MSNBC Cuts Ryan T. Anderson’s Mic As He Defends Indiana Law

Video Team /

MSNBC host Ed Schultz cut Heritage Foundation’s Ryan T. Anderson’s mic off during a heated discussion about Indiana’s religious freedom law.

Schultz did bring Anderson back for a second round to talk about businesses boycotting Indiana.

Iranian Nuclear Talks Miss Another Deadline. What’s Next for the Talks With the Obama Administration. - Daily Signal

Iranian Nuclear Talks Miss Another Deadline. What’s Next for the Talks With the Obama Administration.

Video Team / James Phillips /

It appears that the nuclear talks with Iran will miss another self-imposed deadline, for the third time in 18 months. The deadline to reach a framework agreement that would outline the final deal is 6 p.m. EST, or midnight in Lausanne, Switzerland, where the talks are being held.

U.S. government officials noted that the deadline was unlikely to be met, but White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that the talks would continue another day “as long as the conversations continue to be productive.”

Diplomats said that this round of talks has been dominated by three issues: How quickly U.N. sanctions would be lifted, whether those sanctions would automatically be reinstated if Iran violates the deal and how freely Iran will be able to advance its nuclear technology in the last five years of the proposed 15-year agreement.

Now the administration is downgrading the importance of the March 30 deadline for a framework agreement and is settling for some sort of statement of an “understanding.” This essentially would be a punt to keep the talks going until the “final” June 30 deadline.

The emerging details of the proposed agreement indicate that the Obama administration has abandoned efforts to permanently halt Iran’s nuclear weapons program, but will settle for a cosmetic solution that will only slow the pace of Iran’s nuclear march temporarily.

The administration has accepted Iran’s self-proclaimed “right” to enrich uranium despite six U.N. Security Council Resolutions that called for a halt in its enrichment efforts.

Increasingly alarmed U.S. allies have concluded that the Obama administration’s desperate push for a questionable agreement with Iran has become the biggest threat in the region.

Iran is not required to dismantle its nuclear infrastructure. Particularly worrisome are the continued operations of its illicit uranium enrichment facilities at Fordow and Natanz, as well as the heavy water reactor at Arak that has been described as a plutonium bomb factory. All of these facilities, which were built covertly by Iran in violation of its Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty commitments, would now be legitimized by the agreement.

The International Atomic Energy Agency will be responsible for verifying Iranian compliance, despite the fact that Iran has consistently stonewalled the agency’s efforts to investigate possible military dimensions of its nuclear program, as it repeatedly promised it would, including in the 2013 interim agreement.

U.S. allies, including Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, have expressed alarm at the prospects for a deal that only slows but does not halt Iran’s progress toward a nuclear weapon.

They also are concerned that the Obama administration has focused narrowly on Iran’s nuclear challenge while turning a blind eye to its ballistic missile buildup, support for terrorism and efforts to gain regional hegemony. They worry that the Iran nuclear negotiations will accelerate the U.S. withdrawal from the region, or worse yet, yield an Iranian-American rapprochement at their expense.

The Obama administration’s passivity prompted Saudi Arabia to lead a ten nation coalition to intervene in Yemen on behalf of the Yemeni government, which was overthrown by Houthi rebels allied with Iran.

But the administration’s eye is on a different prize.  One administration official proclaimed: “The truth is, you can dwell on Yemen, or you can recognize that we’re one agreement away from a game-changing, legacy-setting nuclear accord on Iran that tackles what everyone agrees is the biggest threat to the region.”

That official may want to touch base with increasingly alarmed U.S. allies, who have concluded that the Obama administration’s desperate push for a questionable agreement with Iran has become the biggest threat in the region.

>>> The Iran Nuclear Negotiations: Understanding Key Issues

Most Americans Say It’s Time to Update the Tax System - Daily Signal

Most Americans Say It’s Time to Update the Tax System

Video Team / James Phillips / Matthew Streit /

The last major update to the U.S. tax system was in 1986—over 29 years ago.

Think about how much has changed since then. In 1985, Microsoft Windows was released. Since then, Microsoft has released more than 20 updates to the operating system.

Updating the tax system is one of the perennial policy issues politicians enjoy talking about, and has the potential to be a key policy debate in 2015 and 2016.

But whether all the talk, hand-wringing and head-nodding will actually result in change is yet to be seen.

While Washington has consensus that tax reform needs to happen, there’s significant disagreement on how to reform it.

A recent study on American attitudes and support for tax reform conducted by the American Perceptions Initiative, a project of The Heritage Foundation, found that only a slight majority of Americans support tax reform (52 percent), in part, due to limited familiarity with what “tax reform” actually means.

