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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, January 05, 2018

2017: Another Year Millions of Americans Bought Firearms

by NRA-ILA: We, like many of our members, watched the NICS numbers all year. We read – and fact-checked – all of the claims about the “Trump Slump” and the imminent collapse of the entire firearms industry (see here, here, here, here, and this article). Month after month, the narrative around the NICS data framed gun sales as waning because a new record wasn’t set. Bloomberg headlined its latest entry, “Gun Sales in America Drop.” The Chicago Tribune reported that “Holiday gun sales dip after record Black Friday.”

The FBI released the final NICS numbers for 2017. There were 25,235,215 total NICS checks in 2017 – making last year the second busiest year ever for the NICS office. Across all states, territories, and the District of Columbia, there were 7.2 million NICS checks related to handguns (not including private sales, rentals, returned, pre-pawn, or pawn redemption checks); 5.2 million for long guns; just under 400,000 for “other” firearms; and 236,167 checks for multiple purchases. More than 9.9 million Americans initiated a NICS check for a permit last year.

In terms of individual categories of NICS checks, 2017 ranks third for handgun-related NICS checks and second for “other” checks. In terms of total sales-related checks (handgun, long gun, other, and multiple), 2017 was the fourth-busiest year ever. It was also the second busiest year for permit checks.

Interest in defense and the shooting sports clearly remains strong; sure, NICS doesn’t provide a 1:1 proxy for gun sales but the FBI saw more than 13 million sales-related checks and almost 10 million permit checks. That equates to more than twenty-seven thousand permit checks and nearly thirty-six thousand sales-related checks every single day of the year.

Hopefully, we can put the claims of “Trump Slump” and of the demise of the firearms industry to rest along with the year 2017. The continued strong NICS numbers all year indicate that Americans’ interest in defending themselves and their families, and their interest in the shooting sports, is not dependent on the occupant of the White House. We fully expect the firearms industry to continue to support the passions shared by millions of law-abiding Americans throughout 2018.

Tags: NRA-ILA, 2017, millions of Americans, bought fFirearms, guns, purchased, firearms sales, backgound checks, NICS, Trump Administration To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

President Trump is Right – We Need Welfare Reform

by Newt Gingrich: The Trump economy is strong. The stock market is at record highs and the unemployment rate is at a 17-year low. This is thanks largely to the Trump Administration’s aggressive regulatory reforms and the passage of historic tax cuts. Business after business is celebrating the passage of Tax Cuts and Jobs Act by announcing new investments, bonuses, and pay raises.

But despite soaring business confidence and a strong economy, businesses are scrambling to find workers to fill 6 million open jobs. And now, their primary challenge is to get people who have been sitting on the sidelines back to work.

President Trump knows our broken welfare system is a major barrier to achieving this goal, and he has vowed to tackle welfare reform next. And it’s a good thing, because welfare definitely is, as the President put it, “out of control.”

In 2000, over 17 million Americans received food stamps, officially known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. That number has swelled to more than 2 million today. As a result of Obama Administration’s policies, the number of Americans on food stamps is now greater than the population of Canada.

Nationwide spending on the program is roughly $70 billion annually — 20 percent of which is wasted on junk food, candy, soda, and other sugary drinks. Consider California, which spent more than $1 billion on food stamp benefits in August and September alone.

During the Obama years, liberals argued that the program was expanding rapidly due to the recession. But that was only half the story, as the Obama Administration also expanded program eligibility through aggressive administrative actions.

And now, despite the booming economy and employers who are desperate for more workers, enrollment in food stamps remains high — and is not expected to return to pre-recession levels any time soon, if ever.

The good news is that President Trump has a chance to take on food stamps in the upcoming Farm Bill, which funds the program and is reauthorized every five years. The bad news is that unfortunately, the food stamp program is not the only runaway welfare program.

Medicaid enrollment has soared to nearly 75 million, with almost one out of every five Americans on the program. Medicaid spending is now 30 percent of state budgets, and the number of working age, able-bodied adults on the program has more than quadrupled since 2000. Even worse, 52 percent of non-disabled adult enrollees do not work at all. Let me repeat, these are able-bodied Americans who have decided not to work.

Similarly, Social Security Disability for working-age adults nearly doubled from 1996 to 2015, increasing from 7.7 million to 13 million and pulling more working-age adults out of the workforce. Are we to believe, with all of our workplace safety and health care advancements in the past 20 years, that Americans are now nearly twice as likely to become disabled as they were two decades ago? Or are there simply now more people collecting disability who are actually fully capable of working?

This is why President Trump’s plan to tackle welfare reform is so important. With no major federal welfare reform in over 20 years, these programs have continued to consume more public funds and encourage more Americans to seek dependency, rather than a productive work life.

When we worked with President Clinton to pass welfare reform in 1996, it helped drive the boom of the late 1990s. The welfare rolls shrunk by 60 percent nationwide and low-income families formerly on welfare went to work and saw their incomes increase by 25 percent. As a result, child poverty rates fell every year through 2000. In fact, it was the largest improvement in children leaving poverty in American history.

To do this again, we must get people back to work. One of the reasons that Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash welfare dependency hasn’t grown out of control, while enrollment in other welfare programs has dramatically increased, is that TANF has a work requirement and a time limit. Conversely, the food stamp program has a work requirement for only a narrow segment of adults and has been largely waived, and Medicaid has none at all, although states are now asking that it be added. The Trump Administration’s budget wisely proposes applying work requirements more broadly in the welfare system.

It’s smart because work requirements help lift people out of poverty. Maine and Kansas have shown that work requirements in TANF and food stamps helped people more than double their earnings.

The President should take an all-of-the-above approach to welfare reform. He should pull back on some of the Obama Administration’s overreaches, approve waiver requests, advocate for Congress to reform food stamps in the upcoming Farm Bill, and work with Congress on additional legislation.

Now is not the time for structural entitlement reform of Social Security or Medicare, but there is no better time economically and politically to tackle welfare reform and enable millions of Americans to experience the power of work. There is no more powerful economic force than an American experiencing the dignity of work and pride in a paycheck, earning the admiration of their children and the respect of their community. Let’s unleash it.
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Newt Gingrich is a former Georgia Congressman and Speaker of the U.S. House. He co-authored and was the chief architect of the "Contract with America" and a major leader in the Republican victory in the 1994 congressional elections. He is noted speaker and writer. The above commentary was shared via Gingrich Productions.

Tags: Newt Gingrich, commentary, President Trump, Welfare Reform To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Rand Paul Calls for Ending Foreign Aid to Countries That Threaten Us

by Tom Knighton: Foreign aid eats up a surprising amount of our federal budget. While our nation slides deeper and deeper into debt, we continue to hand out cash to other nations.

Often it's in our best interests, like when we give money and defensive weapons to Ukraine, which is under constant threat from Vladimir Putin. We can understand that. We may actually need that military beefed up, after all.

But all too often we give money to nations that would love to see us burn. That's why Rand Paul's recent call to end that practice seems to make just too much sense.

