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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, February 22, 2019

FBI Officials Wanted To Charge Hillary Clinton — Turns Out, They Should Have

IBD Editorial: Deep State: The plot, as always in the Russia investigation, thickens. It never thins. Now we find out, contrary to what former FBI Director James Comey said, that top FBI officials wanted to charge Hillary Clinton for criminally misusing her homebrew email server and compromising American secrets. The lies continue to unravel.

This is the Deep State on steroids. If newly appointed Attorney General William Barr decides to clean house, and we hope he does, he'll have his hands full.

Meanwhile, as former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe continues his self-destructive book tour, it's increasingly obvious he too was part of a far-reaching plot to take down President Trump. They based it on the flimsiest of evidence.

Of course, as we've said, it's possible Special Counsel Robert Mueller has a surprise up his sleeve when he wraps up his Trump-Russia investigation. But if not, then the actions of key leaders in both the FBI and Justice Department constitute an extra-constitutional effort to subvert America's democratic republic. That is, a silent coup.

That's the clear subtext of testimony last October from FBI General Counsel James Baker, the FBI's top lawyer in 2016, indicating both Comey and Clinton lied. Though he spoke to Congress in October, Baker's actual remarks only came to light this week.

Hillary Clinton: Unpunished Crimes
Baker told Congress that, despite her denials, Clinton and her team mishandled "highly classified" information on her server, and that they should have known they did so. That's a crime.

Contrary to Comey's glib self-serving comment that "no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case," Baker said that he still thought Clinton should be prosecuted "pretty late" in the game and that FBI debates over charging her with a crime continued "I think, up until the end."

Baker backed off from seeking prosecution for Clinton after being convinced by higher-ups — like Comey — that they couldn't prove she intended to expose classified documents across her unsecured email server. So therefore, a prosecutor couldn't prove criminal intent.

The only problem is, that's not the law. As Fox News noted this week, "Federal law states that 'gross negligence' in handling the nation's intelligence can be punished criminally with prison time or fines, and there is no requirement that defendants act intentionally or recklessly."

Deep State Interference
In other words, Clinton's clear reckless negligence itself warranted charges. But because of Comey, Andrew McCabe, and others at the FBI and Justice Department, she was never charged. Instead, they used charges contained in an unverified dossier financed by Hillary Clinton to begin their relentless pursuit of Donald Trump.

This isn't the first time we've talked about this, by the way. Way back in October of 2016, we led our editorial with this: "When FBI Director James Comey dismissed the case against Hillary Clinton he said it was because no reasonable attorney would take the case. Now we learn that there were plenty who would have done so."

In short, we said, she should have been charged. She wasn't.

At the time, we based our opinion on a 2016 Fox News report that noted, "Career agents and attorneys on the case unanimously believed the Democratic presidential nominee should have been charged."

If anything, Baker's testimony confirms that two-year-old Fox report.

Will Barr Act?
So career investigators and attorneys wanted to charge Clinton, but were derailed, as Baker said, by higher-ups. For the record, that means Comey and the ever-growing cast of characters in the Justice Department and FBI lied, dissembled and covertly supported Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election. It was a clear violation of the law.

The attempted coup by the Deep State cannot go unpunished. It will seriously endanger the rule of law in our country. The only real question is who should be charged first? Clinton? Or her Deep State allies who did all they could to undo a legitimate American presidential election on her behalf?

Once again, we hope William Barr has the answers.
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Follow this and other editorials on Investor's Business Daily

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Business Coalition Cites 4 Reasons to Repeal Death Tax

by Ginny Montalbano: A bill to repeal the estate tax, often called the death tax, has the support of about 150 national business and trade associations that signed on to an open letter to the sponsors of the legislation.

“We appreciate your work to lead the country towards a commonsense tax code that does not impose a destructive double or triple tax at death,” reads the letter Wednesday from the Family Business Coalition addressed to Sen. John Thune, R- S.D., and Rep. Jason Smith, R-Mo.

“The negative effects of the estate tax make permanent repeal the only solution for family businesses and farms,” the pro-business groups add.

The Family Business Coalition’s letter, which includes the logos of the dozens of involved associations, highlights four main reasons for ending the infamous death tax:

1. Repeal would stimulate the economy and help create jobs.
“In 2017, the Tax Foundation found that the U.S. could create over 150,000 jobs by repealing the estate tax. A 2012 study by the House Joint Economic Committee found that the death tax has destroyed over $1.1 trillion of capital in the U.S. economy—loss of small business capital means fewer jobs and lower wages.”

2. Revenue from the estate tax represents only about half of 1 percent of all federal revenue.
“A 2016 Tax Foundation analysis found repeal of the death tax would increase federal income taxes by $145 billion over 10 years using a more realistic, ‘dynamic’ economic analysis. In addition, the death tax forces family businesses to waste money on expensive insurance policies and estate planning.”

3. Polls show most voters support doing away with the tax.
“Typically, two-thirds of likely voters support full and permanent repeal of the death tax. People instinctively feel that the estate tax is not fair. A 2017 NPR/Ipsos Poll found that 65 percent of respondents favored repealing the estate tax, including 51 percent of self-identified Democrats polled.”

4. The tax isn’t fair.
“The death tax is unfair. It makes no sense to require grieving families to pay a confiscatory tax on their loved one’s nest egg. Far too often this tax is paid by selling family assets like farms and businesses. Other times, employees of the family business must be laid off and payrolls slashed. No one should be punished for fulfilling the American dream.”
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Ginny Montalbano (@GinnyMontalbano) is a contributor to The Daily Signal

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Defending Innocent Life, Enough Hate

by Gary Bauer, Contributing Author: Defending Innocent Life - The Senate is set to vote Monday on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, sponsored by Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE). As the title implies, the legislation provides legal protection to babies who survive attempted abortions and mandates that they receive immediate medical care. Forty-nine senators -- all Republicans -- have co-sponsored the Sasse bill.

It is a travesty that such legislation is even necessary. But we can thank Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D) for kick starting this national discussion.

As you recall, Northam shocked the country a few weeks ago when he callously suggested that a baby could be delivered then "resuscitated if that's what the mother and the family desired," followed by "a discussion . . . between the physicians and the mother" about whether the baby should be terminated.

In the wake of Northam's remarks endorsing infanticide, Sen. Sasse called for a snap vote on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. But one left-wing Democrat objected and blocked the vote. Senate Majority Leader McConnell vowed that the Senate would vote on the bill and he's keeping that promise Monday.

