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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, November 03, 2017

Why We’ll Win with the GOP Tax Plan

by Newt Gingrich: The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that Republicans introduced Thursday represents a tremendous opportunity for the Congress and the President to take the U.S. economy to a new level of prosperity and improve the lives of hundreds of millions of Americans.

As I wrote earlier this week, the Trump effect has already brought gross domestic product (GDP) growth up to 3 percent for two straight quarters – which so-called experts insisted for months was nearly impossible.

At the same time, Pew Research Center reported on Tuesday that 82 percent of Americans now say they have either achieved their definition of the American Dream or are on their way to achieving it. The Washington Examiner points out that this is a stark contrast to 2014, when a similar CNN project found that 60 percent of Americans thought the American Dream was unattainable.

The tax relief and job creating provisions included in the Republican plan will continue to grow the GDP and help even more Americans realize their dreams.

If passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump, Americans will get to keep more of their hard-earned money. The Republican bill roughly doubles the standard deduction, increasing it from $12,000 to $24,000 for families and from $6,350 to $12,000 for individuals. This means families who earn the median household income ($59,000 a year) will only pay taxes on $35,000 of their income, which translates into a $1,182 tax cut for these families.

Further, the bill includes a Family Credit, which expands tax credits for families with children, as well as those caring for older relatives. The tax cut bill increases the current Child Tax Credit from $1,000 to $1,600 and provides a $300 credit for elderly parents and adult-dependents. Keep in mind, these are not deductions, these are dollar-for-dollar tax credits.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act also drastically simplifies our tax system, which will enable Americans to save even more money. The bill gets rid of many deductions and loopholes that shift much of the tax burden onto the American middle class. This streamlining will allow most Americans to file their taxes on a form the size of a postcard, and the savings families will experience from this simplification will be like an additional income tax relief.

Many Americans will also see their wages and job opportunities increase due to the enormous reductions in business taxes included in the bill.

The bill sets a 25 percent maximum tax rate for small businesses and other pass-through corporations. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, these businesses represent 99.7 percent of U.S. employers – and employ nearly half of the private sector workforce. Giving these small business owners the ability to keep more of the money their businesses earn will result in an explosion of investment and job creation. This will then lead to wage increases, as companies will once again have to compete for job candidates.

Additionally, the tax rate for corporations will be reduced from 35 percent down to 20 percent. This cut – the largest corporate tax cut in our nation’s history – will make America competitive with the rest of the developed world, making our country more attractive to large manufacturers and other multinational businesses. This is perfectly in line with President Trump’s America first principle on which he campaigned last year and will lead to more products around the world being labeled “Made in America.”

Finally, the GOP bill also reforms our outdated multinational tax system so that businesses will once again be encouraged to bring foreign earnings back to the United States, instead of investing them and creating jobs overseas.

The passage of this bill will be a defining moment for our country. It will cut through all the noise of Washington and show Americans they were right to elect Republicans to lead in the White House and Congress.

Over the next few weeks, the Democrats and the left-wing media will undoubtedly try to oppose this bill. They will come up with all sorts of reasons why they don’t support the bill, but what they are truly arguing against is lower taxes, more jobs, higher wages, and a simpler, fairer system. The American people will see that once again, the Left is trying to stand in the way of our country’s working class, who are finally starting to see their American dreams become a reality.

That’s why we’ll win.
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.

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American Bar Association Targets Pro-Life Judicial Nominee

Jerry Cox, Contributing Author: In August we told you about Steve Grasz, an attorney from Nebraska who has been nominated for the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

While it is impossible to know for sure, Mr. Grasz’s track record working for the Nebraska Attorney General’s office leads us to believe he would make an excellent federal judge.

Now it is up to the U.S. Senate to review and confirm Mr. Grasz’s nomination. However, this week a committee with the American Bar Association said Mr. Grasz is not qualified to serve in the Eighth Circuit.

The American Bar Association committee cited Mr. Grasz’s “pro-life agenda,” saying his personal convictions “created a lack of objectivity” and that Mr. Grasz’s “passionately-held social agenda appeared to overwhelm and obscure the ability to exercise dispassionate and unbiased judgment.”

Writing at National Review Online, legal expert Ed Whelan notes the ABA’s statement was based in large part on a longer report written by University of Arkansas School of Law professor Cynthia Nance.

He writes,Nance’s strong ideological bias is not difficult to uncover. Among other things, she signed a letter opposing the confirmation of Justice Alito. Given the ABA’s persistent complaints about Grasz’s supposed inability to separate his judging from his “pro-life agenda,” it’s notable that that letter against Alito complains about the impact that he would have on—euphemism alert!—“women’s reproductive freedoms.” Nance also signed a letter arguing that the “government’s interests in protecting women’s health and reproductive freedom, and combating gender discrimination,” meant that even religiously affiliated organizations—like the Little Sisters of the Poor—should be required to provide contraceptive coverage (including drugs and devices that can also operate in an abortifacient manner) notwithstanding their own religiously informed views on what constitutes illicit moral complicity in evil.It is unfortunate anyone would try to argue that being pro-life or defending pro-life laws makes a person unfit to serve as a judge, but it appears the American Bar Association is doing precisely that.
Jerry Cox is the founder and president of Family Council and the Education Alliance.

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Trumponomics Is Working, Another Clinton Scandal, Russia's Meddling

by Gary Bauer, Contributing Author: Trumponomics Is Working - The media continue to be in denial, and the left gets furious if you even hint at this, but Trumponomics is working. The fact is "what happened" (ironically, the title of Hillary's book) after the election of Donald Trump is that American businesses and job creators breathed a huge sigh of relief.

They no longer got up every day worrying, as they had for the past eight years, "What is my government going to do to me today?"

Donald Trump's election has supercharged the stock market. It has American businesses growing again. Today's figures show that 261,000 new jobs were created in October and the unemployment rate fell to 4.1% -- its lowest level since 2000.

Barack Obama could have experienced this kind of growth. He only would have had to jettison his socialist mindset and the economy would have taken off under his administration.

So the next time your "NeverTrumper" friends ask what Donald Trump has accomplished, here's the answer:

He beat Hillary Clinton.

He has appointed Neil Gorsuch and other judges like him to the courts.

He has unleashed America's economic strength, sending the stock market soaring and the unemployment rate to its lowest level in 17 years.

He has restored America's alliance with Israel, driven ISIS from Mosul and Raqqa and ended Barack Obama's appeasement of Iran and North Korea.

Worshipping Death - A death worshipping jihadist attacked a New York City school bus with children with Down syndrome on board. We can all agree that trying to kill children with special needs is an evil thing, right?

Sadly, our abortion culture does that every single day. It is only because that abortion regime is not 100% effective that there were any children with Down syndrome on that bus.

If the abortion industry accomplished what it wanted, none of those children would have been born. So the jihadist is not the only death worshipper.

Just how extreme is the pro-abortion movement in America? Incredibly, Planned Parenthood ran a social media campaign this week telling black women that they are "safer" aborting their babies than delivering them. As many pro-life activists noted, it certainly is not "safer" for the unborn baby!

