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New York Gov. Cuomo Won’t Sign State Budget Without Provision Expanding Abortion Rights

Wed, 2019-01-09 17:12

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo vowed to protect and expand abortion access for women in the state, promising Monday to nix a state budget that doesn’t include looser abortion laws.

Cuomo, a Democrat, promised to add abortion protections to the state constitution and vowed to reject a budget that doesn’t include expanded abortion access while speaking at Barnard College in New York City. Members of the state Legislature and women’s rights advocates attended the event, CBS News reported.

“We have led the way on women’s rights like no other state, period,” Cuomo said, according to CBS.

Abortion is legal up until 24 weeks in pregnancy in the state. Cuomo seeks to pass the Reproductive Health Act, which will provide exceptions for circumstances where a woman’s health is at risk or where a baby will be born with a fatal fetal abnormality. The legislation also seeks to allow nurse practitioners, physicians’ assistants, and qualified health care professionals to provide abortions.

The governor is also looking to pass a bill requiring insurance companies to provide free contraceptive care, The New York Times reported Monday.

Cuomo vowed Monday not to sign the state’s budget plan in April unless both bills are included. He also demanded that the bills’ provisions be codified into the state constitution, according to The New York Times.

Former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton also spoke at the event.

“Advancing the rights of women and girls is the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” Clinton said, the Times reported. “It continues to be the fight of our lifetime.”

Cuomo’s push for expanded abortion access comes after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review in December three cases attempting to strip state funds going toward Planned Parenthood. The decline followed the appointment of Justice Brett Kavanaugh who has called Roe v. Wade “settled law,” according to The Washington Post.

Roughly 10 percent of women in New York resided in a county that had no abortion provider in 2014, according to a May 2018 Guttmacher Institute report. Women seeking abortions in the state do not face any major restrictions like waiting periods, mandated parental involvement, or public funding limitations, according to the report.

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

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 of this original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

The post New York Gov. Cuomo Won’t Sign State Budget Without Provision Expanding Abortion Rights appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Border Wall First Big Government-Funded Infrastructure Project Liberals Don’t Like

Wed, 2019-01-09 17:09

Profligate politicians have never met a multibillion-dollar infrastructure project they didn’t like—except when it comes to President Donald Trump’s border wall.

Think about it.

Boston’s Big Dig black hole, the nation’s most expensive highway project, burned through $25 billion and was plagued by deadly engineering incompetence, endless cost overruns, leaks, lawsuits, and debt.

California’s high-speed rail boondoggle is a $100 billion bullet train to nowhere. Gov. Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown promised a 2020 completion date for the miracle transportation system. The latest estimates predict it won’t open until at least 2033, and the costs keep rising.

Seattle’s ill-fated Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement topped out at $4 billion in local, state, and federal funds for a 2-mile bored road tunnel that will finally open next month—nearly four years behind schedule and hundreds of millions of dollars over budget.

What the Big Dig, bullet train boondoggle, and Seattle squander all have in common is that political elites, lobbyists, and corporate heavy-hitters trampled over grassroots citizen opposition to get their way. Too many government construction projects are built because these publicly subsidized gravy trains reward campaign donors, powerful public employee unions, and assorted control freaks in the urban planning and transportation sectors.

Another glaring example? Across the country, voters have repeatedly rejected billion-dollar sports stadium and arena subsidies over the past 30 years—only to be sabotaged by bipartisan alliances overruling the will of the people. I used to run a watchdog website called “Porkwatch” filled with so many field-of-schemes case studies that I couldn’t keep track of them anymore.

Then there are all the tax-funded highways, bridges, museums, and other edifices glorifying Beltway swamp creatures.

The infamous Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia steered billions of federal dollars back to his home state, where more than 50 government buildings bear his or his wife’s name—not to mention an eponymous telescope, multiple libraries and “lifelong learning centers,” wellness centers, industrial parks, community centers, gardens, interchanges, highways, expressways, bridges, locks, and a dam. A bas-relief sculpture of the alpha porker greets visitors at the Byrd dam, deemed unnecessary by locals.

Not to be outdone, GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell has his own park; former Democratic Sen. John Dingell has his own transit center; the late Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg has his own rail station; tax cheat Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel has his own tax-funded “Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service” at the City College of New York; and the recently retired powerbroker Democratic Sen. Harry Reid sponsored billions of dollars in egotistical earmarks, including several million for a “research and technology park” named after him.

Was there a swell of grassroots support for all these vanity projects? Was there overwhelming demand for the 10,000th long and windy road named after some blowhard incumbent hack?

Wouldn’t it be refreshing, for once, for the federal government to prioritize infrastructure that serves the national interest over special interests?

And how about dedicating and consecrating this project in the memory of the thousands of Americans and law-abiding immigrants who have sacrificed their lives for our security?

We’ve already got Adopt-a-Highway sponsors. Why not an Adopt-a-Wall program?

Open borders academics and media propagandists keep lecturing that Americans don’t want a wall. Yet, more than 325,000 citizens have raised $19.5 million in 22 days to fund the border that the Beltway obstinately refuses to fund.

Trump’s defining battle against the Beltway to fortify our borders—by concrete, steel, increased manpower, electronic surveillance, all of it—isn’t just about fulfilling a campaign promise. The wall is a necessary monument to sovereignty in a nation clogged with billions of dollars of worthless political monuments to Me, Me, Me.


The post Border Wall First Big Government-Funded Infrastructure Project Liberals Don’t Like appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Why California’s Push for ‘Free’ Community College Is So Misguided

Wed, 2019-01-09 17:08

Just when you thought California couldn’t ask any more of its taxpayers, the state Legislature is pushing for two years of “free” community college for all residents, regardless of income.

California already has several existing programs to subsidize students who attend community college. Almost half of California’s community college student population has taken advantage of the state’s California College Promise Grant since 1985, which covers all application fees.

Last year, lawmakers passed a bill making the first year of community college free. This latest proposal would put taxpayers on the hook to cover the second year, subsidizing all students—even the sons and daughters of the Hollywood elite—to attend community college in the state tuition-free.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, inaugurated Jan. 7, campaigned on the promise of “free” tuition and claims that removing the burden of tuition will encourage students to stay enrolled and finish faster.

Unfortunately, California’s plan to make it possible for students to attend community college tuition-free is riddled with problems that would be a great disservice to the residents of the state.

The most glaring problem with California’s free community college plan is clearly the cost.

California is already a high-tax state, with the highest income tax rate in the country at 13.3 percent. Currently, the state has appropriated $46 million to cover just one year of community college and roughly the same amount is expected to cover the second year.

Second, subsidizing all students, regardless of income level, who attend community college will simply serve to extend the K-12 education system into a K-14 system.

The education system once successfully equipped students with the skills necessary to enter the workforce, and particularly gifted or those interested in an academic track continued on to college. However, now that college attendance has become more commonplace—even expected—high schools no longer make workforce preparation their top priority.

The guarantee of two more years of education will simply spark further degree inflation. A community college degree will become the new baseline, much like the high school diploma once was.

Finally, public spending on community college has been shown to be a risky investment at best.

For low-income students, Pell Grants almost entirely cover the cost of community college tuition. Yet, graduation rates remain remarkably low. Only 45 percent of students obtain any degree or certificate six years after starting their two-year program.

While some have argued that community college graduation rates are low because many students transfer to four-year schools, only 17 percent do so and complete their degree.

More and more Americans are calling for solutions to the astronomical $1.5 trillion student debt crisis. Reforming the outdated accreditation system that stifles innovation or reducing reliance on federal aid would go a long way in achieving meaningful reform.

However, “free” college will do nothing to address the causes of rising costs, and simply leave Americans with more paper credentials.

Simply obtaining a degree—assuming students graduate—does not necessarily translate to increased job preparedness. It can, however, directly translate to more public debt.

Americans deserve more thoughtful policy solutions to the cost crisis in higher education than faux “free” college. California’s proposal to transfer the community college tuition bill to taxpayers will do nothing to address the root causes of both tuition and degree inflation.

Instead, policymakers should encourage competition and innovation by reducing regulatory burdens for streamlined educational alternatives, such as vocational/career and technical training and apprenticeship programs.

