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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 (429-347 BC)

Friday, June 23, 2017

Regime Change In Iran Appears Increasingly Attainable

Ken Blackwell
by Ken Blackwell, Contributing Author: Thirty years after President Reagan seized upon an historic opportunity to bring down the Iron Curtain, there are growing indications that President Trump can make similarly historic strides in the conflict between the US and the new Evil of our time: Islamic extremism.

In its first five months, President Trump’s presidency has witnessed dramatic shifts from the policies normalized by the Obama administration. Few are as significant or wide-ranging as the changes in American dealings with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The new attitude enjoys rare bipartisan support in Congress, and with good cause. The conciliatory policy of Trump’s predecessor resulted in an ineffectual nuclear agreement and tens of billions of dollars in sanctions relief for a regime that remains the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.

President Obama had insisted the Deal would prompt Tehran to moderate it behavior, but since the nuclear deal, Iran’s regime has only become more belligerent and more prone to human rights abuses, both within its own territory and across the Middle East.

In his speech at the Arab-US summit on May 21, Trump emphasized that Tehran is responsible for much instability in the region. From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, the Iranian regime funds, arms, and trains terrorists and extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos. For decades, Iran has fueled the fires of sectarian conflict while openly advocating mass murder, vowing the destruction of Israel, death to America, and ruin for many nations. Among Iran’s most tragic and destabilizing interventions is its support for the Syrian dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad in the midst of its unspeakable crimes.

But the Iranian regime’s longest-suffering victims are its own people, as President Trump has rightly pointed out. Iran has a rich history and culture, but the people of Iran have endured hardship and despair under their leaders’ reckless pursuit of conflict and terror.

The US has a strategic and moral imperative to push back. The new administration has strengthened ties with adversaries of the Islamic Republic. It has also increased sanctions on Iran’s dangerous ballistic missile program and taken steps toward isolating the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
The overwhelming majority of Iranians have become disillusioned with the regime. The world saw this in massive uprisings in 2009, but by reaching out to the tyrants ruling Iran, the Obama administration helped doom them to violent suppression. Nevertheless, there are still constant reports of protests over unpaid wages, minimum social warfare, rampant corruption at the top of the regime, and so on.

These trends point to the popular support that exists for regime change. But the question then becomes whether that popular sentiment has the necessary organization to bring it to fruition.
Some contend that there is no such movement and that the opposition is fractured or lacking in support. In that case, the best strategy would be to merely contain the regime. But Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has repeatedly stated in recent weeks that any change in Tehran’s behavior would be tantamount to the regime change. Faced with this attitude, containment is clearly not a realistic possibility.

A growing number of observers are making the case that there is a viable alternative. They point out that unlike many other cases in the Middle East, the Iranian opposition is organized in the form of the National Council of Resistance of Iran. It has an identifiable female leader, Maryam Rajavi, who has a progressive, democratic ten-point plan for the future of Iran.

The support among the diaspora is evident in its annual major gatherings in Paris (scheduled for July 1st), which draw tens of thousands of Iranian expatriates and their international supporters. It has solid bipartisan support among US congressmen and senior national security officials from the past four administrations.

For years the level of opposition support inside of Iran was an issue of dispute. It has been true that the key movement of the coalition, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (POMI/MEK) has witnessed the brunt of the regime’s suppression and some 100,000 of its activists have been executed over the years.

One noticeable change in the Iranian political landscape has been a substantial upsurge in domestic activism of the MEK. Its activists throughout the country have been risking arrest and torture by hanging banners and posters in major express ways and walkways urging regime change and support for Maryam Rajavi. The July 1 rally is expected to be viewed by millions, via a banned Resistance television network.

The Trump administration has moved Iran policy in the right direction but has yet to exploit the unique opportunity to turn the page against the ayatollahs for good, for the betterment of the Iranian people and the world as a whole.
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Ken Blackwell (@kenblackwell) is a former ambassador to the U.N., a former Domestic Policy Advisor to the Trump Presidential Transition Team, and former Ohio State Treasurer and mayor of Cincinnati who currently serves on the board of numerous conservative policy organizations. He is a contributing author to the ARRA News Service

Tags: Ken Blackwell, Regime Change, Iran, increasingly attainable To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Trump Signed a VA Reform Bill. What Does It Mean for Veterans?

by Tyler O'Neil: On Friday, President Donald Trump signed the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017, which empowers VA Secretary David Shulkin to fire bad employees. Following years of scandals, this bill is a victory for taxpayers and veterans alike, but it is only the first step toward real reform, at the VA and in the federal government generally.

"For many years the government failed to keep its promises," Trump declared before signing the bill. "Veterans were put on secret wait lists, given the wrong medication, given the bad treatments, and ignored in moments of crisis for them. Many veterans died waiting for a simple doctor's appointment." But "outdated laws kept the government from holding those who failed our veterans accountable."

Trump characterized the bill as "one of the largest reforms to the VA in its history. It's a reform that I campaigned on and now I am thrilled to sign that promise into law."

The bill empowers VA Secretary David Shulkin to remove bad employees, but the president insisted that "we want to reward, cherish, and promote the many dedicated employees at the VA." The law also allows Shulkin to hire more medical directors at VA hospitals.

Trump also declared, "believe me, we're just getting started."

The bipartisan bill passed the House of Representatives last week by a vote of 368-55, and it passed the Senate by voice vote.

Both Shulkin and Trump praised Michael Verardo, a retired Army sergeant who lost his left leg after stepping on an explosive device in Afghanistan in 2010. At the signing, Verardo said he was prepared to risk his life for his country, but "what I was not prepared for was coming home to a broken VA system."

After 110 surgeries, Verardo faced long delays and administrative struggles. He recalled waiting 57 days to get his prosthetic leg fixed, making a three-hour round trip so the VA "could check to see that I still had my serious injuries," and a three0and-a-half-year wait "for required adaptive changes to be made so I could safely reside in my own home."

"Under President Trump, those changes were made in weeks," Verardo added.

After Verardo's remarks, Secretary Shulkin explained the importance of reforming the firing process. "There's nothing more demoralizing ... than when the VA is forced to take employees back who have deviated from those values," the secretary said.

The secretary insisted that reform will not stop with this law. He mentioned 13 risks that the VA faces in the future. But "we won't be able to accomplish any of the reforms at the VA if we don't have the right people in place."

Recent scandals confirmed the importance of this reform. In April, a VA employee was caught watching porn on the job, and Shulkin was not able to fire him immediately. In 2016, the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) prevented the firing — and even the demotion — of two VA directors who abused their authority to pocket more than $400,000 in moving costs, which they never repaid.

One of the most egregious cases is that of Sharon Helman, former director of the VA hospital in Phoenix, Ariz. and a convicted felon. After being fired in 2014, Helman sued to get her job back, and in May a federal court ruled her firing unconstitutional. "She knows that the VA's personnel policies are so convoluted that she could have her determination at least temporarily overturned," Dan Caldwell, policy director at Concerned Veterans for America (CVA), told PJ Media.

Because the lack of accountability is such a widespread and damaging problem at the VA, "it has to be a first reform before you start talking health care reform for the VA," Caldwell argued. If the bill Trump signed solves the accountability issue at the VA, not only should other agencies get similar reforms, but Congress and the administration can focus on fixing the health care issues veterans still face.

