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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics
is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato
That was the question posed by Weekly Standard columnist and Fox News contributor Steven Hayes as he kicked off a panel at the Heritage Foundation celebrating the 5th anniversary of the tea party.
Hayes and his co-panelists, Heritage Action for America CEO Michael Needham and University of Virginia professor of politics James Ceaser, all agreed that the tea party is in fact a movement. Moods, as Hayes noted, don’t last for five years.
Recent polls regarding national tea party support show the panel’s assessment is correct. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll in November found one-fifth of American adults consider themselves supporters of the tea party. As panel moderator David Azerrad of the Heritage Foundation noted, that’s quite an improvement from the original tea party, which numbered between 30 and 130 members.
But the panelists didn’t just rely on poll numbers to support their conclusion. They also highlighted some of the tea party’s major accomplishments since its inception in 2009.
Particularly noteworthy, according to the panelists, is the influence of 2010 tea party candidates such as Sens. Mike Lee of Utah, Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky. The media prefers to focus on failed tea party candidates such as Sharron Angle in Nevada and Christine O’Donnell in Delaware, but it has been Lee, Cruz, Rubio and Paul who have injected new life into the GOP and are producing its most innovative policy solutions.
Needham pointed specifically to Lee’s Higher Education Reform and Opportunity, or HERO, Act, Senator Cruz’s proposed energy legislation and Senator Paul’s focus on overcriminalization as prime examples of tea party ideas in action.
Another sign of tea party success has been its ability to set the terms of political debates. In particular, Ceaser credited the tea party with “bringing the national debt onto the front burner,” and reminding Americans that “if you spend today, someone will have to pay [for] it tomorrow.”
Tea partiers such as Cruz frequently have caused a ruckus on Capitol Hill fighting spending bills and opposing debt-ceiling increases. The result has often been legislative gridlock. Many on the left and in the mainstream media regard this as a failure of the tea party, but Hayes observed that “that was, in some ways, the entire point of the tea party.”
The tea party-fueled debt debate has had an even greater impact at the state level. In what Ceaser called the tea party’s “greatest actual achievement,” state governments have taken bold steps to rein in public-sector unions and control pensions. And it’s happening in both Republican and Democratic states, Ceaser noted, as both parties are realizing the problems of excessive debt.
That the tea party has made popular a topic as unexciting as government debt indicates how truly influential it is.
The panel also credited the tea party with bringing the Constitution back into public discourse. Ceaser praised the tea party for restoring the idea of the Constitution as “a guide for the thinking of a political party and program,” which he noted was the role it played in the 19th century. In that era, legislators often engaged in debates about what the Constitution allowed and what it meant.
Unfortunately, our current Democratic and Republican parties largely have ignored the Constitution and, prior to the tea party, rarely debated its meaning. The result was a mistaken perception of the Constitution as nothing more than “a matter of individual rights protected by courts” that political parties and movements simply should not bother with.
The tea party’s return to the Constitution has revitalized public interest in its meaning and forced politicians to engage once more in constitutional debates.
Despite frequent mischaracterizations in the mainstream media, targeting by the IRS, and verbal attacks from President Obama, the tea party remains highly influential in American politics. The left and the media don’t want to admit it, but the tea party is not a passing mood; it’s a movement. And, as Steve Hayes concluded, “It’s not going anywhere anytime soon.”
--------------- Heath Hansen is a research assistant in the B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics at the Heritage Foundation. Article shared on Heritage's The Daily Signal. Tags:INSERT TAGSTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Over $1.5 million on private jets to fly Bill
& Hillary Clinton to stump for various
candidates who lost their 2014 midterms
Ann Louise Wilcox, Bankrupting America: President Obama has signed into law the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending package funding the government through the next year. According to The Hill, “Dubbed the ‘cromnibus,’ the spending package contains 11 appropriations bills that fund most of the government through Sept. 30. It also includes a continuing resolution (CR) that funds the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through Feb. 27. Some of the bill’s provisions sparked an intense debate, mostly among Democrats last week because it repeals a portion of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law.” Read on for the top stories for the week:
EPA Spent Millions To Lease Partially Full Warehouses. On Dec. 8, the inspector general (IG) for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a report detailing the poor management of EPA warehouses. According to the report, “The EPA did not adequately inventory property nor provide adequate oversight to ensure effective and efficient use of EPA resources.” In addition, the EPA did not efficiently use warehouse space at 38 percent of the facilities the Inspector General reviewed. According to The Washington Times, “The inspector general report found that the EPA did not efficiently use warehouse space at 38 percent of the facilities reviewed, and that half of the warehouses it inspected had items in stock that could have been purchased locally or didn’t fulfill an immediate need.”
Consumers Will Face A Fine If They Do Not Purchase Insurance By February 15, 2015. On Dec. 17, The Hill reported, “People without insurance are running out of time to avoid the hefty ObamaCare penalties that the IRS will be handing down in 2016. Consumers face a Feb. 15, 2015, deadline to buy insurance, after which those without coverage could be hit with fines of $325 per adult or 2 percent of family income, whichever is higher. Uninsured people looking to escape the penalties are turning to the exchanges before they close, while insurance companies and tax preparers are seizing on the looming tax hit as a business opportunity.”
The EPA Must Finalize The Climate Rule For New Power Plants By January 8, 2015. The Obama administration is on the verge of missing the deadline for the president’s climate plan. According to POLITICO, “The EPA has a Jan. 8 legal deadline to finish the regulation, aimed at throttling carbon pollution from future power plants, but people closely following the rule think the agency could miss that date by months. Among other omens, EPA hasn’t yet submitted the rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review, a process that normally takes 30 to 90 days. This wouldn’t be the first time the delay-prone agency has missed a deadline for this regulation: It was originally supposed to finish an earlier version of the power plant rule by April 2013, but it pulled the rule back for retooling as part of the big climate action plan that President Barack Obama announced that June.”
Senate Passed A $41.6 Billion Tax Package Extending The Wind Production Tax Credit. According to The Hill, “The Senate cleared a $41.6 billion package of tax breaks on Tuesday, sending the legislation to President Obama in one of the last substantive moves of this Congress. By a 76 to 16 vote, the Senate passed a measure that would extend more than four dozen tax breaks for both businesses and individuals just through 2014. The short-term tax bill restores tax provisions that help working families, like distressed homeowners, teachers who buy their own supplies and commuters who use mass transit. For the corporate community, the package includes the popular credit for research and development, an incentive for businesses to invest in economically distressed areas and two preferences for multinational corporations’ offshore income. The latest extension of the tax breaks also includes a credit for wind energy, which has bipartisan support but is perhaps the most controversial of all the 50-plus incentives.”