The post Why California’s Push for ‘Free’ Community College Is So Misguided appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Gov. Tom Wolf Commits Pennsylvania to Climate Goals in Line With Paris Agreement

Wed, 2019-01-09 17:01

When then-candidate Donald Trump surprised many observers by winning Pennsylvania in the 2016 election, some ascribed the victory to his relentless campaigning in support of the state’s traditional energy sector, particularly coal and natural gas.

In that campaign and his later decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement, many saw the president taking the side of the energy sector against efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Now Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, safely elected to a second term, has come down firmly on the side of anti-greenhouse gas efforts. The governor issued an executive order Tuesday that commits the state to the goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent by 2025—just six years from now—and 80 percent by 2050.

The order also calls for the formation of a new body that will direct efforts aimed at reducing state government entities’ energy consumption by 21 percent by 2025.

“The GreenGov Council will serve as a central coordinating body to promote the implementation of the executive order and the achievement of the … state agency performance goals,” a news release announcing the order stated.

The state will be required to replace 25 percent of its passenger car fleet with all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles by 2025, and 40 percent of the state’s annual energy usage must be offset by renewable sources.

“Commonwealth agencies can continue to demonstrate their commitment to both environmental and fiscal stewardship by implementing best practices to reduce energy and resource consumption, improve energy efficiency, realize cost savings, and protect the environment,” Wolf said.

Wolf’s press secretary, J.J. Abbott, noted later Tuesday on Twitter that the state’s goals imposed by the executive order were in line with the guidelines of the Paris climate agreement.

The issuance of the executive order was timed to coincide with a news conference in Pittsburgh where Peoples Gas revealed a partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund and Google Earth Outreach to study the company’s infrastructure and find ways to dramatically decrease the release of methane into the atmosphere.

“Leaks will be mapped throughout 2019 using a laser-based methane analyzer installed on a Peoples survey vehicle,” the Environmental Defense Fund said in a news release. “With that information, scientists at [Colorado State University] will use a peer-reviewed algorithm to quantify the volume of methane emissions from each leak so that Peoples can focus their system upgrades on the largest leaks and those where investment brings the greatest safety and environmental benefit.”

The governor’s action Tuesday drew at least some criticism within the environmental community as insufficient to truly address climate change.

“Pennsylvania can do so much more to combat the climate crisis by moving our state to 100 [percent] renewable energy by 2035 while creating hundreds of thousands of jobs in a Green New Deal program,” Food & Water Watch Pennsylvania Director Sam Bernhardt said in a statement. “Governor Wolf, the people of Pennsylvania and future generations deserve a much more aggressive approach to combating the existential crisis of our time.”

The National Resources Defense Council, on the other hand, was effusive in its praise of Wolf’s executive order.

“Gov. Wolf is yet again taking up the mantle of leadership to fight climate change,” the National Resources Defense Council’s Jackson Morris said. “His bold agenda is the first in state history to slash greenhouse gas emissions and align with the Paris Agreement, capture new clean energy growth in electric vehicles, and put Pennsylvanians to work while leading the way forward for a clean energy future.”

In an interview Tuesday with radio station KDKA in Pittsburgh, Wolf argued that taking action on climate change is something Pennsylvanians should see as essential in the aftermath of recent flooding in various parts of the state.

“This is not something that is meant to be an abstraction,” he said. “All over the state this past year, we’ve had unusual weather. I mean, here Route 30 collapsed. We’ve had floods in York County, Schuylkill County, Bradford County, Philadelphia County, as well as Allegheny County. So something weird is going on out there.”

Originally published by Watchdog.org

The post Gov. Tom Wolf Commits Pennsylvania to Climate Goals in Line With Paris Agreement appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Why Some Businesses Survive in High-Tax States

Wed, 2019-01-09 14:00

Lower taxes and less regulation are great for business, but some are thriving in high-tax states like New York and California. On my new podcast, Ralph Benko explains the “Tamny Axiom.” Hint: There’s something more valuable in those states than low taxes.

The post Why Some Businesses Survive in High-Tax States appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

PragerU Brings New Suit Against Google in California State Court

Wed, 2019-01-09 12:53

Conservative nonprofit PragerU filed suit against Google in California court on Tuesday for allegedly violating state law in restricting access to Prager’s educational videos on YouTube, according to a copy of the complaint obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The suit claims that YouTube’s restrictions on many of Prager’s videos violate California law in four ways: restricting the nonprofit’s freedom of speech contrary to the state constitution; discriminating against Prager on a religious and political basis in violation of the state’s civil rights act; “engaging in unlawful, misleading, and unfair businesses practices” contrary to the state’s unfair competition laws; and breach of contract for violating YouTube’s own terms of service.

Many of Prager’s videos have been placed in “restricted mode,” which often makes them unavailable for users who are part of or using a larger network, such as networks operated by schools, libraries, and public institutions. The suit also claims that YouTube capriciously and discriminatorily demonetized Prager’s videos, depriving Prager of earning advertising revenue from its videos.

Prager previously filed suit against Google, YouTube’s parent company, in federal court. That suit lost at the district level and is currently pending on appeal before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Attorneys for Prager said they filed the second suit at the state level on the recommendation of the federal judge in the first case.

“We originally filed a lawsuit that had two federal claims, one under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the other for unfair competition and advertising under the Lanham Act,” said lead PragerU attorney Peter Obstler.

“We also filed five claims in that lawsuit under California law, including a free speech claim under the Liberty of Speech Clause of the California Constitution that takes a much broader view of state action. We also filed state law claims for discrimination under the Unruh Act; unfair, unlawful, and fraudulent business practices; and breach of contract.”

“We’ve taken an appeal to the 9th Circuit on the merits of the two federal law claims, and the state law claims were dismissed without prejudice. In other words, the court made very clear that the state law claims were dismissed out of deference to state law courts, that the state courts should decide issues of their own law—not the federal court,” Obstler continued.

“Today we’ve come full circle by filing a state law action, as the judge requested we do, in a state court to litigate those issues there. So we’re now going to have a two-track litigation.”

PragerU CEO Marissa Streit said she remains optimistic about the federal case but added that “there is reason to believe certain claims are even stronger in California. Specifically claims relating to YouTube’s breach of contract and consumer fraud.”

“They claim to be a public forum for free expression, but they behave instead as a publisher with editorial controls. You cannot have it both ways,” Streit said.

Prager has previously battled censorship from Facebook, as well as Google. Nine Prager videos in a row received zero views on Facebook and two were deleted for allegedly violating the company’s “hate speech” policies in August. Facebook later apologized for its censorship of Prager, which the tech giant said was done “mistakenly.”

Representatives for Google did not return a request for comment in time for publication.

Prager’s full complaint can be viewed here.

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 PragerU Brings New Suit Against Google in California State Court appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Customers Are Paying Nearly 100% of Seattle’s New Soda Tax, Study Says

Wed, 2019-01-09 12:32

Seattle soda drinkers are paying nearly every penny of a tax on sugary drinks that the City Council put in place in January 2018, according to a new study.

University of Washington researchers studied the effects of the soda tax on the prices of taxed and untaxed drinks at various types of stores. The study found that, on average, 97 percent of the 1.75 cents per fluid ounce tax is paid by consumers, according to the January 2019 report.

“We don’t know why, but they did see something similar in Berkeley,” research team leader Jesse Jones-Smith told The Seattle Times, referencing Berkeley, California, which passed a soda tax before Seattle.

Researchers studied drink prices at more than 200 Seattle stores before the tax was enacted and compared them to prices at the same stores six months after the tax went into effect. The researchers also studied prices at 200 stores outside Seattle in surrounding communities to gather a baseline.

Researchers also studied how the tax affected the prices of likely replacement products if people moved away from buying the taxed items.

“The most important finding is that in the large grocery stores most of the tax is being passed through,” Jones-Smith told The Seattle Times.

More of the tax burden was passed on to consumers in small stores than in larger supermarkets. Small stores passed on 104 percent of the tax to consumers, according to the report. Larger stores passed on 86 percent.

Across all stores, 102 percent of the tax was passed on to consumers on soft drinks, 84 percent on sweetened teas and sports drinks, 63 percent on sugar-sweetened juice drinks, and 62 percent on sweetened bottled coffee drinks.

