When Perspective Is Missing

All of us have our sensitive spots. Sometimes we react to comments we find offensive that were not meant to be offensive at all. Sometimes we read meanings that were never intended into things based on our own experience. Some recent local events illustrate that point.

A local weekly newspaper called The County Compass (which I would consider a conservative news outlet) publishes a page written by members of the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association (CCTA). The CCTA is composed of ordinary citizens who are concerned about the rapid growth of government and increase in taxes in recent years. Members attend local board meetings of various kinds and attempt to hold our elected officials accountable. They also post vetting reports of candidates on their website during elections to provide voters with information. The group is made of up people of all ages from different professional backgrounds and personal experiences. Recently the CCTA page dealt with the issue of bringing those to justice who have engaged in a soft coup attempt to undo the 2016 election. The writer of the article stated that she hoped those guilty would be held accountable for their violations of the civil rights of Americans and their attempted coup. At the top of the article was a picture of a noose, which to many Americans represents an old fashioned concept of justice. Unfortunately, for some people a noose, even in a totally non-racial context, represents racism. The professionally outraged saw the picture and swung into action.

A local young black woman chose to post that graphic on her Facebook page with a remark about the paper’s being racist for having published it; she chose to disregard the subject matter of the article entirely; therefore, her post was completely out of context.

The NAACP got involved, and a local TV station interviewed Jeff Aydelette, the publisher of The County Compass, and the NAACP on the subject.  Then this past Wednesday, about 120 members of the NAACP staged a protest rally outside the offices of the Compass.  Jeff offered them chairs, went around and shook hands, and behaved in his usual gentlemanly way.  Again, a report was featured on local TV.

Now The County Compass is getting calls from advertisers who are cancelling their ads.  They are saying that the NAACP is telling them that their businesses will be boycotted if they continue to advertise in the Compass.

Although I am willing to concede that the picture may represent different things to different people, I think it needs to be viewed in context. I believe that this protest is simply an effort by the political left and its allies to shut down a conservative news outlet. This should be a wake-up call to all Americans who value free speech and freedom of the press that our First Amendment rights are under attack.

 

Do We Really Want To Give Power To These People?

Yesterday The Hill posted an article with the following headline, “Democrats vow to repeal tax reform, putting taxes in focus for 2020.” Why? Federal tax revenue has increased, and the economy is doing very well, why would you want to mess with success? Because you can’t let President Trump succeed at anything. And if the American people figure out that lower taxes are better than higher taxes, Washington will lose its stranglehold on the American taxpayer.

The article reports:

Former Vice President Joe Biden made it clear: “First thing I’d do is repeal those Trump tax cuts.” Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) seconded the motion, saying she would repeal the tax cuts on “day one.” Mayor Bill de Blasio has attempted to raise taxes on high earners in New York City.

Democrats seem eager to prove that they still have no idea how jobs and wage increases are created in a capitalist economy — that is, by capital investment that starts new businesses or expands existing ones, increasing the demand for labor as jobs are created, bidding up wages.  

But stimulating capital investment requires incentives that arise from reducing tax rates. That is what President Trump and Republicans in Congress did in their Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

Was it good for America and its workers for the federal government to impose the highest marginal corporate tax rates in the industrialized world? Before Trump’s tax reform, those tax rates were nearly 40 percent, counting federal rate and state corporate rates, on average. Most of the rest of the world imposed marginal tax rates only half as high on their businesses.

Tax reform reduced the rate on businesses to the world average and ended double taxation on earnings of U.S. corporations abroad. That is why the U.S. economy has created millions of jobs with Trump in the Oval Office. The Democrats’ ball and chain on American business has been sharply cut back, creating a capital investment boom.

The article concludes:

And contrary to Democratic disinformation, President Trump’s tax reform included tax cuts for the middle class of about $2,000 a year per family; rates for families making $19,000 to $77,000 were cut by 20 percent. The same occurred for single taxpayers making $9,500 to $38,700. Tax reform also nearly doubled the standard deduction, and actually doubled the child tax credit — both of which benefit lower-income workers the most.

Amazingly, these tax benefits have been confirmed by the New York Times and the Washington Post, which have acknowledged that most Americans received a tax cut. H&R Block concluded that “overall tax liability is down 24.9 percent, on average.” So much for the socialist derision of tax reform.  

Raising taxes would only consign America’s working people back to renewed recession, as under Biden and President Obama. Democrats seem to want to run as they did in 1984, when Walter Mondale campaigned on a tax-increase platform. Then recession occurred when President Bush agreed to raise taxes in a 1989 budget deal, which only increased the deficit.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” should be the motto of the day. The Trump economy is doing very well. The Obama economy did not do well. In 2020, American voters will have a chance to choose between the two. Let’s hope they choose the right one.

Good Deeds Rarely Go Unpunished

In late February, H.R. 184 was introduced into the North Carolina House of Representatives. In early April, H.R. 184 made it to the North Carolina Senate where it was referred to the Committee On Rules and Operations of the Senate. There it sits. It’s a bad bill, catering to special interests, and need to die there.

