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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, October 02, 2015

Nothing Fails like the Success of Private Enterprise and Freedom

Cropped image by Dick Vos via Flickr
by Dwight R. Lee: The current obesity “crisis” represents a significant triumph for private enterprise and freedom. For the first time in human history, people in most of the world are more worried about the risks of gaining weight than about the risks of starving. But this triumph is being discussed as a crisis which demands government to take action, and that action invariably involves more government restrictions over private enterprise and our freedoms. Unfortunately, the obesity “crisis” is but one of many examples of the successes of our economic system—a system based primarily on private property and voluntary exchange—being treated as failures. Such “failures” are then used to justify government actions that reduce both our prosperity and our freedom.

This is not to suggest that obesity and other concerns that arise in market economies are never problems, but when they are, they are the problems of increasing prosperity that inevitably result from overcoming the far worse problems of poverty. Without recognizing this, we face the risk of solving the former problems by reducing our ability to solve the latter. I first consider the obesity “crisis” in some detail and then discuss other examples of the successes of private enterprise and freedom being presented as failures.

Overcoming Starvation Becomes a Problem
Until well into the twentieth century, being overweight was a sign of affluence and good health. Starvation may have never been a serious concern in the United States, but until the recent move toward private markets in China and India lifted hundreds of millions out of wretched poverty, starvation was a genuine threat for much of Asia’s population. And the threat of starvation in the poorest countries of the world, though often serious, is less than it would be without the transfers of food to these countries from those societies that rely primarily on private enterprise.

Even in the United States, getting sufficient calories, not to mention a balanced diet, was a struggle over much of our history. This struggle is reflected in the research of Robert Fogel and his associates, who have examined the height, weight, and longevity of surviving Union soldiers from the Civil War. Young American men in the early 1860s were shorter, lighter, had more illnesses, and lived much shorter lives than their counterparts in the Baby Boom generation. Poor nutrition, particularly during infancy and childhood, is seen as a contributing factor. As late as the twentieth century, a beached whale would have attracted a crowd on American shores, but a crowd with long knives more anxious to get more fat in their diets (a real problem for many) than with getting the whale back into its natural habitat. Long hours of hard physical work, both outside and inside the home, ensured that few of the working class were overweight. As late at the 1940s, the claim that the poor would soon be more likely to be overweight than the rich would have been considered preposterous. Yet this is exactly what has happened.

Ironically, one reason for the problem of obesity is that most agricultural jobs have been eliminated in response to market incentives. Private-sector entrepreneurs and firms have found profit in developing ways to grow more food at less cost by substituting capital and chemicals for farm labor. The result is more food grown on less land by fewer workers. Tens of millions of agricultural workers have been released to innovate new products, improve old products, and expand the production of both in jobs that are far more interesting, safe, and productive than the ones they replaced. Increasing agricultural productivity, along with the general increase in wealth, clearly allowed people to purchase more calories in fresher, more nutritious, and tastier foods for steadily decreasing amounts of labor.

Given that people evolved to avoid starvation, not obesity, it is difficult for many of us to avoid gaining weight when surrounded by an abundance of convenient, low-cost, and tasty food. Our natural response when food is available is to store as many calories in our fat cells as possible to sustain us until the next successful hunt. Of course, the next successful “hunt” almost always occurs three times a day, not to mention those trips to a vending machine. Couple this with the sedentary jobs that economic progress has allowed us to substitute for physically demanding ones, and it is hardly surprising that a large percentage of the population has become overweight or obese.

Until quite recently, being significantly overweight was considered a personal problem, if a problem at all. An overweight adult was assumed competent to evaluate the personal costs and benefits of eating more than was consistent with his recommended weight, and he could alter (or not alter) caloric intake accordingly. I remember a talk in the 1970s at the University of Colorado by Israel Kirzner in which he pointed out that the market is often criticized for giving people what they want. Kirzner defended the market against this criticism by saying it is analogous to blaming the waiter for obesity. I was impressed at the time with how effective this argument was. I fear it would be less effective today.

Increasingly it is not those who are overweight who are seen as responsible for their condition. They are more likely to be considered the victims of “waiters” in the form of those who are responding to consumer demand by making more and tastier food conveniently available at ever-lower real prices. Instead of seeing this as a significant victory in the battle against poverty and hunger, we hear from trial lawyers, health officials, and other politically influential activists that it is a national crisis requiring immediate government action.

The success of market incentives and freedom in effectively eliminating the threat of starvation has, in the minds of the public, been converted into a failure that is being used to justify further undermining the power of markets and freedom to continue replacing the problems of poverty with the problems of prosperity.
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Dwight R. Lee is a Research Fellow at The Independent Institute and the William J. O’Neil Endowed Chair Global Markets and Freedom and Scholar in Residence at Southern Methodist University. This excerpt comes from his full article  published in the Spring 2009 print issue of the Intercollegiate Review. H/T Intercollegiate Review (IR) who shared this article with the ARRA News Service editor. IR is published by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI).

Tags: Dwight R. Lee, Nothing Fails, Success of Private Enterprise and Freedom, Intercollegiate Review, Intercollegiate, Studies Institute To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Caliph/f or Nyet

by Paul Jacob, Contributing Author: We live in a time when intelligent people expend vital brain power concocting explanations for war that weigh drought as a more significant cause than . . . previous tyranny and warfare.

Yes, the President’s friends and acolytes defend the notion, in all seriousness, that it is unregulated capitalism leading to global warming and Levantine droughts that made Syrians all unruly. This explains everything!

Just blame Islamic State violence on the weather and not on . . . the murderous dictator willing to kill masses of his own people, the intoxicating ideology of jihad, and (definitely not!) on Barack Obama’s Mideast policies.

I emphasized the Syrian dictator’s acts last Sunday. But surely American foreign policy — going back to Bush, at least — destabilized the region, and constitutes a major cause of the violence.

A far greater cause than our car-driving addiction! And coal!

And flatulent cows . . .

Blame shifting is not just a foreign policy vice, though. My Townhall column began not with the nascent Caliphate’s droughts, but California’s. And there’s more than just a few syllables of pronunciation similarity. People are assigning the wrong causes in both regions.

When California’s government-run water system subsidizes almond growing in a near desert, of course there is going to be waste. And yet politicians focus on home water use, scolding folks for taking long showers.

Yet, who sets the price of the water homeowners buy? Who, then, is responsible for the incentives to which consumers react?

The State of California. Suffering no drought of disastrous dictates by politicians in over their heads.

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, drought, tyranny, warfare, price of water, Islamic State, Syria To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

From Boehner to McCarthy

by Newt Gingrich: Hardline conservative House members finally made life sufficiently unpleasant for Speaker John Boehner that retirement was a practical alternative.

When Pope Francis spoke to the joint meeting of Congress, Speaker Boehner, a devout Catholic, knew he had been through the best day he would ever have as speaker. That night, he says he considered announcing his retirement. As a cautious, thoughtful leader, he slept on the idea, prayed, and decided he was right.

The hard-line activists, talk radio hosts, and bloggers were ecstatic. Boehner would be gone. The price for not successfully defeating Obama would be paid.

Then a funny thing happened.

It now appears that the next speaker will be Kevin McCarthy. McCarthy — the Majority Leader and second to Boehner in the current leadership structure. This is unlikely to be the revolutionary shift the hard-right craved.