While the bill Trump signed into law will prevent cases like Helman's, Caldwell insisted that this bill is just the first step in the important work of reform. "Across the federal government, you have some of the same problems that you have at the VA," Caldwell told PJ Media.

"At the VA, they are particularly acute and particularly urgent because of the threat that it's posing to the health and well-being of our nation's heroes," the CVA director said. He argued that the VA's disciplinary process is so "convoluted" because it was devised "in collusion with the government unions."

"If this law works well, they should look at scaling it to other parts of the federal government where it makes sense," Caldwell suggested.

He also shot back at government unions like the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) which attacked the VA reform bill as the "you're fired" bill, claiming that it allows political appointees to fire employees "at will."

"This does not dismantle protections for VA employees, and it does not make them at-will employees, as the unions have dishonestly implied and said outright," Caldwell declared. "You still have to have cause to fire, there's still an appeals process, and there's still oversight from Congress." In fact, a large section of the bill exempts whistleblowers from expedited firing.

Caldwell denounced the unions' attacks as "completely false," and "detached from reality," explaining that government unions like the AFGE "have a vested interest in preserving the status quo because they benefit from it." According to a report this January, VA employees worked over 1 million hours for unions on the taxpayers' dime in 2015.

The harrowing story of Michael Verardo, the amputee who waited over three years for adaptations to his home, underscored just how important this law really is. Shulkin praised Trump, not just for signing the law, but also for spurring the VA on to achieve its goals.

Under President Obama, Verardo waited three years for safety adaptations. Under President Trump, "he is waiting no longer," Shulkin proudly declared. More reforms are necessary, but under President Trump, the VA may finally treat veterans with the care and honor they deserve. It's about time.

Click "Load More" to see the video of Trump's remarks.
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Tyler O'Neil is Assistant Editor of PJ Media, Tyler O'Neil is a conservative fundraiser and commentator. He has written for numerous publications.

Tags: VA Reform Bill, veterans, PJ Media, Tyler O'Neil To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

The Insane Left, McConnell vs. Obamacare, Progressive Extremism, Other Headlines

by Gary Bauer, Contributing Author:  The Insane Left - California yesterday added Texas, Alabama, Kentucky and South Dakota to its growing list of states that public employees cannot travel to on official business. Celebrations immediately broke out in Texas, Alabama, Kentucky and South Dakota. (Just kidding.) Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee are already being boycotted by California bureaucrats.

What is this boycott about?

In a variety of ways, these states are safeguarding the rights of religious individuals and organizations to follow their deeply held beliefs. And the intolerant progressives who run California just can't tolerate it.

For example, in these states a Catholic charity could not be forced to provide abortion coverage to its employees. In contrast, California is forcing pregnancy resource centers to promote abortion. California also objects to states requiring girls to use the girls' bathroom and requiring boys to use the boys' bathroom. California thinks this is a violation of human rights.

Just a few weeks ago, California Gov. Jerry Brown (affectionately known as Gov. Moonbeam) strengthened his progressive credentials by hopping on a jet and traveling to Beijing to make a separate climate deal with China, the world's biggest polluter.

China is a country that does not recognize religious freedom under any circumstance that conflicts with communist rule. It imprisons dissidents. It monitors and raids Christian churches. It is threatening its smaller and weaker neighbors. For decades, China forcibly aborted women who dared to have a second child. It suppresses free speech. And China isn't exactly "gay friendly" either.

How insane is the progressive left in America? It looks at China and Texas and declares Texas to be the human rights violator.

McConnell vs. Obamacare - Senate Republicans unveiled their version of an Obamacare reform bill yesterday. Four conservatives -- Sens. Cruz, Johnson, Lee and Paul -- immediately voiced misgivings, while some moderates also expressed concerns.

Since one Senate Democrat won't help save the country from this failing disaster, Majority Leader McConnell cannot afford to lose more than two GOP senators. So the GOP's challenge is to work very hard in the days ahead to come up with something that can pass.

It also needs to advance tax reform. If the party fails on both issues, it will suffer terrible consequences in 2018 -- and it won't be Donald Trump's fault.

I urge our friends on the Hill: Do not go on an August recess until you get something done on either Obamacare or tax reform.

In most of America, a boss will say to his employees, "I know you have a vacation coming, but you're not leaving until your work is finished." Well, your boss is the American people. And from what I can tell, their mood is, "Don't go on vacation until your job in D.C. is done!"

That Didn't Take Long - I suspect all of us felt a little tinge of hope when we saw the picture of Republican and Democrat congressmen kneeling in prayer on the baseball field the day after a deranged leftist nearly killed House Majority Whip Steve Scalise.

While I think most of those kneeling were genuine in demonstrating some shared humanity, it is painfully clear that the ascendant progressive left-wing of the Democrat Party will not pause for a second in its vicious attacks on anything conservative.

For example, the Nebraska Democrat Party recently experienced a hostile progressive takeover. This week, a party official was fired after audio emerged in which he said of Rep. Scalise's shooting, "I'm glad he got shot. . . I wish he was f***ing dead." Another Nebraska Democrat official came under fire last week for her comments about the shooting.

Back in Washington, Senator Elizabeth Warren, whom millions of progressives see as their hope for the future, used this rhetoric to describe Senator McConnell's Obamacare bill: "I've read the Republican 'health care' bill. This is blood money. They're paying for tax cuts with American lives."

When progressives constantly suggest that conservatives are going to push grandmothers off of cliffs, that they are Nazis and they are causing people to die, it shouldn't come as a surprise when deranged leftists conclude that they are doing something noble by killing Republicans. And there are a lot of deranged leftists out there.

Of course, the media and the Hollywood left did not even go through the charade of kneeling in prayer. Yesterday, Elise Jordan, a former Bush aide and current MSNBC commentator, compared President Trump to a "suicide bomber."

Actor Johnny Depp seemed to be high on something when he asked, "When was the last time an actor assassinated a president?" Depp's reference, by the way, was to the assassination of the country's first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln. John Wilkes Booth was an actor.

If the left continues this rhetorical violence while groups like Antifa continue their actual violence, there will be dark days ahead for our beloved country.

Other Headlines -
  • Kudos to the Trump Administration for rejecting pro-abortion extremism at the United Nations.President Trump today signed legislation making it easier for the VA to fire underperforming bureaucrats at the underperforming agency.
  • Fourteen of the 15 charges against pro-life activists David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt were dismissed by a California court this week. Daleiden and Merritt produced the undercover videos that exposed Planned Parenthood's trafficking in aborted baby body parts. Rather than investigate Planned Parenthood, California's progressive politicians are persecuting journalists, hoping to hide the ugly truth about the abortion industry.
  • A recent Gallup poll finds that 68% of Americans believe there should be significant restrictions on abortion, including 52% of Democrats.
  • Tennessee has joined a growing number of states that have banned late-term abortions.
  • Kudos to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley for holding hearings about the left's assault on free speech on college campuses. Several states are taking steps to hold the violent thugs accountable.
  • Many Hispanic immigrants -- even those here many years -- are failing to learn English and failing to assimilate.
  • 30% of the children Obama allowed to walk across the border have ties to gangs.
  • 64% of voters believe that the Democrats' obsession with the Russia investigations is hurting the country and distracting from more important issues. Time to move on!
  • The Washington Post conceded this week that the left's single-payer healthcare scheme "would have an astonishingly high price tag" of more than $3 trillion a year! 
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Gary Bauer is a conservative family values advocate and serves as president of American Values and chairman of the Campaign for Working Families