Senator Sasse also warned his colleagues:

"Every member of the Senate is going to have to answer. They can stand with babies or they can defend infanticide with Governor Northam -- those are the choices. The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act should be the easiest vote any senator takes."

Just to be absolutely clear, my friends, this is a life and death issue. This is not a hypothetical debate about when life begins, although we know the answer to that.

There are people alive today who have survived late-term abortions. They have powerful stories to tell. They are living testimonies to the sanctity of life, which deserves protection at every stage of development.

And kudos to our friends at Focus on the Family!

Focus has arranged for a doctor to perform a 4D ultrasound in Times Square on Saturday, May 4th. The event, known as "Alive From New York," will draw attention to the humanity of the unborn child and to the extremism of the pro-abortion law recently signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

I am also pleased to report that the Trump/Pence Administration today issued a finalized rule cutting off federal Title X funding to clinics that perform abortions or refer for abortions. The new rule could cost Planned Parenthood $50 million a year. Of course, the rule will be challenged in the courts, but a similar Reagan-era rule was upheld by the Supreme Court.

Enough Hate - The Jussie Smollett case has drawn a lot of attention to the concept of hate crimes. The actor claimed he'd been the victim of an assault because he is black and gay and anti-Trump.

Of course, as we know from yesterday's incredible press conference, the Chicago Police Department has determined that Smollett's story was just that -- a made up story. His alleged hate crime was a complete hoax. In reality, the only hate crime was the one Smollett perpetrated on the people of Chicago and against conservatives across America.

Left-wing politicians and pundits were so eager to believe Smollett's story because, as Evan Thomas famously put it, the narrative was right even if the facts were wrong. It reinforced the left's belief about the portion of the country that Hillary Clinton wrote off as "deplorable and irredeemable."

Meanwhile, real crimes committed out of hatred for conservatives are often ignored.

Every week brings another example of a White House staffer or conservative media personality being accosted or assaulted for their political views. And as the Covington Catholic School boys found out last month, there's no more certain way to provoke an attack than to don a red MAGA hat in public.

Earlier this week, a conservative activist was assaulted while recruiting students for a conservative club at the University of California-Berkeley. Seemingly unaware of the concept of irony, the attacker accused the conservative victim of promoting violence as he punched him in the face.

That fits the definition of a hate crime. But I doubt it'll be prosecuted as one, if it's prosecuted at all.

When conservatives defended the idea of free markets in health care, they were accused of being racists. When conservatives defend the idea of securing the border, the left immediately resorts to charges of white supremacy and xenophobia. When conservatives say immigrants should learn English, the left says that's bigotry.

(Meanwhile, we have a dysfunctional immigration system that is literally importing more hate into the country.)

But the labeling of normal conservative ideas as hate is a "hate crime" itself.

The left so hates conservative ideas that it wants to completely shut down the debate and silence the opposition. So it resorts to the most inflammatory rhetoric and charges possible, obviously not out of any desire for genuine debate or understanding, but just plain old hate.

Here's another example to keep in mind.

Two years ago, James Hodgkinson, a crazed Bernie Sanders supporter, shot up a baseball field full of Republican congressmen in an attempted mass assassination. He was a fan of a Facebook group called "Terminate The Republican Party." After the shooting, police found a "hit list" of Republican congressmen in his pocket.

The shooting, which nearly claimed the life of Rep. Steve Scalise, was clearly a hate crime. Yet the FBI declared that it could find no evidence of political bias.

That asinine conclusion tells you everything you need to know about the biased Obama/Comey FBI that has been leading the Trump/Russia, Hillary/email investigations.

The result of all of this is that more and more Americans feel there are two systems of justice. Violate a liberal's safe space, and you'll get charged with a hate crime. But physically assault a conservative, and the left, including the liberal legal system, will look the other way.

The sad reality is that there is already too much hate in society today. We don't need to be making it up or inventing hate where none exists.
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Gary Bauer (@GaryLBauer)  is a conservative family values advocate and serves as president of American Values and chairman of the Campaign for Working Families

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Boozman Details Arkansas Priorities in Recent Funding Bill

U.S. Sen. John Boozman (R-AR)
ARRA News Service: Provisions in a new law passed with the support of U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) stand to deliver numerous benefits for Arkansas for the remainder of the government’s Fiscal Year 2019. The bill funds federal agencies, including the Departments of Homeland Security, Transportation, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, State, Treasury and Justice and contains measures advancing many of the Natural State’s priorities and interests.

“This bill provides crucial funding for federal agencies –– many of which directly impact Arkansas’s economy and help meet vital needs in our state –– while avoiding a government shutdown. I fought to advance these priorities in addition to securing additional funding for border security and, while it doesn’t fund the president’s request in its entirety, it does increase resources for improved safeguards at our southern border. I’m proud to have helped deliver a funding package that contains a variety of measures critical for our state and will continue to advocate for increased funding for our border security in addition to supporting programs Arkansans rely on,” Boozman said.

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Boozman again demonstrated his commitment to Arkansas by supporting legislation that funds programs, initiatives and grants that are crucial to the state.

The following departments and agencies with direct, Arkansas-specific relevance were funded as a result of passage of this measure:

Department of Agriculture, including Rural Development programs, the Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies:
  • National Center for Toxicological Research: The bill includes $66.7 million for this facility located in Jefferson, Arkansas near Pine Bluff. This funding will support the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) research to promote and protect public health.
  • Agriculture Research: The bill includes $3 billion to support research conducted by land grant and non-land grant universities through the Agricultural Research Service. This funding will support agricultural research at the University of Arkansas and Arkansas State University that ranges in scope from innovative crop production practices to the protection of clean source water.
  • Rural Development: Included in the bill is significant funding for programs that help rural areas by supporting business development and job training opportunities. The Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Access (ATTRA) is a program that connects Arkansas agricultural producers to information that helps them improve their operations. This bill funds the program at $2.8 million. ATTRA administers the Armed to Farm program that assists veterans in transition to civilian life by training them for a career in farming. ATTRA has a regional headquarters located in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Departments of Commerce and Justice, as well as science-related programs and agencies:
  • Drug Courts and Veterans Treatment Courts: The bill supports the critical components of our judicial system that offer an alternative treatment to jail for individuals suffering from drug and alcohol addiction. Drug courts received $77 million and veterans treatment courts received $22 million to help break the cycle of addiction. Arkansas launched its first drug court in 1994 and participation in these rehabilitation practices continues to increase.
  • Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS): At Boozman’s request, the bill includes language related to the equitable use of grant funding for rural areas and asks the Department of Justice to consider the unique needs of rural communities when making grant awards. Arkansas law enforcement agencies have used this grant to hire additional personnel.
Department of the Treasury, including Financial Services and General Government funding:
  • High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program (HIDTA): The bill includes $280 million to support effective and innovative drug control efforts by federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies operating in HIDTA areas. In Arkansas this includes Benton, Jefferson, Pulaski and Washington counties.
  • Drug Free Communities Program: The bill provides $100 million for community-based coalitions organized to prevent youth substance use.