It quickly became obvious that the angry, noisy members who had constantly attacked and undermined Speaker Boehner simply lacked the numbers to compete in the conference. They had the noise but they did not have the votes.

I have watched this pattern over and over for the last five years, beginning with the remarkable sweep Boehner led in 2010 to take back the House. His constant focus that year on the question “Where are the jobs?” was a unifying theme on an issue the American people cared about. It worked and the GOP won back the majority in the House.

Boehner’s 2010 achievement was all the more remarkable because the Democrats had only been in control for four years.

Think of the contrast! The Democrats had been in charge of the House for 40 years, 1954-1994. Then the Republicans took over for 12 years before losing control. Now with Boehner’s leadership, that Democratic interlude was cut short at 4 years and Republicans have been in control for at least another six.

Boehner led House Republicans to three consecutive victories and increased the number of House Republicans to the largest Republican majority since 1928.

In the process, he helped elect a number of conservative, change-oriented members who were dissatisfied with the failure to defeat Obamaism.

As the country grew more hostile to Washington — 75% believe there is widespread corruption in government; the average American believes 51% of federal spending is waste; 62% of Republican voters are unhappy with their congressional leaders; and only 2% are very satisfied — that hostility was transferred to Boehner and McConnell.

Now Speaker Boehner has announced his retirement. But the new speaker will not be one of the fire-breathing activists who have made a career of attacking Speaker Boehner.

The result will be the promotion of Boehner’s senior lieutenant.

There are profound reasons why legislative bodies tend to evolve rather than leap to radical change.

There are 247 House Republicans.

Boehner and McCarthy have helped virtually all of them personally.

In many cases they have been in their districts raising money.

In most cases they have done press events with them on issues that matter in their district.

In many cases they have helped them pass legislation.

It is very striking that the noisiest and angriest of the “anti-leadership” group give very little money to the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee (which is charged with protecting and growing the House majority), that they campaign in virtually no districts for colleagues, and that they simply don’t do the hard work it takes to build the party.

Press releases and harsh interviews are not a substitute for years of team-building, recruiting, fundraising, and nurturing.

In a legislative body, the person who reaches out to help the most people has an enormous advantage.

Kevin McCarthy will now benefit from that fact.

If the activists really want to change the House Republican Conference, they must learn the historic principles of gathering votes, recruiting candidates, helping incumbents, and doing all of the mundane things that are at the heart of winning and keeping majorities. Until then, they will be noisy but ineffective.
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Newt Gingrich is a former Georgia Congressman and Speaker of the U.S. House. He co-authored and was the chief architect of the "Contract with America" and a major leader in the Republican victory in the 1994 congressional elections. He is noted speaker and writer. The above commentary was shared via Gingrich Productions.

Tags: Newt Gingrich, U.S. House, leadership, The Speaker, John Boehner,  Kevin McCarthy, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

In The Hole: Report Finds States Hiding $1.3 Trillion In Debt

by Andrew Collins: Much is made of the federal government’s debt, but what about debt at the state level? It may not have reached such eye-poppingly high figures, but it’s still a matter of concern. In its sixth annual Financial State of the States report, the nonpartisan accounting group Truth in Accounting (TIA) took a full account of government assets and liabilities. It found that even though many states claim to have balanced budgets, state governments have in fact accumulated a combined debt of $1.3 trillion.

“As a CPA looking at government finances, I found they were not being truthful and transparent about their financial condition,” Sheila Weinberg, founder of TIA, told Watchdog.org. “For years, citizens have been told that their home state budgets have been balanced. If that were true, state debt would be zero and Taxpayer Burden would simply not exist.”

She argues the generally accepted accounting standards the government uses are flawed for two reasons. First, she suggests that Government Accounting Standards Board that controls how the standards are set is not as independent as it sounds. Second, she notes that the government always has the power to tax, which reduces the incentive for sound fiscal policy – because if and when it comes up against a wall, it can always tax its way out.

Watchdog reporters covered the report and looked at the ramifications for their states. Here’s a state-by-state snapshot of what they found:

Seeing red in the Green Mountain State
Vermont’s $3.2 billion in debt may not seem huge compared to many of its counterparts, but with its relatively small population, Vermont’s budget shortfall works out to $14,300 for every taxpayer.

“The most common budget trick involves excluding pension benefits from annual budgets, according to the report,” wrote Watchdog reporter Bruce Parker. “Financial officers keep those liabilities off their balance sheets because the expenses don’t have to be paid until state employees retire. By ignoring expenses incurred in the present but paid in the future, states can claim to be balancing their budgets. In reality, the costs are being shifted to future taxpayers.”

These accounting tricks mean states like Vermont are in for a rude awakening next year. Weinberg said 2015 will be the last year they are used nationally, as standards have changed. Next year, states will have to add their pension liabilities to their balance sheets, and in 2017, retiree health care liabilities will also be added to state balance sheets.

A fuzzy picture
In Mississippi, Watchdog reporter Steve Wilson found that his state’s taxpayers weren’t getting the entire picture of Mississippi’s financial health. The law requires the state legislature to send the governor a balanced budget, so in order to eke out more spending, the proposed budget uses certain accounting principles to show only $139 million of the pension fund’s liability.

In reality, however, the Public Employees’ Retirement System of Mississippi, the state’s defined benefit pension plan for most state, county and municipal employees, has $4.6 billion in liabilities.

More trouble in the Northeast
Ranking just below Vermont and well below Mississippi in debt-per-taxpayer is Pennsylvania. The state neglected to list $53 billion on its balance sheets, ranking third among the 10 Northeast states in hidden debt. In total, the Keystone State’s debt works out to $15,600 per taxpayer, the 11th highest in the nation.

Watchdog reporter Andrew Staub explains how spending can get out of control but still remain largely hidden: “Much of that debt can be traced to retirement benefits, which represent more than 50 percent of state bills. The unfunded liabilities have accumulated, as the state promised billions of dollars in benefits to retirees without adequately funding them, according to Truth in Accounting.”

The New York exodus
New York State was another hefty spender with $77 billion in unfunded liabilities for an average of $20,700 per taxpayer – second highest in the Northeast. Watchdog Arena writer Nicholas Fondacaro noted that each taxpayer’s share could grow even larger if New York’s exodus of workers continues.

Not so sunny in Sacramento
When California Governor Jerry Brown released his spending proposal last June, the Los Angeles Times wrote that California’s budget was “flush with cash.” The state claimed it had cut spending by $6.6 billion from 2013 to 2014, but due to obfuscating by the aforementioned accounting methods, TIA found that California’s hidden debt actually amounts to $111 billion.

From bad to worst
At the bottom of the pack is New Jersey, which TIA ranks as the worst spender with $160 billion in debt, or $52,300 per taxpayer. Upon further investigation by New Jersey Watchdog, however, reporter Mark Lagerkvist noted that the report actually understates the debt, and the proper figure is actually $10 billion higher. The discrepancy stemmed from a new valuation in State Treasury records that found New Jersey’s responsibility for unfunded retiree and employee health benefits has increased to $65 billion.

Local governments in New Jersey have troubles of their own. “The $170 billion hole does not include the debts of New Jersey’s local government units, which face a collective shortfall of $50 billion for pensions and health benefits,” wrote Lagerkvist. “Nor does it encompass the bond debts and other liabilities of the state’s 21 counties, 565 municipalities and 610 school districts.”

