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Editor/Founder: Bill Smith, Ph.D. [aka: OzarkGuru & 2010 AFP National Blogger of the Year]
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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, March 18, 2016

Obamacare’s Tax-Time Torment

Editorial Cartoon by AF Branco
by Michelle Malkin: “Where is my 1095-A? This is what it must be like dealing with a government agency in a third world country.”

That was the lament on Twitter of just one poor citizen this week trying to get his tax records in order. Nationwide, hard-working Americans are struggling to meet the April 18 IRS filing deadline. Standing in the way: the bumbling Obamacare bureaucracy.

In Minnesota, an estimated 18,000 people who were on health insurance plans last year offered through MNsure, the state Obamacare health insurance exchange, still haven’t received their 1095-A form. It’s the “health insurance marketplace statement” required to file accurate tax returns and claim the premium tax credit.

Twin Cities officials blame “technical bugs” and promise they’ll be sending more of the documents out next week. But it’s small consolation to farmers in Minnesota who were required to file their taxes by March 1.

“This is the second year in a row MNsure has been late sending my 1095-A form and it’s cost me extra money when I have to file for an extension on my tax filings,” farmer Robert Marg of Winona County, Minnesota, told his local TV station.

In Hawaii, the paper-pushers sent out their 1095-A forms on time — but the documents are worthless to thousands of taxpayers enrolled in the state’s now-defunct Obamacare exchange, the Hawaii Health Connector. According to the Pacific Business News, “approximately 80 percent of the forms sent out to taxpayers” contain errors, including address problems.

The Aloha State is still digging out from the mess the overseers of the bankrupted state exchange made last year, when Hawaii Health Connector staff issued 1095-A forms manually because the bureaucracy did not have a working automated system for creating 1095-As. How many taxpayers were affected? “CMS and IRS have not been able to provide error rates for 2014,” PBN reported.

What century is this?

After I reported on my own bizarro 1095-A nightmare last year and revisited the Obamacare tax-time troubles last week in Conservative Review, I gathered yet more horror stories. Citizens trying to get through to the HealthCareGov.com hotline have been trapped in the spiral of “escalation” — Washington-speak for getting the runaround.

“On the phone with @HealthCareGov for more than an hour. I just want my 1095A or B form. #nomoreescalationsplease,” one Obamacare hostage wrote.

“So apparently you have to re-escalate the escalation of the escalation. All to get my 1095A. This is INSANE,” another wrote.

One reader detailed for me how she had withdrawn from Covered California, the state’s health insurance exchange, in 2014, yet received 1095-A forms two years in a row incorrectly showing that she was enrolled.

Insurer Anthem “said that they called Covered California and reported that I did not have coverage for 2015,” the reader told me. “Then 45 days later, we received a corrected 1095. However, it was not corrected. It was the same 1095 we previously received containing the same mistakes. After being on hold for 40 minutes with Covered California, the person I spoke with said, “Yes, I was not covered in 2015, but no one had gone into the system to generate a corrected 1095 and that I will be receiving the new one within 45 days.   Unfortunately, that will be after April 15 when I am due to file taxes. What a nightmare.”

Yet another reader lamented that D.C. politicians have been deaf to their plight. “Thank you so much for the kindness in responding to me,” she wrote after we traded stories. “I am not kidding, I just about cried that a real human being has finally heard me. My husband and I know we are nobodies in the world. He’s a small-business owner (a handyman) and I have an online vintage store on Etsy. So no one on the Hill cares about what people like us are going through.”

It’s always taxpayers who are forced to pay for the incompetence and apathy of their government tormentors.
------------------
Michelle Malkin is mother, wife, blogger, conservative syndicated columnist, and author. She shares many of her articles and thoughts at MichelleMalkin.com.

Tags: Michelle Malkin, Obamacare, healthcare, Tax-Time Torment, 1095-A, tax filing deadline, 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 End of Their World For Big Government Bureaucratic Socialism

by Newt Gingrich: 700 days. That’s roughly how long it has taken the Department of Veterans Affairs to seek the firing of three senior officials at the Phoenix VA who oversaw the systematic falsification of wait times for appointments. And that’s how long they could continue to receive full pay before the VA actually succeeds in firing them.

It has been almost years since President Obama promised swift action and accountability for those who tried to hide the abysmally long waits by keeping fraudulent records. Since those revelations, the trickle of horror stories out of the VA–of the thousands who may have died waiting for care, for instance–has become a sadly familiar fixture of newscasts.

Yet that does not make it any less outrageous that it took the VA until this week–two years after the stories of corruption at the Phoenix VA came to public attention–for the agency to finally hold the senior officials responsible.

“These executives will no longer serve in those positions,” the Arizona Republic reported, “but may fight their removals under a federal appeals process.” That could take an additional two years.

Federal civil service law gives the officials the chance to appeal the attempt to remove them from their jobs–and during that time they may continue to be paid at taxpayer expense. At least one of the officials earns a salary of nearly $250,000 a year, according to the report. This means taxpayers are likely to pay half a million dollars to a person they’re trying to fire for cause.

The crushing fact, of course, is that the real problem is much bigger than three employees at the Phoenix VA. The system that shaped them remains just as incompetent and corrupt as ever.

Consider, for example, that between 2006 and 2013, the number of full-time employees jumped more than 40 percent, from 220,000 to 314,000. Yet with 94,000 additional government employees, the VA still has not developed a system to transfer a veteran’s medical records from the Defense Department to the VA faster than 175 days.

The two giant bureaucracies recently spent $1.3 billion to build a joint medical record system for their health care services–before the two secretaries announced that they were abandoning the effort because they couldn’t get it to work. (That $1.3 billion is on top of the more than $2 billion the Defense Department spent on a failed upgrade of its own system of electronic medical records.)

But to single out the VA for its failures makes just a little more sense than pointing to the employees in Phoenix. Because in addition to a Veterans Health Service that is dangerous to veterans’ health, we have an Internal Revenue Service that attempts to police political speech, a defense bureaucracy that can’t keep track of its money or its equipment, an Environmental Protection Agency that spills millions of gallons of toxic water into the Colorado River, and an immigration bureaucracy that ignores immigration law as a matter of policy.

No wonder, then, that the public is “angry” and of a mind to vote against anyone associated with Washington. It’s the only rational response to incompetence and corruption of this scale.

And no wonder, then, that the slogan “Make America Great Again” resonates with voters. At least it signals an understanding that something fundamental has to change.