However, once respondents gained more familiarity with the current tax system and the possibility of alternate approaches, the level of support for tax reform among Americans jumped significantly to 71 percent. Only 5 percent believe the system is work­ing just fine.

streitgraphic1

Americans are uncertain about what reform could mean, how it would impact them and whether they trust Washington to tackle the problem.

A majority of Americans (75 percent) want to “keep taxes as low as possible to stimulate investment and growth.” And their desire to fix the current tax system is built on the concerns that it’s “unfair, corrupt, and too complex.”

Everyone agrees the tax system should be fair. Americans currently feel “some people are getting away with not paying their fair share.” Similarly, a majority of Americans agree the current system encourages cronyism, gives government too much power to pick winners and losers and is too complex.

But it’s not clear that they trust Washington to be able to fix it: Seventy-nine percent say Washington is incompetent and corrupt and cannot be trusted.

streitgraphic2

When asked about what “fairness” means, 56 percent  of Americans believe fairness means everyone pays an equal share or percentage. Those that make more will ultimately pay more—25 percent of a million-dollar salary is obviously more than 25 percent of a $50K salary. Forty-four percent believe fairness means those with more should pay more (that is, a higher percentage).

With this as a backdrop, any attempt at tax reform should focus on the con­cerns of fairness, corruption and complexity. An updated tax system that would garner the most support would:

While voters are not very familiar with alterna­tive systems, there are clearly appealing aspects to them. In fact, after learning just a little bit about three alternatives—National Sales Tax, Business Transfer Tax, Flat Tax—only one in five (20 percent) would want to continue with our current federal income tax system. Eighty percent would prefer one of the other alternatives.

Americans are ready to support changes to the tax system. In order to build that support, the language of reform is important.  Highlighting the top concerns and problems with the current system heightens the demand for change.

Conservatives would be wise to put forward a plan to update the tax system that treats everyone fairly, is simple and straightforward, rewards hard work and savings, and eliminates special privileges.

The Problems With Obama’s Plan to Slash US Greenhouse Gas Emissions By Nearly 30 Percent - Daily Signal

The Problems With Obama’s Plan to Slash US Greenhouse Gas Emissions By Nearly 30 Percent

Video Team / James Phillips / Matthew Streit / Katie Tubb /

The Obama administration announced Tuesday its plans to commit the U.S. to greenhouse gas emissions of 26-28 percent (from 2005 levels) by 2025 as part of a United Nations climate agreement set for this December in Paris.

The announcement is being heralded as America’s stepping up to “lead the way.” The Paris agreement is to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which the U.S. rejected.

Obama’s commitment, which was initially laid out in a lopsided agreement with China last November, doesn’t stop with cutting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28 percent by 2025.The Obama administration’s submission to the U.N. is meant to set up a “pathway from 2020 to deep, economy-wide emission reductions of 80 percent or more by 2050. The target is part of a longer range, collective effort to transition to a low-carbon global economy as rapidly as possible.”

To achieve the goal, the Obama administration proposed a package of regulations which it is already well underway in implementing: fuel efficiency mandates for cars and trucks, energy efficiency mandates for everything from buildings to kitchen appliances, methane emissions regulations, an executive order to cut emissions and energy use by the federal government, and the capstone Clean Power Plan regulating state carbon dioxide emissions.

President Obama has spoken openly about his intentions to work around legislators if they did not act on climate change. His administration has dared Congress to try to stop the Clean Power Plan.

Obama’s offer to the U.N.:

Obama has often been accused of leading from behind on important issues. In this case, however, he is leading headlong in exactly the wrong direction.

Former Mexican President Has a Message for 2016 US Presidential Hopefuls - Daily Signal

Former Mexican President Has a Message for 2016 US Presidential Hopefuls

Video Team / James Phillips / Matthew Streit / Katie Tubb / Jamie Jackson /

Vicente Fox served as Mexico’s president for six years, taking office in December 2000 and forging a strong bond with President George W. Bush. Today, during a visit to Washington, D.C., Fox offered advice to the 2016 crop of candidates about the importance of a close relationship with Mexico.

In an interview with The Daily Signal, Fox said candidates running for president should focus on what he described as income inequality in the United States, making NAFTA work better and having a strong foreign policy.

The former Mexican president also talked about how the United States handles immigration challenges with Mexico and what he believes should be done.

And finally, on the Obama administration’s controversial move to ease diplomatic relations with Cuba, Fox weighed in on the communist nation’s status as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Religious Freedom Laws Are About Tolerance, Which Is Exactly Why the Left Doesn’t Like Them - Daily Signal

Religious Freedom Laws Are About Tolerance, Which Is Exactly Why the Left Doesn’t Like Them

Video Team / James Phillips / Matthew Streit / Katie Tubb / Jamie Jackson / Genevieve Wood /

Discrimination is going on all right but not against the groups many on the Left are claiming. Here’s the bottom line: many people who support abortion or who support same-sex marriage don’t just want those rights for themselves.  They want society at large to approve of their actions.  And they will fight any law or movement that they believe undermines that goal.  Religious freedom laws, like the one coming under fire in Indiana, are needed because it is increasingly people of faith who are being persecuted.