Not all doom and gloom
Though the overall picture is bleak, the debt situation isn’t quite as troubling in some states. Nebraska’s financials, for example, are actually in decent shape. The state has $5 billion in liquid assets and $3 billion in bills, for a “surplus” of $2 billion — or $2,800 per taxpayer. Even though Nebraska’s pension funds are mostly funded, the report found that it still hides some debt, but it’s in a much more manageable position than any of the aforementioned states.

Is there any hope?
Even though 49 out of 50 states have balanced budget requirements (Vermont being the exception), TIA identifies 39 states that have dug “financial holes” for themselves, while only a handful currently run true budget surpluses. The first step in reforms of any kind is transparency, which TIA and Watchdog.org have focused on providing in our coverage of state debt. Government has proven more responsive to the electorate and much more capable of reform at the state level, so there’s still an opportunity for many of these states to turn their financial situations around.
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Andrew Collins (@ACwords) when not writing an article, spearheads Franklin Center’s social media campaigns, promoting journalism through Franklin Center, Watchdog.org, and Watchdog Wire-branded accounts on various social media platforms. Previously, Andrew worked in campaign communications and television news.

Tags: States, in the hole, hidding debt, Andrew Collins, Franklin Center 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 Democrats' Next Debate Controversy, Over Larry Lessig, Could Be A Doozy

Democrats Set Presidential Debate Schedule
Ralph Benko, Contributing Author: The Republicans have finished up their first two rounds of presidential debate.

Next up, the Democrats’ first presidential debate on October 13th. The fireworks have started.

The Democrats’ debate process is proving controversial. Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schulz recently, according to therightscoop.com and given national prominence courtesy of the Drudge Report, repeatedly was heckled by an auditorium packed full of Progressives demanding more debates:

While the press has been completely obsessed by el Trumpo so that they can damage and dismantle the Republican party, they have tried their best to ignore the growing mutiny in the Democrat party.

But it burst into their faces Saturday morning when the Democrat National Committee chair … was HECKLED by an entire crowd demanding more debates among the leftist presidential candidates!
The DNC, controversially, has limited the number of debates. The Democrats are allowing for only six debates in the 2016 cycle. Both Sen. Bernie Sanders and Gov. Martin O’Malley have expressed their displeasure, with a campaign spokesman for O’Malley calling this out as facilitating a Hillary “coronation.”

Now comes yet another controversy. Perhaps it will be a doozy.

Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig recently announced, after crowdsourcing over $1 million, his own unconventional presidential campaign. Lessig is proposing to run exclusively on national electoral reforms, predominantly the public financing of Congressional elections.

Lessig passionately considers the current Congressional campaign financing system the fountainhead of all political dysfunction. He calls it corruption, not quite in a moral but rather in an operational sense, and has offered himself as a single-issue candidate who will resign the presidency in favor of his vice president promptly upon the enactment of his proposed reforms.

I am not persuaded of Lessig’s hypothesis. I am on record stating that there is too little money, big or otherwise, in politics. Furthermore I believe most of that big money is sterilized in the process of being absorbed by high-priced consultants and much of the rest of it wasted. That said, he has a legitimate point.

I have described Lessig as the “greatest radical at work in America today.” His hypothesis deserves the national referendum into which he has forged his candidacy.

In my column above referenced, reviewing Lessig’s book The USA is Lesterland, I summarized the essence of Lessig’s crusade this way:

What if candidates had to gain the support of many, preferably a majority, of the 150,000 Lesters [who live in America] … before the rest of us got to vote? That would give “the Lesters” disproportionate influence on elections.

Lessig then notes that candidates do have to raise enough money, to run, from 150,000 self-selected campaign contributors. Lessig does not present this as an attack on the rich or on capitalism. It is an attack on a campaign financing system that gives disproportionate influence to around a quarter of one percent of the electorate (themselves a minute fraction of “the rich,” few of whom make political contributions).

Lessig’s demand for a system that creates, as a non-coercive option, without muzzling big donors, a bigger presence for rank-and-file voters is consistent with arguments that this right-wing columnist elsewhere has made about the crucial vitality of citizen engagement. Since about twice as many Americans consistently describe ourselves as conservative than we do liberal it is slightly indecipherable that so many conservatives are diffident about Lessig’s proposition.

Restoring “consent of the governed” is not about Right versus Left. It is about setting up a system to restore control of Congress to us outsiders, the people, over the insiders, the special interests, by creating an incentive for us to contribute and an incentive for candidates to take our contributions in preference to those of the special interests. And most Congressional campaign donors are special interests — if only because they are victims of a Congressional extortion racket.
I am impressed by Lessig’s integrity as evidenced, in part, by his refusal to endorse the overturning of Citizens United. This is a courageous stand for a man of the left to take. And, full disclosure, a year or so ago I suggested to Lessig, a friend, that he consider entering the presidential contest (clearly an immaterial factor in his decision).

Now, according to the DNC’s debate rules, Lessig is likely to be excluded from the first presidential debate. As reported by The Guardian:

To qualify for the debate Democratic candidates must earn at least 1% in three national polls in the six weeks before the debate. But Lessig, a political neophyte running a single-issue campaign based on campaign finance reform, said he can’t possibly compete if he is not being counted.

“There’s a catch-22 to the process,” Lessig said, adding: “It’s only fair to apply that standard if it’s actually being tested.”
There are two wild cards in this deck. One or both just might come to the fore to un-rig this game and land Lessig a spot.

The first wild card: Progressives passionately believe in public financing of Congressional elections. Hillary Clinton has propounded a plan for that, one enthusiastically endorsed by the Washington Post. Bernie Sanders endorses public financing. Lessig, however, is the gold standard of public financing, the one by which all others ought to be measured. It would be gracious, and not out of character, for Sens. Clinton or Sanders to apply suasion, publicly or privately, on the DNC to include him. Perhaps one or both will do so. Could tip the balance.

The second wild card: Will MoveOn push for including Lessig? MoveOn is a Progressive leviathan. As I elsewhere, in 2008, wrote MoveOn was a critical factor in securing the nomination of Barack Obama:

MoveOn started as a vehicle to oppose the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. As that issue faded, MoveOn was revived by a merger with an email list of 500,000 created by Pariser in opposition to a militant response to 9/11, which proved a durable unifying and motivating issue as the war in Iraq became increasingly unpopular.

Boyd and Pariser [author's note, and MoveOn co-founder Joan Blades] sensed their online community’s enthusiasm for a progressive candidate, so they provided Obama with exposure and channels to the liberal base of the Democratic Party. MoveOn’s 4 million members are an electoral asterisk, but they became an extraordinarily potent force in the political culture.
MoveOn, earlier this year, activated to encourage the candidacy of Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Not so incidentally MoveOn chose none other than Lessig as a prime spokesperson to encourage the Warren candidacy, sending out, presumably, tens of millions of emails with his message. In one of these Lessig wrote:There’s always been one thing, and one thing only, that could convince her to take on a challenge. Not money. Not power. Just one thing: the realization that her jumping into the fray was necessary to make a difference.