And think about the irony here: Liberals routinely accuse conservatives of being racists for wanting to control our borders, claiming we hate people of color and don't want any more of them. Isn't this Planned Parenthood campaign encouraging fewer black babies racist to its core?

Another Day, Another Clinton Scandal - Remember during last year's campaign when Donald Trump said that the Democrat primary was rigged and encouraged Sanders supporters to vote for him in protest? Many people laughed it off as Trump being Trump.

Well, once again, it seems Donald Trump was right. Former Democrat National Committee Chairwoman Donna Brazile is now throwing Hillary Clinton under the bus.

In exchange for paying off the DNC's debt, Hillary Clinton forced the DNC to surrender control of its operations to her campaign. This surrender took place under then-Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz in 2015 -- well before the first primary votes were cast, well before she secured her party's nomination.

Again, there's a lot of irony here. While Brazile casts a lot of blame on Wasserman Schultz, she is not entirely innocent when it comes to rigging charges either. You may recall that Brazile was forced off CNN after it was revealed that she leaked debate questions to Hillary Clinton.

While we're on the subject of Clinton scandals, there has been another explosive development in the Uranium One scandal -- the Obama/Clinton deal that involved the sale of 20% of America's uranium to Russia.

It has been a central talking point of the left that the deal was no big deal because none of the companies involved held an export license, so none of the U.S. uranium would ever leave the country.

Well guess what? We are now learning that some of our uranium did in fact leave the country. Where is the Justice Department and the FBI?

These revelations are now leading to new demands that Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who was director of the FBI when the Uranium One scandal occurred, recuse himself from the Russia investigation he is now leading.

Speaking Of Justice. . . Deserter Bowe Bergdahl is getting off scot-free, in my view.

Bergdahl could have received life in prison for desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. Instead, Col. Jeffery Nance gave him a dishonorable discharge, reduced his rank to private and fined him $10,000. That's it. No jail time.

Brave men risked their lives trying to find him after he abandoned his post. Some were injured. One, Master Sergeant Mark Allen, has been "sentenced" to life in a wheelchair and is unable to speak because of Bergdahl's actions. There is no justice in Col. Nance's ruling. Shame!

Russia's Meddling - Wednesday we reported that the left's Russia collusion narrative was completely falling apart. Executives from Facebook and Twitter testified on Capitol Hill that Russian internet trolls focused their efforts AFTER the election on "fomenting discord about the validity of [Trump's] election."

Russia's meddling wasn't about any particular candidate. It was designed to divide us and the left took the bait hook, line and sinker.

​Now here's the rest of the story. . .

Congressional investigators have also discovered that Russian internet trolls were pushing fake news to the left, stirring up the "resistance movement," Black Lives Matter activists and radical environmentalists.

It is more than likely that Russia is also supporting Antifa, which is holding mass protests this weekend. It's not a stretch to suggest a connection given that Antifa is backed by avowed communists. (Here and here.)

My friends, please take a moment to talk to your children and grandchildren -- especially if you are paying their college tuition bills.

A recent survey found that nearly half of America's millennials would prefer to live under socialism than capitalism. That is a damning indictment against our educational system.

American's youth today are the beneficiaries of the greatest generation of wealth and prosperity in the history of mankind. Yet they seem to have zero appreciation for what that means for them and what the legacy of communism has really meant for millions of oppressed people around the world.
Gary Bauer is a conservative family values advocate and serves as president of American Values and chairman of the Campaign for Working Families

Tags: Gary Bauer, Campaign for Working Families, Trumponomics Is Working, Another Clinton Scandal, Russia's Meddling To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

CIA Releases Osama Treasure Trove . . .

. . . Documents contradict Obama narrative on al Qaeda and Iran.
by Joseph Klein: The CIA released on Wednesday approximately 470,000 files of materials from the trove recovered during the May 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The materials include internal documents, practice reels for public speeches, audio correspondence, and imagery gathered or generated by al Qaeda for a variety of purposes.

"Today’s release of recovered al-Qaeda letters, videos, audio files and other materials provides the opportunity for the American people to gain further insights into the plans and workings of this terrorist organization," said CIA Director Mike Pompeo. "CIA will continue to seek opportunities to share information with the American people consistent with our obligation to protect national security."

The newly released materials provide some additional insights into al Qaeda’s operations. They also expose the Obama administration’s misrepresentations regarding al Qaeda’s strength, which may be one reason Obama administration officials resisted a public release of this magnitude.

Obama boasted regularly that al Qaeda was “decimated” and “on the run” during his 2012 presidential campaign. He made these claims despite having been informed privately by his intelligence team that al Qaeda was spreading into other regions, including in Africa, while still operating under a central leadership.

In August 2013, Obama said that al Qaeda’s “tightly organized and relatively centralized al Qaeda that attacked us on 9/11 has been broken apart and is very weak and does not have a lot of operational capacity.” He went on to characterize al Qaeda as made up of “regionalized organizations.”

When Obama made his claims, he had available to him contradictory information gleaned from a handwritten, 228-page journal kept by Osama bin Laden himself, which was part of the trove secured in the raid. That document has now just been publicly released.

The regional groups Obama referred to were not decentralized. “Groups such as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and Shabaab (in Somalia) regularly sought and received the al Qaeda master’s direction,” the Long War Journal concluded from its analysis of the journal. “And al Qaeda continued to maintain a significant footprint inside Afghanistan, relocating personnel to the country in 2010 and fighting alongside the Taliban.”

Another newly released document calls into question Obama’s decision to pursue better relations with Shiite Iran, which he seemed to think could serve as a counter-balance to radical Sunni terrorist groups such as al Qaeda and ISIS. On the theory that the “enemy of my enemy is my friend,” Obama was willing to normalize relations with the expansionist, terror-sponsoring radical regime in Tehran even if it meant jeopardizing America’s historic alliances with Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Notably, Obama’s obsession with reaching his disastrous nuclear deal with Iran led him to look the other way as Iran increased its footprint in Iraq and Syria under the guise of fighting the Sunni terrorists. The truth is that the Iranian regime had a longstanding relationship with al Qaeda.

The newly released document contains a senior jihadist’s assessment of Iran’s relationship with al Qaeda. Though the relationship was complicated, it was far from a combative one. Iran offered some “Saudi brothers” in al Qaeda “everything they needed,” including “money, arms” and “training in Hezbollah camps in Lebanon, in exchange for striking American interests in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf,” according to the document’s author, as quoted by the Long Journal. There were disagreements to be sure, including with respect to the treatment of certain al Qaeda operatives who had received safe haven in Iran but were said to have broken the terms of the safe haven agreement. Bin Laden also expressed some concern about Iran’s growing influence in the region. However, al Qaeda and Iran had intersecting interests, and were willing to cooperate in fighting against their common enemy - the “enemy of America.”

This newly released information builds on a previously released letter in which Osama bin Laden described Iran as al Qaeda’s “main artery for funds, personnel, and communication.

