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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)

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

The Debate Continues, Why It Matters

Image by D L (WTC Tribute in Light)
via Wikimedia Commons 9/11/10
by Gary Bauer, Contributing Author: The Debate Continues - The debate over whether Muslims in America celebrated during the 9/11 attacks continues. The Trump campaign scored points today when it produced a New York Post column written by Professor Fred Siegel three days after the 9/11 attacks. (How is it that none of the fact checkers and media mavens could find it?)

In the column, Dr. Siegel writes the following:"Here in New York, it was easy to get angry listening to Egyptians, Palestinians and the Arabs of nearby Paterson, N.J., celebrate as they received word of the murderous attack in New York and Washington. But Mayor Giuliani . . . rightly warned New Yorkers that is would be wrong to take their anger out on the city's Arab and Muslim residents. Attacks on Arab-Americans in Paterson or elsewhere are utterly indefensible."Of course, it is true that our anger should not have been aimed at all Arabs and Muslims. But we had every right to be angry at anyone who took pleasure in Americans being slaughtered!

What Dr. Siegel wrote is similar to what I reported last week regarding American Muslims celebrating on 9/11. Numerous readers of this daily report responded with their own experiences and recollections of such events. On CNN today, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said, "People were celebrating, [Trump's] right about that."

Why is this such a sensitive issue and why weren't there more reports about it? Could it be that even back then the media establishment and the political class felt that the most important objective post-9/11 was to suppress the outrage of Middle America -- as if our alleged bigotry was the problem?

(For the record, the U.S. has taken in more than two million individuals from predominantly Muslims nations and the number of mosques in America has nearly doubled since 9/11.)

It isn't only the left that feels an impulse to worry about Muslim sensitivities. I still shake my head in amazement that George W. Bush, on the advice of top aides, visited a major Washington, D.C., mosque less than a week after the 9/11 attacks to reassure the congregation that America was not at war with Islam.

Militant Islamists had just carried out the worst attack on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor. That was a time for Muslim leaders around the world and in America to ask to come to the White House and for them to publicly state that Islam was not at war with the West.

Why It Matters - Ultimately, this debate about the extent of 9/11 celebrations within the American Muslim community has tremendous implications for our national security. Yet it is being fought so hard by political and media elites because of its implications for immigration reform.

I have said it repeatedly and I will say it again: It is not enough to merely check whether a Muslim immigrant or refugee has blown something up or is a card-carrying member of Hezbollah or the Muslim Brotherhood. (There is evidence we aren't even asking those basic questions.)

We should also be asking to what extent our policies are allowing people to enter the country who hate Jews, Christians and Americans and whose desire is to someday trump the Constitution with Sharia law. Not doing so is the worst type of incompetence and misfeasance.

But just for the sake of argument, let's remove 9/11 from the equation. Let's just think about today. Does anyone really want to argue that there isn't a meaningful number of Muslims in the country who cheer our enemies?

The FBI tells us that there are ISIS sympathizers in every state of the union. A new report says that Islamic radicalism in the U.S. is at "unprecedented levels."

Jihadists have carried out a series of attacks in America in recent years, which the media and political establishment have downplayed. Scores of Islamist plots have been thwarted.

This is one reason there is such simmering grassroots discontent in the country. At no time did either political party ask the American people, "We think it is a good idea to bring in large numbers of Muslims from nations which have major political problems. Is everyone on board with this?"

I guarantee that if the political class had presented that question to the public, the response would have been a resounding, "NO!"

But we don't have to speculate. Obama's Syrian refugee policy is a good substitute. In recent days, three polls (here, here and here) have found overwhelming opposition to it.
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 Debate Continues, Why It Matters 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 Paris Climate Scam Treaty About Wealth Redistribution, Nothing More

Editorial Cartoon by William Warren
by Robert Romano: “Justice demands that, with what little carbon we can still safely burn, developing countries are allowed to grow. The lifestyles of a few must not crowd out opportunities for the many still on the first steps of the development ladder.

That was Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, writing in the Financial Times on Nov. 29 on the new Paris climate treaty.

Here, Modi explains why India and other developing economies should be given unfair economic advantages over the West as a matter of treaty law, and why the Paris agreement should treat his country differently than ours.

Not that anyone can blame him. The treaty stinks.

And yet, no more concise explanation of the current state of the global economy exists. Global climate pacts, like that being negotiated in Paris, or even trade agreements, like the Trans-Pacific Partnership are designed with one intention: To redistribute wealth globally.

That is, to hamper growth in the West by continuing to increase the cost of doing business, and continuing to shift production to so-called developing economies like China or India.

There may not be much more to it than that.

Sure, it is shrouded in all sorts of happy talk like saving the planet or creating jobs, all the while carbon emissions targets are never met and the jobs are still nowhere to be found.

Global emissions will still increase 25 percent in the next 20 years based on continued growth in emerging markets, the BP Energy Outlook 2035 finds.

Meanwhile, the employment-population ratio in the U.S. of the working age population — 16 to 64 years old — still has not recovered from the last recession, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows.

In 2007, the percent of the non-seasonally adjusted working age population with jobs averaged 71.8 percent. Today it stands at 68.9 percent, representing 6.4 million potential jobs that have been lost in the past 8 years alone.

The U.S. via the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal government agencies is one of the most heavily regulated economies in the world. Rules have been put forth with the singular intention of restricting coal-fired electricity plants, to reduce our output on the grid. In the process, electricity becomes more expensive. In the meantime, labor costs here are prohibitively high. Why build a factory in the U.S.?

All because world trade rules and these silly climate agreements grant favors — special and differential treatment — to developing economies like India.

Why would we continue with an approach that already subsidizes foreign competition with unfair rules, and then offer them even more subsidies on top of that? Because “justice demands it”?

Yes, it creates an opportunity for lower cost investment in certain quarters, which, if you know the right people or where to look, could be very lucrative from an investment standpoint.

But with the loss of productive capacity and the ability to employ one’s own citizens to do jobs, it is insane from a national standpoint to continue making these bad deals.

Sometimes if something sounds like a scam, or too good to be true, it usually is. This is a scam through and through that will saddle the U.S. with a higher cost of business and fewer jobs, and redistribute wealth overseas. Why would we do that?
This is all about knocking America down a notch. Nothing more.
Robert Romano is the Senior Editor of Americans for Limited Government. His article was first shared on the ALG's NetRight Daily blog.

Tags: Robert Romano, Americans For Limited Government, Paris Climate Scam Treaty, wealth redistribution,  editorial cartoon, William Warren To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Spaced Out . . .

