting, that the reason we’ve had declines in turnout is because of that. All the evidence shows that it’s extremely easy to register to vote.

After every federal election, the Census Bureau does a survey of nonvoters, and they ask them why didn’t you vote. The overwhelming majority of people [say] it has nothing to do with any kind of difficulty getting registered. The reason people don’t vote, the overwhelming majority say, is because they’re not interested in elections, they don’t think it will make a difference in their lives, they don’t like the candidates. It has nothing to do with the procedural rules of registration because it is so easy to register.

The post California Audits DMV for 100,000 Voter Registration Errors appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

US-China Trade Dispute Is Already Hurting US Farmers and Ranchers

Tue, 2019-03-12 16:53

The ongoing U.S.-China trade dispute is threatening the U.S. economy as a whole, and is hurting American farmers and ranchers.

In recent years, China has been among the top two largest markets for U.S. agricultural exports. And much more potential for increased exports remains. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has said that “China offers our best opportunity for major export growth in the future.”

However, in 2018, the U.S. imposed major tariffs on Chinese goods. These U.S. tariffs are a self-inflicted wound on the entire economy, including the agricultural sector, and could limit opportunities in China. The tariffs have created a tit-for-tat situation in which China responded with retaliatory tariffs, making it more difficult for U.S farmers and ranchers to export their products to China.

The tariffs serve as a tax on a wide range of imported goods. It is not Chinese businesses, but American businesses that pay for the tariffs when importing Chinese goods, and then they likely pass the costs on to their customers. 

The Congressional Research Service has explained that China “has levied retaliatory tariffs on about 800 U.S. food and agricultural products that were worth about $20.6 billion in exports to that country in 2017.”

As shown in the table below, China is imposing significant tariffs on important U.S. agricultural exports, such as soybeans (25 percent), many pork products (50 percent for many of these products),and sorghum (25 percent).

The retaliatory tariffs could cause long-term damage to U.S. agricultural exports to China. This is in part due to other countries stepping in to meet Chinese demand and a breakdown in some trading relationships that American farmers and ranchers have already forged in China. 

The American Soybean Association has asserted that when and if the U.S. rescinds the Section 301 tariffs on China, and China then lifts its 25 percent retaliatory tariffs, “the process of rebuilding the U.S. [soybean] market in China could take years.”

One of the most telling statistics showing the harms of this trade dispute is the USDA’s current forecast that in 2019, China will drop from the second-largest to the fifth-largest agricultural export market for the United States.

To prevent this harm, the United States should act now to eliminate the tariffs. Admittedly, this wouldn’t help the U.S. to address China’s alleged unfair trade practices. But the U.S. can do that by making greater use of the World Trade Organization dispute settlement system. In fact, one of the best features of the World Trade Organization is that it provides a legal venue to challenge foreign trade barriers.

The U.S. has had major success using the World Trade Organization dispute settlement process in the past. For example:

  • In 2017, Cato Institute trade scholar Dan Ikenson explained that the United States has been the complaining party in 114 of 522 World Trade Organization disputes over 22 years and has succeeded in 91 percent of the adjudicated 114 cases (success defined as the complaining party winning the major issue in question in the case).
  • The United States has had significant success in the agricultural context as well. The Heritage Foundation’s 2016 book “Farms and Free Enterprise” notes:

The United States government has initiated 29 dispute settlement proceedings over other [World Trade Organization] members’ barriers to U.S. farm exports. The United States achieved a ‘victory’—an affirmative ruling and/or the elimination or modification of the measure at issue—in every single [World Trade Organization] case that moved beyond the first government-to-government ‘consultations’ stage (and even in many of the consultations-only disputes).

In fact, just a few weeks ago, the United States won a major World Trade Organization case against China over improper agricultural subsidies.

In 1988, President Ronald Reagan delivered a radio address to the nation in which he espoused the benefits of free trade:

[O]ne of the key factors behind our nation’s great prosperity is the open trade policy that allows the American people to freely exchange goods and services with free people around the world. … Over the past 200 years, not only has the argument against tariffs and trade barriers won nearly universal agreement among economists, but it has also proven itself in the real world, where we have seen free-trading nations prosper while protectionist countries fall behind.

Reagan’s words were true then, and they remain true today. A commitment to free trade will help the United States as a whole to prosper, and will expand opportunities for the nation’s farmers and ranchers to sell even more of their products around the world.