Was this artery still open for business while Obama and his Secretary of State John Kerry pushed for better relations with Iran and reached the nuclear deal with Iran that freed billions of dollars for the Iranian regime to use in funding terrorists? Does the artery remain open today between the terror sponsoring regime in Tehran, flush with money thanks to Obama, and al Qaeda? After all, the Sunni jihadists certainly agree with the statement by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei just this week that “America is the number one enemy of our nation.”

The latest revelations confirm how badly Obama first misjudged and then deliberately misrepresented to the American people the continuing strength of the jihadist terrorist threat on his watch. He also sought to conceal from the public a fuller picture of the Iranian-al Qaeda connection that the newly released bin Laden documents expose.

The decision of the Trump administration to release so much material should shed more light on the truth and dispel the myth that the Iranian regime can be trusted.
Joseph Klein is a Harvard-trained lawyer and the author of Global Deception: The UN’s Stealth Assault on America’s Freedom and Lethal Engagement: Barack Hussein Obama, the United Nations & Radical Islam. His article was in FrontPage.Mag, a project of the David Horowitz Freedom Center.

Tags: Joseph Klein, FrontPage Mag, CIA Releases, Osama Treasure Trove, Documents contradic,t Obama narrative, al Qaeda, Iran To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Brazile Admits the Clinton Fix Was In

by Thomas Gallatin: In what many are describing as a “bombshell” revelation, Donna Brazile, former interim head of the Democratic National Committee, has admitted what we actually knew last July — that the DNC rigged the nomination processes to ensure that Hillary Clinton defeated upstart Bernie Sanders. Brazile wrote in a Politico article Thursday, “I had promised Bernie when I took the helm of the Democratic National Committee after the convention that I would get to the bottom of whether Hillary Clinton’s team had rigged the nomination process. … By Sept. 7, the day I called Bernie, I had found my proof and it broke my heart.”

Democrat darling and favorite American Indian Sen. Elizabeth Warren also said she believes the nomination was rigged: “Yes, I think it was. What we have to focus on now as Democrats is, we recognize the process was rigged.” She continued, “And now it is up to Democrats to build a new process, a process that really works and works for everyone.”

Hold on a minute. Haven’t Democrats and the Left been screaming and moaning for the past year that the election was stolen from Hillary? America has endured months of Demo/MSM insistence of a phony Trump/Russia collusion conspiracy that supposedly swung the election to Donald Trump. And then there’s the oft-repeated refrain that Hillary deserved to be president because she won the popular vote, followed by calls to abolish the electoral college. Over and over again, the message has been how unfair the system was toward Hillary and that Trump needs to be resisted with the goal of eventually impeaching him.

Now, suddenly Democrats are turning on Clinton. To borrow a phrase from a certain book title, what happened? It’s certainly not new news that the DNC rigged the nomination process to ensure Clinton was the nominee. Again, we’ve known this for well over a year. It’s the reason that former DNC chief Debbie Wasserman Schultz was forced to resign. So after 25 years of Clinton corruption, why are Democrats only now throwing Hillary under the bus?

First, the corruption waters surrounding Hillary are getting too hot for comfort. We learned last week that the Clinton campaign paid for the infamous dossier that started the whole Russia collusion narrative. And it was revealed just yesterday that Team Hillary paid $168,000 to produce it. Like we have been saying for months, the Mueller investigation may turn against Democrats. And if they don’t have “Trump colluded with Russia” to assuage their Trump Derangement Syndrome, they’ve got nothing.

Second, after 18 months of trashing Trump, the Democrat Party’s approval rating is no better than his, which doesn’t bode well for its mid-term election hopes. Democrats are seen by an increasing number of Americans as a party of the extreme Left and not the mainstream.

So, it appears that since Clinton not only lost the election but blew up the narrative of how she was cheated out of it, Democrats are no longer willing to put up with her lying and corruption.

On an interesting and yet not surprising side note, the big three major news networks didn’t even bother to cover Brazile’s accusation in their newscasts last night. Heads in the sand?
Thomas Gallatin writes for The Patriot Post

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Abortion Extremists

by Kerby Anderson, Contributing Author: George Will asks an intriguing question in a recent column. “What would America’s abortion policy be if the number of months in the gestation of a human infant were a prime number—say, seven or eleven?” He asks that because we artificially divide the nine-month pregnancy into three trimesters.

The Senate will soon consider the bill passed by the House that would put additional limits on abortion. Those who are what he calls “pro-abortion absolutists” are disproportionately Democrats who say they are the “Party of Science.” They complain that the Department of Health and Human Services now refers to protecting people at “every stage of life, beginning at conception.”

George Will reminds us (and them) that this is not a theological statement but essentially elementary biology. Life begins at conception. “And absent a natural malformation or intentional intervention (abortion), conception results in a human birth.”

In the famous abortion case in 1973, the high court put forward a trimester policy and only allowed governments to limit abortion after viability (which it stipulated arrives at 24 to 28 weeks). The current Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act would restrict abortion after the 20th week.

[It is worth noting that only seven nations allow unrestricted abortion after 20 weeks. Most European nations restrict abortion by at least the 13th week. France and Germany restrict abortion after the 12th week.]

Can we get a scientific answer to the pain question? If the answer is yes, then the “Party of Science” should vote for the bill that has been sent to its chamber. Of course, we know that nearly all Senate Democrats will vote against a restriction that exists in most European nations.

That is why George Will’s column is titled, “Democrats are the real abortion extremists.” Science and medicine are presenting some inconvenient truths to the “Party of Science.” It is worth keeping this in mind when Senate Democrats work to prevent even a vote on this bill.
Kerby Anderson is a radio talk show host heard on numerous stations via the Point of View Network endorsed by Dr. Bill Smith, Editor, ARRA News Service

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Their America, and Ours

by Patrick Buchanan: “Meet you at Peace Cross.”

In northwest D.C. in the 1950s, that was an often-heard comment among high schoolers headed for Ocean City.

The Peace Cross, in Bladensburg, Maryland, was a 40-feet concrete memorial to the 49 sons of Prince George’s County lost in the Great War. Paid for by county families and the American Legion, it had stood since 1925.

Before the Beltway was built, Peace Cross, at the junction of U.S. Route 1 and Maryland Route 450, was a landmark to us all.

Last month, two federal judges from the 4th Circuit ruled that Peace Cross “excessively entangles the government and religion” and must come down. A suggested compromise was to saw the arms off, so the monument ceases to be an offensive cross.

One wonders: At what moment did Peace Cross begin to violate the Constitution?

Answer: Never. No alteration has been made to the cross in a century. The change has come in the minds of intolerant judges and alienated elites where the dirty creek of anti-Christian bigotry now flows into the polluted stream of anti-Americanism.

Both are manifest in the rampage to rip down memorials to the men who brought Western Civilization to the New World and made America the great and good country we were blessed to inherit.