And no wonder, then, that we are witnessing the left wing react with outrage and violence. They understand the stakes. Bureaucratic socialism itself is at risk. A government that worked would mean the end of their world.
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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: Veterans Administration, VA, horror stories, Make America Great Again, Donald Trump, Newt Gingrich, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Suicide of the GOP — or Rebirth?

Editorial Cartoon by AF "Tony" Branco
by Patrick Buchanan: “If his poll numbers hold, Trump will be there six months from now when the Sweet 16 is cut to the Final Four, and he will likely be in the finals.”

My prediction, in July of 2015, looks pretty good right now.

Herewith, a second prediction. Republican wailing over his prospective nomination aside, Donald Trump could beat Hillary Clinton like a drum in November.

Indeed, only the fear that Trump can win explains the hysteria in this city.

Here is The Washington Post of March 18: “As a moral question it is straightforward. The mission of any responsible Republican should be to block a Trump nomination and election.”

The Orwellian headline over that editorial: “To defend our democracy, the GOP must aim for a brokered convention.”

Beautiful. Defending democracy requires Republicans to cancel the democratic decision of the largest voter turnout of any primaries in American history. And this is now a moral imperative for Republicans.

Like the Third World leaders it lectures, the Post celebrates democracy — so long as the voters get it right.

Whatever one may think of the Donald, he has exposed not only how far out of touch our political elites are, but how insular is the audience that listens to our media elite.

Understandably, Trump’s rivals were hesitant to take him on, seeing the number he did on “little Marco,” “low energy” Jeb and “Lyin’ Ted.”

But the Big Media — the Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times — have been relentless and ruthless.

Yet Trump’s strength with voters seemed to grow, pari passu, with the savagery of their attacks. As for National Review, The Weekly Standard and the accredited conservative columnists of the big op-ed pages, their hostility to Trump seems to rise, commensurate with Trump’s rising polls.

As the Wizard of Oz was exposed as a little man behind a curtain with a big megaphone, our media establishment is unlikely ever again to be seen as formidable as it once was.

And the GOP?

Those Republicans who assert that a Trump nomination would be a moral stain, a scarlet letter, the death of the party, they are most likely describing what a Trump nomination would mean to their own ideologies and interests.

Barry Goldwater lost 44 states in 1964, and the GOP fell to less than a third of Congress. “The Republican Party is dead,” wailed the Rockefeller wing. Actually, it wasn’t. Only the Rockefeller wing was dead.

After the great Yellowstone fire in the summer of ’88, the spring of ’89 produced astonishing green growth everywhere. 1964 was the Yellowstone fire of the GOP, burning up a million acres of dead wood, preparing the path for party renewal. Renewal often follows rebellion.

Republican strength today, on Capitol Hill and in state offices, is at levels unseen since Calvin Coolidge. Turnout in the GOP primaries has been running at levels unseen in American history, while turnout in the Democratic primaries is below what it was in the Obama-Clinton race of 2008.

This opportunity for Republicans should be a cause for rejoicing, not all this weeping and gnashing of teeth. If the party in Cleveland can bring together the Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and John Kasich forces, the White House, Supreme Court and Congress are all within reach.

Consider. Clinton was beaten by Bernie Sanders in Michigan, and pressed in Ohio and Illinois, on her support for NAFTA and the trade deals of the Clinton-Bush-Obama era that eviscerated American manufacturing and led to the loss of millions of factory jobs and the stagnation of wages.

Sanders’ issues are Trump’s issues.

A Trump campaign across the industrial Midwest, Pennsylvania and New Jersey featuring attacks on Hillary Clinton’s support for NAFTA, the WTO, MFN for China — and her backing of amnesty and citizenship for illegal immigrants, and for the Iraq and Libyan debacles — is a winning hand.

Lately, 116 architects and subcontractors of the Bush I and II foreign policy took their own version of the Oxford Oath. They will not vote for, nor serve in a Trump administration.

Talking heads are bobbing up on cable TV to declare that if Trump is nominee, they will not vote for him and may vote for Clinton.

This is not unwelcome news. Let them go.

Their departure testifies that Trump is offering something new and different from the foreign policy failures this crowd did so much to produce.

The worst mistake Trump could make would be to tailor his winning positions on trade, immigration and intervention — to court such losers.

While Trump should reach out to the defeated establishment of the party, he cannot compromise the issues that brought him where he is, or embrace the failed policies that establishment produced. This would be throwing away his aces.

The Trump campaign is not a hostile takeover of the Republican Party. It is a rebellion of shareholders who are voting to throw out the corporate officers and board of directors that ran the company into the ground.

Only the company here is our country.
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Patrick Buchanan is currently a conservative columnist, political analyst, chairman of The American Cause foundation and an editor of The American Conservative. He has been a senior advisor to three Presidents, a two-time candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, and was the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000. He blogs at the Patrick J. Buchanan.

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Intel: If U.S. Doesn’t Give Internet Away, It ‘Will Incentivize Other Trade Barriers’

Fairfax, Va. — Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following statement responding to House Energy and Commerce Committee testimony by Audrey Plonk, Director, Global Security and Internet Governance Policy, Intel Corporation, who said if the U.S. fails to give away the Internet, Congress would “incentivize other trade barriers that we see in the tech sector being raised in many countries — it will provide a rationale”:

“This is remarkable. What countries specifically are so desperate for the U.S. to cease oversight of the domain name system that they are threatening a trade war in the tech sector? Has Intel been threatened that their products will no longer be welcome in certain countries if the transition does not occur? If not, where is this coming from? The very fact that a huge multinational company expresses fear of foreign government coercion if the Internet is not given away should raise massive red flags to the type of pressure ICANN will face when it is threatened with potential foreign capture without the U.S. government to protect the First Amendment rights that underlie oversight of the current system.

“This proves that foreign coercion is already being exercised to move this transition, the exact reason not to do it.”
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Interview Availability: Please contact Americans for Limited Government at 703-383-0880 ext. 106 or at media@limitgov.org to arrange an interview with ALG experts including ALG President Rick Manning.

Tags: Americans for Limited Government. President. Rick Manning, response, testimony, Audrey Plonk, Director, Global Security and Internet Governance Policy, Intel Corporation, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Trump Change March 18, 2015: 87% of GOP Voters See Trump As Likely Nominee

Rassmussen Reports: Following Donald Trump’s latest round of primary wins on Tuesday, more Republicans than ever believe he will be their party’s presidential nominee this fall.

The latest Rasmussen Reports weekly Trump Change survey finds that 87% of Likely Republican Voters nationwide now think Trump is likely to win the GOP nomination, with 59% who say it is Very Likely. This is up from 80% and 48% a week ago and represents new highs for both numbers.