The post US-China Trade Dispute Is Already Hurting US Farmers and Ranchers appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Mike Pompeo Tells Embassy in Venezuela to Come Home

Tue, 2019-03-12 13:21

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Monday he is pulling remaining U.S. Embassy staffers from Venezuela because of the country’s worsening situation.

“The U.S. will withdraw all remaining personnel from [the Caracas embassy] this week,” Pompeo tweeted late Monday night. “This decision reflects the deteriorating situation in [Venezuela] as well as the conclusion that the presence of U.S. diplomatic staff at the embassy has become a constraint on U.S. policy.”

The announcement comes as Venezuela continues to descend into chaos. Its government is currently attempting to restore electricity after four days of blackouts around the country, the latest in what has become a humanitarian crisis for the socialist country led by Nicolas Maduro.

Following what many international observers considered a sham election that gave Maduro another six-year term in office, Juan Guaido—leader of Venezuela’s congress—declared himself the legitimate leader of the country and has pledged to hold new presidential elections. The U.S. and about 50 other countries have recognized Guaido as the legitimate leader of Venezuela. China, Russia, Cuba, and other governments, however, have continued to support Maduro.

Upon recognizing Guaido in January, Maduro ordered every U.S. diplomat to leave Venezuela, but the socialist leader later backtracked and allowed them to remain. The American government has already removed dependents of embassy personnel and some staffers. The remaining diplomats will be ordered out of the country by the close of the week.

The Western world remains mostly united in opposition to Maduro’s dictatorial reign. However, many in the U.S. Congress are not.

New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told The Daily Caller in January that she thought President Donald Trump’s recognition of Guaido was “concerning” and she has since refused to denounce Maduro. Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar likened Trump’s recognition of Guaido to a coup and, in recently unearthed footage, was recorded comparing Maduro’s scandal-plagued election to Trump’s 2016 election victory.

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

The post Mike Pompeo Tells Embassy in Venezuela to Come Home appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

‘Immediate Harm to Millions’: AFL-CIO Tears Apart Green New Deal

Tue, 2019-03-12 13:08

The largest organization of labor unions in the U.S. slammed the Green New Deal for combating climate change by threatening the livelihoods of millions of Americans.

The AFL-CIO sent a letter on Friday to Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey, the two lawmakers leading the Green New Deal push in Congress. The labor group demanded a larger role in crafting future solutions, slamming the current proposal as “not achievable or realistic.”

“We welcome the call for labor rights and dialogue with labor, but the Green New Deal resolution is far too short on specific solutions that speak to the jobs of our members and the critical sections of our economy,” the letter, signed by 10 national labor unions on the AFL-CIO’s energy committee, says.

“We will not accept proposals that could cause immediate harm to millions of our members and their families,” the letter says. “We will not stand by and allow threats to our members’ jobs and their families’ standard of living go unanswered.”

The Green New Deal calls for an end to fossil fuel use and heavy investment in renewable energy technology such as wind and solar. Meeting the resolution’s goals would require a massive restructuring of the American economy.

Electricity production from fossil fuels makes up about 64 percent of the United States’ total energy demand. Nuclear energy, a clean energy left out of the Green New Deal, makes up about 19 percent of the U.S. energy mix. Wind and solar energy make up just over 8 percent, according to 2018 data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

“We should not be haunted by the specter of being automated out of work,” Ocasio-Cortez told a crowd at the South by Southwest festival Saturday in response to a question about the threat of automation to jobs, according to The Verge.

“We should be excited by that. But the reason we’re not excited by it is because we live in a society where if you don’t have a job, you are left to die. And that is, at its core, our problem,” Ocasio-Cortez said, pushing for further automation to free up time for people to be creative and “[enjoy] the world that we live in” instead.

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

The post ‘Immediate Harm to Millions’: AFL-CIO Tears Apart Green New Deal appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

The Left’s Anti-Semitism Problem

Tue, 2019-03-12 03:01

Rep. Ilhan Omar’s, D-Minn., comment that the influence of the Israeli lobby in Washington pushes lawmakers to take a pledge of “allegiance to a foreign country” was bad enough. A watered-down House resolution condemning, not Omar, but “all hatred” was as tepid as denouncing drunk driving.