More Than $1.5 Million Spent To Fly The Clintons To Major Midterm Election Events. According to POLITICO, “Campaigns and political committees spent more than $1.5 million on private jets to fly in Bill and Hillary Clinton to stump for various candidates during the 2014 midterms, campaign filings show. The tally includes $44,360 the final weekend of the campaign for a plane in Iowa. That was when Bill Clinton did a fly-around for failed Democratic Senate hopeful Bruce Braley. There was also a $21,801 charge that weekend to Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu’s unsuccessful reelection campaign, a POLITICO review found. More than 60 payments were made to a New York-based company called Executive Fliteways over the course of 2013 and 2014, a review of FEC records, campaign filings and state parties found. Buzzfeed reported shortly after the midterms that the travel costs were already at almost $700,000 based on records available at that point. The vast bulk of that travel at the time represented planes for former President Bill Clinton.” Tags:Ann Louise Wilcox, Bankrupting America, $41.6 Billion Tax Package, cromnibus, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, cost of air fair, Wind Protection Tax Act, EPA, Climate Rule, New Power Plants, Consumers, Fine, If They Do Not Purchase Insurance, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
By Ron Paul: Last week we learned that the key to a strong economy is not increased production, lower unemployment, or a sound monetary unit. Rather, economic prosperity depends on the type of language used by the central bank in its monetary policy statements. All it took was one word in the Federal Reserve Bank's press release -- that the Fed would be “patient” in raising interest rates to normal levels -- and stock markets went wild. The S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average had their best gains in years, with the Dow gaining nearly 800 points from Wednesday to Friday and the S&P gaining almost 100 points to close within a few points of its all-time high.
Just think of how many trillions of dollars of financial activity occurred solely because of that one new phrase in the Fed's statement. That so much in our economy hangs on one word uttered by one institution demonstrates not only that far too much power is given to the Federal Reserve, but also how unbalanced the American economy really is.
While the real economy continues to sputter, financial markets reach record highs, thanks in no small part to the Fed's easy money policies. After six years of zero interest rates, Wall Street has become addicted to easy money. Even the slightest mention of tightening monetary policy, and Wall Street reacts like a heroin addict forced to sober up cold turkey.
While much of the media paid attention to how long interest rates would remain at zero, what they largely ignored is that the Fed is, “maintaining its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its holdings of agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in agency mortgage-backed securities.” Look at the Fed's balance sheet and you'll see that it has purchased $25 billion in mortgage-backed securities since the end of QE3. Annualized, that is $200 billion a year. That may not be as large as QE2 or QE3, but quantitative easing, or as the Fed likes to say “accommodative monetary policy” is far from over.
What gets lost in all the reporting about stock market numbers, unemployment rate figures, and other economic data is the understanding that real wealth results from production of real goods, not from the creation of money out of thin air. The Fed can rig the numbers for a while by turning the monetary spigot on full blast, but the reality is that this is only papering over severe economic problems. Six years after the crisis of 2008, the economy still has not fully recovered, and in many respects is not much better than it was at the turn of the century.
Since 2001, the United States has grown by 38 million people and the working-age population has grown by 23 million people. Yet the economy has only added eight million jobs. Millions of Americans are still unemployed or underemployed, living from paycheck to paycheck, and having to rely on food stamps and other government aid. The Fed's easy money has produced great profits for Wall Street, but it has not helped -- and cannot help -- Main Street.
An economy that holds its breath every six weeks, looking to parse every single word coming out of Fed Chairman Janet Yellen's mouth for indications of whether to buy or sell, is an economy that is fundamentally unsound. The Fed needs to stop creating trillions of dollars out of thin air, let Wall Street take its medicine, and allow the corrections that should have taken place in 2001 and 2008 to liquidate the bad debts and malinvestments that permeate the economy. Only then will we see a real economic recovery.
-------------- Dr. Ron Paul, Chairman of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, is a former U.S.Congressman (R-TX) for 21 years. He twice sought the Republican Party presidential nomination for President. As a MD, he was an Air Force flight surgeon and has delivered over 4000 babies. Paul is an active writer on political and economic theory. He is known for his criticism of American foreign, domestic, and monetary policies, the military–industrial complex, the War on Drugs, and the Federal Reserve. He is also known for his love of country, government complying with the U.S. Constitution. Tags:Ron Paul, Janet Yellen, The Fed,Christmas Gift, Wall Street, one word, patient, our economyTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Mindless Hatred Of Cops Just Helped Get Two Of Them Murdered
Murdered police officers:
Wenjian Liu & Rafael Ramos
by Herman Cain: Enough of this. Well now it’s gone too far. The political narrative that has turned police officers into racist monsters and given protesters and excuse to denounce them has helped create the environment that got two of them murdered, execution-style, in Brooklyn.
Two incidents, neither of which the public really knows the facts about, have provided the fuel for all this. But race-hustling activists, opportunistic politicians and media personalities all too happy to play up racial tension built it into the wildfire it’s become.
And now a murderer, vowing revenge for Michael Brown and Eric Garner, has ended the lives of Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu.
There are so many things about this that are unforgivably egregious, but perhaps none more than the way police officers are being characterized by people who should know better. Last week I came across a narration by Paul Harvey about police officers. This was one of those bits where he extols the virtues of a particular profession by pointing out in a rather poetic way both the challenges and the expectations people face when they work in a particular field. A lot of people remember the one about farmers that was used in a Super Bowl commercial a few years ago.
This one was arguably even better, and worth considering given the current mood of much of the public where the police are concerned. Harvey points out that we expect cops to be expert diplomats, both tough and gentle, and able to make decisions in a split-second that a lawyer would stew over for months. And we expect them to be right every time.
We all know, of course, that they put their lives on the line every day. That fact will never lose its salience. But the cops who make it home safely every night can still tell you many stories of almost impossible choices and dangers that affected their lives.
We can’t forget this in a political and cultural environment that wants to make every confrontation between a cop and a citizen a major controversy, especially if there is the opportunity to turn it into a racial story. What really struck me about the Michael Brown narrative is that you had people demanding a certain outcome to the investigation, without knowing the facts or the evidence, simply because of the racial makeup of the parties involved.
I suppose only God knows whether Darren Wilson did the right thing in pulling that trigger. But we do know that as a police officer, it was his job to confront a suspect in a robbery and to demand cooperation from that suspect, which he did not receive. Instead, he found himself physically threatened and faced with the need to make a difficult, on-the-spot decision whether to use force in defense of himself.
It’s easy to sit around and debate whether he got it right based on what you think you know of the evidence. A better question, though, is this: Could you handle the pressure of that situation if it was you? Could you even make it through the training? Could you face the realities of patrolling the streets, often in hostile environs, and being expected to confront people that everyone else runs away from?