"I would take the money that we send to a lot of countries that aren’t necessarily our friends like Pakistan, I would redirect that money into building roads and bridges here," Paul argued on Fox and Friends. He added, "I have a bill that I will introduce next week that will take the about $2 billion we spend in Pakistan, let’s spend it in the United States. … Let’s don’t give it to people who hate us and burn our flag and chant: ‘Death to America.'"

It's a radical idea, right?

For far too long, the United States has handed money to countries that despise us. I can't help but feel like the big kid in school who is letting himself be pushed around by a shrimp of a bully just because he doesn't want to fight. Only instead of handing over our lunch money, we're handing over billions to the little psychopath.

Paul isn't calling for an end to all ties with Pakistan, though. "We can still have military arraignments with them, but I’d like to see somebody who actually has money to buy our stuff, rather than give it to them. We give everything to Pakistan," he argues.

Honestly, how is this not already a widely known policy, just like "the United States government does not negotiate with terrorists"?

Why can't the whole world also quote "the United States government does not aid those who threaten to harm us"?

I do disagree with Paul's idea to redirect that money. The U.S. government should not have had that cash in the first place -- it must either use it to pay down debt, or return it to the taxpayer. But handing over billions in taxpayer cash or taxpayer-purchased equipment to governments that threaten to murder the taxpayer is morally wrong.

Look at Pakistan. We gave them aid in return for the expectation that Pakistan would behave as an ally. They aren't behaving as an ally, so Paul's bill is pretty much common sense. Of course, in the swamp, common sense is often the death of an idea.

"The United States government does not aid those who threaten to harm us." Let's see if Trump establishes Paul's principle.
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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, Pj Media, Senator Rand Paul, Calls for Ending, Foreign Aid, Countries That Threaten US To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Black Unemployment Rate Lowest in 45 Years

by Michael W. Chapman: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the national unemployment rate for black workers, 16 years and over, was 6.8% in December, making it the lowest unemployment rate for blacks since 1972 -- 45 years ago.

It may be the lowest rate for an even longer period of time as the BLS numbers only go back to January 1972, when the national unemployment rate for black workers was 11.2%.

In other words, black unemployment in the United States is probably the lowest it has been in 50 years, half a century.

Here are the data by month and year from the BLS:
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Michael Chapman joined CNSNews.com in 2007. He has worked as a writer for several publications. CNSNews is part of nonprofit Media Research Center (MRC) which has been a premier media watchdog.

Tags: Michael Chapman, CNS News, Black Unemployment Rate, 6.8%, Lowest in 45 Years 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: More Money In Your Pocket

Growing List Of Growing List Of Employees Receiving Bonuses & Wage Hikes

AMERICAN AIRLINES GROUP & SOUTHWEST AIRLINES: “No. 1 U.S. airline American Airlines Group Inc … and peer Southwest Airlines Co … on Tuesday said they would give their employees a $1,000 bonus in light of the recent tax reform bill.” (“American Airlines, Southwest Employees To Get Bonus After Tax Reform,” Reuters, 1/2/2018)
AFLAC: “…as a result of the recent tax reforms enacted by Congress and signed into law by the president, it intends to invest in several key areas… Effective in 2018, Aflac makes the following commitment to our U.S. workforce: 1. Increase the company’s 401(k) match, from 50% to 100% on the first 4% of employee contribution, while making a one-time contribution of $500 to every employee’s 401(k) plan.” (Aflac, Press Release, 12/28/2017)

ALASKA AIRLINES: “Alaska Air Group said Thursday it has approved special one-time bonuses of $1,000 each for its 22,000 workers after Congress approved the Trump administration's corporate tax cut package. The money will be paid out to employees who work for Alaska Airlines as well as staff at its Virgin America, Horizon Air and McGee Air Services affiliates in Seattle and in other cities in the Pacific Northwest, Alaska and elsewhere across the United States, Alaska spokesman Bryan Zidar said. ‘Over the last couple of weeks, we've been assessing the significance of the new tax law,’ Zidar said. ‘We are sharing this unexpected benefit with our employees.’ The $1,000 is in addition to the annual performance bonuses the nation's fifth largest airline pays out to its workers every January. The bonuses will be shared with workers on Jan. 26, the company said.” (“Alaska Air Group Awards $1,000 Bonuses To Workers After Trump Tax Cut,” Puget Sound Business Journal, 1/4/2018)

AT&T: “AT&T Is Giving $1,000 Bonuses To 200,000 Employees After Tax Bill:> AT&T was quick to respond to news of U.S. tax reform, announcing it would give some employees bonuses once the legislation is signed into law. The telecom giant said in a press release Wednesday that it would give more than 200,000 U.S. union members a special bonus of $1,000. The company also increased its capital expenditures budget by $1 billion in the U.S. ‘Congress, working closely with the President, took a monumental step to bring taxes paid by U.S. businesses in line with the rest of the industrialized world,’ CEO Randall Stephenson said in a statement. ‘This tax reform will drive economic growth and create good-paying jobs. In fact, we will increase our U.S. investment and pay a special bonus to our U.S. employees.’” (“AT&T Is Giving $1,000 Bonuses To 200,000 Employees After Tax Bill,” CNBC, 12/20/2017)

BB&T CORP.: “Nearly three-fourths of BB&T Corp.’s employees will get a one-time $1,200 bonus in January as part of the bank’s response to the corporate tax rate cut signed into law Friday by President Donald Trump. … About 27,000 BB&T employees will receive the bonus. ... The bank had 37,189 employees as of Sept. 30, according to a regulatory filing. The bank also will raise its minimum hourly wage to $15 from $12 on Jan. 1, as well as provide $100 million to the bank’s philanthropic fund.” (“Banks Plan Bonuses, Wage Increases As A Result Of Tax Reform,” Martinsville Bulletin, 12/26/2017)

BANK OF AMERICA: “Bank of America will give some of its employees a $1,000 bonus, citing the tax bill that was just signed into law. ‘Beginning in 2018, we will see benefits from the tax reform ... in the form of lower corporate tax rates,’ CEO Brian Moynihan said in an internal memo to employees obtained by CNBC. He also said that about 145,000 employees will receive the bonus.” (“Bank Of America Is Giving Some Employees A $1,000 Bonus, Citing Tax Bill,” CNBC, 12/22/2017)

BOEING: “Boeing Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg praised the tax bill passed by Congress and about to be signed into law as a critical driver of business, economic growth and innovation for the United States and for Boeing …. While Boeing is still studying all of the provisions of the new legislation, Muilenburg announced immediate commitments for an additional $300 million in investments that will move forward as a result of the new tax law:
  • $100 million for corporate giving, with funds used to support demand for employee gift-match programs and for investments in Boeing's focus areas for charitable giving: in education, in our communities, and for veterans and military personnel.
  • $100 million for workforce development in the form of training, education, and other capabilities development to meet the scale needed for rapidly evolving technologies and expanding markets.
  • $100 million for ‘workplace of the future’ facilities and infrastructure enhancements for Boeing employees.” (Boeing, Press Release, 12/20/2017)
COMCAST: “Based on the passage of tax reform and the FCC's action on broadband, Brian L. Roberts, Chairman and CEO of Comcast NBCUniversal, announced that the Company would award special $1,000 bonuses to more than one hundred thousand eligible frontline and non-executive employees. Roberts also announced that the Company expects to spend well in excess of $50 billion over the next five years investing in infrastructure to radically improve and extend our broadband plant and capacity, and our television, film and theme park offerings. With these investments, we expect to add thousands of new direct and indirect jobs.” (Comcast, Press Release, 12/20/2017)