. . . Crybaby Safe Spaces for Millennials on American campuses, while our Millennials on the battlefield defend their right to “hate” free speech.
Editorial Cartoon by AF Branco

Tags: Editorial Cartoon, AF Branco, Crybaby Safe Spaces, Millennials on American campuses, Millennials on the battlefield, defend, their right, “hate” free speech To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

17 Ways Government Wastes Your Money

Sen. James Lankford (R-OK)
by Leah Jessen: The federal government has “dropped the ball” by failing to curb wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars, Sen. James Lankford says. In a new report, he cites 100 examples.

“With a massive $19 trillion federal debt and a half-a-trillion-dollar deficit, we must tackle our federal budget and root out inefficiencies, duplication and wasteful spending wherever they exist,” Lankford, R-Okla., said in a prepared statement.

In what he cast as an effort to push the government toward being more fiscally responsible with taxpayers’ money, Lankford released a report Monday that outlines “federal fumbles” and lists “100 ways the government dropped the ball.”

In the new “wastebook,” Lankford provides examples of wasteful government spending habits and unnecessary regulations, along with solutions for each problem.

Here are 17 of them:1. The Department of Defense’s Task Force for Business and Stability Operations spent nearly $43 million from 2011 to 2014 to build a compressed natural gas station in Afghanistan that was rarely used and is no longer in operation.

2. The Department of Defense also spent over $280,000 on a grant to study the life of a small, threatened bird called the California gnatcatcher. (Lankford suggests that Congress should mandate that defense programs support national security.)

3. Schools don’t adequately feed children because of Department of Agriculture policies. “Federally mandated lunch standards actually cause many students to not eat enough at lunch,” the report says. “USDA should not force on schools burdensome meal standards that do not provide enough calories for growing children and are often rejected by students.”

4. In June 2015, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services settled claims from 1,900 hospitals for $1.3 billion. Instead of taking time to fix a backlogged system, the Health and Human Services agency agreed to partially pay hospitals that appealed an already denied claim. The agency paid 300,000 claims earlier deemed “medically unnecessary.”

5. Over a year’s time, the Defense Department spent $250 million to train 60 Syrian rebels fighting against the Islamic State terrorist group, or ISIS. That’s around $4 million to train and equip each Syrian rebel.
The National Institutes of Health this year announced a $48,500 grant to pay a historian to write a book about the history of tobacco use in Russia.

6. Paid administrative leave sometimes lasts for years. “Leave it to the federal government to find a way to pay people who are not working,” the report states. “The federal government has made it a habit to place workers accused of misconduct on paid administrative leave for months or even years.”

7. The Department of State paid $545,000 to hire a consultant to teach people “how to sit before a congressional hearing and answer questions.”

8. State’s diplomatic mission to India announced in July that it would spend $25,000 on a media ethics course to train Indian journalists.

9. Starting Dec. 1, the Food and Drug Administration will require restaurants, gas stations, entertainment venues, and grocery stores with 20 or more locations to list the total caloric value of prepared food and drinks they sell. Complying with the new rules could cost the grocery industry alone $1 billion in the first year.

10. The Defense Department spent $48 million on military-related items for Yemen, including medical supplies and low-grade explosives. The supplies never made it out of a Virginia warehouse.

11. An Obamacare investigation commissioned by Congress created 18 fake identities to apply for premium subsidies. Of the fake applicants, 17 were able to obtain tax credits. That’s $30,000 a year for each fake enrollee. Eleven applicants were able to extend their coverage for the following year.

12. The National Science Foundation spent almost $1.2 million to teach robots how to choose outfits for and dress the elderly. The kinks are expected to be worked out in at least four years.

13. The State Department offered a $250,000 grant to kick-start biodiversity conservation and promote green growth and jobs in Morocco.

14. After the Obama administration loaned $2.4 billion to fund Obamacare health insurance co-ops, more than half of the 23 co-ops will have shut their doors by the end of the year.

15. A $5-million State Department Twitter account, called “Think Again, Turn Away,” tries to discourage its audience from becoming terrorists.

16. The Internal Revenue Service’s inaccurate death records led the Social Security Administration to conclude that millions of dead Americans were still alive. An analysis of SSA records showed that 6.5 million people aged 112 and older were alive and kicking.

17. In total, the report pinpoints $105 billion in what it considers wasteful federal spending and “about $800 billion in regulatory impact to the economy.”
Lankford writes:I present this report as a demonstration of ways we can cut back on wasteful federal spending and burdensome regulations to help families, small businesses, and our economy begin to get out from under the weight of federal stagnation.The Cabinet-level departments mentioned the most are State, Agriculture, and Defense. Among smaller agencies, the most mentioned include the IRS, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Park Service.
Leah Jessen (@_LeahKay_) is a news reporter for The Daily Signal and graduate of The Heritage Foundation's Young Leaders Program.

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It’s Time To Stop EPA’s Clean Power Grab

House Energy and
Commerce Committee
Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY): Jobs, the economy, and making sure the lights and heat stay on this winter are the top priorities for folks in Kentucky and across Middle America. Unfortunately, there is a significant disconnect between the American public and the White House. President Obama and his administration consider climate change to be the number one issue facing mankind — a perspective many Americans question, given what is actually going on around the world today. For this reason, and despite the fact that it will have no discernible impact on global temperatures, the Environmental Protection Agency is moving full steam ahead with regulations to restructure the nation's electricity sector.

The president's heavy-handed regulations were announced by the administration on Aug. 3, 2015, in two final rules to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from new and existing fossil fuel-fired power plants. Through these rules EPA seeks to fundamentally change the way we generate, distribute, and consume electricity in the United States. The rules seek to put in place renewable energy mandates and cap-and-trade requirements for the electricity sector similar to what would have been required by the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade legislation that failed to pass a Democratically-controlled Congress in 2010. It was a bad idea then, and it's a bad idea now.

Through hearings conducted by the Energy and Power Subcommittee, which I chair, and the testimony of numerous witnesses, it is clear that these unprecedented rules go beyond the scope of the agency's authority. For example, after the rules were proposed, President Obama's Harvard Professor Laurence Tribe testified before our subcommittee that EPA "lacks 'implied' or 'inherent' powers. Its gambit here raises serious questions under the separation of powers, Article I, and Article III [of the Constitution], because EPA is attempting to exercise lawmaking power that belongs to Congress and judicial power that belongs to the federal courts. The absence of EPA legal authority in this case makes the Clean Power Plan, quite literally, a 'power grab.'"