After heated debate within their caucus, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leadership released a separate statement:

Congresswoman Omar’s use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters is deeply offensive. We condemn these remarks and we call upon Congresswoman Omar to immediately apologize for these hurtful comments.

Omar complied, but this is not the first time she’s had to walk back controversial comments about Israel.

In 2012, Omar tweeted: “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.”

The implication was that Israel and its backers are being manipulated to support the Jewish state. This old anti-Semitic trope will be familiar to anyone with a minimal understanding of the history of the Jewish people and the genocidal goal of their enemies.

Yes, Omar apologized, but not until she got to Congress. This assumes her apology was more political than sincere. Consider her appeal to “Allah.” Why would she, or any Muslim, disobey Allah?

Sarah Stern, who heads Endowment for Middle East Truth, which bills itself as “a Washington, D.C.,-based think tank and policy center with an unabashedly pro-America and pro-Israel stance,” emailed to say:

We Jews have learned from our long and painful history that words matter. Violence against Jews does not erupt in a vacuum; and the increasing ease with which anti-Semitic comments are uttered within certain segments of our society is deeply painful and disturbing.

That truth can also be seen in Israel where Palestinian Arafat Irfaiya, the prime suspect in the murder of Israeli teenager Ori Ansbacher, was indicted last week. World Israel News reports his explanation for stabbing and then raping the girl: “Because she was a Jew.” The publication says Irfaiya left his home in Hebron with “the express intention of killing a Jew.”

You have to be taught to hate, as Oscar Hammerstein wrote in the musical “South Pacific,” and hatred is at the heart of anti-Semitism, most notably in radical Islam.

It can only get worse if those who harbor anti-Semitic sentiments—like Omar and her colleague and fellow Muslim, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich.,—are elected to Congress.

According to The Daily Caller, Maher Abdel-qader, a key fundraiser for Tlaib, shared an anti-Semitic video that described Jews as “satanic.” The clip included this comment: “Research the truth about the Holocaust, and you’ll definitely start to question what you thought you knew.”

The video’s narrator went on to question whether 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust. The Caller writes, “Abdel-qader shared the video both on his personal Facebook page and within the group that now includes Tlaib.”

Morton A. Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, the oldest pro-Israel group in the U.S., told Mark Levin on Levin’s radio show:

… the Democrat party has shown a lack of will to tell the truth of the Arab-Islamist war against Israel. In a recent BDS vote to stop BDS, boycotting Israel, the innocent Israel, half of the Democrats voted against that bill. Virtually every Republican voted for it. … So we have a real problem with the Democratic party.

In a New York Times column last week, Bret Stephens, who is Jewish, wrote:

If Pelosi can’t muster a powerful and unequivocal resolution condemning anti-Semitism, then Omar will have secured her political future and won a critical battle for the soul of the Democratic Party. At that point, the days when American Jews can live comfortably within the Democratic fold will be numbered.

I wish, but the history of Jewish loyalty to the Democrats is long, which is a mystery since in the end we are again talking about their survival, not just as a Middle East nation, but as a people.

(c) 2019 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

The post The Left’s Anti-Semitism Problem appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Podcast: Dennis Prager Discusses Anti-Semitism, Free Speech at Colleges

Tue, 2019-03-12 03:01

Radio host and columnist Dennis Prager joins us to discuss his upcoming movie “No Safe Spaces” and the rise of political correctness on college campuses. Prager, who is Jewish, also discusses the rise of anti-Semitism. Plus: We talk about the old radio interviews Tucker Carlson did that Media Matters unearthed.

We also cover these stories:

  • President Donald Trump releases a new budget that would cut spending.
  • Democrats are heading to Milwaukee for their 2020 convention.
  • An actress apologizes for implying all women have female body parts and thus implying transwomen are not women.

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: Dennis Prager Discusses Anti-Semitism, Free Speech at Colleges appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Trump’s 2020 Budget Seeks More Border Wall Funding, Work Requirements for Welfare

Mon, 2019-03-11 21:45

President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2020 budget proposal would eliminate the federal deficit in 15 years, add new work requirements for welfare recipients, and fund additional construction of a border wall.

The reaction to the spending blueprint by Democrats was predictably negative.

The $4.7 trillion proposal, which projects a $1.1 trillion deficit, also asks Congress to cut discretionary spending, something it hasn’t done in recent years, even when under Republican control.