Department of Homeland Security:
  • Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) and Staffing for Adequate Fire/Emergency Response (SAFER) Grants: The bill provides $350 million for Assistance to Firefighter Grants and $350 million for SAFER Grants which provide funding to local fire departments to hire firefighters, support the training needs of personnel and purchase essential equipment. Arkansas fire departments have received hundreds of thousands in funds to procure critical tools and equipment.
  • Emergency Management Performance Grants The bill provides $350 million in funding that can be allocated to local emergency management services to support emergency preparedness.
Department of the Interior, EPA and Related Agencies:
  • Flatside Wilderness Study: The bill includes report language related to studying land adjacent to the Flatside Wilderness Area for inclusion within the Flatside Wilderness Area.
  • Land and Water Conservation Fund: The bill includes funds to support conservation projects in Arkansas including the Buffalo National River and the Cache River.
  • Water Infrastructure: The bill provides $2.9 billion to finance infrastructure improvements to public wastewater and drinking water systems.
  • Protecting and Restoring Quality Wetlands – The bill funds the North American Wetlands Conservation Act at $42 million. These grants are important to conserving our nation’s fish and wildlife resources and have led to the conservation of more than 77,000 acres of wildlife habitat in Arkansas.
  • US Forest Service: The bill provides increased funding for fire assistance to protect the more than 19 million acres of forests in Arkansas. It provides $77 million for the Forest Inventory and Analysis which is used to assess forest health and the spread of non-native insects and diseases, make economic planning decisions, monitor wildlife habitat, gauge wildfire risk and assess rates of land use change. Forest Inventory Analysis data allows foresters, landowners and policy makers to effectively monitor forest trends and make informed management decisions. The bill also funds the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program which supports two ongoing projects in Arkansas: The Ozarks-Highlands Ecosystem Restoration Project in the Ozark National Forest and the Shortleaf-Bluestem Community project in the Ouachita National Forest.
Departments of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development:
  • Contract Tower Program: The bill funds this program, which provides enhanced safety, improved air traffic control services and significant FAA cost savings, at $168 million. There are five contract towers in Arkansas: Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, Bentonville and Texarkana.
  • Community Planning and Development – The bill provides $3.3 billion for the Community Development Block Grant program, the federal government's largest and most widely available source of financial assistance supporting state and local government-directed neighborhood revitalization, housing rehabilitation and economic development activities. Grants are used to implement plans intended to address housing, community development and economic development needs, as determined by local officials.

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When The Race Card And Gun Grabbing Collide

by Tom Knighton: Anti-gunners annoy me. It’s not the fact that they don’t like guns that bothers me, it’s that not only do they believe that this time gun control will work, they’re fully prepared and willing to keep nibbling away at our right to keep and bear arms until it does. They don’t care about gun control’s failures and will manufacture successes if they need to.

Another group that annoys me are the racial card crowd. These are the people who want to make everything about race and they think this is the one conversation we should have. Even saying you don’t care about someone’s race, that you treat them as individuals, is somehow racist these days.

So what happens when the race card and the anti-gun card get played together?
Last week, on the anniversary of the Parkland shooting, media outlets reflected on the strides in gun control that we’ve made as a result of the survivors’ movement. I want to add to the conversation by reflecting on what we can do better as we go forward.

On March 24, 2018, I marched alongside a reported 11 thousand people in Chicago’s sister March for Our Lives. When I turned on CNN later that night, I saw powerful footage of inspirational speeches and chanting crowds, and I felt proud. So when I returned to campus after spring break, I brought up the march in a conversation with an acquaintance, expecting praise. Instead, I got a staunch rebuke.

At first, I thought that maybe she was pro-gun. What other reason would there be to not support the movement?

It turned out that her issue was with the demographic representation of the victims and heroes of gun violence. I realized that I’d never really thought about the racial and socioeconomic dimensions of gun violence.

Before I begin, I want to clarify that I support the Parkland survivors and their work, but I’d like to talk about aspects about the gun control debate that the media has overlooked.

I believe the gun control debate should focus on poor urban communities. A conversation about gun control must include race, poverty and policing. Long-term solutions to resolving gun violence in cities are ones that provide vulnerable populations alternatives to street activity and police reform to restore trust between communities and law enforcement.
She goes on to talk about the “racial disparity of shooting victims” because black children are reportedly more likely to be killed by gun violence than white kids.

However, there are things she’s missing here. For one, her belief that the gun control debate should focus on poor urban communities is bogus. That’s her belief. Meanwhile, many rural and suburban people have legitimate concerns about the impact of the very gun control policies people like this initiate. It’s not as if she’s talking about just restricting guns in these urban enclaves, but throughout the land.

That means the debate has to look at the impact of such laws as a whole.

Further, the racial component is nothing more than a ham-handed attempt to try and prove that gun rights advocates are racist. However, she’s ignoring the fact that in those poor urban communities, most of those arrested for killing black children are black men. Let’s not forget, either, that 18 and 19-year-olds are routinely counted as “children” for statistical purposes, thus skewing the numbers. Nor should we forget that a large number of those “kids” are teens involved in gang activity.

Not all, mind you, but enough that I find the racial argument ridiculous.

Then again, the racial argument is almost always ridiculous.
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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.

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Trump Takes Major Step Toward Ending Taxpayers' Forced Partnership with Abortion Industry

Family Research Center: WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Department of Health and Human Services announced today finalized regulations for the Title X family planning program that reinstates President Ronald Reagan's "Protect Life Rule" which protects the integrity of the program by preventing the "co-location" of federally funded family planning clinics with abortion clinics.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins commented: "President Trump's HHS is taking a major step toward the ultimate goal of ending taxpayers' forced partnership with the abortion industry. The finalized 'protect life rule' draws a bright line between abortion and family planning programs -- just as the federal law requires and the Supreme Court has upheld.

"It's a shame that the federal Title X family planning program has been co-mingled with abortion ever since President Bill Clinton issued regulations not only removing the wall of separation President Reagan issued, but even illegally requiring groups to refer for abortion. The result is that Planned Parenthood -- an organization that's been under criminal investigation for selling baby body parts -- gets roughly $60 million per year through what has become a slush fund for the abortion giant.