So exactly what is H.R. 184? On April 4, 2019, Raynor James wrote an article describing the debate in the North Carolina House of Representatives over H.R. 184. In her article Raynor explained that H.R. 184 would tie the hands of State Treasurer Dale Folwell in dealing with the rapidly growing problems with the State Health Plan.

An article in The Daily Haymaker on March 26 explains some of what is going on:

Former state representative Dale Folwell (R) worked wonders in cleaning up the highly FUBAR-ed unemployment insurance system. You would think it would be a no-brainer to put him on fixing that money-bleeding nightmare known as the state health plan. (The plan made it to its current sorry state in no small part to the micro-managing mischief by legislators in both parties who saw it as their own personal piggy-bank and slush fund.)

So, along comes Dale Folwell trying to do exactly what the legislature empowered the state treasurer’s office to do years ago:  competently manage the state health plan.  Folwell decided taxpayers needed to understand exactly what  health care providers were billing the health plan FOR.

This did not sit well with the folks at the hospitals and clinics sending in those fat, vague, non-specific bills.  Armies of lobbyists were dispatched to spend dark money on ads smearing Folwell and his pricing transparency plan.  A lot of politician pockets were lined.  A bill got drafted (with a lot of lobbyist, um. “help”)  that tied Folwell’s hands on exactly what he could to in regard to the state health plan.

The bill, H184, got its first hearing in the House Health Committee today.  Conveniently, there was NO roll call vote on this expensive legislation — with a total cost over 3 years of $400 to 600 MILLION. 

The bill did get amended.  The time frame for the “study” on  changing the health plan was shortened. The state employees — who stand to be affected the most by this bill — got their representation on the “study committee” expanded from ONE to TWO.  (Isn’t that nice?)    And the whole package is still going to cost the taxpayers an additional $241 MILLION.

The article then explains the problem:

There was no real good reason to do this. It went against one of the alleged core principles of the majority party. The prime beneficiaries of the state health plan — the state employees — appear to be solidly behind what Folwell is doing. Taxpayers — seeking to avoid a $400-600 MILLION hit from doing NOTHING and “studying” the idea of reform — appear to be all for it.

But the deep-pocketed lobbyists who are so kind and compassionate to campaign accounts all over Jones Street were not happy and HAD to be mollified.

Some Republicans are fighting back. There was a Resolution at the North Carolina Third District Republican Convention today that backed Dale Folwell and his efforts to clean up the State Health Plan. The Resolution passed easily.

The Resolution included the following:

In 2008, expenses for the North Carolina State Health Plan were roughly $2.2 billion; today they are roughly $3.4 billion. Medical and pharmaceutical costs are increasing five to nine percent annually and current spending projections estimate that the plan will be insolvent by 2023 unless action is taken. The campaign to fix the state healthcare plan is opposed mainly by special interests–hospitals and those who profit by the inefficiency and inflated costs of medical care under the current system.

I was told that the bill would probably die in committee. I hope that happens. However, the fact that saving taxpayer money was opposed by special interest groups should not come as a shock to any of us. That fact underlines the need for citizens to stay aware of what our legislature is doing. North Carolina is in a strong position economically–it is a place where businesses relocate. If our State Health Plan is not brought under control, our taxes will increases to cover the cost of the program and we will be much less attractive to businesses looking for a place to be.

The Trump Tax Cuts

The following is a graph from a New York Times article of April 14th:

The article notes:

To a large degree, the gap between perception and reality on the tax cuts appears to flow from a sustained — and misleading — effort by liberal opponents of the law to brand it as a broad middle-class tax increase.

That effort began in the fall of 2017, when Republicans prepared to introduce legislation that models by the independent Tax Policy Center predicted could raise taxes on nearly a third of middle-class taxpayers. It continued through Mr. Trump’s signing of the law, even though the group’s models showed that the revised bill would raise taxes on relatively few in the middle class in the 2018 tax year.

The only thing missing from the article is The New York Times taking some responsibility for what is illustrated by the chart.

It gets even more interesting. The article also includes this chart:

This might be a reflection of the news sources the Democrats choose versus the news sources the Republicans choose. It illustrates the fact that much of what is being reported in major news sources is simply not true. Much of the mainstream media is doing a disservice to the people who choose to watch it.

Irony At Its Best

The Trump tax cuts made life a little easier for most Americans. They made life a little more difficult for some middle class and wealthy people in states with high taxes. Oddly enough, many of these states with high taxes are blue states with large populations and huge state budgets. Some of the most affected states were California, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, all reliably blue states. Those states control 116 Electoral College votes and send 106 Representatives to the U.S. House of Representatives (out of 435 total Representatives). Now, after all the complaining that the Trump tax cuts were tax cuts for the rich (which they were not), Democrats want to give the wealthy in high-tax states their tax cuts.

Real Clear Politics posted an article today about the Democrats’ plan.

The article reports:

Democrats often complain that tax cuts primarily benefit “the rich,” but apparently they only think it’s a problem when rich conservatives get a tax break, because they’re outraged that President Trump’s tax cuts scaled back a generous subsidy enjoyed by well-off taxpayers in liberal states.

A key provision of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was a new cap on the so-called State and Local Tax (“SALT”) Deduction, which allows taxpayers to deduct state and local taxes on their federal tax return. This provision forces taxpayers in low-tax states such as Florida and Texas to effectively subsidize those in high-tax states such as New York and California.