The previous highs among Republican voters, both recorded in the past month, were 80% overall and 50% who said a Trump nomination is Very Likely.
Among all likely voters, 76% believe Trump is likely to be the Republican presidential nominee, including 46% who view his nomination as Very Likely. That’s up from 74% and 39% respectively a week ago and also represents the highest findings since Rasmussen Reports began the weekly Trump Change survey last August. ...

The problem all along for the Republican elites opposed to Trump is that they have no second act planned, and things got worse for them this week after his latest collection of primary wins.

Men are more confident than women that Trump will be the eventual nominee. Those under 40 share that belief slightly more than their elders do.

Whites are much more likely than blacks and other minority voters to expect Trump to win.

But sizable majorities across nearly every demographic category think Trump is likely to end up as the GOP nominee. ...

Voters strongly believe candidates should tell it like it is, but most expect an increase in political violence this year, thanks in large part to Trump’s unvarnished populist message.

Trump has responded to critics of his abrasive campaign rhetoric by saying he would “gladly accept the mantle of anger” because the government is being run by “incompetent people.” Two-out-of-three voters (67%) are angry at the current policies of the federal government, and even more (84%) are angry at Congress.

Trump boasts that he is largely self-funding his campaign because he thinks big contributors have too much influence over elected officials. Most voters agree that presidential candidates are more concerned with what their big donors think than with the concerns of the voters. ...

Tags: Rassmussen Reports, Trump Change, 87% GOP Voters, Donald Trump, Likely nominee To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Republicans For Hillary?

by Gary Bauer, Contributing Author: There was a meeting in Washington yesterday of some evangelical conservatives, which I declined to attend. The purpose of the meeting, as it was pitched to me, was to form a third party if Donald Trump ends up winning the Republican presidential nomination.

That seemed like a "fool's errand" to me since 21 states and territories have yet to vote, 946 delegates are still up for grabs and there is still a candidate in the race who could prevail if conservatives would unite behind him -- Ted Cruz.

In addition, I cannot think of a recent example where a conservative third party has helped to advance the conservative agenda. Ross Perot's run in 1992 gave us Bill Clinton, although I believe the main reason Clinton got elected was because George H.W. Bush broke his campaign promise to not raise taxes.

When Donald Trump hinted several months ago about running as an independent candidate, many of the conservatives at yesterday's meeting were critical of Trump. They accused him of trying to split the party. They said such an outrageous move would only serve to elect Hillary Clinton. They were right.

There is no question that a Trump third party candidacy would elect Hillary Clinton. And there is no question that a serious third party candidacy by a leading Republican or conservative would also elect Hillary Clinton, which I thought was exactly what we were trying to avoid.

I agree with others who say that anyone thinking about third party bids needs to acknowledge that their efforts will inevitably result in the election of Hillary Clinton. Her victory will result in the final transformation of America that Barack Obama started. It is a political suicide mission.

Thankfully, reports indicate that the folks at yesterday's meeting realized the danger of their strategy, and will focus their efforts on forming a unity ticket at the convention. I am glad they came to that conclusion. But did they really need to have a meeting to see the obvious?
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Gary Bauer is a conservative family values advocate and serves as president of American Values and chairman of the Campaign for Working Families

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GOP: Stealing Nominations (And Losing) Since 1912

by Robert Romano: All the buzz in Washington, D.C. is about the possibility of a contested convention in Cleveland, Ohio for the Republican nomination in July, presumably to stop GOP frontrunner Donald Trump from securing the nod.

Erick Erickson’s “Conservatives Against Trump” on March 17 released its plan to stop Trump — not by backing his top rival Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the remaining primaries — but by taking the nomination at the convention.

Said Erickson in the group’s statement, “We call for a unity ticket that unites the Republican Party.” But, if such a ticket cannot secure 1,237 delegates prior to the convention, “we encourage all candidates to hold their delegates on the first ballot.”

Of course, in order to block Trump at the convention would require the complicity of Cruz, who by July could be several millions of votes behind in the popular vote and hundreds of delegates short of securing the nomination himself — and who himself might not even be selected at such a convention.

But, before party leaders dust off their convention rulebooks and start conspiring in smoke-filled rooms, they may want to take a look at the history of Republican nominations the past century to see how these types of schemes have actually worked out for Republicans.

As it is, the modern political primary process began in 1912 when the first primaries were held. Prior to then, presidential candidates were selected by party leaders at conventions.

But the voters’ choice at the polls was not always the nominee at first. In fact, for Republicans the primary process got off to a rather rocky start in 1912, when Theodore Roosevelt clearly won the popular vote against sitting President William Taft, but then the party nominated Taft who controlled the convention. Roosevelt, feeling cheated, ran third party, handing the election to Democrat Woodrow Wilson.

They might have been better off just giving the nomination to Roosevelt, if they had known he would run third party. Stealing the convention clearly cost Republicans the election.

And it wouldn’t be the last time. In 7 out of 10 instances when Republican voters selected one candidate at the primary polls by popular vote, and the party selected somebody else at the convention, the GOP lost the general election.

Repeat, they lost 70 percent of those elections, in 1912, 1916, 1932, 1936, 1940, 1944, and 1948.

The exceptions came in 1920, with Warren Harding, in 1952, with Dwight D. Eisenhower, and in 1968, with Richard Nixon. Although to be fair, in 1968, Nixon, who had won 9 states, was in a virtual tie for the popular vote with Ronald Reagan, who had just won his home state of California.

Still, the success rate is rather low.

It could be a political catastrophe for Republicans.

Comparatively, Republicans have won 53 percent of elections when they selected the candidate who won the primary popular vote, in 1924, 1928, 1956, 1972, 1980, 1984, 1988, 2000, and 2004.

Turns out, voters are much better at picking winners than party bosses and convention delegates.

Sure, occasionally you wind up with a Harding, an Eisenhower, or a Nixon, but more than likely, you’ll get a William Taft, a Charles E. Hughes, a Herbert Hoover, an Alf Landon, a Wendell Wilkie, or a Thomas Dewey — twice.

Now, selecting the candidate who got the most votes is by no means a perfect strategy. Just ask Richard Nixon, who lost in 1960, or Barry Goldwater, who lost in 1964, or Gerald Ford, who lost in 1976, or George H.W. Bush, who lost in 1992, or Bob Dole, who lost in 1996, or John McCain, who lost in 2008, and Mitt Romney, who lost in 2012.

