Why Do We Need A Secure Border?

There are a number of different reasons we need to secure out borders–north, south, east, and west.

The researchers at The Heritage Foundation list a few basic facts about our current border situtation:

  • Over the past two years, roughly 235,000 illegal immigrants were arrested—including roughly 100,000 for assault, 30,000 for sex crimes, and 4,000 for homicides.
  • 300 Americans die of heroin overdoses a week, and 90 percent of that heroin is smuggled through our southern border.
  • Loopholes in our immigration law coupled with our porous border encourages parents to send their children on a dangerous journey to the U.S., often at the hands of threatening human traffickers. 68 percent of migrants are victims of violence along the journey. One in three migrant women are sexually assaulted on the dangerous trek to the border.
  • Securing the border is the first step. We also need rational reforms such as a skills-based migration system and an end to chain migration.

So what is the solution? Below are some of the items President Trump has asked Congress to fund:

  • $5.7 billion for construction of approximately 234 miles of steel barrier along the Southern Border
  • $675 million to deter and detect dangerous materials crossing our borders like narcotics and weapons
  • $563 million that would provide for 75 additional immigration judges and support staff who are necessary to reduce the backlog of immigration cases that are sitting right now at the border
  • $211 million for 750 additional border patrol agents, who DHS officials have deemed paramount to this fight
  • $571 million for additional ICE personnel
  • $4.2 billion for detention center materials and personnel

As a first step to combat this crisis, Congress must pass a spending bill that provides the funding that the President has requested. In addition to obtaining increased border security funding today, we must continue to push for real reforms to our legal immigration system. Necessary reforms include ending chain migration, adopting a skills-based immigration system, and closing loopholes in the asylum claim process.

Securing the border should not be a political issue. It is an issue that impacts all Americans–lower wages for low-skilled workers, drugs smuggled in that have killed countless Americans, increased crime, and an unsustainable burden on those government programs designed to create a safety net for Americans in need. It’s time to seal the border and take care of the needs of Americans among us who are homeless or living in poverty,

Taking Away The Freedoms Guaranteed In Our Constitution

The First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution reads:

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Laws passed by Congress and state legislators are supposed to be in line with the U.S. Constitution. However, there is a bill currently in the House of Representatives that not only undermines the First Amendment, it also cancels out The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. H.R. 5 is a nightmare for those who believe in religious liberty and freedom of religion.

The Heritage Foundation lists seven problems with the bill:

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

2. It would compel speech.

3. It could shut down charities.

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

5. It could be used to coerce medical professionals.

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

7. It would enable sexual assault. 

All of these problems have already arisen. Please follow the link to The Heritage Foundation to view the details.

The Liberty Counsel posted an article on May 10 detailing one major aspect of H.R.5. The article states:

HR 5, in the U.S. House, and S. 788, in the Senate, misnamed the “Equality Act,” takes the unpreceded step of eliminating the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) as a claim or defense to the application of many federal laws. This bill drastically alters religious freedom in all cases, not just those involving LGBT.

For example, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 permits houses of worship to make employment decisions based on religion. This recognizes the essential right for houses of worship to employ those who align with their religious doctrine. The “Equality Act” would abolish this fundamental right. Catholic and Christian churches could be forced to hire atheists. If a synagogue preferred a Jew over a Muslim, it would not be able to raise RFRA as a claim or defense.

RFRA is a federal law that protects religious freedom. Specifically, it “prohibits any agency, department, or official of the United States or any State (the government) from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, except that the government may burden a person’s exercise of religion only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person.” 

However, HR 5 clearly forbids raising RFRA as a claim or defense to the application to the “Equality Act” and many other federal laws that would be amended by this bill.

This “Equality Act” extends the federal protections to include sexual orientation, gender identity, and pregnancy, i.e. abortion. HR 5 applies to employment, housing, rental, public accommodation and more. In addition, the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” will be defined to mean “pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition.” In other words, under the terms of this bill, “pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition… shall not receive less favorable treatment than other physical conditions.” The “Equality Act” also expands the definition of public accommodations to include places or establishments that provide (1) exhibitions, recreation, exercise, amusement, gatherings, or displays; (2) goods, services, or programs; and (3) transportation services.”

After passing the House Judiciary Committee recently, the “Equality Act” will now go to the House next week and then be sent to the Senate, where the bill number is S. 788.

If you value religious freedom in America, please call your Senator and tell them to vote against this bill. It will probably pass in the House of Representatives, but needs to be stopped in the Senate. If you are not a religious person and don’t think this is a problem, remember that if the government can undo religious freedom, it can also undo other freedoms. You might not be impacted this time, but if this bill passes, there will be more to follow.

Poverty In America

Below are the U.S. Health and Human Services Poverty Guidelines:

This is a chart from The Heritage Foundation showing changes in the poverty rate since 1959:

As you can see, the War on Poverty actually slowed down the decrease in the poverty rate that had begun in 1950.

This is a chart from Pew Research showing how the American family has changed:

First of all, living in poverty in America is not the same as living in poverty in any other part of the world.

The Heritage Foundation reports:

Because the official Census poverty report undercounts welfare income, it fails to provide meaningful information about the actual living conditions of less affluent Americans. The government’s own data show that the actual living conditions of the more than 45 million people deemed “poor” by the Census Bureau differ greatly from popular conceptions of poverty.[7] Consider these facts taken from various government reports:[8]

  • Eighty percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, at the beginning of the War on Poverty, only about 12 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.
  • Nearly three-quarters have a car or truck; 31 percent have two or more cars or trucks.[9]
  • Nearly two-thirds have cable or satellite television.
  • Two-thirds have at least one DVD player, and a quarter have two or more.
  • Half have a personal computer; one in seven has two or more computers.
  • More than half of poor families with children have a video game system such as an Xbox or PlayStation.
  • Forty-three percent have Internet access.
  • Forty percent have a wide-screen plasma or LCD TV.
  • A quarter have a digital video recorder system such as a TIVO.
  • Ninety-two percent of poor households have a microwave.