“You mention mandatory spending. It is a driver. We have more reforms than any other president’s budget in history, but, look, what has happened for far too long is that Congress has blamed mandatory spending and then increased discretionary spending, which they have a vote on every single year by large degrees,” Office of Management and Budget acting Director Russ Vought told The Daily Signal on Monday.  

The fiscal 2020 spending blueprint cuts non-defense discretionary spending by 5 percent across the board, for a total of $2.7 trillion in savings for taxpayers over 10 years.

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

“They continue to let a paradigm exist in this country that says for every dollar in defense spending, we’re going to increase nondefense spending by a dollar,” Vought said at a press briefing. “We think we need to break that paradigm. We don’t think that paradigm allows us to get our fiscal house in order.”

Presidents are constitutionally required to present a budget proposal, but such proposals are never enacted as delivered. The document stands as an outline of administration priorities and represents what each department is requesting from Congress.

The budget requests seek $8.6 billion for an additional 722 miles of border wall construction, with $5 billion for the Department of Homeland Security and $3.6 billion for the Defense Department construction budget to go toward the wall.

The budget proposes $478 million to hire and support 1,750 additional law enforcement officers and agents for Customs and Border Protection and for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The budget also would implement a requirement of at least 20 hours a week for work or job training for certain welfare benefits, such as food stamps. Work requirements for recipients in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program was core to the welfare-reform legislation passed by a Republican Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, in 1996.

“In terms of work requirements, it’s something that has been viewed as a success since the 1990s. We expand on it,” Vought said. “It is something we have long viewed as important with the same principles of reducing dependency that we saw in TANF and apply them to housing and to food stamps and to Medicaid. … There will be many workforce-development programs that will be funded as part of this budget.”

The Trump budget proposes spending $750 billion for the Defense Department. Of that, $718 billion is for the National Defense Strategy’s efforts to rebuilding readiness and for improving performance and affordability through reform. It also focuses on strategic competition with China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran.

It includes $4.8 billion in the Department of Health and Human Services for prevention and treatment programs for opioid abuse.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement Monday the administration’s proposal benefits the “wealthiest 1 percent.”

“After adding $2 trillion to the deficit with the GOP tax scam for the rich, President Trump wants to ransack as much as $2 trillion from Medicare and Medicaid,” she said. “While demanding billions more for his wasteful, ineffective wall, President Trump will steal from students and hungry families, from rural communities and American farmers, from clean air and clean water, and from vital, job-creating investments nationwide.”

The proposal would also limit what Medicare recipients have to pay for prescription drugs. Currently, Medicare has a 5 percent co-pay for high-priced medicines that could cost as much as $1,000 per pill. The dollar amount wasn’t specified.

Vought responded to one question about whether that constituted “cutting Medicare.”

“He’s not cutting Medicare in this budget,” Vought explained. “What we are doing is putting forward reforms that lower drug prices. Because Medicare pays such a very large share of drug prices in this country, this has the impact of finding savings.

“We’re also finding waste, fraud, and abuse. But Medicare spending will go up every single year by healthy margins, and there are no structural changes,” he said.

The post Trump’s 2020 Budget Seeks More Border Wall Funding, Work Requirements for Welfare appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Geologist Accuses Apple of Political Bias in Removing App Countering Climate Alarmism

Mon, 2019-03-11 18:41

Political figures who support the so-called Green New Deal and other proposals to restrict carbon dioxide emissions are up against some “inconvenient facts” that Americans may access immediately through a smartphone application, a geologist and author says.

But there’s one big problem.  

The app, called Inconvenient Facts, is available only to Android users through the Google Play Store. Since March 4, users of Apple’s iPhone no longer can access the app through the tech giant’s App Store.

Why is that?

Gregory Wrightstone, a geologist with more than three decades of experience, told The Daily Signal in an interview that he has his own opinion about what may have transpired inside Apple.

Wrightstone is the author of a book,“Inconvenient Facts: The Science That Al Gore Doesn’t Want You to Know,” which served as the basis for the information available from the app.

He notes that former Vice President Al Gore, a leading proponent of the view that mankind’s activities propel dangerous climate change, is a board member of Apple.

“It’s very rare for an app to be approved and then taken down unless there is offensive material or some other extreme issue,” Wrightstone said of Apple’s action in a phone interview with The Daily Signal, adding:

We thought at first it may have been our fault. But I did a search on climate change and global warming in the Apple App Store and pulled up a whole bevy of pro-man-made global warming apps that are really bad. They are not formatted, they have incorrect spellings and no links.  