Similarly, after the rules were finalized, the solicitor general of West Virginia, Elbert Lin, testified, "The Section 111(d) Rule – called the 'Clean Power Plan' by EPA — was unlawful when EPA first proposed it in 2014 and remains unlawful today. The plain language of Section 111(d) does not authorize the Power plan, and therefore the entire rule is illegal." He further testified that "EPA's novel interpretation of Section 111(d) would transform this environmental regulator into the most powerful central planner in the federal bureaucracy."

These detrimental regulations will drive up electricity prices for many families and businesses across the country. Since the rules were finalized, NERA Economic Consulting released a study of the final rule for existing plants and estimated that to comply with EPA's plan could require energy sector expenditures from $220 billion to $292 billion and increase retail electricity prices by double digits in 40 states. The last thing American people can afford right now are higher monthly power bills.

In short, the complexity, legality, costs, and literal unworkability of these rules-and the resulting harms to ratepayers have been revealed through extensive oversight by the Energy and Power Subcommittee of the Committee on Energy and Commerce. Informed by the committee's work, I introduced two resolutions, H.J. Res 71 and H.J. Res 72, which stand up for jobs and affordable energy and disapprove of the two final rules issued by EPA.

This week, the House will be voting on resolutions – identical to H.J. Res 71 and H.J. Res 72 — that passed the Senate on Nov. 17, 2015, on a bipartisan basis, which will serve to protect ratepayers around the country from higher electricity prices and from increased grid reliability risks.

To date, 27 states have already challenged EPA's rule for existing plants, and 23 states are challenging the rule for new plants. We were sent to Congress to be the voice of the American people. After we vote this week, the president will have a choice: Put the priorities of the people first – jobs, affordable and reliable electricity – or continue turning a blind eye to what matters most. There is no question who we are fighting for in Congress, and I expect a strong vote on behalf of the American public in the coming days.
Rep. Ed Whitfield (R) is chairman of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power. He represents Kentucky's first congressional district. This article was shared with the ARRA News Service editor by the Energy and Commerce Committee. The article was ran previously on the Washington Examiner.

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Why Are So Many on the Right Helping the Left Undermine Our Patent System?

Woefully Off the Mark
by Seton Motley, Contributing Author: It is disappointing to see so many people who usually reside on the Right – go screaming Leftward on an issue so fundamental to all-things-free-market as private property protection. In this particular case – patent protection.

All sorts of things that in every other instance the Right loves to excoriate and ridicule – these Converts-to-the-Left must ignore or accept as a part of their effort to undermine the patent system. Do these Converts mean to undermine the system? I doubt it. But we do know that’s what the Left wants to do (Hello, Google) – and these Converts are helping them do it.

One of the things these Converts have to ignore is something that is ordinarily their bread-and-butter: government incompetence. Lots and lots of government incompetence. Congress is rife with it – but these Converts suddenly have in it profound confidence. To with exquisite precision delineate between patent lawsuits they deem worthy and patent lawsuits they deem unworthy.

Which in the absolute best of circumstances – is nigh impossible. Because legislation and law don’t work that way. If a law makes something difficult for someone – it makes it difficult for EVERYONE. Yet somehow this time we’re going to write legislation that can so pristinely discriminate? Our Congress? Threading that stack of needles? I don’t think so – and I don’t know how anyone on the Right could.

And in fact, the bills currently under consideration – which the Converts are promoting – fail completely in this regard.

And this discussion isn’t even the one we should be having. Because the actual, original sin – is government incompetence at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The USPTO approved many, many patents – that had no business being approved. It is these patents that are the font of all the lawsuits in question.

But here’s the rub: lawsuits on patents that should have been approved and those filed on patents that should not have – are ALL legitimate lawsuits. Because the government approved the patents. Thus there is actually no such thing as a “patent troll.”

Attacking litigants for filing suits based upon government-approved patents is absurd, woefully misaimed – and cataclysmically damaging to the entire patent system. Rigging the courts against private property holders – only makes it easier for thieves of that private property.

My defense of these bedrock conservative principles has drawn some direct fire from a few Converts. I responded to several shots from Mytheos Holt here. I’ll now respond to Chuck Muth – who recently took a shot:
    “As a bona fide, card-carrying, 007 Patent Troll Hunter, I have to take issue with my conservative colleague, Seton Motley of Less Government, who recently accused patent troll hunters of suffering from an ‘obsessive fetish’ with patent trolls. ‘Just say ‘patent troll’ in front of any member of this tiny cohort,’ Seton suggested, ‘and watch them freak out.’” “Um, not quite. Seton maintains that patent holders who file lawsuits are just ‘trying to protect their private property from unauthorized use by someone who doesn’t want to pay to use it.’ He adds: ‘Is someone who owns a house and calls the police to roust squatters a ‘property troll’? Is someone who reports their car stolen an ‘automobile troll’?’” “Clever questions…but completely beside the point.”
Really? How so? That last line is all Muth does to address these key ideas. Saying something is beside the point – is not the same thing as actually proving it is. Muth does not come anywhere near the latter. He instead goes on to (inadvertently, I’m guessing) agree with me:

“If you’re defending a legitimate patent, no problemo. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. What we’re talking about are extremely questionable patents….”

They’re questionable – but they’re approved by the USPTO. Which means from a legal perspective – they aren’t questionable. Thus any subsequent action based upon them is legitimate – up to and including lawsuits filed in protection thereof.

But again, Muth and his other Converts’ “solution” – is to undermine the holders of ALL government-approved patents. Whether they mean to or not – because that’s how legislation and law work.

The Left’s intent here is not to solve the problem – it is to solve THEIR problem. They have to pay for the patents they use – and they don’t want to do so. They’d rather steal them – and this legislation would make it exponentially easier for them to do so.

Which ain’t at all good for those of us who understand the vital import of private property – including the protection of inventors working to deliver us an endless supply of the Next Great Things.

The only legitimate question that remains unanswered is: Why do these Converts want to help the Left do all that?
Seton Motley is the President of Less Government and he contributes to ARRA News Service. Please feel free to follow him him on Twitter   /   Facebook.

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GOP Senate Takes Up Bill To Repeal Obamacare

Today in Washington, D.C. - Dec. 1, 2015:

The House reconvened at 10 PM today.

Bills which may be considered today:
H.R. 8 - "To modernize energy infrastructure, build a 21st century energy and manufacturing workforce, bolster America's energy security and diplomacy, and promote energy efficiency and government accountability, and for other purposes."
S.J. Res. 23 - "Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of a rule submitted by the Environmental Protection Agency relating to "Standards of Performance for Greenhouse Gas Emissions from New, Modified, and Reconstructed Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units"."
S.J. Res. 24 - "Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of a rule submitted by the Environmental Protection Agency relating to "Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units"."
H.R. 4127 — "To authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2016 for intelligence and intelligence-related activities of the United States Government, the Community Management Account, and the Central Intelligence Agency Retirement and Disability System, and for other purposes."