Tags: Gary Bauer, Campaign for Working Families, The Insane Left, McConnell vs. Obamacare, Progressive Extremism, Other Headlines To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Better Care: ‘Moves Us In Such A Better Direction’

Senate ‘Reform Is A Major Improvement Over The U.S. Health-Care Status Quo That Will Worsen If The Bill Fails’
TRUMP ADMINISTRATION: Senate Proposal ‘Moves Us In Such A Better Direction Then Where We Are Right Now’

PRESIDENT TRUMP: “I am very supportive of the Senate #HealthcareBill.” (@realDonaldTrump, Twitter, 6/22/2017)

SEC. TOM PRICE: “What it [the Senate discussion draft] does is, it moves us in such a better direction than where we are right now.” (Fox News’s “Hannity,” 6/22/2017)
  • SEC. PRICE: “What you are seeing is a movement now toward a system that will allow patients and families and doctors to make decisions; that will allow states the kind of flexibility to set up the Medicaid program as they deem to be most appropriate which is much more responsive to those folks in their states; give greater choices to patients, what kind of coverage do they want for themselves; will make certain that every single American has the opportunity to purchase the kind of coverage they want and will provide a transition to this system that the president is absolutely adamant makes it so that individuals are able to prepare for whatever the new plan is and whatever the more responsive plan is.” (Fox News’s “Hannity,” 6/22/2017)
EXPERTS: ‘Senate Republican Bill Will Transform American Health Care’ ‘For The Better’

AVIK ROY: “Finished reading the Senate HC bill. Put simply: If it passes, it’ll be the greatest policy achievement by a GOP Congress in my lifetime.” (Avik Roy, @Avik, Twitter, 6/22/2017)

AVIK ROY: “The hotly-anticipated Senate Republican health care bill came out on Thursday morning. …once the dust settles, it will emerge that the Senate bill will have far-reaching effects on American health care: for the better.” (Avik Roy, Op-Ed, “The New Senate Republican Bill Will Transform American Health Care,” Forbes, 6/23/2017)
  • “Real Medicaid reforms: The Senate bill includes and refines the best part of the House bill: its reforms of Medicaid, the dysfunctional government-run health care program for the poor that whose enrollees have no better health outcomes than the uninsured. Because the Senate bill’s tax credits are robustly means-tested and available to those below the poverty line, the bill is able to repeal Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion while offering higher-quality coverage to individuals who signed up for Medicaid under the expansion. The reason that Medicaid’s health outcomes are so poor is because the outdated 1965 Medicaid law places a laundry list of constraints on states’ ability to manage their Medicaid programs. As a result, the main tool states have to keep Medicaid costs under control is to pay doctors and hospitals less and less each year for the same care. Hence, many doctors don’t take Medicaid, and Medicaid enrollees struggle to gain access to care.” (Avik Roy, Op-Ed, “The New Senate Republican Bill Will Transform American Health Care,” Forbes, 6/23/2017)
GRACE-MARIE TURNER, Galen Institute: “Senate Health Bill Provides A Safety Net And Needed Reforms… The Senate bill is only 142 pages of legislative text, versus well over 2,000 pages in ObamaCare.  This is a more modest and restrained bill, but it does what it needs to do to create a new platform for coverage and important new flexibility for the states.” (Grace-Marie Turner, Op-Ed, “Senate Bill Provides A Safety Net And Needed Reforms,” Forbes, 6/22/2017)

OPINION LEADERS: ‘Could Become The Most Consequential Social Reform Since The Welfare Reconstruction Of 1996’

WALL STREET JOURNAL: “The binary choice now is between pushing past the media and Democratic flak to pass a historic achievement, or wilting under the pressure and ratifying the ObamaCare status quo. …the reform is a major improvement over the U.S. health-care status quo that will worsen if the bill fails.” (“The Senate’s Health-Care Advance,” The Wall Street Journal, 6/23/2017)
  • WSJ: “Medicaid was most divisive for Republicans in their months-long internal debate, so the pleasant surprise is that the Senate’s entitlement overhaul is somewhat stronger than the House’s. The program originally meant for poor women, children and the disabled—which ObamaCare opened to able-bodied, working-age adults above the poverty level—would be modernized for the first time. This could become the most consequential social reform since the welfare reconstruction of 1996. … It’s not too much to say this is a defining moment for whether the GOP can ever reform runaway entitlements.” (“The Senate’s Health-Care Advance,” The Wall Street Journal, 6/23/2017)
SEAN HANNITY, Fox News: “It repeals Obamacare taxes, ends funding for abortion, repeals the mandate – individual and employer mandates – so those are all good things in my opinion.” (Fox News’s “Hannity,” 6/22/2017)

FOUNDATION FOR GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY: “The Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 is an important step forward in fixing the health insurance market damaged by ObamaCare and refocusing the Medicaid program on the truly needy. … ‘The Senate’s discussion draft is a vital next step to protect patients, reduce health insurance costs, provide historic Medicaid reform, and cut taxes and spending.’ …stated Tarren Bragdon, CEO of FGA.” (“FGA Responds To The Better Care Reconciliation Act Of 2017,” FGA, 6/22/2017)

ELIZABETH McKEE, Americans For Tax Reform: “The Senate healthcare bill cuts taxes for millions of middle-income families … Obamacare's taxes deprive working families and businesses of their hard-earned income. The Senate's Obamacare repeal bill abolishes these taxes and returns much-needed purchasing power to taxpayers.” (Elizabeth McKee, Op-Ed, “The Senate Healthcare Bill Cuts Taxes For Millions Of Middle-Income Families,” Washington Examiner, 6/22//2017)

AMERICANS FOR TAX REFORM: “The Senate’s Obamacare repeal bill abolishes the many middle class taxes that were imposed by President Obama and the Democrat party in 2010. Obama promised repeatedly that he would never raise any form of tax on any household making less than $250,000 per year. He lied. Although you’ll never hear it from the establishment media, the Senate’s Obamacare repeal bill:
-Abolishes the Obamacare Individual Mandate Tax which hits 8 million Americans each year.
-Abolishes the Obamacare Employer Mandate Tax.
-Abolishes Obamacare’s Medicine Cabinet Tax which hits the 20 million Americans with Health Savings Accounts and the 30 million -Americans with Flexible Spending Accounts.
-Abolishes Obamacare’s Flexible Spending Account tax on 30 million Americans.
-Abolishes Obamacare’s Chronic Care Tax on 10 million Americans with high out of pocket medical expenses. This Obamacare tax imposed higher income taxes on households making an average of $53,000 per year.
-Abolishes Obamacare’s HSA withdrawal tax.
-Abolishes Obamacare’s 10% excise tax on small businesses with indoor tanning services.
-Abolishes the Obamacare health insurance tax.
-Abolishes the Obamacare 3.8% surtax on investment income.
-Abolishes the Obamacare medical device tax.
-Abolishes the Obamacare tax on prescription medicine.
-Abolishes the Obamacare tax on retiree prescription drug coverage.” (Americans For Tax Reform, Press Statement, 6/22/2017)