CVS: “CVS Health: Pledge to hire 3,000 more workers…. CVS Health announced in October it would create 3,000 permanent jobs if corporate tax rates went down. CFO David Denton said in November: “To the degree that we have [tax] relief, there’s a lot of investments that we think we can make within our business model that can more rapidly expand our business model across the country and deliver better care and higher quality and lower cost. So we would look to take the benefit of that and invest it clearly.” (“America’s 20 Largest Companies On Tax Reform,” The Washington Post, 12/20/2017)

FIFTH THIRD BANK: “Fifth Third Bancorp will pay more than 13,500 employees a bonus and raise the minimum wage for its workforce to $15 after the passage of the Republican tax plan that will cut the bank's corporate tax rate.” (“Wells Fargo, Fifth Third Bancorp Unveil Minimum Wage Hikes After Tax Bill Passage,” CNBC, 12/20/2017)
  • “Some 16 employees of the three Lakeland branches of Fifth Third Bank found out soon after the law passed that they and the company’s 13,500 full-time employees nationwide would get a $1,000 bonus stemming from approval of the new law. The bonuses arrived Friday. … Toshiko ‘Tee’ Threatt-Monroe, the lead customer-service representative at Fifth Third’s Lakeland branch at 435 S. Combee Road, said she heard rumors of a bonus but didn’t believe it until the company announced it in an email on Dec. 22, three days after the tax bill passed. The announcement excited the entire office, she said. ‘I was excited as well,’ Threatt-Monroe said. ‘I read the email and said to myself, “Oh my God, this is actually happening.”’ (“New Tax Law A Net Plus For Polk Businesses,” The Ledger, 1/2/2018)
FIRST HORIZON NATIONAL CORP: “Following a year of impressive performance by First Horizon National Corp. … and in connection with recent tax reform efforts, First Horizon is offering bonuses to employees. First Horizon will distribute $1,000 bonuses to eligible employees in January. … First Horizon’s merger with Capital Bank, which closed on Nov. 30, created the fourth largest regional bank in the Southeast with approximately $40 billion in assets, $32 billion in deposits, $27 billion in loans and 350 branches in Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Mississippi, Georgia, Texas and Virginia.” (First Horizon National Corp., Press Release, 12/22/2017)

NATIONWIDE INSURANCE: “Employees of Nationwide Insurance found out Wednesday they’ll be seeing a big bonus and an increase in 401(k) matching from the company. In an email sent to employees, the company announced it will provide bonuses of $1,000 and increase 401(k) matching from 50 percent on the first 6 percent of employee contribution to 50 percent on the first 7 percent of employee contribution. The company said in a statement the one-time bonus impacts approximately 29,000 front-line associates, managers and individual contributors across the country. The 401(k) action impacts approximately 33,000 associates.” (“Nationwide Gives Big Bonuses, Credits Tax Reform,” KCCI8, 1/3/2018)

PNC BANK: “PNC Financial Services Group announced today it would be investing in its employees with cash, retirement fund cash and an increase in minimum pay following today’s signing of the tax reform bill. The company said it will provide an additional $1000 cash payment to 47,500 employees and $1,500 to their existing pension accounts. The cash payment to 47,500 employees was estimated to reach 90% of PNC employees…. PNC Financial Services said they will raise the minimum pay rate to $15-an-hour by the end of 2018.” (“PNC Bank Announces Employee Cash bonuses After Tax Reform Bill,” CBS Pittsburgh, 12/22/2017)

RUSH ENTERPRISES: “Rush Enterprises, Inc., which operates the largest network of commercial vehicle dealerships in North America, today announced that as a result of recent tax reform legislation, it will provide a one-time $1,000 gift to its approximately 6,600 employees in the United States. ‘We believe tax reform to be beneficial for Rush Enterprises, our communities and overall economic growth,’ said W.M. ‘Rusty’ Rush, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President of Rush Enterprises, Inc.  ‘We are happy to take this step to invest in our employees and honor their important contributions to our company with this $1,000 gift,’ he added. The $1,000 discretionary bonus will be paid to all Rush Enterprises, Inc. employees …” (Rush Enterprises, Press Release, 12/21/2017)

SINCLAIR BROADCASTING: “Sinclair Broadcast Group announced Friday it will pay a one-time $1,000 bonus to nearly 9,000 of its employees as a result of the recent tax reform bill's passage in Washington. The special bonus will go to both full and part-time employees …” (“Sinclair Broadcast Says It Will Pay Special $1,000 Tax Reform Bonus To Almost 9,000 Employees,” CNBC, 12/22/2017)

SUNTRUST BANK: “Atlanta-based SunTrust Banks Inc. already has plans to capitalize on the recent tax reforms enacted by Congress and President Donald Trump…. SunTrust noted it has made the following commitments: $50 million in additional community grants to national and local financial well-being efforts; Minimum wage increase to $15 per hour; Merit base pay increases for certain other hourly teammates (about 20 percent of workforce); A one percent 401(k) contribution to retirement savings for all teammates, in addition to the company’s six percent match opportunity …” (“SunTrust CEO: Tax Reform Will Improve Competitiveness Of American Business, Promote Economic Growth,” Atlanta Business Chronicle, 12/28/2017)
U.S. BANCORP: “Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp today announced a $1,000 bonus for nearly 60,000 employees, a new minimum wage of $15 per hour for all hourly employees and a $150 million contribution to the U.S. Bank Foundation. The company also said it would enhance employee health insurance offerings and pour more money into improving customers’ mobile and digital experiences.” (“Banks Continue Post-Tax Reform Wage Increases, Community Investments,” Banking Journal, 1/2/2018)

WELLS FARGO: “Wells Fargo, meanwhile, also said it would be boosting its minimum wage for employees to $15 an hour. The bank also said it would target $400 million in donations to community and nonprofit organizations next year.” (“Wells Fargo, Fifth Third Bancorp Unveil Minimum Wage Hikes After Tax Bill Passage,” CNBC, 12/20/2017)

AAON (Oklahoma / Texas): “Workers at Tulsa-based AAON will celebrate the new year with some extra cash. AAON announced Tuesday that people employed by AAON on Jan. 1, 2018, excluding officers, will receive a $1,000 bonus in recognition of the new tax reform law. AAON, which manufactures industrial and commercial HVAC equipment, employs about 2,000 at facilities in Tulsa and Longview, Texas.” (“Tax Reform Legislation Prompts AAON To Distribute Bonuses,” Tulsa World, 1/3/2018)