Because that is what a police officer has to do every day.
That certainly does not give them license to gratuitously kill people, and I do believe there are situations where they make assumptions they should have reconsidered. (The black pastor of a friend of mine was pulled over not long ago because the officer was suspicious upon seeing a black man driving a Cadillac Escalade. In his mind, that screamed out “drug dealer”. Come on, man!)
But even allowing for poor judgments some people will make, it is wrong to treat the police as if they are a cabal of brutes just looking for an excuse to abuse people. That is the farthest thing from what they are. These are the people we expect – we really take it for granted, if we’re honest – to get in the middle of the most dangerous situations involving violent people who don’t have the slightest regard for right and wrong. They choose this career, knowing they will never make a lot of money at it, with a full understanding of the risks and responsibilities they are going to take on.
I get more than a little tired of people who insist on viewing police officers as if they are the biggest threats to the safety of innocent people. The truth is, in many cases, they are the only ones protecting your safety. Whenever we have to deal with a situation where it appears an officer may have done something wrong, we need to remember these realities instead of falling into some irrational and juvenile attitude that completely forgets what these brave men and women do for us every day.
In the end, it is of course the shooter who bears responsibility for the murders of Officers Ramos and Liu. But let’s not pretend the current environment did not contribute to his rage, and let’s not let those who gladly encouraged that rage off the hook. Tags:Herman Cain, enough, mindless hatred of cops, murdered police officers, Wenjian Liu, Rafael RamosTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Tags:Hacking Santa, North Korea, Sony emails,editorial cartoon, Gary VarvelTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Tags:President Obama, normalized, Cuba, U.S., Cuban citizens, editorial cartoon, AF BrancoTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
by Alan Caruba, Contributing Author: When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 the Cold War that had existed between it and the U.S. since the end of World War Two came to an end, but there was ditritus, loose ends like Cuba and it has taken until now for an end to the diplomatic obstacles whose roots reach back to the Eisenhower administration. In 1960 it had approved a CIA plan to arm and train a group of Cuban refugees to overthrow the Castro regime.
The Cuban dictator, Flugencio Batista, fled Havana on January 1, 1959 and Fidel Castro and his rebels entered the capital a week later on January 8. One sees the world through the prism of one’s own life and, that event was six months prior to my graduating from the University of Miami.
Among my friends in college were young men who were the children of well-to-do Cubans, so I was more aware of what was occurring than most my age when Castro took over. In 1960 I was inducted into the army and it was big news when the Bay of Pigs invasion occurred on April 14, 1961. President Kennedy had moved ahead on the CIA plan, but it was a failure and it was followed by the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962. The nation was literally on the edge of nuclear confrontation.
In the lead up to that the Second Infantry Division of which my unit was a part ceased its training mission and converted to one of battle readiness. In my case, however, I had already been discharged in April 1962. Kennedy declared a blockage of Cuba which had installed the Soviet missiles. Wisely, the Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev agreed to remove them.
Cuba was and is the classic Soviet-style Communist regime. During the 1970s Fidel Castro dispatched troops to Soviet-supported wars in Africa. Cuba’s economy was always lean and its workers make about twenty dollars a month in U.S. dollars. In 1962 Cuba was suspended from the Organization of American States (OAS) that imposed sanctions against Cuba, but 1975 the OAS lifted its sanctions with the approval of sixteen member states and the U.S. but the U.S. has maintained its own sanctions from the days of the missile crisis.
Suffice to say Cuba has a long history of human rights abuses. It represses any political dissent and life for Cubans is devoid of free speech, free association, privacy, and due process of law; rights which Americans and others in free nations take for granted.
For some 53 years, the U.S has had no direct diplomatic relations with Cuba and when President Obama made the announcement that he was moving to normalize relations it was big news. It had been preceded by 18 months of secret negotiations about which, reportedly, no member of Congress was informed about. While it infuriated the Cuban-American communities most people, inside and outside of government agreed it was time, if not overdue, for this action.
There will be much speculation that normalization will be good news for the Cuban people and one can surely hope so, but until the brothers, Fidel and Raul—declared the new president in 2008 when Fidel resigned—are dead, the likelihood for any real improvement in their lives is distant.
In a similar fashion, many American business and agricultural interests are no doubt making plans to become a part of the Cuban economy, but they had better proceed with care. Cuba is still Communist in most respects despite Raul Castro’s efforts to portray himself as a reformer and Cuba a place where foreign business are welcome and can thrive. In 2012 he relaxed property rights, expanded land leases, and licensed businesses from pizza joints to private gyms.
In reality, Raul Castro has, as reported in McClean’s magazine in 2012, “scared off more joint ventures than he has attracted, jeopardizing the investment Cuba needs to succeed. Spanish oil giant Repsol quit the country. Canada’s Pizza Nova, which had six Cuban locations, packed its bags, as did Telecom Italia.” In one case after another, those who hoped to do business in Cuba were disappointed. In 2013 a British company, one of the biggest and most important business partners of Castro’s military and a key investor in the tourism industry was suddenly confiscated and its principals were imprisoned.
One dramatic example is Stephen Purvis, a British architect who, since 2000 had developed tourism projects, factories and docks through his company that was financed by private European backers. After living in Cuba for ten years with his family and investing heavily in it, he was rewarded by being imprisoned after being accused of spying. He would spend 16 months in Cuban jails until being able to flee. Everything his company owned was confiscated. He has since warned others against doing business with the Castros.
Since 1959, more than one million Cubans, about ten percent of the population, have fled Cuba, many of whom found a new home in America. When that many people wanted to leave, it tells you something is terribly wrong with life in Cuba. The tentative steps toward normalization after all this time are necessary, but the American government should proceed with care in the years ahead.
----------------- Alan Caruba is a writer by profession; has authored several books, and writes a daily column, Warning Signs". He is a contributor to the ARRA News Service. Tags:cold war, Cuba, Soviet-style Communist, Costros, Cuban Detritus, Alan Caruba, Warning SignsTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
by Patrick L. Booth. Contributing Author: My wife and I mentor 4th grade at Blue Eye elementary. In the classroom where we mentor, more than 1/2 the children come from broken homes where they live with one parent, step-parents, or grands. They talk about "real" Dads and Mothers, spend long hours at home unsupervised playing video games, etc. and never get real discipline nor regular sit down dinners where Mom, Dad, and siblings are at the same table.
So, let's see if I have this right. The family situations are so unstable, the kids don't know where to send a Father's Day card. No guidance or discipline in the home. Kids get dumped into the education system where they are socially promoted because overwhelmed school districts can't deal with the undisciplined whelp. Their major formative influences are 'gangsta' rap, videos, and corresponding peer groups of gangsta wannabes. At 18, they are turned loose on society carrying a bad attitude, a broken moral compass and little respect for authority. They get themselves in trouble with the law, do and sell drugs (or themselves) and meet dire consequences.