BRANDON ARNOLD, National Taxpayers Union: “The Senate’s recently unveiled ‘Better Care Reconciliation Act’ represents yet another critical step toward repealing Obamacare and replacing it with a market-based approach to health care. The bill wisely scraps nearly all of Obamacare’s onerous taxes on individuals, families, and businesses. It provides states with additional flexibility to opt out of the current regulatory framework that is causing premiums to skyrocket. And it makes structural reforms to the Medicaid program that will encourage innovative approaches to providing care to the neediest Americans. While some will inevitably dwell on the bill’s imperfections, and those flaws do exist, it’s important to look at the bigger picture: if Congress wants to repeal Obamacare, it is absolutely imperative for the Senate to pass the Better Care Reconciliation Act and continue that process.” (National Taxpayers Union, Press Release, 6/22/2017)

JOBS GROUPS: ‘The Time Has Come To At Long Last Turn The Page On ‘Obamacare’ And Move Toward A More Market-Oriented, Patient-Centered System’

U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: “The Senate health care bill will help to stabilize crumbling insurance markets caused by the Affordable Care Act, work to curb runaway premium increases, and jettison ill-conceived Washington mandates and taxes that have weighed heavily on our economy. This is an extremely important step in putting doctors and patients ahead of politicians when it comes to American health care. This bill appears to strike an important balance between providing ample attention to the much needed safety net for underserved communities without putting Washington in charge of health care. We have long sought this type of balanced solution that doesn’t jeopardize employer sponsored coverage, while seeking affordable access for all Americans. The Senate’s approach appears to do just that. We know that Obamacare is dangerously close to collapse as millions of Americans are left with fewer and fewer options for health insurance and urge Senators to move forward and ultimately pass this legislation without delay.” (U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Press Release, 6/22/2017)

NATIONAL FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT BUSINESS (NFIB) President & CEO Juanita Duggan: “The Senate provides massive tax relief by eliminating 11 of the most burdensome Obamacare taxes, which are crushing small businesses and driving up costs. It also eliminates the onerous mandates that discourage job creation, expansion, and investment. This is long overdue, and it is what small business owners want and expect from this Congress. We urge the Senate to pass this bill before the July 4th recess.” (National Federation of Independent Business, Press Release, 6/22/2017)
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF WHOLESALER-DISTRIBUTORS (NAW) President & CEO Dirk Van Dongen: “The time has come to at long last turn the page on ‘Obamacare’ and move toward a more market-oriented, patient-centered system, the surest path toward lower cost, higher quality and enhanced access. The approach set forth in the Discussion Draft of the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 takes important strides in this direction, and will strengthen our private, employment-based health benefits system through which 177 million Americans today receive coverage…. NAW looks forward to working with allies in the employer community and on the Hill to win Senate passage of this legislation and to put a bill on the President’s desk at the earliest possible date.” (National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, Press Release, 6/22/2017)
  • NAW: “Of particular note in the Discussion Draft are provisions to repeal employer mandate penalties; repeal of the health insurance tax and other cost-generating ACA taxes and delay through 2025 of the implementation of the ‘Cadillac Tax;’ and expanded health savings accounts (HSA) and flexible spending accounts (FSA). The authorization of the formation and multistate operation of small business health plans (SBHP) will enhance access to quality coverage and care for employees of small businesses and is an important plus.” (National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, Press Release, 6/22/2017)
NATIONAL RETAIL FEDERATION (NRF) Vice President for Health Care Policy Neil Trautwein: “Senator McConnell’s proposal steers health care reform back in the direction of strengthening the competition-driven private insurance market…. Retailers welcome this step forward in the process to repeal many of the most onerous mandates in Obamacare and replace them with policies that will make it easier for employers to offer health care coverage and make it more affordable for their employees.” (National Retail Federation, Press Release, 6/22/2017)

ADVANCED MEDICAL TECHNOLOGY ASSOCIATION (AdvaMed): AdvaMed applauds inclusion of permanent repeal of the medical device excise tax as part of the Senate's draft of the American Health Care Act…. Repealing the tax will give the industry the long-term certainty necessary to support future job growth and sustainable, cutting-edge R&D that will ultimately lead to the next generation of breakthroughs in patient care and treatment. Access to these life-changing technologies for patients in America and around the globe will only be enhanced by removing this tax once and for all.”

STOP THE HIT COALITION Of Small Business Owners: “We applaud Senate leadership for advancing an immediate and permanent repeal of the Health Insurance Tax (HIT) in their health care bill discussion draft. This is a welcome and much-­needed first step in providing relief from a sorely misguided tax that has plagued small businesses for far too long. Already, health insurance companies are filing preliminary rates in states across the country. Absent immediate action to repeal this tax, small business owners and their employees will face far higher premium costs, forcing painful cuts to benefits and future growth. The time to repeal is now.” (Stop The HIT Coalition, Press Release, 6/23/2017)

EMPLOYERS COUNCIL ON FLEXIBLE COMPENSATION (ECFC): “On behalf of the Employers Council on Flexible Compensation (ECFC), we are writing to thank you for recognizing the importance of consumer-directed health accounts, expanding opportunities for Americans to use these accounts to make their health benefits more affordable, and delaying the Excise Tax in the discussion draft of the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 released on June 22, 2017.” (ECFC, Letter To Sen. McConnell, 6/23/2017)

Tags: Better Care, A Better Direction’ To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Why Is Healthcare So Expensive?

by PragerU: The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, was supposed to reduce the cost of healthcare, but it only made it more expensive. What can the government do to help reduce healthcare costs? How about stay out of the way as much as possible? Watch the below video to learn why.

This video is part of a collaborative business and economics project with Job Creators Network and Information Station. To learn more, visit informationstation.org.

Transcript: Healthcare costs are skyrocketing. Since the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010 health care costs have gone up by double digits each year.

The health care bill did get more people insured and helped with issues like preexisting conditions, but the problem with the healthcare law isn't what it tried to do, it's what it failed to do: reduce costs. The solutions to the cost problem is with the free market and competition. Here are just three ideas that could make a huge difference.

Number 1: We can roll back the tax burden on insurance companies. The ACA added a $60 billion tax on health insurers, which made them have to charge more to consumers to cover their costs. Taxes roll downhill so a tax on insurers means higher costs for all of us.

Number 2: We can lower the regulations on health plans. The ACA has a lot of requirements that force insurance plans to cover an incredibly big list of benefits. If you want a bare-bones insurance plan that simply covers catastrophic events like a car accident or cancer you currently can't get one. By boosting the benefits of every plan it restricts competition and drives up prices by forcing smaller health insurers out of the marketplace. Low-cost catastrophic plans that are normally purchased by younger, healthier people are no longer available because of the ACA requirements.

Introducing as many health insurers to the marketplace as possible can drive down prices by encouraging businesses to compete to cut costs. The ACA did the exact opposite: Less competition and higher prices.

Number 3: Encourage medical innovation. The cost to bring a new drug to market already exceeds two and half billion dollars. And the ACA places an additional twenty-two billion dollar tax burden on innovator drug companies, the same businesses that produce lifesaving medications and cures for those in need. Punishing drug producers forces them to charge even higher prices to make up for the lost money in research, development, and taxes.

If we encourage, not punish drug makers it will lead to more breakthroughs and lower costs -- a win, win for all of us.