ACCUWEATHER (Pennsylvania): “AccuWeather, the world's fastest-growing provider of forecasts and warnings and a global leader in digital media and weather-related big data, today announced it is pleased to be providing special year-end bonuses to all employees. AccuWeather said the bonuses are possible due to the company's robust financial performance in 2017 and strong confidence in the growing U.S. and global economy now that the Tax Bill has passed.” (AccuWeather, Press Release, 12/26/2017)

AMERICAN SAVINGS BANK (Hawaii): “American Savings Bank is … giving bonuses to employees and increasing the minimum wage. The state’s third-largest bank said today it will award $1,000 bonuses to nearly all of its employees, excluding members of its executive team. American Savings, which has 49 branches, said 1,150 employees will receive the bonus on Friday. In addition, the bank said it is increasing its starting wage to $15.25 an hour from $12.21 an hour, effective Jan. 1.” (“American Savings To Give Employees $1K Bonuses, Raise Minimum Wage,” Star Advertiser, 12/23/2017)

ASSOCIATED BANK> (Wisconsin): “Associated Bank said Thursday it will boost its minimum hourly wage to $15 and pay workers a $500 bonus when the recently passed federal tax reform is signed, making it the first major Wisconsin firm to announce it is joining the list of companies saying their employees will directly benefit from the legislation. The Green Bay-based bank, the largest financial institution headquartered in the state, said it will raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour from $10 — a 50% boost — and distribute the one-time bonus to all hourly, non-commissioned employees once the tax legislation is signed into law. The company said the moves would affect about 55% of its workers. Associated has about 4,400 employees, with 3,400 of them in Wisconsin.” (“Associated Bank To Boost Minimum Wage To $15, Pay One-Time Bonuses When Tax Reform Is Signed,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 12/21/2017)

AMERICAN BANK (Pennsylvania): “American Bank Incorporated… the parent company of American Bank, today announced that it will be giving its employees an additional $1,000 bonus, citing the tax bill that was just signed into law.” (American Bank, Press Release, 12/22/2017)

AMERICOLLECT (Wisconsin): “Americollect says employees will get tax reform bonus: A Manitowoc-based company will give its roughly 250 employees a bonus following Congress's passage of the tax reform bill the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. In an email to employees Wednesday, Americollect President and CEO Kenlyn T. Gretz said: ‘Today, Congress passed the tax reform bill; our company will be taxed less because of it. Since we will now be taxed less, I wanted to take this opportunity and utilize this financial benefit to give back to each of you, our teammates, by directly impacting your paycheck in the form of a bonus!’ Gretz said: ‘We find great joy in being able to provide this bonus to the employees, who really are the heart and soul of what we do. Full-time employees can expect to see as much as a $500 bonus come 2019 and even part-time employees will be included.’” (“Manitowoc's Americollect Says Employees Will Get Tax Reform Bonus,” Herald Times, 12/21/2017)

BALL VENTURES (Idaho): “Ball Ventures, a commercial real estate investment and development company, is giving each employee $100 for every year of their employment. ... ‘It was important to me as the CEO to make sure every worker, no matter when they were hired, receive some extra money this Christmas. I gave them their bonuses last Friday before we broke for the holiday so the money could help with any last minute shopping or other needs.’” (“Ball Ventures Announces Bonuses For Employees Due To Tax Bill,” East Idaho News, 12/27/2017)

BANCORPSOUTH BANK (Mississippi): “Tupelo-based BancorpSouth Bank and Renasant Bank are giving increases and bonuses to some of it employees, mirroring the moves of other financial institutions. BancorpSouth said Wednesday it was giving pay increases and one-time businesses totaling more than $10 million as ‘an additional investment … to nearly all non-commissioned employees.’ … The increased compensation overall at BancorpSouth affected more than 70 percent of all employees, and provided a $1,000 bonus to nearly 20 percent of all employees. BancorpSouth employs some 4,000 employees in more than 230 locations in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas, plus an insurance location in Illinois.” (“BancorpSouth And Renasant Giving Raises, Bonuses,” Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, 1/4/2018)

BANK OF HAWAII (Hawaii): “Bank of Hawaii, the state’s second-largest bank, said it will give out $1,000 cash bonuses to 2,074 employees, or 95 percent of its workforce, that will be payable next week. The bonuses affect all employees below the senior vice president level. The bank also will increase its minimum wage to $15 an hour from $12 an hour starting Jan. 1.” (“American Savings To Give Employees $1K Bonuses, Raise Minimum Wage,” Star Advertiser, 12/23/2017)

BANK OF THE JAMES (Virginia): “Bank of the James, Lynchburg, Va., raised its minimum wage to $15 per hour for employees with more than one year of service, added vacation days and substantially increased its charitable giving plans for 2018.” (“Banks Continue Post-Tax Reform Wage Increases, Community Investments,” Banking Journal, 1/2/2018)

BANK OF THE OZARKS (Arkansas): “Bank of the Ozarks … announced today that the Personnel and Compensation Committee of its Board of Directors has approved the creation of an annual cash-based incentive bonus plan for hourly employees and certain other employees not currently covered by existing bonus plans. Under the terms of the plan, employees will be eligible to receive a cash award of up to $1,200 annually based on Company and individual employee performance. Approximately 2,300 of the Company’s current employees will be eligible to receive awards under the plan. … [Chairman and CEO George] Gleason said, “Recently signed U.S. corporate tax legislation has given us the opportunity to enhance current compensation programs for our employees.” (Bank Of The Ozarks, Press Release, 12/28/2017)

CENTRAL PACIFIC BANK (Hawaii): “Central Pacific Bank has become the fourth local financial institution to announce it will give holiday bonuses to employees and increase its minimum wage. The state’s fourth-largest bank, which has about 850 employees, said late Sunday afternoon that it will provide a $1,000 bonus to all of its workforce with the exception of executives on its managing committee.” (“Central Pacific Bank To Give $1,000 Bonuses, Increase Minimum Wage,” Star Advertiser, 12/25/2017)

CENTRAL BANK OF ST. LOUIS (Missouri): “Central Bank of St. Louis employees will get a special bonus as a result of the new federal tax reform. Central Bancompany, Inc., which employs more than 2,500 people across four states, announced Friday that full-time employees would receive a $1,000 bonus and part-time employees would receive a $500 bonus.” (“Central Bank Of St. Louis Employees Get Bonuses Thanks To New Federal Tax Reform,” KMOV, 1/5/2018)

CITIZENS FINANCIAL GROUP, INC. (Rhode Island): “Citizens Financial Group, Inc. … announced a year-end decision to make additional investments in its colleagues and the communities it serves following the new law on federal tax reform. Specifically, the bank plans to: Grant approximately 12,500 colleagues a one-time $1,000 cash bonus, a cost of $12.5 million.” (Citizens Financial Group, Press Release, 1/2/2018)

