How to Put Parents Back in Control of Their Child’s Education

Sen. Mike Lee /

A good primary and secondary education is the cornerstone of the American Dream: it prepares us for economic and personal success and facilitates our pursuit of happiness.

Most parents are powerless to influence the quality of their child’s education.

But too often the history of America’s public school system has been a story of dashed hopes, deferred dreams, and unfulfilled promises. Hopes of parents—that the local school system would prepare their kids to climb higher than they ever could. Dreams of students—that their teachers would inspire and believe in them. And promises of policymakers—that more money would fix a fundamentally broken system.

Millions of low-income families who are stuck in underperforming schools have no way out and no way to choose something better.

These families are not just let down by our nation’s dysfunctional education policy—they are trapped by it.

Providing a solid education for the next generation is, as Abraham Lincoln once wrote, “the most important subject which we as a people can be engaged in.”

Policymakers should aim, as he did, “to see the time when education, and by its means, morality, society, enterprise and industry, shall become much more general than at present.”

That’s why I recently introduced in the Senate a bill that would empower the people most acutely committed to the quality of our education system: America’s moms and dads. My colleague on the other side of the Capitol, Rep. Luke Messer, R-Ind., has introduced a companion bill in the House.

By giving parents more power to invest in their child’s education and to choose what school best meets their needs, the Enhancing Educational Opportunities for All Act takes an important step toward restoring accountability to our public education system—something that has been missing for far too long.

Under our current system—which has remained essentially unchanged since President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act—most parents are powerless to influence the quality of their child’s education.

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah (Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Newscom)

What occurs in public school classrooms around the country—what teachers teach and how they teach it—is the result of a long, convoluted, bureaucratic chain of command that zigzags its way from Washington to local school districts, but never includes parents.

First, Congress passes legislation authorizing federal bureaucrats to establish rules, regulations, and standards with which states must comply in order to receive federal education funds.

Next, state officials refine—or in some cases distort—these Washington directives, writing narrower rules for their school districts, which then establish the specific policies for individual schools.

At no point in this decision-making process are parents consulted.

The problem facing our public school system today is not about a lack of money. The problem is dysfunctional government policy.

Instead, they are left with a “take it or leave it” choice: either accept the education offered at the local public school—no matter how bad it may be—or buy a better alternative, by moving closer to a better school or paying private school tuition.

For America’s most affluent families, this is no big deal—they can afford private schools and so have the power to choose the school that is best for their children. For everyone else, it precludes parents from making choices about their children’s education.

So our bill would expand school choice to all parents, regardless of socio-economic status or zip code, by allowing federal “Title I” K-12 support funds to follow low-income students to any public or private school of their choice.

It would also remove the contribution limits on Coverdell education savings accounts and allow “529” account funds to cover K-12 education expenses.

Our bill would give working parents more opportunities to invest in a variety of learning services and products outside the classroom, such as tutoring, online courses and textbooks.

The problem facing our public school system today is not about a lack of money—we have nearly tripled our investments in elementary and secondary students since 1970. The problem is dysfunctional government policy—however well intentioned—and a lack of accountability.

And that’s exactly what we should expect when Washington bureaucrats have more control than parents over a child’s education. We have a moral and economic obligation to flip this equation and put parents back in the driver’s seat.

For when we tolerate a system in which the quality of a child’s education depends on her parents’ zip code, we fail to live up to the ideals at the heart of American exceptionalism.

And when millions of children learn from a young age not to dream big, but to surrender to the hopelessness of low expectations, we will live in a society where upward mobility is no longer rule but the exception.

We can and we must do better.

Rand Paul Slams Federal Reserve’s Secrecy, Reintroduces Bill to ‘Audit the Fed’ - Daily Signal

Rand Paul Slams Federal Reserve’s Secrecy, Reintroduces Bill to ‘Audit the Fed’

Sen. Mike Lee / Ben Smith /

Sen. Rand Paul is reviving his push to audit the Federal Reserve.

The Kentucky Republican and presumptive 2016 presidential candidate said he wants to bring several of the Fed’s monetary activities under congressional oversight.

In a statement released Monday, Paul said it was time to end the secrecy behind the Fed. He believes an audit is the best way to do it.