Monday, on Laura Ingraham’s Fox News show, White House Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly called Robert E. Lee “an honorable man,” who chose to defend the people among whom he had been raised.

“It was always loyalty to state first in those days,” said Kelly, when asked his view on Alexandria’s Episcopal Church taking down plaques to its greatest parishioners, Lee and George Washington.

An explosion of outrage greeted Kelly’s defense of Lee.

Yet, what has changed in half a century? As Ingraham noted, FDR, an icon of liberalism, referred to Lee as “one of our greatest American Christians and one of our greatest American gentlemen.”

Asked in 1960 how he could keep a portrait of a man who tried to “destroy our government” in his Oval Office, President Eisenhower wrote his critic back:

“General Robert E. Lee was one of the supremely gifted men produced by our Nation. He believed unswervingly in the Constitutional validity of his cause which until 1865 was still an arguable question in America; he was a poised and inspiring leader, true to the high trust reposed in him by millions of his fellow citizens; he was thoughtful yet demanding of his officers and men, forbearing with captured enemies but ingenious, unrelenting and personally courageous in battle, and never disheartened by a reverse or obstacle. Through all his many trials, he remained selfless almost to a fault and unfailing in his faith in God. Taken altogether, he was noble as a leader and as a man, and unsullied as I read the pages of our history…

“To the degree that present-day American youth will strive to emulate his rare qualities, including his devotion to this land as revealed in his painstaking efforts to help heal the Nation’s wounds once the bitter struggle was over, we, in our own time of danger in a divided world, will be strengthened and our love of freedom sustained.

“Such are the reasons that I proudly display the picture of this great American on my office wall.”

Have some terrible new truths been unearthed about Lee we did not know in 1960?

No. The change has taken place in the poisoned minds of modernity.

Some will never concede there was principle or honor in the cause of a South that declared independence in 1860-61, emulating the 13 colonies that declared their independence in 1776.

In his tribute to Lee in 1960, Ike addressed what was at issue in 1860 that brought on the war.

“We need to understand that at the time of the War Between the States the issue of secession had remained unresolved for more than 70 years. Men of probity, character, public standing and unquestioned loyalty, both North and South, had disagreed over this issue as a matter of principle from the day our Constitution was adopted.”

Ike refers not to a “Civil War,” but to the “War Between the States.” And correctly so. For the South did not seek to bring down the U.S. government, or overturn Lincoln’s election, or seize power in the capital — but to leave the Union, to secede, as Jefferson and John Adams voted to secede from Britain in 1776.

Asked on Fox News about what is happening today with the public insults to our national anthem and the desecration of our monuments, Justice Clarence Thomas raises questions being asked by many Americans:

“What binds us? What do we all have in common anymore? … We always talk about E pluribus unum. What’s our unum now? We have the pluribus. What’s the unum?”

The spirit that produced the war in the 1860s, and lasting division in the 1960s, is abroad again. A great secession of the heart is underway.
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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With Open Arms . . .

. . . In 1990, Schumer was instrumental in helping to create the Diversity Visa Lottery program that led to the death of 8 New Yorkers.
Editorial Cartoon by AF "Tony" Branco

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Dems New Position On Tax Reform: ‘We Have To Make Sure This Doesn’t Happen’

Democrats Used To Say ‘Comprehensive Tax Reform Has To Happen’ Now ‘Have No Intention Of Engaging With Republicans’

“[P]rivately, Democratic leaders have no intention of engaging with Republicans [on tax reform] even if they are offered, sources close to them say. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is convinced another GOP crash-and-burn would likely hand Democrats the House next year, so there’s no political upside to playing ball. … ‘So we have to make sure this doesn’t happen.’” (“Democrats: Tax Reform Failure Will Flip The House,” Politico, 10/24/2017)
“[T]he Senate minority leader says Democrats will take a hard-line approach with the White House on taxes — and everything else — until Trump’s GOP-only approach hits a dead end. ‘There is a path forward, but only after this tax bill fails,’ Schumer says in a new ‘POLITICO Money’ podcast …” (“Schumer Takes Hard Line With Trump On Taxes,” Politico, 10/25/2017)

What Changed, Democrats?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): “I think we all would maybe agree that we should have tax simplification, tax fairness, and so what I say to my members who to the table for these negotiations, ‘Don’t be ideological.’ You just put growth in the middle of the table, how do we grow our economy with good paying jobs, and how do we have a tax plan that does that? So, we want simplification, so it’s clear. Fairness, so it’s fairer to people.” (KLRU’s “Overheard With Evan Smith,” 5/01/2017)

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): “Now, I say to some of my colleagues, we want to work with you on a good tax reform bill …” (Sen. Schumer, Congressional Record, S. 6494, 10/18/2017)

SEN. RON WYDEN (D-OR): “Comprehensive tax reform has to happen soon.” (U.S. Senate Finance Committee Hearing, 7/22/2014)
  • WYDEN: “The U.S. tax code is infected with the chronic diseases of loopholes and inefficiency. These infections are hobbling America's drive to create more good wage, red, white and blue jobs here at home. They are a significant drag on our economy and are harming U.S. competitiveness.” (U.S. Senate Finance Committee Hearing, 7/22/2014)
SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW (D-MI): “We need comprehensive tax reform in a global economy. There is no question about that. That is something I am confident we will be doing … We need to do that. We need to do it on a bipartisan basis.” (Sen. Stabenow, Congressional Record, S. 5189, 7/19/2012)
  • STABENOW: “First, let me say we do need tax reform that closes loopholes to bring jobs home. And to help small business, and puts money in the pockets of middle-class families.” (Sen. Stabenow, Press Conference, 10/03/2017)
SEN. CLAIRE McCASKILL (D-MO): “The current U.S. tax system is broken and needs reform.” (Sen. McCaskill, Press Release, 7/30/2015)

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): “I have long advocated for meaningful tax reform that creates fairness in our system and lowers tax rates for everyone while closing the loopholes, exemptions and credits that make our system unfair now.” (Sen. Manchin, Press Release, 2/22/2012)

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GOP Finally Releases A Tax Plan

by Printus LeBlanc: Yesterday, Republicans in the House released their long-awaited tax reform and cuts package. The House GOP and the President have been talking about tax cuts for months, and even made them cornerstones of their campaigns. Business leaders want tax cuts to spur economic growth. Well, something is here. It’s early in the process, but at least we have something to start from.

The House GOP released talking points for the tax bill stating, “The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is a bold, pro-growth bill that will overhaul our nation’s tax code for the first time since President Reagan’s historic tax reform 31 years ago. With this bill, a typical middle-income family of four, earning $59,000 (the median household income), will receive a $1,182 tax cut.”