COMERICA (Texas): “Dallas-based Comerica also provided a $1,000 bonus for its non-officer employees and boosted its bank-wide minimum wage to $15.” (“Banks Continue Post-Tax Reform Wage Increases, Community Investments,” Banking Journal, 1/2/2018)

COMMERCE BANCSHARES (Kansas): “Citing the new federal tax reform legislation, Commerce Bancshares is giving thousands of its employees a $1,000 bonus. The parent company of Commerce Bank, which has corporate offices in Clayton and Kansas City, said 3,450 full-time employees, or 75 percent of its workforce, will get the $1,000 bonus. Eligible part-time employees will get a $250 cash bonus. ‘The new tax reform legislation should be very positive for economic growth and capital investment which will benefit the banking industry,’ chairman and CEO David Kemper said in a statement.” (“Commerce Bancshares Giving Employees $1,000 Bonus, Citing Tax Cut,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 1/2/2018)

COMMUNITY TRUST BANCORP, INC. (Kentucky): “Community Trust Bancorp, Inc. announced that in recognition of the contribution of the company’s employees to the ongoing success of Community Trust Bancorp, Inc. and the positive impact the changes in tax laws will have on the company, a special bonus for employees. All full-time employees will receive a special bonus of $1,000 and employees classified as part-time will receive a $500 bonus.” (“Community Trust Bancorp Gives Bonus To Employees; Cites New Tax Law,” The Lane Report, 12/26/2017)

COPPERLEAF ASSISTED LIVING (Wisconsin): “An assisted-living business will give its 175 employees bonuses up to $600 as a result of the tax reform package passed by Congress and signed by President Trump on Friday. Krista Mendyke, who owns Copperleaf Assisted Living with her husband, Jim, said they will give away all of the company's estimated tax savings as a result of the legislation.” (“Wisconsin Business To Award $600 Bonuses To Employees Based On Tax Cuts,” Stevens Point Journal, 12/22/2017)

DAYTON T. BROWN INC. (Maryland): “A small Bohemia company is following the lead of large corporations that are passing on some expected savings from tax reform to employees in the form of bonuses. Dayton T. Brown Inc., an engineering and testing company, is giving each of its roughly 210 employees a $400 bonus, Steve Marini, chief financial officer, said Friday.” (“Bohemia Firm To Pay $400 Bonus To Workers After Tax Reform,” Newsday, 12/22/2017)

DELAWARE SUPERMARKETS INC. (Delaware): “Delaware Supermarkets Inc. is handing out $150 bonuses to 1,000 non-management and union-represented employees as a result of the recent tax reform bill being signed into law.” (Delaware Supermarkets, Inc., Press Release, 12/28/2017)

EXPRESS EMPLOYMENT PROFESSIONALS (Oklahoma): “Express Employment Professionals nonexecutive employees in Oklahoma City each will receive a $2,000 bonus before the end of the year, CEO Bob Funk said Tuesday. Funk said the bonus is in part because of the company's expected savings from the tax reform legislation Congress passed last week. ‘We wanted to show our appreciation for our employees for doing such a good job this year,’ Funk told The Oklahoman on Tuesday. ‘It's our privilege to be able to give back to our employees.’ The bonus will be provided to the more than 200 nonexecutive employees at Express Employment Professionals' Oklahoma City headquarters.” (“Express Employment Professionals To Pay $2,000 Bonus To More Than 200 Oklahoma City Workers,” News OK, 12/27/2017)

FIRST FARMERS BANK AND TRUST (Indiana): “First Farmers Bank and Trust in Converse, Ind., said that it would raise its minimum hourly wage by $2.50, provide a 2017 year-end bonus of $750 for all full-time employees, invest at least $250,000 annually in community development activities and spend at least $150,000 per year on employee professional development.” (“Banks Continue Post-Tax Reform Wage Increases, Community Investments,” Banking Journal, 1/2/2018)

FIRST FINANCIAL NORTHWEST (Washington): “First Financial Northwest, headquartered in Renton, Wash., said it would pay a $1,000 bonus to all of its non-executive employees.” (“Banks Continue Post-Tax Reform Wage Increases, Community Investments,” Banking Journal, 1/2/2018)

FIRST HAWAIIAN BANK (Hawaii): “First Hawaiian Bank … will give out $1,500 cash bonuses to 2,264 employees, or all but 11 members of its senior management team, in early January. The state’s largest bank also will increase its minimum wage to $15 an hour from $12.75 an hour for 613 employees starting Jan. 1.” (“American Savings To Give Employees $1K Bonuses, Raise Minimum Wage,” Star Advertiser, 12/23/2017)

THE FLOOD INSURANCE AGENCY (Florida): “On Tuesday December 26th we announced a $1000 bonus for all our full time employees.” (The Flood Insurance Agency, 12/2017)

GATE CITY BANK (North Dakota): “In response to the GOP tax bill recently passed by Congress, Gate City Bank announced plans late last week to reinvest $1.6 million to benefit its employees, customers and the community. Included in its plan is $625,000 in employee bonuses. According to a press release issued by Gate City, each employee will be hand-delivered a $1,000 bonus check on Jan. 15.” (“In Response To Tax Bill, Gate City Bank Announces Reinvestment Plan,” InfoRum, 12/29/2017)

GREAT SOUTHERN BANCORP, INC. (Missouri): “A Springfield-based banking company plans to give one-time bonuses to more than 1,200 employees following the federal tax overhaul recently approved by Republicans in Washington, D.C. Great Southern Bancorp, Inc., says it will pay $1,000 in cash to all full-time employees and $500 to part-time workers who were employed by the bank on Dec. 31.” (“Citing GOP Tax Reform, Springfield Bank To Pay Bonuses To All Employees,” Springfield News-Leader, 1/4/2018)

HARBORONE BANK (Massachusetts): “Brockton-based HarborOne Bank said on Wednesday that it's accelerating its plans to implement a $15-per-hour minimum wage and will give a one-time $500 bonus to more than 600 bank employees as a result of federal tax reform legislation.” (“HarborOne Bank To Give $500 Bonuses To 600 Workers, Citing Tax Reform,” Boston Business Journal, 12/27/2017)

IAT INSURANCE GROUP (North Carolina): “IAT Insurance Group ownership and management announced today the company will pay a $3,000 bonus to all non-executive employees on January 15, 2018. The additional bonus comes in response to the newly passed tax reform bill – the tax savings will be shared with approximately 700 employees.” (“IAT Insurance Group Announces $3,000 Tax Reform Bonus for Employees,” Fox8, 12/22/2017)

INB (Illinois): “A Spokane-based bank gave out raises and bonuses to its 200 workers in anticipation of a windfall from corporate tax cuts. After Congress passed a sweeping federal tax reform bill last month, INB announced it would raise its starting wage to $15 per hour and provide $500 year-end bonuses to all employees except senior executives.” (“INB Increases Wages, Hands Out Bonuses Due To Tax Reform Bill,” The Spokesman-Review, 1/2/2018)