For years, blue-state Democrats have been able to raise state income and property taxes far higher than voters might normally tolerate. That’s because the SALT deduction softened the impact for taxpayers in those states, particularly for the rich campaign-donor class. Since the SALT deduction only applies to taxpayers who itemize their returns, its benefits naturally accrue to those in the highest income bracket.

There was previously no limit to how much taxpayers could deduct through SALT, but even though the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act capped the deduction at $10,000, almost 93 percent of American taxpayers will be unaffected. It’s likely that fewer taxpayers will elect to take advantage of SALT, since the law also doubled the standard deduction, but about 11 million of the highest-earning Americans living in high-tax states are seeing their federal income tax liabilities increase.

It’s curious that liberals who criticized Trump so vociferously for “cutting taxes on the wealthy” are so upset by an element of the tax reform plan that merely takes away a tax break enjoyed disproportionately by the wealthy.

The problem here is simple. The Democrats believe that President Trump cut taxes for the rich (which he didn’t), but it was the wrong rich. However, just for the record, since most of the tax burden falls on Americans who are relatively successful, their tax cuts are going to seem larger than those who pay little or no taxes.

The following chart is from a Pew Research article. The figures are from 2015:

People who make over $100,000 (which in some areas of the country is not a lot of spending power) pay over 80% of all income taxes paid. I think we need to reopen the discussion of a flat tax. Everyone needs to have an equal stake in the game.

When Your Weapon Backfires

BizPacReview posted an article yesterday about a recent Rasmussen poll.

The article reports:

A new Rasmussen poll shows more voters believe it is Crooked Hillary Clinton rather than President Trump who is guilty of colluding with foreign operatives during the 2016 election campaign. Of likely voters polled, 47% believe the Clinton campaign was involved in collusion, as opposed to 45% who still buy the fraudulent Trump collusion story.

The worm is turning in spite of a non-stop, years-long onslaught of lies from the never-Trump media about it all. The tipping point is now … with the majority finally discerning the truth and slowly more and more rejecting the coordinated MSM disinformation campaign.

…The March 25-26 survey found 50% of voters satisfied with the conclusions reached by Mueller. About one-third, or 36%, are not satisfied and 13% are undecided.

The article also includes the following:

On March 25th, Yahoo News reported the following:

After 16 months of investigation, the cost had ballooned to $25 million, CNBC reported. Based on those figures, that works out to approximately $1.5 million spent per month. And that’s just working from September 2018, the 16-month mark. The cost has very likely gone up since then. If the $1.5 million figure remains static, taxpayers have paid another $7.5 million between October 2018 and February 2019.

In Mueller’s latest filing, released in September 2018, he reported “spending nearly $3 million on compensation, $580,000 on travel and transportation, $1 million on rent and related expenses, and $300,000 on contractual services, primarily related to IT,” according to CNBC.

The Democrats might want to keep all of these numbers in mind as they pursue their subpoenas of the Mueller Report. After the government spent some serious money and the mainstream media claimed that President Trump was a Russian agent, many Americans were not fooled.

How Much Of Our Tax Money Is Wisely Spent?

On Sunday The Washington Free Beacon posted an article about fraud in the government’s food stamp program.

The article reports:

According to a new report produced by the Government and Accountability Office (GAO), at least $1 billion in food stamp benefits are “trafficked annually,” meaning they are fraudulently used. The extent of the fraud is uncertain, the GAO warns, estimating the abuse of the program could be as high as $4.7 billion.

About 20 million lower-income households receive benefits from the $64 billion Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, to buy food. But GAO found that instead of being used for food, many stores are defrauding the program by “selling” cash instead of food.

“For example, a store might give a person $50 in exchange for $100 in benefits – then pocket the difference,” GAO explains.

The article explains one possible remedy:

The fraud, known as “retailer trafficking,” costs taxpayers at least $1 billion. However, the real cost could be “anywhere from $960 million to $4.7 billion,” the GAO adds.

The Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA), a Washington, D.C.-based think tank advocating reform, launched a “Stop the Scam initiative” to raise awareness of the widespread problem.

“Welfare fraud is one of the biggest untold stories of the last decade, robbing resources from the truly needy and eroding public trust in the integrity of our welfare programs,” Sam Adolphsen, vice president of executive affairs at FGA, said in a statement. “While the bad-actor food stamp retailers exposed in this GAO report are in part to blame, we must not lose sight of the accountability that falls upon the food stamp recipient willing to commit fraud and abuse the system.”

The FGA hopes to reduce fraud and abuse at the state level by uncovering discrepancies in each state’s eligibility systems by regularly reviewing their processes.

Public assistance works best when it is closest to the recipient. That way the people providing the assistance know who is in need and who is taking advantage of the program. It also allows those administering the program to spot fraud more easily. Every program in Washington needs to audited for fraud and cleaned up. That alone might make it unnecessary for Congress to raise the debt ceiling every few months.

The article concludes:

Finally, GAO recommended that FNS should “determine the appropriate scope and time frames for reauthorizing high-risk stores,” increase penalties for retail traffickers, and establish performance measures for its trafficking prevention activities.

The Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 gave the USDA the authority to strengthen penalties for retailers that commit fraud, but as of November 2018, FNS had not done so.

“By failing to take timely action to strengthen penalties, FNS has not taken full advantage of an important tool for deterring trafficking,” GAO states.

When the GAO confirms what actions FNS has taken in response to its recommendations, it plans to provide updated information to the public, the agency states. It states that the FNS generally agreed with its findings.

The USDA/FNS did not respond to requests to comment for this story.

 

Logic Takes A Vacation

Breitbart posted an article today about the State of New York’s $2.3 billion budget shortfall. Governor Cuomo is blaming the Trump tax bill for the shortfall.

The article explains the logic:

According to Cuomo, it was Trump’s tax cut that caused “many of the state’s richest residents — who pay 46 percent of the state’s income tax — to either change their primary residence or leave New York entirely.”

…What Trump’s tax reform did was to restore fairness to the tax code, was to put an end to the injustice of all Americans — including those in the middle class — paying for the sky high tax rates in states like New York.

You see, before Trump reformed the tax code, all Americans were subsidizing the rich.

It used to be that you could write off every penny of your state income tax on your federal income tax. Trump put an end to this outrage. Here’s how it works…

In the state of New York, if you earn over $1.078 million per year, you pay an income tax to the state of almost nine percent.

In other words,  using round numbers, a New York resident who earns $10 million owes the state of New York close to $900,000 in income taxes. But…

Democrat-run states like New York knew that their rich residents would not feel the sting of that $900,000 tax bill because that $900,000 could be written off of their federal tax bill.

Basically, this was a sleazy way for Blue States to steal money from federal taxpayers, to make all of us pay for their grotesque tax rates. These Democrat-run states not only got all of this tax money, they also avoided getting voted out of office for over-taxing because the federal write-off removed most of the sting for the wealthy taxpayer.

Thankfully, Trump’s tax bill put an end to this shell game. Whereas before there was no limit on the amount of state income tax you could write off on your federal taxes, now there is a $10,000 limit. This means that the poor sap gutted for $900,000 in income taxes by New York, now eats $890,000 of it, which is as it should be.

Hey, if you’re a rich guy who thinks your taxes are too high, instead of making middle class taxpayers subsidize your ass, maybe stop voting for Democrats? Just an idea.

For those who want the rich to pay more taxes, the Trump tax plan has accomplished exactly that in New York and some other states that have excessive taxes.

The article concludes:

The truth, though, is spelled out very well by economist Marty Cantor, who laid it out for a local news outlet.

“The problems here are caused by the governor and his administration,” he told News12, “It’s too expensive to live on Long Island and in New York state. Taxes are too high, people are leaving. It has nothing to do with Trump.”

Here’s the kicker: The $10,000 write-off limit did not go into effect until  2018. So how does Cuomo explain 2017’s $4.4 billion deficit? How did the Orange Bad Man create that one?

Crickets.

The Need For A Reality Check

Green energy is a wonderful concept. Energy in Iceland is almost entirely green because the country sits on a number of volcanoes that supply it with thermal energy. I’m not sure that I am willing to live on a volcano to get thermal energy, but that is one way to go green. However, the quest for green energy where there is not such an obvious energy source has not been particularly successful.

CNS News posted an article yesterday about the statement put out by Speaker Pelosi to recognize Black History Month.

The article has the entire statement, but I think the focus is interesting:

Democrats will be pushing a “For the People” agenda that will include raising wages by building green infrastructure.

“And we are pushing forward a bold, ambitious agenda For The People to make good on the promise of the American Dream for everyone by lowering the cost of health care and prescription drugs, raising wages by rebuilding America with green, modern infrastructure, and strengthening our democracy by ensuring that our government works for the public interest, not the special interests,” Pelosi said.

Let’s talk about rebuilding America with green, modern infrastructure. Green energy is one of the major special interest groups in America.

In 2015, The Washington Times reported:

Taxpayers are on the hook for more than $2.2 billion in expected costs from the federal government’s energy loan guarantee programs, according to a new audit Monday that suggests the controversial projects may not pay for themselves, as officials had promised.

Nearly $1 billion in loans have already defaulted under the Energy Department program, which included the infamous Solyndra stimulus project and dozens of other green technology programs the Obama administration has approved, totaling nearly about $30 billion in taxpayer backing, the Government Accountability Office reported in its audit.

The hefty $2.2 billion price tag is actually an improvement over initial estimates, which found the government was poised to face $4 billion in losses from the loan guarantees. But as the projects have come to fruition, they’ve performed better, leaving taxpayers with a shrinking — though still sizable — liability.

It’s a good thing Speaker Pelosi didn’t say anything about lowering taxes–maybe the increased wages with increased taxes will pay for the green energy.

This green energy idea has not been successful when tried before.

In August 2014 The Daily Caller posted an article about Spain’s attempt to convert to green energy:

According to a new report by the free-market Institute for Energy Research, Spain’s green energy policies have resulted in skyrocketing electricity prices, billions of euros in debt and rising carbon dioxide emissions.