But I suppose they have the political narrative right. Compared to these, our app is the gold standard. I made sure we had charts and links and references to the source for our data. This is all right in the palm of your hand.

A total of 60 facts in Wrightstone’s book are available through the Inconvenient Facts app to Android users. Complete with data, charts, and videos, they challenge the premise of alarmist theories about climate change that link man-made emissions to dangerous levels of global warming.

Gore’s ongoing campaign to convince the public that rising levels of carbon dioxide emissions could trigger catastrophic global warming was the subject of the 2006 documentary, An Inconvenient Truth,” and the 2017 follow-up “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power.”

Apple initially approved the Inconvenient Facts app for sale Feb. 3. Since that time, the app has been downloaded 13,000 times, according to figures Wrightstone provided.

He also points out that the app has earned positive reviews.

“A key takeaway here is that Apple has a monopoly over iPhone apps and the Apple App Store is the only place to get them,” Wrightstone said. “It appears that Apple has chosen to weaponize its control over purchasing apps to stifle science that doesn’t conform to its politically correct notions.”

The Daily Signal sought comment from Apple’s media relations office by phone and email, asking whether the company would address Wrightstone’s allegations of political bias. Apple had not responded by publication time.

The Daily Signal also sent inquiries to Delaware-based Carthage Group LLC, with which Gore is associated, and
to The Climate Reality Project, which Gore founded, seeking his comment for this article. Neither organization had responded by publication time.

Users who tap on the Inconvenient Facts app have access to images and data that run counter to much of what was presented in Gore’s documentary films. Some examples:

Inconvenient Fact No. 53: “There are more polar bears now than we’ve had for 50 years.”

Inconvenient Fact No. 10 cites a “Recent Inconvenient Pause of 18 years in warming, despite rise in CO2.”

Inconvenient Fact No. 12: “Modern warming began long before SUVs or coal-fired plants.”

Inconvenient Fact No. 21: “The current warming trend is neither unusual nor unprecedented.”

The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, a Christian public policy group that favors free market approaches to environmental policy, published a commentary Friday that is critical of Apple. It concludes that the company’s decision to reject the Inconvenient Facts app “smacks of censorship.”

The study of geology provides important insights into the study of climate change because it considers short-term trends within the larger context of Earth’s history, Wrightstone told The Daily Signal.

“Geologists are probably the most skeptical of all the sciences concerning a man-made link to temperature changes,” the geologist said, adding of carbon dioxide:

Just to be clear, I don’t, and my colleagues don’t, dispute that CO2 is increasing, and I agree that it has to have some slight warming effect on the atmosphere. But I argue that it’s modest and overwhelmed by the same natural forces that have been driving temperatures since the dawn of time. …

Looking out across Earth’s history, CO2 levels are extremely low. I always argue we are actually CO2 impoverished.

Information about Wrightstone’s book and the Inconvenient Facts app may be found here as well as on YouTube and Facebook.

The post Geologist Accuses Apple of Political Bias in Removing App Countering Climate Alarmism appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Florida Set to Follow Congress’ Lead on Criminal Justice Reform

Mon, 2019-03-11 18:32

Criminal justice reform in Florida is poised to follow in the footsteps of federal legislation signed into law by President Donald Trump in December.

It’s an issue that has gained substantial traction at both the state and federal level. 

The Florida First Step Act, drafted by Florida state Sen. Jeff Brandes, was passed unanimously by the Criminal Justice Committee of the Florida Legislature on March 4, and is now pending consideration by two other committees.

Brandes, a Pinellas County Republican, has been a leader on criminal justice reform, introducing nine other bills this year focused on improving the system. But the Florida First Step Act is the most comprehensive.

Modeled after the federal First Step Act, which Congress passed in late December with strong bipartisan support, the Florida bill includes only the “best ideas” from its federal counterpart, he says.

Among those reforms, the bill would give judges more discretion over the sentencing of certain nonviolent drug offenders, in lieu of mandatory minimum sentences.

Additionally, the bill provides reductions of up to 60 days in the sentences of inmates who complete a Prison Entrepreneurship Program, or receive a GED or certain vocational certifications.

The bill would also create a “release orientation program” that links prisoners to community resources upon release.