This is one of those moments. And the more of us that raise our hands and say we’re ready to fight by her side, the more clear it will become to her that she has a once-in-a-lifetime chance to fight the central battles of our nation. Not alone. With a movement.
MoveOn reportedly now has grown to 8 million members. It is a huge civic force, potentially, especially on the Democratic party.

Pariser, Boyd and Blades have retired from executive status with MoveOn. Anna Galland now serves as executive director of MoveOn Civic Action. Well?

There are defining moments in the life of every organization. If MoveOn’s members really believe that public financing is as crucial as claimed let it now rise to the occasion and demand that Lessig be given a lectern.

This is one of those moments. If MoveOn moves in the odds go way up that the DNC will ListenUp and give Larry Lessig a place among the contenders in the first Democratic presidential debate.

Will MoveOn move in?
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Ralph Benko is senior advisor, economics, to American Principles in Action’s Gold Standard 2012 Initiative, and a contributor to the ARRA News Service. Founder of The Prosperity Caucus, he was a member of the Jack Kemp supply-side team, served in an unrelated area as a deputy general counsel in the Reagan White House. The article which first appeared in Forbes was submitted for reprint by the author.

Tags: Ralph Benko, Democrats,  democrat debate, democrats, Larry Lessig To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Nightmare on Elder Street . . .

. . . Late-term abortion at Planned Parenthood has many concerned for the elderly as society becomes more desensitized to such horrific procedures. Forced and encouraged euthanasia could soon be around the corner.
Editorial Cartoon by AF "Tony" Branco

Tags: Nightmare, Elder Street, late-term abortion, Planned Parenthood, concerned, for the elderly, society becomes more desensitized, horrific procedures. Forced, encouraged, euthanasia, around the corner, AF Branco, editorial cartoon To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Don’t Be Fooled: Cap and Trade is Back - #Yes2Energy

House Energy & Commerce Committee: Cap and trade is back, but this time the administration’s Environmental Protection Agency is selling its scheme as the clean power plan. The final rule, which totals 1,560 pages, is nothing but a rehash of the old cap and trade rule that will fundamentally change the way we generate, distribute, and consume electricity in America. To date, electric power generation has been the responsibility of states, but the final rule puts the federal government in charge by requiring states to submit plans to comply with new CO2 mandatory “goals” set by the EPA for their electricity. There’s no question that this rule could devastate millions of low-and-middle income families, which is why the House passed H.R 2042, the Ratepayer Protection Act that seeks to protect families and businesses from skyrocketing electricity rates.

Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) writes in The Hill, “The American people will lose under the EPA’s cap-and-trade regulations. … This rule comes at a time when U.S. household incomes remain stagnant and the economy remains mired by sluggish economic growth.” According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration coal, natural gas, and nuclear power generated 85 percent of our electricity in 2014. America has an abundance of energy resources, so instead of forcing expensive mandates on the American people we should embrace our energy abundance and say #Yes2Energy.
New name, but still ‘cap and trade’ by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY)

Remember cap and trade? It’s back, but under a different name. President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking to fundamentally change how electricity is generated, distributed and consumed in the United States. At the beginning of August, the administration announced a final rule to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) from existing power plants — referred to as the Clean Power Plan. Let’s be honest, this rule is nothing but an attempt to implement a backdoor cap-and-trade system. This administration was unsuccessful in getting cap and trade through Congress at the beginning of President Obama’s term and has now imposed a cap-and-trade scheme by regulatory fiat. This cap-and-trade gambit would significantly change the existing energy mix in the United States, which to date has been the responsibility of states, not the federal government.

The administration’s final rule, which clocks in at a mere 1,560 pages, requires states to submit plans to the EPA to comply with new CO2 mandatory “goals” set by the agency for their electricity sector. A proposed “Federal Plan” that would impose a regulatory cap-and-trade program on states that fail to submit satisfactory plans accompanies the rule as well. The final rule unquestionably signals that the EPA’s preference is for states to adopt state, regional or national cap-and-trade programs to comply with the new federal mandates — an approach that was rejected by Congress and the American public just a few years ago.

The American people lose under the EPA’s cap-and-trade regulations. According to the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, the energy price increases associated with the final rule will “devastate the 59 million low-and-middle-income Americans who already spend 17 percent of their budget on energy.” This rule comes at a time when U.S. household incomes remain stagnant and the economy remains mired by sluggish economic growth. In my home state of Kentucky, the EPA’s regulations are projected to increase electricity rates by 12 percent and disproportionally impact the 954,000 lower-income and middle class families across the state — this is unacceptable.

The administration’s plan threatens our grid reliability as well. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, coal accounted for 39 percent of our electricity generation in 2014, natural gas accounted for 27 percent and nuclear power accounted for 19 percent. Cumulatively, these three power sources generated 85 percent of our electricity in 2014, and, ironically, these are the three sources of energy that are consistently in the crosshairs of this administration’s war against American energy. How does the administration plan on powering the country when it’s actively working against American energy?

Moreover, there will be winners and losers among the states. A recent analysis concludes that the states that will benefit most under the EPA’s cap-and-trade regulations are primarily from the West Coast and the Northeast, while the vast majority of states across the country will likely need to reduce their emissions rates or purchase credits from these West Coast and Northeast states to comply. Take a closer look and it is Republican districts that will be hit the hardest. 87 percent of GOP congressional districts stand to lose under President Obama’s plan.

We cannot, and will not, sit idly by while the EPA wages its war on affordable American energy and ratepayers. The Energy and Commerce Committee remains committed to protecting ratepayers across the country from the increased costs of electricity that the EPA’s cap-and-trade plan will surely inflict on our country. In June, the House passed H.R. 2042, the Ratepayer Protection Act, a bill that I sponsored, by a bipartisan vote of 247-180. H.R. 2042 would protect families and businesses from significant electricity rate increases or reduced electricity reliability that may result from the EPA’s regulations for existing power plants. It’s a common-sense bill, yet the administration has threatened to veto it.

While Obama believes that climate change is the No. 1 issue facing mankind, Americans disagree and cannot afford his proposed solution. Most people in America today are more interested in a good job, growing our economy and providing for their families. We have to recognize the economic realities and the crippling impact of regulations like the Clean Power Plan. The Energy and Power Subcommittee, which I chair, will continue to examine and assess the legality and unworkability of this unprecedented rule being placed on the backs of the hard-working American people and businesses through continued oversight and hearings.

Our great nation has abundant energy resources, and we should not be inhibiting our ability to provide low-cost, reliable electricity to the American people. It’s past time for the EPA to drop cap and trade once and for all and embrace our energy abundance and say yes to American energy.

Whitfield has represented Kentucky’s 1st Congressional District since 1995. He sits on the Energy and Commerce Committee and is chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy and Power.


Tags: House Energy & Commerce Committee, don't be fooled, Cap and Trade, #Yes2Energy To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

GOP Conspiracy . . .

. . . A GOP conspiracy is blamed by Hillary for all her scandals.
Editorial Cartoon by AF "Tony" Branco

Tags: Editorial Cartoon, AF Branco, GOP Conspiracy, Hillary Clinton, scandals 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 Looming Medicaid Time Bomb

Medicare Time Bomb
by Robert Romano: From 1985 through 2011, an average 11.7 percent of seniors were enrolled in Medicaid, primarily for long-term nursing home or home and community care, according to data compiled by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Keep that stat in mind, because if it remains true, as the Baby Boomers progress through old age, by 2030, as many as 8.7 million seniors could be enrolled in the program, up from 4.6 million today, an Americans for Limited Government analysis of the data reveals. By 2035, that figure could rise to about 9.3 million.