The city implemented the tax to curb residents’ sugary-drink consumption while raising additional funding for city programs. University of Washington researchers are still studying if the tax affected soda consumption.

Seattle collected nearly $17 million more in tax revenue in the first nine months of 2018, and the city is now planning future spending based on that level of revenue, The Seattle Times reports.

Washington voted to ban any new soda taxes in the state in November 2017.

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 Customers Are Paying Nearly 100% of Seattle’s New Soda Tax, Study Says appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

The Misinformed, Ineffective War on Styrofoam Heads to Hawaii

Wed, 2019-01-09 11:51

Maui on Dec. 31 became the first Hawaiian county—and one of the latest cities and counties across the United States—to ban polystyrene plastic (more commonly known as Styrofoam) food containers.

The purpose of the ban is to reduce pollution and encourage recycling across the island.

Yet, a recent report on the impact of a proposed Styrofoam ban in Oahu, another island to the north of Maui, suggests that a Styrofoam ban is unlikely to reduce litter and increase recycling in any part of Hawaii.

The new Maui ordinance prohibits food vendors or providers—defined as “any entity or person providing prepared food for consumption within the county”—from using single-use Styrofoam containers to package prepared food. Violators of the ordinance are subject to criminal punishment and monetary fines.

Environmentalist groups are thrilled about the new law and claim it will reduce pollution in the Pacific Ocean, as businesses will now serve food in environmentally friendly food containers.

Understandably, Hawaiians have an interest in protecting their environment. The state’s beautiful beaches and landscapes make it a hot spot for tourism—an industry that accounts for approximately 21 percent of the state’s economy.

But according to the Oahu study above, Hawaii does not recycle or compost single-use food containers of any kind, even if the containers are made of recyclable material.

Instead, the Hawaiian Department of Environmental Services collects and burns all single-use food containers once they are discarded.

Even if the state did recycle, the study noted, litter and pollution likely still would be a problem.

The report cited California as a glaring example.

After enacting a similar ban on Styrofoam food containers, California state officials observed similar amounts of litter, because businesses and individuals littered recyclable containers just as often as they littered Styrofoam containers.

The Oahu study further found that a ban on Styrofoam food containers could also economically harm food providers and consumers of takeout food.

Recyclable food containers are more expensive than nonbiodegradable products like Styrofoam. Higher manufacturing costs will increase the prices that retail food providers pay for the containers, which they will pass onto consumers through higher takeout menu prices.

The Oahu study concluded that the more likely impact of a Styrofoam food container ban, similar to Maui’s, is higher prices for small businesses and consumers, and not a reduction in litter and pollution.

Maui’s Styrofoam food container ban is part of a growing trend across America led by liberal and progressive politicians to ban plastic-based food service products as part of a misinformed effort to “save the planet.”

Supporters of these policies claim that such bans are necessary to prevent further pollution of, and destruction to, the environment.

Yet, there is little evidence that any of these bans—plastic straw bans, plastic bag bans, Styrofoam food container bans, et al.—are having or will have any positive effect on the environment.

At least one study has suggested that policies banning plastics can even cause serious harm.

San Francisco, for example, was one of the earliest adopters of these policies in 2007, when it prohibited all retail stores from using single-use plastic bags.

In 2014, Jonathan Klick and Joshua Wright, who are both law professors and Ph.D. economists, conducted a study of the effects of the San Francisco plastic bag ban. They found that as soon as the ban went into effect, deaths and emergency room visits related to foodborne illnesses from bacteria such as E. coli spiked in San Francisco, with deaths increasing as much as 50 percent to 100 percent, relative to other counties in California.

Why the spike in foodborne illnesses?

Klick and Wright concluded that non-plastic reusable shopping bags were the likely culprit, which consumers were forced to use once San Francisco banned plastic bags.

As they explained in the study, reusable shopping bags, such as cloth bags commonly used as alternatives to plastic bags, can be incubators for bacteria.

Harmful and even deadly bacteria will begin to grow inside reusable shopping bags if they are not thoroughly and consistently cleaned, turning those environmentally friendly totes into giant petri dishes.

Those who then use the contaminated bags to carry or transport food significantly increase their risk of contracting a foodborne illness.

Remarkably, that study has not stopped California from waging a senseless war on plastic. And other progressive states are following right behind the Golden State.

Hawaii, are you going to be next?

The post The Misinformed, Ineffective War on Styrofoam Heads to Hawaii appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

A Glimmer of Hope in Black Education

Wed, 2019-01-09 03:01

In reference to efforts to teach black children, the president of the St. Petersburg, Florida, chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Maria Scruggs, said: “The (school) district has shown they just can’t do it. … Now it’s time for the community to step in.”

That’s a recognition that politicians and the education establishment, after decades of promises, cannot do much to narrow the huge educational achievement gap between Asians and whites on the one hand, and blacks on the other.

The most crucial input for a child’s education cannot be provided by schools or politicians. Continued calls for higher education budgets will produce disappointing results, as they have in the past.

There are certain minimum requirements that must be met for any child, regardless of race, to do well in school. Someone must make the youngster do his homework–and possibly help him with it. Someone must ensure that he gets eight hours of sleep. Someone must feed him wholesome meals, including breakfast. Finally, someone must ensure that he gets to school on time, behaves in school, and respects the teachers.

If these minimum requirements are not met–and they can be met even if a family is poor–all else is for naught.

Scruggs says that it’s time for the black community to accept part of the blame. Part of the problem is the lack of parents’ involvement in their children’s education–for example, they’re not attending parent-teacher nights.

Having children’s books around the house and reading to preschoolers is vitally important. According to Mariah Evans, who headed a 20-year worldwide study that found “the presence of books in the home” to be the top predictor of whether a child will attain a high level of education, “one of the things that is most striking … about it is that the book’s effect appears to be even larger and more important for children from very disadvantaged homes.”

By the way, one doesn’t have to be rich to have books around the house. Plus, there are libraries.

One vital measure for community involvement in black education is that of preventing youngsters who are alien and hostile to the educational process from making education impossible for everybody else. That can be accomplished by ignoring politicians and the liberal vision that restricts schools from removing students who pose severe disciplinary problems.

The problem goes beyond simple misbehavior. An article in Education Week last year, titled “When Students Assault Teachers, Effects Can Be Lasting,” reported: “In the 2015-16 school year, 5.8 percent of the nation’s 3.8 million teachers were physically attacked by a student. Almost 10 percent were threatened with injury, according to federal education data.”

Given the huge educational achievement gap between blacks and whites, one might ask whether black people can afford to allow students who have little interest in being educated to make education impossible for others. Students who assault teachers ought to be summarily removed from the school.

One might ask, “Williams, what are we going to do with those expelled students?” I do not know, but I do know one thing for sure: Black people cannot afford to allow them to remain in school and sabotage the educational chances of everyone else.

The educational achievement gap between blacks and whites is hidden from black students and their families. All too often, a black student with a high school diploma cannot read, write, or compute at a sixth- or seventh-grade level. This tends to make high school diplomas held by blacks less valuable in the eyes of employers.

As such, it sparks racial division where it otherwise would not exist. There have been complaints that police and fire departments and other civil service jobs don’t have many black employees. The problem is that to get hired in the first place–and get promoted if hired–one needs to pass a civil service exam. If one’s high school diploma is fraudulent–meaning he has not mastered the 12th-grade levels of all subjects–he is seriously handicapped.

I say hats off to the vision being promoted by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s  Maria Scruggs. She and her supporters have their work cut out for them, but it’s doable.


The post A Glimmer of Hope in Black Education appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Podcast: Do Walls Work?

Wed, 2019-01-09 03:01

When it comes to border security, what are the facts? Heritage Foundation analyst David Inserra, who focuses on immigration and homeland security, joins us to discuss whether walls work, whether the current situation at the U.S.-Mexico border is a terrorism risk, and the flow of drugs into the United States from other countries. Plus: we play President Donald Trump’s full Oval Office address on the border crisis.

We also cover these stories:

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer respond to Trump’s immigration remarks.
  • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a new program to give comprehensive health care to every resident, regardless of their ability to pay or their immigration status.
  • A federal appeals judge has ruled that a Virginia politician violated the Constitution when he temporarily blocked a critic from her Facebook page.