Some of the highlights are listed below:
  • Lowers individual tax rates for low- and middle-income Americans to Zero, 12 percent, 25 percent, and 35 percent; keeps tax rate for those making over $1 million at 39.6 percent;
  • Increases the standard deduction from $6,350 to $12,000 for individuals and $12,700 to $24,000 for married couples;
  • Establishing a new Family Credit, which includes expanding the Child Tax Credit from $1,000 to $1,600;
  • Preserving the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit;
  • Preserves the Earned Income Tax Credit;
  • Preserves the home mortgage interest deduction for existing mortgages and maintains the home mortgage interest deduction for newly purchased homes with loans up to $500,000, half the current $1,000,000;
  • Continues to allow people to write off the cost of state and local property taxes up to $10,000 but eliminates the state income tax deduction;
  • Retains popular retirement savings options such as 401(k)s and Individual Retirement Accounts;
  • Repeals the Alternative Minimum Tax;
  • Lowers the corporate tax rate to 20 percent – down from 35 percent;
  • Reduces the tax rate on business income to no more than 25 percent;
  • Establishes strong safeguards to distinguish between individual wage income and “pass-through” business income ;
  • Allows businesses to immediately write off the full cost of new equipment; and
  • Retains the low-income housing tax credit
The Republicans seemed to have found a way around one of the more contentious aspects of the tax debate. Currently, taxpayers have the option of itemizing their deductions instead of taking the standard deduction. When they take the standard deduction, they are not allowed to deduct state and local property taxes from taxable income.

Early reports from the from the negotiations of the bill hinted the property tax deduction would be eliminated. This provision would be a tough pill to swallow for states with high property taxes, like New York, New Jersey, and Illinois. Those three states alone account for 21 Republican Members of the House. Many Republicans in these high tax havens were sure to shoot down any bill that raised their constituent’s taxes.

This plan seems to have found a compromise. The plan limits the deduction to $10,000 while increasing the standard from $6,350 to $12,000 for individuals and $12,700 to $24,000 for married couples. The change will give middle-class families an option, and based on the data, a good option. According to, the $10,000 deduction is far above the average for the states with the highest average property taxes when compared to the median home value.
State Effective Real Estate Tax Rate Annual Taxes on 179K Home State Median Home Value Annual Taxes on Home Priced at Median Value
Ohio 1.56 % $2,794 $129,900 $2,032
New York 1.62 % $2,899 $283,400 $4,600
Rhode Island 1.63 % $2,915 $238,000 $3,884
Vermont 1.74 % $3,116 $217,500 $3,795
Michigan 1.78 % $3,172 $122,400 $2,174
Nebraska 1.85 % $3,308 $133,200 $2,467
Texas 1.90 % $3,386 $136,000 $2,578
Wisconsin 1.96 % $3,499 $165,800 $3,248
Connecticut 1.97 % $3,517 $270,500 $5,327
New Hampshire 2.15 % $3,838 $237,300 $5,100
Illinois 2.30 % $4,105 $173,800 $3,995
New Jersey 2.35 % $4,189 $315,900 $7,410
C/O Wallethub

Another point of contention is the mortgage interest deduction. The current system allows homeowners to deduct the interest paid on a primary residence loan, up to $1,000,000, from their taxable income. Many associations including the National Association of Home Builders and the National Association of Realtors, both traditional supporters of GOP members, have come out against any change to this provision of the tax code, fearing it will slow down business.

The Republican plan does not get rid of mortgage interest deduction, but it does cut it by half, to loans up to $500,000. This is unlikely to affect many people considering the median home price nationwide is $202,000, according to Zillow. Republicans near high cost of living areas are also likely to have issues with this change. Significantly for purposes of the House and Senate debate, one such high cost of living region is the Greater Washington D.C. area where the median home price for the 3rd quarter of 2017 was a whopping $551,000. This matters because those most likely affected by the change will be many of the neighbors of those having to vote on it.

One change that wasn’t made immediately jumps out at those who have been following Congress this year. The Obamacare individual mandate tax is still on the books. Taxpayers will still be fined if they do not have health insurance. Hopefully, this means that the GOP still plans to take a run at the replacing Obamacare early next year, and not that they are surrendering on the issue for this Congress.

The GOP plan is not perfect by any stretch. It would be much improved if there were real spending cuts in the budget used as offsets instead of the more limited tax cuts seen here. But, this is a good starting point, and a starting point it is. This is just the first iteration of the bill, and it is expected to change as it makes its way through the Ways and Means Committee onto the floor. Once on the floor, it is easy to see more amendments added to garner the votes for passage. But, the good news is, at least we have a starting point.
Printus LeBlanc is a contributing editor for Americans for Limited Government

Tags: Printus LeBlanc, Americans for Limited Government, GOP , Releases A Tax Plan To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Five Fascist Things

by Paul Jacob, Contributing Author: Mass protests have been planned for this Saturday in many major cities across the country. “On November 4, 2017,” says the Refuse Fascism website:Take To The Streets And Public Squares in cities and towns across the country continuing day after day and night after night — not stopping — until our DEMAND is met:

This Nightmare Must End:

The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!

In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America!
The group took out a full-page ad in the New York Times, repeating all that along with the ominous “Nov 4 • It Begins.”

Now, I am against fascism. You may have noticed that . . . reading between the lines. I’m for limited government, a classical liberal, a modern libertarian. Fascism arose in no small part as a replacement for liberalism, which fascists scorned for not promoting activist government.

And though I’m not gung-ho about President Trump, I do not see much fascism coming from the White House. I challenge tomorrow’s protesters to name five fascist things* the new president has done . . . that the previous president had not also done.

And then, I ask, what practical way could you oppose these putatively fascist things without taking to everybody’s streets until you get your way?

Also, please keep non-violent, as promised. When protesters become rioters, bad things happen — including conjuring up greater authoritarian sentiment from some.

That reaction may not be fascism. But it wouldn’t be good.**

And, on the right: don’t welcome civil war, as some have already done.

Do you want to see blood running in the streets? I sure don’t.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

* Or four? Three? Two? One? Remember, we are talking about new fascism.
** Alas, everything bad in this world is not automatically fascism.

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. Jacobs is a contributing author on the ARRA News Service.

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Yesterday's Senate Confirmation of Justices and Ambassadors

ARRA News Service: Yesterday, the U.S. Senate moved out on confirming numerous nominations by President Trup.