And it will drive the costs of the program to the moon, particularly the costs for long-term nursing home and home care targeted at elderly and the physically disabled, which stood at $88.85 billion in 2013. Why?

As the Urban Institute’s Melissa Favreault noted at the Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation Long-Term Care Financing Colloquium on July 30, “We project that formal long-term services and supports use and costs will roughly track the growth in the aged population.”

That is not good news, particularly considering the older age population wave now underway.

By 2035, the number of seniors will have increased 66 percent to 79.2 million, the U.S. Census Bureau projects. 66 percent.

As jaw-dropping as that is, in the meantime the population of those aged 15-64 will have barely increased 6.65 percent to 232.9 million.
So, how will revenues ever keep up with costs if comparatively fewer Americans will be of working age as a percent of the overall population — for the rest of the century? We’re already running deficits and the answer is, they won’t.

Consider, since 1995, the number of older Americans enrolled in Medicaid has only increased on a net basis by 11.6 percent. And yet, the costs for Medicaid nursing home expenditures are up 75 percent.

If the above ratio holds, the annual tab for long-term care could be as high as half-trillion dollars. And that does not take into account non-seniors who will also be taking advantage of Medicaid.

The explosion of long-term care costs for seniors will be true whether or not Medicaid expansion under the health care law is ever repealed, since qualifying for Medicaid as a senior predates the law’s enactment in 2010.

Seniors constitute most of the costs for those long-term services, about 63 percent, CMS data from 2010 reveals. That includes about 71 percent of nursing home expenditures. As the number of Americans 65 years and older using the program doubles over the next 20 years, that figure should begin rising, along with seniors’ share of overall Medicaid spending.

This puts states in particular in a rather alarming situation. The hundreds of billions that will be spent through Medicaid on long-term care for seniors will be in addition to the hundreds of billions more spent on non-seniors.

Seniors only accounted for 6.7 percent of the 63.7 million Medicaid beneficiaries in 2010, and yet, made up almost a full quarter of benefits paid — $82.6 billion out of its $311 billion budget.

And now, with Medicaid expansion, by 2024 alone, the Congressional Budget Office estimates there could be as many as 93 million Americans enrolled in the program as a whole.

This will get out of control rapidly.

To a certain extent, the health care law attempts to anticipate some of these challenges and included several financing schemes to boost funding for long-term care for the states. Whether their provision was sufficient, and if it was, whether they are sustainable when the money will have to be borrowed remains very much in question.

Much of these schemes attempt to control the costs by replacing senior nursing home care to home care, probably on the presumption that there will not be enough beds and non-institutional care is hopefully cheaper. But even there, there are cost concerns.

A new rule by the Department of Labor enforcing the Fair Labor Standards Act lifted exemptions to the Act that had previously excluded home care workers from minimum wage and overtime pay guarantees. Under the new regime, once the rule takes effect, the costs of home care will necessarily increase — and precisely at the time when demand for those services is about to skyrocket.

Between the demographic time bomb about to go off — that is, the growth of the elderly population far exceeding the growth of the working age population by several orders of magnitude — and then the weak economy, the huge expansion of entitlements under the health care law, and the dramatic increases of the costs of those entitlements, including for labor, what could possibly go wrong?

You do the math. And afterward, if you can figure a way out of this mess, please send a note to Congress. Because they probably have no clue what to do. Repealing the health care law’s Medicaid expansion for non-seniors is just the tip of the iceberg.
----------------
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, Looming, Medicare, time bomb, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Worth a Crackdown?

by Paul Jacob, Contributing Author: Charming. That is the best word to describe the “Little Free Library” movement.

Haven’t heard of it? It is the practice by which just plain folks share their books by building these little birdhouse-sized free lending libraries that they place in their yards by the curb. Usually, the little “libraries” encourage folks to take a book, bring a book.

Sometimes they advise readers to just take.

It’s the spirit of the public library, only provided privately, and without great pretense. Or expense.

The example in the artwork, above, is from across the country, in the tiny burg of Cathlamet, Washington. A reader sent me the photo. It is obvious: libraries like this are both quaint and useful — encouraging literacy, the activity of reading, and the appreciation of learning.

And yet, local governments across the country are cracking down.

Andrew Collins, writing for the Franklin Center, points to an excellent Conor Friedersdorf article published early this year in The Atlantic, “The Danger of Being Neighborly Without a Permit.” Both these pieces present how meddlesome, ugly, intrusive, and anti-social local governments can be. Harassing friendly book providers with cease-and-desist letters, fines, and other niggly, invasive spins on zoning and public nuisance laws is just so idiotic it hardly merits much comment. But I agree with Friedersdorf — folks hosting Little Free Libraries are acting in the “venerable tradition” described by Alexis de Tocqueville in Democracy in America, the cooperative, neighborly culture that made our country great.

Government officials attacking this new, endearing bit of Americana are grand examples of the pettiness that is bringing America down.

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.

Tags: Paul Jacob, Common Sense, Little Free Library,  neighborly culture, Big Government, attacking free book sharing, pettiness,   To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Which Side Are The Democrats On - America's Or Our Enemies? . . .

. . . Threats Expand Worldwide - Russians Strike In Syria - Obama Threatens Veto Defense Bill – Sen. Dems Filibuster Bills For Military, Vets.

Putin is now the World Leader of the free world (minus
the free part), filling the vacuum created by Obama.
Editorial Cartoon by AF "Tony" Branco
Today in Washington, D.C. - Oct 1, 2015:
The House reconvened at 9:00 AM today.

Bills which may be considered today:
H.R. 3457 — "To prohibit the lifting of sanctions on Iran until the Government of Iran pays the judgments against it for acts of terrorism, and for other purposes."
Consideration of the conference report to accompany the bill H.R. 1735 - "To authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2016 for military activities of the Department of Defense, for military construction, and for defense activities of the Department of Energy, to prescribe military personnel strengths for such fiscal year, and for other purposes; and providing for consideration of motions to suspend the rules."

Yesterday the House passed S. 2082 (423-0) — "To amend title 38, United States Code, to extend certain expiring provisions of law administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes."

The Senate reconvened at 9:30 AM today. Following an hour of morning business, the Senate resumed consideration of the motion to proceed to H.R. 2029, the Fiscal Year 2016 Military Construction-Veterans Affairs appropriations bill.

At 1:45 PM EDT, Senate Democrats filibustered that bill, blocking the Senate from taking it up, just as they did last week with the Fiscal Year 2016 Defense appropriations bill. Today’s vote failed to get the 60 votes needed by a vote of 50-44.

Yesterday, on the last day of the fiscal year, Congress approved a short-term spending measure that keeps the federal government operating through Dec. 11. The Senate voted 78-20 to concur in the House amendment to the Senate amendment to H.R. 719, with a further amendment containing the CR. The House then passed the bill and the president signed it.

Josh Siegel at the Heritage Foundation noted, "The continuing resolution funds the government at a rate of $1.017 trillion annually for the next two and a half months. Senate leaders argued the deal gives Congress time to negotiate a budget deal with the president, though Obama has been pushing Congress to break the spending caps imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act.