KANSAS CITY SOUTHERN (Kansas): “Kansas City Southern … announced today that in response to congressional passage of The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, it will immediately share some of the benefits with qualified, non-executive employees of its subsidiaries in the U.S. and Mexico in the form of a one-time $1,000 bonus payable by the end of 2017.” (Kansas City Southern, Press Release, 12/21/2017)

MELALEUCA (Idaho): “Idaho health care and home products company Melaleuca Inc. announced Thursday that it will be the latest major business to give its workers bonuses in response to President Donald Trump’s tax cuts. Melaleuca CEO Frank VanderSloot said in a phone interview that his 2,000 workers will get a one-time bonus of $100 for every year they have worked at the company. On average, Melaleuca employees stay at the company eight years – which would result in an $800 bonus. The company also has 147 employees who have worked for VanderSloot for 20 years or more.” (“Idaho Company To Offer Bonuses Following Tax Plan,” The Associated Press, 12/21/2017)
  • “‘We’re going to be able to have quite a few substantial dollars after taxes,’ VanderSloot said. ‘I suspect we’re one of the largest taxpayers in the state, so we’re going to have some more dollars to spread around. That money should go to the people who built the company.’ … VanderSloot … said he came up with the idea after his wife told him about other companies giving back to their employees.  According to VanderSloot, bonuses will be distributed to all employees at each of the companies he owns.” (“Idaho Company To Offer Bonuses Following Tax Plan,” The Associated Press, 12/21/2017)
NATIONAL BANK HOLDINGS CORPORATION (Colorado): “National Bank Holdings Corporation … announced today its plan to deliver a $1,000 bonus to all of its non-commissioned associates who earn a base salary of less than $50,000 annually and are in good standing. This move is in part a response to the recently enacted tax legislation, which is anticipated to have a positive impact on the U.S. economy.” (National Bank Holding Corp., Press Release, 12/27/2017)

NELNET & PINNACLE BANK (Nebraska): “At least two Lincoln companies are planning to use their expected windfall from tax cuts to pay bonuses to employees. Nelnet said Thursday that it will give nearly all of its 4,100 employees — about 2,500 of whom work in Lincoln — a $1,000 bonus in their Dec. 29 paycheck. Pinnacle Bank also said it plans to give $1,000 bonuses to all of its full-time employees in Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri. Both companies said the bonuses are the result of the recently passed congressional tax bill.” (“Nelnet, Pinnacle Bank Announce Plans For Tax-Related Employee Bonuses,” Lincoln Journal-Star, 12/22/2017)
  • “In Nelnet's case, it will benefit from a reduction in the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. Pinnacle Bank, which is organized as an S Corporation, benefits from a different provision that exempts up to 20 percent of net taxable income. Nelnet CEO Jeff Noordhoek said the tax plan will greatly benefit the financial services company … Pinnacle Bank said 1,007 employees will receive the $1,000 bonuses. ‘We feel strongly that the message should be loud and clear that this is a tax cut that will benefit all Americans,’ Pinnacle Bancorp Chairman Sid Dinsdale said in a news release.” (“Nelnet, Pinnacle Bank Announce Plans For Tax-Related Employee Bonuses,” Lincoln Journal-Star, 12/22/2017)
NEPHRON PHARMACEUTICALS (South Carolina):> “Nephron Pharmaceuticals announced Wednesday the company's 640 South Carolina employees are receiving a five percent pay raise, attributing the move to the tax bill passed by Congress this month. … The raise will bring the average Nephron salary to $70,000 a year, Kennedy said, with a base wage of $15 an hour.” (“Republican Tax Cut Leads Nephron Pharmaceuticals In S.C. To Give Raises To Its Employees,” Post & Courier, 12/27/2017)

NEXUS SERVICES, INC.: “All Nexus Services, Inc. employees will receive a 5% raise, starting in January 2018, CEO Mike Donovan announced today. Also, Nexus unveiled plans to hire another 200 workers over the course of 2018 – doubling the size of Nexus Services, Inc. workforce nationwide. Many of the new jobs will be created in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley and other jobs will be in San Juan (Puerto Rico), Hackensack (NJ), Ontario (CA) and other sites nationwide. … A combination of an improved business outlook for 2018 and tax reform by Congress has enabled Nexus Services, Inc. to make these generous changes.” (“Nexus Services, Inc. Announces 5% Raises And 200 New Jobs,” NBC 29, 12/22/2017)

OCEANFIRST BANK (New Jersey): “Going into 2018 with a sharply lower corporate tax rate, OceanFirst Financial Corp. plans to increase the minimum wage of tellers and customer service workers to $15 an hour, its chief executive officer said Friday. Christopher Maher said the move would help keep up with its competitors and attract workers for a job that has become increasingly high skilled. ‘These are the folks that spend most of the time with our customers supporting them,’ Maher said. ‘That was the first and most immediate action we could take.’” … Its decision to increase wages was announced as President Donald Trump signed a sweeping law that will overhaul the U.S. tax code.” (“OceanFirst Bank Raises Minimum Wage To $15 An Hour After Tax Reform,” Asbury Park Press, 12/23/2017)

OHNWARD BANCSHARES (Iowa): “As a result of the passage of the tax relief bill this week, Ohnward Bancshares has announced it will pay a $1,000 tax relief, holiday bonus to every company employee. This bonus is separate, and, in addition to, normal bonuses received based on company performance.” (“Ohnward Bancshares Announces Tax Relief, Holiday Bonus,” Clinton Herald News, 12/22/2017)

PIONEER CREDIT RECOVERY (New York): “Nearly all of the 800 employees at Pioneer Credit Recovery, a major employer in Wyoming County [NY], will start the New Year with a few extra bucks. That's because parent company Navient is joining the growing list of corporations paying bonuses to employees in the wake of the federal tax reform bill. According to an internal memo reviewed by [Buffalo] Business First, the company will pay $1,000 to all non-officer employees, or 98 percent of its workforce…. Pioneer Credit is one of the largest debt consolidation companies in Western New York.” (“In The Wake Of Tax Reform Bill, Pioneer Credit Recovery Workers Will Receive $1K Bonuses,” Buffalo Business First, 12/29/2017)
REGIONS BANK (Alabama): “Regions … announced in the past several days they are raising their hourly minimum wage to $15 and applying part of the tax savings in other ways. ... For Regions, the $15-an-hour minimum wage is 25 percent more than the $12 the bank pays most of its lowest earning workers and 47 percent more than its formal lowest wage of $10.15 an hour. In Memphis, where the Birmingham-based bank has branches and a customer service center, the wage hike will affect about 400 employees. About a quarter of all Regions employees will benefit, bank officials said.” (“Banks Cite Tax Reform In Giving Raises, Bonuses,” Commercial Appeal, 1/3/2018)

SOUTH POINT (Nevada): “The South Point has joined the list of businesses handing out bonuses after passage of the Trump administration’s tax reform bill. The casino released a statement today saying it was giving more than $1 million in bonuses for 2017 to its employees, doubling the amount of bonuses for 2016.” (“South Point Giving $1 Million In Bonuses, Cites Tax Reform Bill,” Las Vegas Sun, 1/4/2018)