I think it’s time to examine closely the impact of the War on Poverty. One of the differences between business and government is that in business when something doesn’t work, you fix it. In government when something doesn’t work, you simply add more money to it. It is obvious which solution is more effective.

The goal of any poverty program should be to help people develop self-reliance and get out of the poverty program. Obviously that is not happening–we have generations of welfare recipients. Another goal of any poverty program should be to support the family unit. Obviously our current welfare programs do not do that. It’s time to reevaluate and redo our poverty programs–they are breaking the budget and not accomplishing their goals.

In March 2013, The Brookings Institute posted the following three rules to avoid poverty:

First, many poor children come from families that do not give them the kind of support that middle-class children get from their families. Second, as a result, these children enter kindergarten far behind their more advantaged peers and, on average, never catch up and even fall further behind. Third, in addition to the education deficit, poor children are more likely to make bad decisions that lead them to drop out of school, become teen parents, join gangs and break the law.

In addition to the thousands of local and national programs that aim to help young people avoid these life-altering problems, we should figure out more ways to convince young people that their decisions will greatly influence whether they avoid poverty and enter the middle class. Let politicians, schoolteachers and administrators, community leaders, ministers and parents drill into children the message that in a free society, they enter adulthood with three major responsibilities: at least finish high school, get a full-time job and wait until age 21 to get married and have children.

Our research shows that of American adults who followed these three simple rules, only about 2 percent are in poverty and nearly 75 percent have joined the middle class (defined as earning around $55,000 or more per year). There are surely influences other than these principles at play, but following them guides a young adult away from poverty and toward the middle class.

Those three rules should be the foundation of any poverty program.

The Equality Act of 2019

One thing most of us have learned over the years is that the better the name of the bill introduced in Congress sounds, the farther from the truth the title is. We saw that with the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) which should have been named the lose your insurance and your doctor and pay more act.

Last month the Democrats in the U. S. House of Representatives introduced The Equality Act of 2019. It should have been named the anti-free speech and anti-religion act of 2019.

On March 14th, The Heritage Foundation posted an article listing seven reasons why the law would not encourage equality.

The article lists the reasons:

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

We have already seen this attempted in the case of Jack Phillips’ battle with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. He is only one example.

2. It would compel speech.

Both federal and private employers could face costly lawsuits if they fail to implement strict preferred pronoun policies. Employees could be disciplined if they fail to comply, regardless of their scientific or moral objections.

3. It could shut down charities.

Adoption agencies that hold to a Biblical definition of marriage have been shut down because of their beliefs.

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

5. It could be used to coerce medical professionals.

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

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

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

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

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

7. It would enable sexual assault. 

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

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

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

This is not a law that I want to see passed. It does not do anything to promote equality. In fact, it creates the kind of inequality that the ruling class pigs created in George Orwell’s Animal Farm where “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

This Lady Needs To Read American History

The Herald Mail Media reported yesterday that Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, speaking at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, stated the following:

“Capitalism is an ideology of capital — the most important thing is the concentration of capital and to seek and maximize profit,” Ocasio-Cortez said. And that comes at any cost to people and to the environment, she said, “so to me capitalism is irredeemable.”

Although she said she doesn’t think all parts of capitalism should be abandoned, “we’re reckoning with the consequences of putting profit above everything else in society. And what that means is people can’t afford to live. For me, it’s a question of priorities and right now I don’t think our model is sustainable.”

…While America is wealthier than ever, wealth is enjoyed “by fewer than ever,” she said.

“It doesn’t feel good to live in an unequal society,” she said, citing an increase in homelessness in New York City among veterans and the elderly while penthouses sit empty. “It doesn’t feel good to live in a society like that.”

Let’s look at those statements through the lens of American history. In November 2005, the Heritage Foundation published an article about communism in America.

The article included the following notes on American history:

Recalling the story of the Pilgrims is a Thanksgiving tradition, but do you know the real story behind their triumph over hunger and poverty at Plymouth Colony nearly four centuries ago? Their salvation stemmed not so much from the charitable gestures of local Indians, but from their courageous decision to embrace the free-market principle of private property ownership a century and a half before Adam Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations.

Writing in his diary of the dire economic straits and self-destructive behavior that consumed his fellow Puritans shortly after their arrival, Governor William Bradford painted a picture of destitute settlers selling their clothes and bed coverings for food while others “became servants to the Indians,” cutting wood and fetching water in exchange for “a capful of corn.” The most desperate among them starved, with Bradford recounting how one settler, in gathering shellfish along the shore, “was so weak … he stuck fast in the mud and was found dead in the place.”

The colony’s leaders identified the source of their problem as a particularly vile form of what Bradford called “communism.” Property in Plymouth Colony, he observed, was communally owned and cultivated. This system (“taking away of property and bringing [it] into a commonwealth”) bred “confusion and discontent” and “retarded much employment that would have been to [the settlers’] benefit and comfort.”

The most able and fit young men in Plymouth thought it an “injustice” that they were paid the same as those “not able to do a quarter the other could.” Women, meanwhile, viewed the communal chores they were required to perform for others as a form of “slavery.”

On the brink of extermination, the Colony’s leaders changed course and allotted a parcel of land to each settler, hoping the private ownership of farmland would encourage self-sufficiency and lead to the cultivation of more corn and other foodstuffs.

As Adam Smith would have predicted, this new system worked famously. “This had very good success,” Bradford reported, “for it made all hands very industrious.” In fact, “much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been” and productivity increased. “Women,” for example, “went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn.”

The famine that nearly wiped out the Pilgrims in 1623 gave way to a period of agricultural abundance that enabled the Massachusetts settlers to set down permanent roots in the New World, prosper, and play an indispensable role in the ultimate success of the American experiment.

A profoundly religious man, Bradford saw the hand of God in the Pilgrims’ economic recovery. Their success, he observed, “may well evince the vanity of that conceit…that the taking away of property… would make [men] happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God.” Bradford surmised, “God in his wisdom saw another course fitter for them.”