As healthcare costs skyrocket, don't forget that the free market is our best chance to rein them in.

Tags: Affordable Care Act, Why Is Healthcare So Expensive?, video, PragerU To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Senate GOP Launches Obamacare “Repeal” Bill

. . . Is Obamacare here to stay if it passes?
by Matthew Vadum: After a month of secret negotiations, Senate Republicans unveiled their own version of health care reform legislation yesterday that, like the House bill, tinkers around the edges of the Obamacare system but leaves the fundamentals of the failing program in place.

It is yet another sobering reminder that the Washington establishment, including GOP congressional leadership, has never wanted to repeal Obamacare, whose built-in obsolescence was written into the program specifically to bring about the collapse of the health care insurance system and usher in single-payer. Republican leaders want to keep Obamacare around so they can continue running against it. Politicians do, after all, need villains, real or imagined, to get out the vote. Republican lawmakers, despite their rhetoric, chafe at the idea of getting rid of the program because it gives them power over one-sixth of the national economy.

President Trump, who speaks frequently of the importance of repealing Obamacare and giving patients more choices, may be in a hurry to drain the swamp in Washington, but the swamp is in no hurry to be drained.

Four courageous conservatives have already spoken truth to power by coming out against the language in the new draft bill. Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) want market-based reforms, not changes to Obamacare designed to prolong its life.

"Currently, for a variety of reasons, we are not ready to vote for this bill, but we are open to negotiation and obtaining more information before it is brought to the floor,” the quartet of lawmakers said in a joint statement.

“There are provisions in this draft that represent an improvement to our current healthcare system but it does not appear this draft as written will accomplish the most important promise that we made to Americans: to repeal Obamacare and lower their healthcare costs."

Ken Cuccinelli, president of Senate Conservatives Action, described the draft as “another betrayal” by McConnell.After writing the bill behind closed doors, McConnell has once again done exactly the opposite of what he told the voters he would do. MitchCare keeps Obamacare's coverage mandates, it keeps Obamacare's costly Medicaid spending, and it keeps Obamacare's subsidies. If it passes, it will lead to endless bailouts, price increases, and debt – all blamed on Republicans and the free market.Despite this there will be a bipartisan pantomime in coming days as both Republicans and Democrats will try to satisfy their various constituencies by pretending the measure will repeal Obamacare. Unless a real alternative plan that rips Obamacare out root and branch emerges, the battle on Capitol Hill over the bill will be just another political turf war as Republicans compete with Democrats to be tax collectors for the ever-expanding welfare state. Fortunately, there is still plenty of time left in the 115th Congress for conservative lawmakers to write a bill that actually repeals Obamacare.

But for now, “in reality, nobody is repealing Obamacare, nobody is addressing the core health care issues in America, and nobody is offering a vision of freedom, prosperity, and a solvent health care and health insurance market,” Daniel Horowitz writes at Conservative Review.

“Everything is working within the confines of the most extreme socialist baseline from the Obama era.”

Leftist Jonathan Gruber, an economics professor at MIT, said on CNN yesterday that the Senate document “is no longer an Obamacare repeal bill. That's good.”

Gruber ought to know. He was brought in by the Obama administration to help write the Obamacare bill. He admitted in a series of videos that the bill was deliberately written "in a tortured way" to conceal that it constructed a system in which "healthy people pay in and sick people get money." The bill’s "lack of transparency [was] a huge political advantage" in advocating for it and preyed on the “stupidity of the American voter.”

The 142-page “discussion draft” of the proposed “Better Care Reconciliation Act” is already stirring up opposition from senators representing both parties, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) intends to press for a vote on it before lawmakers flee Washington for the Fourth of July recess at the end of next week. (The text of the draft bill is available here.)

McConnell pushed almost all the right conservative buttons when he introduced the proposal on the Senate floor.

Obamacare was supposed to lower costs, but it didn’t, he said.From 2013 to 2017, premiums have on average doubled in the vast majority of states on the federal exchange. … This year, 70 percent of American counties have had little or no choice of insurers under Obamacare. Next year, at least 44 counties are projected to have no choice at all — meaning, yet again, Americans could be thrown off their plans in states like Missouri, and Ohio, and Wisconsin.
Obamacare “isn’t working, by nearly any measure it has failed, and no amount of 11th hour reality-denying or buck-passing by Democrats is going to change the fact that more Americans are going to get hurt unless we do something,” he said.

The measure, the senator said, would repeal the individual and employer mandates, abolish Obamacare taxes passed on to consumers, expand tax-free health savings accounts (HSAs) and create new tax credits to defray out-of-pocket costs, while providing the states with “more flexibility to provide more Americans with the kind of affordable insurance options they actually want.”

In fact, the draft bill not only bails out Obamacare instead of repealing it, but also inflicts lasting damage on Republicans, Daniel Horowitz writes.

The Senate proposal “is essentially a more liberal version of the House bill, which, in itself, was a more insolvent version of Obamacare that Republicans will now own.”

“The bill does not repeal the actuarily insolvent regulations, the core element of what has destroyed insurance in America. Even the few minor regulatory reforms or state waivers that are in the House bill were stripped out.”

Many conservatives say the bill backed by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) that the House barely passed May 4 is a step in the right direction, but few argue that is a true repeal of Obamacare, the GOP’s signature campaign promise for the last seven years. Like the new Senate draft, it leaves much of the structure of Obamacare intact. After an extended arm-twisting session, the legislation cleared the House on a vote of 217 to 213. All of the 193 Democrats who showed up to vote, voted “no.” There were 20 Republicans voting "no."

Dr. David Hogberg, author of Medicare’s Victims: How the U.S. Government’s Largest Health Care Program Harms Patients and Impairs Physicians, said Trump is undermining his own health care agenda.

Trump reportedly called the House bill “mean” during a White House lunch June 13 with GOP lawmakers and said the Senate should "add more money" to the bill. With the “mean” comment the president “was almost certainly referring to the provision in that measure that lets insurers charge higher premiums to those with preexisting conditions” in certain circumstances, Hogberg says.

He writes:Republican moderates and Trump need to ask themselves two questions. First, what is meaner: Letting states waive the preexisting condition protection, or allowing insurance markets to fail so that millions of people have no access to insurance? Second, how do they think it will play out politically when the blame for the exchanges’ implosion shifts from the Democrats to the Republicans?The “mean” comment also ratcheted up the pressure on Senate Republicans to retain Obamacare’s preexisting conditions provisions, Hogberg adds.

And now Democrats are using Trump’s remark against Republicans and the Senate draft.

"If that bill was mean, this one is downright diabolical," said Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.). "It is diabolical because it absolutely eviscerates Medicaid, ripping away health care from millions of Americans with cuts that are even deeper than the House version."

Of course, Merkley didn’t explain that Republican senators have floated what Christopher Jacobs of Juniper Research Group calls “a lengthy phase-out of the enhanced federal match associated with Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.” In other words, this is government accounting tomfoolery. These so-called cuts to Medicaid extend years into the future and there is no guarantee a future president and Congress will follow through on them.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) relished sticking it to Republicans at a presser yesterday. “The president said the House bill was mean. The Senate bill may be meaner.”

Ever the demagogue, former President Obama shrieks that “[d]iscrimination based on pre-existing conditions could become the norm again.”