“For years, President Obama has pointed to Europe’s energy policies as an example that the United States should follow,” said IER in a statement on their new study. “However, those policies have been disastrous for countries like Spain, where electricity prices have skyrocketed, unemployment is over 25 percent, and youth unemployment is over 50 percent.”

Spain began heavily subsidizing green energy sources, like wind and solar, in the early 2000s with its“Promotion Plan for Renewable Energies. The country used a combination of generous feed-in tariffs, green energy generation quotas and green power subsidies to boost renewable energy development in the country and lower its carbon dioxide emissions.

…But what seemed like a booming green energy economy on the surface was really becoming a costly way to help drive Spain into economic recession. By 2011, Spain’s electricity prices stood at 29.46 U.S. ¢/kilowatt-hour — two and a half times what electricity cost in the U.S. at the time.

President Trump has helped all Americans. We have the lowest unemployment among minorities that we have had in a very long time. Wages are going up, taxes are going down, and the workforce participation rate is climbing. I suggest that if Speaker Pelosi truly wants to help minorities during Black History Month she should support President Trump’s economic agenda.

The Wrong People Are Paying For This

On January 11th, The Daily Signal posted the following article, “Conservative Groups Targeted in Lois Lerner’s IRS Scandal Receive Settlement Checks.”

The article reports:

The federal government in recent days has been issuing settlement checks to 100 right-of-center groups wrongfully targeted for their political beliefs under the Obama administration’s Internal Revenue Service, according to an attorney for the firm that represented plaintiffs in NorCal v. United States.

Three of the claimants in the $3.5 million national class-action suit are based in the Badger State.

“This is really a groundbreaking case. Hopefully it sets a precedent and will serve as a warning to government officials who further feel tempted to discriminate against U.S. citizens based on their viewpoints,” Edward Greim, attorney for Kansas City, Missouri-based Graves Garrett LLC told MacIver News Service.

Most of the claimants will each receive a check for approximately $14,000, Greim said. Five conservative groups that were integrally involved in the lawsuit get a bonus payment of $10,000 each, the attorney said.

About $2 million of the settlement goes to cover the legal costs of five long years of litigation. IRS attorneys attempted delay after delay, objection after objection, trying to use the very taxpayer protection statutes the plaintiffs were suing under to suppress documents.

The agency has admitted no wrongdoing in what a federal report found to be incidents of intrusive inspections of organizations seeking nonprofit status. Greim has said the seven-figure settlement suggests otherwise.

Folks, these checks are coming out of our tax dollars. As taxpayers we are paying for the corruption in the IRS during the Obama administration.

The article continues:

Disgraced former bureaucrat Lois Lerner led the IRS division that processes applications for tax-exempt groups. A 2013 inspector general’s report found the IRS had singled out conservative and tea party organizations for intense scrutiny, oftentimes simply based on their conservative-sounding or tea party names. The IRS delayed for months, even years, the applications, and some groups were improperly questioned about their donors and their religious affiliations and practices.

Lerner claims she did nothing wrong. In clearing her of wrongdoing, an Obama administration Department of Justice review described Lerner as a hero. But she invoked her Fifth Amendment right in refusing to answer questions before a congressional committee. The plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit took the first and only deposition of Lerner, a document that the former IRS official and her attorneys have fought to keep sealed.

“At one level, it’s hard to even assess a dollar amount to what they did, it’s so contrary to what we think our bureaucrats in Washington should be doing. It boggles the mind,” Greim said.

This was an egregious violation of free speech and disregard for the law, and no one actually was held accountable. That is sad.

An Anonymous Article

Yesterday The Daily Caller posted an anonymous article written by someone they know to be a senior official in the Trump administration. I am posting the full text of the article because I believe all of it is very important. I have no additional comments.

As one of the senior officials working without a paycheck, a few words of advice for the president’s next move at shuttered government agencies: lock the doors, sell the furniture, and cut them down.

Federal employees are starting to feel the strain of the shutdown. I am one of them. But for the sake of our nation, I hope it lasts a very long time, till the government is changed and can never return to its previous form.

The lapse in appropriations is more than a battle over a wall. It is an opportunity to strip wasteful government agencies for good.

On an average day, roughly 15 percent of the employees around me are exceptional patriots serving their country. I wish I could give competitive salaries to them and no one else. But 80 percent feel no pressure to produce results. If they don’t feel like doing what they are told, they don’t.

Why would they? We can’t fire them. They avoid attention, plan their weekend, schedule vacation, their second job, their next position — some do this in the same position for more than a decade.

They do nothing that warrants punishment and nothing of external value. That is their workday: errands for the sake of errands — administering, refining, following and collaborating on process. “Process is your friend” is what delusional civil servants tell themselves. Even senior officials must gain approval from every rank across their department, other agencies and work units for basic administrative chores.

Process is what we serve, process keeps us safe, process is our core value. It takes a lot of people to maintain the process. Process provides jobs. In fact, there are process experts and certified process managers who protect the process. Then there are the 5 percent with moxie (career managers). At any given time they can change, clarify or add to the process — even to distort or block policy counsel for the president.