"Planned Parenthood and other abortion centers will now have to choose between dropping their abortion services from any location that gets Title X dollars and moving those abortion operations offsite. Either way, this will loosen the group's hold on tens of millions of tax dollars.

"This announcement follows a strong statement by the president in which he committed to veto any legislation that weakens federal policy on abortion. President Trump has been persistent in fulfilling his pro-life campaign promises including ensuring that taxpayers are not in a forced partnership with the abortion industry," concluded Perkins.

Tags: President Trump, Takes Major Step, Ending Taxpayers' Forced Partnership, with Abortion Industry, Family Research Council, Tony Perkins To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Despite Short-Term Ruckus, Long-Term Progress on Border

Michael Barone
by Michael Barone: Compromise reached. Donald Trump is going to build -- his administration is said to be building already, with appropriated funds -- the wall, er, barrier. Congressional Democrats have reportedly inserted provisions that make it easier for purported asylum seekers arriving with children to disappear and augment the illegal population.

Compromise unreached. Recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program haven't received the legalization both sides say they should. Central Americans are still advised to drag their children on a dangerous journey through Mexico to the border. Border apprehensions in January were up sharply from those in 2018, indicating increased inflow but far below levels from 1992 to 2007.

But let's take a longer look at this unsatisfactory compromise, the result of President Trump's failure to get legislation from Republican congressional majorities, which is exacerbated by Democrats' determination to humiliate him.

Trump campaigned against quarter-century-long bipartisan policies toward Mexico, the NAFTA trade agreement and toleration of loose immigration enforcement. But as president, rather than reversing them, he has made relatively modest, arguably constructive changes.

That's because those policies have had some success in reducing the economic and cultural gap between the United States and its southern neighbor. That was the goal of the policies' prime architects, most of whom had Texas-Mexico border roots -- the two George Bushes; former Senator and Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen; and Mexico's 1988-94 president, Carlos Salinas.

Or so argues Andrew Selee, president of the Migration Policy Institute, in his recent book, "Vanishing Frontiers." I think he overstates the convergence in entertainment and sports preferences. And he doesn't convince me that the pessimistic fatalism of Mexico's heavily Mesoamerican culture, noted by writers from Octavio Paz to Jorge Castaneda, has morphed into the optimism of Americans' traditional belief in a connection between effort and reward.

Mexico's informal, off-the-books economy is much larger than America's, its endemic public sector corruption more deep-seated even than Chicago's.

Selee is on solid ground, however, in describing how the two countries' economies are tied together, and not just by auto supply chains. There's plenty of cross-border investment, with Mexican firms creating U.S. jobs and vice versa. Then-President Enrique Pena Nieto's 2013 reform has opened Mexico's oil industry to U.S. investment, reversing its previous deterioration.

Electric grids and gas pipelines have been linked. Incomes are up, and nearly half of Mexicans, in Selee's view, are solidly middle-class. Pickup trucks fill Walmart parking lots in northern Mexico, just as in Texas.

This has had policy consequences. Candidate Donald Trump disparaged NAFTA and Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, inaugurated in December, made a career of Yanqui bashing. But AMLO (as he's always called) allowed the outgoing Nieto to renegotiate. Trump sought and approved, and only marginally changed and cosmetically renamed NAFTA. Any 25-year-old agreement could use some adjustments, and neither president dared to rip apart economies now so closely linked together.

AMLO has also been helpful to Trump on border enforcement, stopping some of the caravans of asylum seekers from Central America short of the border and making provision for some to stay in Mexico. The current border problems are due primarily to U.S. judge-made law, which Congress refuses to change and which allows adults with no legitimate asylum claim -- "a well-founded fear of persecution" -- to use accompanying children as a get-out-of-detention card.

In any case, the resulting inflow of low-skill migrants, with possible wage-lowering effects, will be much smaller than that of Mexicans, legal and illegal, from 1982 to 2007. That inflow dropped suddenly, from hundreds of thousands annually to near zero comparatively. The housing market collapse and financial crisis, and resulting mortgage foreclosures and construction job disappearances, turned many Mexican immigrants' dreams into nightmares.

Now we get more immigrants from India or China annually than from Mexico, and the small inflow is more highly educated than before 2007. We have moved toward Trump's proclaimed goal -- more high-skill immigration, less low-skill immigration -- without legislation. Trump's extension and strengthening of current 600-mile border barriers will contribute marginally to that, despite Democrats' insistence walls are "immoral."

And despite the hostility of university and media elites, assimilation seems to be advancing during this dozen-year slowing of Mexican immigration. As evidence, Selee cites increasing English fluency, and sociologist Richard Alba cites extensive intermarriage. I'd add that like the Ellis Island immigrants a century ago, and despite the efforts of Democrats obsessed with identity politics, Hispanic immigrants seem to lack an adversarial attitude toward America.

So despite angry rhetoric and an unsatisfactory compromise, there's also reason for some long-term progress in narrowing the gap between two nations on each side of a border that's been problematic since 1846.
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Michael Barone is a Senior Political Analyst for the Washington Examiner and a Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel  and co-author of The Almanac of American Politics Shared by Rasmussen Reports.

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On to Caracas and Tehran!

by Patrick Buchanan: In the Venezuelan crisis, said President Donald Trump in Florida, “All options are on the table.” And if Venezuela’s generals persist in their refusal to break with Nicolas Maduro, they could “lose everything.”

Another example of Yankee bluster and bluff?

Or is Trump prepared to use military force to bring down Maduro and install Juan Guaido, the president of the national assembly who has declared himself president of Venezuela?

We will get an indication this weekend, as a convoy of food and humanitarian aid tries to force its way into Venezuela from Colombia.

Yet, even given the brutality of the regime and the suffering of the people — 1 in 10 have fled — it is hard to see Trump sending the Marines to fight the Venezuelan army in Venezuela.

Where would Trump get the authority for such a war?

Still, the lead role that Trump has assumed in the crisis raises a question. Does the reflexive interventionism — America is “the indispensable nation!” — that propelled us into the forever war of the Middle East, retain its hold on the American mind?

Next week, Trump meets in Hanoi with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.

While Kim has not tested his missiles or nuclear warheads in a year, few believe he will ever surrender the weapons that secure his survival and brought the U.S. superpower to the negotiating table.

Is Trump prepared to accept a deal that leaves a nuclear North but brings about a peace treaty, diplomatic relations and a withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Korean Peninsula? Or are American forces to be in Korea indefinitely?