But the popular vote winner still probably represents the GOP’s best shot to win. From a Republican perspective, a 53 percent chance of victory is far better than a 70 percent chance of defeat, even if the nominee is Donald Trump, particularly if the alternative is a President Hillary Clinton. Something for Republican leaders and voters to keep in mind as the process moves forward.
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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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Killing Free Speech . . .

. . . DOJ vs Climate Change Deniers killing their free speech.
Editorial Cartoon by AF "Tony" Branco

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Donald Trump, Superhero Or Supervillain?

Trump Superhero
(Img via the Daily Dot)
by Ralph Benko: Donald Trump, on Super Tuesday, proved he has superpowers. But Superhero or Supervillain? Unless Marco Rubio rises to the occasion and endorses Ted Cruz for president, accepting a vice presidential role for himself, Donald Trump almost assuredly will be the GOP nominee. Meanwhile, the party and conservative elites are reacting in interesting ways to these interesting times.

There are three fascinating dramas simultaneously emerging. First, the Story of Trump. Second, Rubio’s Choice. Third, the narratives that the party (and interlocked conservative movement) thought leaders are devising. Follow along.

First, the Story of Trump. Donald Trump unequivocally demonstrated that he has superpowers. While superpowers are something we all crave in a president there’s a profound … ambiguity.

Donald Trump: Superhero? Or Supervillain?

A plurality of voters see him as a Superhero. That perspective rather brilliantly was summed up by one of the commenters to a recent column of mine, Atom Bruce McKellar:
If you’re an illegal immigrant, Trump is a villain. If you’re heavily invested in China, Trump is a villain. If you’re heavily invested in Mexico, Trump is a villain. If you’re an Islamic supremacist, Trump is a villain. If you’re a left-fascist with politically correct fantasy based narrative of the world, Trump is a villain. If you’re heavily invested in trying to buy influence with GOP candidates (or Democratic ones), Trump is a villain.

But to everyday, regular Americans , Donald Trump is King Kong stomping every dinosaur in sight as he takes back Skull Island for them.
Alternatively, not a few see Trump as a Supervillain. Let’s be clear on what that means. The best definition of “villain” I’ve encountered is by Louis Capizzi in “Is Donald Trump a Villain?” at The Odyssey Online:I use the word villain in the most apolitical way possible.

When I say villain, I’m talking full on Emperor Palpatine / Marvel movie HYDRA agent / James Bond Mastermind / Lex Luthor type figure: the sort of guy that rises to power because he loves power and won’t stop short of world domination. He already has the money and the influence, but in fiction, money and influence never suffice. Villains always have the desire to come out from the shadows and take the true power for themselves.
As for “Super” villain? The most definitive explanation comes from Megamind, in the eponymous movie, during his climactic fight with aspiring villain Tighten.[Suddenly, a giant hologram of Megamind's head appears in the sky]

Giant Megamind head: You dare challenge Megamind?!

Tighten: This town isn’t big enough for two super-villains!

Giant Megamind head: Oh, you’re a villain, all right! Just not a SUPER one!

Tighten: Oh, yeah? What’s the difference?

[Megamind's giant hologram head opens its mouth and from the inside appears Megamind]

Megamind: PRESENTATION!
Nobody, but nobody, in this election cycle has PRESENTATION down like Donald Trump. Super!

Donald Trump recently said, on Fox News’s Hannity, “I mean, everything’s negotiable.” This perfect ambiguity is entirely consistent with how Donald Trump has lived his entire recorded life. That causes observers to see him, depending on their point of view, as Superhero … or Supervillain.

This situation is more than mildly reminiscent of an observation in Obama’s prologue in his 2006 autobiography The Audacity of Hope: “I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views." Hey. Worked for Obama.

The only way, mathematically speaking, to deny Trump the nomination would be for Cruz and Rubio (and, preferably, Kasich) to unite behind one candidate. Could it happen?

The admirable Marco Rubio, now the designee of National Reviews book smart but not politically street smart Deroy Murdock, is sitting on a powder keg.

Rubio was polling, on average, almost 20 points behind Trump in his home state of Florida. Cruz won his home state of Texas by nearly as much. Rubio, to date, has won one midsize state, Minnesota, thus far having won one early contest to Trump’s 10 and Cruz’s 4. Rubio has 106 delegates to Trump’s 316 and Cruz’s 226. Rubio consistently polls well behind Trump and close behind Cruz. As for “close,” as the old saying goes: “Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

Moreover, Rubio is not running for re-election to the US Senate. Rubio has no political base to which to repair should the powder keg explode under him. It did.

Cruz maintains his Senate seat, and his great popularity (and thus near certain re-election), in Texas. It would have been unseemly and odd to ask Cruz to endorse Rubio. Cruz leads Rubio in every metric and has secure ground, rather than high explosives, beneath his feet even in the event of defeat. Nobody is going to make the #2 a pariah for not dropping out in favor of the #3.

Rubio, alone, bears the risk of becoming cast as the scapegrace. If Rubio declines to endorse Cruz he runs a great risk of being perceived, by the Powers That Be, as the spoiler who delivered the nomination to Trump. If that very real risk manifests Rubio is likely to be banished to the political wilderness. Perhaps forever. High risk.

Alternatively, this estimable young rising star could gain enormous political cred by endorsing Sen. Cruz. His doing so would be, and be seen as, an act of party statesmanship, endearing him to the party regulars and donors. Taking this course would endow him with political assets.

The calculus for a Rubio endorsement of Cruz for the good of the Republic and of the Republican party, is very clear. Former Cruz arch-critic Sen. Lindsey Graham gets it. Others, too, see the handwriting on the wall. Will the right party elders make the case to Sen. Rubio in a way that he can and will appreciate?

Meanwhile, during the run up to and after Super Tuesday the GOP thought leaders are polarizing into two very different narratives. Respected thought leaders such as William Kristol, Erick Erickson, and Richard Viguerie, among others, see Trump as a Supervillain. Thus they are taking the #NeverTrump stand. (In passing let it be noted that a few conservative pragmatists such as Hugh Hewitt avoid the poles with an equatorial position that we would be better off with Trump than Clinton.)

Another element of thought leadership is advancing a “the realignment is here and Trump is its instrument” narrative. Perhaps the most compelling case for this was made by Ben Domenech at The Federalist in Thunderdome: Gone Savage For Trump:
On Face the Nation this Sunday, I attempted to explain the 2016 cycle in 40 seconds. Pull back from the close ups on Donald J. Trump’s tweets, and the political realignment we are experiencing becomes obvious and impossible to ignore. The post-Cold War left-right politics of the nation have been breaking down in slow motion for two decades. They are now being replaced by a different type of inside-outside politics.

The Trump phenomenon is neither a disease nor a symptom – he is instead the beta-test of a cure that the American people are trying out. It won’t work. But this is where our politics are going: working and middle class Americans are reasserting themselves against a political and cultural establishment that has become completely discredited over time and due to their own actions.

… This is not a temporary adjustment. It is a new reality, as Angelo Codevilla writes. “America is now ruled by a uniformly educated class of persons that occupies the commanding heights of bureaucracy, of the judiciary, education, the media, and of large corporations, and that wields political power through the Democratic Party. Its control of access to prestige, power, privilege, and wealth exerts a gravitational pull that has made the Republican Party’s elites into its satellites.

“This class’s fatal feature is its belief that ordinary Americans are a lesser intellectual and social breed. Its increasing self-absorption, its growing contempt for whoever won’t bow to it, its dependence for votes on sectors of society whose grievances it stokes, have led it to break the most basic rule of republican life: deeming its opposition illegitimate.”

Democrats and Republicans who still think that this is a phase – a fever they just need to wait out before a return to normalcy – are utterly delusional.
This is where politics stands today.

Donald Trump has superpowers.

The evidence on the nature of Trump’s character is ambiguous. Superhero? Or Supervillain? Donald Trump alone knows — or might not — the real answer. Nominating him for, and electing him, president would be a high stakes riverboat gamble. Thought leaders mostly are polarizing between narratives of #NeverTrump and “Trump as instrumentality of an inevitable realignment.”

The only chance of producing an alternative nominee is for Marco Rubio to endorse Ted Cruz. Then, preferably, in the wake of that, so would John Kasich and (if has not already done so) Ben Carson. That would be a game changer. But time is short.

Donald Trump by turns, in his inimitably ambiguous, perhaps ambivalent, or perhaps merely utterly pragmatic way, is by turns glowingly admiring and savagely indicting of China. Thus there is a delicious irony that Trump uniquely proves the instrumentality of that ancient Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times.”

We live in interesting times.
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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.

Tags: Ralph Benko, Donald Trump, Superhero, Supervillain, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Poor Mouthing

by Kerby Anderson, Contributing Author: Why do so many candidates talk about their humble upbringing and sometimes even pretend to be poor? Let’s face it. Most of the presidential candidates this year are quite rich. They pay more in taxes each year than most of us make in a year. Still they tell us a story that sounds like it was taken from a biography of Abraham Lincoln.

Other commentators have noticed this. Victor Davis Hanson refers to them as “Log-Cabin Candidates” and Ian Tuttle says those pretending not to be rich are “Poor-Mouthing.” Sometimes it gets a bit irritating.

Bill and Hillary Clinton are easily worth more than $100 million but you wouldn’t know it from some of the things she has said about their finances in the past. She graduated from Wellesley College and Yale Law School and grew up in the affluent suburb of Chicago.

Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio talk about their impoverished fathers. But Ted Cruz is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School. His wife worked at Goldman Sachs. Marco Rubio’s dad may have been a bartender, but he used some of his $800,000 book advance to buy a 24-foot boat that he always wanted.

John Kasich has served as both governor and U.S representative. He is also a former investment banker and regional director of Lehman Brothers. Yet he nearly always mentions that his father was a mailman.

And let’s not forget Barack Obama who talked about and wrote about his Kenyan father who abandoned his family. He rarely mentioned that his grandparents were well off and that his grandmother was a Bank of Hawaii vice president.

For some reason, politicians think they have to pretend they aren’t rich. But there is one major exception: Donald Trump. He has done quite well this campaign season, and he certainly does not hide the fact that he is rich. If anything he brags about it. Perhaps the other candidates should learn from him and stop pretending what they aren’t.
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Kerby Anderson is a radio talk show host heard on numerous stations via the Point of View Network endorsed by Dr. Bill Smith, Editor, ARRA News Service

Tags: Kerby Anderson, Viewpoints, Point of View, politicians, poor mouthing, parents, childhood, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Sanctuary Cities: Anatomy Of A Disaster

by John Perazzo: The late Kathryn Steinle, an innocent young woman who was gunned down and killed on a San Francisco street by an illegal alien with seven felonies and five deportations already on his resumé, is just one of many Americans who are lying in their graves today as a direct result of the “sanctuary” policies that have turned hundreds of U.S. cities into safe havens not only for lone-wolf sociopaths, but also for organized members of Latin American drug cartels, violent criminal gangs, and Islamic terrorist cells. Moreover, countless additional victims have had their psyches forever scarred, their bodies permanently damaged, and their lives all but destroyed for precisely the same senseless reason. The numbers are ugly: Of the 9,295 deportable aliens who were released after their arrest by sanctuary jurisdictions during the first eight months of 2014 alone, some 2,320 were subsequently re-arrested, on new criminal charges, soon thereafter. And before their initial release, 58% of those 9,295 aliens already had felony charges or convictions on their records, while another 37% had serious prior misdemeanor charges.

Sanctuary policies bar police and other public-sector employees in many U.S. cities from notifying the federal government about the presence of illegal aliens residing in their communities. As such, these policies defiantly give the proverbial middle finger to the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) that Congress passed twenty years ago to require that local governments cooperate with U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE). More than 200 cities nationwide currently observe formal sanctuary policies that are written as resolutions, ordinances, or executive orders. Numerous other cities, meanwhile, have implemented similar policies on an informal basis, meaning that they are unwritten but nevertheless authorized by local government leaders and obeyed by city workers. All told, approximately 340 U.S. cities administer either formal or informal sanctuary policies today.

The sanctuary cities movement grew initially out of the left's post-9/11 efforts to undermine America's war on terror—in particular the USA PATRIOT Act, which was passed by overwhelming majorities in both the House and Senate. As David Horowitz noted in his landmark book Unholy Alliance: “Directed by organizations like the ACLU, the National Lawyers Guild, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, and People for the American Way, radicals mobilized legislators in [hundreds of] local and state governments to obstruct the enforcement of the [PATRIOT Act] law.” These groups, Horowitz elaborated, were also “fierce opponents of border control and immigration security”; “leaders of the movement to open America's borders”; and in the vanguard of the effort to “establish rights for illegal immigrants that would blur the distinction between citizens and noncitizens and extend the protections of the Constitution to the latter.”

Today, all of these same groups are among America's leading supporters of sanctuary policies. The ACLU, for its part, goes so far as to claim that it is actually illegal and “unconstitutional” for local jurisdictions to cooperate with the federal government on the enforcement of immigration laws. On the premise that illegals who are crime victims are less likely to contact law-enforcement if they fear possible deportation, the ACLU characterizes sanctuary policies as “commonsense measures to build community trust and ensure that crime victims cooperate with the police.” It seems not to have occurred to the ACLU that if those victims had not come illegally to the U.S. in the first place, the crimes in question would never have affected them.

Other key proponents of sanctuary policies include a number of high-profile, pro-amnesty organizations that wield immense political power. The National Council of La Raza, echoing the ACLU, argues that sanctuary policies “foster trust and cooperation between communities and police.” The League of United Latin American Citizens boasts that it is officially “on record in support of sanctuary cities,” and that it “directs [its] staff and local chapters to actively support them.” And the Mexican American Legal Defense & Education Fund portrays sanctuary policies as measures designed to “defend and promote the civil rights of the Latino community” against “anti-immigrant” forces. All eight of the aforementioned organizations have received financial support from George Soros and his vast left-wing funding empire. In addition, most of these groups have also received grants from the Ford Foundation.

It would be difficult, if not impossible, to name even a single leading Democrat in the United States who opposes sanctuary policies. Hillary Clinton, for instance, made two public statements in support of sanctuary cities during her tenure as a U.S. Senator. Bernie Sanders and then-Senator Barack Obama both voted against an amendment designed to prevent sanctuary cities from receiving federal funds. And just last last year, President Obama vetoed a Senate bill that likewise sought to cut off federal aid to those cities.

Ultimately, what sits at the heart of the Democrats' support for sanctuary cities is the same thing that undergirds their support for amnesty and open borders: their unquenchable thirst for permanent political dominance gained through the mass importation and legalization of impoverished foreigners who can be counted upon to vote reliably in favor of a bloated, centralized, all-encompassing welfare state. It's really quite simple. The Census Bureau includes all aliens—legal and illegal—in the statistics that are used to apportion the nation's 435 congressional districts. Increasing a state's illegal-alien population is therefore a highly effective way to inflate not only its representation in Congress, but also the number of Electoral College votes it is allotted. As Ian Smith points out in National Review: “Just through their illegal-alien numbers, the states of New York, New Jersey, California, Florida, and Illinois, which all went for Obama in 2012, received eight additional congressional seats in the last reapportionment, with over half of those gains coming from their sanctuary cities and counties.” In terms of their respective illegal-alien populations, these states are five of the top six nationwide. The sixth state is Texas, which, though still majority-Republican, is being aggressively targeted by political activists and open-borders groups that salivate at the prospect of a Lone Star State that is Democratic Blue.

Most illegal aliens in the U.S. are Latinos. Latinos vote overwhelmingly Democrat. Most states with the largest numbers of illegal aliens vote Democrat. And sanctuary cities protect illegal aliens from federal immigration laws. You can do the math.
--------------
John Perazzo writes for the David Horowitz Freedom Center's Front Page Mag. David Horowitz is a Contributing Author at the ARRA News Service

Tags: John Perazzo, FrontPage Mag, immigration, sanctuary city, anatomy of a disaster, war on terror To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Troops at Ft. Gordon Subjected to Unauthorized Lecture on ‘White Privilege’

(Military.com)
by Barbara Hollingsworth, CNSNews.com: Troops stationed at Ford Gordon, Georgia were subjected to an unauthorized lecture on “white privilege” during an Equal Opportunity briefing last year, according to a PowerPoint presentation the Army released last month to Judicial Watch under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

The PowerPoint presentation, which was shown to 400 members of the 67th Signal Battalion on April 2, 2015, defined privilege as “an unearned advantage,” and stated: “Our society attaches privilege to being white and male and heterosexual regardless of your social class.”
“Privilege exists when one group has something of value that is denied to others simply because of the groups they belong to, rather than because of anything they’ve done or failed to do,” the briefing continued.

“Privilege grants the cultural authority to make judgments about others and to have those judgments stick….Privilege means being able to decide who gets taken seriously, receives attention, etc ….

“Privilege is always at someone else’s expense and always exacts a cost… however passive and unconscious, [it] results in suffering and deprivation for someone.”

Under a slide entitled “The luxury of obliviousness,” troops were told that “race privilege gives whites little reason to pay a lot of attention to African Americans or to how white privilege affects them. ‘To be white in America means not having to think about it.’”
“The trouble we’re in can’t be solved unless the ‘privileged’ make the problem of privilege their problem and do something about it,” the slideshow concluded, urging soldiers to “reclaim” words such as “racist”, “patriarchy”, “oppression and dominance”, and “feminism”… “so that we can use them to name and make sense of the truth of what’s going on.”

“We certainly found it shocking,” Judicial Watch senior investigator William Marshall told CNSNews.com. “We’re always on the lookout for any indoctrination material provided to our military personnel. In my view, this is a pretty radical way of looking at race relations.”

In response to an inquiry by CNSNews.com, an Army spokeswoman said that “the slides presented were not authorized.

"The information on the slide presentation was not a part of the original training material distributed to all battalion Equal Opportunity Leaders from the brigade's Equal Opportunity Advisor.

“The presentation shown was altered by the instructor and was not then, nor was it ever a presentation that the Army approved,” Capt. Lindsay Roman, public affairs officer of the 35th Signal Brigade, told CNSNews.com in an email.

She added that the brigade “supports the right of every Soldier, civilian employee and family member to file an Equal Opportunity complaint when experiencing or witnessing unfair treatment based on race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation and/or national origin.”

When CNSNews.com asked Roman if the instructor had been disciplined for altering the original training material, she replied: “The brigade leadership determined that re-training was the most appropriate course of action, and the instructor received a 40-hour block of instruction.”

“The United States military is in the midst of the longest period of sustained combat in our nation’s history,” Judicial Watch said in a press release.

“It is beyond belief that our military personnel would be required to sit through a left-wing effort at PC brainwashing as the price for defending our country.”

Tags: Troops, Ft. Gordon, Subjected to, Unauthorized Lecture, White Privilege, Judicial Watch, Barbara Hollingsworth, CNSNews.com To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Genocide Declaration Must Now be Backed up with Actions

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Secretary of State John Kerry declared ISIS' atrocities against Christians and other religious minorities as genocide.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins commented:

"The House of Representatives, and now the Obama administration, join most of the Western world, including the European Parliament, in condemning ISIS' atrocities against Christians and others as genocide. Now after growing pressure, the Administration has rightly decided to call these atrocities what they are and has formally designated this to constitute genocide.

"Now words need to be backed up with actions so that the international community not only speaks with one voice but works to isolate ISIS and those facilitating their reign of terror.

"Additionally, we call upon Christians to support those non-governmental organizations that are working to provide sanctuary and relief to our brothers and sisters in Christ as well as other religious minorities," concluded Perkins.

Tags: Genocide Declaration, ISIS, Secretary of State, John Kerry, Tony Perkins, Family Research Council,  action 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, March 17, 2016

Voters Deliver Subtle Message: Die, Donor Scum

Editorial Cartoon by AF Branco
by Ann Coulter: To the extent it’s still standing after yesterday, the Stop Trump movement is comforting itself with the world’s biggest lie: that John Kasich is the embodiment of the Republican Party, while Donald Trump is the bastard stepchild.

It’s exactly the opposite.

It is no longer a question of what the party wants. The voters — remember them? — keep showering Trump and Cruz with Ceausescu-like percentages. The combined vote for Trump and Cruz is a ringing chorus of what this party wants: a wall, deportation, less immigration and no job-killing trade deals.

In other words, what the party wants is the diametric opposite of what the donor and consultant class wants. One would have to search the history books to find a party establishment so emphatically rejected by the voters as today’s Republican Party has been.

Trump and Cruz don’t agree on everything — Cruz is more interventionist on foreign policy, and Trump is more aggressive on bringing manufacturing home. But there’s not much daylight between them on the crucial issue of whether to dissolve America’s borders. By now, they both say build a wall, reduce immigration and protect American jobs.

In other words, Trump and Cruz have totally rejected the Bush/Ryan/Rubio/Fox News/WSJ/RNC establishment position on immigration.

After Mitt Romney lost an election he should have won in 2012, the Republican National Committee convened a group of experts to determine what went wrong, producing what it called an “autopsy.” It was an autopsy because, you see, the party was dead. And the people who did the autopsy were the ones who killed it.

Have you ever heard of an autopsy being performed by the murderers?

The murderers’ main recommendation was that Republicans “embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform” — i.e., amnesty. “If we do not,” the autopsy continued, “our party’s appeal will continue to shrink to its core constituencies only.”

God forbid the party respond to its core constituencies! Instead, the report bristled with advice on winning the Hispanic vote. The GOP was supposed to run Hispanic candidates, hire Hispanic spokesmen, demand yet more Hispanic immigration and correct its “tone.”

It looked like our report got mixed up with the Democratic National Committee’s report in the copier room. At least it was printed in English.

They put all this in their computer and out spit the perfect solution: MARCO RUBIO! Like all ideas developed by focus groups (“New Coke”), how could it possibly fail?

“On issues like immigration,” the report instructed, “the RNC needs to carefully craft a tone that takes into consideration the unique perspective of the Hispanic community.” How’d they like the front-runner’s announcement speech about Mexican rapists and drug dealers? Off-message?

But Trump immediately leapt to the top of the polls and never stopped soaring.

Only Ted Cruz was smart enough — or hated the Republican establishment enough — to adopt Trump’s pro-American immigration policies. Now the only question for voters is, which one is more electable: a Holy Roller preacher, or a brash alpha male billionaire?

They’ve crushed the rest of the field — winning large majorities of Hispanics along the way, incidentally. Between them, Trump and Cruz have won 77 percent of the delegates (1,067). The donor-approved, mass immigration advocates, John Kasich and the (late, lamented) Marco Rubio, have 23 percent (313).

Rubio was the apotheosis of the Republican leadership’s proposal for national suicide — or the “Growth and Opportunity Project,” as the autopsy was officially titled. He was handpicked for the presidency six years ago.

He got to Washington and promptly set about pushing an amnesty bill faster than you could say, “My dad was a bartender.” In the darkest days of the nation’s history, Rubio’s bill actually passed the U.S. Senate. (One of the many hints that voters don’t want amnesty was that the bill was blocked in the House, not by any major media opposition — despite media cheerleading, in fact — but by the people, rising up in a blind rage.)

But still, Rubio was the golden boy among GOP consultants, donors and their hired help, elected Republicans. He had unlimited money, resources, establishment support, conservative media cheerleaders and his own cable news channel.

His presidential bid was supported by 14 Republican governors, 22 Republican senators and more than two dozen Republican representatives, Washington think tanks, lobbyists, the Chamber of Commerce, Chipotle and Taco Bell. Time magazine put him on its cover as “Republican Savior.”

And on Tuesday, he lost his own state in a landslide. Rubio lost every single county in Florida to Trump but one. He went 1 for 66 in a state where he is not only a U.S. senator, but also a former house speaker. He outspent Trump by about 500 percent and still lost his home state by 20 points.

Never was there a more perfectly kicked field goal — with Rubio as the pigskin. He was hiked and kicked right through the goalposts.

Gov. John Kasich is as awful on immigration as Rubio, but he’s so boring, no one can ever remember anything he says. He opposes deporting illegal aliens because that’s not “the kind of values that we believe in.” (“We” being “the Democratic Party.”) He bleats that illegals are “made in the image of the Lord,” which would require America to admit everyone in the world — provided they can pass the rigorous background check of being human.

On Tuesday night, Kasich barely won his own state, making him 1 for 29 in GOP primaries. The one and only primary he’s won is in the state where he’s the sitting governor. He was endorsed by his opponent, Marco Rubio. He’s campaigned almost nowhere else.

And yet Kasich came in less than 10 points ahead of a New York real estate developer — half of Trump’s margin of victory over Rubio in Rubio’s home state. Adjusting for the home state advantage, that’s a humiliating defeat.

How many more GOP stars will die for mass immigration? So far, there’s Eric Cantor, Nikki Haley, Trey Gowdy, Ben Sasse, Paul Ryan, Fox News — 14 governors, 22 senators and two dozen representatives.

With increasing desperation, the media claim that 63 percent of voters don’t want Trump based on votes cast for any other candidate in a 12-man race. What the delegate count shows is a resounding rejection of the immigration policies being pushed by the party leadership.

The establishment laughed at us. They wanted our votes, but then ignored us. They lied to us about opposing amnesty while repeatedly conspiring to pass it.

Now we’re going into the presidential election with our 80 percent thunderous will of the people against immigration. I’m not sure someone who is more preacher than president is the most electable expression of that will, but whether Trump or Cruz, make no mistake about what the will is.
-----------------
Ann Coulter is a conservative author of ten New York Times bestsellers, writes numerous columns and is a frequent guest on numerous radio and TV shows. Her web site is AnnCoulter.com. She is the author of Adios America which she signed and gave to the ARRA News Service editor at the 2015 Eagle Council.

Tags: Ann Coulter, Super Tuesday, Voters, deliver Trump victories, subtle message, die, donor scum To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Be More Like Sweden? No Way!

If Sweden were to join the U.S. as a state,
 Sweden would be poorer than all but 12 states.
by Kerby Anderson, Contributing Author: During this presidential campaign, we have heard references to Sweden and other Scandinavian countries. Senator Bernie Sanders says, “I think we should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden, and Norway and learn from what they have accomplished for their working people.” Many European countries have gained the reputation of being very wealthy even though they are highly regulated and have high rates of taxation.

Various studies have attempted to show this is not true. Last year there was a study in the UK Spectator that argued that Britain was poorer than any U.S. state other then Mississippi. Many criticized the article because it used GDP per capita. It is possible that a few very rich people could skew the numbers.

Ryan McMaken (Mises Institute) decided to pull together data using median income in order to avoid the criticisms cited against other studies. Here is what he found.

If Sweden were to join the U.S. as a state, Sweden would be poorer than all but 12 states. Residents in states like Colorado, Massachusetts, Virginia, Washington, and Utah have considerably higher incomes than Sweden. Denmark has a median income below all but 13 U.S. states.

Mississippi has a higher median income than 18 countries. The Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, and the United Kingdom all have median incomes below every single American state.

When you look at the data and charts, you can only come to one conclusion. We shouldn’t be trying to be like Sweden or other European countries. They should be trying to be like America.
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Kerby Anderson is a radio talk show host heard on numerous stations via the Point of View Network endorsed by Dr. Bill Smith, Editor, ARRA News Service

Tags: Kerby Anderson, Viewpoints, Point of View, Sweden, United StatesTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

A $110 Billion Black Hole Explains the Sorry State of Financial Regulation

A Black Hole
by Sean Hackbarth, Contributing Author: A recent Wall Street Journal story epitomizes the sorry state of U.S. capital market regulation. Following the bursting of the housing bubble, regulators claimed nearly $110 billion in fines and settlements [subscription required] from financial institutions.

Where did the money go? WSJ reporters did their best Stephen Hawking impression and found that much of it fell into an unaccountable black hole [emphasis mine]:• The Treasury Department received almost $49 billion of the funds, including money the agency received directly and sums funneled to it by other departments, including government-chartered housing associations Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. How the money is spent isn’t specified.

• About $45 billion was earmarked for “consumer relief,” a category that includes money dedicated to helping borrowers and funding housing-related community groups.

• The Justice Department, whose prosecutors led many of the negotiations with banks, collected at least $447 million. How it spends the money isn’t specified.

• States received more than $5.3 billion, usually to spend as they saw fit. Almost all states received payments from a national settlement in 2012 over mortgage-servicing abuses, and seven also received payments in the Justice Department’s blockbuster mortgage-securities settlements that started in 2013.

• Roughly $10 billion went to other recipients, including housing-related federal agencies, two federal agencies responsible for cleaning up failed banks or credit unions, and whistleblowers who helped the Justice Department. Some funds from these deals typically revert to the Treasury.
Fines that went to New York State government fund improving the New York State Fairgrounds' concert stage and horse barns.

In short: Billions of dollars went into a slush fund for government officials to spend as they wish and for politicians to earn good headlines for “doing something.”

While officials patted themselves on the back for satisfying a populist itch, they have created a complex financial regulatory monstrosity that saps energy from the U.S. economy and impedes economic growth.

Tom Donohue, U.S. Chamber president and CEO, spoke about financial regulation at the 10th Annual Capital Markets Summit:When we talk about capital markets, we are talking about banks, stock exchanges, bond markets, mutual funds, angel investors, venture capital, private equity, consumer financial products—any form of financing a business needs to grow and operate.

From the entrepreneur who is applying for a home equity loan, to an emerging growth company that is going to issue an IPO, to a multinational company seeking to execute a letter of credit for a trade deal—each relies on efficient capital markets.
Capital is the fuel of free enterprise, and capital markets pumps that fuel to the engine of economic growth.

When capital markets aren’t functioning well, new office space isn’t built; new factories aren’t built; tools and equipment to fill those offices and factories aren’t purchased; new stores aren’t opened; economic growth is constrained.

But when they are effectively moving capital to productive uses, capital markets spur innovation, job creation, and economic opportunity.

However, ever since the 2008 financial crisis, capital markets have been under siege by regulators, and financial companies have become political punching bags.

Said Donohue, “Many legislators, policymakers, and regulators, regardless of party or ideology, see our financial services providers as a problem to be solved, limited, and controlled—and not a key ingredient to boosting the economy.”

By building a regulatory regime on “a creaky foundation,” policymakers have trapped financial institutions in a “no-win regulatory, business, legal, and political environment,“ Donohue proclaimed:Too often they are told to lend, but also sock away more capital. They are asked to plan for a doomsday scenario, but aren’t allowed to manage cash for a business.

Increasingly, “political risk” and “regulatory risk” are replacing “credit risk” as a driver of what services banks and other financial intermediaries are able to provide.

In too many instances, rules are designed to cover regulators’ backs and not to promote a well regulated market.

As a result, financial service providers are afraid to launch new products because they are out of regulatory favor, or they stop offering existing products because compliance becomes too cumbersome or costly.
One example is the Labor Department’s attempt to reform fiduciary standards. Unless changes are made, the proposed retirement rule will hurt the middle class savers it’s intended to help. “If they don’t get the rule right, up to 9 million small business owners could stop providing retirement benefits to their employees,” said Donohue.

Business leaders experience these regulatory problems first-hand.

“The regulatory world has changed substantially,” said Walter Bettinger, Charles Schwab’s president and CEO, in an interview at the capital markets summit. Various federal agencies are “all trying to regulate the same thing at different times.” Staff is overwhelmed “in a perpetual cycle of serving the regulators.”

Under the expansive, regulation environment in place today, there would be “no possible way” to start a kind of business like Charles Schwab today, said Bettinger.

A rational, sensible financial regulatory environment can mean the difference between a low growth, low wage economy versus one that grows faster and produces more jobs and economic opportunity.

“If we get the policies right, then our capital markets are poised to provide capital to startups and businesses and to serve consumers,” Donohue explained.

The choice is ours.

What will the financial world be like in 2026? Read Finance Flash Forward — a collection of essays compiled by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness.
---------------
Sean Hackbarth is a policy advocate and Senior Editor, Digital Content, at U.S Chamber of Commerce. He twitters at @seanhackbarth and is a contributing author at the ARRA News Service.

Tags: Sean Hackbarth, Chamber of Commerce, $110 Billion, regulators, fines and settlements,  Black Hole, Sorry State, financial regulations 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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  • 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