Saboteurs peddling opinion as research, tasking their staff on pet projects or pitching wasteful grants to their friends. Most of my career colleagues actively work against the president’s agenda. This means I typically spend about 15 percent of my time on the president’s agenda and 85 percent of my time trying to stop sabotage, and we have no power to get rid of them. Until the shutdown.

Due to the lack of funding, many federal agencies are now operating more effectively from the top down on a fraction of their workforce, with only select essential personnel serving national security tasks. One might think this is how government should function, but bureaucracies operate from the bottom up — a collective of self-generated ideas. Ideas become initiatives, formalize into offices, they seek funds from Congress and become bureaus or sub-agencies, and maybe one day grow to be their own independent agency, like ours. The nature of a big administrative bureaucracy is to grow to serve itself. I watch it and fight it daily.

When the agency is full, employees held liable for poor performance respond with threats, lawsuits, complaints and process in at least a dozen offices, taking years of mounting paperwork with no fear of accountability, extending their careers, while no real work is done. Do we succumb to such extortion? Yes. We pay them settlements, we waive bad reviews, and we promote them.

Many government agencies have adopted the position that more complaints are good because it shows inclusion in, you guessed it, the process. When complaints come, it is cheaper to pay them off than to hold public servants accountable. The result: People accused of serious offenses are not charged, and self-proclaimed victims are paid by you, the American taxpayer.

The message to federal supervisors is clear. Maintain the status quo, or face allegations. Many federal employees truly believe that doing tasks more efficiently and cutting out waste, by closing troubled programs instead of expanding them, “is morally wrong,” as one cried to me.

I get it. These are their pets. It is tough to put them down and let go, and many resist. This phenomenon was best summed up by a colleague who said, “The goal in government is to do nothing. If you try to get things done, that’s when you will run into trouble.”

But President Trump can end this abuse. Senior officials can reprioritize during an extended shutdown, focus on valuable results and weed out the saboteurs. We do not want most employees to return, because we are working better without them. Sure, we empathize with families making tough financial decisions, like mine, and just like private citizens who have to find other work and bring competitive value every day, while paying more than a third of their salary in federal taxes.

President Trump has created more jobs in the private sector than the furloughed federal workforce. Now that we are shut down, not only are we identifying and eliminating much of the sabotage and waste, but we are finally working on the president’s agenda.

President Trump does not need Congress to address the border emergency, and yes, it is an emergency. Billions upon billions of hard-earned tax dollars are still being dumped into foreign aid programs every year that do nothing for America’s interest or national security. The president does not need congressional funding to deconstruct abusive agencies who work against his agenda. This is a chance to effect real change, and his leverage grows stronger every day the shutdown lasts.

The president should add to his demands, including a vote on all of his political nominees in the Senate. Send the career appointees back. Many are in the 5 percent of saboteurs and resistance leaders.

A word of caution: To be a victory, this shutdown must be different than those of the past and should achieve lasting disruption with two major changes, or it will hurt the president.

The first thing we need out of this is better security, particularly at the southern border. Our founders envisioned a free market night watchman state, not the bungled bloated bureaucracy our government has become. But we have to keep the uniformed officers paid, which is an emergency. Ideally, continue a resolution to pay the essential employees only, if they are truly working on national security. Furloughed employees should find other work, never return and not be paid.

Secondly, we need savings for taxpayers. If this fight is merely rhetorical bickering with Nancy Pelosi, we all lose, especially the president. But if it proves that government is better when smaller, focusing only on essential functions that serve Americans, then President Trump will achieve something great that Reagan was only bold enough to dream.

The president’s instincts are right. Most Americans will not miss non-essential government functions. A referendum to end government plunder must happen. Wasteful government agencies are fighting for relevance but they will lose. Now is the time to deliver historic change by cutting them down forever.

The author is a senior official in the Trump administration.

Hasn’t Anyone Read The U.S. Constitution?

Yesterday The New York Times posted an op-ed piece titled, “The Inevitability of Impeachment” by Elizabeth Drew. It is an opinion piece, so I guess facts don’t really matter, but it is still an amazing work of fiction.

The piece states:

An impeachment process against President Trump now seems inescapable. Unless the president resigns, the pressure by the public on the Democratic leaders to begin an impeachment process next year will only increase. Too many people think in terms of stasis: How things are is how they will remain. They don’t take into account that opinion moves with events.

Whether or not there’s already enough evidence to impeach Mr. Trump — I think there is — we will learn what the special counsel, Robert Mueller, has found, even if his investigation is cut short.

I can see the talking point already–if the House begins impeachment proceedings and the Mueller investigation is ended because of that, the cry will be that he would have found something if he had had more time. The man has been supposedly looking for Russian collusion for two years at taxpayers’ expense and so far all he has come up with is a legal contract asking someone to remain silent.

The piece continues:

The word “impeachment” has been thrown around with abandon. The frivolous impeachment of President Bill Clinton helped to define it as a form of political revenge. But it is far more important and serious than that: It has a critical role in the functioning of our democracy.

Impeachment was the founders’ method of holding a president accountable between elections. Determined to avoid setting up a king in all but name, they put the decision about whether a president should be allowed to continue to serve in the hands of the representatives of the people who elected him.