Nancy Pelosi’s House just voted to cut off U.S. support for the Saudi war against the Houthi rebels in Yemen. The Senate may follow.

Yet Trump is prepared to use his first veto to kill that War Powers Resolution and retain the right to help the Saudi war effort.

What is our vital interest in Yemen’s civil war? Why would Trump not wish to extricate us from that moral and humanitarian disaster?

Answer: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his regime would sustain a strategic defeat should the Houthis, supported by Iran, prevail.

Before the Warsaw conference called by the U.S. to discuss the Middle East, Bibi Netanyahu’s office tweeted: “This is an open meeting with representatives of leading Arab countries, that are sitting down together with Israel in order to advance the common interest of war with Iran.”

The “war-with-Iran” tweet was swiftly deleted, replaced with a new tweet that spoke of “the common interest of combating Iran.”

Like many Americans with whom he is close, Bibi has never hidden his belief as to what we Americans must do to Iran.

Early this week came leaks that Trump officials have discovered that Shiite Iran has been secretly collaborating with the Sunni terrorists of al-Qaida. This could, headlined The Washington Times, provide “the legal rationale for U.S. military strikes” on Iran.

At the Munich Security Conference, however, NATO allies Britain, France and Germany recommitted to the Iran nuclear treaty from which Trump withdrew, and to improved economic relations with Tehran.

Trump pledged months ago to bring home the 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria and half of the 14,000 in Afghanistan. But he is meeting resistance in his own party in Congress and even in his own administration.

Reasons: A U.S. pullout from Syria would abandon our Kurdish allies to the Turks, who see them as terrorists, and would force the Kurds to cut a deal with Syria’s Bashar Assad and Russia for their security and survival.

This week, Britain and France informed us that if we leave Syria, then they leave, too.

As for pulling out of Afghanistan, the probable result would be the fall of the Kabul government and return of the Taliban, who hold more territory now than they have since being overthrown 18 years ago. For Afghans who cast their lot with the Americans, it would not go well.

U.S. relations with Russia, which Trump promised to improve, have chilled to Cold War status. The U.S. is pulling out of Ronald Reagan’s INF treaty, which bans land-based nuclear missiles of 300 to 3,000 mile range.

Putin has said that any reintroduction of land-based U.S. missiles to Europe would mean a new class of Russian missiles targeted on Europe — and on the United States.

Today, the U.S. maintains a policy of containment of Russia and China, which are more united than they have been since the first days of the Cold War. We are responsible for defending 28 NATO nations in Europe, twice as many as during the Cold War, plus Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand.

We have troops in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, and appear on the cusp of collisions with Venezuela and Iran. Yet we field armed forces a fraction of the size they were in the 1950s and 1960s and the Reagan era.

And the U.S. national debt is now larger than the U.S. economy.

This is imperial overstretch. It is unsustainable.
--------------------
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.

Tags: Patrick Buchanan, conservative, commentary, On to, Caracas, Tehran To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Capitalism and Poverty

Bono
by Kerby Anderson, Contributing Author: For decades most people knew Bono as a musician with the group U2 and a social activist. But today many of his fans would be surprised to hear him promote some of the benefits of capitalism.

At a World Economic Forum, Bono made this observation. “Capitalism is not immoral—it’s amoral. It requires our instruction. Capitalism has taken more people out of poverty than any other ism.’ But it is a wild beast and, if not tamed, it can chew up a lot of people along the way.”

As you can see he isn’t a complete supporter of the free market, but is willing to give some appreciation for what capitalism has done reduce to extreme poverty.

Hugh Whelchel, Executive Director of the Institute for Faith, Work, & Economics, begins his essay with this quote from Bono. He then goes on to document something I have talked about with a number of economists and theologians on the Point of View Radio Talk Show. Capitalism has been able to raise more than one billion people around the world out of extreme poverty.

On one of my radio programs I quoted a Barna survey of Americans. Three fourths of those surveyed believed that world poverty had increased. Only 7 percent thought it decreased. Scott Todd in his book, Hope Rising, reminds us that in 1981, a majority (52%) of the developing world’s population lived in extreme poverty. That percentage has been cut by more than half.

Hugh Whelchel reminds us that a recent Gallup poll shows that a majority (51%) of young people favors socialism over capitalism. The increased visibility of members of Congress who openly describe themselves as socialist suggest that the percentage of young people embracing socialism might increase.

These young people need to pay attention to Bono and the world economic statistics that demonstrate the power of a free market to relieve poverty.
------------
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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The Real Threat . . .

. . . Andrew McCabe along with many others in the deep state actually tried to overturn a duly elected president.
Editorial Cartoon by AF "Tony" Branco

Tags: AF Branco, editorial cartoon, Real Threat, Andrew McCabe, along with many others, in the deep state, actually tried, to overturn, a duly elected president To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Arkansas Passes Resolution Calling On Law Enforcement To “Suspend Contact & Outreach” With Hamas-linked CAIR

by Robert SpencerThe Arkansas House and Arkansas Senate passed a long overdue resolution in the USA.  Why hasn’t every state done this? CAIR is an unindicted co-conspirator in a Hamas terror funding case — per the Justice Department. CAIR officials have repeatedly refused to denounce Hamas and Hizballah as terrorist groups. Several former CAIR officials have been convicted of various crimes related to jihad terror. CAIR’s cofounder and longtime Board chairman (Omar Ahmad), as well as its chief spokesman (Ibrahim Hooper), have made Islamic supremacist statements about how Islamic law should be imposed in the U.S. CAIR has opposed virtually every anti-terror measure that has been proposed or implemented and has been declared a terror organization by the United Arab Emirates. CAIR’s Hussam Ayloush in 2017 called for the overthrow of the U.S. government. CAIR’s national outreach manager is an open supporter of Hamas
ARRA News Service: Image via the Geller Report
No law enforcement officials anywhere should be working with this unsavory group.

Christopher Holton, at the Center for Security Policy, addressed the "Arkansas Legislature Takes a Stand Against CAIR”:

On Monday, February 18, the Arkansas House of Representatives sent a strong signal to law enforcement agencies within its borders to beware of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).

Representative Brandt Smith, the House Majority Whip authored HR1006 which calls on law enforcement to suspend contact and outreach with CAIR. The resolution was adopted by the House with overwhelming support.

The resolution was conceived due to CAIR’s nefarious ties and history, and especially because of the multiple CAIR directors, employees and members who have been convicted on terrorism and terrorism-related charges over the years.