Yesterday the House passed: Unless indicated by a Recorded Vote the bills were passed by Voice Vote.
H.R. 1541 — "To amend title 54, United States Code, to make Hispanic-serving institutions eligible for technical and financial assistance for the establishment of preservation training and degree programs."
H.R. 1755 — "To amend title 36, United States Code, to make certain improvements in the congressional charter of the Disabled American Veterans."
H.R. 2212 — "To take certain Federal lands located in Lassen County, California, into trust for the benefit of the Susanville Indian Rancheria, and for other purposes."
H.R. 2270 (413-2) — "To redesignate the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, located in the State of Washington, as the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, to establish the Medicine Creek Treaty National Historic Site within the wildlife refuge, and for other purposes."
H.R. 2288 (407-0) — "To remove the use restrictions on certain land transferred to Rockingham County, Virginia, and for other purposes."
H.R. 3279 — "To amend titles 5 and 28, United States Code, to require annual reports to Congress on, and the maintenance of databases on, awards of fees and other expenses to prevailing parties in certain administrative proceedings and court cases to which the United States is a party, and for other purposes."
H.R. 3490 — "To amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to authorize the National Computer Forensics Institute, and for other purposes."
S. 611 — "To amend the Safe Drinking Water Act to reauthorize technical assistance to small public water systems, and for other purposes."

The Senate reconvened at 10 PM today. The Senate is expected to move to a bill to repeal Obamacare later today.

Yesterday, the Senate voted 79-7 to confirm Gayle Smith to be Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development. (USAID).

Speaking on the Senate floor this morning, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “When Washington Democrats passed Obamacare over the objections of the American people, they were confident Americans would soon warm to the law. But more than five years later, the American people continue to oppose this unprecedented Democrat attack on their health care.

“Is it any wonder? When Americans think Obamacare, they think increased cost. Runaway premiums. Surging deductibles. Tax hikes on the Middle Class. When Americans think Obamacare, they think decreased choice. Fewer doctors. Faraway hospitals. A frightening scarcity of options for too many when they get sick. When Americans think Obamacare, they think broken promises and endless failure. Imploding state-based exchanges. Collapsing co-ops. Insurers eyeing the exit door. Fewer jobs. And the Lie of the Year: ‘If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.’

“It’s not like Obamacare’s structural failures are just going to go away. They’re baked into the law, and they only seem to get worse as time moves on. Just as we’ve seen costs rise, choices narrow, and failures mount, we’ve seen congressional Democrats block attempts to start over with real health reform.

“This week, we finally have a chance to vote to end Obamacare’s cycle of broken promises and failures with just 51 votes. This week, we’ll take up the Restoring Americans' Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015 that already passed the House. It’s a bill that will take the first steps necessary to build a bridge away from Obamacare.”

Politico writes, “Republicans are closer than ever to putting a repeal of Obamacare on the president’s desk. After an all-out effort by emissaries and allies of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over the past two weeks to woo skeptical GOP senators, Senate Republicans are lining up behind a more aggressive plan to gut President Barack Obama's signature achievement through a majority-vote budget mechanism known as reconciliation. . . . Separately, the measure would deny funding to Planned Parenthood as conservatives have demanded.”

And Roll Call adds adds, “It’s all systems go for the Senate GOP’s effort to defund Planned Parenthood and upend the Affordable Care Act. Republican senators emerged from a conference meeting Monday evening generally enthused by the effort to gut as much of the health care law as is feasible under the chamber’s budget reconciliation rules. . . . As he left the meeting, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said he was ‘very encouraged’ by the emerging proposal that would roll back more of the Affordable Care Act than the version of the bill passed by the House.

Leader McConnell noted, “[B]y employing the same tactics Democrats used to help get Obamacare across the finish line, this bill will not be subject to a filibuster.

“In other words, it can’t be blocked by defenders of Obamacare’s failed status quo. In other words, the President can’t be shielded from the weighty decision he’ll finally have to make when this measure lands on his desk.”

Then, Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid took to the floor shortly after to fume about the Republican majority moving to repeal Obamacare. Reid declared, “My friend, the Republican Leader, has an obsession with the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare. He can't give up on this obsession.”

Reid went on to claim that “the Affordable Care Act continues to work,” that the unpopular law “is increasing quality health coverage, improving care, and there’s no question about that.”

Sen. Reid might want to read a few news stories about the law he helped jam through Congress five years ago. The New York Times wrote recently, “UnitedHealth Group rattled federal officials when it announced last week that it was losing money in the insurance exchanges, saw no reason to expect improvements in 2016 and might pull out in 2017. Those concerns followed the collapse of 12 of the 23 nonprofit insurance cooperatives created with federal loans under the health law.

“In addition, insurance markets in many states are unstable. Premiums are volatile. Insurers say their new customers have been sicker than expected. And the law is as divisive as ever. In the latest poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, people reporting unfavorable views of the law outnumbered those with favorable ones, 45 percent to 38 percent.”

According to The Charlotte Observer, “North Carolina’s health insurance rates under the ACA are going up as much as 50 percent on some policies next year. Because of higher premiums and deductibles, insurance agents across North Carolina say they’re seeing renewed interest in old-style catastrophic coverage

“Those who might benefit earn too much to qualify for federal premium subsidies. They’re looking to save money by choosing benefits they want and leaving out others, such as maternity care. These short-term plans, popular before the ACA, are economical because they limit benefits and are not sold to people who have pre-existing medical conditions.

“But that isn’t allowed under the ACA, which requires insurers to cover everyone, no matter their medical status, and requires all Americans to buy health insurance that covers 10 ‘essential health benefits’ – or pay fines for not having insurance. People who buy short-term plans – which some critics call ‘junk’ plans – still would be subject to the federal penalties, as if they are uninsured. But many conclude it’s worth it to pay the fines if they can save thousands of dollars. . . .

“Many ACA plans also have high deductibles and high out-of-pocket minimums, meaning consumers might have to pay thousands of dollars before reimbursement kicks in. That’s why some healthy people are looking for low-cost catastrophic coverage.

“‘Obamacare has created a vacuum,’ said Sam Gibbs, the Asheville-based executive director of AgileHealthInsurance. ‘They’ve priced a lot of people out of the market, and these products are filling in the gap.’