Approvedvia Roll Call Votes:
  • Allison H. Eid, of Colorado, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Tenth Circuit. Confirmed. (56-41)
  • Stephanos Bibas, of Pennsylvania, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Third Circuit. Confirmed. (53-43)
Approved/ Confirmed Via Executive Session:
  • Cal. #409 - Peter Henry Barlerin, of Colorado, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador of the United States of America to the Republic of Cameroon.
  • Cal. #410 - Kathleen M. Fitzpatrick, of the District of Columbia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador of the United States of America to the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.
  • Cal. #411 - Michael James Dodman, of New York, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador of the United States of America to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania.
  • Cal. #414 - Michele Jeanne Sison, of Maryland, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career Minister, to be Ambassador of the United States of America to the Republic of Haiti.
  • Cal. #415 - Jamie McCourt, of California, to be Ambassador of the United States of America to the French Republic, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador of the United States of America to the Principality of Monaco.
  • Cal. #416 - Richard Duke Buchan III, of Florida, to be Ambassador of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Spain, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador of the United States of America to Andorra.
  • Cal. #417 - Larry Edward Andre, Jr., of Texas, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador of the United States of America to the Republic of Djibouti.
  • Cal. #418 - Thomas L. Carter, of South Carolina, for the rank of Ambassador during his tenure of service as Representative of the United States of America on the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization.
  • Cal. #419 - Nina Maria Fite, of Pennsylvania, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador of the United States of America to the Republic of Angola.
  • Cal. #420 - Daniel L. Foote, of New York, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador of the United States of America to the Republic of Zambia.
  • Cal. #422 - Kenneth Ian Juster, of New York, to be Ambassador of the United States of America to the Republic of India.
  • Cal. #423 - W. Robert Kohorst, of California, to be Ambassador of the United States of America to the Republic of Croatia.
  • Cal. #424 - Edward T. McMullen, Jr., of South Carolina, to be Ambassador of the United States of America to the Swiss Confederation, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador of the United States of America to the Principality of Liechtenstein.
  • Cal. #425 - David Dale Reimer, of Ohio, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador of the United States of America to the Republic of Mauritius, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador of the United States of America to the Republic of Seychelles.
  • Cal. #426 - Eric P. Whitaker, of Illinois, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador of the United States of America to the Republic of Niger.
  • Cal. #427 - Carla Sands, of California, to be Ambassador of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Denmark.
  • Cal. #429 - Michael T. Evanoff, of Arkansas, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Diplomatic Security).
  • Cal. #431 - Manisha Singh, of Florida, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Economic and Business Affairs).
  • Cal. #378 - Kyle Fortson, of the District of Columbia, to be a Member of the National Mediation Board for a term expiring July 1, 2019.
  • Cal. #380 - Gerald W. Fauth, of Virginia, to be a Member of the National Mediation Board for a term expiring July 1, 2020.
  • Cal. #385 - Linda A. Puchala, of Maryland, to be a Member of the National Mediation Board for a term expiring July 1, 2018. (Reappointment)
  • Cal. #295 - Paul Dabbar, of New York, to be Under Secretary for Science, Department of Energy.
  • Cal. #296 - Mark Wesley Menezes, of Virginia, to be Under Secretary of Energy.
  • Cal. #323 – Richard Glick, of Virginia, to be a Member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the term expiring June 30, 2022.
  • Cal. #324 – Kevin J. McIntyre, of Virginia, to be a Member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the remainder of the term expiring June 30, 2018.
  • Cal. #325 – Kevin J. McIntyre, of Virginia, to be a Member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the term expiring June 30, 2023. (Reappointment)
  • Cal. #361 - Steven E. Winberg, of Pennsylvania, to be an Assistant Secretary of Energy (Fossil Energy)

Tags: U.S. Senate, Confirmations, Justices, Ambassadors To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Second Amendment Foundation Blasts Anti-Gun Comments Following NYC Terror Attack

by Tom Knighton: The Second Amendment Foundation took issue with anti-gun activists following the New York City terrorist attack on Halloween. The problem isn’t so much what they’ve said. It’s more what they haven’t said.

You see, they haven’t said anything.

From a press release from the SAF:
With at least eight people dead and more injured in a truck attack in New York City, the Second Amendment Foundation today condemned the hypocrisy of anti-gunners for remaining silent because the suspect did not use a firearm to create mayhem.

“When are the gun control zealots going to admit that the problem we’re facing isn’t guns, it’s violence,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “While most Americans are alarmed and saddened by Tuesday’s horrible events, the gun control crowd, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, hasn’t immediately started screaming about ‘truck violence’ or ‘truck control.’

“Only when a firearm is used do these extremists focus on the weapon,” he continued. “Nobody’s talking about banning trucks. There hasn’t been a rush to the microphones to demand background checks for people who drive pickups. But if a gun had been this madman’s weapon of choice, you would already be hearing shouts for more restrictions on the Second Amendment.”

“Police shot the suspect and he is now in custody. He left a trail of broken bodies in his path before law enforcement managed to take him down…with a gun,” Gottlieb noted.

“Our hearts and prayers are with the victims and their families,” Gottlieb said. “And our hope is that in the midst of this madness, people can come together and understand that you cannot blame the tool. It’s the black heart of the individual who commits such a heinous act.

“Tens of millions of law-abiding Americans use firearms responsibly every day,” he observed, “and they also drive along our highways, city streets and county roads without harming a soul. Their driving privileges are never threatened when some lunatic runs over a crowd of people, but let one criminal commit a crime with a gun, and suddenly all of us are slandered.

“The problem isn’t gun violence or truck violence,” he said. “The problem is violence, and we’ve got to deal with this problem together.”
Gottlieb has a very valid point.

It’s even more valid when you remember that driving is not considered a constitutionally protected right, unlike the right to keep and bear arms. This is a protected right that is constantly under assault despite that status.

He’s also right that the issue is violence. That’s always been the issue, not the weapon used. As has been noted after mass casualty attacks before, the presence or lack of a gun doesn’t have anything to do with whether an attack can happen. In October, we at Bearing Arms reported on three mass attacks. The one in Las Vegas was massive, but on October 18, we noted an attack in Maryland. In that attack, the gunman shot and killed three people. He had a gun and killed three. Three other people were wounded.

In New York City, the terrorist had a truck and killed eight. That’s five more dead than in Maryland, and only two fewer than at the Umpqua Community College shooting in 2015. None of this was even close to the horrors of the Bastille Day attack in Nice last year. That attack also used a truck yet was more deadly than the Las Vegas shooting.

While anti-gun crusaders are heading out to weaken our ability to defend ourselves against the predators in this world, they routinely ignore the reality that violence can come in many forms and can be even more deadly without a firearm. If you want to make the world safer, stop focusing on the weapons used and start addressing the roots of various types of violence.

But then again, that wouldn’t give them quite the opportunity to tell us all how we should be living our lives. Go figure.
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 and contributes to PJ Media.

Tags: Tom Knighton, Bearing Arms, New York City, New York, Terrorist Attack, Second Amendment Foundation, Terrorist Attack To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Florida Man Has Fender Bender In Manhattan

by Ann Coulter: A man in a Home Depot truck deliberately drove into a bike path in lower Manhattan on Tuesday, mowing down cyclists and pedestrians, crashed into a school bus, then fled the truck, brandishing fake guns and shouting "Allahu akbar!" He was shot by a policeman and taken to the hospital. At least eight people were left dead and many more injured.

Those are the facts, but facts don't matter. In cases like this, what counts is the spin. The post-Islamic-attack commentary goes more like this ...

So far, the only concrete information we have about the driver is that he was a lone attacker, he is from Florida, and he has recently been living in New Jersey.

In the bubble of your white-skinned privilege, I know you badly wanted this to be a dark-skinned person, a foreigner -- the "other" -- but you're just going to have to accept the fact that the driver was a guy from Florida. Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov -- just another homegrown terrorist.