"The continuing resolution also provides $74.7 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations and reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration, E-verify program, and Internet Tax Freedom Act.

"Senate Republican leaders introduced a government spending bill last week that included a one-year moratorium on funding for Planned Parenthood. The legislation also directed the $235 million in savings derived from the government funding allocated for Planned Parenthood to be directed to community health centers.

"That bill, however, was blocked in the upper chamber, after it failed to reach the 60 votes needed to advance."

Democrats in The News:
Politico writes , “On Monday afternoon, President Barack Obama grudgingly sat down with Vladimir Putin in part to gain a clearer understanding of the Russian leader's opaque plans for Syria.

“Less than 48 hours later, Putin unpleasantly surprised Obama with new clarity: airstrikes that are scrambling the U.S. president's plans for Syria and escalating the global rivalry between Washington and Moscow.

“The timing of the Russian airstrikes was more than a surprise — it seemed designed to insult the U.S. president and to demonstrate Putin's swagger at a moment when world leaders are gathered at the United Nations, reassessing global security.

“‘That kind of political theater is important to him,’ said Paul Salem, vice president for policy and research at the Middle East Institute. ‘Misbehaving is part of his global game.’”

The Washington Post adds, “Blindsided by the unexpected swiftness of Russia’s air attacks in Syria, the Obama administration scrambled Wednesday to retake the diplomatic and military initiatives . . . . Earlier in the day, Russian President Vladimir Putin brushed off Western concerns, suggesting that other countries ‘get involved’ in Syria under Russia’s leadership. Senior foreign policy spokesmen in Moscow said the action proved Russia was a force to be reckoned with on the world stage.”

And according to The Wall Street Journal, “Russia launched airstrikes in Syria on Wednesday, catching U.S. and Western officials off guard and drawing new condemnation as evidence suggested Moscow wasn’t targeting extremist group Islamic State, but rather other opponents of Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

“One of the airstrikes hit an area primarily held by rebels backed by the Central Intelligence Agency and allied spy services, U.S. officials said, catapulting the Syrian crisis to a new level of danger and uncertainty. . . . U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Russia’s approach to the Syrian war—defending Mr. Assad while ostensibly targeting extremists—was tantamount to ‘pouring gasoline on the fire.’ . . .

“The U.S. and its allies were angry at the Russians on many scores: that they are supporting Mr. Assad; that they aren’t coordinating their actions with the existing, U.S.-led anti-Islamic State coalition; that they provided terse notice only an hour before their operations; that they demanded the U.S. coalition stay out of Syrian airspace; and that they struck in areas where anti-Assad rebels—not Islamic State—operate.

“‘It does appear that they were in areas where there probably were not ISIL forces, and that is precisely one of the problems with this whole approach,’ said Mr. Carter, the U.S. defense chief.”

Earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal reported, “Taliban militants seized control of most of the northern city of Kunduz, residents and officials said, marking the first major Afghan city to fall to the insurgency in 14 years of war. . . . The fall of the city marks a devastating blow to Afghanistan’s Western-backed government and its security forces, which have largely fought on their own since U.S. and allied forces mostly ended their combat role last year.”

And The Washington Post recently wrote that “the offensive to reclaim territory from the Islamic State largely stalled in Iraq” and noted that “The change [in approach to Syria] is driven partly by frustration with the stalemated fight in Iraq, where an Iraqi army assault on Ramadi has ground to a halt and where a much-anticipated offensive to reclaim Mosul, originally planned for this year, may come only after President Obama leaves office.”

With so many serious ongoing threats and military concerns across the world, it’s critical that American forces have the necessary funds and planning ability to address these threats.

But President Obama has threatened to veto the Defense authorization bill which earlier passed the Senate with a bipartisan majority and the House just voted to pass. The AP notes, “The defense policy bill is one of the few bipartisan measures in Congress that has readily become law for more than a half-century. Not so fast this year, as President Obama threatens to veto the bill moving through the House amid a bitter dispute about government spending. . . .

“Among other things, the bill maintains restrictions on transferring terror suspects out of the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; provides a 1.3 percent pay increase to service members; authorizes lethal assistance to Ukraine forces fighting Russian-backed rebels; extends the ban on torture to the CIA; and authorizes the president's request of $715 million to help Iraqi forces fight Islamic State militants.

“On Wednesday, the White House reiterated Obama's veto threat. The president's press secretary, Josh Earnest, called it an ‘irresponsible way to fund our national defense priorities.’”

Last week, Senate Democrats voted to filibuster the Defense appropriations bill, which would fund the military and the programs authorized in the authorization bill.

And today, Senate Democrats followed that blockade by filibustering the appropriations bill to fund veterans’ programs and military construction.

As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said today, “So many different threats face us — from Russia and Iran to Syria and ISIL, even China — as do so many different means of attack: conventional, cyber, or terror. And now the Obama Administration is talking about vetoing America’s national defense bill? . . . .

“Just last week, Democrats voted again to block funding for our military. Democrats had voted for that military funding bill in committee. They’d issued press releases praising it. But then they blocked the Senate from even debating it. . . . “It’s all part of some half-baked Democrat scheme to get more money for the IRS and Washington bureaucracies. “I agree, it makes no sense. I agree, it’s extreme. I agree that it needs to stop now.”

So - Which Side Are The Democrats On - America's Or Our Enemies?

Tags: Democrats, Senators, President Obama, which side are tehy on, President Obama, Threatens Veto Defense Bill, Sen. Dems Filibuster Bills, For Military, Vets, Russia, Putin fills vacuum, created by Obama, 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!

EPA Ozone Rule: ‘Costliest Regulation In History’

Unattainable’ EPA Rule Would Have ‘Huge Economic Impact,’ ‘Could Cost The Equivalent of 1.4 Million Jobs Annually’

EPA’s ‘Environmental Justice’ Will ‘Jeopardize A Resurgence In American Manufacturing’

ozone molecule, Oxygen, O3
Ozone Molecule
“In August 2011, as President Obama prepared to unveil a major new environmental regulation on smog, his political advisers issued a warning: The rule would affect power plants and factories throughout the Midwest, slowing the economy in states like Ohio that would be crucial to the president’s re-election… Four years later, Mr. Obama has no more re-election worries.” (“New Regulations On Smog Remain As Divisive As Ever,” New York Times, 9/30/15)

“The EPA is expected to act by Thursday to set a new ozone standard. Officials are expected to set a limit of 70 parts per billion or less in the atmosphere, down from the existing standard of 75.” (“Smog Rules 'Environmental Justice,' EPA chief Says,” Associated Press, 9/30/15)
GINA MCCARTHY, EPA Administrator: “McCarthy called the rules a demonstration of the Obama administration's commitment to ‘environmental justice’.” (“Smog Rules 'Environmental Justice,' EPA chief Says,” Associated Press, 9/30/15)

“Business groups panned the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed ozone rules as unnecessary when they were announced last fall, calling them the costliest regulation in history and warning they could jeopardize a resurgence in American manufacturing.” (“Partisan Battle Lines Drawn As EPA Prepares To Tighten Limits On Smog-Causing Ozone,” Associated Press, 9/29/15)
EPA’s New Rule Could Mandate The Use Of Technology That Does Not Exist