Actually, “discrimination” isn’t quite the right word. “Sound underwriting practices” is a more accurate description. Insurance isn’t really insurance if insurers aren’t allowed to price policies according to risk, that is, if they are forced to take customers who are already sick. And it is the current prohibition against refusing to cover someone with preexisting conditions that is at the heart of the so-called Obamacare death spiral. If anyone suffering from any ailment has the legal right to demand insurance coverage no matter sick they may already be, costs cannot be contained. Period.

Obama adds:Simply put, if there’s a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family – this bill will do you harm. And small tweaks over the course of the next couple weeks, under the guise of making these bills easier to stomach, cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation.This is the typically manipulative leftist claptrap we suffered through during the Obama regime: Freedom of choice is bad, markets are unfair and evil, and everyone should trust the government.

Meanwhile, the White House is sending out mixed messages on the new Senate draft.

When asked where Trump stood on the matter at a White House news briefing yesterday, Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders demurred, suggesting the measure was a work in progress.

“He wants to bring the stakeholders to the table, have those conversations and we’ll get back to you,” she said. “We’ve been talking about reforming health care for a number of years; I don’t think it’s moving too fast.”

Trump had told reporters earlier in the day that the Senate draft was "going to be very good."

"Obamacare is dead, and we're putting a plan out today that is going to be negotiated," Trump said.

By evening Trump had tweeted support for the draft bill but acknowledged it needs to be modified: “I am very supportive of the Senate #HealthcareBill. Look forward to making it really special! Remember, ObamaCare is dead."

The ball is now in the court of conservative lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
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Matthew Vadum, senior vice president at the investigative think tank Capital Research Center, an author at the David Horowitz Freedom Center's FronPage Mag, an award-winning investigative reporter, and author of the book,Subversion Inc.: How Obama’s ACORN Red Shirts Are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers.

Tags: Matthew Vadum, FrontPage Mag, Senate GOP, Launches, Obamacare “Repeal” Bill To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Boozman Applauds Signing of VA Reforms into Law

ARRA News Service: U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, joined President Donald Trump at the White House for the signing of landmark reforms to improve accountability at the Department of Veterans Affairs and protections for employees who expose wrongdoing.

“I appreciate the President’s support of Congressional efforts to ensure our veterans receive the quality care they earned. This law allows the Department of Veterans Affairs to hold employees accountable for their performance and protects the hardworking staff who uphold the highest standards of care when serving those who served our nation. Signing these reforms into law continues our promise to our nation’s veterans,” Boozman said.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act will allow the secretary of the VA to dismiss employees for poor performance while ensuring protections for those who expose wrongdoing.

Sen. Boozman cosponsored the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act. With his support, the legislation passed the Senate VA Committee on May 25 and was approved by the full Senate on June 6.

Tags: Sen. John Boozman, R-AR, member, Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, applauds, President Trump, signing, VA Reforms To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Leading From Behind . . .

. . . Nancy Pelosi has been dragging down the democratic party for years, is it time to let her go?
Editorial Cartoon by AF "Tony" Branco

Tags: Leading From Behind, Nancy Pelosi, dragging down the democratic party, let her go, editorial cartoon, AF Branco To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Trump Admin Strongly Opposes UN Resolution Supporting Abortion

In a huge change from the pro-abortion regime of Barack Obama, the Trump administration is taking pro-life values to the United Nations.

The United States rejected a United Nations Human Rights Council resolution today because it included the sanctioning of abortion. The decision was praised by leading pro-life advocates.

Advocates of abortion on demand have worked for many years to insert abortion rights language into every conceivable UN document, treaty and statement, regardless of whether those instruments address the care of unborn children and their mothers. Today’s resolution addressed violence against women particularly in the context of war. It called for access to abortion for women and girls.

U.S. First Secretary to the UN in Geneva Jason Mack articulated the Trump administration’s position, which excludes abortion and abortion funding from international agreements.

“We do not recognize abortion as a method of family planning, nor do we support abortion in our reproductive health assistance,” Secretary Mack said to the Council. He added that the U.S. “strongly supports the spirit of this resolution and joins other members of this Council in condemning all acts of violence against women and girls.”

Pro-life leaders were excited about the move.

“The United States has rightly refused to support an effort to treat abortion as family planning,” says Scott Fischbach, Executive Director of MCCL GO. “MCCL GO fully supports the U.S. decision to oppose abortion as a legitimate ‘treatment’ for women.”

“MCCL is encouraged by the Trump administration’s support of the right to life of unborn children,” says Fischbach. “There is no right to abortion under international law. In fact, a foundational document of the UN, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, explicitly protects the right to life.”

Following adoption by the Human Rights Council of a resolution by Canada that focused on the elimination of violence against women, A/HRC/35/L.15 : Accelerating efforts to eliminate violence against women: engaging men and boys in preventing and responding to violence against all women and girls, an explanation of position was read by U.S. First Secretary to the U.N. Jason Mack.

The statement confirmed U.S. support for “the spirit” of the anti-violence resolution and that the U.S. joined other the members of the Human Rights Council “in condemning all acts of violence against women and girls and in calling for the elimination of all forms of sexual and other forms of gender-based violence, including sex trafficking of women and girls”.

But then, the U.S. took a giant pro-life step and declared “the U.S. ‘must dissociate from the consensus’ specifically on access to safe abortions.” . . . . Read More @ LifeNews.com

Tags: President Trump , Administration, Strongly Opposes, UN Resolution, Supporting Abortion To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Avoidable Injuries

by Kerby Anderson, Contributing Author: There was a time fifty years ago when we had fewer safety devices and less parental supervision, yet most of us survived. Some of us had accidents, but others were lucky to get out of childhood without even as much as a broken bone.

Edward Kosner writes about accidents in his column on “How Not to Step on That Banana Peel.” He quotes from Steve Casner (author of the book, Careful: A User’s Guide to Our Injury-Prone Minds) that deaths from accidents declined for decades but now has begun to rise. The rise in accidents is due to everything from smartphones and driving distractions to the reality that people are living longer and thus have more opportunities to die in accidents.

Why do we have these avoidable accidents? One reason I just mentioned: distractions. It turns out that people can’t really concentrate on multiple tasks. We convince ourselves that we can do that. We can’t. In fact, we have trouble concentrating on a single task for very long before our attention wanders. He says, “Multitasking is a myth: It generally means doing two things badly at the same time. Remind yourself or someone—to do something in a few minutes and it will be forgotten.”

A second major reason for preventable accidents is overconfidence. Steve Casner’s book surveys research done by a number of psychologists. Their studies “invariably show that people are overconfident about their own capabilities, more open to risk then they imagine, less cool in a crisis, and prone to error.”

A third reason is what is called “risk homeostasis.” This is the “tendency of people to accelerate their dangerous behavior when new safety features are introduced—say, by driving even faster in cars with the latest safety technology.”

Many accidents are avoidable if we apply some of these lessons psychologists have learned.
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Kerby Anderson is a radio talk show host heard on numerous stations via the Point of View Network endorsed by Dr. Bill Smith, Editor, ARRA News Service

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The Real ObamaCare Opposition

by Paul Jacob, Contributing Author: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) has introduced a bill to compromise between the House’s recent Affordable Health Care Act and the current “ObamaCare” Affordable Care Act. Though there seems to be some “what the heck, go with it” enthusiasm for it on Capitol Hill, it’s not coming from Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Mike Lee of Utah.