“[An] audit of the Fed will finally allow the American people to know exactly how their money is being spent by Washington.” Paul said.

He slammed the Fed’s current operating practices, saying it works “under a cloak of secrecy and it has gone on for too long.”

Paul concluded that “the American people have a right to know what the Federal Reserve is doing with our nation’s money supply.”

>>> Much More to Friedman Than Rule-Based Monetary Policy

Calls for a Fed audit increased after the 2008 financial crisis. The ensuing collapse in the housing market and financial industry sparked an ongoing effort to bring more sunlight to the agency.

Norbert Michel, a research fellow in financial regulations at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal he agreed with the senator.

“There is no justification for secrecy,” Michel said. “They should have a full policy audit and the Federal Open Market Committee’s full transcript, not just the minutes, should be released.”

Although the main goal of Paul’s legislation is to have a full audit of the Fed, completed within six months, there are several other reforms he’d like to implement. They include eliminating restrictions on the Government Accountability Office’s ability to conduct oversight and giving Congress oversight of Fed policies like quantitative easing.

>>> House Republicans Attempt to Lift ‘Veil of Secrecy’ From Federal Reserve

The bill has already gained popularity in the Republican caucus with 30 co-sponsors, including Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., potential presidential rivals in 2016.

“The Fed has expanded its balance sheet fivefold, yet economic growth is still tepid, businesses are sitting on cash, and median income and household wealth are depressed,” Cruz noted in a statement.

Cruz also slammed the Fed for its secrecy.

“Enough is enough,” Cruz said. “The Federal Reserve needs to fully open its books so Congress and the American people can see what has been going on. This is a crucial first step to getting back to a more stable dollar and a healthy economy for the long term.”

Michelle Obama Goes Scarfless in Saudi Arabia - Daily Signal

Michelle Obama Goes Scarfless in Saudi Arabia

Sen. Mike Lee / Ben Smith / Ericka Andersen /

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, joined by the new King Salman of Saudi Arabia, shake hands with members of the Saudi Royal Family at the Erqa Royal Palace in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Photo: State Department/Sipa USA/Newscom)

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, joined by the new King Salman of Saudi Arabia, shake hands with members of the Saudi Royal Family at the Erqa Royal Palace in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Photo: State Department/Sipa USA/Newscom)

First Lady Michelle Obama caused quite a stir when she arrived in Saudi Arabia for the funeral of King Abdullah. As she exited Air Force One, Obama wasn’t wearing the traditional head scarf worn by women in the extremely conservative country.

Immediately, Twitter was abuzz. Saudi tweeters criticized her decision, using hashtags like #Michelle_Obama_NotVeiled. Many said she was not respecting Saudi culture.

Others pointed out she wasn’t the first to visit the country without a head scarf.

Condoleezza Rice, Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton have all opted out of wearing the scarf on visits, so it’s odd that this visit in particular should cause such an uproar.

Was Obama purposefully making a statement in a country known for human rights abuses towards women? It’s hard to believe the answer could be no — and many are applauding her move.

Obama recently did wear a headscarf when visiting Indonesia – but Saudi is most well-known for their discrimination against women. I would bet she honored local customs in Indonesia, but not in Saudi Arabia, because she wanted to make a point about the culture in Saudi Arabia.

Reporters traveling with the president and his wife say the first lady stood behind her husband and waited to be approached before shaking hands or greeting anyone in their company.

It must feel odd to be treated second class simply because you’re a female — especially as First Lady of the United States. Her facial expressions during the exchange certainly didn’t hide her disdain, at least that’s how it appears.

The response to criticism of the first lady here in the United States has been refreshingly bipartisan, with conservatives and liberals alike supporting her decision to go without a scarf. But, really if there is a controversy to focus on, it’s not this one.

As Aryn Baker wrote in Time:

When it comes to women’s rights in the kingdom, the headscarf is the least of any Saudi activist’s worries. She is more likely to be concerned about the right to drive, the right to vote, the right to keep her children after asking for divorce and the right to travel, marry and work without express permission from a male guardian.

Many criticize the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia, for those reasons and more. For example, already four people have been beheaded in the week since the new king took over.

Others have a different view. As President Obama once said, “Sometimes we have to balance our need to speak to them about human rights issues with immediate concerns that we have in terms of countering terrorism or dealing with regional stability.”