So the impeachment of Bill Clinton was frivolous even when he lied to a Grand Jury and tried to influence others to do the same, but the impeachment of Donald Trump would not be frivolous. Wow. Please explain the logic here.

It always seemed to me that Mr. Trump’s turbulent presidency was unsustainable and that key Republicans would eventually decide that he had become too great a burden to the party or too great a danger to the country. That time may have arrived. In the end the Republicans will opt for their own political survival. Almost from the outset some Senate Republicans have speculated on how long his presidency would last. Some surely noticed that his base didn’t prevail in the midterms.

But it may well not come to a vote in the Senate. Facing an assortment of unpalatable possibilities, including being indicted after he leaves office, Mr. Trump will be looking for a way out. It’s to be recalled that Mr. Nixon resigned without having been impeached or convicted. The House was clearly going to approve articles of impeachment against him, and he’d been warned by senior Republicans that his support in the Senate had collapsed. Mr. Trump could well exhibit a similar instinct for self-preservation. But like Mr. Nixon, Mr. Trump will want future legal protection.

Mr. Nixon was pardoned by President Gerald Ford, and despite suspicions, no evidence has ever surfaced that the fix was in. While Mr. Trump’s case is more complex than Mr. Nixon’s, the evident dangers of keeping an out-of-control president in office might well impel politicians in both parties, not without controversy, to want to make a deal to get him out of there.

Just for the record, Article II Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution reads:

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

As far as anyone knows, that standard has not been met. You can’t impeach a President just because you don’t like him or you are mad because your candidate did not win the election.

Unbelievable

Yesterday The Gateway Pundit posted an article about a recent statement by Representative Jerry Nadler (D-NY), the incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Representative Nadler told CNN’s Jake Tapper that President Trump’s hush money payments to two women with his own money are impeachable offenses.Somehow lost in this discussion was the fact that Congress paid has paid out $17 million in the past 10 years, public records show, for unwanted sexual advances by unnamed lawmakers.

The offenses were by unnamed lawmakers. And the money came from taxpayers. So paying women to be quiet with your own money is impeachable, but paying women to be quiet using taxpayer money is acceptable. Wow. Who knew?

The article includes the following tweet:

That is an interesting question.

Choosing Winners And Losers

Fox5 is reporting today that Amazon has decided to open two new facilities–one in Alexandria, Virginia, and one in Long Island City, New York.

The article reports:

New York state is kicking in more than $1.5 billion in taxpayer-funded incentives for getting half of Amazon’s second headquarters located in a section of Queens.

The Seattle-based company made its long-awaited announcement Tuesday, saying Long Island City and Alexandria, Virginia, will each get 25,000 jobs. The online retailer also said it will open an operations hub in Nashville, creating 5,000 jobs.

…New York state’s incentives are nearly triple those of Virginia’s, while Tennessee’s are $102 million.

According to Amazon, the cost per job for New York taxpayers is $48,000, compared to $22,000 for Virginia and $13,000 for Tennessee.

In a statement released by Amazon, Cuomo called the agreement “one of the largest, most competitive economic development investments in U.S. history.”

I have a few questions. How many years will these tax incentives last? Will Amazon leave the state when the incentives end? If each job cost New York taxpayers $48,000, how much do these jobs pay? The company is getting tremendous tax breaks to come to New York and create jobs, can New Yorkers afford the increases in their taxes to pay for those jobs? Wouldn’t it be better to cut taxes for all businesses in New York and make the state more attractive to businesses looking for a place to relocate? Lowering taxes across the board actually increases revenue, choosing winners and losers simply makes people angry.

Pork In The North Carolina Budget

Washington isn’t the only place where lawmakers love to spend money that isn’t theirs. The North Carolina legislature is currently working on its state budget for FY 2018-19. On Monday, Civitas posted an article about the current budget proposal.

The article reports:

The state budget for FY 2018-19 contains nearly 170 line items totaling $30 million that are highly inappropriate or outright pork.

Appropriations directing funding to local pet projects include items such as walking trails, playgrounds, county fairs and highway signs. Moreover, dozens of nonprofit organizations receive direct appropriations in the budget. Make no mistake, these nonprofits perform admirable work. However, it is highly inappropriate – and unfair favoritism – to single out nonprofits for specific appropriations of state tax dollars, instead of having them go through the appropriate grant process.

There is little doubt that a large percentage, if not all, of these earmarks represent legislators trying to “bring home the bacon” to their districts in an election year. State taxpayers should not be forced to finance explicitly local projects.

Note that the items identified in this article include only adjustments made to the second year of the biennial budget passed last year. There no doubt are many more such earmarks that will be doled out this year that were previously included in last year’s budget.

Legislative leaders have rightly been criticized for the closed-door, non-transparent process used in crafting the budget. It is plausible to believe that these 166 line items were the result of political horse-trading behind closed doors, which left virtually no time for objections from legislators before the House and Senate voted.

Such a significant number of earmarks, while not adding up to a major percentage of the budget in dollar terms, raises legitimate concerns about political patronage in which representatives direct state funds to local projects in exchange for political support.

Please follow the link above to read the entire article. It includes a specific list of the earmarks in question.

Who Benefited From The Tax Cuts?

On Friday, Investor’s Business Daily posted an article about the Trump Tax Cuts.