There will always be inequities in wealth. A person who works 12-hour days will generally earn more than a person who works a 6-hour day. People who invent things or have new ideas generally do very well financially. Rewarding innovation provides an incentive for progress. Capitalism (or the free market economy) is not perfect, but it creates fewer problems than any other economic system. Those touting the wonders of socialism need only look at the economic history of Venezuela during the past ten years. Once the wealthiest country in South America, now a place of unspeakable poverty. That is the fruit of socialism or communism.

Representative Ocasio-Cortez, please learn your history.

Consequences Of Good Economic Policy

On Friday, Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial about The Heritage Foundation’s 25th annual “Index of Economic Freedom.”

The editorial reports:

In just one year, the U.S. climbed six places to 12th worldwide on the Heritage Foundation’s 25th annual “Index of Economic Freedom.” The U.S. index score of 76.8 is the highest since 2011, the report says.

Heritage bases its annual rankings on a dozen different measures of economic freedom, such as tax burden, protection of property rights, tax burden trade policies, labor laws, judicial effectiveness.

…In fact, during Obama’s tenure, the U.S. plunged from 6th place down to 18th on the Heritage freedom rank, in the wake of tax hikes and massive new financial, insurance and environmental regulations.

The editorial explains the importance of these ratings:

Why do these rankings matter? As Heritage explains, there’s a clear correlation between economic freedom and prosperity. The freer an economy is, the more prosperous its people.

Heritage finds that in countries consistently rated “free” or “mostly free,” average incomes are twice that of all other countries, and five times that of “repressed” economies.

The most striking example of the connection between freedom and prosperity is Venezuela. One of the wealthiest countries in South America before socialist dictator Hugo Chávez took control, Venezuela is now racked with hyperinflation, starvation, and political chaos.

But you can see the same impact in the U.S. as well.

The editorial concludes:

And the benefits of this growth are widespread. The unemployment rate was just 3.9% at the end of the year. The job market is so vibrant right now that it’s pulling people off the sidelines to look for work. In fact, the number of people who aren’t in the labor force actually declined last year. That hasn’t happened since 1996 — which was in the middle of the Clinton boom. Wage growth is accelerating, and median household incomes are at record highs.

The freedom index is a powerful reminder that while redistributionist policies — like those currently in favor among Democrats — might be emotionally satisfying, they won’t grow the economy or boost prosperity.

It will be interesting where our rating is next year in view of the fact that the Democrats now control the House of Representatives.

A Relevant Political Strategy?

Every Friday I have a brief conversation with Lockwood Phillips that airs on 107.1 WTKF some time between 6 and 7 pm. This week we talked about the Cloward-Piven political strategy. This strategy was developed by Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven at Columbia University in May 1966. A description of the strategy was posted in the magazine “The Nation” with the title, “The weight of the poor: A strategy to end poverty.” I think ending poverty is a wonderful idea, although I don’t think it is possible. Deuteronomy 15:11 says, “There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.” If you believe the Bible, we will always have poor people; it is our responsibility to treat them kindly and help them–not enable them to stay in poverty.

So what is the Cloward-Piven strategy to end poverty? It is a political plan to overload the U.S. public welfare system so that it collapses and then replace it with a system that provides a guaranteed annual income for everyone. Theoretically this will end poverty. Some of the people who have espoused this strategy are Bill Ayers, Saul Alinsky, Bernadine Dohrn, Frank Marshall Davis, and George Soros. Many of these people were very instrumental in the political career of former President Barack Obama.

So let’s look at where our welfare system is now (the figures below are from 2015):

  • Roughly $1 trillion annually is given to more than 107 million Americans who receive some type of government benefits–not including Social Security, Medicare or unemployment
  • Before President Obama took office there were 26 million recipients of food stamps. In 2015, there were 47 million. The number peaked in 2013, at 47.6 million. In July 2017, the number was 42.6. Economic policies make a difference.

In 2012, Forbes posted the following about President Obama’s welfare society:

  • An increase of 18 million people, to 46 million Americans now receiving food stamps;
  • A 122 percent increase in food-stamp spending to an estimated $89 billion this year from $40 billion in 2008;
  • An increase of 3.6 million people receiving Social Security disability payments;
  • A 10 million person increase in the number of individuals receiving welfare, to 107 million, or more than one-third of the U.S. population;
  •  A 34 percent, $683 billion reduction in the adjusted gross income of the top 1 percent to $1.3 trillion in 2009 (latest data) from its 2007 peak.

And let’s not forget new entitlements like Obamacare, which will result in government expansion and expenditures by 2022 to the tune of:

  • Federal expenditures on Obamacare will total $2.3 trillion, a $1.4 trillion increase from the program’s initial estimates;
  • The combination of budget cuts and sequestration will reduce defense spending by $1 trillion, while total government spending will increase by $1.1 trillion;
  • Taxes will be increased by $1.8 trillion;
  • Yet, the national debt will increase by another $11 trillion.

The Heritage Foundation summarized well: “In 1964, programs for the poor consumed 1.2 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). Today, spending on welfare programs is 13 times greater than it was in 1964 and consumes over 5 percent of GDP. Spending per poor person in 2008 amounted to around $16,800 in programmatic benefits.”

How will illegal immigration impact these numbers? What is the current financial situation of California? Do we want the financial situation in California to become the financial situation of America?

There are people in our government working behind the scenes to implement the Cloward-Piven strategy. The honestly believe that taking money from the people who earn it and giving it to the people who did not will end poverty. Most of the people working toward this goal are quite well off and somehow figure that their wealth will not be impacted. I guess if they succeed and are in control, it is possible that their wealth will not be impacted. Good luck to the rest of us.

 

How Much Does It Cost?

Charity is a wonderful thing when it is voluntary–not so much when it is coerced. Yesterday The Washington Examiner posted an article that illustrates how charity can be coerced.

The article reports:

Amnesty for illegal immigrants like a program proposed by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton would require an immediate tax hike of $1.2 trillion, a $15,000 hit on every household in America, according to a new analysis of immigration reform.

…”The findings in the report indicate that if amnesty for illegal immigrants were enacted, the government would have to raise taxes immediately by $1.29 trillion and put that sum into a high-yield bank account to cover future fiscal losses generated by the amnesty recipients and their children,” said Robert Rector, Heritage’s senior domestic research fellow.