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.

The post Podcast: Do Walls Work? appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Fact-Checking 5 of Trump’s Claims in Border Speech

Wed, 2019-01-09 00:32

President Donald Trump made the case Tuesday night for the $5.7 billion he is requesting for a physical barrier along the southern border.

The Daily Signal examined five of the claims Trump made during his speech from the Oval Office beginning at 9 p.m. EST.

  1. “All Americans are hurt by uncontrolled illegal migration. It strains public resources and drives down jobs and wages. Among those hardest hit are African Americans and Hispanic Americans.”

According to U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner Peter Kirsanow, black Americans are disproportionately affected by illegal immigration.

“Black males are more likely to experience competition from illegal immigrants,” Kirsanow said in a 2017 interview with The Daily Signal.

“What happens is you eliminate the rungs on the ladder because a sizable number of black men don’t have access to entry-level jobs,” Kirsanow said. “It is not just the competition and the unemployment of blacks. It also depresses the wage levels.”

Also, a U.S. Civil Rights Commission study in 2010 found that illegal immigration had a high impact on black men in particular. The report noted:

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

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

Both low- and high-skilled natives are affected by the influx of immigrants. But because a disproportionate percentage of immigrants have few skills, it is low-skilled American workers, including many blacks and Hispanics, who have suffered most from this wage dip. The monetary loss is sizable. The typical high school dropout earns about $25,000 annually. According to census data, immigrants admitted in the past two decades lacking a high school diploma have increased the size of the low-skilled workforce by roughly 25 percent. As a result, the earnings of this particularly vulnerable group dropped by between $800 and $1,500 each year.

2. “Sen. Chuck Schumer – who you will be hearing from later tonight – has repeatedly supported a physical barrier in the past, along with many other Democrats. They changed their mind only after I was elected president.”

In 2006, Senate Minority Leader Schumer–along with several other high profile Democrats–voted for the Secure Fence Act

The proposal specifically calls for a physical barrier along the Southern border. The language of the Secure Fence Act of 2006 says:

Amends the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 to direct the Secretary to provide at least two layers of reinforced fencing, installation of additional physical barriers, roads, lighting, cameras, and sensors extending: (1) from ten miles west of the Tecate, California, port of entry to ten miles east of the Tecate, California, port of entry; (2) from ten miles west of the Calexico, California, port of entry to five miles east of the Douglas, Arizona, port of entry (requiring installation of an interlocking surveillance camera system by May 30, 2007, and fence completion by May 30, 2008); (3) from five miles west of the Columbus, New Mexico, port of entry to ten miles east of El Paso, Texas; (4) from five miles northwest of the Del Rio, Texas, port of entry to five miles southeast of the Eagle Pass, Texas, port of entry; and (5) 15 miles northwest of the Laredo, Texas, port of entry to the Brownsville, Texas, port of entry (requiring fence completion from 15 miles northwest of the Laredo, Texas, port of entry to 15 southeast of the Laredo, Texas, port of entry by December 31.  2008)

So Schumer has voted for a physical barrier, although Schumer could technically argue that he supported a “fence” rather than a “wall.”

Other Senate Democrats to support the proposal were then Sens. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Joe Biden. Current Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., also voted for the proposal.

Some Democrats were indeed consistently opposed to a physical barrier. For example, Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., the Democratic whip, voted against the 2006 fence bill.

In the House, then-Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., voted no on the Secure Fence Act of 2006, as did the number two Democrat Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md.

3. “Every week 300 of our citizens are killed by heroin alone, 90 percent of which floods across from our southern border.”

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2017 “more than 15,000 people died of drug overdoses involving heroin in the United States.” That’s about 288 deaths per week.

“Mexico remains the primary source of heroin available in the United States according to all available sources of intelligence, including law enforcement investigations and scientific data,” states a 2018 Drug Enforcement Administration report.

The report suggests that ports of entry, not unattended border stretches, is where most of the heroin is smuggled over: “A small percentage of all heroin seized by CBP along the land border was between ports of entry.”

The report continues:

Mexican [Transnational Criminal Organizations] control the movement of heroin that enters the United States across the [southwest border], until it reaches its destination in cities all over the United States. The majority of the flow is through [privately owned vehicles] entering the United States at legal ports of entry, followed by tractor-trailers, where the heroin is co-mingled with legal goods …. Body carriers represent a smaller percentage of heroin movement across the [southwest border] and they typically smuggle amounts ranging from three to six pounds taped to their torso, or in shoes and backpacks.

4. “One in three women are sexually assaulted on the dangerous trek up through Mexico.”

A 2017 report from Doctors Without Borders surveying crossings into Mexico from the areas of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, which it cites as the Northern Triangle of Central America (NTCA), says that “nearly one-third of the women surveyed had been sexually abused during their journey.”

In 2014, Fusion reported:

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

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

Trump’s arrest numbers are correct according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement numbers compiled in 2017 and 2018.

The number of illegal immigrants arrested by ICE is at the highest number it has been since 2014, according to a recent ICE report.

An ICE report from December said 158,581 illegal immigrants were arrested in the 2018 fiscal year, 138,117 of those had a criminal history. This is an 11 percent increase over 2017, when 143,470 arrests were conducted, 127,992 of which were those with a criminal history.

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

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

There were also 5,872 known or suspected gang members arrested as well as 42 people thought to be terrorists.

The reports also broke down the charges and convictions for the arrests. According to the 2017 ICE report, 48,454 illegal immigrants were charged or convicted of assault. The 2018 report showed similar numbers, with 50,753 illegal immigrants charged or convicted of assault. When it came to homicides, 1,886 illegal immigrants were charged or convicted in 2017, while 2,028 were in 2018.

To reach the 30,000 sex crimes number, Trump appeared to be drawing from three categories: Sex offenses (not involving assault or commercialized sex) (6,664 charges or convictions in 2017 and 6,888 in 2018); sexual assault (5,118 in 2017 and 5,350 in 2018); and commercialized sexual offenses (1,572 in 2017 and 1,739 in 2018).

The post Fact-Checking 5 of Trump’s Claims in Border Speech appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

From Oval Office, Trump Says Border Wall Would Make Nation ‘Safer Than Ever Before’

Tue, 2019-01-08 22:30

President Donald Trump made an emotional plea Tuesday night for Congress to pass a border security package that includes funding for a steel wall, to minimize the number of victims of violent crimes committed by illegal immigrants.

His proposal for a steel wall and other border security measures would make America “safer than ever before,”  Trump said.

“Over the last several years, I’ve met with dozens of families whose loved ones were stolen by illegal immigration,” Trump said during his first prime-time address from the Oval Office, which took place in the third week of a partial government shutdown over his insistence that Congress make good on past promises to build a barrier along the southern border.

“I’ve held the hands of the weeping mothers and embraced the grief-stricken fathers. So sad, so terrible,” Trump said. “I will never forget the pain in their eyes, the tremble in their voices, and the sadness gripping their souls.”

The president added:

How much more American blood must be shed before Congress does its job? For those who refuse to compromise in the name of border security, I would ask: Imagine if it were your child, your husband, or your wife whose life was so cruelly shattered.

In his 10-minute address, Trump talked about the murder of a police officer and the rape and murder of an Air Force veteran, crimes that police said were committed by illegal immigrants in California. He also noted cases of illegal immigrants accused of murdering Americans in Georgia and Maryland.

“This is the cycle of human suffering that I am determined to end,” he said.

>>> Read the President’s Full Oval Office Speech on ‘Crisis’ in Border Security

Trump is trying to reach a deal with congressional Democrats to secure funding for a border wall and fully reopen the government after the partial shutdown that began Dec. 22.

The president said he will hold his third meeting in a week with congressional leaders from both parties Wednesday at the White House. He is scheduled to travel to the southern border Thursday.

Trump noted that Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., was among the Democrats who voted for the 2006 Secure Fence Act, legislation passed by Congress that called for more than 700 miles of fencing or other barriers along the border.

But Schumer and other Democrats now oppose the policy because he supports it, Trump said.

He also referred to comments from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who  has called a border wall “immoral.”

“Some have suggested a barrier is immoral. Then why do wealthy politicians build walls, fences, and gates around their home?” Trump asked before answering his own question.