Then, the national diagnosis formulated by race baiting camera hogs is that the police need more training and understanding? Right.
In the name of liberty, Atheists and Communists are destroying the moral absolutes of our beautifully designed created order by removing God from His creation. Once absolute Moral Authority is removed from society, socialist authoritarian government assumes the role of god. Their first actions are to take away the rights and liberties of individuals so they can build their Humanist utopia.
Atheism is the personal faith and religion of Godless humanistic ideology creating the Humanist value system claiming science and reason are the highest ideals. Atheism which places a great deal of emphasis on the "survival of the fittest." As a religion, Atheism's worldview does not inherently value the sanctity of human life. Therefore, Atheism inevitably leads to the political ideology of Communism.
Communism is neither a worldview nor a value system. This political ideology advocates a system of governance where individuals are ruled by an authoritarian totalitarian central government. Communist governments become the highest human authority replacing God. Therefore, Communism is the political vehicle Humanists use to propagate Atheism, by force of law. Our Democrat party has become the American Socialist party promoting atheism vs. Christianity.
Doesn't the above describe what is happening to the USA? Destroy the family and all other standards begins to fail as well. Hide behind the moniker of Democracy the ever larger authoritarian government.
----------- Patrick "PL" Booth is a constitutional conservative who blogs at the The Blue Eye View and is a contributing author to the ARRA News Service. Tags:National Delimma, schools, family issues, discipline, Moral Authority, atheism, humanists, destruction of the family, PL Booth, The Blue Eye ViewTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Tags:getting schooled. oil, lower gas prices, fracking, AF Branco, editorial cartoonTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
The Left's Assault On Christmas Is The Left's Attack On Christianity
by Gary Bauer, Contributing Author: You know it's Christmas when the left-wing Scrooges come out and start attacking Christianity. Every year they do their best to turn this season of cheer into one of jeer. I don't know about you, but if this life is all there is, that's pretty depressing. No wonder atheists are such a grumpy bunch!
And this year is no exception. At the beginning of the month, billboards went up in four states with a picture of little girl writing a letter to Santa. It reads somewhat ironically, "Dear Santa, All I want for Christmas this year is to skip church. I'm too old for fairy tales."
The billboards were put up by the group American Atheists. According to the group's press release, "these billboards are located . . . to be near schools and churches."
American Atheists President David Silverman said, "Even children know churches spew absurdity. . . Today's adults have no obligation to pretend to believe the lies their parents believed. It's OK to admit that your parents were wrong about God, and it's definitely OK to tell your children the truth."
The truth is that one day every knee will bend before the King of Kings.
Not to be outdone, a satanic temple in Tallahassee, Florida, has petitioned to have its holiday display featured alongside a nativity scene, menorah and Christmas tree in the capitol rotunda. The temple's display consists of a "diorama of an angel falling into hell."
Thanks to left-wing judges, who have perverted the meaning of the Constitution's Establishment Clause, the satanic temple's display was approved, along with one from the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. You just can't make this up.
Christ was kicked out of the public schools years ago, but one liberal enclave in Massachusetts is now giving Santa Claus the boot. The Andrew Peabody Elementary School in Cambridge banned Santa Claus from this year's "winter concert." Did you get that folks? It wasn't even a Christmas concert. But presumably Santa Claus (St. Nicholas?) is so closely connected to Christmas, he's out of the winter concert.
And, of course, we're greeted this season with a deluge of articles telling us that Mary really wasn't a virgin, that Jesus was married or that he didn't exist at all.
Yes, yesterday's Washington Post treated us to a column by Raphael Lataster (a "professionally secular PhD researcher at the University of Sydney") who attempted to cast doubt, not only on the deity of Christ, but his historical existence as well. I won't hold my breath waiting for Mr. Lataster's critique of Islam and the life of Muhammad.
Don't miss the bigger picture, my friends. The attack on Christmas is an attack on Christianity.
During a recent Fox News interview, Reverend Franklin Graham said, "It's all over the country -- you have the secularists and humanists who wanted to take Jesus Christ out of His birthday and they want to deny He ever existed."
Reverend Graham then urged Christians to speak up and defend religious liberty. Graham said, "I think it's time Christians need to write their politicians, need to stand up and defend their rights because if you don't, we'll lose them. And we're already losing them -- just one at a time."
-------------------- Gary Bauer is a conservative family values advocate and serves as president of American Values and chairman of the Campaign for Working Families Tags:Left's assault, Christmas, attack on Christianity, Gary Bauer, Campaign for Working FamiliesTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
This was not some amusing pop culture event in which a few “hackers” played games with celebrities.
This was not an entertaining series of embarrassing leaks that allowed us to learn how viciously and nastily some senior Hollywood bosses write about famous movie stars in internal emails.
This was a deliberate assault on sovereign American soil against an American company, costing it millions of dollars in direct damages and hundreds of millions in reputational damages while blocking most of its employees from using their internal systems to get routine work done.
This was a threatened physical assault against moviegoers and movie theaters nationwide if they ignored the cyberattack and dared to laugh at the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
Some commentators criticized the movie theaters for their “cowardice” in not standing up to the threats. Others criticized the rest of the movie industry for not coming to the defense of Sony.
Both critiques miss the core reality.
Private companies can’t fight sovereign nations.
Private companies cannot be asked to risk the lives of their employees and their customers because of an unanswered foreign threat of violence.
Defending America against foreign enemies is the duty of the United States government. To “provide for the common defense” is one of the reasons given in the preamble to the Constitution for forming a government.
This attack on American interests began on November 24 when there was a massive hacking assault on Sony. After 24 days of government passivity and ineffectiveness, the theaters caved to the threat of terrorist attacks.
Thus with more than three weeks to find and defeat the attackers, the American government proved to be impotent.
This attack is pure cyberwarfare.
There is a big difference between hacking for intellectual property theft and hacking to coerce a change in behavior.
The former is a crime. The second is an act of war.
The real danger is that this incident will become a precedent. Other countries and other terrorist groups will conclude that it is open season on American interests and even American lives. American companies will begin (in fact have already begun) self-censoring to avoid offending dictators and terrorists. The enemies of our freedoms will have won.
We need three decisive steps to react to this defeat in a cyberwar.
First, we have to go on the offense in this campaign and refuse to accept that the fight is over. North Korea must be made to pay an extraordinary price for this attack. One step might be to simply confiscate North Korean ships until the dictatorship pays triple damages to Sony and the theaters for the cost of its attack. What must not happen is for the American people to be told it is too hard or too dangerous to defend America against an out-of-control dictatorship. That could lead to anarchy and chaos, with every predator on the planet feeling they have the right to wage cyberwar against Americans.