“To cover the future cost, each U.S. household currently paying federal income tax would have to pay, on average, an immediate lump sum of over $15,000,” he added.

So why is the Democratic Party so intent on amnesty? There are a number of reasons. The most obvious is to create an underclass of Democratic voters. The demographics of the Democratic voter have changed in recent years as the party has moved dramatically to the left. People in the working middle class are no longer willing to blindly follow the Democrats–they have watched Democratic politicians take bigger and bigger chunks of money out of their paychecks to support social programs that do not reduce poverty and do destroy families. The legalization of unskilled illegal aliens would create a permanent underclass to replace the middle class voters.

But there is also another reason. Our politicians in Washington have not always represented us well. They have avoided the hard decisions in order to be re-elected. One of those hard decisions is the reform of Social Security, which is rapidly going bankrupt. One reason for that bankruptcy is the lack of new workers coming into the workforce to support the payments to retirees. One of the reasons for the lack of new workers is the number of babies that have been aborted since 1973. According to the Guttmacher Institute, more than one million babies have been aborted every year since 1975. Some years the number has been as high as 1,500,000, some years it has been about 1,000,000. These are workers who would have been entering the workforce over the past twenty years that would have kept Social Security solvent. An influx of workers that were formerly under the table would fund Social Security for a few more years. By the time the new workers retire, the current members of Congress may no longer be in Washington to be held accountable. Congress would rather kick the can down the road than solve the Social Security funding problem. Amnesty is one way to do that.

Hiring The Best Talent

Newsmax reported yesterday that Presidential candidate Ted Cruz has chosen his national security team. The team includes former Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams, former Missouri Sen. Jim Talent and former U.S. Attorney Andrew McCarthy.

The article lists other members of the team:

  • Stewart Baker, former assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Health and Human Serves and general counsel of the National Security Agency.
  • Ilan Berman, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council.
  • Retired Army Lt. General William Boykin, executive vice president of the Family Research Council.
  • Fred Fleitz, a former Central Intelligence Agency analyst.
  • Randy Fort, who has served in senior intelligence positions in the Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush administrations.
  • Frank Gaffney Jr., president and CEO of the Center for Security Policy.
  • Nile Gardiner, a former aide to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
  • Mike Gonzalez, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation.
  • Katharine Gorka, president of the Council on Global Security.
  • Steven Groves, a senior research Fellow at the Heritage Foundation.
  • Mary Habeck, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
  • Kristofer Harrison, a co-founder of the China Beige Book who once served in the George W. Bush White House.
  • Jerry Hendrix, a retired Navy captain.
  • Michael Ledeen, an author who serves at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.
  • Clare Lopez, a vice president at the Center for Security Policy.
  • Robert O’Brien, a partner at the Larson O’Brien LLP law firm in Los Angeles.
  • Michael Pillsbury, who was a Reagan campaign advisor in 1980.
  • Charles Stimson, the senior legal fellow and manager of National Security Law Program at the Heritage Foundation.
  • Daniel Vajdich, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council.
  • Christian Whiton, a former State Department senior advisor in the Bush administration.

There are a few of these team members I have personally met, and I am totally impressed by this team. I am impressed by the fact that this team is knowledgeable and pro-Israel. The relationship between America and Israel has been strained under President Obama, and I believe this team will work to repair that relationship. I am also impressed with the inclusion of Frank Gaffney, Jr., Clare Lopez, and Retired Army Lt. General William Boykin in this team. All of them are well-versed on the Middle East and the threat of radical Islam. This national security team would do an excellent job of handling threats to America. They are all amazing people.

A Federal Appeals Court Rules On Subsidies

NBC News is reporting today that a Federal Appeals Court in Washington, D. C., has ruled that  that the Patient Protection and  Affordable Care Act, (ObamaCare), as written, only allows insurance subsidies in states that have set up their own exchanges. This ruling invalidated an Internal Revenue Service regulation that allowed subsidies in all 50 states. Thirty-six states did not set up the exchanges required by ObamaCare, so the federal government set up exchanges in those states. The court ruled that the federal government may not pay subsidies for insurance plans in those states.

The article reports:

Today’s decision reaffirms that the administration cannot rewrite the health law that was passed and it stops the Internal Revenue Service from doing the same,” said Andrew Kloster of the conservative Heritage Foundation. “The statute is clear in the Affordable Care Act that the subsidies are to be directed only to states that elected to set up insurance exchanges.”

This is actually the problem with the law–it has been rewritten as we go along. Mandates have been postponed, the stay-in-your-home provision for the elderly has been dropped altogether, and exemptions have been handed out left and right. It will be interesting to see if another Executive Order promptly makes its appearance.

One of the effects of ObamaCare (intended or otherwise) is the redistribution of wealth–it takes affordable healthcare away from those who already had insurance–some rates have gone up as much as $7,000 or $8,000 per year for people not eligible for subsidies, and provides subsidies for people with lower incomes (without demanding income verification). In one state, people whose incomes were well above the poverty level were eligible for subsidies, but one wonders if those subsidies will decrease after ObamaCare is fully operational.

It will be interesting to see if this decision stands–it will wind up in the Supreme Court.

 

The Obama Administration Is Working Hard To Redistribute What Hard-Working People Have Earned

The Daily Signal (a website of the Heritage Foundation) posted a story today about President Obama’s latest memorandum. The memorandum bypasses Congress and expands an existing federal loan option available to undergrad and graduate students.

The article reports:

For those working in public service or the government, any remaining debt is forgiven after 10 years. An estimated 5 million more borrowers will become eligible under the new plan. Before today, only those who took out loans after 2007 were entitled to “Pay as You Earn” benefits.

To finance the program, Obama proposed closing “tax loopholes” for the wealthy, or what he called “millionaires.”

“This should be a no-brainer,” he said today at the White House. “It would be scandalous if we allowed those kinds of tax loopholes for the very, very fortunate to survive while students are having trouble just getting started in their lives.”