If the only thing Michelle Obama could do this week in Saudi Arabia was bare her head to make a statement for woman kind, I’m sure glad she did.

Ted Cruz Pushes Plan to Criminalize Political Targeting by IRS - Daily Signal

Ted Cruz Pushes Plan to Criminalize Political Targeting by IRS

Sen. Mike Lee / Ben Smith / Ericka Andersen / Ben Smith /

Sen. Ted Cruz wants to protect taxpayers from political targeting by the Internal Revenue Service. The Texas Republican introduced legislation yesterday making it crime to engage in such behavior as questions still linger about the full extent of the IRS scandal.

This is not the first time Cruz has offered this type of legislation. In February 2014, he introduced amendments to the STOP Identity Theft Act. Those measures, however, were defeated by Democrats and did not make it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“Free speech is not a partisan issue. The IRS has no business meddling with the First Amendment rights of Americans,” Cruz said during last year’s debate.

>>> 4 Things You Need to Know About the Findings on the IRS Targeting Scandal

With a new Republican Senate majority, Cruz is hopeful that this time the language will pass independently as a bill. In a press release, Cruz blasted the lack of action by President Obama and his administration in response to the IRS scandal.

“In May 2013, President Obama declared the IRS’s illegal targeting of conservative groups ‘intolerable and inexcusable,’ yet to this date no one has been held accountable for it,” Cruz said in a statement.

Cruz’s bill would make it a crime for any IRS employee to willfully target anyone based solely on political beliefs. Any employee found in violation would be subject to a fine, up to 10 years in prison, or both.

>>> The Wrongdoers at the IRS Get Away Scot-Free

“This is a well thought out amendment to the IRS code to try and deter and punish the type of naked political targeting engaged in by Lois Lerner and other IRS employees,” said Hans von Spakovsky, manager of the election law reform initiative and senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation.

Lerner, former director of the IRS’ Exempt Organizations Unit, left the agency in 2013 after news of the targeting scandal broke. Lawmakers voted to hold her in contempt of Congress last year.

Von Spakovsky said abuses like the targeting of tea party and conservative groups should never happen again.

“This bill is needed given the unapologetic stance the IRS has taken over its misbehavior and it’s prior history of such actions,” he concluded.

Cruz isn’t alone in pushing for a legislative remedy. Today in the House of Representatives, Reps. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Peter Roskam, R-Ill., put forward their own plan.

“Americans should never feel silenced or threatened by their own government,” Roskam said in press release. Ryan added that his legislation “will stop IRS abuse and protect the American’s people’s fundamental right to speak out on issues they care about.”

Cruz is a Senate co-sponsor of the Ryan-Roskam bill, although it is different from his version.

What You Need to Know About Congress’ Debate on Iran Sanctions - Daily Signal

What You Need to Know About Congress’ Debate on Iran Sanctions

Sen. Mike Lee / Ben Smith / Ericka Andersen / Ben Smith / Josh Siegel /

In his State of the Union address, President Obama had a strong message for a Congress angling to impose new sanctions on Iran: stay out of my way.

Obama argued that additional punishments would undermine ongoing negotiations between the U.S. and Iran to prevent Tehran from having the capability to make a nuclear weapon.

At first, his blunt warning did little to sway the Senate, which had planned to bring to the floor a sanctions bill, authored by Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Mark Kirk, R-Ill.

But Tuesday, a group of Senate Democrats whose votes would have been needed to pass the legislation abruptly relented, writing in a letter to Obama that they will give the White House a two-month reprieve before pushing for more sanctions.

The senators said they would wait until at least late March.

House Speaker John Boehner deepened the staredown between the legislative and executive branch on Iran when last week, he invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak before Congress on the topic.

Below, The Daily Signal answers burning questions that still surround the ongoing nuclear saga — with repercussions felt from the U.S. to Iran to Israel.

What is the status of negotiations?

In November, Iran, the U.S. and five other world powers failed to resolve their 12-year standoff over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, extending a deadline for talks until July, with the goal of reaching a framework for a deal by the end of March.

At the time, negotiators insisted that an interim agreement would continue to restrain any attempt by Iran to develop a nuclear weapon.