Going forward, our most urgent task as a country is to figure out how to defeat Islamophobia. I plan to spend the rest of the week shaming Islamophobes on Twitter and Facebook.

For clarity, immediately after the incident, sources inside the New York Police Department debunked the "terrorism" narrative, saying that it was an incident of road rage between two truck drivers. At a press conference hours later, Police Commissioner James O'Neill refused to confirm whether the suspect had shouted "Allahu akbar" and declined to state the attacker's name or nationality.

I don't know why, since he's from Florida. But the bigotry of Islamophobia doesn't always pay attention to details.

Contrary to the toxic delusions of Faux News hosts, white men are a BIGGER domestic terrorist threat than Muslim foreigners.

Here's a recent tally:

Fort Hood massacre, Nov. 5, 2009: Nidal Malik Hasan -- VIRGINIA MAN

Boston Marathon bombing, April 15, 2013: Tamerlan Anzorovich Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Anzorovich Tsarnaev -- MASSACHUSETTS MEN

San Bernardino slaughter, Dec. 2, 2015: Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik -- ILLINOIS MAN (AND WIFE)

Pulse nightclub massacre, June 12, 2016: Omar Mir Seddique -- NEW YORK MAN

Ohio State car and knife attack, Nov. 28, 2016: Abdul Razak Ali Artan -- OHIO MAN

Charlottesville car attack, Aug. 12, 2017: James Alex Fields Jr. -- OHIO MAN

Oops, no! I mean: WHITE SUPREMACIST, ALT-RIGHT NEO-NAZI James Alex Fields Jr.

Manhattan truck attack, Oct. 31, 2017: Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov -- FLORIDA MAN

Although some of these assailants were born elsewhere, "extreme vetting" is not only racist, but most important, it doesn't work. An intelligence assessment by the Department of Homeland Security in March of this year found that most foreign-born U.S. terrorists become "radicalized" only after living in America for a number of years. Traditional masculinity, whiteness and heteronormativity are the root causes of terrorism.

Chillingly, Tuesday's attack was predicted by an ad released just a day earlier against Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie. The ad, produced by the Latino Victory Fund, shows a white man in a pickup truck with a Confederate flag and a Gillespie campaign sticker chasing down innocent Hispanic and Muslim children.

We don't yet know if all the victims of Tuesday's attack were Mexican children.

The truth is, we are, as Phil Donahue used to say, a deeply racist society. If the perpetrator -- again, Florida man Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov -- was a person of color, this just proves it. Sayfullo was probably so ground down by Islamophobia that he felt the only option left to him was the event in lower Manhattan. This incident encapsulates the breadth of the battle against racism we have to fight every day in this country.

Perhaps Sayfullo could be faulted for blocking the bikers' lane, but the rest was the natural reaction to a society where, night after night, Fox News hosts indoctrinate viewers in irrational hatred toward "Islamic extremism."

Since announcing his candidacy, Donald Trump has done very little to make Muslims feel their space is safe. Immediately after the election, the Southern Poverty Law Center documented 140,849 reports of hijabs being ripped off marginalized Muslim women on college campuses across the nation.

Ironically, Trump wants to end the very "diversity lottery" that allowed Sayfullo to come to this country in the first place! The LAST thing we want to do is alienate members of this community. We need more members of the community to come here, so they can warn us about other members of their community.

New York's bad-ass governor, Andrew Cuomo, said it best: NEW YORKERS WILL NOT BE INTIMIDATED. Ordinary people who don't have security guards will have to learn to live with the occasional "terrorist attack." True patriotism is having faith in this country's ability to respond creatively, with extra airport screening, bollards, closed circuit cameras, check points, heavy policing and fewer public events.

If we truly, as a country, are committed to the American ideal of justice and equality for all, we can't wait until a crisis happens to build bridges, educate, counteract false narratives and foster peace.

I want to believe that a massive re-education program about white privilege would work. But at this point, we might have sunk too deep into our own Eurocentric entitlement for white people to begin to unpack their privilege.

What I would really like to have, but despair of ever having, is an honest conversation about race, requiring white Americans to sit down and patiently listen to hours and hours of angry denunciations of their privilege.

Perhaps the Latino Victory Fund could lead it.

But unfortunately, we are a nation of cowards. I know it takes balls to say that, but, like Gov. Cuomo, I am all balls.
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 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, Florida Man, Has Fender Bender, murders, Manhattan, satire To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Tax Reform and Relief Task Force Recommendations

Brenda Vassaur Taylor, JD, LLM (Taxation): It is the objective of Conduit for Commerce (CFC) to offer to the Tax Reform and Relief Legislative Task Force recommendations for legislative changes which, not only reduce the size of government and therefore increase economic freedom for all Arkansans, but also:
  • Modernize and simplify the Arkansas tax code;
  • Make the Arkansas tax laws competitive with other states in order to attract businesses to the State;
  • Create jobs within the State; and
  • Ensure fairness to all individuals and entities impacted by the tax laws of the State of Arkansas. Act 78 of 2017 Tax Reform and Relief Act of 2017
(Note: These recommendations come from experienced Arkansas tax attorneys, certified public accountants, economists, and small Arkansas manufacturers who live and work in Arkansas.)
How Can Arkansas Afford to Cut Taxes?

Before we can have tax reform in Arkansas, it is absolutely necessary that we recognize that in Arkansas, we simply budget and spend all we take in.  Therefore, in Arkansas, as a direct result of the Revenue Stabilization Act (RSA 1945), the levelof government spending in Arkansas is directly determined by the tax system not the budget process.

While we appreciate that the RSA requires that we balance the budget, under the current A, B, C priority budgeting system, the legislature, with help, designs an annual budget that always “cries for more money.”  Under this system, as state dollars come in, “needs” are met (priority A), next the “wants” (priority B) are funded, and in good years the “wish list” (priority C) is filled.  Surpluses are also dumped into “rainy day funds” or the now unconstitutional “general improvement fund”—guaranteeing all annual revenues are spent.

The fact that the tax system determines revenues as well as spending was illustrated in a recent answer by the Arkansas Bureau of Legislative Research in its RFP No. BLR-170002- Q1 to a prospective tax policy consulting firm with the response that the tax task force with the assistance of its chosen Consultant will determine the amount of revenue that the state needs to raise for public service.

In Arkansas, the partnership of the RSA with those seeking more government solutions means there is no “getting spending under control” in our state as echoed at the Federal level.

It is merely a question of

“how much do the people of Arkansas want to pay for government?”

The authors of a recent research paper sponsored by Mercatus Center, George Mason University expressed this fact in the following terms:

“Taxes are the “tail that wags the dog” in Arkansas budgeting.  If taxes are raised, government spending is guaranteed to go up.  If taxes are cut, spending is guaranteed to go down. The level of spending is set by the tax system itself. Understanding this fact is crucial to understanding why government spending has increased in Arkansas.  …[I]n large partthe absolute size of Arkansas’s spending is determined by the tax system”.Therefore, if you want spending reduced in Arkansas, if you want smaller government, you simply cut taxes!