The chart below was found as a result of a google search:

The fact that students are going in debt for their education has a number of causes. Since the 1990’s, college tuition has increased exponentially. Some of the degrees students are graduating with have little or no value in the workplace. Parents of students have not been encouraged to send their children to community colleges for their first two years of school in order to keep the costs reasonable. The students have no sense of the amount of money they are borrowing, and the colleges have no reason to control their expenses. As long as the government subsidizes the loans and forgives them, there is no reason for anyone involved to act responsibly. That is what happens when wealth is redistributed–the rich do not work as hard, and the people receiving the money do not learn responsibility–they learn a sense of entitlement.

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Energy Policy From Someone Who Doesn’t Understand Economics

Just for the record–I do not support dirty air or dirty water. I simply believe that extreme environmental policy does little to help the environment and a lot to damage the economy. Considering the fact that the American Gross Domestic Product went down in the first quarter of this year, now is not the time to take any action that will have a negative impact on the American economy. Evidently our President does not share that belief.

On Wednesday the Los Angeles Times reported that the U. S. Chamber of Commerce is warning that President Obama’s proposed environmental policies could cost the economy tens of billions of dollars in lost investment and millions of jobs.

The article reports:

Although the size of the proposed reduction has yet to be announced, the chamber’s report estimated that such a rule could result in an average annual drop of $51 billion in economic output and 224,000 fewer jobs every year through 2030, with the Southeast feeling the biggest pinch.

The chamber said the numbers were based on modeling from the economic research firm IHS, using assumptions that the regulation would set a 42% reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions by 2030 from 2005 levels — an aggressive percentage that is close to a target previously cited by President Obama.

Today the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel posted an article on the impact of the environmental policies announced by President Obama.

Here is a list of some of the consequences:

For example, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently released a study showing that the rule will cost consumers in our region $3.3 billion per year in higher electricity prices.

Another study done by NERA Economic Consultants predicted the rule will cost consumers between $13 billion and $17 billion per year. Yet another study released by the Heritage Foundation predicts the rule will cost a family of four $1,200 per year by 2023.

The article also points out the questionable impact of these changes on the environment:

The rule is expected to reduce carbon dioxide levels in the U.S. by 970 million tons by 2030. Although that sounds like a lot, it is essentially meaningless in the global scale of things.

While the EPA has us busy destroying jobs and our economy in the name of global warming orthodoxy, the rest of the world will increase carbon emissions by 4.7 billion tons over the same time period.

For those keeping score, that means other countries will collectively increase carbon emissions by 6 tons for every ton reduced by Americans under the EPA rule. So much for saving the planet.

The EPA’s new global warming rule is a lose-lose proposition for energy consumers and workers. It represents the worst kind of regulation in that it has enormous and painful costs and essentially no benefit.

We really need an administration that considers the impact of its actions on the average American. This legislation is not good for everyday Americans working hard to support their families.

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Blocking American Prosperity

There is a strong entrepreneurial spirit in America. Sometimes that spirit gets a little overzealous, as in the tech boom of the nineties, but generally speaking, that is the spirit that drives the American economy. One reason for the slow recovery from the financial crisis of 2008 is that the entrepreneurial spirit is being blocked by the government.

On May 7, The Heritage Foundation posted an article on the development of American oil resources.

The article reports:

Production of crude oil in the United States is up to 8.36 million barrels per day—the highest since January 1988. The increased supply of oil has widespread economic benefits, but a new Congressional Research Service report shows that when the numbers are broken down by ownership it becomes clear that the situation could be even better. Although oil production overall has almost doubled in less than six years, production continues to fall on federally owned land areas.

The article included the following chart:

At the present moment, the federal government is subsidizing ‘green’ energy before the technology is workable and blocking the development of America’s own fossil fuel resources. The development of America’s oil resources is a national security issue as well as an economic issue. How would American diplomacy change if we were not dependent of Venezuela and the Middle East for our energy needs?

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Let The Purge Begin

Now that Donald Sterling has been banned from the NBA for life due to racist remarks, it’s time to take a look at other remarks made by owners of NBA teams, right? Unfortunately, yes.

Breitbart.com posted an article yesterday about the slippery slope we are on.

The article reports:

Sports writer Charles Pierce wondered on PBS “what does [NBA Commissioner] Adam Silver now do, for example, with the DeVos family in Orlando, which funds anti-gay candidates and anti-gay issue ads all over the country, as well as owning the Orlando Magic? Does he talk to them? This is an entirely new world, and if we’re going to step into it, let’s step all the way into it.”

It’s surely a new world—a Brave New World, and 1984 and Fahrenheit 451, too.

DeVos, the co-founder of Amway, has donated to Focus on the Family, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and other traditionalist groups. He also has generously supported measures aimed at maintaining marriage as a one-man, one-woman institution, calling “respecting marriage” a “sacred issue.” This outrages SportsGrid writer Jake O’Donnell, who wonders whether holding this opinion—codified into law by the majority of states—should be grounds for disqualification in the NBA’s club of owners. “Hey, this isn’t nearly the same thing as Donald Sterling’s recorded hate-rant,” he concedes. “It is, however, food for thought when discussing the NBA as a place for everyone, vis-a-vis the opinions held by the owners.”

We are entering a world where remarks made to your girlfriend in an argument can cost you your job. We saw with Mozilla that past contributions to a politically incorrect cause can cost you your job. This is not freedom–it is fascism. It will be interesting to see where this goes.

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What Are We Telling Our Graduates?

Heritage.org posted an article today about the difference in numbers between conservative and liberal graduation speakers. They also looked at the statistics on Democrat and Republican speakers.

The article reports:

Democratic governors set to speak outnumber Republican ones by a ratio of 11-6, reports Campus Reform’s editor in chief, Caleb Bonham, while Democratic senators overshadow Republican  senators by a 9-4 ratio.

The most heavily weighted group of invited speakers? Liberal political appointees and operatives are 21-5 over conservative counterparts.

…“The bullies’ vision of America is alarming to behold, with the values of peaceful coexistence turned on their head,” Jennifer A. Marshall, director of domestic policy studies at The Heritage Foundation, wrote recently for The Foundry in a piece about the growing intolerance of the Left.”