The article reports:

The numbers are now in. According to Congress’ nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), the rich are now paying a higher share of federal taxes after enactment of the Republican tax reform plan than before.

For 2017, before tax reform, the JCT estimates those earning $1 million or more a year paid 19.5% of all federal taxes, counting income taxes, payroll taxes, and excise taxes. But for 2018, after tax reform, the committee estimates that these same millionaire taxpayers will pay 20.4% of all federal taxes.

The biggest relative tax cuts resulting from the tax reform are for those making less than $50,000 a year. Their share of federal taxes fell from 4.4% to 3.8%, a tax cut of 14%.

Indeed, the committee estimates that the federal tax burden went up for all taxpayers now making over $200,000 a year, from 49.8% before tax reform, to 51.3% this year after tax reform. You have to go down to those making between $100,000 and $200,000 a year to find taxpayers paying a lower share of federal taxes, from 29% of the federal tax burden last year to 28.8% this year.

But how could that be? The fundamental reason is the economic growth effects of tax reform.

Higher economic growth means increased wages, jobs, employment and income. As the economy grows, the share of taxes paid, especially by those earning higher incomes who still pay much higher tax rates under our so-called “progressive” tax code, goes up as well.

This is the Democrats’ biggest nightmare. That is the reason they opposed the tax cuts and tried to use the media to turn the American people against the idea of tax cuts. I believe that in the 2018 mid-term elections, we will see the Democrats attempt to campaign on the idea that the tax cuts were ‘tax cuts for the rich,’ but if American voters choose to be informed, they will recognize the lie in that statement.

The article reports more bad news for Democrats campaigning in 2018:

Those same economic effects of the tax reform amount to economic liberation for the poor, working people and the middle class. After 8 years of economic stagnation under the neo-socialist policies of Obamanomics, the rising wages, jobs, employment and income under the long overdue Trump Republican economic recovery are making America great again for those with low and moderate incomes.

Top economists estimate wages for average middle-class families are increasing by $4,000 a year due to tax reform. That’s in addition to direct tax cuts of $2,000 a year for middle class families.

These economic effects are why we now see the lowest unemployment rates among blacks in American history. And despite the lies of the Democrat fake news media, the lowest unemployment rates among Hispanics in history as well.

And these economic effects are why Trump/Republican economics is now resonating among blacks and Hispanics culturally as well, from young black Millennials like Candace Owens to hip-hop stars like Kanye West.

As John F. Kennedy stated, “A rising tide lifts all the boats.'” We have watched the tax cuts (and the ending of some over regulation) do just that. John Kennedy would probably not be welcome in today’s Democrat party. That is a shame. In spite of his questionable activities regarding women, I believe he would have been a reasonable President had he lived.

This Is Not A New Idea

On Friday, The Daily Signal posted an article about a proposal before Congress asking taxpayers to make loans to private, union-run pension plans. This is a really bad idea. We have seen what has happened to the college loan program since the government took it over. Just in case you think the idea of the government bailing out union pension plans is far-fetched, I posted an article about this idea in October of 2010.

The article reports:

The Butch Lewis Act—a proposal to bail out private-sector pensions through loans as well as direct cash assistance—acknowledges the high probability of default by stipulating that pension plans that have trouble repaying their loans after 30 years of interest-only payments will be eligible for forgiveness or alternative repayment plans.

A loan with a zero-consequence default option for the borrower is not a loan—it’s a bailout.

But it’s not just defaults that taxpayers need to be concerned about. There’s also the cost of providing highly subsidized, low- or no-interest loans for 15 to 30 years, as well as the risk that plans will increase—rather than decrease—their unfunded liabilities over the course of their loans.

These features could lead to loans to insolvent pension plans costing taxpayers more than direct cash bailouts.

But those costs won’t be apparent in the official government score because the Congressional Budget Office is required to score loans under the assumption that insolvent pension plans are essentially riskless borrowers.

In reality, loans to insolvent pension plans could cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars. The most liberal proposals—which supplement loans with direct cash assistance—could cost more than the entirety of multiemployer pensions’ half-trillion-dollar shortfall.

Does anyone really believe that these loans will be paid back? Union membership is down, and various courts are hearing cases that will make the mandatory payment of union dues by non-union members who work in a union shop illegal. Both of these factors will make the union retirement plans (actually a true Ponzi scheme) unsustainable.

The article concludes:

Coping with roughly $500 billion in private union pensions’ unfunded promises will not be easy. There are ways to minimize losses to workers who have earned pension benefits and protect taxpayers from paying for private pensions’ broken promises.

Policymakers should look to improve the solvency of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.’s multiemployer program through premium increases and other reforms; end union pensions’ preferential treatment; enact and enforce sound funding rules; hold pension trustees liable for financial decisions; act sooner rather than later to enact needed reforms, including benefit reductions; and explicitly prohibit federal pension bailouts.

None of these actions provide a costless cure-all, but they offer more fair and rational solutions that don’t treat taxpayers as guarantors of private-sector promises or set the stage for even more mismanagement and reckless behavior.

There is no reason every American should pay for the fact that the unions have not sufficiently funded their retirement plans!