Second, we should develop an immediate response capability to defend American interests and crush cyberopponents immediately. The time to hit back hardest was November 24, the day the attack began. We need protocols to enable companies and the federal government to spot an assault, report it and respond to it in virtually real time. This will require the creation of a command center — comparable to the air traffic control system in its speed of response — for the government and private companies to cooperate on cyberattacks.
Third, we must develop vastly better defensive and offensive capabilities. This will require considerable congressional involvement in thinking through the realities of the emerging permanent cyberdangers and the patterns of cyberwar.
No one should kid themselves.
We have now entered the age of cyberwar and we lost a major round in that war. The longer it takes us to confront this fact and take the necessary corrective actions, the greater our vulnerability to another defeat will be.
---------------- Newt Gingrich is a former Georgia Congressman and Speaker of the U.S. House. He co-authored and was the chief architect of the "Contract with America" and a major leader in the Republican victory in the 1994 congressional elections. He is noted speaker and writer. The above commentary was shared via Gingrich Productions. Tags:Newt Gingrich, lost cyberwar, SonyTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Obama’s Cuba announcement is a slap in the face to Congress by Rick Manning: It only took a couple of days for the ink to dry on Congress' decision to fund the Obama administration's objectives for the rest of the year before it came back to bite them.
The choice to fund all of the government for the next nine months, besides the Department of Homeland Security, means that Congress has little recourse to rein in Obama's Cuban bailout.
For years, Cuba had depended upon oil-rich Venezuela for the hard cash it needed for the Castro regime to survive. The dramatic drop in oil prices has put Venezuela's government on the ropes as their socialized running of their industry has made their oil more expensive and less plentiful. The economy of Venezuela has been teetering toward collapse for years, but $100 a barrel oil kept them afloat.
Now they face oil being sold for under $60 a barrel while the government's estimated break-even price point is more than $150 a barrel. Their safety cushion is gone.
Cuba, as a financial dependent upon Venezuela, is in even worse shape. Into this environment Obama has offered the repressive regime that runs Cuba a lifeline without even bothering to get any human rights concessions or anything else that would help the people of Cuba.
Now Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Republican leaders are eating the spoiled fruit of their omnibus harvest.
It isn't as if they were not aware of the probability that President Obama would go Lone Ranger again. Not only did they have the executive amnesty example, but every conservative group in the country was begging them to do a short-term continuing resolution to serve as a stop-gap against this exact kind of action.
Of course, it could be argued that it wouldn't matter, as Congress has already ceded the power of the purse through the much-voiced determination of Republican leaders to avoid a government shutdown at all costs.
It is from this position of weakness that Boehner expressed his outrage on Twitter, declaring that "Relations with the Castro regime should not be revisited, let alone normalized, until the Cuban people enjoy freedom — & not 1 second sooner."
While the Speaker's position sounds strong, the truth is that he traded away his capacity to do anything about it, making his tweet even less meaningful than a Kim Kardashian 140-character observation.
The lesson that should have been learned over the past six years is that Obama doesn't care about the law and will move forward aggressively unless Congress preserves and is willing to use its constitutional prerogatives.
Obama's Cuba announcement in the days immediately following the great bipartisan compromise between Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and the president should send a clear signal to Congress that it is their job to throw sands in the gears of Obama's fundamental transformation of America that voters thoroughly rejected in November.
There cannot be compromise with someone who has utter contempt for Congress and the Constitution and is feverishly working against a clock.
Somehow I suspect that this message is completely lost on the incumbent Republican congressional leadership.
---------------- Rick Manning (@rmanning957) is the vice president of public policy and communications for Americans for Limited Governmentshared on The Hill. Tags:President Obama, unilateral actions, appearance, a dictator, editorial cartoon, William Warren, Rick Manning, Americans for Limited Government, Cuba announcement, slap in the face to CongressTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
This came to mind when Secretary of State John Kerry testified in the Senate last week.
The new Iraq War has been pitched exhaustively to the American people as “only air strikes” and “absolutely no boots on the ground” — even as the Obama Administration continues to send additional U.S. military advisors to place their boots on Iraqi sand (and, at least once thus far, to engage ISIS directly via Apache attack helicopters hovering above Iraqi ground.)
Kerry again assured senators that the president “has been crystal clear that his policy is that U.S. military forces will not be deployed to conduct ground combat operations against ISIL.”
Strangely, however, the Secretary most adamantly urged Senators not to pass an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) that would restrict President Obama from doing precisely what he has so often and emphatically pledged not to do: put combat boots on the ground in Iraq.
The fact that the Obama Administration has foreclosed any possibility of putting US troops on the ground to fight, according to Sec. Kerry, “doesn’t mean that we should preemptively bind the hands of the commander in chief or our commanders in the field in responding to scenarios and contingencies that are impossible to foresee.”
Impossible to foresee? Yeah, right. The “no boots” promise provides all the stability of leaves in the wind.
Having any trust in this administration is impossible to foresee.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.
--------- Paul Jacobs (@pauljacob) is author of Common Sense which provides daily commentary about the issues impacting America — and about the citizens who are doing something about them. He is a contributing author on the ARRA News Service. Tags:Paul Jacob, Common Sense, John Kerry, Aeschylus, in war, truth is the first casualt, Iraq, President Obama, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Cuba Is Latest Benefactor of Obama’s Fairy-Tale Foreign Policy . . .
. . . In the his most recent “negotiation” with a foreign nemesis, President Obama has once again given away more and gotten less. Unfortunately for the United States, in the long run, this fairy tale is not likely to have a happy ending.
Tags:Cuba, US, President Obama, prisoner trade, editorial cartoon, Glenn FodenTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
10 Year Old in N.J. Speaks Against Common Core: It Stinks!
ARRA News Service - Elizabeth Blaine, a 10-year-old from New Jersey, doesn’t like Common Core. She shared her support for a policy that lets parents opt out their children from taking the Common Core test, also known as PARCC (Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers).
“Because it stinks,” the fourth-grader told school board members Monday night in Montclair, N.J., during a meeting on the national standards."I love to read. I love to write. I love to do math. But I don’t love the PARCC. Why? Because it stinks," Elizabeth said.
"This is crazy!" she continued. "I am one of the most gifted students in my grade (or so my mom says) and I have not even the slightest clue as to what this means."
"I am glad my mom and dad are letting me opt out, because I don’t want to deal with this nonsense."Silencing everyone in the room, Blaine was critical of the assessment group known as PARCC, arguing that she should have the option to opt out of this “nonsense.” The story made headlines, even in The Washington Post.
Watch the video to see Elizabeth make her case and read her mom’s blog for the full story.