‘‘Currently, for a variety of reasons, we are not ready to vote for this bill,” their joint statement from yesterday reads.

Their objections? Well, they agree that there are “provisions in this draft that represent an improvement to our current healthcare system but. . .”

— and this is a big but

“it does not appear this draft as written will accomplish the most important promise that we made to Americans: to repeal Obamacare and lower their healthcare costs.’’ Their opposition, the Boston Globe tells us, puts the TrumpCare wannabe in jeopardy.

Dr. Rand Paul is the key figure in the opposition. One of Capitol Hill’s ongoing amusements has been to watch the junior Kentucky senator repeatedly pit himself against his state’s senior member — who, the Globe tells us, now threatens “to bring the bill to a vote next week even if he doesn’t have the necessary votes.”

Pressure tactics.

Which you need to put an obviously bad bill through Congress.

Too many mainstream Republican congressmen lack the courage of their constituents’ convictions. They apparently do not really believe that a freed-up health care system and insurance market can work to the general good.

At least, not in time for the next election.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.
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Paul Jacobs 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 also President of the Liberty Initiative Fund (LIFe) as well as Citizens in Charge Foundation. Jacobs is a contributing author on the ARRA News Service.

Tags: Paul Jacob, Common Sense, real, Obamacare, opposition To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

A New Twist on Teaching Economics

by Dr. Walter Williams: Greg Caskey is a 27-year-old Abington, Pennsylvania, native who is a social sciences teacher at Delaware Military Academy. The academy is a thriving charter high school in Wilmington, Delaware, that was founded in 2003 by two retired military officers, Charles Baldwin and Jack Wintermantel. Students from all socio-economic backgrounds attend the school, which is doing a stellar job of teaching reading, writing and arithmetic and, just as importantly, moral character and self-discipline.

Mr. Caskey is one of the school’s standout teachers. He has developed an innovative way of teaching the principles of economics to the school’s students — a curriculum that he calls “HipHoponomics,” in which he uses original rap music as the basis for his lesson plans. His favorite rap artists are Nas, Eminem, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur.

Being in my 82nd year of life, I don’t generally find hip-hop music or its lyrics that attractive. Part of the reason for my distaste is that it’s difficult for me to decipher what the performers are saying, not to mention the constant annoying boom boom. I’ve been told that I benefit from not understanding what they are saying. But given my background in economics, Caskey’s HipHoponomics music is largely decipherable to me. But much more importantly, it appears to be an excellent technique to excite and enlighten younger people, who may have alien and hostile minds to learning free market economic principles. That’s vital, given all of the anti-freedom indoctrination that so many of our young people receive.

Caskey, who likes to refer to himself as M.C. Caskey, is in the process of making his work available for all to see and hear on his website, at https://www.hiphoponomics.com, and SoundCloud. He’s developed an album centered around the 18th-century Scottish philosopher Adam Smith, who is known as the “Father of Economics.” Smith is much-maligned. People often see him as an advocate for selfishness. But to the contrary, Smith saw laissez-faire as a moral agenda and free markets as a tool to protect the rights of natural law. So the prelude “Who Was Adam Smith?” starts out with a short discussion by my colleague Dr. Russ Roberts and ends with lyrics highlighting Smith’s arguments, all set to a hip-hop beat.

Then there’s discussion of what’s called the emergent order. It begins with a highly understandable statement by the greatest 20th-century economist, Nobel laureate Milton Friedman. After that, Caskey puts Friedman’s ideas to hip-hop music and talk. These ideas serve as the foundation for more HipHoponomics music — on principles such as free trade and comparative advantage, which most economists accept as advantageous to a nation.

Among important economic titles set to Caskey’s HipHoponomics music are “Free Enterprise System,” “New Deal or Raw Deal?”, “What’s up with the Fed?”, “The 20s Were The Good Dayz” and “Demand & Supply Bars,” and more are in the works. He has even set to hip-hop music a title called “Debatin’ the Wage,” which features yours truly and Bernie Sanders on the minimum wage. I should note that I had zero involvement with it, but I understand that it’s pretty good.

Caskey’s goals are ambitious and laudable. He is inspiring great interest in economics among young people, who typically have little interest in such a rigorous academic subject. Caskey’s goal is to reach the urban student with the relevance of the economic way of thinking. He says, “I want to inspire zeal for the discipline of economics among young people, but particularly among urban young people, a historically underserved population, especially in the educational sense.”

By the way, high schoolers are not the only people who can benefit from the lessons of HipHoponomics. I’d recommend it to our political leadership on both sides of the aisle, media people and teachers. What Greg Caskey’s put together is a nonthreatening approach to economics for the novice — and for those who believe they are beyond the novice level.
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Walter Williams  is an American economist, social commentator, and author of over 150 publications. He has a Ph.D. and M.A. in Economics from the UCLA and B.A. in economics from California State University. He also holds a Doctor of Humane Letters from Virginia Union University and Grove City College, Doctor of Laws from Washington and Jefferson College. He has served on the faculty of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics, since 1980. Visit his website: walterewilliams.com and view a list of other articles and works.

Tags: Walter Williams, commentary, New Twist, Teaching Economics, HipHoponomics, Greg Caskey, Delaware Military Academy To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

The Passing of the Pelosi Era

by Patrick Buchanan: In the first round of the special election for the House seat in Georgia’s Sixth District, 30-year-old Jon Ossoff swept 48 percent. He more than doubled the vote of his closest GOP rival, Karen Handel.

A Peach State pickup for the Democrats and a huge humiliation for President Trump seemed at hand.

But in Tuesday’s final round, Ossoff, after the most costly House race in history, got 48 percent again, and lost. If Democratic donors are grabbing pitchforks, who can blame them?

And what was Karen Handel’s cutting issue?

Ossoff lived two miles outside the district and represented the values of the Democratic minority leader, whom he would vote to make the speaker of the house, Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco.

The Pelosi factor has been a drag on Democrats in all four of the special elections the party has lost since Trump’s November triumph.

Prediction: Democrats will not go into the 2018 Congressional elections with San Fran Nan as the party’s face and future. No way. As President Kennedy said, “Sometimes party loyalty asks too much.”

Post-Trump, it is hard to see Republicans returning to NAFTA-GATT free-trade globalism, open borders, mass immigration or Bushite crusades for democracy. A cold realism about America’s limited power and potential to change the world has settled in.

And just as Trump put Bush-Romney Republicanism into the dumpster in the 2016 primaries, Hillary Clinton’s defeat, followed by losses in four straight special elections, portend a passing of the guard in the Democratic Party.

So where is the party going?

Clearly, the energy and fire are on the Bernie Sanders-Elizabeth Warren left. Moreover, the crudity of party chair Tom Perez’s attacks on Trump and the GOP, being echoed now by Democratic members of Congress, suggest that the new stridency to rally the angry left is gaining converts.

Trump’s rough rhetoric, which brought out the alienated working class in the ten of thousands to his rallies, is being emulated by “progressives” — imitation being the sincerest form of flattery.

Nor is this unusual. After narrow presidential defeats, major parties have often taken a hard turn back toward their base.