What is the message that we are sending our young adults?

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Hiding Tax Money Outside The Budget

The Heritage Foundation posted an article today about government-sponsored entities (GSEs). These organizations have an off-budget status (excludes them from federal budget rules and processes) which hides their real cost to taxpayers.

The article cites the example of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae:

The Treasury is keeping Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the taxpayer-backed loan guarantee giants, off the federal budget.

How is this possible?

In 2008, the government took control of Fannie and Freddie and agreed to shield the entities from bankruptcy. Now that the country has recovered from that housing crisis, and money is coming back in through these government-sponsored entities (GSEs), their true cost remains hidden.

…It’s jaw-dropping that such massive flows of taxpayer money could be kept outside the federal budget. And as you can imagine, keeping that cash off the books distorts the overall budget picture.

Just for a start, the housing entities’ “profits paid to the Treasury in 2013 alone have resulted in federal spending and deficits being underreported by more than $100 billion,” says Boccia, the Grover M. Hermann Fellow.

This affects public perception of the deficit—and even lawmakers’ perceptions as they make plans to spend more in the coming year’s budget.

The obvious solution to this is to eliminate GSEs. They have become another way that Washington can control more taxpayer money without being held accountable.

There will be an election in November. All of the House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate will be up for re-election. Unless we elect people who will actually represent us and not become part of the Beltway establishment, we will be watching America descend into bankruptcy.

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Learning From Indiana

In most states, Common Core is coming to a school near you. I have been involved in movements trying to stop Common Core in two states. I believe the program is not good for America–it doesn’t allow individual communities, schools, and teachers the flexibility to teach the children in the communities effectively. I strongly object to the idea of curriculum and testing being controlled by Washington rather than individual communities.

The Heritage Foundation posted an article on what is happening with Common Core in Indiana. The article states:

Common Core began as a broad reform, dreamed up by the bipartisan National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, to provide a high-quality base of academic standards that any state in the country could choose to use. In 2010, Indiana became one of the first states to adopt the standards. By June 2012, 45 states, plus the District of Columbia, also began the implementation process.

Common Core already is woven into the fabric of American education. And where the words “Common Core” appear, protests are not far behind.

The article quotes one parent’s response to Common Core. This response totally sums up the problem:

“When parents still weren’t buying what [the publisher’s representative] was selling, our principal in frustration threw up his hands and said, ‘Look, I know parents don’t like this type of math because none of us were taught this way, but we have to teach it this way because this is how it’s going to be on the new [standardized] assessment. And that was the moment when I realized control of what was being taught in my child’s classroom  —  in a parochial Catholic school  —  had not only left the building, it had left the state of Indiana. And to me, that was a frightening thought.”

The complexity of the way mathematics is taught to first, second and third graders is unnecessary and confusing to many of the students. Problems that parents can easily do in two or three steps now take as many as fifty steps.

The article at Heritage reports that Indiana has put Common Core on hold until further investigation is completed:

“By pausing implementation, Indiana wanted to assess the cost to taxpayers and the quality of the standards – something every state that adopted the standards should have done prior to adoption,” says Lindsey M. Burke, The Heritage Foundation’s Will Skillman fellow in education. “While it’s still unclear exactly what the long-term outcome will be in Indiana, the Hoosier State provided a blueprint for other states that are interested in putting implementation on hold.”

The article reports some of the efforts to stop Common Core:

Angela Davidson Weinzinger founded the Facebook group Parents and Educators Against Common Core Standards in early 2013 and saw membership jump to thousands by that summer. She was taken by surprise by the Common Core standards in California, where she is a school board member in the Travis Unified District.

“When people first join the [Facebook] group, it’s usually because they’ve noticed the homework coming home with their kids,” Weinzinger says. She encourages new members to read information shared on the Facebook page, then contact their local representatives. “Common Core can’t be fought on a national level at this point. It has to be done in your states,” she tells people.

There will be a hearing in Raleigh on March 20 on Common Core. If you have children in school in North Carolina, you need to be there to fight for your children’s education.

Please follow the link above to read the entire article. When you know what is in Common Core, you will want to stop it.

 

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Another Fiction-Based Policy Brought To You By The Obama Administration

The Daily Caller today is reporting that the policies that are part of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ‘s plan to fight global warming will cost the economy $2.23 trillion. The debate over global warming continues, but so does the runaway cost of fighting it–courtesy of the EPA.

The article reports:

“Higher energy prices as a result of the regulations will squeeze both production and consumption. Since energy is a critical input for most goods and services, Americans will be hit repeatedly with higher prices as businesses pass higher costs onto consumers,” writes Nick Loris, a Heritage Foundation economist and co-author of the report.

“However, if a company had to absorb the costs, high energy costs would shrink profit margins and prevent businesses from investing and expanding,” Loris adds. “The cutbacks result in less output, fewer new jobs, and less income.

Let’s wait until we are sure the problem actually exists before we throw tons of money at it.

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Who Do Your Children Belong To?

The Heritage Foundation posted an article today pointing out that because parents are become more aware of what the program is, many states are renaming the Common Core program in order to sneak it past the parents. The curriculum is unacceptable to parents for a variety of reasons.

The article reports:

The Common Core State Standards Initiative, as it is officially known, began in earnest in early 2009. The National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers drafted the standards, but the effort quickly became a Washington-centric one. To induce states to adopt the standards, the federal government:

  • Offered more than $4.35 billion in Race to the Top grants.
  • Directly financed the two national testing consortia developing the assessments to test whether students learn according to the standards.
  • Have offered waivers to states from the onerous provisions of No Child Left Behind in exchange for common standards adoption.
  • Have created a technical review panel for the tests housed at the U.S. Department of Education.

Parents recognize that Common Core national standards and tests will require them to relinquish one of their most powerful tools to effect school improvement: control of academic content, standards, and testing through their state and local policymakers. Parents recognize that Common Core takes their seats at the table, further removing them from the decision-making process in favor of decisions being centrally made by national organizations and Washington bureaucrats.