“They don’t build walls because they hate the people on the outside, but because they love the people on the inside,” he said. “The only thing that is immoral is for politicians to do nothing and continue to allow more innocent people to be so horribly victimized.”

The president asked Congress for $5.7 billion for construction of a steel border wall. He also asked for funds for additional Border Patrol agents,  immigration judges, and related resources.

Trump said that “thousands more lives will be lost if we don’t act right now.”

Congress has funded most of the government. The current shutdown affects only about 25 percent of the government, including the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Homeland Security, State, and Transportation. The shutdown also affects about 800,000 federal employees, all of whom will get back pay when the impasse ends.

“The federal government remains shut down for one reason and one reason only,” Trump said. “Because Democrats will not fund border security.”

The president ended his speech by urging:

To every member of Congress: Pass a bill that ends this crisis. To every citizen: Call Congress and tell them to finally–after all of these decades–secure our border. This is a choice between right and wrong. Justice and injustice. This is about whether we fulfill our sacred duty to the American citizens we serve.

Minutes after the president finished speaking, the top Democrats in the House and Senate made their own televised argument to Americans in response.

Pelosi complained that the government shutdown withheld paychecks from “800,000 innocent workers.”

“The president is rejecting bipartisan bills that would reopen government over his obsession with forcing American taxpayers to waste billions of dollars on an expensive and ineffective wall–a wall he always promised Mexico would pay for,” Pelosi said.

Pelosi said Democrats support infrastructure improvements at ports of entry and new technology to scan for drugs coming across the border.

“The women and children at the border are not a security threat, they are a humanitarian challenge, a challenge that President Trump’s own cruel and counterproductive policies have only deepened,” Pelosi said.

Schumer, standing beside Pelosi and speaking after her, accused Trump of using the Oval Office to “manufacture a crisis, stoke fear, and divert attention from the turmoil in his administration.”

“We don’t govern by temper tantrum,” the New York Democrat said. “President Trump has appealed to fear not facts, division not unity.”

Earlier in the day, the White House Office of Management and Budget announced that tax refund checks will be sent out despite the shutdown.

In his remarks, Trump referred to some of the statistics in a new report from the Department of Homeland Security.

According to the DHS report, from fiscal 2017 to fiscal 2018 officials posted a 73 percent increase in fentanyl, one of the deadliest drugs, confiscated at the southern border. That amounts to 2,400 pounds.

The department also reported a 38 percent increase in methamphetamine at the southern border over the last fiscal year, and a 38 percent increase in heroin.

Criminal organizations gain $2.5 billion in annual profit from smuggling migrants into the U.S., the DHS report says.

In fiscal 2018, which ended Sept. 30, Customs and Border Protection agents caught 17,000 adults at the southern border who had criminal records. They captured 3,755 known or suspected terrorists entering the U.S. in fiscal 2017.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement also apprehended 6,000 members of gangs, including the violent MS-13, at the border.

The report states that the past five years saw a 2,000 percent increase in asylum claims, yet 72 percent of migrants report making the journey for economic reasons, so they wouldn’t qualify for asylum.

The report says 60,000 unaccompanied children and 161,000 family units arrived in fiscal 2018. About 50 migrants per day are referred to medical providers.

Customs and Border Protection determined 31 percent of female migrants say they were sexually assaulted on the journey to the U.S.

Immigration courts have a backlog of nearly 800,000 cases and 98 percent of family units and unaccompanied alien children never are removed from the country, the report says.

The post From Oval Office, Trump Says Border Wall Would Make Nation ‘Safer Than Ever Before’ appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Read Trump’s Full Oval Office Speech on ‘Crisis’ in Border Security

Tue, 2019-01-08 21:45

Here is the White House transcript of President Donald Trump’s Oval Office speech on illegal immigration and border security, delivered Tuesday night.

My fellow Americans: Tonight, I am speaking to you because there is a growing humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border.

Every day, Customs and Border Patrol agents encounter thousands of illegal immigrants trying to enter our country. We are out of space to hold them, and we have no way to promptly return them back home to their country.

America proudly welcomes millions of lawful immigrants who enrich our society and contribute to our nation. But all Americans are hurt by uncontrolled, illegal migration. It strains public resources and drives down jobs and wages. Among those hardest hit are African-Americans and Hispanic Americans.

>>> Related: From Oval Office, Trump Says Border Wall Would Make Nation ‘Safer Than Ever Before’

Our southern border is a pipeline for vast quantities of illegal drugs–including meth, heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl. Every week, 300 of our citizens are killed by heroin alone–90 percent of which floods across from our southern border. More Americans will die from drugs this year than were killed in the entire Vietnam War.

In the last two years, ICE officers made 266,000 arrests of aliens with criminal records–including those charged or convicted of 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes and 4,000 violent killings. Over the years, thousands of Americans have been brutally killed by those who illegally entered our country, and thousands more lives will be lost if we don’t act right now.

This is a humanitarian crisis–a crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul.

Last month, 20,000 migrant children were illegally brought into the United States–a dramatic increase. These children are used as human pawns by vicious coyotes and ruthless gangs. 1 in 3 women are sexually assaulted on the dangerous trek up through Mexico. Women and children are the biggest victims by far of our broken system.

This is the tragic reality of illegal immigration on our Southern Border. This is the cycle of human suffering I am determined to end.

My administration has presented Congress with a detailed proposal to secure the border and stop the criminal gangs, drug smugglers, and human traffickers. It’s a tremendous problem. Our proposal was developed by law enforcement professionals and border agents at the Department of Homeland Security. These are the resources they have requested to properly perform their mission and keep America safe–in fact, safer than ever before.

The proposal from Homeland Security includes cutting-edge technology for detecting drugs, weapons, illegal contraband, and many other things. We have requested more agents, immigration judges, and bed space to process the sharp rise in unlawful migration fueled by our very strong economy. Our plan also contains an urgent request for humanitarian assistance and medical support.

Furthermore, we have asked Congress to close border security loopholes so that illegal immigrant children can be safely and humanely returned back home.

Finally, as part of an overall approach to border security, law enforcement professionals have requested $5.7 billion dollars for a physical barrier. At the request of Democrats, it will be a steel barrier rather than a concrete wall. This barrier is absolutely critical to border security. It’s also what our professionals at the border want and need. This is just common sense.

The border wall would very quickly pay for itself. The cost of illegal drugs exceeds $500 billion dollars a year–vastly more than the $5.7 billion dollars we have requested from Congress. The wall will also be paid for, indirectly, by the great new trade deal we have made with Mexico.

Sen. Chuck Schumer–who you will be hearing from later tonight–has repeatedly supported a physical barrier in the past, along with many other Democrats. They changed their mind only after I was elected president.

Democrats in Congress have refused to acknowledge the crisis. And they have refused to provide our brave border agents with the tools they desperately need to protect our families and our nation.

The federal government remains shutdown for one reason and one reason only: because Democrats will not fund border security.

My administration is doing everything in our power to help those impacted by the situation. But the only solution is for Democrats to pass a spending bill that defends our borders and re-opens the government.

This situation could be solved in a 45-minute meeting. I have invited congressional leadership to the White House tomorrow to get this done. Hopefully, we can all rise above partisan politics in order to support national security.

Some have suggested a barrier is immoral. Then why do wealthy politicians build walls, fences, and gates around their homes? They don’t build walls because they hate the people on the outside, but because they love the people on the inside. The only thing that is immoral is the politicians to do nothing and continue to allow more innocent people to be so horribly victimized.

America’s heart broke the day after Christmas when a young police officer in California was savagely murdered in cold blood by an illegal alien who just came across the border. The life of an American hero was stolen by someone who had no right to be in our country.

Day after day, precious lives are cut short by those who have violated our borders.

In California, an Air Force veteran was raped, murdered, and beaten to death with a hammer by an illegal alien with a long criminal history. In Georgia, an illegal alien was recently charged with murder for killing, beheading, and dismembering his neighbor. In Maryland, MS-13 gang members who arrived in the United States as unaccompanied minors were arrested and charged last year after viciously stabbing and beating a 16-year-old girl.