How King v. Burwell Decision Could Affect Obamacare Enrollees - Daily Signal

How King v. Burwell Decision Could Affect Obamacare Enrollees

Video Team / James Phillips / Matthew Streit / Katie Tubb / Jamie Jackson / Genevieve Wood / Edmund Haislmaier /

Obamacare has been confusing since day one. So it’s not surprising that conflicting claims and some misinformation are circulating about what the Supreme Court’s decision in King v. Burwell could mean for the several million Americans who may be directly affected.

It’s important to realize that a loss in subsidies does not mean a loss of coverage, as this new Heritage Foundation paper helps to clarify.

The law sets as one of the conditions for getting Obamacare’s health insurance subsidies that the coverage is purchased “through an Exchange established by [a] State.” The Court is being asked to decide if, given that phrase, the Obama administration has authority to also pay those subsidies to people who signed up for coverage through Healthcare.gov—the exchange run by the federal government for the 34 states that did not set up their own exchanges.

However, it is important to note that eligibility for insurance subsidies (which is what’s at stake in King v. Burwell) is not the same as eligibility for insurance coverage. While the Court’s decision might mean some people could no longer get subsidies, they would still be able to get health insurance.

Their continued access to health insurance is guaranteed by protections in federal law, including ones enacted nearly two decades before Obamacare. Those consumer protections also require that they be given the opportunity to pick a different plan, including a less expensive one.

Here’s how the relevant Obamacare regulations work:

Obamacare allows eligible individuals to sign-up for coverage during annual open enrollment periods, such as the one for 2015 that ended in February. It also allows them to get, or change, coverage at other times during the year in certain circumstances, such as if someone gets married, has a baby or moves to another state.

Another special circumstance is if an enrollee becomes ineligible for Obamacare’s insurance subsidies—exactly the situation that could result from the Court’s ruling. If the Supreme Court finds that subsidies cannot be paid to Healthcare.gov enrollees, those individuals would automatically have the right to pick a different plan.

Federal regulations also state that an enrollee must be allowed to choose any other plan—at any coverage level and from any insurer—offered in his state through the exchange.

But what would happen if some insurers responded to the Court’s ruling by dropping out of Healthcare.gov? Speculation about that scenario has been fueled by language the government added to its 2015 contracts with the insurers offering coverage on Healthcare.gov, stating that the government “acknowledges” that insurers “could have cause to terminate” their contracts if the subsidies can no longer be paid.

However, as with any contract, it’s important to check the fine print. In this instance, the contract language also says that termination by an insurer would be “subject to applicable state and federal law.”

That’s where the other set of, pre-Obamacare, consumer protections would kick in—making it unlikely that those insurers will actually discontinue coverage. Here’s how those provisions work.

Under earlier federal law, if an insurer discontinues a plan it must give those enrolled in the plan 90 days (three months) notice and the choice of any other plan that it offers in that state’s individual market. Those options would be in addition to the plans offered by other insurers for that state through Healthcare.gov.

If the insurer offers no other plan in a state’s individual market, then the law bars the insurer for five years from offering individual market coverage in that state. Should an insurer actually exit the market in this way, it must give those enrolled in the plan 180 days (six months) notice, and anyone losing coverage would be allowed to choose replacement coverage from among the other plans offered by the other insurers in that state’s individual market—regardless of whether those plans are offered inside or outside the exchange.

The bottom line? Anyone affected by the Court’s ruling will have options for maintaining coverage or choosing a different plan.

Clarity about this question of access to health insurance will also begin to help in resolving concerns about affordability. Consumer protections allow those who would be affected to choose more affordable plans. Unfortunately, Obamacare’s regulatory burden has made insurance more pricey than it needs to be.

Congress should take this opportunity to begin sweeping away Obamacare’s failed policies. It can start by removing the mandates and regulations that drove up insurance premiums and disrupted coverage in the first place for millions of Americans, including those not getting subsidies.

From there, a new conversation about health care reform can start.

Clinton Defies Benghazi Committee, Destroys Remaining Emails - Daily Signal

Clinton Defies Benghazi Committee, Destroys Remaining Emails

Video Team / James Phillips / Matthew Streit / Katie Tubb / Jamie Jackson / Genevieve Wood / Edmund Haislmaier / Helle Dale /

For Hillary Clinton, the deadline came and went Friday to hand over the personal email server she used as secretary of state to the House Select Committee on Benghazi. Not only did Clinton refuse the request, but through her attorney, she also revealed the server had been wiped clean.