“[North Carolina’s] premium increases are among the highest in the nation. . . . ‘I don’t believe it’s sustainable,’ said Leslie McMillan, a health insurance broker in Rolesville, in Wake County. ‘I’m afraid the ACA is going to implode. People are not going to be able to afford it, or people are going to buy short-term medical and go catastrophic.’”

Read More at the ARRA News Service about Obamacare is also proving to be “a big nightmare” for small businesses.

Evidence of Obamacare’s failures is all around and for Democrats to consistently deny them conflicts with the realities Americans face every day.

As Leader McConnell said, “When the President picks up his pen, he’ll have a real choice to make. He may well decide to stick to his rhetoric that the law is working better than even he intended and veto the bill.

“But he should instead decide to finally stand with a Middle Class that’s suffered enough from this failed law and sign it. We'll see.

“It’s a choice the President has never faced before, and it's a choice he’s going to face after Senate action this week.”

Tags: Senate, Obamacare, nightmare, small businesses, news reports To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Government Burglars

by Paul Jacob, Contributing Author : If you try to compare those police who take people’s money and property through civil asset forfeiture laws to burglars, who rob folks in more traditional ways, you are just not being fair.

To the burglars.

The Institute for Justice recently released an updated Policing for Profit report showing that federal asset forfeiture topped $5 billion in 2014. The FBI disclosed that in that same year $3.5 billion of value was lost in burglaries.

Then, folks did the math.

Steven Greenhut’s piece at was headlined, “Cops Now Take More Than Robbers.”

At The Washington Post Wonkblog, Christopher Ingraham explained there was an especially big haul in seized assets in 2014, including $1.7 billion from Bernie Madoff. Moreover, the dollar figure for burglary doesn’t include larceny, motor vehicle theft, etc. All such theft combined totaled more than $12 billion that year.

So, law enforcement isn’t stealing quite as much from citizens as the criminals they are supposed to be protecting us from are. Sort of a backhanded compliment, though.

Recent polling finds more than 70 percent of Americans opposed to seizing assets without a criminal conviction, i.e. innocent until proven guilty, but taking cash and cars and stuff from folks never charged with or convicted of a crime has become a big business for “our” government.

When legislation to mildly reform civil forfeiture failed recently in California, Mr. Greenhut called legislators’ votes “about money, not justice.” Ferocious lobbying by the California District Attorneys Association and the California Police Chiefs warned money-grubbing legislators that budgets would take an $80 to $100 million hit.

Theft is apparently quite lucrative. Who knew?

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.
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.

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Top Democrat Chuck Schumer Vows to Push New Gun Controls in 2016

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
by Philip Wegmann: One of the Senate’s top Democrats has promised to renew a push to pass sweeping gun control legislation in 2016.

At an event sponsored by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., announced that Senate Democrats will “bring a universal background check bill to the floor of the Senate early next year.”

Schumer’s pledge Friday comes as Senate Democrats take aim at illegal gun sales and background check loopholes. Schumer and his colleagues launched the new effort for comprehensive gun control after the mass murder at an Oregon community college earlier this year.

A veteran advocate of gun control, Schumer authored, introduced and won passage of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act in 1993. President Bill Clinton signed that legislation into law, mandating federal background checks and a five-day waiting period for all firearms sales.

The legislation and the center are named after James Brady, President Reagan’s first press secretary, who was gravely wounded in the 1981 assassination attempt on Reagan.

After being honored for his work Friday, Schumer said the Brady gun bill “was step one” but urged Democrats to close ranks and “finish the job.”

“The Brady bill proved—proved—that we could do something in this country to make our communities and neighborhoods safer,” Schumer told the audience. “If we could do it then, we can do it now.”

But when Schumer rallied his party behind the Brady bill in 1993, Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate.

Today, Republicans who are pro-gun rights hold majorities in both houses of Congress, making new restrictions on the purchase of firearms almost impossible.

The last time the Senate considered gun control legislation, in 2013, Democrats still held the majority.

That legislation, the Manchin-Toomey bill, would have required almost universal background checks on all gun sales. The bill failed, falling six votes shy of reaching the filibuster-proof threshold of 60 votes.

Now, Democrats would need to unite, vote as a bloc, and convince 14 Republicans to switch sides to pass a bill out of the Republican-controlled upper chamber.

Already one Senate Democrat has told The Daily Signal she plans to oppose the legislation.

“I have made clear where I stand on background checks legislation, and that hasn’t changed,” Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., said last month. “As a result, I can’t support this proposal.”

In the House, gun control faces an even steeper challenge. Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has said he is more interested in enforcing existing laws and passing mental health legislation.

In an unaired segment of a “60 Minutes” interview on CBS, Ryan said he hasn’t thought of proposing new gun legislation. “I think the big problem we have is enforcing the law as we have [it] on the books right now,” he said.
Philip Wegmann (@PhilipWegmann) is the congressional correspondent for The Daily Signal.

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Obamacare: ‘A Big Nightmare’ For Small Businesses

‘A Huge Administrative Burden For These Companies’

For Small Companies: ‘Costs Are Up In 2015,’ While They’re Buried In ‘Tedious’ & ‘Ridiculous’ Paperwork

“The vast majority of small businesses are paying more for health insurance for their employees under the health-care law, and many expect their costs to keep going up next year, according to a survey by the advocacy group National Small Business Association.” (“90% Of Small Businesses Say Obamacare Drove Up Health-Care Costs,” The Columbus Dispatch, 11/17/15)
ARIZONA: “Small firms struggle with rising health-care costs… ‘I think that, especially for small businesses that are required to provide health-care insurance, those costs, unfortunately, are going to go up due to the mandates under Obamacare,’ said Kevin Peck, director of the Small Business Development Center at Eastern Arizona College. (“Small Firms Struggle With Rising Health-Care Costs,” Eastern Arizona Courier, 11/28/2015)

“…said Tim Taylor, executive vice president and general manager at DRG Technologies, of Safford. ‘For two years, we’ve had to make a choice between significantly higher premiums or a reduction in benefits. When I say reduction in benefits, I’m primarily talking about a rise in deductible amounts.” (“Small Firms Struggle With Rising Health-Care Costs,” Eastern Arizona Courier, 11/28/2015)
  • “‘In order not to have the premiums go way up, the deductible goes up. Those are kind of the choices that we have to make these days. … ‘If the cost of insurance is higher, that’s just that much less that we have for merit increases. Obviously, I’d like to give my best people big raises all the time, but you have to keep that in perspective with what your total labor rate’s going to be. So certainly it impacts the business in that regard, and it impacts the employees.’” (“Small Firms Struggle With Rising Health-Care Costs,” Eastern Arizona Courier, 11/28/2015)
“What would have been a 4.5 percent increase in health insurance costs turned into a 9 percent increase this year for a Tempe, Ariz.-based signage company due to the Affordable Care Act’s tax on health insurers. That’s just not fair, said Blue Media owner Jared Smith…” (“Obamacare's Tax On Health Insurers Hitting Small Businesses Instead,” The Business Journals, 11/3/15)