Among other things, the interim agreement — reached more than a year ago — limits the number of centrifuges Iran can operate to enrich uranium, preventing new ones from coming on line, and restricts the level of enrichment to below what would be needed to develop a nuclear weapon.

At the time, lead U.S. negotiator and Secretary of State John Kerry declined to reveal the gaps remaining in the talks.

But news reports said that disagreements centered on the number of centrifuges Iran is allowed to permanently operate and how much uranium could be enriched, as well issues of international inspections.

Iran claims its nuclear program is peaceful and exists only to produce energy for civilian use.

At a hearing Tuesday, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee doubted that the extension of talks had forced the Iranians to concede anything.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ed Royce (Photo: CSUF Photos/ CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ed Royce doubts the Iranians will concede anything in negotiations over its nuclear program. (Photo: CSUF Photos/ CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

“Negotiations, now into their second extension, appear to be stalemated,” said Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif. “Meanwhile, Tehran has been advancing its nuclear program. These actions clearly violate the spirit of the interim agreement. Yet the administration seems more concerned that sanctions could sink an agreement. Let’s be clear: if an agreement is sunk, it is because Iran has no interest in abandoning its drive to nuclear weapons, which is what many of us believe.”

“Let’s be clear: if an agreement is sunk, it is because Iran has no interest in abandoning its drive to nuclear weapons, which is what many of us believe,” says @RepEdRoyce.

Iran is currently under some sanctions. How are those working out?

At the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, Robert J. Einhorn, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, asserted that the current sanctions enacted under the interim agreement are having a powerful impact on Iran’s economy.

“Iran continues to feel immense pressure under existing sanctions,” said Einhorn, who once served as assistant secretary of state for nonproliferation under President Bill Clinton.

“Although companies around the world have held discussions with Iran in the hope of entering or reentering the Iranian market, they are taking a very cautious approach, waiting for a nuclear deal to be concluded and sanctions to be removed before taking the risk of signing new contracts. The Treasury Department estimates that in 2014, oil sanctions alone deprived Iran of about $40 billion in oil revenues.”

Secretary of State John Kerry is leading negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Newscom

Secretary of State John Kerry is leading negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Newscom

But though its economy is hobbled, Iran has been experiencing some economic growth and lowered inflation in trying to rebound from a recession.

If talks collapse and Iran works to build a nuclear bomb, why would that matter?

Eric S. Edelman, the under secretary of defense in the Bush administration, said at the House hearing that preventing a nuclear Iran is “the most pressing national security challenge today.”

“It would threaten the elimination of Israel and risk triggering a nuclear-arms race in region,” Edelman said.

Iran is thought to be assisting Shi’a militias in Iraq, which Edelman says has “fed the resurgence of the Islamic State.”

In Syria, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps provides aid to the brutal regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

And Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have taken over much of the country in recent months, resulting in the resignation of the country’s American-backed president.

How would additional sanctions help or hurt the negotiations meant to stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions?

Einhorn believes Congress should stay out of the way, even though the sanctions being talked about would only go into effect if the new negotiation timeline passes without a deal.

“New sanctions legislation at this time, even if not imposed until later on, would have the unintended effect of hardening Iran’s position and weakening the U.S. position,” Einhorn said.

“Opponents would seize on this by saying that the U.S. has no intention of ultimately removing sanctions, therefore an agreement is pointless. We should be patient.”

Freshman Democratic Rep. Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania, speaking at the Tuesday hearing, has a more nuanced position on Congress’ role in the success or failure of the talks.

“I am someone who is generally a supporter of the president, but with that said, I can’t understand the logic of saying that if there are no sanctions today but sanctions by a day certain, how we would be seen as responsible for sinking these negotiations,” Boyle said.

No matter the showdown in Congress, Iran’s ultimate position will be determined by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is seen as skeptical of the talks.

“My view is that if the supreme leader wants a deal, there will be a deal,” Edelman told The New York Times.

 

Your Guide to Loretta Lynch’s Confirmation Hearing in 42 Seconds - Daily Signal

Your Guide to Loretta Lynch’s Confirmation Hearing in 42 Seconds

Sen. Mike Lee / Ben Smith / Ericka Andersen / Ben Smith / Josh Siegel / Melissa Quinn /

President Obama’s nominee for attorney general, U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, made her first appearance before lawmakers today, with Republican senators working to make sure Lynch could differentiate herself from her predecessor, Eric Holder.