1 - What We Pay & Can Afford: So if spending is too high, how much do we pay in taxes?

Again, citing the Mercatus report,

“Arkansas uses all the major tax instruments available to states, including income, sales, and property taxes, while some of Arkansas’s neighbors do not have certain taxes (notably, Tennessee and Texas have no personal income tax).

The overall state-and-local tax burden—10.1 percent—is the highest among the competitor states, and it is the 17th highest in the nation.

Arkansas has the second-highest average state-and-local sales tax rate, at 9.3 percent. The top marginal state income tax rate is 6.9 percent, the second highest among our competitor states …, and two border states have no individual income tax (Texas and Tennessee).

The corporate tax rate is also the second highest among Arkansas’s competitor states, at 6.5 percent…  All these data points show that taxes are high in Arkansas compared with border and competitor states, and even compared with the nation in some cases.
It took BLR, 192 pages to summarize all 10 categories of taxes in Arkansas for the legislature in October 2016 in its bi-annual preparation for the general session.

These also include the regulator taxes and fees not mentioned by Mercatus.  It includes not so visible taxes like the 2.5 percent tax on insurance premiums which yielded over $169 million, a 43% increase in receipts from the previous year (FYE June 30, 2015.)  (It is also worth noting—insurance companies like all big corporations do not pay taxes—they simply pass on the cost of the tax to the consumer—i.e. the 19.3% increase in insurance premiums recently announced by Arkansas BCBS starting January 2018.)

The Mercatus report also cites comparisons showing Arkansas spending per capita at $7,674 as the highest spending per capita among the boarder and comparable states.

“Arkansas spends almost 24 percent more per capita than the state with the next-highest spending, Mississippi. On average, Arkansas spends over 59 percent more than its competitor states, which spend an average of $4,815 per capita.Removing federal government spending,Arkansas still has by far the highest state government spending compared with the competitor states. The amounts for other very poor states, such as Mississippi, do drop significantly …., but Arkansas remains at the top. The full group of competitor states spends on average $3,192 per capita, and Arkansas spends almost 72 percent more, at $5,481.”
Spending may be acceptable if one can afford it (and it gets you where you want to be!)  But Arkansas's gross domestic product (GDP) per capita trails the national average of $55,295 in 2015 and ranks among the lowest compared to its peers.

“In 2015, Arkansas’s per capita GDP of $41,299 trailed the per capita GDP of Texas, Louisiana, Missouri, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Florida, but exceeded the per capita GDP of Mississippi (Figure 1a). Each state in the region except Texas is below the national average.” Tax FoundationThe high overall state spending in Arkansas is most notable for such a poor state!  It is time to let the people take charge of their own money to seek a better outcome.

2 - Specifics Reforms: What changes are needed? CAVEAT:  One must clearly understand that in no way should legislators consider broadening the tax base or elimination of exemptions unless and until tax rates are significantly cut. Waiting to cut rates while broadening the tax base and eliminating exemptions is simply a tax increase.

Corporate Tax Reform:

Totally Eliminate the Corporate Income Tax.
  • This income stream is the most volatile and is in fact double taxation passed on to the consumer.
  • The state already recognizes reducing taxes on companies increases economic development when it regularly choses certain companies for give tax give a-ways.
  • Pair this with a complete repeal of corporate welfare spending programs which include state and local tax incentives.
  • Corporate Welfare picks winners and losers, distorts the economy, and shifts current businesses tax dollars to competing companies. BLATENTLY UNFAIR!!
  • End the Corporate Welfare Quick Action Closing Fund Tax Incentive Program.
  • Repeal Corporate Welfare Tax Subsidies including: Create Rebate, ArkPlus, Equity Investment Tax Incentives, Research and Development Credits, and Advantage Arkansas.
  • This will also allow local taxing authorities to keep more tax dollars.
Eliminate the Corporate Franchise Tax.
  • Stifles growth in business creation in Arkansas
  • If necessary increase the initial filing fee when creating the entity to offset some lost revenue
Eliminate Sales Tax on Inventories
  • Improves competitiveness with other state
Individual Income Tax Reform
  • Individual Income Tax Rates Reduction and Simplify the Schedules to a single, flat rate of no greater than 4.9%.
  • Continue the current low-income exemptions and deductions
  • For pass-through business filers, allow complete expensing in year of purchase rather than depreciation
  • AR residents will likely lose the state and local tax deductions at the federal level which is basically a tax increase on AR residents.  This should be an added deduction on the state level in order to compensate for the increase in tax at the federal level.
  • Extend the number of years for a carryforward of a Net Operating Loss (NOL)
  • Allow for a carryback for a NOL
  • Freeze spending at last year’s level, and implement automatic triggers for rate reductions to be implement for the individual income tax rate reductions over no more than a three-year period as revenue grows.
Reforms to Avoid:
  • Eliminating exemptions without first significantly reducing rates.
  • Broadening the tax base without first significantly reducing rates.
  • Reforms that do not lead to a reduced amount of money going to Government.
  • An Internet Sales Tax or Gas Tax Increase.
Offer to augment tax reform:

Government Spending Reform
  • Recommend a Proposed Constitutional Amendment for a Tax-Expenditure Limit to Contain Government Growth.
  • Tie the limit to the growth in inflation plus population growth.
  • Include a tax rebate mechanism automatically triggered at certain thresholds to return revenue collected above the spending limit.
  • A proposal like Colorado’s TABOR (Taxpayer Bill of Rights) should be considered.
Government Efficiencies Reform
  • Implement Performance Based Budgeting
  • Implement Activity Based Cost Accounting
3 - Who agrees with CFC: Below is a list of the most respected and conservative groups and foundations in the state and nation who spend millions developing good economic tax policies.  Guess what!  They all agree with our recommendations. The articles on point are referenced in our footnotes. It is certainly hoped that the members of the tax task force will take the time to build their own knowledge base so that they will have a bench mark to test their own consultant.  It is likely that like most task forces, this one has a pre-determined outcome.  But it is hoped that its members will reconsider, meet the challenge and learn what is at stake. Again, the following are all directly on point with what is discussed under section #2 above:

National Groups
State Groups
Conclusion: It is not a matter of how much we are to spend on government or whether there is a spending problem or a revenue problem The question is — how much do the people of Arkansas want to pay for government services? That is all that determines what is spent in our state.  The current mood in our country has sent a clear message to DC and to Little Rock.  The people want to keep more of their freedoms and more of their own money and want government to have less.  It will be left to another day to discuss the quality of service Arkansans receive for the money now being spent. PDF: Conduit for Commerce Tax Recommendations for Tax Task Force
Brenda Vassaur Taylor, JD, LLM (Taxation) is Co-Founder of Conduit for Commerce which is governed by an independent Board of Directors and is a 501c3 non-profit corporation.

Tags: Brenda Vassaur Taylor, Conduit for Commerce, Arkansas, Tax Reform, Tax Relief, Task Force Recommendations 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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