The text of the resolution appears below:

WHEREAS, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has suspended all formal contacts with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (“CAIR”) due to evidence demonstrating a relationship between CAIR and Hamas, a designated foreign terrorist organization of the United States Department of State; and

WHEREAS, in United States of America v. Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, the largest successful prosecution of terrorism-financing in our country’s history, CAIR was identified as an associate of the Muslim Brotherhood and was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the trial; and

WHEREAS, CAIR opened its first office in Washington, D.C., with the help of a grant from the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, a charitable organization that was closed by the United States Department of the Treasury for funding jihadist terrorist organizations; and

WHEREAS, United States ally, the United Arab Emirates, officially designated CAIR as a terrorist organization in 2014; and

WHEREAS, in March 2011, Muthanna al-Hanooti, a director within CAIR, was sentenced to a year in federal prison for violating United States sanctions against Iraq under Saddam Hussein; and

WHEREAS, in 2006, the co-founder of CAIR’s parent organization, Islamic Association for Palestine (“IAP”), Sami Al-Arian, was sentenced to 57 months in prison on terrorism charges for financing Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a designated foreign terrorist organization; and

WHEREAS, in 2004, CAIR-Northern Virginia director Abdurahman Alamoudi pled guilty to terrorism-related financial and conspiracy charges, which resulted in a 23-year federal prison sentence; and

WHEREAS, in 2009, Ghassan Elashi, who served as a founding board member for CAIR’s regional chapter in Texas, was sentenced to a total of 65 years in prison after being convicted of 10 counts of conspiracy to provide, and the provision of, material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization; 11 counts of conspiracy to provide, and the provision of, funds, goods and services to a Specially Designated Terrorist as determined by the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury; 10 counts of conspiracy to commit, and the commission of, money laundering; 1 count of conspiracy to impede and impair the Internal Revenue Service; and 2 counts of filing a false tax return; and

WHEREAS, Randall Todd (Ismail) Royer, who served as a communications specialist and civil rights coordinator for CAIR and trained with and set up an internet-based newsletter for Lashkar-I-Taiba, an al Qaeda-tied Kashmir organization that is listed on the United States Department of State’s international terror list, was also indicted on charges of conspiring to help al Qaeda in the Taliban battle American troops were fighting in Afghanistan and was sentenced to 20 years in prison on April 9, 2004; and

WHEREAS, in September 2003, CAIR’s former community affairs director, Bassem Khafagi, pleaded guilty to 3 federal counts of bank and visa fraud, and agreed to be deported to Egypt after he had funneled money to activities supporting terrorism and had published material advocating suicide attacks against the United States, illegal activities that took place while he was employed by CAIR; and

WHEREAS, Rabih Haddad, the Ann Arbor, Michigan-based CAIR fundraiser, was arrested on terrorism-related charges and was deported from the United States due to his work as Executive Director of the Global Relief Foundation, which in October 2002 was closed by the United States Department of Treasury for financing al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations,

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE NINETY-SECOND GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF ARKANSAS:

THAT the House of Representatives encourages law enforcement to suspend contact and outreach with the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
---------------------
Robert Spencer is the editor to Jihad Watch.

Tags: Arkansas. Passes Resolution. Calling On. Law Enforcement. “Suspend Contact & Outreach.” With Hamas-linked, CAIR To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Ever Again?

by Paul Jacob, Contributing Author: Today marks a solemn anniversary. Seventy-six years ago -- on Feb. 22, 1943 -- three German students at the University of Munich were tried for treason by the Nazis, convicted and then executed, all in one day.

The method of execution: guillotine.

Days earlier, Hans Scholl and his sister Sophie had been caught distributing a leaflet at the university. It was damning -- of the Nazi regime; and, from the perspective of that Nazi regime, of the Scholls: "In the name of German youth, we demand restitution by Adolf Hitler's state of our personal freedom, the most precious treasure we have, out of which he has swindled us in the most miserable way."

Hans had in his pocket a draft of another leaflet, in Christoph Probst's handwriting. That seventh leaflet, never distributed, led to the arrest and execution of Christoph, along with Hans and Sophie.

The three were part of a cadre of students who wrote and distributed leaflets under the name The White Rose -- a symbol of purity standing against the monstrous evil of the Third Reich. The leaflets decried the crimes of National Socialism, including the mass murder of Jews. And they urged Germans to rise up.

Three more members were later executed: Willi Graf, Alex Schmorell and Professor Kurt Huber. Another eleven were imprisoned.

Their resistance was ultimately futile, unsuccessful . . . but not pointless.

They would not remain cogs in the killing machine that had taken the most advanced society in the world to the depths of depravity. They took a stand against what George Orwell later characterized as "a boot stamping on a human face, forever."

We often say, with earnest piety, "Never again." But our dedication should be inspired by the White Rose. When we encounter tyranny, think of the Scholls and say "Again for Freedom."
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
N.B. For an excellent account of The White Rose, consult the aptly titled A Noble Treason, by Richard Hanser. See also Jacob Hornberger’s The White Rose — A Lesson in Dissent. The Orwell quotation is from the dystopian novel 1984.
------------------
Paul Jacob (@Common_Sense_PJ ) is author of Common Sense which provides daily commentary about the issues impacting America and about the citizens who are doing something about them. He is also President of the Liberty Initiative Fund (LIFe) as well as Citizens in Charge Foundation. Jacob is a contributing author on the ARRA News Service.

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FCC Needs To Limit Locals Piling Taxes And Fees Onto Cable Bills

FCC Commissioners
by Phil Kerpen, Contributing Author: If you "cut the cord" and switch from cable TV to streaming services, you will probably notice that one big difference in price happens because that long section of your bill with taxes and fees is gone completely or dramatically slimmed down.

And as more customers go in that direction and competition intensifies on the incumbent franchised cable companies, they are justifiably calling foul on the often outrageous demands local governments place on them that result in more taxes and fees on your bill.

To begin with, there is the maximum 5 percent franchise fee that localities are allowed to charge on cable service under the federal Cable Act. That places cable at a disadvantage versus its video competitors, but it's authorized by law. That 5 percent fee alone delivers over $3 billion a year to local governments.

Unsatisfied with that haul, however, local governments have begun concocting a wide variety of additional taxes, fees, and mandates that go on top of and violate the 5 percent federal cap.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is considering a rule that would close these loopholes and clarify that the 5 percent cap applies to all of the various and sundry cable-related exactions creative local governments have come up with, and would prohibit fees on broadband and other non-cable services as a condition of a cable franchise.

It is a good and necessary proposal and should be made final, before the most abusive local practices spread even further.