Over the last several years, I’ve met with dozens of families whose loved ones were stolen by illegal immigration. I’ve held the hands of the weeping mothers and embraced the grief-stricken fathers. So sad. So terrible. I will never forget the pain in their eyes, the tremble in their voices, or the sadness gripping their souls.

How much more American blood must be shed before Congress does its job?

To those who refuse to compromise in the name of border security, I would ask: Imagine if it was your child, your husband, or your wife, whose life was so cruelly shattered and totally broken?

To every member of Congress: Pass a bill that ends this crisis.

To every citizen: Call Congress and tell them to finally–after all of these decades–secure our border.

This is a choice between right and wrong. Justice and injustice. This is about whether we fulfill our sacred duty to the American citizens we serve.

When I took the oath of office, I swore to protect our country and its people. And that is what I will always do, so help me God.

Thank you and good night.

The post Read Trump’s Full Oval Office Speech on ‘Crisis’ in Border Security appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Anti-Semitism Just Gained a New Foothold in Congress

Tue, 2019-01-08 17:40

In 1948, the Jewish people secured sovereignty over their ancestral homeland for the first time in nearly 2,000 years. Once again, they could thrive—religiously, economically, culturally—in the home their ancestors were forced to flee.

But more than 70 years after the rebirth of the Jewish nation, enemies of her very existence are using boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) to economically harm and morally impugn one of our closest allies. Unfortunately, several newly elected members of Congress are vocal advocates of BDS—particularly Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.

Following her election victory, Tlaib said, “Americans should not be aiding any country that doesn’t support human rights. I’ve been very clear. I will not support racist countries that pick and choose who gets access to justice.” She further claims that Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is pursuing “apartheid policies.”

During Israel’s 2012 war against Hamas (an entity designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization), Omar claimed, “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” She has also claimed that Israel is an “apartheid … regime.” Following her election victory in November 2018, her campaign said she “believes in and supports the BDS movement.”

These peddlers of hate hurl false allegations against Israel of apartheid and minority oppression in an attempt to generate public support for BDS.

In reality, Israel is the Mideast’s only true democracy—one in which minority rights are protected. The right to vote, access to public health care, public education, freedom of speech, and protection of legal rights are enjoyed by all citizens, regardless of race and irrespective of religion.

As testament to this, in 2015—the most recent general election—voters elected 17 Arabs to serve in the 120-member Knesset. Arabs also comprise a growing proportion—more than 16 percent—of undergraduate students, a long-term goal of the Israeli government. In fact, the number of Arab university students soared more than 78 percent in just seven years. And many Arabs serve in the Israeli Defense Forces.

The Israeli government also protects the freedom of religion. Across Jerusalem—the capital of Israel—Muslims, Christians, and Jews (and others) are free to practice their faith. Mosques, churches, and synagogues operate within yards of each other. From the Western Wall bordering the holiest site of the Jewish faith, the Muslim call to prayer can be heard throughout the day.

For nearly 700 years, Jewish people were denied entry to the burial place in Hebron of Abraham, their patriarch. Now, under Israeli control, both Muslims and Jews pray at this site. Across the nation, the Israeli government ensures these three great monotheistic faiths can be practiced more freely than at any other time in history.

Contrary to Tlaib’s “apartheid” claim, the Israeli government does not impose ethnic segregation on communities. Arab and Jewish Israelis are free to buy and sell homes and land within areas that fall under Israeli administration.

On the other hand, Jews are precluded from living in zones controlled by the Palestinian Authority, which manages Palestinian civil affairs. In fact, a fatwa—a ruling under Islamic law—forbids Arabs from selling real estate to Jews in those areas, under penalty of death. A top judge of the Palestinian Authority warned that acting contrary to this order qualifies as “high treason.”

The charter of the Palestinian Liberation Organization—technically considered the “sole official representative of the Palestinian people”—continues to call for the violent destruction of Israel. Schools and television stations operated by the Palestinian Authority poison residents with an endless diet of anti-Semitism. The Palestinian Authority government routinely names streets, public buildings, and parks in honor of terrorists. Even worse, it bestows millions of dollars annually as compensation to families of these same terrorists.

In past years, the political leadership in both U.S. political parties recognized and spoke out against the bigotry inherent in attempting to destroy the Middle East’s only bastion of liberty. It is time once again for these leaders to boldly condemn the bigotry of these newly elected BDS advocates.

Indeed, the BDS movement exemplifies contemporary anti-Semitism. How disappointing and appalling that a growing number of U.S. members of Congress join in the chorus of Israel’s enemies under the guise of human rights concerns.

The post Anti-Semitism Just Gained a New Foothold in Congress appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Mitt Romney Fails Again

Tue, 2019-01-08 17:31

The first public thing Mitt Romney did in the year 2019–on Jan. 1–was publish an attack on President Trump in The Washington Post, which, as we know, has not lacked for attacks on Trump.

He did not even wait until being sworn in, two days later.

I campaigned for Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, when he ran for president, including a closed-door meeting with him to raise funds among wealthy Los Angeles Republicans. As it turns out, I worked to elect a somewhat foolish man with few identifiable convictions. (For the record, I would do so again, since just about any Republican president will do less damage to the country than any leftist–and Democratic politicians are now all leftists.)

Life is filled with disappointments, and I will survive this one. But I should explain why this Romney column is so disappointing.

First the foolish part. What did Romney seek to achieve by publishing an attack on his own party’s president? Did he think he would persuade one supporter of the president to stop supporting him? If he did, he failed, not because none of us can be persuaded to change our minds but because the piece was so intellectually and morally shallow.

So, why did he write it?

And why did he publish it in The Washington Post, a Trump-hating newspaper?

Does he share The Washington Post’s political, social, and moral values?

Did he think he would enlighten Washington Post readers, the vast majority of whom already loathe the president, the Republican Party, and the half of the country that voted for Donald Trump?

Of course not.

Does he believe attacking Trump is more important than addressing whether the United States has borders secure enough to prevent millions of people from coming into America illegally?

Does he believe attacking Trump is more important than the left’s suppression of free speech at virtually every American university and the left’s suppression of free speech on the internet?

Does he believe attacking Trump is more important than the left’s ongoing attempt to abolish male and female identities among children?

Does he believe attacking Trump is more important than attacking the left’s goal of weakening the American military?

Does he believe attacking Trump is more important than attacking the gargantuan size of the federal government, which undermines the unique American ideal of limited government?

Does he believe attacking Trump is more important than attacking the left for essentially destroying the Boy Scouts, from which his own Latter-day Saints church has now withdrawn support?

Does he believe attacking Trump is more important than the dramatic decline of religion in American life? He is, after all, a religious man.

Does he believe attacking Trump is more important than preventing the left from dominating the country’s federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court?

If he does, he may be more than a fool. And that something more may involve character defects.

I try to avoid directing comments at the character of those I differ with, but since Mitt Romney deems it of national significance to publicly attack the character of the president of the United States, and given that he considers character more important than policies that affect the nation and the world, he has invited consideration of his character.

Given his attack on the president, rather than on the nation–and civilization-destroying policies of the left and the Democratic Party, character issues may explain his Washington Post column.

While we have every reason to assume Mitt Romney is personally honest and faithful in marriage, a public figure’s character is far more than his or her personal honesty and marital fidelity. Plenty of honest men and women and plenty of faithful husbands and wives have helped ruin societies. And in those more important areas of character, Mitt Romney is apparently quite lacking.

One character issue is lack of courage. In today’s environment, it takes no courage to attack Donald Trump, especially in The Washington Post. Romney is now the darling of the elites of this country. He will be showered with praise by the elite newspapers and all the news networks (except Fox). He will be invited to give talks at universities throughout the country. He will be feted in Europe. And no one will scream obscenities at him when he dines in Washington, D.C., restaurants.

Another character issue is pettiness. It now seems very hard to deny that Romney resents Trump for doing what he failed to do: win the presidency.

A third character problem is a lack of conviction. Does anyone reading this column know what Mitt Romney stands for aside from winning elections? Can one reader name one strong conviction Mitt Romney holds?

I can’t.

He appears to be essentially conviction- and ideology-free. The New Republic wrote in 2012, the year Romney ran for president, “In his various incarnations as a candidate, he has campaigned as a progressive, a conservative, a technocrat, and a populist, suggesting his deepest attachment is to winning.”