PENNSYLVANIA: “New Obamacare mandate buries small Lehigh Valley businesses in paperwork.” (“New Obamacare Mandate Buries Small Lehigh Valley Businesses In Paperwork,” The [Allentown] Morning Call, 11/21/2015)
CONNECTICUT: Obamacare ‘going to be a big nightmare for a lot of businesses’ “Companies with 50 to 99 full-time employees must offer affordable insurance to employees and their dependents starting Jan. 1. They also must file tax forms with the government by Jan. 31 detailing the cost of their coverage and the names and Social Security numbers of employees and their dependents. While companies of all sizes are subject to the law must file the forms, smaller businesses without big staffs to handle the paperwork may have to hire someone to do it — at a cost of hundreds or thousands of dollars. ‘It’s probably going to be a big nightmare for a lot of businesses,’ said David Lewis, president of Operations Inc., a human resources provider based in Norwalk, Connecticut.” (“Small Businesses Face New Obamacare Rules,” Asbury Park Press, 10/25/15)

‘The Small Business Health Insurance Exchange … Is Struggling To Catch On’

“After nearly two years in operation and millions of dollars spent in development, the small business health insurance exchange created by the Affordable Care Act is struggling to catch on. Nationally, about 85,000 people, from 11,000 small businesses, have coverage through the online marketplace known as the Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP, according to the latest federal data released in May.” (“Small Businesses Snub Obamacare’s SHOP Exchange,” USA Today, 11/2/15)

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Monday, November 30, 2015

Political Translations

by Dr. Thomas Sowell: It is amazing how many different ways the same thing can be said, creating totally different impressions. For example, when President Barack Obama says that defeating ISIS is going to take a long time, how is that different from saying that he is going to do very little, very slowly? It is saying the same thing in different words.

Defenders of the administration's policies may cite how many aerial sorties have been flown by American planes against ISIS. There have been thousands of these sorties, which sounds very impressive. But what is less impressive — and more indicative — is that, in most of those sorties, the planes have not fired a single shot or dropped a single bomb.

Why? Because the rules of engagement are so restrictive that in most circumstances there is little that the pilot is allowed to do, unless circumstances are just right, which they seldom are in any war.

Moreover, the thousands of sorties being flown are still a small fraction of the number of sorties flown in the same amount of time during the Iraq war, when American leaders were serious about getting the war won.

Politics produces lots of words that can mean very different things, if you stop and think about them. But politicians depend on the fact that many people don't bother to stop and think about them.

We often hear that various problems within the black community are "a legacy of slavery." That phrase is in widespread use among people who believe in the kinds of welfare state programs that began to dominate government policies in the 1960s.

Blaming social problems today on "a legacy of slavery" is another way of saying, "Don't blame our welfare state policies for things that got worse after those policies took over. Blame what happened in earlier centuries."

Nobody would accept that kind of cop-out, if it were expressed that way. But that is why it is expressed differently, as a "legacy of slavery."

If we were being serious, instead of being political, we could look at the facts. Were the kinds of problems we are concerned about in black communities today as bad during the first century after slavery or in the first generation after the vastly expanded welfare state?

What about children being raised with no father in the home? As of 1960, nearly a century after slavery ended, 22 percent of black children were being raised in single-parent families. Thirty years later, 67 percent of all black children were being raised in single-parent families.

What about violence? As of 1960, homicide rates among non-white males had gone down by 22 percent during the preceding decade. But, during the decade of the 1960s, that trend suddenly reversed, and the homicide rate shot up by 76 percent. The welfare state vision was often part of a larger, non-judgmental social vision that was lenient on criminals and hard on the police.

Few people today know that marriage rates and rates of labor force participation were once higher among blacks than among whites — all of this during the first century after slavery. In later years, a reversal occurred, largely in the wake of the welfare state expansions that began in the 1960s.

Another fashionable phrase that evades any need for evidence is "disparate impact" — a legal phrase accepted in the Supreme Court of the United States, despite being downright silly when you stop and think about it.

Whenever there is some standard for being hired, promoted or admitted to a college, some groups may meet that standard more so than others. One way of expressing that is to say that more of the people from group X meet the standard than do people from group Y. But politically correct people express the same thing by saying that the standard has a "disparate impact" on group Y. Once it is expressed this way, it is the standard that is suspect — and whoever set that standard has to prove a negative, namely that he is not guilty of discrimination against group Y. Often nobody can prove anything, so the accused loses — or else settles out of court.

Stupid? No. It takes very clever people to make something like that sound plausible. But it also requires people who don't bother to stop and think, who enable them to get away with it.
Thomas Sowell is an American economist, social commentator, and author of dozens of books. He has a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Chicago and degrees from Columbia University and Harvard University. He is a retired professor of Economic and presently is a Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow, The Hoover Institution, Stanford University. Visit his website: and view a list of other articles.

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America’s Lost Decade Is Here

Editorial Cartoon by William Warren
by Robert Romano: 2.2 percent. That is what the annualized, inflation-adjusted growth rate of the economy is so far after three quarters in 2015, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reports.

To get 3 percent growth for the year — a milestone the U.S. has not achieved since 2005 — the economy will have to grow at an extremely robust 5.4 percent in the fourth quarter.

It won’t. It has not grown that fast since 2003 when it increased 6.9 percent annualized in the third quarter that year in the midst of the housing bubble, and right now, conditions still appear rather weak with Europe and Japan still in depression and emerging markets like China now in full-fledged correction.

All the while, interest rates are still quite low, so is consumer and producer inflation, credit demand is weak, and incomes remain flat.

As a result, 2006 to 2015 could very well end up being the slowest 10-year period of economic growth since 1930 to 1939, which clocked in at an average annual 1.33 percent growth rate. 2006 to 2014 is actually weaker at 1.29 percent, the worst readings since the GDP was invented as a measure in 1934.

So what gives?

Demographics, the Wall Street Journal’s Greg Ip wrote last week in a new series from that paper, 2050 Demographic Destiny: “[Economists] are now coming to realize that one of the stiffest headwinds is also one of the hardest to overcome: demographics. Next year, the world’s advanced economies will reach a critical milestone. For the first time since 1950, their combined working-age population will decline, according to United Nations projections, and by 2050 it will shrink 5 percent.”