An appendix to the cable industry filing with the FCC shows how far things have gone already, including a number of Ohio ordinances requiring a "certificate of registration" with expensive regulatory requirements before a cable operator can offer non-cable services; a requirement in Corvalis, Oregon that requires a special franchise for Wi-Fi deployment; new additional fees for access to public rights-of-way in North Carolina, Kentucky, and New York City; and lengthy lists of communities all over the country demanding free government channels and free cable and Internet service at parks, libraries, government buildings, etc. Many of these concessions may sound desirable – but they are costs that are ultimately borne by cable customers. To the extent free services are desired, they can be demanded but must be counted towards the five percent cap, as the FCC has proposed and the Cable Act requires.

Then there are the taxes. Eugene, Oregon is charging a 7 percent fee on broadband revenues in addition to their existing franchise fee on cable. And after the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of Eugene, some other cities across the state have followed suit with similar fees. Similarly, Los Angeles, California is charging its 5 percent "possessory interest" tax on broadband and phone service. In Texas, cable companies are being charged for right-of-way access twice – once for cable and once for phone – even though their services share a single wire. These taxes/fees violate federal policy against local Internet taxes and will only discourage the deployment of faster and farther-reaching broadband.

The FCC under Trump's appointees has been aggressive in lowering costs and encouraging deployment of broadband by wireline and wireless phone companies by reversing heavy-handed Obama-era broadband regulations, streamlining pole access regulations and fees, and allowing retirement of legacy networks and services. All of that is great news for consumers, and Internet speeds have risen to record highs.

But if the FCC is not now equally aggressive in limiting local government franchise abuses, then cable – which is investing heavily in multi-gigabit speeds, the next giant leap in broadband capabilities – will be unfairly disadvantaged. And consumers will have an even longer, more obnoxious list of government taxes and fees on their cable bills.
------------------
Phil Kerpen is president of American Commitment. Follow him at (@kerpen) and on Facebook. He is a contributing author at the ARRA News Service.

Tags: Phil Kerpen, American Commitment, FCC, Needs To Limit, Locals Piling Taxes And Fees, Cable Bills To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

If Congressional GOP Votes To Overturn National Emergency Declaration To Build Wall . . .

. . . they will prove President Trump is right about the swamp.
by Robert Romano: By declaring a national emergency on the southern border and at least attempting to repurpose military construction funds to the wall — whether for steel or concrete barriers or both — President Donald Trump has politically inoculated himself against Congress’ failure to deliver on his signature campaign promise to protect America.

Trump has done everything in his power to get it done. He managed to get Congress to approve $1.6 billion in 2018 for replacing existing fencing with new steel barriers and he got another $1.375 billion in 2019 for some new steel barriers.

The first leg of that was like pulling teeth, as Trump dealt with a reluctant Republican leadership in Congress that repeatedly delayed the issue in order to avert a government shutdown. And then the second leg of that came after Republicans lost control of the House, and only because Trump opted to reject a funding bill without border barriers, prompting the longest partial government shutdown in history. Finally, to end the shutdown, Democrats relented and allowed some new border barrier money to flow.

With the emergency declaration, the White House estimates that at least another $8.1 billion will be unlocked, well within the President’s legal authority: “About $601 million from the Treasury Forfeiture Fund… Up to $2.5 billion under the Department of Defense funds transferred for Support for Counterdrug Activities (Title 10 United States Code, section 284)… Up to $3.6 billion reallocated from Department of Defense military construction projects under the President’s declaration of a national emergency (Title 10 United States Code, section 2808)…”

That is, so long as Congress does not vote to overturn the national emergency declaration, something Congress has never done once in 43 years since the National Emergencies Act was adopted. More than 50 emergencies have been declared during that time and no less than 30 besides the one Trump declared are still active.

Again, not once has Congress ever voted to overturn such an emergency. So, are Republicans in Congress going to let this one be the first after all this time? They would be wise to consider the political fallout if that’s the way they go.

A vote to overturn the emergency will rightly be viewed by Trump’s base as a vote against funding the wall and a vote against letting President Trump do everything in his power to secure the border. It will be cast as a vote to prevent him from securing the border.

Some will argue that the National Emergencies Act creates exception to Congress’ power of the purse by allowing the President to reprogram already allocated monies to address an emergency, and that is most certainly true.

It is also well within Congress’ constitutional lawmaking authority to do so, the same way it gives broad grants of budget authority to departments and agencies to spend as they see fit. Departments and agencies engage in thousands of federal contracts that are not individually approved by Congress. They are granted monies to spend by Congress, and then the executive branch figures out the best way to achieve the legislatively delineated missions via the contracting process.

So, if there is an objection to reprogramming funds in national emergencies, then there should be similar objections raised to appropriating funds for broad purposes that departments and agencies then figure out the details of later.

In fact, monies are moved around all the time. Congress passes laws every year, for example in appropriations bills, that allow departments and agencies limited transfer authority to reprogram funds even when there is not a national emergency declared. Those objecting to reprogramming in principle because they think it should go back to Congress first should also be pushing measures to address transfer authority granted federal departments. But members are not doing that.

They’re looking at this one — and only this one — instance of transfer authority in the case of Trump’s emergency declaration on the southern border. The reason appears simple. Either, Congress doesn’t really want the nation’s borders to be secured, even as deadly drugs, gangs and human trafficking continue to pour into the country. If that’s not an emergency, then what is?

Or, perhaps it’s more cynical than that. They really don’t want Trump to keep his promises, in the hopes it will hurt him politically.

Either way, the crisis on the border is clear. On drug overdoses, over 70,000 Americans are dying every year. Some illegal immigrants are also responsible for the murders of Americans. The President, in his Congressionally, legally granted determination, believes creating more barriers on the border via a national emergency, would stem some of the drugs and murderers coming into the nation — saving American lives. That’s what the President is supposed to do.

Which is why it was politically wise for Trump to go the national emergency route. Even if Congress blocks him or overrides his veto on the declaration, it will favor his politics in 2020 — although it probably won’t do much to help Republicans reclaim the House of Representatives. Why? Once again, Congressional Republicans will then get the blame for failing to build the wall as Republican Senators put the nail in the coffin. For a solid example, look at the failure to repeal and replace Obamacare in the Senate, which like the failure to fund the wall in full, hurt Republicans in the House midterms in 2018.

Either way, Trump will get credit for doing everything in his power to protect America, and Congress will be the losers who voted to stop him. Trump ran in 2016 as the outsider who would stand up to the swamp in Washington, D.C. That he was the candidate who would put America first when no one else would. It’s why he won. If Congress blocks funding for the wall again, it will prove to the American people that Trump was right all along about the swamp — and they may very well be helping him get reelected.
-----------------
Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.