Lynch testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee this morning for the first part of her confirmation hearing.

Democratic senators were adamant in making sure Lynch was the focus of the hearings, as opposed to Obama and Holder.

Republicans challenged Lynch on whether she supports the president’s immigration policies, including his executive action that would grant legal status and work permits to 5 million immigrants in the country illegally.

But GOP Senators also pressed Lynch on the IRS targeting scandal, in which tea party organizations seeking tax exempt status were unfairly scrutinized. The Justice Department continues to investigate the allegations.

Here are six 7-second Vines that sum up the first part of Lynch’s confirmation hearing.

On Civil Asset Forfeiture

On “Amnesty” for Illegal Immigrants

On Outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder

On the U.S. Constitution

On Waterboarding

On Law Enforcement

>>> Sharyl Attkisson to Testify on ‘Free Press Issues’ at Attorney General Nomination Hearing

 

Gowdy Accuses State Department, CIA of Not Cooperating With Benghazi Investigation - Daily Signal

Gowdy Accuses State Department, CIA of Not Cooperating With Benghazi Investigation

Sen. Mike Lee / Ben Smith / Ericka Andersen / Ben Smith / Josh Siegel / Melissa Quinn / Helle Dale /

More acrimony emerged between Democrats and Republicans during yesterday’s third public hearing of the House Select Committee on Benghazi than had been seen at any point since the committee was established last summer.

Earlier hearings had been on topics suggested by Democrats on the committee—embassy security and other improvements—that were relatively uncontroversial. But the focus of yesterday’s hearing was the Obama administration’s reluctance to produce documents and witnesses to congressional investigators. As the committee zeroed in on the Obama administration’s efforts to minimize the political fallout from the loss of American lives in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, the hearing quickly turned contentious.

Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., called the hearing with State Department representatives, led by Joel Ruben, and CIA legislative affairs representative Neil Higgins to discuss the state of compliance with requests for documents and access to witness testimony.

In his opening statement, Gowdy said both agencies had been slow to respond or had redacted large amounts of information necessary to the investigation—charges leveled by previous investigative committees. Although new documents have been produced, Gowdy said committee staffers were initially denied access to so much information they could not compile a complete hearing.

An armed man waves his rifle as buildings and cars are engulfed in flames after being set on fire inside the US consulate compound in Benghazi late on Sept. 11, 2012. (Photo: Getty Images/Newscom)

An armed man waves his rifle as buildings and cars are engulfed in flames after being set on fire inside the US consulate compound in Benghazi late on Sept. 11, 2012. (Photo: Getty Images/Newscom)

At this, Democratic committee members jumped to the Obama administration’s defense and claimed the lack of information was the result of Republicans’ delayed or inadequate requests for documents and witnesses. Ranking Minority member Elijah Cummings, D-Md., also claimed the chairman and Republican members had shut out Democratic members, failed to notify them when the committee interviewed witnesses and that the Republicans downplayed the importance of the information it had gathered.

Cummings reiterated charges made in a letter to Gowdy in November and made public this week that Democrats were not allowed to vote on rules other than those introduced by the chairman. The State Department representatives claimed they had turned over 40,000 documents and 22 witnesses and that they had minimized redactions and had not denied access to witnesses.

They repeatedly stated they would cooperate with anything the committee needed and said there was a lot of information, and it would be easier if they knew the committee’s priorities. Republicans replied they had no priorities, because they did not have enough information to establish priorities.

The hearing indeed took on a he said/she said quality. Yet, it is demonstrably clear that if the Obama White House, State Department and CIA had cooperated fully with previous congressional investigations, there would have been no need for a Select Committee. House Speaker John Boehner was not convinced to set up the committee until after it was revealed the National Security Council had withheld relevant emails for a year and a half.