STIFEL FINANCIAL CORP. (Missouri): “Stifel Financial Corp. Chief Executive Ron Kruszewski played Santa Claus two days before Christmas, telling most of the financial company’s approximately 7,000 salaried employees that they will receive an extra $1,500 bonus funded by expected benefits from the new tax law.” (“Stifel Gives Staffers Special Tax-Gift Bonus,” AdvisorHub, 12/26/2017)

SUMMIT STATE BANK (California): “Summit State Bank on Dec. 29 announced its plan to give $2,000 to each of its non-executive employees in January 2018 as a windfall derived from the Trump Administration’s tax-law revamp signed by the president on Dec. 22. … The bank has 78 employees in Sonoma County.” (“Summit State Bank Employees Get Trump-Administration Windfall,” North Bay Business Journal, 12/29/2017)

TCF FINANCIAL CORPORATION (Minneapolis): “As a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, TCF will provide approximately $5 million in one-time bonuses to eligible team members—$1,000 to full-time team members and $500 to part-time team members—who earned less than $100,000 in total compensation during 2017, totaling 80 percent of its workforce.” (TCF Financial Corporation, Press Release, 12/29/2017)

TERRITORIAL SAVINGS BANK (Hawaii): “Territorial Savings Bank has joined the state’s four largest banks in giving out bonuses to employees and increasing the minimum wage. The state’s fifth-largest bank said today that most of its employees will receive a $1,000 bonus and that it will be increasing its starting wage to $15 an hour from $11.25 an hour beginning Monday. The bonus, which was awarded today to 247 employees…” (“Territorial Joins Other Banks In Giving Out Bonuses And Raising Minimum Wage,” Star Advertiser, 1/4/2018)

TOTAL SYSTEM SERVICES INC. (Georgia): “Total System Services Inc. … is crediting tax reform for cash bonuses going to their team members worldwide. A spokesperson for the Columbus, Ga.-based credit card processor best known as TSYS told Atlanta Business Chronicle that it made an internal announcement Tuesday that team members would receive a ‘special one-time cash bonus of $1,000’ as ‘a result of the company’s continued success and the recently passed U.S. tax reform legislation.’ TSYS, which is celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2018, has about 11,500 employees…” (“TSYS Credits Tax Reform For $1K 'One-Time Cash Bonus' To Team Members,” Atlanta Business Chronicle, 1/2/2018)

TURNING POINT BRANDS, INC. (Kentucky): “…has announced it will deliver bonuses to 107 employees thanks to President Donald J. Trump’s signing of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. ‘We can attest that this tax package is directly benefiting working people, just as our national leaders promised when they started this effort.’ ‘We are giving $1,000 bonuses as a direct result of tax reform becoming law. These employees would not normally get a bonus like this. Our dedicated employees are responsible for our success, and we are very pleased to announce this bonus for them during the holiday season. We are extremely happy with tax reform and wanted our valued employees to feel the benefits,’ Chief Executive Officer Larry Wexler said. ‘We can attest that this tax package is directly benefiting working people, just as our national leaders promised when they started this effort.’” (Turning Point Brands, Inc., Press Release, 12/28/2017)

UNITY BANK (New Jersey): “In response to Congressional approval of tax reform legislation, Unity Bancorp, Inc. … parent company of Unity Bank, announced today that its Board of Directors has elected to provide all employees excluding executive management with a one-time $750 bonus…. Unity Bank intends to pay the bonuses to its approximately 200 employees in January.” (Unity Bank, Press Release, 12/26/2017)

WASHINGTON FEDERAL (Washington): “…Seattle-based banking company Washington Federal said it would give 5 percent merit increases to all employees earning less than $100,000 annually, as well as invest in employee training and technology upgrades, and make a $5 million contribution to its main philanthropy foundation.” (“Boeing, Washington Federal Among Firms To Share Some Of Tax Windfall With Workers,” Seattle Times, 12/20/2017)

WEBSTER BANK (Connecticut): “Waterbury-based Webster Financial Corp., the holding company for Webster Bank, joined a growing list of Connecticut and other U.S. companies providing bonuses and/or higher pay to employees following passage of federal tax reforms. Webster said Thursday it will pay a one-time $1,000 cash bonus in the first quarter of 2018 to full-time employees who are below the vice president level. This payment will benefit approximately 70 percent of all Webster full-time employees, the bank said. The financial institution also said it would increase Webster's minimum wage to $15 per hour by the end of 2018.” (“Webster Giving Out Bonuses, Making Investments In Response To Tax Reform,” Hartford Business, 1/4/2018)

WESTERN ALLIANCE BANCORP (Nevada): “Western Alliance [Bancorp], which has $20 billion in assets, plans to increase the base pay of the lowest-paid 50% of employees by 7.5% once the bill becomes law, the bank’s chief executive Robert Sarver said in an interview Wednesday. Bonuses will also go up, bringing the total pay increase for this group of employees to around 10%. These employees generally make $75,000 or less.” (“Banks Are Getting a Big Tax Cut. Wells Fargo, Others Plan to Share It With Employees,” The Wall Street Journal, 12/20/2017)
ZIONS BANCORP (Utah): “Zions Bancorp …the Salt Lake City-based large regional bank, said Tuesday it would pay $1,000 bonuses to nearly 80% of its workforce and increase compensation for nearly 40% of employees as a result of the tax legislation passed late in December.” (“Zions Bancorp Will Pay Employee Bonuses, Boost Salaries Thanks To Tax Bill,” Marketwatch, 1/2/2018)

Tags: Tax Reform, More money in your pocket To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Scandal Update, Good News

Gary Bauer
by Gary Bauer, Contributing Author: Scandal Update - Year after year, we see scandals erupt on the left, yet the central figures often seem to evade justice. Lois Lerner comes to mind as a prime example. Nevertheless, new reports indicate that progress is being made in some current investigations, while old ones are getting a second look. Here are some examples.

FBI agents in Little Rock, Arkansas, are looking into allegations of "pay-to-play politics or other illegal activities" at the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton served as secretary of state. At least one witness was reportedly interviewed last month.

The investigation, however, may be short lived. The Hill notes that "the statute of limitations on most federal felonies is five years and Clinton left office in early 2013."

There was a surprise meeting earlier this week between Speaker Paul Ryan and key FBI officials who were seeking to quash the investigation of alleged deep state corruption. To his credit, Ryan supported the demands of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA), who threatened to hold top FBI and Justice officials in contempt for their repeated stonewalling.

Nunes later announced that his committee will get access to all requested documents, including all messages between FBI agent Peter Stzork and his mistress, as well as access to eight key officials involved the Trump/Russia investigation, including Bruce Ohr, whose wife worked for Fusion GPS.

We may finally be close to getting answers to critical questions about how the Obama Administration investigated the Trump campaign and the president-elect.

In another win for Chairman Nunes, a federal judge sided with the House Intelligence Committee and ordered Fusion GPS, the company paid by the Clinton campaign to produce the Trump/Russia dossier, to surrender the bank records the Intelligence Committee had subpoenaed.