After Richard Nixon lost narrowly to JFK in 1960, the Republican right blamed his “me-too” campaign, rose up and nominated Barry Goldwater in 1964. A choice, not an echo.

After Hubert Humphrey lost narrowly to Nixon in 1968, the Democratic Party took a sharp turn to the left in 1972 and nominated George McGovern.

A 21st-century variant of McGovernism seems be in the cards for Democrats today. The salient positions of the party have less to do with bread-and-butter issues than identity politics, issues of race, gender, morality, culture, ethnicity and class.

Same-sex marriage, abortion rights, sanctuary cities, Black Lives Matter, racist cops, La Raza, bathroom rights, tearing down Confederate statues, renaming streets, buildings and bridges to remove any association with slave-owners or segregationists, putting sacred tribal lands ahead of pipelines, and erasing the name of the Washington Redskins.

The Democrats’ economic agenda?

Free tuition for college kids, forgiveness of student loan debt, sticking it to Wall Street and the 1 percent, and bailing out Puerto Rico.

And impeachment — though a yearlong FBI investigation has failed to find any Trump-Kremlin collusion to dethrone Debbie Wasserman Schultz or expose the debate-question shenanigans of Donna Brazile.

And where are the Democratic successes since Obamacare?

The cities where crime is surging, Baltimore and Chicago, have been run for decades by Democrats. The worst-run state in the nation, Illinois, has long been dominated by Democratic legislators.

The crisis of the old order is apparent as well across the pond.

Jeremy Corbyn, a Bernie Sanders radical socialist, led his party to major gains in the recent parliamentary elections, as Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May saw her majority wiped out and faces the same seditionist grumbling as Nancy Pelosi.

Western elites are celebrating the victory of Emmanuel Macron, the “youngest French President since Napoleon,” who defeated Marine Le Pen by a ratio of almost 2-to-1 and whose new party, En Marche! (In Motion!), captured the Assembly. But the celebrating seems premature.

For the first time in the history of De Gaulle’s Fifth Republic, neither the center-left Socialists nor center-right Republicans, the parties that have ruled France for 60 years, made it into the finals in a presidential election.

And while the first round of that election saw the ruling Socialist Party’s candidate run fifth, with 6 percent, the votes of the rightist Le Pen and far left-Communist Jean-Luc Melenchon together topped 40 percent. It is the flanks of European politics that seem still to be hard and growing, and the center that seems shaky and imperiled.

Moreover, Macron faces daunting problems. Unemployment is nearly 10 percent, with youth unemployment twice that. Terrorist attacks from within Muslim communities continue to rise, as do the number of boats of Third Worlders migrating from across the Med.

Can anyone believe that, as these trends continue, Europeans will continue to back centrist policies and moderate politicians to deal with them?

Dream on. That is not the history of Europe.
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Patrick Buchanan is currently a conservative columnist, political analyst, chairman of The American Cause foundation and an editor of The American Conservative. He has been a senior advisor to three Presidents, a two-time candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, and was the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000. He blogs at the Patrick J. Buchanan.

Tags: Patrick Buchanan, conservative, commentary, The Passing, Pelosi Era, Nancy Pelosi To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Up to 5.7 Million Noncitizens Voted in Past Presidential Elections, Study Finds

by Fred Lucas: As many as 5.7 million noncitizens voted in the 2008 election and potentially more voted in 2016, according to a new study by Just Facts, a New Jersey-based research group, drawing on information from other studies.

The study — based on data compiled from Harvard University’s Cooperative Congressional Election Study, an analysis published in the journal Electoral Studies co-authored by Old Dominion University faculty, and Census data—also provides some support for what then-President-elect Donald Trump tweeted in late November, when he asserted he won the popular vote if the fraudulent votes were deducted. The Just Facts study did not look specifically at 2016.

The study by Just Facts, which identifies its point of view as conservative/libertarian, but says it maintains independent inquiry, determined as few as 594,000 and as many as 5.7 million noncitizens voted in 2008, in the race between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain. Eighty-two percent of noncitizens who admitted to voting in a survey said “I definitely voted” for Obama.

An estimate from 2012, which the study finds to have less complete data, is between 1 million and 3.6 million noncitizens registered to vote or voted, including both the “self declared” and the “database-matched” populations.

Democrat Hillary Clinton won the popular vote over Trump by about 2.9 million votes in 2016.

Previously, an Old Dominion University professor’s analysis found that, extrapolating on a more extensive 2014 study, an estimated 800,000 noncitizens voted in the 2016 election—falling well short of enough to affect the popular vote.

James Agresti, president of Just Facts, was cautious about stating whether this would have changed the result of the popular vote in the 2016 election. He concluded it is likely the number of noncitizen voters in the most recent presidential election was higher than eight years ago.

When asked if noncitizen voters changed the popular vote outcome in 2016, he said, “There is a distinct possibility.”

“The 3 million vote margin would be smack in the middle,” Agresti told The Daily Signal. “I don’t want to say it would. There are a lot of uncertainties. It’s possible.”

There are two ways of looking at the noncitizen voting figures for 2012, Agresti said. Based on the Harvard and Census data, between 1 million and 2.6 million noncitizens voted under “self-declared.” However, there are between 1.2 million and 3.6 million “database-matched” noncitizens who voted that year. So the full range is 1 million to 3.6 million. Because of the overlapping information, Agresti is particularly cautious about drawing conclusions here.

“Just Facts does not have all the data needed to calculate inclusive figures for the 2012 election, so these figures are undercounts,” Agresti said.

Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation who has written extensively about voter fraud, was not very familiar with Just Facts, but he said if the findings were true, it lends more evidence to a growing problem.

“This is just another indication of how serious the problem may be and why it is even more important to investigate the possibility of noncitizens voting,” von Spakovsky told The Daily Signal.

In May, Trump named Vice President Mike Pence to chair the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.

The difference between the Just Facts finding and the estimate from Old Dominion University research is likely because of a different methodology, said Jesse Richman, an associate professor of political science at Old Dominion University, who did the aforementioned study that arrived at 800,000 noncitizen votes in the 2016 election.

“My impression is that the differences arise principally from the different assumptions we made about how to treat individuals for whom there was some ambiguity about whether they voted or not, e.g. individuals who said they didn’t vote but had a validated vote, etc.,” Richman told The Daily Signal in an email. “There are a variety of assumptioans one could make about how to treat those individuals, and my general impression is that this is the main thing driving the differences between our results.”

Richman’s figure was based on the 2014 study he co-authored that looked at noncitizen voting in the 2008 and 2010 elections. Richman applied the methodology from the study of those years to arrive at an estimated 800,000 noncitizen voters in 2016.
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Fred Lucas (@FredLucasWH) is the White House correspondent for The Daily Signal.

Tags: Fred Lucas, The Daily Signal, 5.7 Million Noncitizens, Voted, Past Presidential Elections To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

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  • 11/16/14 - 11/23/14
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  • 12/21/14 - 12/28/14
  • 12/28/14 - 1/4/15
  • 1/4/15 - 1/11/15
  • 1/11/15 - 1/18/15
  • 1/18/15 - 1/25/15
  • 1/25/15 - 2/1/15
  • 2/1/15 - 2/8/15
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  • 12/25/16 - 1/1/17
  • 1/1/17 - 1/8/17
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  • 1/22/17 - 1/29/17
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