SEN. JAMES INHOFE (R-OK): “Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said the ozone proposal will have negligible environmental benefits and comes with huge economic costs.” (“Partisan Battle Lines Drawn As EPA Prepares To Tighten Limits On Smog-Causing Ozone,” Associated Press, 9/29/15)

SEN. ROGER WICKER (R-MS): “Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., said the EPA's plan could be disastrous for his state. ‘We've got a regulation coming at states and consumers that is going to absolutely explode the price of power in our state,’ Wicker said, calling the EPA plan ‘unworkable.’” (“Smog Rules 'Environmental Justice,' EPA chief Says,” Associated Press, 9/30/15)

ELEVEN GOVERNORS: “Our states’ resources are not infinite. At a time when we should be focusing on growing the economy and creating jobs, the EPA is imposing a steady stream of complex, expensive new regulations that require an army of policy and technical experts and lawyers to decipher, respond to, and ultimately implement. The proposed NAAQS for ozone is the most onerous and expensive yet. We ask you to instead keep the current standard of 75 parts per billion (ppb) in place.” (Letter to Gina McCarthy, 3/16/15)
  • “The end result, of course, is that the costs will be passed on to hard-working Americans. Millions of Americans could be affected in a much more direct and devastating way: it is estimated that the proposed standard could cost the equivalent of 1.4 million jobs annually.” (Letter to Gina McCarthy, 3/16/15)
260+ TRADE ASSOCIATIONS: “We are committed to ensuring a clean and safe environment now and in the future. However, we also stand to bear the brunt of the economic pain from a regulation that will make it difficult to manufacture products, build new projects, produce energy, improve infrastructure and hire the workers needed to make this all happen. A stricter ozone standard could close off communities across the nation to new jobs and economic growth.” (Letter to the President, 7/29/15)

JAY TIMMONS, CEO Of The National Association of Manufactures: “‘The costs of doing this are not going to be absorbed by a magic sponge,’ said Jay Timmons, the chief executive of the manufacturers group, which has been joined by dozens of mayors and governors, including many Democrats. ‘The impact is going to be largest on manufacturing. The tighter the standard, the more localities are impacted.’” (“New Regulations On Smog Remain As Divisive As Ever,” New York Times, 9/30/15)

ROSS EISENBERG, Vice President Of The National Association of Manufactures: “‘A standard of 65 parts per billion, Mr. Eisenberg said, could require the use of pollution control technology that does not exist yet. ‘That’s when you have to start shutting things down,’ he said.” (“New Regulations On Smog Remain As Divisive As Ever,” New York Times, 9/30/15)

NICHOLAS AKINS, Chairman And CEO Of American Electric Power: “If it moves forward with lowering the standard, EPA will essentially be requiring many states and local communities to reduce ground-level ozone to a level that is either unattainable or technologically infeasible, given existing emissions control technologies. Regions of the country that fail to meet the lower standard would find themselves in non-attainment status. Non-attainment areas must adopt various measures that can act as a brake on economic growth and job creation in local communities.” (Letter to U.S. Senate Majority Leader, 9/8/15)

Tags: EPA, Environmental Justice, Ozone Rule, Ozone, O3, costliest regulation, in history, Huge Economic Impact, Could Cost Equivalent of 1.4 Million Jobs Annually To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

"Get Out," Putin's Plan, Netanyahu's Warning

by Gary Bauer, Contributing Author: "Get Out" - The decline of America's influence under Obama is accelerating. Fox News reports that "Russian diplomats sent an official demarche [a diplomatic demand] ordering U.S. planes out of Syria."

That demand was issued as Russia launched its first airstrikes in Syria following a unanimous vote by Russian lawmakers to approve President Vladimir Putin's request for the use of force.

Putin is going to war, and he's telling America to get out of his way. How flexible will Obama be this time?

Some Americans, including Rand Paul-type conservatives, may be okay with Russia taking the lead. They are wrong. Putin is not our friend. He is a former KGB officer who said that the fall of the Soviet Union was the worst geopolitical event of the 20th century.

Thanks to Obama's weakness, the Middle East is increasingly falling under the influence of Russia, Iran and Hezbollah. The implications for our security, as well as that of Israel's and other allies, are tremendous -- and all bad.

A Russia/Iran-controlled Middle East will spread the impact of the refugee tidal wave, increase the price of energy and likely contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Putin's Plan - NATO commander, General Philip Breedlove, said Monday that Putin is moving aggressively to deny U.S. access to the eastern Mediterranean. This is obvious by the kind of military units Putin is deploying in Syria.

"These very sophisticated air defense capabilities are not about [the Islamic State]," General Breedlove said. ISIS doesn't have an air force.

Who are the major air powers in the Middle East? Israel and the United States, which gets us back to the Iran deal.

That terrible deal signaled the total weakness of the Obama Administration and one of two major political parties in America. Surely Moscow noticed that the Democratic Party was willing to embrace that terrible deal even if it meant undermining Israel.

What gave Russian generals the notion that they could order our planes out of Syrian airspace? No doubt they saw how Obama caved to repeated Iranian demands for more concessions during the nuclear talks.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said today that the Obama Administration was working to "deconflict" the situation in Syria. Right. I'm sure that tough talk will have ISIS rushing to lay down its weapons.

Meanwhile, more and more Obama Administration officials just can't take it anymore. The Pentagon's top Russia expert announced her resignation yesterday. Obama's "ISIS Czar" announced last week that he was resigning too. And it is worth mentioning that Obama is on his fourth secretary of defense in seven years.

Netanyahu's Warning - Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went to Moscow to meet with Vladimir Putin. The trip was highly unusual because Netanyahu was accompanied by his top military commanders, including the Israeli Defense Forces chief of staff and the chief of military intelligence.

Yesterday, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon described part of the conversation that took place in Moscow:


"Prime Minister Netanyahu made it clear to President Putin that we are not involved in who will control Syria. Assad or not Assad, we are not entering that discussion at all.

"But we have interests, and when they are threatened we act, and we will continue to act. . . . those who try to violate our sovereignty -- we will strike them, and those who try to transfer advanced weapons to terror elements, with an emphasis on Hezbollah, we will strike them, and those who try to transfer chemical weapons to terror elements, we will strike them.

"We have no intention of giving up our ability to defend our interests. And I suggest that no one tests us."
Israel is 1/40th our size and yet it just delivered a message to Moscow that our president and secretary of defense are unwilling to deliver.
-------------
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, Middle East, Syria, ISIS, Putin Plan, Russia, United States, Netanyahu's Warning, Israel,  To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

4 Highlights From Obama’s Ridiculous Cyber Agreement With China

by David Inserra: Last week, the White House announced that the U.S. and China had agreed to stop cyber economic espionage and work together to stop cybercrime.

Well, that was easy, wasn’t it? Too easy.

The reality is that the president has just made another paper agreement that will do little to change the behavior of bad actors.

While it will certainly make some feel good for having “solved” a problem through only talking, it has deprived us of an opportunity to change China’s behavior through the application of sanctions in the face of their blatant cyber actions.

The White House press release is filled with worrisome conclusions, indicating that this agreement ignores the seriousness of this problem and kicks the can down the road.

