Listen Up: House Conservatives Like the New Leadership Tone

Melissa Quinn /

After two months on the job, the reshuffled leadership of the House of Representatives drew accolades this week from the Republican conference’s conservative faction for working to make sure the voices of all members are being heard.

During  the monthly gathering Thursday called Conversations With Conservatives, Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., commended the newly elected members of the  leadership for creating an atmosphere where GOP lawmakers could “vent” and engage in debates over a range of policy issues facing the chamber.

“I’m very pleased with the tenor of the conference, the direction of the conference, the practices of the conference,” Mulvaney said.

After then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia lost his primary in June, Republicans voted to elect a new No. 2 under Speaker John Boehner of Ohio. They chose Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, formerly in the No. 3 slot as majority whip. To replace him, they elected Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana.

During Thursday’s gathering with reporters, Rep. Raúl Labrador, R-Idaho, who had challenged McCarthy in the race for leader, cited the Republican conference’s internal  debates  on immigration reform and on arming and training Syrian rebels to fight the terrorist group ISIS.

Such discussions “bode well” for leadership and members who “want to feel like their voices have been heard,” Labrador said., adding:

The people who are now leading the conference understand what a hunger there was for the conference to be listened to more.

Higher Fast Food Wages Could Leave Some Workers Behind - Daily Signal

Higher Fast Food Wages Could Leave Some Workers Behind

Melissa Quinn / Salim Furth /

The protests outside fast-food establishments last week featured calls for a $15 hourly wage. Unemployment is only the most obvious unintended consequence we could expect under such a large forced increase in wages. For consumers, the most noticeable difference would be the price of fast food: A typical fast-food meal would probably cost about $2 more. For example, a Big Mac meal would cost $7.82 instead of $5.69.

My Heritage Foundation colleague James Sherk used research on the price responsiveness of fast-food consumers to calculate how a typical fast-food establishment would respond to an increase in wages from $9.04 (the 2013 average) to $15.50. If the high wage were imposed, prices would rise on contact because the wage bill would vastly exceed most establishments’ small profit margins.


But the reactions wouldn’t stop there: Faced with higher prices, consumers would buy less fast food, substituting home cooking, prepared food and sit-down dining. The appeal of fast food, after all, lies in its cheap convenience. With lower sales, restaurants would most likely raise prices even more (and lay off staff) to maintain profitability.

Sherk estimates that in the short run, prices would rise 38 percent, production and hours worked would fall 36 percent, and wages would decrease to 1 percent of revenue from 3 percent in 2013. In the long run, some restaurants would close, and the survivors would shift to fewer, higher-skilled workers and more labor-saving technology.

Some workers would come out ahead from a $15 fast-food wage: those with the most experience and the highest efficiency. Sadly, marginal workers–including those with the worst alternatives and the fewest marketable skills–would be left behind.

Originally appeared on

New Mexico to Give $100K to The Bachelor - Daily Signal

New Mexico to Give $100K to The Bachelor

Melissa Quinn / Salim Furth / Rob Nikolewski /

SANTA FE, N.M. – There is now a state element to wooing The Bachelor.

The New Mexico Tourism Department is joining the Santa Fe City Council in the dating pool for the ABC-TV reality TV series.

“We’re really excited,” said Rebecca Latham, communications director for the tourism department, who confirmed Monday the state agency will pay $50,000 to the show’s producers. In return, the producers agreed to tape a two-hour episode of the show at various locations in the state capital this fall.

The Santa Fe City Council originally committed up to $100,000 for the effort, but Randy Randall, director of the city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau,told the Santa Fe New Mexican the city won’t pay more than $50,000.

All told, $100,000 in public money from New Mexico will be spent.

“A 30-second ad during ‘The Bachelor’ would run about $200,000, and we really feel it’s a steal to get it at $50,000 in front of a huge prime-time viewership for two hours,” Latham told New Mexico Watchdog.

The $50,000 purchase will not include any commercials promoting New Mexico tourism, but Latham said the exposure makes the expenditure of taxpayers dollars a good investment. The $50,000 will come out of the New Mexico Tourism Department’s $7 million annual advertising budget, Latham said.

The show, which debuted in 2002, features one bachelor choosing a potential wife from a pool of 25 women, and culminates with a choreographed ceremony with the husband-to-be offering his choice a red rose. “The Bachelor” is one of ABC’s highest-rated shows, drawing 14.3 million viewers last season.



The Crazy Turmoil That Could Have Happened If Scotland Voted to Be Independent - Daily Signal

The Crazy Turmoil That Could Have Happened If Scotland Voted to Be Independent

Melissa Quinn / Salim Furth / Rob Nikolewski / Nile Gardiner /

Great Britain can breathe a huge sigh of relief. The people of Scotland voted Thursday to remain a part of the United Kingdom. This is great news not only for Britain, but also for the United States.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is America’s closest ally on the world stage.

The financial markets in London would have gone into freefall, with the pound plummeting, and a cloud of economic uncertainty hanging over the world’s sixth largest economy.

The Anglo-American “Special Relationship” is the engine of the free world, the most robust and enduring partnership of modern times. Anything that weakens that relationship is a negative for America. As the “Iron Lady,” Margaret Thatcher, liked to say, America “needs friends in the lonely task of world leadership,” and Americans have no better friends than their British allies across the Atlantic.