When Donald Trump sought the Republican presidential nomination, I was convinced he had no ideology. And I could not identify any convictions. I therefore opposed his nomination. But I vigorously supported his campaign for president and hoped my original assessment was wrong.

Lo and behold, Trump turns out to have the most solid conservative convictions of almost any Republican politician since Ronald Reagan–and an almost preternatural amount of courage to put them into practice.

In 2012, The Wall Street Journal wrote of Romney’s campaign director, Matt Rhoades, “People who know him say he isn’t inspired by ideology …” And Fox News host Chris Wallace described Romney’s chief campaign strategist, Stuart Stevens, as “not big on ideology.”

Just like their boss.


The post Mitt Romney Fails Again appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Thinking Outside the Box for Health Care Solutions

Tue, 2019-01-08 17:29

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has issued bold reforms supporting telemedicine as a viable option to increase access to care while decreasing health care spending.

It’s this kind of thinking outside the box that’s desperately needed in health policy.

Recently, a new Medicare rule proposed the expansion of telemedicine benefits for Medicare Advantage enrollees by allowing reimbursement for patients to check in with their physicians via telemedicine.

Patients will be able to initiate a virtual doctor’s visit and receive care with the touch of a screen—all while skipping the commute to their physician’s office.

This update is on trend with more patients trying telemedicine than ever before. From 2011 to 2016, nationwide telehealth usage increased by 643 percent.

Telemedicine has also reduced the usage of some of the most expensive health care services, such as emergency department visits,  71 percent of which are unnecessary and avoidable.

In 2017, for example, the Houston Fire Department/Emergency Medical Services Division found that its telehealth program prevented avoidable ambulance trips and emergency department visits 80 percent of the time.

One big problem: Some of the most vulnerable communities in America still lack reliable, affordable access to electricity and, subsequently, the internet. Without electricity, remote patient-monitoring devices and “smart” medical technologies won’t work.

So, while the new Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services rule expands access to care, many in underserved areas lacking electric power, such as tribal lands, will be left behind.

This raises the question: Are there reforms that could improve health care for patients and providers, outside of health care policy, that policymakers should be thinking about?

Access to affordable energy isn’t just a problem for patients. Cutting energy costs is also a concern of hospitals, one that will continue to grow as new digital equipment, including telemedicine technology, comes to market and varies their current load and usage patterns.

A solution would be increasing choice and competition in the electric-utility industry.

Seventeen states have been experimenting with retail electric competition. To introduce competition in their electricity markets, these states have adjusted rates by separating charges for the production of electricity from those associated with its transmission and distribution to customers.

By splitting the generation of power from its delivery, individual customers can choose from different power sources—from wind to nuclear and everything in between—while power companies are incentivized to earn customers’ business with innovative products, technologies, and financial services to meet unique customer preferences.

This flexibility allows, for example, a hospital to pay for guaranteed service to meet its uninterrupted electricity needs or an individual to opt in to demand-response programs for discounted electricity bills.

Electricity needs are not a one-size-fits-all solution in the digital age, and retail electric competition is needed to support innovation in areas like health care.

Texas, for example, has been a pioneer in supporting retail electric competition. Today, energy choice is available to more than 80 percent of Texas residents.

Texans have “hundreds of products available, like 100 percent renewable power, time-of-use pricing, loyalty programs and service bundled with smart thermostats.” This wide variety is not available in states without retail electric competition.

Retail electric competition also opens the door for the development of power options that support cutting-edge health care technologies, such as telemedicine tools.

Small physician practices that opt to provide telemedicine services can benefit from lower electric-power bills through increased electricity competition, too.

Some hospitals have seen cost savings by utilizing alternative energy options.

In New Jersey, a state with a retail electric market, the CentraState Medical Center—nationally recognized as a “Most Wired” hospital and an early adopter of telemedicine—began using solar panels to generate electricity in 2015. Within the program’s first year, CentraState saw a reduction in energy costs of $300,000.

Opening the electricity market to competition will drive down electricity costs and enable health care providers to offer less expensive, more personalized care, such as telemedicine.

With lower electricity costs, more patients will have access to the electric grid and innovative health care technologies that decrease the cost of care.

The post Thinking Outside the Box for Health Care Solutions appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Wants to Raise Taxes Drastically. Here’s Why It Would Backfire.

Tue, 2019-01-08 13:24

Depending on who you listen to, the recent proposal by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., to increase marginal income tax rates to 70 percent is either the craziest thing that has ever been proposed or a sober proposal that does not go far enough.

Historically, 70 percent tax rates were relatively normal in the U.S. Between 1951 and 1963, for example, Americans in the top income tax bracket were taxed at over 90 percent, although that top rate was only paid by a handful of people.

Ocasio-Cortez points to this period as a precedent to return to. But those excessively high tax rates were followed by tax cuts that helped lift the economy in the late 20th century. That necessary shift provides compelling evidence that lower tax rates, even on the rich, are better for everyone.

And that wasn’t the first time tax cuts proved a major success. In the 1920s, tax rates were cut from 71 percent to 24 percent, and the economy grew by a massive 59 percent. In the early 1930s, top rates were raised back to 63 percent, but the Great Depression persisted through the end of the decade.

President John F. Kennedy lowered the top rate in the 1960s, and President Ronald Reagan lowered it again in the 1980s. Both of these tax cuts were followed by two of the longest economic expansions in our history.

Although tax policy is not always the cause, nor the only solution to all economic cycles, the strong correlation between high taxes and poor economic performance is compelling evidence that high taxes are not good policy.

Moreover, higher taxes often fail to achieve their basic goal of raising more revenue. High tax rates give people reason to work less and avoid taxes more. When people work less or simply decide to report less income, the government collects less revenue and the economy as a whole is smaller than it would have been without the tax hike.

We can see this reflected in raw numbers. Even though top marginal income tax rates have ranged widely from 91 percent to 28 percent over the past 50 years, tax revenue as a share of the economy hasn’t actually changed much.

(Photo: Federal Budget in Pictures)

The rich in the U.S. also already pay an outsized portion of income taxes compared to their earnings. In 2016, the top 1 percent of income earners—those who earned about $500,000—earned 20 percent of all U.S. income while paying 37 percent of all federal income taxes. The top 10 percent earned 46 percent of all income and paid almost 70 percent of all federal income taxes.

Ocasio-Cortez and other self-described “democratic socialists” point to Sweden and Denmark as an example of “fair share” taxation. But the top marginal tax rate that she proposes—70 percent—would be high even for those countries, where the highest tax rates barely reach 60 percent.

And in Denmark, for example, it is not just the rich who pay the top rate of 60 percent. All income earners who bring in roughly over $60,000 are taxed at the highest rate. That’s hardly the “1 percent.”

Even if a 70 percent tax rate was the appropriate way to maximize revenue, which it isn’t, we should question whether maximizing revenue is a proper goal for governments as a matter of policy. Wouldn’t we want government to tax as little as is needed to provide essential governmental functions, rather than milking as much money from the taxpayer as possible?

A better course of action is for Washington to let people of all incomes keep more of the money they earn—to spend, save, and invest for themselves, their family, and their local communities. Keeping more money in the economy will also create more opportunity and more sustainable jobs than growing the governmental sector. Governments are prone to waste, bureaucratic inefficiency, and simply can’t spend your money as wisely as you can.

There’s a reason both Republican and Democratic presidents and Congresses have seen fit to cut taxes repeatedly. They are good for both the economy and for ordinary taxpayers, as we’ve seen in just the last year in the wake of the 2017 tax cuts.

Now is the time to keep the progress going. Bringing back sky-high tax rates is a terrible idea, and our past experiment with such high tax rates should remain a relic of the past.

The post Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Wants to Raise Taxes Drastically. Here’s Why It Would Backfire. appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Judge Says Christian Baker Jack Phillips’ Lawsuit Against Civil Rights Officials Can Proceed

Tue, 2019-01-08 13:02

A federal judge in Denver rejected Colorado’s bid to dismiss a lawsuit alleging that state civil rights officials are waging a campaign of harassment against Jack Phillips, the Christian baker at issue in the landmark Masterpiece Cakeshop case.