According to Clinton’s memoirs “Hard Choices,” on the night of the Benghazi attack, Sept. 11, 2012, she chose to conduct official operations from her Washington home on Whitehaven Parkway. That means the electronic record between Clinton and her government colleagues is particularly important to understanding her actions and decisions that night.

Clinton has turned over 55,000 pages of printed email exchanges to the State Department archivists. But it was Clinton and her aides and attorneys who decided which records were relevant to government business.

Furthermore, the searchable electronic record was destroyed. According to Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., chairman of the Benghazi Committee, the 300 emails Clinton turned over to the committee are the same as those previously submitted to the committee by the State Department.

“Not only was the secretary the sole arbiter of what was a public record, she also summarily decided to delete all emails from her server ensuring no one could check behind her analysis in the public interest,” Gowdy said about Clinton’s actions. Clinton’s refusal to honor the committee’s demand sets the stage for a tense standoff—one Gowdy has done his best to avoid since the committee was established by Congress on May 4 of last year. The committee’s initial hearings in September focused on systemic failures in embassy security and stayed clear of any personal finger-pointing, all to avoid the taint of partisanship.

It was clear from the outset, though, that at some point the role of the secretary of state and her personal staff would have to come under scrutiny. It was Clinton who ordered Ambassador Christopher Stevens to open the Benghazi consulate, yet at the same time oversaw reductions in diplomatic security in Libya. Her role is key.

Gowdy has announced that he will be asking Clinton to appear before the committee to explain her decisions regarding her email account. Suffice it to say that confrontation no longer can be avoided.

Why Higher Tax Rates Don’t Necessarily Mean More Revenue - Daily Signal

Why Higher Tax Rates Don’t Necessarily Mean More Revenue

Video Team / James Phillips / Matthew Streit / Katie Tubb / Jamie Jackson / Genevieve Wood / Edmund Haislmaier / Helle Dale / David Allen /

TOP TAX RATES AND TOTAL RECEIPTS

income-tax-receipts-680

Source: Internal Revenue Service.

One of President Obama’s major agenda items when he came into office was raising tax rates on the wealthy.

He succeeded: Through Obamacare and the 2013 fiscal cliff tax hikes, he raised rates on their wages, capital gain, and dividend income.

And while it’s true that revenues are likely higher today than they would’ve been had those hikes not occurred, the long-term picture isn’t as rosy. Historical evidence shows it’s probable that revenues will return to around the same level they were before the tax hike.

Consider the chart above, recently released by The Heritage Foundation in its annual Federal Budget and Pictures publication.

It compares changes in the top individual tax rate to changes in total individual tax revenue over the past 50 years. Despite wide variations in the top individual rate—fluctuating between 91 percent and 28 percent tax rates for the richest Americans—total individual revenue has remained fairly stable as a percentage of GDP.

The data suggests that lowering marginal tax rates will not substantially reduce federal revenues, nor do higher rates increase collections.

How can we explain this? The answer comes from the economic effects of tax hikes. Higher marginal rates discourage work, output and employment, leading to lower incomes for individuals. Thus, while increasing rates may bring a higher proportion of incomes into the federal treasury, it also reduces the overall income base these rates are able to draw from.

In other words, when tax rates are higher, people change their behavior. The rich who are paying higher rates under Obama will likely work less because they get to keep less of what they earn. They are likely to delay taking capital gains and dividends. They will also shift their incomes to less-taxed forms, like health insurance and other fringe benefits. All of these changes will reduce the revenue increase from Obama’s tax hikes.

It works the opposite way as well. Our current tax system imposes high marginal rates on individuals and businesses, is biased against savings and investment, and distorts economic decision-making through a complex system of credits, deductions and loopholes. Each of these problems discourages work, investment and risk-taking, which are the building blocks of economic growth.

If Congress overhauled the tax code for the first time in 29 years, it could reduce those high rates that are causing such punitive economic effects. Proposals vary, but the core components of tax reform remain the same: reduced marginal rates and a broadened base.

If Congress did this, economic growth would surge and the government could collect the same amount of revenue it does now with much lower tax rates.

 

The Indiana Law Treats All Americans Equally - Daily Signal

The Indiana Law Treats All Americans Equally

Video Team / James Phillips / Matthew Streit / Katie Tubb / Jamie Jackson / Genevieve Wood / Edmund Haislmaier / Helle Dale / David Allen / Ryan T. Anderson /

The Heritage Foundation’s Ryan T. Anderson defended the Indiana religious liberty law on MSNBC last night.