The last thing this country needs is Washington bureaucrats messing up children’s education.

The article quotes a very troubling statement:

“The children belong to all of us,” former Massachusetts Education Secretary Paul Reville recently stated. Likewise, according to MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry, “We have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families and recognize that kids belong to whole communities.” Wrong.

Part of the problem with the education our children are currently receiving is that  the involvement of parents in our schools has decreased greatly because of the need for two wage earners in families. Common Core will totally freeze parents out of all decision processes concerning educational standards for their children–these will now be standards set by the federal government that have no room for individuality.

Common Core needs to be replaced by a plan that allows states and communities to set educational standards that fit their communities. In education, one size does not fit all.

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Flawed Logic Coming From The White House

Today’s Washington Examiner is quoting President Obama as stating that the stimulus “actually worked, despite what everybody claimed.”

The article reports:

Speaking from the Union Depot in St. Paul, Minn., the president cited the station, which had been refurbished and improved thanks to TIGER grants from the stimulus, as an example of successful spending to improve infrastructure and create jobs.

I am glad that Union Depot was refurbished, but I do have a basic problem with the President’s logic.

Yesterday the Heritage Foundation posted an article examining the actual impact of the 2009 stimulus package. The article explains the flawed logic in the claims that the stimulus package of 2009 actually improved the American economy.

The article at Heritage Foundation reports:

cbostimulus1cbostimulus2

President Obama is now stating that since the first stimulus was a success, we should have another one.

The article at the Washington Examiner states:

The president said his own forthcoming budget proposal would request over $300 billion in new infrastructure spending.

“While Congress decides what it’s going to do, I’m going to do what I can to create more good jobs,” Obama added.

The president warned that if Congress failed to pass transportation funding by the end of the summer, projects across the country would grind to a halt, costing workers their jobs.

The American workforce as a percentage of American workers is at an all time low. Unemployment has dropped because people who are no longer seeking employment are not counted in the statistics. Our true unemployment number is probably above 9 percent. I think the policies of President Obama have cost enough Americans their jobs despite his claims to the contrary. I hope Congress will stand up to the President and demand at least some degree of fiscal responsibility.

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Congress Isn’t The Only Branch Of Government That Has Mastered The Art Of Kicking The Can Down The Road

As of February 10, 2014, there have been 35 changes to ObamaCare according to the Galen Institute. Those changes include 18 by executive action, 15 by Congress, signed by President Obama, and 2 changes made by the Supreme Court.

The most recent change to ObamaCare is a delay of the employer mandate requiring companies to provide insurance for full-time employees. The Galen Institute reports that the latest change postpones enforcement of the requirement for medium-size employers until 2016 and relaxes some requirements for larger employers. Businesses with 100 or more employees must offer coverage to 70% of their full-time employees in 2015 and 95% in 2016 and beyond.

On Tuesday, The Heritage Foundation posted an article explaining why these changes are important.

The Heritage Foundation explains the problem in one sentence:

Congress included a mandate when it passed the law. Obama signed that law. So (unless lawmakers repeal it, and of course they should) the mandate should take effect, even if that causes the entire law to collapse like a burning firework factory.

Yesterday Michael Barone posted an article at the Washington Examiner which asked two questions about the changes made to ObamaCare.

The two questions are:

The first question is: Are employers’ legal counsel advising that those provisions might be enforced, retroactively, at some later date? After all, the provisions remain on the books. If this administration or a later one decides that, say, the employer mandate should be enforced as written, does the employer have to pay up?

My second question is: What would stop a future administration from following Obama’s precedent and declaring that it would not enforce other provisions in tax laws?

Those members of Congress who are not speaking out against the executive overreach that is currently happening might want to consider how they would react if it were being done by an administration they did not agree with.

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Why Leadership Matters

Yesterday Hot Air posted an article about the loss of economic freedom in America.

The article reports:

For going on 20 years now, the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal have been putting together an annual Index of Economic Freedom by evaluating countries the world over based on ten criteria along the lines of property rights, government spending, freedom from corruption, trade freedom, and the like. They released the 2014 edition of their annaul Index today, and here’s the good news: Worldwide economic freedom has reached record levels, huzzah! The various governments of 114 countries took steps in 2013 that increased their citizens’ economic freedom, and 43 countries all over the world have now reached their highest ranking in the Index’s history. Awesome, right?

But, here’s the bad news: The United States is no longer among the relative elite of these economically free nations. Oof.

What happened? The article points out that a tax rate exceeding 43% cannot even keep pace with the government’s runaway spending. The article also cites the problem of over-regulation by the government which impacts economic and personal freedom.

The article concludes:

As I mentioned earlier today, the Obama administration is currently prepping for the president’s fifth State of the Union address by touting all the sweet executive actions they’ve freshly come up with to spur along the economy should Congress fail to act on their legislative proposals. Yet again, however, the Obama administration’s ideas all seem to center around ways to spend more taxpayer money, increase top-down federal intervention, and layer the regulations on even more thickly — i.e., take our economic freedom even further down the drain — and their only regret seems to be that this spitefully obstructionist ‘Republican’ Congress of ours hasn’t permitted them to do even more of the same.

Leadership matters.

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Misplaced Priorities

In an article posted yesterday about the omnibus spending bill currently making its way through Congress, John Hinderaker at Power Line concluded:

One wonders, too: why do the Democrats even bother to screw veterans when the dollars involved are such small potatoes? Certainly not because they suddenly had a twinge of fiscal conscience. I think there is only one plausible explanation. The Democrats’ desire to stick it to veterans is much like their insistence on using Obamacare to force religious institutions to violate their beliefs. It is totally unnecessary; in practical terms, there is hardly anything in it for the Democrats. But in both cases, it is the principle that matters: the Democrats want to rub the noses of religious people and veterans in the fact that the Left is in the saddle. It is a raw exercise of power, of the sort that tyrants of all eras would appreciate. Not just opposition, but potential opposition must be stamped out.

So I understand why Democrats would vote for a bill they haven’t read, which cuts nothing except long-promised veterans’ benefits. But–I repeat–why on Earth would any Republican vote for it?