Three weeks after Phillips prevailed at the Supreme Court, a state anti-discrimination panel issued a new probable cause finding against him, arising from his refusal to create a gender transition cake for a would-be patron called Autumn Scardina. In turn, Phillips’ attorneys charged the panel with acting in bad faith, and asked a federal court to stop the new prosecution.

“Colorado is acting in bad faith and with bias toward Jack,” said Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Jim Campbell, who represents Phillips. “We look forward to moving forward with this lawsuit to ensure that Jack isn’t forced to create custom cakes that express messages in conflict with his faith.”

The state asked U.S. District Judge Wiley Daniel to dismiss the lawsuit on three grounds: First, the state argued that the case should be dismissed because of legal rules that forbid federal courts from intervening in ongoing state court proceedings. Second, Colorado said that the 11th Amendment—which generally forbids lawsuits against state officials—bars Phillips’ suit. Daniel rejected those arguments.

Phillips is also challenging a provision of Colorado law forbidding business owners from posting notices indicating certain patrons will not be served. The state argued that Phillips does not have standing to challenge that law. Daniel disagreed, explaining that provision chills Phillips’ speech and prevents him from engaging in an activity the First Amendment protects.

However, the court dismissed Phillips’ bid to make the individual members of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and its director personally liable for the damages he is seeking. The judge explained that the director and the commissioners are the functional equivalent of prosecutors, who enjoy total immunity from lawsuits when performing their official duties.

Elsewhere in the decision, Daniel said that Phillips has presented evidence of unfair conduct on the commission’s part. The judge noted that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission extended protections to three bakers who declined to produce cakes bearing anti-gay messages, reasoning that those bakers do not have to relay messages with which they disagree.

When Phillips made the same argument, however, the commission still found against him and assessed various penalties.

“This disparate treatment reveals Director Elenis’ and the defendant commissioners’ hostility towards Phillips, which is sufficient to establish they are pursuing the discrimination charges against Phillips in bad faith, motivated by Phillips’ suspect class (his religion),” Daniel wrote.

The Supreme Court found that the commission acted with unwarranted hostility toward Phillips’ Christian religious beliefs in June 2018.

Former President Bill Clinton appointed Daniel to the federal bench in 1995.

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The post Judge Says Christian Baker Jack Phillips’ Lawsuit Against Civil Rights Officials Can Proceed appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Categories: Public Policy

Swing State Governor Aims to Repeal Voter ID Requirement

Tue, 2019-01-08 12:48

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Monday announced proposed legislation to repeal the state’s requirement that voters show photo ID.

“Participation makes our democracy strong—we should encourage every eligible voter to exercise this fundamental right, rather than creating unnecessary barriers that make getting to the ballot box difficult,” Northam, a Democrat, said in a statement.

Delegate Kaye Kory, a sponsor of the measure, said in a statement, “The photo ID requirement prevents the most vulnerable Virginians from voting and silences the voices of those who most need to be heard.”

The proposal would also allow people to vote absentee without providing a reason why they could not make it to the polls.

Democrat Terry McAuliffe beat Republican Ken Cuccinelli for the Virginia governorship in 2013 by only 56,000 votes. In 2014, Democrat Mark Warner squeaked by against Republican Ed Gillespie in a Senate race decided by less than a percentage point, or 18,000 votes. The attorney general’s race came down to a mere 165 votes.

Then, just before the 2016 election, McAuliffe restored the right to vote for 60,000 felons using an unorthodox procedure.

McAuliffe had sought to allow all of Virginia’s estimated 200,000 felons to vote, but state courts said each individual felon’s circumstances must be weighed. To get around that, McAuliffe used a mechanical autopen to rapidly sign at least 60,000 letters as if he had personally reviewed them each.

McAuliffe is a close friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton who managed Hillary Clinton’s 2008 bid for president.

In the next race for governor in 2017, Northam beat Gillespie decisively by 9 percentage points, or 233,000 votes. In the 2016 presidential election, Clinton beat Donald Trump in Virginia 49.7 percent to 44.4 percent.

In the November 2018 elections, Florida voters passed a ballot measure that restored voting rights to the state’s 1.5 million felons.

Florida’s political parties have historically been so evenly matched that multiple statewide races went to recounts in 2018. Florida has a large number of Electoral College votes, and in 2000, the U.S. presidency infamously hung in the balance as Florida conducted a contentious recount.

In California, another novel electoral procedure, called ballot harvesting, decimated the GOP in Southern California.

“California just defies logic to me,” then-House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, said. “We were only down 26 seats the night of the election, and three weeks later, we lost basically every California contested race.”

Ballot harvesting allows groups to send people knocking on doors and eliciting absentee ballots from them, which the groups then collect and submit.

One ballot harvester was recorded saying it’s a “new service” for “like, people who are supporting the Democratic Party.”

Before its passage, a group opposed to the bill wrote that the law enabling ballot harvesting “would allow anybody to walk into an elections office and hand over truckloads of vote by mail envelopes with ballots inside, no questions asked, no verified records kept. It amounts to an open invitation to large-scale vote buying, voter coercion, ‘granny farming,’ and automated forgery.”

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Categories: Public Policy

Ireland’s Proposed Carbon Tax Rebate Is a Feel-Good Band-Aid, Not a Real Solution

Tue, 2019-01-08 03:01

DUBLIN, Ireland—The Irish government is proposing rebates to a carbon tax it recently imposed to households that comply with what it considers “low-carbon lifestyles.” The rebate, according to Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, might be in the form of a check, an increase in welfare benefits, or a tax credit for people who live the way the government thinks they should.

Some believe that if implemented, the rebate could reduce tensions seen in many parts of Europe, but especially in France, where the “yellow vest” movement that began as a protest against President Emmanuel Macron’s big tax increase on gasoline, since rescinded, made a gallon of petrol among the most expensive in Europe with the tax accounting for more than half the cost.

I’m doubtful. People don’t like their governments forcing them to accept a lesser lifestyle because of an ideology some believe has yet to be definitively proved, while the elites continue to live as they like.

So strong is the faith of the climate change cult that McDonald’s, the world’s largest purchaser of beef, is considering “meat alternatives” because of alleged environmental damage from traditional farming methods, according to a story in the Financial Times.

In the United States, Chuck Todd, host of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” resembled the media in totalitarian countries when he announced that henceforth he would not give air time to climate change deniers. Todd says that’s because climate change is “settled science.” The many legitimate scientists with knowledge and experience in climate who disagree are to be isolated in an ideological gulag for not toeing the party line.

Roy Spencer is a meteorologist, a research scientist for the University of Alabama in Huntsville and the U.S. Science Team Leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer on NASA’s Aqua satellite. Writing for the Global Warming Policy Forum, a London-based think tank, Spencer says, “2018 marked the second straight year when global temperatures declined and that last year was the sixth warmest year globally since El Nino peaked in February, 2016.”

Plastics may soon eclipse climate change as the latest “crisis” only government can solve. Here, as well as in other parts of Europe and the U.S., there’s a war on plastic straws. Starbucks plans to stop using plastic straws in all its restaurants, the proposed ban going into effect by 2020. It’ll still use plastic lids, though, because the lids, supposedly, are widely recyclable.

This illustrates the stupidity behind many of these tree-huggers. It’s all about feeling good and “making a difference,” not about truth.

Forty House Democrats and at least three prominent Senate Democrats are backing a “Green New Deal” touted by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., a freshman member of Congress. It would, reports the Washington Examiner, “eliminate virtually all fossil fuels from the electric grid and force everyone in the country to buy from power companies selling only renewable energy.”

In a recent appearance on Fox News Channel, Marc Morano, the creator of Climate Depot, said of the Green New Deal: “We’re going to treat now carbon dioxide a trace essential gas—humans inhale oxygen and we exhale CO2—as somehow akin to the Nazi party and World War II initiative, which is what they are claiming. The Democrats and climate activists want a mobilization like World War II.”

As The Irish Times writes, recent projections by Ireland’s Economic and Social Justice Institute found that the carbon tax would have to increase substantially—from 100 euros per person annually to 1,500 euros if the country is to meet legally binding targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Let’s see how that will go down with the Irish, who have only recently begun to emerge from a long economic recession.

(c) 2019 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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Categories: Public Policy