Full text of Elizabeth's speech:I love to read. I love to write. I love to do math. But I don’t love the PARCC. Why? Because it stinks.
For example, I took a EOY (end of the year) practice test for math in preparation for the PARCC. On the practice test there was adding, multiplying, and subtracting fractions, long division, and geometry. All of these things we have not learned (or even started learning yet). And we are supposed to know these concepts mentally by the end of the year!
I also don’t like the PARCC because it is all on computers.
On the test we will have to type full essays in a time limit, when most of us have not typed ever before! We might have taken a technology class, but we are not required to. Why couldn’t they make the test on paper? Also, my tech teacher told us that if, during the test, we click out we’re out.
Another thing that I don’t like is that we have lost six periods due to PARCC preparation. The preparation is for the technology on the test. The technology includes things like using a drag and drop ruler, a drag and drop protractor, drop-down windows, and scroll bars that only move certain mini windows only. And, there is this part (on some questions) where you make your own equation to show your work. That’s good, right? Yeah, but to make the equation it’s very complicated and hard.
So the math practice test stinks, what’s next? Why, the ELA test of course. On the ELA test there are some very confusing and extremely hard questions. For example, one of the essay questions was:
“Identify a theme in ‘Just Like Home’ and a theme in ‘Life Doesn’t Frighten Me.’ Write an essay that explains how the theme of the story is shown through the characters and how the theme of the poem is shown through the speaker. Include specific details from the story and the poem to support your essay.”
This is crazy! I am one of the most gifted students in my grade (or so my mom says) and I have not even the slightest clue as to what this means.
Also, on the ELA test there is a video, a Maya Angelou poem, and two stories. Along with that, there are questions to go with the poem and two stories. I had no idea what any of the questions to do with the poem meant and I didn’t understand the poem itself either. The questions for the first story were simple enough, but were terribly worded. The second story’s questions were about the same.
Now you know about the questions and technology on the PARCC. I am glad my mom and dad are letting me opt out, because I don’t want to deal with this nonsense, as I stated before. I agree with the policy being voted on tonight and hope that it passes through.
Thank you.Tags:Common Core, stinks, Opt Out, Elizabeth Blaine, a 10-year-old, speach, School board, Montclair, New Jersey, videoTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
New Day In Arkansas: Fiscal Policy Recommendations For Arkansas
On Tuesday, January 13, 2015, Arkansans will celebrate "A New Day in Arkansas" when Republican Asa Hutchinson is sworn in as Governor and Republicans are sworn for "every" Constitutional Office in Arkansas. In addition, the Republicans will be in greater control and thus have more responsibility in both chambers of the legislature. When Arkansans voted they also had expectations. They were and are looking forward to positive changes in how things are done across the board by state government. In addition to expecting a rollback in taxation and in government control of people's lives, Arkansans want "a wall of separation" maintained by their state to protect them from the excessive programs of various Federal agencies both now and into the future. The below article by the Arkansas Policy Foundation suggests "fiscal policy recommendations." However, this is only a beginning of many recommendations that the people of Arkansas have for prudent policies for our new administration. One of the greatest things this new administration can do is to lead in manner which believes in and supports the core values and decency of the majority of Arkansans. ~ Dr. Bill Smith, Editor
Greg Kaza, executive director,
Arkansas Policy Foundation, an
economic think tank in Little Rock.
by Greg Kaza, Arkansas Policy Foundation: Prudence should guide fiscal policy. Public services should be provided in an efficient, cost-effective manner. Savings should be used to encourage economic growth and make Arkansas competitive in terms of jobs creation and income growth. The Murphy Commission, a Policy Foundation project spent three years (1996-1998) studying state government before advancing ideas to make government cost-effective and accountable to taxpayers. Several ideas have advanced, including a performance-based budgeting pilot, and income and capital gains tax cuts. But more needs to be done.
Declare a Jobs Emergency
Incoming Gov. Asa Hutchinson inherits a weak labor market. Nonfarm payroll employment is the broadest state level indicator. Total Arkansas NPE was 1,201,200 (January 2007) and 1,195,300 (October 2014). U.S. employment increased 1.3% in the same period, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data show. Governors have little influence over some policies1 that affect jobs. But they can lead in areas such as tax policy and regulation.
Continue Reducing the Capital Gains Tax
Some policymakers have recognized for 15 years that Arkansas fiscal policy discourages capital investment. After the Murphy Commission, the 82nd General Assembly (1999) approved a measure by state Sen. Jim Hill, D-Nashville, to exempt thirty percent (30%) of a capital gain from the state income tax. The Fluor GLS report, commissioned by the Assembly, also noted Arkansas' competitive disadvantage. The 89th Assembly cut another twenty percent (20%). The tax (3.5%) should be phased-out over a decade so Arkansas can compete against low-tax states with higher jobs creation.
Reduce the Income Tax Rate
Arkansas has the highest income tax rates of any border state.2 Mr. Hutchinson has proposed a middle-class tax cut, lowering the top rate from seven (7%) to six (6%) for those earning between $34,000 and $75,000.3 The proposal, advanced as an idea to spur jobs creation has greater potential to grow income. Arkansas per capita personal income increased from 78.4% (2007) to 82% (2013) of the U.S. after the grocery tax was cut. PCPI stagnated between 75.4% (1983) and 77.4% (2006) of the U.S. after sales tax and spending increases that failed to deliver much income growth.
An overlooked factor is the state of the business cycle. Arkansas general revenues tend to expand in national expansions and contract below trend in recessions, with a lag. Use of a trigger mechanism that reduces or freezes tax cuts in recessions, while funding vital services, is prudent public policy.
Dynamic analysis is an attempt to measure the full impact of tax proposals, on revenue estimates. It can also provide legislators with more information when considering proposals. One example is the 2008 severance tax increase: the static analysis failed to consider a decline in natural gas prices.
Activities-Based Costing and Performance-Based Budgeting
Activities Based Costing should be linked to the state's accounting system with spending tied to costs and measurable performance outputs. Performance-based budgeting, discontinued after a 1999 pilot program should be reconsidered. Mr. Hutchinson should name a performance director and volunteer advisory group for oversight purposes. ABC can be a vital management tool if tied to performance outputs and reporting to Arkansans. State constitutional offices would benefit from these reforms.