And that will impact growth, Ip finds. “Previous generations fretted about the world having too many people. Today’s problem is too few. This reflects two long-established trends: lengthening lifespans and declining fertility. Yet many of the economic consequences are only now apparent. Simply put, companies are running out of workers, customers or both. In either case, economic growth suffers.”

This is a topic we have previously touched on at Americans for Limited Government starting in January, linking the slowdown of the working age population with the slow-growth economy. In the spirit of Ip’s analysis, we have gone back to U.S. Census Bureau data again to show the same relationship, this time linking nominal economic growth specifically to the percent growth annually of the 14-64 year old resident population from 1952 to 2014.
It is not perfect, but does appear to show the overall trend: rising working age populations coinciding with strong nominal growth, and slowing working age populations with weaker growth. As we noted in January, “The relationship is simple to understand, and based on laws of supply and demand. The faster the working age population grows, the more demand there will be, and the greater the consumption that will occur, all resulting in higher measured economic growth. And, as population growth slows, so too will demand soften, and less consumption will occur, resulting in lower measured growth.”

In other words, demographics may help explain not only the current slowdown, but also the post-war economic boom, including the Great Inflation of the 1970s, the slowdown at the latter end of the 1980s and the 1990s economic boom.

So, what does the future hold? Unfortunately, even slower growth, if U.S. Census Bureau population projections through 2050 are to be believed.
In fact, it will be the slowest growth of the working age population on record since the end of World War II, averaging just 0.39 percent growth annually. For context, it averaged 1.17 percent average annual growth from 1945-2014.

So what does it all mean?

Demographics matter. Aging populations and low fertility do not lead to prosperity. Some have argued those trends might be offset with immigration, but with our chain migration system, it might only exacerbate the issue, since for every working age person we bring in, we may also be taking in their parents, their grandparents in some cases, and so forth.

And with the median age of immigrants to the U.S. currently at about 43, according to the Migration Policy Institute, any temporary demographic gains from new immigrants may be offset within 20 years when those people reach retirement age, too.

Besides, immigration might not be a long-term solution with slower population growth expected worldwide over the coming decades, if the U.S. Census Bureau’s International Data Base is to be believed, which similarly projects that the global population will continue flattening for the next 35 years, until it stops growing altogether.
Another problem is that as the working age populations of the world slow down and begin to even shrink — which could lead to deflation — debts owed, particularly by governments, will continue to rise, particularly due to massive health care and retirement costs from the postwar baby boom. Meaning, the rate of taxation per individual to pay for interest owed on the debt will only rise, which could hurt growth even more.

If it were not for the $18.7 trillion national debt and the massive credit bubble on which we sit — with over $59 trillion of debt outstanding nationwide according to the latest Federal Reserve data — these trends in demographics might otherwise be benign. Sure, growth would be slower, and so would job growth, but there would be fewer people seeking jobs and less goods and services to consume. It might just be a wash.

But combined with too much debt, demographic decline might risk a vicious cycle of debt deflation if action is not taken soon. Meaning, unless we can get our fiscal house in order and/or the working age population experiences a swift turnaround with a new baby boom, this could be the first of many lost decades to come.
Robert Romano is the Senior Editor of Americans for Limited Government. His article was first shared on the ALG's NetRight Daily blog.

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Syrian Immigration, Shameless Left, Misguided Agenda

by Gary Bauer, Contributing Author:  Syrian Immigration - I joined more than 60 conservative leaders today in the Conservative Action Project (CAP) calling on Congress to take action addressing the potential national security threats posed by the Obama Administration's insufficient vetting of Syrian refugees. We outlined compassionate approaches in a letter that mitigate the security risks that currently exist.

Meanwhile, doubts are growing in Europe about the wisdom of taking in hundreds of thousands of unvetted migrants, mostly from Islamic countries. German authorities are reporting that many Muslim migrants are seeking out Arab language mosques, some of which are known to be havens for Islamic extremists.

In addition, the leader of Germany's Jewish community, Joseph Schuster, warned last week that new migrants are coming from "cultures in which hate towards Jews and intolerance are fixed components."

Exactly! This is why Europe and the United States should revisit our immigration and refugee policies to ensure that we are not importing hate in the name of compassion.

Shameless Left - I join other pro-life leaders in condemning Friday's shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The alleged shooter, Robert Lewis Dear, is being arraigned today and we may find out more about him and his motives then.

But everything we know so far indicates that Dear is a deeply disturbed man. He was a recluse. His neighbors avoided him. He had several run-ins with the law, including various charges ranging from domestic abuse to animal cruelty and invasion of privacy.

Nothing indicates that Dear was in any way, shape or form part of or inspired by the pro-life movement. Predictably, that hasn't stopped voices on the left from attempting to exploit this shooting to smear the roughly one half of the country that believes abortion is, at its core, the taking of innocent human life.

Left-wing media outlets even went so far as to check Dear's voter registration status. What does that have to do with anything? But, of course, you know the answer -- the media were desperately hoping to find out if he was a Republican. It turns out he is a registered independent.

For the last seven years, many on the left have engaged in over-the-top, hateful rhetoric toward the police and then claimed that the assassinations of police officers that followed had nothing to do with their remarks. (A common chant at some Black Lives Matter demonstrations is "Pig in a blanket," referring to a dead cop with a sheet over his body.)

This same left-wing crowd tells us that mosques around the world where imams preach that infidels must be killed have nothing to do with jihadists who are killing infidels.

The Obama Administration is quick to excuse government-sponsored demonstrations in Tehran where "Death to America, Death to Israel" is chanted by thousands as hyperbole "for domestic consumption," even though Iran has in fact killed hundreds of American soldiers.

And the left has excoriated Americans who believe marriage is between a man and a woman, calling them bigots, haters and the equivalent of the KKK. Yet it rejects any responsibility for the man who shot up the Family Research Council and was stopped only by the bravery of the security guard on duty that day.

The left has no shame.

Obama's Misguided Agenda - World leaders have gathered in Paris, France -- the site of horrific attacks earlier this month by radical Islamists. They are in Paris pledging their resolve to tackle the world's most urgent threat. President Barack Obama addressed the summit today, saying, "What greater rejection of those who would tear down our world than marshaling our best efforts to save it."

How is Obama proposing to save the world? By defeating ISIS? By fighting Iran's mullahs, Hamas or Hezbollah? No. Obama is in effect declaring war on the energy industry and economic growth. When it comes to putting boots on the ground, Obama seems more likely to deploy bureaucrats to control your thermostat!