Tags: Robert Romano, Americans for Limited Government, Congressional GOP Votes, National Emergency Declaration, Build Wall, the swamp To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Vandals Set The Wrong General Lee Monument on Fire

ARRA News Service Editor: Hopefully, North Carolina adults and their state legislature are beginning to wonder where their education system has failed in their state's history.
Burnt marble replica of Maj. Gen. William C. Lee
at the Major Gen. William C Lee Airborne Museum
by Tamar Lapin: Vandals in North Carolina attempted to torch a statue of Gen. Lee — but they got the wrong guy.

The two punks doused a marble replica of World War II veteran Maj. Gen. William C. Lee — not the Confederate leader Robert E. Lee — outside of the veteran’s namesake museum last week, authorities said.

“The United States owes so much to our military forces and all five military branches are what has kept this country safe and free for all these years,” the museum said on Facebook.

“Then comes along some jerk punk (s) and he tries to burn the statue of WWII Major General William C. Lee.”

Museum officials believe the defacers mistook Gen. William Lee with Gen. Robert E. Lee.

“I think it was a big mistake,” Mark Johnson, the museum’s curator, told WNCN.

The statue was burned up the side and it could cost several hundred dollars to repair.

Local police are looking for the vandals.
---------------------
Tamar Lapin (@TamarLapin) writes for the New York Post.

Tags: North Carolina, Robert E. Lee, Vandals, fire, Wrong General Lee Monument To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Medicare’s Financial Condition Is Getting Worse. Here’s What Trump and Congress Can Do.

Medicare Part A's hospitalization trust fund
will be insolvent by 2026, per Medicare trustees.
by Robert Moffit: The financial condition of Medicare—the huge program that covers over 58 million beneficiaries—is deteriorating. The president and Congress are legally required to address the problem this year.

For the taxpayers, it’s essential that they slow the growth in Medicare spending. For the beneficiaries, they can improve the program’s overall performance, benefit structure, and financial condition so as to preserve Medicare for the future.

In their 2018 report to Congress and the president, the Medicare board of trustees estimated that the Part A hospitalization trust fund—though financed by a steady stream of federal payroll taxes—is headed for insolvency by 2026. That means the program will not be able to pay for all of the legally prescribed hospital benefits.

Only a quarter of Medicare’s physician and drug costs are covered by premiums paid by beneficiaries and other “dedicated” revenues. The other three-quarters are covered by taxpayers through general revenues (federal income and business taxes) drawn from the Treasury. And those costs are only rising.

Taxpayers have a big problem. The Medicare trustees project that the transfer of general revenues into the program will more than double from an estimated $315.2 billion in 2018 to $632.6 billion in 2027. Looking ahead, they estimate Medicare’s share of total federal business and income taxes will climb from 15.2 percent in 2017 to 23.6 percent in 2040.

Meanwhile, Medicare and other federal entitlements are driving federal deficits and debt to historically high levels. The Congressional Budget Office reports, “Those large budget deficits would arise because outlays—particularly for Social Security, Medicare, and interest on the debt—would grow steadily under current law, and revenues would not keep pace with those outlays.”

Enacting the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, Congress anticipated the potentially negative impact of rapidly rising Medicare spending on the federal budget. Thus, current law requires the Medicare trustees to issue a Medicare “funding warning” if they determine (in two consecutive years) that general revenues would exceed 45 percent of total Medicare spending within a seven-year period.

In their 2018 report, the trustees made such a determination and formally issued the Medicare “funding warning.” Under the law, the president must submit a legislative proposal to Congress in response to the warning within 15 days of submitting his fiscal year 2020 budget proposal. The Congress, in turn, must consider the president’s legislative proposal, or an alternative measure, on an expedited basis.

No Shortage of Policy Options
To the advantage of beneficiaries, The Heritage Foundation (among others) recommends combining Medicare Parts A and B, while guaranteeing seniors protection from the costs of catastrophic illness and reforming the program’s complex and cumbersome cost-sharing arrangements. This would not only simplify the program and make out-of-pocket costs predictable, but would also guarantee seniors peace of mind. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that such a change would yield $116 billion in savings over 10 years.

To the advantage of beneficiaries and taxpayers alike, the president and Congress could bring Medicare’s age of eligibility into line with Social Security at age 67. This would not only encourage older Americans to continue to deploy their talents and experience in the workplace, but would also provide some relief to the taxpayers. The Congressional Budget Office estimates a 10-year savings of $42 billion.

Taxpayers would also benefit if the president and Congress phased down taxpayer subsidies for the wealthiest Medicare recipients, securing, according to Heritage analysts, a one-year savings of $28 billion. They could also gradually raise the share of beneficiary premiums from 25 to 35 percent of total premium costs. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that such a change would yield a 10-year savings of $389 billion.

For beneficiaries and taxpayers alike, the best long-term option, developed by Heritage and others, would transform the entire Medicare program into a robust system of beneficiary choice and health plan competition (including traditional Medicare), funded on a defined contribution basis, not unlike the popular and successful Federal Employees Health Benefit Program. Seniors would thus be able to choose among a variety of plans offering comprehensive and guaranteed benefits at competitive prices.

Such a market-driven program would be superior all-around—stimulating innovation while also securing better value for health care dollars.

This year, Congress and the president have a legal obligation to address Medicare’s financial conditions, but they also have a major opportunity to improve the performance of the program for current and future Medicare beneficiaries and taxpayers alike.

Inaction Is a Pricey Alternative
The Medicare trustees estimate that over the next 75 years, Medicare’s unfunded obligations will amount to $37.7 trillion. That’s the dollar estimate of the cost of all promised benefits not paid for through payroll taxes, beneficiary premiums, or other “dedicated” revenues.

If, however, the trajectory of Medicare spending follows a more likely set of assumptions based on policy rather than current law, the program’s long-term unfunded obligations would amount to $47.3 trillion, according to the Medicare Office of the Actuary.

Bigger Debt Guarantees Bigger Taxes
The Medicare trustees have done their job—they issued their warning in accordance with their legal obligations. Now, it is up to the president and Congress to respond. It is not just a good idea. It is not simply good public policy. It is the law.
-----------------
Robert Moffit is a seasoned veteran of more than three decades in Washington policy making. He is a senior fellow in The Heritage Foundation's Center for Health Policy Studies and contributes to The Daily Signal.

Tags: Robert Moffit, The Daily Signal, The Heritage Foundation, Medicare, Financial Condition, Getting Worse, What Trump and Congress Can Do 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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