Deregulate Policies That Harm The Poor, Reevaluate Quick Action Fund
Poor and low-income households should not be punished by laws that prevent gainful employment. One example are restrictions on hair braiders. The $50 million Quick Action Closing Fund, by contrast, serves the politically-connected and trails the U.S. since its inception.4 The guiding policy should be low rates for all businesses, not taxpayer-funded privileges. 1 Arkansas and U.S. data seasonally adjusted. 2 Governors can praise or question International trade and monetary policies but they cannot lead in these areas. 3 State Individual Income Taxes (rates for 2014, as of January 1, 2014): Arkansas (7%); Louisiana and Missouri (6%); Oklahoma (5.25%); Mississippi (5%); Tennessee (dividends and interest only); Texas (no tax). Federation of State Tax Administrators. 4 Gov.-Elect Hutchinson has also proposed cutting the 6% rate to 5% for those earning between $20,400 and $33,999 annually. 5 Payroll employment: (Arkansas) 1,202,000 (July 2007) to 1,194,000 (September 2014); U.S. 137,984,000 to 139,466,000. Tags:Arkansas, Fiscal Policy Recommendations, New administration, Governor Asa Hutchinson, Greg Kaza, Arkansas Policy Foundation, Bill Smith, expectations, New Day in Arkansas, wall of separation, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Obama's Christmas For Dictators - America Handcuffed!
America Handcuffed - Down But Not Out!
by Gary Bauer, Contributing Author: Yesterday, at the White House, amid great fanfare, President Obama announced a new policy toward Cuba. But it is nothing more than the same old left-wing appeasement.
Obama declared that America's foreign policy toward Cuba -- instituted by John F. Kennedy and carried out by subsequent Democratic and Republican administrations -- was "outdated." The president said, "We cannot keep doing the same thing and expect a different result."
As usual, Obama misunderstands American policy. It is Cuba's failed economic system and brutal political repression that is "outdated." Our values are not the ones that need changing. Our policies are not the problem.
Nevertheless, Obama "extended a hand of friendship" in the interest of "normalizing relations" with the communist Castro regime. He vowed to open a new embassy in Havana and announced that his administration was further relaxing restrictions on travel and cash remittances to Cuba.
As part of this thaw in relations, the Vatican reportedly played a key role in securing a prisoner swap. I am pleased that American Alan Gross is now free after five years in a Cuban jail. This is a happy time for Gross and his family. But, as usual, Obama is the worst negotiator -- he agreed to release three Cuban spies.
Obama's announcement was greeted on Capitol Hill with bi-partisan criticism. Speaker John Boehner blasted the policy change as "another in a long line of mindless concessions." Boehner added, "Relations with the Castro regime should not be revisited, let alone normalized, until the Cuban people enjoy freedom -- and not one second sooner."
Florida's Senator Marco Rubio ripped Obama's move as "part of a long record of coddling dictators and tyrants," adding that Obama is "constantly giving unilateral concessions in exchange for nothing." Rubio also noted it would take an act of Congress to repeal the trade embargo.
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said, "President Obama's actions have vindicated the brutal behavior of the Cuban government. . . . Trading Mr. Gross for three convicted criminals sets an extremely dangerous precedent."
Dictators all over the world are receiving the gift they desired most -- America handcuffed by a president intent on giving them whatever they want. Yesterday it was the Castro brothers turn to sit on Obama's lap and get their goodies.
Cuba's communist government has its back against the wall. Russia is reeling from falling oil prices and couldn't bail Cuba out. The same is true for Cuba's socialist ally, Venezuela. And then along comes "Obama Claus."
Even the liberal Washington Post's lead editorial today accused Obama of giving Cuba a "bailout." The Post editors wrote: "President Obama granted the regime everything on its wish list. . ." They quoted Cuba's leading dissident blogger, Yoani Sanchez, who said yesterday, "Castroism has won," and sadly observed that freedom fighters like her in Cuba will have to endure the gloating of their oppressors.
While Obama was speaking to the American people yesterday and claiming that our "isolation" of the Cuban regime was a failure (It was not a failure -- it succeeded in marginalizing Cuba's dictatorial government), Raul Castro spoke to the Cuban people for four minutes. He used his brief address to dig in his heels and defend his communist/socialist regime.
Congressional Republicans were loud and strong in their condemnation of Obama's move, including Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Ted Cruz and Rep. Paul Ryan. But Senator Rand Paul broke ranks and said more trade with Cuba was "a good thing." I don't know what Paul's strategy is, but siding with Obama, Hillary and Jimmy Carter doesn't seem like a winner for 2016.
Elliott Abrams made perhaps the most insightful observation on the impact of Obama's move. You can read it here. His point: The world just saw our 50-year old foreign policy on Cuba change in the blink of Obama's eye -- and not because Cuba changed for the better. Fears among our allies will grow that he could do the same rash thing with Iran or China.
Our Increasingly Dangerous World - Internet hacking may not seem that significant compared to challenges posed by Russia, China, Iran and radical Islam. But the current attack on Sony offers a glimpse into the future.
American corporations and the U.S. government are under constant cyberattack. And the people most responsible for these attacks are in Russia, China, Iran and North Korea. The Obama Administration has done little, beyond encouraging the private sector to build more firewalls and install better virus protection software. But the time may be coming when we must act on the Pentagon's 2011 conclusion that cyberattacks can be an act of war.
The group behind the Sony cyberattack, the Guardians of Peace, is most likely being directed by North Korea. Sony was about to release a comedy about the CIA attempting to assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. The code used in the attack was written in Korean and is similar to "a presumed North Korean digital assault on South Korean banks and broadcasters last year."
While we may laugh at the hypocritical emails of Sony's elite liberal executives, this is a very serious attack -- a form of economic terrorism likely to cost Sony tens of millions of dollars, if not much more.
The group has also issued a threat, invoking the September 11th attacks, against theaters that show the film. The New York premier has been cancelled, theater chains are refusing to show the movie and the stars of the film have cancelled promotional tours. But Hollywood's appeasement sends the wrong message. Caving in to the demands of terrorists only reinforces their perception that terror threats work.
We know that foreign hackers have been probing banks, Wall Street and utility companies for years. Earlier this year, Iranian hackers attacked the Las Vegas Sands casino in revenge for comments made by CEO Sheldon Adelson. Reports indicate that the White House, State Department, Postal Service, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have also been hacked in recent months.
There is deep concern that the next war will begin -- and perhaps end -- with a massive assault on the electronic/Internet infrastructure that we increasingly rely on. Add this to the list of things that the next conservative president will have to clean up after the hapless Obama Administration leaves town.
------------- Gary Bauer is a conservative family values advocate and serves as president of American Values and chairman of the Campaign for Working Families Tags:President Obama, Christmas Present, for dictators, America Handcuffed, Cuba, Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Gary Bauer, Campaign for Working FamiliesTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Claude Louis Hector de Villars - the great early 18th Century French general (back when France had them) - rightly observed: God save me from my friends. I can protect myself from my enemies.The late, inordinately great United States President Ronald Reagan believed it - and applied it directly to the worst “friend” of all:The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'Anytime government does anything, it costs We the People money - in (at least) two directions.