If enacted, the bill would significantly reform Florida’s criminal justice system in other ways as well.

Currently, Florida prisons house roughly 100,000 prisoners, about 85,000 of whom are due to re-enter society within the next five years. Of those in prison, 52.6 percent have no prior prison sentences, and 16 percent are imprisoned for drug-related offenses.

The bill’s major provision, to eliminate mandatory minimums for first-time, nonviolent drug offenders, would reduce those numbers, as evidenced by past reforms.

Florida has repealed mandatory minimums for drug offenses before and successfully reduced prison admissions even as crime rates fell. It then reversed course in the late 1990s, however, accounting for the large growth in the prison population seen today.

But now, Florida is again considering mandatory minimum sentencing repeals on the heels of other states, such as Michigan and New York, which have enacted similar sentencing reforms and have experienced improvements to their communities and criminal justice systems. 

That isn’t to say that incarceration is bad, per se—in fact, far from it. Incarceration serves a necessary function to protect public safety. But to the extent that low-level drug dealers are locked up for excessively long periods of time because of lengthy mandatory minimums, there’s room for reform.

Indeed, releasing nonviolent offenders back into society is not a goal unto itself. Instead, the goal is to reduce recidivism rates and give inmates opportunities to improve their lives—which is exactly what the Florida First Step Act aims to accomplish.

By shortening sentences for prisoners who receive educational training during their incarceration, the bill incentivizes inmates to learn valuable skills before re-entering society that they can use to get jobs and become productive, law-abiding members of society.

Those enrolled in the bill’s Prison Entrepreneurship Program also will have the opportunity to receive “at least 90 days of transitional and post-release continuing educational services” through partnerships with colleges, universities, or nonprofits.

Providing formerly incarcerated individuals with greater economic opportunities through education could greatly improve their chances of successfully reintegrating back into their communities.

One study, for instance, estimates that inmates who earn a vocational certificate are 14.6 percent less likely to recidivate, while those who earn a high school equivalency degree are 25 percent less likely to do so. 

As Heritage Foundation scholars have discussed, red states such as Texas and Georgia have reduced crime and recidivism rates through reforms that improved prison conditions and provided educational opportunities to inmates.

The Florida bill would also help to keep families together by mandating that—subject to certain practical limitations—inmates be located in correctional facilities that are within 150 miles of their family home.

Giving families more opportunity to visit and maintain their relationships with incarcerated loved ones can have a powerful effect on both the inmates and their families.

In fact, one study from Minnesota found re-conviction rates were “13 percent lower for visited inmates than for those who were not visited.”

This is likely because social support strengthens prisoners’ emotional and social connection to society, making them more likely to reintegrate into the community upon release and motivating them to reform.

Another study showed, unsurprisingly, that prisoners receive more visits when they are closer to their primary homes. The researchers estimated that nearly half of prisoners located within 50 miles of their homes received a monthly visit, compared to only 14.5 percent of those housed between 501 and 1,000 miles from their homes.

In 2015, of the 99,485 Florida inmates with children, only a small percentage of them were incarcerated in the county where their children lived or in a county adjacent to it.

Children of incarcerated parents are much more likely to commit crimes, develop psychological issues, and have low levels of education. But when children have a positive relationship with their parent prior to incarceration, visitation can reduce these tendencies.

Finally, the Florida bill would allow low-risk offenders to be transferred to administrative probation, where they would still be monitored, but on a less-stringent basis.

Brandes said this new probation system would further drive down administrative fees and, consequently, the costs to Florida taxpayers.

Some Democrats, however, are concerned that the bill doesn’t do enough to address racial disparities and doesn’t invest in mental health or substance abuse treatment.

They also fear that one of the bill’s provisions—to provide inmates with a list of outstanding court fees and restitution upon release—will abridge convicted felons’ right to vote once they are free citizens, a right that was restored to convicted felons by a Florida ballot initiative in November.

But Brandes has said that he’s open to changes, intending this bill to be an initial step in reforming the system.

While not a complete solution, the Florida First Step Act, like its federal counterpart, would take sensible and proven steps to keep families together, reduce recidivism rates, and save taxpayer dollars.

Above all, the bill should transcend partisan politics. If it is enacted, the Florida First Step Act would be a major win for Florida’s communities and its criminal justice system.

The post Florida Set to Follow Congress’ Lead on Criminal Justice Reform appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy