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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, August 17, 2018

Arkansas Finances on the Downslope!

by State Data Lab: In May, 2018, Truth in Accounting noted that a new analysis of the latest available comprehensive annual financial report found Arkansas had a Taxpayer Burden™ of $3,600, earning it a "C" grade based on Truth in Accounting’s grading scale.

Arkansas' elected officials have made repeated financial decisions that have left the state with a debt burden of $2.9 billion, according to the analysis. That burden equates to $3,600 for every state taxpayer. Arkansas' financial problems stem from unfunded retirement obligations in the form of pension and other postemployment benefits. Of the $13.1 billion of retirement benefits promised, the state has not funded $3 billion of pension benefits and $2.3 billion of retiree health care benefits.

Arkansas' financial condition is not only concerning, but also misleading as government officials have failed to disclose significant amounts of retirement debt on the state’s balance sheet. As a result, residents and taxpayers have been presented with an inaccurate and untruthful accounting of the state government’s finances.

Here are some of the main findings from the report:
  • Arkansas earns a “C” grade for its financial health based on TIA’s grading scale.
  • Arkansas needs $2.9 billion to pay all of its bills.
  • That works out to a Taxpayer Burden of -$3,600, or the amount of money each Arkansas taxpayer would need to contribute to erase the state’s debt.
  • Of the state’s roughly $9.5 billion in bills, unfunded pension and other post-employment benefits (OPEB) account for nearly $3 billion and $2.3 billion, respectively.
  • Arkansas continues to hide $877.1 million in unfunded other post-employment benefits, such as retiree health care, though a new accounting rule taking effect in the 2018 fiscal year will require state and local governments to report all OPEB liabilities on the balance sheet.
THE FINANCIAL STATE OF ARKANSAS
Here's the truth:
FAST FACTS
  • Arkansas has $6.6 billion available in assets to pay $9.5 billion worth of bills.
  • The outcome: A $2.9 billion shortfall and a $3,600 Taxpayer Burden.
  • Despite reporting all of its pension debt, the state continues to hide $877.1 million of its retiree health care debt.
  • Arkansas' reported net position is inflated by $1.5 billion, largely because it has delayed recognizing changes to its net pension liability.
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State Data Lab is a project of Truth in Accounting

Tags: Arkansas, Finances, debt, spending, data, State Data, Trth in Accounting 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, August 16, 2018

How Kavanaugh’s Hearing Will Spotlight the Separation of Powers

Judge Brett Kavanaugh
by Thomas Jipping & Christopher Baldacci: President James Madison once described how government reflects human nature. It also could be said that the confirmation of Supreme Court justices puts a spotlight on the nature of government.

The debate over any judicial nomination, especially to the Supreme Court, puts into very sharp relief the two different views of how much power judges should have.

Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court is no exception. Many on the left want judges to make law, creating and imposing policies by manipulating the meaning of statutes or the Constitution.


Kavanaugh takes the opposite view. When he delivered the Joseph Story Lecture at The Heritage Foundation in October 2017, Kavanaugh said:
The judge’s job is to interpret the law, not to make the law or make policy. So, read the words of the statute as written. Read the text of the Constitution as written, mindful of history and tradition.

Don’t make up new constitutional rights that are not in the Constitution. Don’t shy away from enforcing constitutional rights that are in the text of the Constitution.

Changing the Constitution is for the amendment process. Changing policy within constitutional bounds is for the legislatures.
Similarly, when he joined President Donald Trump at the White House on July 9 for the nomination announcement, Kavanaugh said that judges should interpret statutes and the Constitution “as written.”

This issue is often understood by contrasting the judicial and legislative branches. The question is whether judges should interpret the law or make the law.

Put another way, may judges legislate from the bench?

Kavanaugh’s hearing—set to begin Sept. 4—will be a good opportunity to hear his views on the separation of powers. This is especially important because his nomination has also highlighted the relationship between the judicial and executive branches.

The left, at least these days, wants to separate the president from the executive branch that he heads. They demand limits and restrictions on Trump while, at the same time, they reject limits on executive branch agencies that they hope will deliver certain policy results.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., for example, has used this strange distinction to claim that Kavanaugh has “dangerously expansive beliefs about presidential power.”

Critics claim that Kavanaugh would be a “rubber stamp” for Trump or think that a president is above the law. (A previous article addressed how Kavanaugh’s opponents misrepresent his views on this issue.)

Kavanaugh’s views about executive power are evident from his speeches and, more importantly, his opinions on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

In 2016, for example, he wrote the opinion for a three-judge panel in PHH Corporation v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The opening sentence reads: “This is a case about executive power and individual liberty.”

The court found that Congress had given “enormous power over American business, American consumers, and the overall U.S. economy,” not just to the CFPB, but also to its director.

While other independent agencies, such as the National Labor Relations Board or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, are run by multimember commissions, the CFPB director can act unilaterally.

While the president appoints someone to that position, the president cannot remove that person. As Kavanaugh described it:
The Director alone may decide what rules to issue. The Director alone may decide how to enforce, when to enforce and against whom to enforce the law.

The Director alone may decide whether an individual or entity has violated the law. The Director alone may decide what sanctions and penalties to impose on violators of the law.
That, the court concluded, was too much power in too few hands.

Because the left likes what the CFPB does, they look the other way about how the agency does it. Not surprisingly, they attacked Kavanaugh for his decision, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., saying that Kavanaugh opposed consumers and was simply a pawn in the hands of corporate interests.

When the full D.C. Circuit reversed Kavanaugh’s decision, his dissent opened with the same principle: The separation of powers and accountability in the exercise of each branch’s power are to “prevent tyranny and protect individual liberty.”

The left may want to separate the president from the executive branch, but the Constitution does the opposite, giving the “executive power” to the president.

The left can’t have it both ways.

They can’t call for limits on the president because they don’t like him, but then oppose limits on executive branch agencies because they like them.

That’s politics, not principle. And it’s dangerous politics.

In his majority and dissenting opinions in the CFPB case, Kavanaugh quoted Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissenting opinion in another case raising the same issue. Scalia wrote that the purpose of the “separation and equilibration of powers in general, and of the unitary Executive in particular, was not merely to assure effective government, but to preserve individual freedom.”

Kavanaugh clearly embraces the fundamental principles of America’s Founders. Weakening the separation of powers by failing to enforce the Constitution’s limits on executive power ultimately undermines freedom itself.
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Thomas Jipping is deputy director of the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies and senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation. Christopher Baldacci is a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. Article was shared by The Daily Signal.

Tags: Thomas Jipping, Christopher Baldacci, Heritage Fondation, Kavanaugh’s Hearing, Will Spotlight, Separation of Powers, The Daily Signal To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Abortion Advocate Appointed to Top UN Human Rights Slot

Michelle Bachelet
by Stefano Gennarini: Trailblazing abortion promoter and Chile’s first woman president Michelle Bachelet was appointed by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to lead the UN human rights office last week.

“I will fulfill with all my strength, energy, and convictions this great task, whose purpose is to give dignity and well-being to all people,” Bachelet said in a video message on her Twitter account after the General Assembly confirmed her appointment last Friday.

Bachelet’s convictions about abortion and homosexual marriage may not have a sufficient check in her new role at the United Nations. She is a known abortion supporter having successfully campaigned to decriminalize abortion in Chile during her second stint as President.

She has also been an aggressive supporter of the homosexual agenda, by introducing homosexual marriage legislation in Chile’s Congress. She lost the Chilean Presidency to Sebastian Pinera in last year’s election as her approval reached an all-time low.

What is less known is her abortion advocacy at the international level.

In 2010 Bachelet became the first executive director of the UN super agency for women’s issues, UN Women. From the outset, abortion groups celebrated Bachelet’s appointment. During her three-year tenure, the agency encouraged judicial activism on abortion. Now it systematically promotes abortion at all levels of UN engagement, including in war zones and through direct interference in the internal legislative and judicial affairs of states.

Though Bachelet is a politician and a highly divisive political figure in her own country, she is now tasked with impartially leading what is supposed to be a non-political office. The UN human rights bureaucracy is only accountable to the UN Secretary General and operates under cover of independence, unlike UN agencies, which are accountable to an executive board of UN member states.

This lack of accountability has led to recent leaders using the office to promote their own political agendas, especially when it comes to social issues. Recent UN High Commissioners for Human Rights, as the position is officially known, have overseen the aggressive promotion of abortion and homosexual rights, including homosexual marriage, by the UN bureaucracy even though international law cannot be said to include any specific obligations about either.

Much of this activity has remained obscure and unknown, in large part because the technical guidance of the UN human rights office is not binding. Even so, it is influential. The office indirectly guides the implementation of UN resolutions and therefore has real implications for UN policy.

Bachelet’s sudden appointment and confirmation reflect the lack of transparency and accountability of the UN human rights bureaucracy. The only states who challenged Bachelet with a concrete agenda were Iran who protested U.S. intervention and the United States, who expressed its hope that Bachelet will address human rights abuses in Venezuela. No delegation brought up abortion or homosexual rights.

Despite this controversial lack of transparency and accountability the Trump administration holds veto power over any future candidates for Secretary-General and may leverage this to help roll back UN abortion advocacy and other bureaucratic overreaches through Bachelet.

Already before this appointment, Bachelet had the status of the frontrunner to be the next UN Secretary General. Bachelet is a woman, and the next Secretary-General is widely expected to be a woman, and she is from Latin America, the region whose turn it is to have a Secretary General.
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Stefano Gennarini is the Vice President for the Center of Legal Studies at the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam). He represents C-Fam at UN headquarters in New York and researches and writes on international law and policy for C-Fam, advising UN delegations and liaising with pro-family organization around the world. Stefano earned a Juris Doctor from Notre Dame Law School in Indiana in 2011 and was a Blackstone Legal Fellow in 2009.

Tags: Stefano Gennarini, C-Fasm, UN, Abortion Advocate, Appointed, Top UN Human Rights Slot 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 Busts Brennan, Cuomo Was Never Great, Clinton & Kareem

Brennan has been fired & lost his secrity clearence.
Who said President Trump isn't tough on Commies? 
by Gary Bauer, Contributing Author: Trump Busts Brennan - Yesterday we told you that President Trump had revoked former CIA Director John Brennan's security clearance.

Judging from the media's insane reaction, you would think the president had just run the Constitution through the Oval Office shredder.

Let me run through Brennan's history one more time.

While serving President Obama, Brennan downplayed the threat posed by ISIS.

He cooperated on the Iranian nuclear deal that sent billions of dollars to a sworn enemy of the United States, and one that dreams of a second Holocaust of the Jewish people. He accused critics of the deal of being "wholly disingenuous."

He likely committed perjury on multiple occasions during congressional testimony about government spying on the public and even on Congress itself.

He was complicit in the effort to deceive the American people about the attack on our consulate in Benghazi, claiming it had something to do with a movie.

He had evidence of Russian meddling in our election, but did nothing because he and everyone else thought Hillary Clinton was going to win.

Since leaving the CIA, Brennan has become a two-bit commentator on left-wing TV networks. And a glance at Brennan's unhinged Twitter feed makes it clear that his only goal is to try to discredit and overthrow the duly elected president of the United States.

The scandal here isn't that Donald Trump revoked Brennan's security clearance. The president has full authority to make such determinations. No, the real scandal is that Brennan even had a security clearance in the first place!

Every American who loves our country should thank the president for making sure this left-wing partisan hack no longer has access to top secret information.

Cuomo Was Never Great - Just when you think the so-called "progressive left" can't become any more unhinged, up steps New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) to prove it can.

Cuomo is facing a primary challenge from his left by socialist lesbian actress Cynthia Nixon. So in order to demonstrate his progressive bona fides, Cuomo did what he has seen so many other progressives do lately -- he bashed America.

Speaking at what was supposed to be a bill signing ceremony for an anti-sex trafficking law, Cuomo launched into a tirade against President Trump, and declared:

"We're not going to make America great again. It was never that great. We have not reached greatness.

"We will reach greatness when every American is fully engaged. We will reach greatness when discrimination and stereotyping against women . . . is gone and every woman's full potential is realized and unleashed and every woman is making her full contribution."


The hypocrisy here is stunning.

To begin with, this is coming from a man who is trying to keep a woman out of the governor's mansion. If Cuomo truly believed what he said, he should step aside and let Ms. Nixon realize her full potential as New York's next governor.

Worse, Cuomo is radically pro-abortion -- and I do mean pro-abortion. As long as abortion on demand, even sex-selection abortions, remains legal millions of unborn girls will continue to face discrimination and will be denied the ability to realize their full potential.

But Cuomo's declaration that America "was never that great" is simply disgusting. It is the same mindset that leads people to tear down monuments to George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. It is the mindset of elitists who chide Middle Americans as "bitter clingers" or "deplorable and irredeemable."

Cuomo's comments reflect the mindset of NFL kneelers, of Antifa thugs, of Democratic Socialists and other so-called "progressives" who insist that America must be "fundamentally transformed" because, after all, it was "never that great."

Cuomo is part of a growing left-wing movement that can only be described as the "Hate America First Party."

Trump Responds - Not surprisingly, President Trump hit back, tweeting that Cuomo was "having a total meltdown!" The governor tweeted this in response:

"What you say would be 'great again' would not be great at all. . . We will not go back to discrimination, segregation, sexism, isolationism, racism or the KKK."

No one is endorsing any of those things. When President Trump says, "Make America great again," no one outside of the unhinged left thinks "segregation" and "sexism."

And is that all Cuomo sees in America's past?

In the early 20th Century, millions of immigrants, including Andrew Cuomo's grandparents, came from all over the world to America. Many entered through Ellis Island, which is part of the state he now governs. They must have seen something pretty great in America that made them leave their families and the countries of their birth.

I didn't agree with every position held by Andrew's father, Mario. But I never questioned whether Mario Cuomo loved America. I can't imagine how ashamed he would be of his son's remarks about our country.

Nor can I imagine how millions of veterans, many bearing the scars of war, must feel after hearing this latest hate fest against America, which appears to be the foundational tenet of the left.

Clinton & Kareem - Sadly, my friends, there's more from the "Hate America First Party."

On the same day that Andrew Cuomo was denying America's greatness, Hillary Clinton praised an 11 year-old girl for kneeling during the Pledge of Allegiance. Clinton urged the girl to "Keep up the good work" protesting injustice.

Tuesday, former NBA star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar published an op-ed in which he compared our national anthem to a song sung by slaves, with President Trump and NFL owners and coaches as slave masters demanding they sing.

First of all, nobody is insisting that these athletes sing. The president's point is that they should stand respectfully. He has no power to make then do so, but he has every right -- and I would suggest an obligation as president -- to express his opinion.

And to compare millionaire football players, some of the most privileged people in America, to slaves is repugnant.
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Gary Bauer is a conservative family values advocate and serves as president of American Values and chairman of the Campaign for Working Families

Tags: Trump Busts Brennan, Cuomo Was Never Great, Clinton & Kareem, Gary Bauer, Campaign for Working Families To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Home Care Workers Support Trump Regulation

by Richard McCarty: For years, some blue states have been automatically deducting union dues from the checks of Medicaid caregivers. Many of these caregivers are relatives or friends of the person they care for and did not wish to join a union. The main beneficiary of this dues skim is the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Under Obama, a rule was implemented to authorize this scheme. Last month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed a rule that would rescind the Obama-Era regulation.

If the proposed rule takes effect, only deductions specifically permitted by law, such as court-ordered wage garnishments or child support payments, will be allowed. Of course, any caregivers who wish to join or remain in a union will still be able to do so; they will just need to make arrangements to pay their dues.

Although it might seem to be an obscure or unimportant issue, there is a lot at stake here. For example, it has been estimated that SEIU collects $200 million a year by skimming dues from 500,000 caregivers. As part of the rule-making process, CMS requested comments on the proposed rule, and over 6,000 comments were submitted during the month-long comment period. Among those thousands of comments were these from Medicaid home care providers, which help to show the significance of the matter.

Linda from Oregon wrote, “I am a caregiver for a Medicaid client…..I support [the proposed rule]. The union is against everything I stand for in my life…I want out…”

A Californian wrote, “I am a care giver for a Medicaid client and in strong support of [the proposed rule]… The federal law is the only protection I have against the SEIU union and collaborative state political intervention. “

A commenter from Washington wrote the following:

I support [the proposed rule]. I am a caregiver for a Medicaid client, and my experience with SEIU 775 has been negative. The US Supreme Court’s Harris v. Quinn established in 2014 that caregivers serving Medicaid clients could not be required to financially support a labor union. Ever since, SEIU 775 and the state of Washington have worked to keep [Independent Providers] paying union dues whether they want to or not.

Another Washingtonian wrote the following:

I strongly support [the proposed rule]!

I am a caregiver for a Medicare client and have had horrible experiences with SEIU 775. I do not wish to be a union member yet this union forces itself onto people… I discovered the union was having union dues withheld from my paycheck when I was a non-member. I had to jump through a lot of hoops to get that resolved. Also, when training, the union representative shows up and spends 45 minutes to an hour pitching to everyone like they are required to sign into the union. Many of these trainees do not speak or understand English language very well and end-up signing into the union without really understanding. This practice needs to stop.

Finally, Kris from Minnesota submitted the following comment:

SEIU is taking advantage of modestly paid [personal care assistants] who do belong to the union, by skimming 3% of their pay up to $948.00 a year from Medicaid…

I am urging you to stop this corruption by ending the ability of the State of Minnesota to deduct union dues for the SEIU from my daughters benefit.

Medicaid is being used to fund political agendas in Minnesota and hurt families like mine… That has to stop.

CMS will now consider the comments it received and decide whether to proceed to a final rule. Given SEIU’s shameful treatment of home care providers, CMS should implement the proposed rule and protect caregivers’ Medicaid checks as soon as possible.
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Richard McCarty is the Director of Research for Americans for Limited Government. The article was also shared in the SEIU Monitor.

Tags: Richard McCarty, Americans for Limited Government, SEIU, Home Care Workers, Support Trump Regulation To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Turkey - Free Pastor Andrew Brunson

by the News & Observer Editorial Board: Andrew Brunson, a 50-year-old evangelical Christian pastor from Black Mountain, served the people of western Turkey for more than 20 years. For that, the Turkish government threw Brunson in prison.

Turkey has accused Brunson of participating in a failed coup attempt in 2016, but has presented no credible evidence to back its charges. Turkey, a secular nation, has been a member of NATO since the 1950s and has been an important American ally. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was once a promising leader of one of the few democracies with a Muslim majority (Turkey is more than 99 percent Muslim).

But in recent years, Erdogan seems determined to move from democracy to autocracy. He’s cracked down on the press, expanded his powers and limited personal freedoms. After the failed coup, the Turkish government “arrested, suspended, or dismissed more than 100,000 security personnel, journalists, judges, academics, and civil servants due to their alleged connection with the attempted coup,” according to the Central Intelligence Agency.

What does Pastor Brunson have to do with any of that?

Erdogan believes the leader of the coup attemp was Fethullah Gulen, a 77-year-old Turkish cleric who now lives in Pennsylvania. And like any insecure authoritarian, Erdogan is determined to bring Gulen back to Turkey to extract revenge. So Brunson, who founded the Izmir Resurrection Church in Turkey, is to Erdogan not a man of God but a bargaining chip.

“Give us that pastor,” Erdogan said last year, referring to Gulen, “and we will do what we can in the judiciary to give you this one (Brunson).”

[ARRA Editor's Note: Unlike Pastor Branson who has been imprisioned and is still prohibited from leaving Turkey, Fethullah Gulen is free in the U.S. to do anything he wishes including returning to Turkey which could probably result in his death.]

Brunson was in prison for 20 months and recently was released to house arrest. The North Carolinian, whose daughter graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in December, faces a prison sentence of up to 35 years if he is convicted at the end of his ongoing trial, the Associated Press reported.

U.S. Thom Tillis, R-NC, has done admirable work in bringing Brunson’s incarceration to the attention of the world. Tillis has visited Brunson twice in Turkey and takes to the Senate floor every week to remind his countrymen of Brunson’s plight. He also garnered the support of Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, and James Lankford, R-Okla. Several House members from North Carolina also have pushed for Brunson’s release

“I heard that he was really concerned that maybe the American people would look at the indictment and believe it and forget him,” Tillis told The News & Observer’s Brian Murphy in April. “It was important for me to go over there, face-to-face visit him in prison and tell him that that’s not going to happen.”

Tillis, who has observed part of Brunson’s trial, described it as “truly a kangaroo court” with secret witnesses.

In part because of Tillis’ efforts, President Donald Trump has taken up Brunson’s cause and increased the pressure on Erdogan. Last week, Trump said he was doubling tariffs on imported Turkish metals to punish Turkey for refusing to free Brunson; on Tuesday, Erdogan said Turkey would boycott U.S.-made electronic products. The Washington Post called it the worst crisis among NATO alllies in decades. Turkey has serious economic problems, so Trump’s leverage appears to be strong.

When a recent Post editorial criticized the Turkish government for imprisoning Brunson, among other things, Turkey’s ambassador to the U.S. responded to the Post. He assured Americans that democracy was thriving in Turkey and they should have no concerns.

Absent from his 254-word letter was a single word saying that Turkey had any evidence that Brunson had committed a crime.
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News Observer Editorial Board.

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The Billion Dollar Homeless Scam . . .

. . . The more we spend, the worse it gets.
by Daniel Greenfield: New York City will be spending $2.06 billion on its Department of Homeless Services. There are 61,421 homeless people in the city which is spending $33,539 per homeless person.

That’s only a little short of the starting salary of an FDNY firefighter at $39,000.

More money will be spent on the homeless than on the firefighters who save New Yorkers from burning buildings. The FDNY will have to make do with $2.04 billion, and the health department with $1.6 billion.

That’s impressive for DHS, a department that was only created in 1993 by the disgraced Dinkins administration and is now burning through more cash than agencies fulfilling actual vital city functions.

Two years ago, DHS had over 2,600 employees. That’s 1 employee to every 23 homeless people. Meanwhile 234 New Yorkers get only 1 police officer to serve and protect them from criminals.

Has this vast infusion of cash solved homelessness in the city? Nope.

New York’s homeless population has kept on growing until it now has more homeless people than any other city. New York City’s homeless growth rate is also faster than that of any other city.

Maybe because it spends more than any other city. But Los Angeles is catching up.

Its $4.6 billion package of homeless tax increases are staggering. Los Angeles doubled its homeless budget to $450 million. Los Angeles County plans to spend $374 million. That’s 1 percent of a budget meant to service a population of over 10 million going to just 53,193 people.

As Los Angeles threw more money at the homeless problem, its homeless population increased 26%.

New York City and Los Angeles only account for 3 to 5 percent of the country’s population, but for a quarter of the country’s homeless population. Even considering inflated real estate prices in both cities, a national problem should not be this disproportionately concentrated in only two cities.

San Francisco will be spending $279 million on 7,499 homeless people. Seattle is spending $63 million, up from $39 million four years ago, while the Puget Sound area may be spending up to $1.06 billion.

Seattle’s homeless population is up 44% in two years to 5,500. The Seattle Times claims that Seattle has a higher concentration of homeless than New York and Los Angeles.

New York, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Portland, Seattle and the Bay Area are responsible for much of the national growth in homelessness. Activists blame the crisis on soaring real estate prices. While those are some of the most expensive cities in the country, they’ve been that way for quite some time.

Rapid gentrification may catch local residents by surprise in cities with more recent booms. But no one is likely to be surprised by the cost of living in the Bay Area, Los Angeles or New York City. And those cities are also dedicating the most resource to fighting homelessness while only making the problem worse.

The statistics on homelessness are full of such curious mysteries. Why do New York and California have more homeless people than 30 states combined?

Why does Texas have only 17% of the homeless population of California? Why does Colorado have four times the homeless population of Utah? Why do Oregon and Washington have more homeless than Montana, Idaho, South and North Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, Nebraska, Kansas, and Iowa combined?

The pattern is political. And lucrative.

Social crises justify huge spending and expansions of the government. The homeless crisis is largely a problem in lefty cities where it’s heavily subsidized.

Federal HUD homeless grants hit $2 billion in 2018.

Homelessness statistics often come from the very agencies that are being glutted with cash to fight the problem. Worse still, many of the counts are being carried out by volunteers. Verification is chancy. Billions are being spent on a problem whose growth and scope is being charted by the self-interested.

The billions being poured into solving the problem are going everywhere but to the homeless.

In Los Angeles, the billions in tax hikes going to build homeless housing are being spent on units that cost an average of $479,000 per unit. At that rate, it would take $15 billion to house all the homeless.

That’s 150% of the entire budget. And by then the population would have doubled.

The building boom is going on even though Los Angeles County already has plenty of beds in shelters that aren’t being used. Anyone who travels downtown can see homeless encampments rising around homeless shelters. More than half of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) shelters aren't filling their beds. The average utilization rate is 78%. The problem isn’t a shortage.

Homelessness is largely a mental health and drug abuse issue. The issue isn’t a lack of housing.

But that hasn’t stopped cities like Los Angeles and New York from spending billions on housing programs that aren’t addressing the core issue of homelessness. But they were never meant to.

Homelessness is a manufactured crisis that funnels money to special interests, building up a social welfare sector of the government, while subsidizing and fueling the scale and scope of the problem

New York City is blowing through $1.1 billion to house the homeless in hotels introducing drug use and prostitution problems into luxury rooms. It’s building homeless shelters in neighborhoods that are protesting the crime and drug use such places bring. The overall plan to spend $2.6 billion to build 15,000 units to deal with the homeless crisis isn’t working very well.

The Department of Homeless Services is allowing shelters to name their own price for housing residents. Rates went from $78 per person to four or five times that. Housing the homeless runs to $328.58 a day at one shelter run by Samaritan Village, a major shelter provider. That’s the price of a luxury hotel room.

Samaritan Village, which runs much of New York City’s homeless shelters, is headed by Tino Hernandez, the former Deputy Commissioner for Adult Services at the Department of Homeless Services. Since Hernandez took over at Samaritan, an investigation revealed that its DHS contracts went up 590%. Meanwhile, Samaritan has been troubled by allegations of abuse and misappropriation of tax funds.

Meanwhile on the other side of the country, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority was using money intended for the homeless to buy its employees $165 hiking boots and an antique brass table.

The homeless crisis is a river of money that flows to the politically connected who have no interest in solving it, but a great deal of interest in perpetuating it. Dubious statistics, misleading reports, tax hikes and sweetheart deals are used to mobilize an institutional solution that only worsens the problem.

It’s a scam that runs easily into the billions while destroying lives and communities.

‘Homeless’ is a fake political term that deliberately misstates the problem. The issue is mostly not a lack of housing, but some combination of mental illness and drug use that make it difficult to maintain residential status. There are ordinary people who are genuinely homeless, and the media makes a point of highlighting their stories, but homelessness is mostly not a problem of housing, but of treatment.

While the media tells only one side of the story, it’s the mentally ill and the severe addicts who are the public face of the homeless crisis that the residents of major cities encounter every day. It’s these sights that move them to approve of spending hundreds of millions and even billions of dollars on programs that they believe will remove the horrible sights that they’re seeing from public view.

And that incentivizes the social welfare system and its allied activists to worsen the problem so as to squeeze more money out of taxpayers. Every budget increase means more homeless on the street, more street crime, drug use, and random abuse. Funding the system isn’t the solution, it’s the problem.

The homeless crisis is a billion dollar scam. It isn’t being solved. It’s only getting worse.
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Daniel Greenfield is Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and a New York writer focuses on Islamic terrorism and the radical left. David Horowitz is a Contributing Author of the ARRA News Service

Tags: Daniel Greenfield, FrontPage Mag, Billion Dollar Homeless Scam To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Since Banning Guns And Knives Didn’t Work, London Mayor Wants To Ban Cars

by Tom Knighton: When someone is determined to kill as many people as humanly possible in as short a time as humanly possible, they’re going to find a way to do it. If you take away the usual tools to kill people with, they’ll get creative. No matter what, they’ll find a way to murder people if they so choose.

So, when governments ban the tools used by these people in a misguided attempt to prevent future attacks, all they’re doing is depriving law-abiding citizens of these tools for non-criminal use. They don’t actually stop evil men from committing mass murder.

Over in England, they haven’t seemed to figure that out yet. A mass attack triggered a gun ban. Then they decided to ban knives. Now, they’re looking to ban cars following yet another attack. Well, at least cars in some parts of the city.
Three people were injured after police say a car collided with a number of cyclists and pedestrians before crashing into barriers that line the Houses of Parliament.

Khan told BBC radio that making certain areas only available to pedestrians would provide more safety to both citizens and buildings in the surrounding area. But he also said the city would need to ensure people “don’t lose one important thing about our democracy: People having an access to parliamentarians, people being able to lobby parliament and being able to come and visit parliament.”

“I think there would be lots of challenges if we would do the whole square. It is a thoroughfare for cars, vehicles and commercial deliveries going through London,” he said. “So it’s possible to have a designed solution … in keeping our buildings and people as safe as we can do. And also not losing what is so wonderful about our city that is a vibrant democracy, people can walk around safely.”
In other words, they’re still not getting the picture. Then again, I’m pretty sure Sadiq Khan wouldn’t get the picture if you drew it in crayon right before his very eyes, explained it in small words of no more than two syllables and promised him a lollipop if he paid very close attention.

I mean, this is a man so wrapped in his own privilege that he can’t imagine why anyone would need to carry around a knife without ever thinking of the people who routinely have to do simple things like open boxes, much less protect themselves from knife-armed thugs roaming wild on London’s streets.

He thinks that if he bans cars from certain areas of London, then terrorists and other madmen won’t find another way to murder innocent people?

Look, I’m all for sensible security measures, but let’s look at Khan’s history. This is likely to be all that happens, and he’ll pat himself on the back for a job well done and still ignore the underlying problems. There are violent people in his city, people who would see every person in that city dead if given an opportunity, and he’s running throwing cups of gasoline on the fires and saying it’s water.

London is a city of millions of people. Imagine how this would have been different if the terrorist had faced even one armed citizen?

But it’s London. They don’t have that option there, so instead, it’s a city of lambs to the slaughter.
---------------
Tom Knighton is a Navy veteran, a former newspaperman, a novelist, and a blogger at Bearing Arms. He lives with his family in Southwest Georgia.

Tags: Tom Knighton, Bearing Arms, Banning Guns And Knives, Didn’t Work, London Mayor, Wants To Ban Cars To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

ISIS Terrorist, Posing as 'Refugee,' Captured in California

Omar Abdulsattar Ameen
by Rick Moran: An ISIS terrorist, wanted for murdering a police officer in Iraq, has been captured by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force in Sacramento.

Omar Abdulsattar Ameen entered the U.S. posing as a refugee. In fact, he quickly returned to Iraq, and he and several other ISIS terrorists entered the town of Rawah in 2014 and murdered a local police officer. Ameen is also charged with planting IEDs and helping establish ISIS in Rawah.

New York Post:
Ameen could face execution for the "organized killing by an armed group" according to Iraqi documents filed in U.S. federal court.

Prosecutors say Ameen entered the U.S. under a refugee program, eventually settling in Sacramento, and attempted to gain legal status in the United States.

He arrived in Turkey in 2012 and began applying to the U.S. for refugee status by claiming to be a victim of terrorism, according to a court document. He was granted refugee status in June 2014, but returned to Iraq to commit the slaying before traveling to the United States in November 2014, the document says.
That Ameen was able to enter the U.S. initially as a refugee is incredible. Even if he hadn't committed the murder at that point, according to the Justice Department release, he helped establish al-Qaeda in Iraq as well as ISIS.Ameen, originally of Rawah, in the Anbar province of Iraq, fled Iraq following the alleged murder, and later settled in Sacramento as a purported refugee. It is alleged that Ameen's family supported and assisted the installation of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) in Rawah, and that Ameen was a member of AQI and ISIS. It is also alleged that he participated in various activities in support of those terrorist organizations, including helping to plant improvised explosive devices, and committing the murder that is the subject of the extradition request. Ameen concealed his membership in those terrorist groups when he applied for refugee status, and later when he applied for a green card in the United States.But we should allow in 100,000 more refugees because our vetting process is more than adequate, right?

The problem with advancing the argument that some terrorists are bound to "slip through the cracks" when it comes to our vetting procedures for refugees is that we just don't know. The government was oblivious to the threat Ameen posed, despite his family ties to terrorists and his membership in terrorist organizations. The Obama administration tried to speed up refugee admittances by slashing the time period for fully vetting a subject from 24 months to three. This guaranteed that an unknown number of Ameens are currently residing in the U.S., posing as refugees.

For the left, it's "nothing to see here, move along."
-----------------
Rick Moran is PJ Media's Chicago editor and Blog editor at The American Thinker.

Tags: Rick Moran, ISIS Terrorist, Omar Abdulsattar Ameen, Posing as 'Refugee,' Captured in California To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Looking at Arkansas’s High Debt Burden

by Marc Kilmer: Are legislators and the governor making wise choices for the financial future of Arkansans? A new report says that the answer to this question is “no.” This finding should concern everyone who is interested in the long-term fiscal health of the state.

A group called Truth in Accounting looked at the state’s financial reports and did not like what it saw. Here is what it concluded in its “Financial State of Arkansas.”

Arkansas’ elected officials have made repeated financial decisions that have left the state with a debt burden of $2.9 billion, according to the analysis. That burden equates to $3,600 for every state taxpayer. Arkansas’ financial problems stem from unfunded retirement obligations in the form of pension and other post-employment benefits. Of the $13.1 billion of retirement benefits promised, the state has not funded $3 billion of pension benefits and $2.3 billion of retiree health care benefits.Specifically, this report points out these facts that should concern every Arkansas taxpayer:
  • Arkansas has $6.6 billion available in assets to pay $9.5 billion worth of bills.
  • The outcome: A $2.9 billion shortfall and a $3,600 Taxpayer Burden.
  • Despite reporting all of its pension debt, the state continues to hide $877.1 million of its retiree health care debt.
  • Arkansas’ reported net position is inflated by $1.5 billion, largely because it has delayed recognizing changes to its net pension liability.
You can read more here.

Unfunded pension and post-retirement benefits liabilities are very concerning because either one of two things will happen: spending must increase to deal with them or the promised benefits are scaled back. With the first option, the longer that legislators wait to fund these liabilities, the more expensive they get. With the second option, there are various legal concerns that, even if overcome, will lead to a disgruntled workforce that rightly dislikes having retirement promises broken.

Lawmakers need to deal with these unfunded liability issues sooner rather than later. Other states have enacted reforms that Arkansas should consider. But beyond reform, it is also necessary to start funding the already-promised post-retirement benefits. Waiting to deal with this problem will only make it worse.
--------------
Marc Kilmer writes for The Arkansas Project.

Tags: Marc Kilmer, The Arkansas Project, Arkansas, High Debt Burden To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Restoring the Armed Career Criminal Act

Sen. Tom Cotton
Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT): In April, a gang member convicted of nine felonies, Cornelius Spencer, was charged with raping two homeless Arkansans, a 62-year-old woman and a 21-year-old autistic man.

What’s worse, these crimes would never have happened if Spencer had not been released a full five years before his sentence was up.

Because of a Supreme Court ruling that negated an important act of Congress, Spencer managed to slip through the cracks of our justice system. Until Congress acts to fix the law that was struck down, more hardened criminals will be able to roam the streets.

The law in question is the Armed Career Criminal Act, or ACCA. In 1984, Congress passed this law to protect the public from violent, repeat offenders like Cornelius Spencer. The law imposed a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years for illegal possession of a firearm for offenders convicted of at least three different violent felonies or serious drug offenses on at least three separate occasions. While in force, about 600 offenders were charged under ACCA each year.

But in 2015, the Supreme Court declared that an important part of the law was unconstitutional. In Johnson v. United States, the Court ruled that how the law defined some “violent felonies” was unconstitutionally vague, specifically referring to a catch-all phrase that described “conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another.”

Because the law failed to specify which kinds of conduct presented such a risk, the court ruled that it didn’t give the public fair notice of what conduct could be punished. The law was, therefore, in violation of the Fifth Amendment’s due-process clause.

Importantly, the Court took no issue with the law’s mandatory minimum penalty for certain violent, repeat offenders. It simply said that Congress needed to be more clear about what types of conduct could lead to an enhanced penalty.

Whatever the merits of the Court’s decision, the results were tragic. The federal government was forced to prematurely release hundreds of felons back into the public. One example is Jerrod Baum, a neo-Nazi in Utah who had been charged with a long list of crimes: attempted murder, aggravated assault, and two counts of illegally possessing a firearm. He was released in 2016, four years before his sentence was up. Earlier this year, Baum was arrested and charged for kidnapping, stabbing, and throwing the bodies of two teenagers down a mineshaft. If the ACCA had still been in force, those two Utahans-just like those two Arkansans-would not have been harmed.

The only way to protect the public from hardened criminals like Spencer and Baum is to keep them off the streets, which is why we introduced the Restoring the Armed Career Criminal Act. Our bill would restore the mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years, but clarify which violent offenses qualify. Specifically, it would do away with the concepts of “violent felonies” and “serious drug offenses,” and replace them with a single category: “serious felonies,” defined as all crimes punishable by 10 years or more.

This much-needed clarification would solve a host of problems. First, it would comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling. Second, it would respond to the Federal Sentencing Commission’s recommendation that Congress clarify the statutory definition of violent felony. And third, because our bill would still require three felony convictions on three separate occasions, it would help federal prosecutors target the most dangerous criminals. In other words, this would not apply to low-level or first- or even second-time offenders.

It’s been three years since the Supreme Court’s ruling on the ACCA, during which time we’ve seen far too many innocent, law-abiding citizens suffer at the hands of hardened criminals. These violent offenders are the worst of the worst, and there’s no excuse for letting them roam free because of a legislative technicality. We encourage our colleagues to join us in supporting this bill before more good people get hurt.
------------------
Article was first published in the Washington Examiner. 

Tags: Senators, Tom Cotton, Orrin Hatch, Supreme Court, violent criminals 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 Problem with Public Accounts

by Paul Jacob, Contributing Author: President Trump’s promise not to cut one dime from Social Security and Medicare doesn’t square with the fiscal cliff these programs are headed for. To save the system, benefits must be cut, taxes must be raised, or both.

Or else replace the system.

No wonder, then, that John Stossel insists we “Fix Social Security Before It Goes Broke,” and rescues a decades-old proposal: “private accounts,” which he says “would certainly pay retirees more than Social Security will ever pay.”

In Chile, where they have tried this, private accounts have worked out pretty well, contributing to the once-impoverished country’s rise to “the richest country in Latin America.”

Had the United States adopted such a system, at Social Security’s inception, the amount of capital flowing into projects big and small would have not merely prevented the stagflation of the Seventies and brought us almost unimaginable wealth, it might have turned political eyes towards accountability, prudence and stability.

But, because Social Security was set up as a Pay As We Go system, we paid . . . and the money went.

It got so messed up that by the 1980s Ronald Reagan charged Alan Greenspan with “fixing” it. That “fix” mainly meant increasing taxation. The decades of revenue surge over outflow was spent by Congress for war and handouts. And now we’re reaching a repeat of the late 1970s’ Social Security insolvency.

Meanwhile, Chilean leftists “hold street protests against private accounts,” Stosssel reminds us. “They’re angry because capitalists get a slice of the pie.”

Back in the USA, Democrats demand that more benefits be wrung from Social Security. Are they dead set on proving why socialism doesn’t work?

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.
------------------
Paul Jacob 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. Jacob is a contributing author on the ARRA News Service.

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

Socialism: Definition, Evils & Effects

by John Porter, Contributing Author: I have been asked by many people around the Country if I would write a definition of Socialism, its inherent evils and the effects it would have upon us as individuals. The following is my attempt at answering that request. For certain, it would be a death blow to capitalism as well as to the God-given freedoms which we have enjoyed for so long in the United States.

Our country’s economic system is called capitalism. It is based upon private ownership of property, which includes the means of production for the creation of goods or services for income and profit by individuals. It is a free market economic system based on the recognition of individual rights to own property (lands, businesses, goods, etc.). Such rights give individuals security and a means to control their own affairs, thus their own destiny. Under capitalism, private citizens, with their ownership of property, are responsible for the production and distribution of goods.

Whereas, Socialism is government ownership of property and control of production and distribution. The essential characteristic of Socialism is the denial of individual property rights. Individuals have no control over their own affairs and destiny. Almost every aspect of living will be regulated by the government.

It has been said, "Socialism is the doctrine that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that his life and his work do not belong to him, but belong to society, that the only justification of his existence is his service to society, and that society may dispose of him in any way it pleases for the sake of whatever it deems to be its own tribal, or collective good."

I do not believe the majority of the American people would knowingly or willingly adopt Socialism, once understood, even though a poll conducted this week showed 57% of the Democrats polled would. It has been seeping in, little by little, over the past one hundred years pushed by the Democrat Party's progressives and liberals. If we are not careful, every fragment of a socialist state will be adopted a little slice at a time, until one day America will be a full-blown socialist nation, without realizing how it happened.

Karl Marx, the nineteenth century German socialist revolutionary, taught that “Democracy is the road to Socialism” and preached that “Socialism represents the stage following Capitalism in a country transforming to Communism.” The platforms of Liberals, Progressives and Socialists such as Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and other Democrat Party leaders are drawn from either Communism, Marxism or Fascism. They are all varying degrees of Socialism known as totalitarian concepts, differing in degrees only. There is not one example of a Socialist country, past or present, ever producing the level of prosperity and happiness for the people which our Capitalist system of private enterprise, individual ownership of property, has accomplished. If there were, people would not be cutting fences, climbing walls, swimming rivers or loading onto boats to escape those countries to get into the United States.

The Representative Republic of the United States with our Capitalist and Free Enterprise Market System has been the world’s dominant economic system for over two hundred years. Within it, the means of production of goods and the distribution of those goods are owned by individuals. Since America’s beginnings, the freedom of private ownership and free enterprise with its spirit of competition, have led to the abundance of food and products, more efficiency, lower prices, better products and rising prosperity. The production of food and materials and private individual prosperity has never been – can never be – equaled by any socialist country.

The people of almost every country on the continent of Africa are starving to death. Daily, we are shown the fly blown faces of these starving people. Venezuela is in total chaos with hungry people rioting in the streets. Every one of those countries have Socialist governments of some form. Every country on the continent of Europe is today experiencing the results of the evils of their respective degrees of Socialism with extremely high taxes. Despite tax rates of 75% and more Socialist countries all over the world are without enough food and goods to support the people. The Democrat Party, now becoming a strong proponent of Socialism, is wanting to lead our Country toward that same end.

How would Socialism affect YOU as an individual? By necessity, tax rates in America will reach upward of 90%, and our way of life will be exactly like that in Europe, Africa, Central America, Asia, Russia and elsewhere. Socialized health care will mandate who your doctor will be, even whether or not you are a candidate for treatment of an illness. It will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to buy a new home, land, a car, or reap the benefits of your own labor. Birth control will be mandated, private ownership of property will be denied, starting and maintaining a business impossible. Even the small things in our everyday lives such as the kind of windows you may put in your house and the type of light bulbs you may buy. The list of evils of Socialism is a long one. We hear a great deal from the proponents of Socialism about the sharing of wealth. Be warned – Socialism is nothing more than the sharing of misery.

The preachers of Socialism use the plight of the poor, the disenfranchised and the jobless with their promises to equalize income, share the wealth, level the economic playing field, take from those who have and give to those who have not, every thing will be free. The concept that with hard work and perseverance anybody can get ahead economically in the United States will be destroyed. Again, misery will be shared by all.

Most Americans think this could not happen here. I used to think that … until I realized differently. Not only can it happen here, IT WILL happen here if we allow the Socialist Democrat Party to gain control of our government. In the primaries now going on and the general election on November 6, this year we are being given the opportunity to choose our destiny. The choices are clear, the bondage of one world Socialism and its miseries or America first with the individual freedom of Capitalism and its prosperity.

The Democrat Party being lead by Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Cortez, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren and others are committed to destroying capitalism, that which has made America great, and replacing it with Socialism. Their giant first step will be to destroy President Trump because he looms large in their path with his dedication to America First Capitalism and Constitutional mind set. Today, the Democrat Party stands on the rocket launching pad for a Socialist States of America and a farewell to the Constitutional Republic of The United States of America. The date for launching is set for November 6, 2018. The American people who love freedom and responsibility can cause it to fizzle or watch as it soar in flight. No one will be exempt from the evils and misery of Socialism, not you, not your children, not your grandchildren.

We, that would be you and me, have got to fight what is happening. We cannot sit this one out. We cannot rely on someone else doing it for us. We have a duty and an obligation to protect, defend and preserve our Country, our freedom, our way of life. We don’t have a lot of time. IF we lose, that loss will come at an unthinkable cost to every American.

The price of freedom has always come with a hefty price tag. Not a single American soldier has ever died in defense of Socialism.

STOPPING SOCIALISM IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE BEFORE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE TODAY.
------------------
John Porter is an Americans first, constitutional conservatives second. His allegiance is to the Constitution. He seeks to help save America from the grips of socialism and an all powerful, intrusive government, and from the evil of Islam. He is a contributing author to the ARRA News Service.

Tags: John Porter, Contributing Author, Socialism-Definition, Evils & Effects To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Energy Conferees Shut Down Fuel Economy Mandates as Costly to Consumers

by Kevin Mooney: Sterling Burnett doesn’t always want to sit next to someone he doesn’t know on a train, plane, or bus.

But he’s willing to fight for the freedom of those same strangers when it comes time for them to purchase a motor vehicle.

“What I care about is … your freedom to choose the vehicle of your choice,” Burnett, an environmental policy expert for the Heartland Institute, said during a panel discussion at the free-market think tank’s America First Energy Conference that took a critical look at fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks.

“I don’t think government should be in the business of deciding the characteristics of the vehicle you drive,” Burnett said of the so-called Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards. “That’s what CAFE standards do. Automobility is a form of freedom.”

Burnett, a senior fellow on environmental policy at the Heartland Institute, a nonprofit research and education organization based in Illinois, espoused the virtues of automotive freedom:
I take the train, I enjoy the train, and we all fly. And I take buses. But sometimes that’s not my alternative and quite frankly, I don’t always want to sit next to strangers. And maybe I want to listen to a particular kind of music or a news program, and I don’t want plugs in my ears.

When I used to commute to work, I enjoyed my time in the car because it was my time and it wasn’t dominated by work. Cars allow [you] to have the freedom to live outside of inner cities, and to visit distant relatives whenever you want. One hundred years ago, you couldn’t do this.
‘Victory for Consumer Choice’
Congress first enacted Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards in 1975 in response to the Arab oil embargo of 1973 that limited gasoline supplies and drove up prices. The idea was to reduce American dependence on foreign oil.

The latest version of CAFE and emissions standards for light-duty vehicles is called SAFE, an acronym for Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles Rule for Model Years 2021-2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks.

The Trump administration has proposed a rule change that is a joint initiative of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The two agencies are seeking public comment on regulatory options, according to a press release, “including a preferred alternative that locks in [model year] 2020 standards through 2026, providing a much-needed time-out from further, costly increases.”

Nick Loris, an economist with The Heritage Foundation who focuses on energy, environmental, and regulatory issues, credits the Trump administration with moving forward with a proposal that he sees as beneficial to consumers.

“Without a doubt, the Trump administration’s recent proposal is a welcome victory for consumer choice, but also for people who are just concerned about the upfront costs of new cars and new trucks,” Loris said during the panel discussion at the Heartland Institute conference.

“It would be nice if Congress demonstrated similar fortitude and recognized that energy use mandates for vehicles, for dishwashers, and [for] clocks on microwaves are all unnecessary and repealed these standards, but I think that’s wishful thinking.”

Challenging California
The Trump administration’s preferred alternative “reflects a balance of safety, economics, technology, fuel conservation, and pollution reduction” and is expected to reduce road fatalities and injuries, the EPA and highway safety agency say in the press release.

The rule change begins a process to create a new, 50-state standard for fuel economy and tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions for cars and light trucks with the model years 2021 through 2026.

The Obama administration permitted California to set its own auto emissions standards under a federal waiver, but the Trump administration could seek to eliminate the waiver as part of the change.

Twelve states concentrated in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest follow California’s lead with stricter emissions standards, as does the District of Columbia.

The Obama administration worked with state officials in California to set fuel efficiency standards, a key component of Barack Obama’s efforts as president to address climate change.

If the Trump administration proposal is implemented, California and the 12 other states would need to observe the new federal rules on emissions.

‘Relics of the Past’
Loris, the Heritage economist, described energy use mandates and CAFE standards as “relics of the past” and byproducts of “politically concocted problems” that put energy consumers at a disadvantage.

Loris said he sees a “systemic problem” in how politicians, pundits, and lobbyists view energy markets.

“The inability of the federal government and regulators to predict what’s going to happen in energy markets” often leads to counterproductive regulatory policies, he said.

For instance, Loris noted, predictions about the price of oil tend to be off the mark.

For a 2008 article, The Wall Street Journal asked “a wide range of economists, energy analysts, and other experts to predict what the price of oil would be at the end of year,” Loris recalled.

Their predictions ranged from a low of $70 per barrel to a high of $167.50. The actual price: $44.60.

Sam Kazman, a panelist who is a lawyer with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, discussed a legal victory he secured on behalf of the Washington-based free-market public policy organization.

A federal appeals court ruled that federal transportation officials illegally concealed how fuel-efficiency standards jeopardized public safety on the highways.

The court found that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration illegally tried “to paper over” the safety issue through a combination of “fudged analysis,” “statistical legerdemain,” “lame claims,” and “specious arguments.”

Keeping Costs Down
Kazman expressed disappointment that avowed consumer-safety champions such as former presidential candidate Ralph Nader didn’t support the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s position against the fuel-efficiency standards.

But to improve public safety through CAFE standards requires officials to “get rid of a government program, rather than expanding it,” he said.

With the proposed rule change, Trump administration officials say they anticipate consumers will experience reduced costs and improved safety.

“The current standards have been a factor in the rising cost of new automobiles to an average of $35,000 or more—out of reach for many American families,” the EPA’s release says, adding:

Indeed, compared to the preferred alternative in the proposal, keeping in place the standards finalized in 2012 would add $2,340 to the cost of owning a new car, and impose more than $500 billion in societal costs on the U.S. economy over the next 50 years.Officials also point to a study earlier this year by the highway safety agency that found newer vehicles are safer than older vehicles now on the road, and their wider use would result in fewer fatalities and injuries.

“What the Trump administration has done is stunning,” Myron Ebell, director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said during another panel examining the administration’s progress on energy policy.

“They have kicked California out of setting the CAFE standard,” Ebell said. “They have done everything right, and it is great for consumer choice.”
----------------------
Kevin Mooney (@KevinMooneyDC) is an investigative reporter for Heritage Foundation's The Daily Signal.

Tags: Energy Conferees, Shut Down, Fuel Economy Mandates, Costly to Consumers, Heartland Institute, Kevin Mooney, The Daily Signal 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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  • 12/20/15 - 12/27/15
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  • 2/21/16 - 2/28/16
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  • 12/25/16 - 1/1/17
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  • 11/19/17 - 11/26/17
  • 11/26/17 - 12/3/17
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  • 12/17/17 - 12/24/17
  • 12/24/17 - 12/31/17
  • 12/31/17 - 1/7/18
  • 1/7/18 - 1/14/18
  • 1/14/18 - 1/21/18
  • 1/21/18 - 1/28/18
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  • 3/4/18 - 3/11/18
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