The Heritage Foundation posted a list of some of the pork-barrel spending in the bill on Monday. Included in the list are such things as:

Diesel Emissions Reduction Act grants, a program which should instead have been discontinued. DERA grants have been used to pay for new or retrofitted tractors and cherry pickers in Utah ($750,000), electrified parking spaces at a Delaware truck stop ($1 million), a new engine and generators for a 1950s locomotive in Pennsylvania ($1.2 million), school buses in San Diego County ($1.6 million), and new equipment engines for farmers in the San Joaquin Valley ($1.6 million).

This programs allows federal tax payers in some states to pay for pet projects in other states, rather than having private industry, local governments or state governments pay for these projects. Massachusetts took advantage of this idea years ago when the rest of the country paid for the Big Dig.

The omnibus continues to entangle taxpayer funding with an organization that reportedly has ties to China’s coercive family planning regime. The bill appropriates $35 million for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Despite continued assertions that UNFPA has been involved in China’s coercive one-child policy, the U.S. government persists in sending tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to an organization allegedly complicit in forced abortions and involuntary sterilizations. Congress should eliminate all U.S. contributions to UNFPA as long as the organization persists in working with the Chinese family planning administration.

…By continuing to fund implementation of Obamacare, the omnibus bill would continue to entangle taxpayer dollars in abortion coverage. Taxpayers will foot the bill for federal subsidies for the purchase of health plans on the Obamacare exchanges that went live online Oct. 1, and some of those plans could cover elective abortion. This flood of new funding could significantly increase the number of abortions covered by taxpayer-subsidized plans.

…Instead of cutting transportation spending in the FY 2014 omnibus, lawmakers have doubled down on spending on federal programs—many of which are outdated, duplicative, or outside of the federal government’s responsibility. The Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants are one such program, and lawmakers have awarded it whopping $600 million—up $125 million from FY 2013. Begun in the 2009 stimulus bill to generate economic recovery, this grant program has been reincarnated in fiscal years 2010 through 2013, for a total of five rounds grants. This even though President Obama said, “The private sector is doing fine,” in June 2012 (about when $500 million in FY12 TIGER grants were announced) and continues to assert that the economy is doing well.

The article at Heritage continues with a long list of pork-barrel spending in the omnibus spending bill. Although major spending cuts are needed to the pork-barrel spending, the only spending cuts in the bill are to the retirement benefits of our military. Any member of Congress should be made to understand that if he supports the cuts to military retirement benefits he will be voted out of office.

 

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If You Don’t Understand The Problem, Your Solution Won’t Solve It

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line posted an article yesterday about the new Dodd-Frank rules regarding mortgages that will go into effect on January 10.

The article points out that because Congress chose to ignore the actual cause of the problem, the new rules will not solve the problem. The article cites comments by Diane Katz of the Heritage Foundation.

The article reports:

As Katz points out, Washington’s response to the financial crisis of 2008 rests on the premise that the housing bubble and subsequent crash were the fault of unscrupulous mortgage lenders who took advantage of naive, uninformed consumers. In reality, she says, “lenders and borrowers were responding rationally to incentives created by an array of deeply flawed government policies.”

What were these policies? Primarily, (1) artificially low interest rates set by the Federal Reserve, (2) the massive subsidy of risky loans by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, (3) and the low-income lending quotas set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Rather than admit that the government was a major part of the problem, Congress simply directed the focus elsewhere, passed laws that will not address the problem, and continued on its way.

The article reports:

At the heart of the new regulation is a requirement that lenders ensure that borrowers have the “ability to repay” a mortgage. Borrowers will now have the right to sue lenders for misjudging their financial fitness. Borrowers may also assert a violation of the ability-to-repay requirement as a defense against foreclosure, even if the original lender has sold the mortgage or assigned it to a servicing firm.

The impact of this new scheme is obvious. As Katz says, it “will raise the costs and risks of mortgage lending” and thereby result in less credit availability.

I wonder if you lie about your income on your mortgage application if you still have the right to sue.

Diane Katz sums up the problem:

The 3,500 pages of new mortgage regulation will not guarantee that a housing bubble and collapse will not happen again. Nor can such inflexible standards possibly keep pace with the constant changes in market conditions. But it will constrain the availability of credit and increase the costs. Such a regime eviscerates the fundamental principles of a mortgage “market,” thereby punishing consumers more than protecting them.

The federal government gets more power to regulate and the American people pay the price.

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Your Tax Dollars At Work

Below are some of the provisions in the current farm bill being debated on by the House and the Senate. Are these really things we need to do when we are currently more than $17 trillion in debt?

Some highlights:

…provide for “Economic Adjustment Assistance” that would pay domestic manufacturers of cotton products $66 for each ton they use of “upland cotton”—the most common type of the fiber grown in the United States

…grants have included $1,055,996 to the Unison Resource Company, San Francisco Carbon collaborative, and EcoAnalytics to prevent global warming by reducing intestinal methane emissions from cattle

…transforming goat manure into “biochar” (a.k.a. charcoal) to mitigate global warming. Said biochar is buried to eliminate the greenhouse gas emissions that would otherwise occur from the natural degradation of goat manure

…a tax of 15 cents per (Christmas) tree on sellers to support a marketing program for enhancing the image of the industry

…$100 million and the House $225 million for the “Rural Energy for America” program. Recipients have included the Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center in Patagonia, Arizona, which was awarded $45,263 to install a solar energy system. The center is dedicated to “whole-person enlightenment” under the direction of an ordained rabbi, “acknowledged” yogi, and four-year Native American Sundancer. (Just FYI: The body-cleansing regimen starts at $3,159.)

…subsidies for “Access to Broadband Telecommunications Services in Rural Areas.” The Senate would double the current spending—to $250 million—and include subsidies for “ultra-high speed broadband.” The House proposes to maintain spending at $125 million

Just as some of the smart phone commercials used to say, “There’s an app for that,” Americans can say in almost any case, “There’s a government program for that.” I don’t think that is a good thing.

 

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