Hillary Clinton testifies before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on Benghaz, Jan. 23, 2013. (Photo: Ron Sachs/Newscom)

Hillary Clinton testifies before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on Benghazi, Jan. 23, 2013. (Photo: Ron Sachs/Newscom)

On top of that, credible State Department whistleblowers have spoken of intimidation and retaliation against anyone determined to provide testimony. One State Department whistleblower told The Daily Signal’s Sharyl Attkisson he witnessed the destruction of relevant documents under the supervision of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff.

Yesterday’s testy committee hearing may have produced more heat than light. But at least it showed Gowdy is closing in on one of the main issues regarding Benghazi—the cover up.

Championing Regulation, EPA Brings More ‘Extreme’ to the X Games - Daily Signal

Championing Regulation, EPA Brings More ‘Extreme’ to the X Games

Sen. Mike Lee / Ben Smith / Ericka Andersen / Ben Smith / Josh Siegel / Melissa Quinn / Helle Dale / Katie Tubb / Marshal Wilson /

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy traveled to the Winter X Games in Aspen, Colo. last week to raise awareness of climate change and its effects on snow based recreation.

In an attempt to reach a younger audience, McCarthy spoke beside former Olympians and other accomplished athletes to warn that unless action is taken now, “Aspen could resemble Amarillo by 2100.”

However, McCarthy forgot to mention one major detail: exactly how much EPA efforts would accomplish.

The EPA has proposed regulations that would cap the amount of carbon dioxide future power plants can emit, and require states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by a collective 30 percent (from 2005 levels) by the year 2030. President Obama regards the “Clean Power Plan” as a major part of his presidential legacy: during the State of the Union address last week, Obama said “No challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.” But if one accepts global warming models and assumptions of accelerated global warming, the regulations championed by the EPA would impact global temperatures by 0.02 degrees Celsius by the year 2100. Climatologists from the Cato Institute used a model created by the EPA to calculate the impact of these rules.

Men's Super Pipe event at the Winter X Games. (Photo: Eric Magnuson/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Men’s Super Pipe event at the Winter X Games. (Photo: Eric Magnuson/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Further, studies show that the earth’s climate is not as sensitive to carbon dioxide emissions being released into the atmosphere as some scientists once thought. As carbon dioxide emissions have climbed in the last 17 years, global temperatures have actually plateaued. Environmentalists are quick to point out a NASA press release that 2014 was the hottest year on record, yet they fail to mention that this alleged record is only by 0.02 degrees Celsius, a miniscule amount that is within NASA’s error margin of .1 degrees Celsius. Furthermore, NASA officials are only 38 percent sure that 2014 was indeed the warmest year on record.

In other words, the observed data just doesn’t show that the world is on track to turn Aspen into Amarillo.

The new carbon emission regulations proposed by the EPA would so adversely affect the economy that one has to wonder where families will find money for a ski trip or two. According to a Heritage study, by 2030 the Obama administration’s climate regulations would create:

The U.S. is on the brink of committing itself to higher energy costs in hopes that its efforts will stop global warming. The end result would be billions spent in an effort to reduce emissions and billions forgone due to lost opportunities, while having minimal effects on global temperatures at best.

McCarthy stated in Aspen that global warming is “a big, base-bottom deal for our economy.” If the economy was a card game, then the term “bottom deal” would be right.

3 Problems With Indiana’s Medicaid Expansion - Daily Signal

3 Problems With Indiana’s Medicaid Expansion

Sen. Mike Lee / Ben Smith / Ericka Andersen / Ben Smith / Josh Siegel / Melissa Quinn / Helle Dale / Katie Tubb / Marshal Wilson / Nina Owcharenko /

It’s official: Indiana has given in and adopted Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. Before jumping into the weeds of Indiana’s Medicaid expansion agreement with the Obama administration, it is important to realize the agreement still fails some basic principles of reform.

First, it adds more people on to the Medicaid rolls, not fewer. The Indiana plan puts 350,000 more Hoosiers on to the overstretched welfare program. Reform should be grounded in reducing Medicaid dependence, not increasing it.

Second, it requires more government spending, not less. The Indiana plan will increase Medicaid spending by having the federal taxpayers pick up 90 percent of the costs. Again, reforms should aim to reduce government spending, not increase or merely shift it.

Third, it makes the road to repeal of Obamacare harder, not easier. The Indiana plan offers the Obama administration another big gain in expanding Obamacare in the states. Just as the states have clearly rejected Obamacare’s exchanges, states should equally clearly reject this administration’s relentless Medicaid expansion.