Here are some of the highlights:
1. [T]he United States and China…agree to cooperate…with requests to investigate cybercrimes, collect electronic evidence, and mitigate malicious cyber activity emanating from their territory.Great, but think about the implications. The Chinese will request that the U.S. help it stop all sorts of dissident hackers and activists. The U.S. lives up to its agreements so it will dutifully help the Chinese even as oppressed individuals are jailed for cybercrimes, such as “jeopardizing Internet security” or accessing “illegal and harmful information,”—i.e., anything the Chinese Communist Party doesn’t like.

Then what stops the Chinese from stonewalling to protect their hackers? Will the Chinese help the U.S. investigate the five Chinese military officers that the U.S. charged with cybercrimes last year? Doubtful.
2. The United States and China agree that neither country’s government will conduct or knowingly support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property, including trade secrets or other confidential business information, with the intent of providing competitive advantages to companies or commercial sectors.The U.S. does not engage in economic espionage because it goes against U.S. principles of rule of law and property rights. However, while everyone knows that the Chinese engage in economic espionage, Beijing has always vigorously denied it.

Less than a week ago, Xi Jinping said, “The Chinese government does not engage in theft of commercial secrets in any form, nor does it encourage or support Chinese companies to engage in such practices in any way.”

He emphasized this point throughout his trip to the U.S. What, then, have the Chinese actually agreed to do? They have agreed to stop a behavior that they deny ever engaging in. That doesn’t bode well as an indicator of their future behavior.
3. Both sides are committed to making common effort to further identify and promote appropriate norms of state behavior in cyberspace within the international community.This point underscores how little the U.S. understands with whom it is negotiating. The Chinese have a dramatically different view of cyberspace and warfare. For them, their cyber operations, ranging from the economic to the more traditional government espionage, are just parts of their larger warfare strategy during peacetime. On a domestic level, the U.S. believes the Internet is a tool that enriches commerce and freedom, while the Chinese government fears the Internet for the same reasons.

Norm development (agreeing that certain types of behavior are wrong) may constrain actors who all agree to core principles, but when coming from such radically different places, norm development is meaningless.
4. The United States and China agree to establish a high-level joint dialogue mechanism on fighting cybercrime and related issues.This point doubles down on the flawed ideas expressed earlier in the document. But it also betrays a key assumption present throughout the document: the Chinese are victims and partners in the fight against cyber criminals.

Regrettably, this is a huge step back to the mindset the Obama administration held years ago. China is not a partner and it is not a victim—it is the perpetrator.

By granting China moral equivalence with the U.S., the Obama administration has sacrificed the moral high ground, giving the Chinese exactly what they want—legitimacy. The U.S. government has now all but adopted the Chinese position and language on cyber policy, surrendering to Chinese demands in exchange for a nice sounding press release. What is worse, this agreement will probably stop the U.S. from implementing any of the cyber sanctions waiting in the wings against China.

This agreement will do nothing to keep the U.S. safe in cyberspace, but gives China the moral and political legitimacy they want on this issue and will likely keep important cyber sanctions at bay.

Of course we could just trust everything the Chinese say. And if that’s the case, I’ve got a bridge to sell you in China.

Tags: 4 Highlights, President Obama, Ridiculous Cyber Agreement, With China 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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  • 6/28/15 - 7/5/15
  • 7/5/15 - 7/12/15
  • 7/12/15 - 7/19/15
  • 7/19/15 - 7/26/15
  • 7/26/15 - 8/2/15
  • 8/2/15 - 8/9/15
  • 8/9/15 - 8/16/15
  • 8/16/15 - 8/23/15
  • 8/23/15 - 8/30/15
  • 8/30/15 - 9/6/15
  • 9/6/15 - 9/13/15
  • 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
  • 12/6/15 - 12/13/15
  • 12/13/15 - 12/20/15
  • 12/20/15 - 12/27/15
  • 12/27/15 - 1/3/16
  • 1/3/16 - 1/10/16
  • 1/10/16 - 1/17/16
  • 1/17/16 - 1/24/16
  • 1/24/16 - 1/31/16
  • 1/31/16 - 2/7/16
  • 2/7/16 - 2/14/16
  • 2/14/16 - 2/21/16
  • 2/21/16 - 2/28/16
  • 2/28/16 - 3/6/16
  • 3/6/16 - 3/13/16
  • 3/13/16 - 3/20/16
  • 3/20/16 - 3/27/16
  • 3/27/16 - 4/3/16
  • 4/3/16 - 4/10/16
  • 4/10/16 - 4/17/16
  • 4/17/16 - 4/24/16
  • 4/24/16 - 5/1/16
  • 5/1/16 - 5/8/16
  • 5/8/16 - 5/15/16
  • 5/15/16 - 5/22/16
  • 5/22/16 - 5/29/16
  • 5/29/16 - 6/5/16
  • 6/5/16 - 6/12/16
  • 6/12/16 - 6/19/16
  • 6/19/16 - 6/26/16
  • 6/26/16 - 7/3/16
  • 7/3/16 - 7/10/16
  • 7/10/16 - 7/17/16
  • 7/17/16 - 7/24/16
  • 7/24/16 - 7/31/16
  • 7/31/16 - 8/7/16
  • 8/7/16 - 8/14/16
  • 8/14/16 - 8/21/16
  • 8/21/16 - 8/28/16
  • 8/28/16 - 9/4/16
  • 9/4/16 - 9/11/16
  • 9/11/16 - 9/18/16
  • 9/18/16 - 9/25/16
  • 9/25/16 - 10/2/16
  • 10/2/16 - 10/9/16
  • 10/9/16 - 10/16/16
  • 10/16/16 - 10/23/16
  • 10/23/16 - 10/30/16
  • 10/30/16 - 11/6/16
  • 11/6/16 - 11/13/16
  • 11/13/16 - 11/20/16
  • 11/20/16 - 11/27/16
  • 11/27/16 - 12/4/16
  • 12/4/16 - 12/11/16
  • 12/11/16 - 12/18/16
  • 12/18/16 - 12/25/16
  • 12/25/16 - 1/1/17
  • 1/1/17 - 1/8/17
  • 1/8/17 - 1/15/17
  • 1/15/17 - 1/22/17
  • 1/22/17 - 1/29/17
  • 1/29/17 - 2/5/17
  • 2/5/17 - 2/12/17
  • 2/12/17 - 2/19/17
  • 2/19/17 - 2/26/17
  • 2/26/17 - 3/5/17
  • 3/5/17 - 3/12/17
  • 3/12/17 - 3/19/17
  • 3/19/17 - 3/26/17
  • 3/26/17 - 4/2/17
  • 4/2/17 - 4/9/17
  • 4/9/17 - 4/16/17
  • 4/16/17 - 4/23/17
  • 4/23/17 - 4/30/17
  • 4/30/17 - 5/7/17
  • 5/7/17 - 5/14/17
  • 5/14/17 - 5/21/17
  • 5/21/17 - 5/28/17
  • 5/28/17 - 6/4/17
  • 6/4/17 - 6/11/17
  • 6/11/17 - 6/18/17
  • 6/18/17 - 6/25/17
  • 6/25/17 - 7/2/17
  • 7/2/17 - 7/9/17
  • 7/9/17 - 7/16/17
  • 7/16/17 - 7/23/17
  • 7/23/17 - 7/30/17
  • 7/30/17 - 8/6/17
  • 8/6/17 - 8/13/17
  • 8/13/17 - 8/20/17