President Trump was widely criticized by the media and the "#NeverTrump" crowd this week after he tweeted that former FBI Director James Comey should be in jail. But once again, his instincts were correct. The former FBI director may soon be under indictment himself.

Sen. Charles Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is demanding to know whether the Justice Department is investigating Comey for leaking classified information. As you may recall, Comey admitted that he leaked his memos about his meetings with President Trump to a friend who, at Comey's request, then leaked them to the New York Times.

And while Comey testified that he did not believe his memos were classified, Chris Farrell of Judicial Watch says he has a "sworn declaration" from the chief Freedom of Information Act officer at the FBI that all of Comey's Trump meeting memos were classified.

Stay tuned, my friends. It may be winter, but things are heating up in Washington!

Good News -
  • The Trump Labor Department announced a new rule yesterday that could help as many as 11 million Americans get better health insurance. The rule expands the definition of who can join "association health plans." This is something conservatives have long argued for, and it is just another example of how the Trump/Pence team is delivering for the American people.
  • The Trump Administration also announced that it is vastly expanding the areas available for energy exploration and production.
  • The U.S. manufacturing industry posted some of its strongest gains in more than a decade.
  • The number of companies and businesses celebrating the Trump tax reform plan continues to grow. At least 100 companies have announced that they are giving bonuses and/or offering higher wages and better benefits to their workers.
  • Speaking of workers, we reported yesterday that two million Americans came off the food stamp rolls last year. Today, we are learning that the black unemployment rate has fallen to a record low. To put it another way, more blacks are working now than at any time during the Obama presidency. But you wouldn't know that given the media's obsession with portraying the Trump Administration as "bigoted" and "racist."
The left likes to measure progress based how many people depend on government benefits like Obamacare, food stamps and welfare. Conservatives measure progress based on how many people are working and providing for themselves and their families.

Democrats have high hopes that they can make big gains in the 2018 elections. And while anything could happen between now and November, it is clear that more and more Americans are better off today than they were one year ago.
-------------------
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, Scandal Update, Good News To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Governors Pardon Immigrants Convicted of Serious Crimes to Halt Deportation

by Judicial Watch: While the nation was preoccupied celebrating the holidays, the governors of two major states pardoned immigrants convicted of serious crimes to shield them from deportation. First, California Governor Jerry Brown pardoned two men on the verge of being deported for committing crimes in the U.S., according to a Sacramento news report. Days later, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo pardoned 18 immigrants convicted of serious crimes so they could remain in the country. The foreigners had obtained legal immigration status in the United States but committed such abhorrent crimes that they faced removal after the completion of their criminal sentence. An official statement issued by the governor’s office refers to the pardoned as “contributing members of society” who face the “threat of deportation and other immigration-related challenges” as a result of their crimes.

Cuomo said the foreign criminals he pardoned had been rehabilitated but the “stigma of convictions” prevented them from gaining legal status or fully reentering society. “While the federal government continues to target immigrants and threatens to tear families apart with deportation, these actions take a critical step toward a more just, more fair and more compassionate New York,” Cuomo said in a statement. The state press release also quotes several representatives from open borders groups praising the governor’s pardons. Among them is the president of a group dedicated to eradicating racial disparities in the criminal justice system, who commended Cuomo’s strong display of leadership. “Too many immigrants with prior criminal convictions are subjected to the gratuitous punishment of deportation, despite being longstanding contributing members of our community,” said the president of the Vera Institute of Justice. The director of the Center on Race, Inequality and the Law also applauded Cuomo, saying “deportation is an out-size punishment for prior criminal convictions when people serve their sentences and go on to become longstanding, law abiding, contributing members of society.”

Let’s look at a few of the newly pardoned immigrants. The Californians are two Cambodian men, Mony Neth of Modesto and Rottanak Kong of Davis, arrested in immigration sweeps a few months ago. The men, ages 42 and 39, came to the U.S. as children and were convicted of felonies as adults. The crimes include a weapons charge and association to a gang. Neth and Rottanak were scheduled to be deported in December along with dozens of other Cambodians convicted of crimes but a federal judge in southern California issued a temporary restraining order after their pro bono attorneys from a civil rights group filed an emergency motion. Nearly 2,000 Cambodians in the U.S. are subject to deportation, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) figures cited in a northern California newspaper. More than half of them have criminal convictions that stripped them of legal status.

The New York pardons include a 57-year-old Mexican transgender woman convicted of criminal facilitation, a 35-year-old man from Estonia convicted of larceny and a 53-year-old Dominican man convicted of criminal sale of a controlled substance. The Mexican national, Lorena Borjas, deserves to stay in the U.S. because she is a strong advocate for transgender and immigrant communities and runs HIV testing programs for transgender sex workers and a syringe exchange for transwomen taking hormone injections. The Estonian, Alexander Shilov, became a nurse and frequently gives talks on overcoming addiction. The Dominican, Freddy Perez, works as an electrician and takes care of his autistic younger brother. For these reasons, they deserve to remain in the U.S. despite their criminal histories, according to Cuomo.

This appears to be part of a broader effort by local governments to protect criminal immigrants from deportation. Months ago, Judicial Watch reported that prosecutors in two major U.S. cities ordered staff not to charge illegal immigrants with minor, non-violent crimes because it could get the offenders deported. Brooklyn, New York District Attorney Eric Gonzalez was the first to issue the order creating two sets of rules involving local crimes. The goal, according to a statement issued by the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, is “minimizing collateral immigration consequences of criminal convictions.” Taxpayers in the busy New York City borough are also paying for two immigration attorneys to train all staff on immigration issues and advise prosecutors when making plea offers and sentencing recommendations. The idea is to avoid “disproportionate collateral consequences, such as deportation, while maintaining public safety.” Gonzalez, the Brooklyn District Attorney, says he’s committed to equal and fair justice for all Brooklyn residents—citizens, lawful residents and undocumented immigrants alike.

A few weeks after Brooklyn proudly disclosed its policy, prosecutors in Maryland’s largest city joined the bandwagon, albeit more quietly. There was no public announcement or celebratory press conference but a local newspaper got ahold of an internal memo sent by Baltimore’s Chief Deputy State’s Attorney instructing prosecutors to think twice before charging illegal immigrants with minor, non-violent crimes. The chief deputy, Michael Schatzow, used similar language in the memo, writing that the Trump administration’s deportation efforts “have increased the potential collateral consequences to certain immigrants of minor, non-violent criminal conduct.” Schatzow is second-in-command to Baltimore’s top prosecutor, Marilyn Mosby, and oversees major crimes at the state agency. “In considering the appropriate disposition of a minor, non-violent criminal case, please be certain to consider those potential consequences to the victim, witnesses, and the defendant,” Schatzow wrote to his staff. [Judicial Watch]

Tags: Judicial Watch, Governors, California, Governor Jerry Brown, New York, Governor, Andrew M. Cuomo, pardon, Immigrants, convicted, serious crimes, to halt deportation 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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