Meanwhile, news broke over the Thanksgiving holiday that the FBI has deployed elite mobile surveillance teams to track at least 48 "high risk" ISIS suspects within the United States.

Many on the left think climate change is our greatest national security threat, and that likely includes the president himself. Michael Morell, Obama's former CIA director, suggested that the president hesitated to attack ISIS oil facilities (one of its largest sources of cash) out of concerns about "environmental damage."
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, Syrian Immigration, Shameless Left, Misguided Agenda, ISIS, FBI, ISIS suspects, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

12 Policy Reforms Could Save An Average Household $4,440 a Year

by Dr. Salim Furth: Economic freedom is a matter of principle, but it’s also a boon to family budgets.
Just 12 economic policy reforms would save the average household $4,440 a year. Opening up markets to more competition, treating outsiders and insiders equally, and squeezing out bureaucratic delays could push prices down enough to give American families some budgetary breathing room.

Nor do Americans need to wait for Washington: States and municipalities can implement some of the biggest cost-saving reforms.

Dozens of studies have looked at specific ways that prices are driven up by policy mistakes. I collected the evidence on 12 policy mistakes and found that the combined effect of free-market reforms would be a huge benefit to consumers: $546 billion a year, more than all the rent paid by Americans in a year. The 12 policy mistakes—and paths to reform—are detailed below.
Local reforms
The characteristic vice of local government is to protect the status quo when it ought to embrace the organic changes that consumers seek.

The most costly policy mistake of all, overregulation of land use, is a local issue. Americans once had the right to build what the market wanted, and the result was soaring skyscrapers, elegant mansions, affordable homes near jobs, welcoming town squares, and secret mountain retreats.

Zoning laws, nosy neighbors, parking minimums, height restrictions, and minimum lot sizes have been choking out the organic growth of cities and suburbs across the country. I found that if the typical coastal city adopted milder land use restrictions, rent would fall 10 percent, and home prices would fall 20 percent. (Incidentally, that does not necessarily mean that current homeowners would lose money: lower regulation has been found to increase the price of land and decrease the price of buildings.) In all, adopting mild land use restrictions could save Americans $209 billion per year, with the benefits concentrated among those who currently pay the most for housing.

State reforms
The characteristic vice of state governments is to write laws so that workers and businesses have to ask permission.

Occupational licensure is particularly harmful, costing the average household $1,033 per year. Workers in professions as disconnected from public safety as teaching school or applying cosmetics now have to be licensed by the state for no good reason. One proposal to reform occupational licensure is Lincoln Labs’ “Right to Work 2.0,” which would force regulators to defend labor regulations on their merits.

Auto dealership monopolies are established by law in every state. Anyone with a storefront can sell bicycles, but if you want to sell cars, you have to get permission from the state government. That also means that manufacturers can’t sell directly to consumers online.

In Brazil, General Motors tried an online sales model, and the result was a 6-percent drop in prices. Scholars estimate that U.S. consumers would get a similar benefit, which works out to $1,950 in savings on a new car. Most people don’t buy a car every year, so the savings works out to $288 per household per year.

Renewable energy mandates have been established by many states, benefiting favored energy industries, harming others, and raising the price of electricity. If states repealed their mandates—and let all types of energy compete on an even playing field—consumers would soon save $108 per household nationally. In the states that have the most restrictive mandates, there would be even larger benefits.

Medical tort reform, such as limiting the size of payouts in medical malpractice cases, could make health care significantly cheaper. Washington is doing plenty to raise the cost of care, but states can lower health care costs by $82 per household with tort reforms.
Federal reforms
The characteristic vice of the federal government is cronyism. Lots of well-connected insiders have figured out that if you take a few dollars from everyone in America, you will be very rich, and the victims might not notice. Below are just a few of Washington’s reverse Robin Hood schemes.

Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency (CAFE) standards are the way that Rube Goldberg would have regulated fuel efficiency. When the Obama administration rewrote the CAFE standards in 2009, engineers and economists predicted that consumers would lose at least $3,800 per new car. Six years later, the price of cars is $4,500 above its previous trend. Repealing the CAFE standards would save the average household $448 per year.

The ethanol mandate requires that refiners use corn for gasoline. Corn isn’t very good at being gasoline. Just letting corn be itself would lower the price of gas by 19 cents per gallon and lower food prices by about one percent, for an annual household savings of $255.

Corporate tax complexity forces corporations large and small to employ armies of accountants and lawyers just to comply with the tax code (and to seek out its many loopholes). Commonsense corporate tax reform would lower their costs. Even if only half the gains were passed on to consumers, the average household could save $230 per year.

Repealing the crude oil export restriction would also lower the price of gas by 12 cents per gallon. That’s just a minor side benefit of repeal, which would also create jobs and increase incomes as well. But the average household will welcome an extra $227 per year.

The Sugar Program and Federal Milk Marketing Orders transfer money from consumers to wealthy landowners by raising the prices of staple foods. A gallon of milk would be 49 cents cheaper with a competitive milk market, and a pound of sugar would be 28 cents cheaper. Consumers would save 16 cents a pound on butter and four cents on a box of breakfast cereal. Each reform would save the average household $29 per year.

Cement production regulation is just one example of the many ways that the Environmental Protection Agency imposes high costs on consumers. Regulation has made it much more expensive to build a cement factory, allowing the existing plants to behave like monopolies. They pass on the costs of regulation to consumers and then some. Going back to the 1990 level of regulation in the cement industry would save the average household $14 a year. The broader lesson is that environmental regulations should be subjected to rigorous cost-benefit analysis.

Twelve steps toward economic freedom and away from cronyism and overregulation would save the average American household $4,440. Congress can make a difference, but so can state capitols and town halls around the country.

There are benefits to economic freedom that are not discussed in this op-ed: more jobs, higher wages, and less volatility in the housing market, for instance. More deeply, economic freedom is a civic virtue in itself—lower prices and greater prosperity are the fruit of individual liberty, not its justification.
Salim Furth, Ph.D., (@salimfurth) researches and explains how public policy affects economic growth as a research fellow in macroeconomics at The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis. His economic research has covered fiscal policy, international economics, labor market trends, and economic mobility.

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  • 9/13/15 - 9/20/15
  • 9/20/15 - 9/27/15
  • 9/27/15 - 10/4/15
  • 10/4/15 - 10/11/15
  • 10/11/15 - 10/18/15
  • 10/18/15 - 10/25/15
  • 10/25/15 - 11/1/15
  • 11/1/15 - 11/8/15
  • 11/8/15 - 11/15/15
  • 11/15/15 - 11/22/15
  • 11/22/15 - 11/29/15
  • 11/29/15 - 12/6/15