At the front end - because before government can do anything it must take from us the coin to do it.
The cost of just the federal government “helping” We the “Friends” is gi-normous. Costs for Americans to comply with federal regulations reached $1.863 trillion in 2013. That is more than the (Gross Domestic Product) GDPs of Canada or Australia.Every good and service we purchase - or try to sell - is thus in the aggregate nearly $2 trillion more expensive. Thanks for the assistance, Uncle Sam.
Some economic sectors are more abused than others. This is most often due to regulatory attrition - and addition.
Government gets a little involved - and of course things get worse. So the government assails the damage its done - as a failing of the (now less) free market. Spinning it into justification for further government involvement. And of course things worsen further. Lather, rinse repeat.
As we should all know by now, the solution to government - isn’t more government.
One of the most abused parts of the economy is the Farm Sector. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) alone is way beyond control. Using 105,000 total USDA employees and the BLS figure of 1.2 million farmers and farm workers — you get a ratio of 1 employee for every 11.4 farmers.Except it’s 1 for every 11.4 members of the sector – anyone involved in any way in farming. Not just farmers. That bureaucrat-to-useful-person ratio is absurd.
The tens of thousands of pages of regulations the USDA has issued these past 152 years to lord over the Farm Sector are cumulatively crushing.
But the USDA is a lightweight compared to the meteoric, merely 45-year-old Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The EPA is ridiculously anti-free market – it’s its sole reason for being. And more and more, it is setting its sites on the Farm Sector.
You want to kneecap farmers? And make food exorbitantly more expensive? Turn farmers’ water into a weapon against them. The issue is the EPA's proposed changes to the Waters of the United States regulation. In March, the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed new rules that would expand the agency's regulatory authority on streams and wetlands that feed into major rivers and lakes.
The EPA says 60 percent of the nation's streams and wetlands are not protected from pollution.That actually means 60% of the nation’s streams and wetlands are protected from government. The EPA won’t stand for that. Except:(T)wo U.S. Supreme Court decisions that limited what waterways the government can regulate and the proposed rule is meant to clarify which smaller ones they include.Why would that stop the EPA?(T)he rules…(would) allow the government to dictate what farmers can and cannot do with their farmland, which often includes small streams, ponds and marshes.How beyond-all-reason-and-reasonableness is this massive new EPA power grab?(Small Business Administration) SBA to EPA: Ditch the Waters of the U.S. Proposal
On October 1, 2014, an unexpected ally from within the administration filed comments with EPA claiming that EPA and the Corps "have improperly certified the proposed rule [WOTUS] under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) because it (WOTUS) would have significant effects on small businesses.”When another arm of the Leviathan thinks you’ve gone light years too far - just how far from the path have you strayed?EPA, of course, said its rule would not have a significant effect on small businesses.Of course it says that. And if you like your health care plan - you can keep it.The RFA requires any federal agency to consider the impact of a proposed rule on a small business or small local government. Moreover if an agency determines there will be a significant economic impact, then less burdensome alternatives must be reviewed and in EPA's case it is required to convene a Small Business Advocacy Review Panel.
As you might guess EPA ignored SBA requirements.Of course it did.SBA says that EPA and the Corps mislead the public by claiming that using a 1986 definition of the scope of the waters of the U.S. EPA is actually narrowing its jurisdiction.
SBA points out correctly, as does the Office of Management and Budget, that EPA should not be using the 1986 definition but use its current method for determining jurisdiction. SBA claims "Using an obsolete baseline improperly diminishes the effects of this rule."
by Phil Kerpen, Contributing Author: One of the most perverse consequences of the feverish backroom deals used to get Obamacare past the finish line was the funding formula for the law’s Medicaid expansion, which started with the infamous Cornhusker Kickback, a sweetheart deal for Nebraska alone to get 100 percent federal funding for Medicaid expansion that was used to get then-Senator Ben Nelson’s vote.
When the whistle was blown on that dirty deal, Nelson implausibly explained that the Nebraska-only provision was intended to be a “placeholder” for higher Medicaid funding for all 50 states. And that’s what ended up ultimately passing: if a state expands Medicaid to able-bodied adults, the new population is eligible for 100 percent federal funding through 2016, phasing down starting in 2017 until it reaches 90 percent in 2020 and permanently thereafter.
Yet states continue to receive an average of 57 percent federal funding for the pre-expansion Medicaid population of needy families and people with disabilities. In short, under current law, states are given a huge financial incentive to favor able-bodied adults over the truly needy. It’s shameful and it should be fixed.
Here is a good explanation of the problem and a sensible proposal for a solution:“Under current law, States face a patchwork of different Federal payment contributions for individuals eligible for Medicaid and CHIP. Specifically, State Medicaid expenditures are generally matched by the Federal Government using the Federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP); CHIP expenditures are matched with enhanced FMAP (eFMAP); and the ACA provides increased match for newly-eligible individuals and certain childless adults beginning in 2014. This proposal would replace these complicated formulas with a single matching rate specific to each State that automatically increases if a recession forces enrollment and State costs to rise beginning in 2017. This proposal is projected to save $17.9 billion over 10 years.”The author of that paragraph? President Barack Obama.
It comes directly from the budget he submitted to Congress on February 13, 2012, and it was the kind of bipartisan reform that should have been able to pass Congress easily. It would have fixed a serious perverse incentive problem, reduced administrative complexity, and saved billions for federal taxpayers.
Just four months later, however, the Supreme Court struck down Obamacare’s provisions purporting to force states to expand Medicaid to able-bodied adults or lose all of their federal Medicaid funding for their existing programs. It was a resounding 7 to 2 decision, and it set off intense legislative battles over the issue in state capitals.
It also prompted President Obama to completely abandon his proposal for a single matching rate. His apparent political calculation was that dangling 100 percent federal funding for the expansion population would make it irresistible for state legislators and governors to go along with the now-optional expansion.
Yet at present 19 states have rejected Medicaid expansion and four are still considering it. So the 100 percent funding wasn’t irresistible at all, but it does mean that the 27 states that have adopted Medicaid expansion now face budget pressure to cut care for the truly needy while maximizing the number of healthy able-bodied adults they add onto their Medicaid rolls.
A study by Jonathan Ingram of the Foundation for Government Accountability found that 82.4 percent of the expansion population is comprised of able-bodied, working-age adults with no children. Analyzing what he called “the new Medicaid math,” Ingram determined that the current funding formula creates overwhelming pressure on states that adopt Medicaid expansion to cut Medicaid for the poor children and the disabled who are in the traditional Medicaid program. He also found empirical examples of such cuts in state like Arizona and Oregon, which were early to expand Medicaid to childless adults.
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