This Medicaid expansion, like the others, loses sight of the fundamentals. As Heritage has long argued, there are far better ways to expand coverage and care for low-income persons. It’s time to get back to the basics.

Exclusive: FDIC Changes Tactics in Response to Operation Choke Point - Daily Signal

Exclusive: FDIC Changes Tactics in Response to Operation Choke Point

Sen. Mike Lee / Ben Smith / Ericka Andersen / Ben Smith / Josh Siegel / Melissa Quinn / Helle Dale / Katie Tubb / Marshal Wilson / Nina Owcharenko / Kelsey Harkness /

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has acknowledged its role in Operation Choke Point and is taking dramatic steps to reverse its policies in targeting legal and legitimate industries that are disfavored by the Obama administration.

“We’re very pleased they’ve acknowledged their wrongdoing and they’ve accepted our suggestions to put in place measures to stop this activity,” Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., told The Daily Signal in a phone call this morning.

Luetkemeyer, a member of the House Financial Services Committee and leader in the fight to end Operation Choke Point, met with FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenbery and Vice Chairman Thomas Hoenig earlier today as a follow-up to concerns voiced last November.

The Justice Department contends that Operation Choke Point combats unlawful, mass-market consumer fraud by “choking” their access to banking systems. But a report by the House Oversight Committee found the program’s targets, under direction of the FDIC, included legal businesses such as short-term lenders, firearms and ammunition merchants, coin dealers, tobacco sellers and home-based charities.

To address concerned raised about Operation Choke Point, the FDIC will now require bank examiners to put in writing any recommendation or requirement for an account termination.

The examiner will also be required to indicate what law or regulation they believe the bank or the customer of the bank is violating.

The policy shift was announced today in an official Financial Institution Letter sent to all FDIC supervisory staff. In it, the FDIC states:

The FDIC is aware that some institutions may be hesitant to provide certain types of banking services due to concerns that they will be unable to comply with the associated requirements of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). The FDIC and the other federal banking agencies recognize that as a practical matter, it is not possible for a financial institution to detect and report all potentially illicit transactions that flow through an institution.

The letter reiterates that decisions on accounts need to be made on a case-by-case basis and stresses they should not be made based on industry or moral objection.

The Daily Signal has reported multiple cases of legal business owners being dropped by their banks and payment processors simply because their industry is considered a “reputational risk.”

>>> Under Pressure From Congress, Agencies Agree to Investigate Operation Choke Point

Last December, a 20-page investigative report by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee detailed FDIC officials working closely with the Justice Department to implement Operation Choke Point.

Emails unearthed by investigators showed employees scheming to influence banks’ decisions on who to do business with by labeling certain industries “reputational risks,” ensuring banks “get the message” about the businesses the regulators don’t like, and pressuring banks to cut credit or close those accounts, effectively discouraging entire industries.

FDIC officials were also seen inserting their personal and moral opinions into banking decisions.

“The FDIC has allowed a culture within their agency to blossom that they believe it’s OK to impose their personal opinions and value system in a regulatory way,” says Luetkemeyer. “They are not a regulatory police—their job is to enforce the law.”

Luetkemeyer left his meeting this morning pleased that the FDIC has implemented the majority of his proposed policy changes administratively, but says he still intends to move forward with a bill introduced last year that aims at ending Operation Choke Point.

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo. (Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo. (Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Missouri congressman, who has a background in banking, told The Daily Signal he will work with Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, and Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., to pass that legislation in the coming weeks.

The bill will affect other regulatory agencies in addition to the FDIC, and would also provide a legal basis for citizens to take action against banks or regulatory institutions.

“While these other agencies are not necessarily the main problem with Choke Point, they have been implicated in a story or two and therefore we need to have this bill in place to stop them from being a part of this activity as well,” says Luetkemeyer.

Luetkemeyer says the FDIC also intends to work with the Justice Department’s inspector general to investigate Operation Choke Point and hold those within the FDIC accountable for any wrongdoings.

“We’re pleased that they’re working with the [inspector general] so that they can change the culture of what goes on in their agency,” he said. “But we’re not going to take anything off of the table until we get this program stopped.”