Had Scotland opted for independence, Britain would have been thrown into turmoil. At a stroke, its population would have shrunk (following an 18 month transition period) by 5 million people and its land mass reduced by roughly a third.

The financial markets in London would have gone into freefall, with the pound plummeting, and a cloud of economic uncertainty hanging over the world’s sixth largest economy. Undoubtedly, Wall Street would have taken a big hit too.

Photo: Newscom

Photo: Newscom

In addition the prime minister, David Cameron, would have faced a fight for his political survival, with a mounting rebellion within the ruling Conservative Party. The ensuing political instability in Westminster would have made it impossible for the British government to focus on the urgent task of fighting the ISIS menace in Iraq and Syria, throwing U.S. plans to build an international coalition against the Islamist threat into question. The last thing the United States needs as it goes to war against ISIS is its closest friend and partner at war with itself.

Thursday’s “no” vote also removes a massive headache that would have faced both British and U.S. defense chiefs. Britain’s nuclear deterrent is submarine-based, and entirely located in Scotland.

If Scotland had opted for independence, London would have been forced to relocate its nuclear weapons, with no natural base in England or Wales. The Scottish nationalists had threatened to turn Scotland into a nuclear-free zone, a stance that goes against the spirit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which is a nuclear alliance.

Americans should welcome the Scottish referendum result as a reaffirmation of a union that has existed for more than 300 years. It is a union that forged a mighty empire that gave birth to many of the world’s greatest democracies today, from the United States and Canada, to Australia and India.

Scots have played a huge role in that history, as soldiers, sailors, airmen, explorers, economists, inventors and entrepreneurs. The fabric of Scotland’s rich and varied past is intricately interwoven with that of the rest of Great Britain. The British people can now look forward to a future with Scotland as an integral part, and this can only be good for America as well.

Originally appeared on

Scott Walker Proposes Drug Testing for Those Filing for Unemployment Benefits, Food Stamps - Daily Signal

Scott Walker Proposes Drug Testing for Those Filing for Unemployment Benefits, Food Stamps

Melissa Quinn / Salim Furth / Rob Nikolewski / Nile Gardiner / M.D. Kittle /

MADISON, Wis. — Three years ago, Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry Co. Inc. was begging for workers and struggling to hire candidates who could simply pass a drug test.

Good jobs, paying $15 to $20 per hour, went unfilled. The company even hesitated to expand because it could not find enough drug-free applicants.

Times have changed.

Company president Jim Hatt said the economy is so slow the market has begun to attract more qualified workers. Business still is not where he would like to see it, but now he can find employees who can pass a drug test, which he says the company is forced to do by its insurance company.

Gov. Scott Walker appears to be taking such concerns to heart.

The Republican governor on Sunday unveiled his jobs plan for his next term, should he survive what polls show is his dead-heat gubernatorial race against Mary Burke, a Democrat, former commerce secretary under Walker’s predecessor Jim Doyle and member of the Madison Metropolitan School Board.

Walker’s 62-page plan proposes more property and income tax cuts, increased tax relief for manufacturing and agriculture and reduced barriers to business creation, according to Walker’s campaign.

But the most controversial points are the governor’s proposals to require drug testing for individuals filing for unemployment and for “able-bodied, working-age adults requesting food stamps” through the state’s FoodShare public assistance program.

The bottom line, Walker says, is the bottom line: Taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for public assistance programs for individuals who can’t pass a drug test.

Burke and her supporters have ripped Walker for missing the mark on his 2010 campaign pledge that Wisconsin’s economy would create 250,000 jobs during his first term. The number, to date, is north of 100,000, but it’s a long way from the massive contraction under Doyle, Walker’s allies point out.

“Wisconsin is back on under Governor Walker, and voters cannot forget the poor results and extreme mismanagement of the Doyle-Burke Administration that caused 133,000 jobs and 27,000 businesses to flee the state,” said Republican Party of Wisconsin Executive Director Joe Fadness in a statement.



How Obamanomics Harms Obama Voters the Most - Daily Signal

How Obamanomics Harms Obama Voters the Most

Melissa Quinn / Salim Furth / Rob Nikolewski / Nile Gardiner / M.D. Kittle / Stephen Moore /

Politics is often filled with paradoxes, and here is one that nearly defies explanation. The demographic groups that voted most heavily for Barack Obama in 2012 have suffered the most from this president’s economic policies. Maybe the people in these demographic groups — blacks, Hispanics, single women and young people — are economically uninformed, or maybe for these groups, when it comes to voting, it’s not the economy, stupid.

Whatever the explanation, the facts speak for themselves: Obama voters have not benefited from his policies.

I looked at the most recent Census Bureau data as analyzed by statisticians from Sentier Research. Last month, Sentier released “Household Income on the Fifth Anniversary of the Economic Recovery: June 2009 to June 2014.” This report found, depressingly, that five years into an “economic recovery,” real median household income “is now 3.1 percent below that of June 2009 when the ‘great recession’ officially ended.” In dollar terms, real median household income fell by $1,698. So much for the Obama claim on Labor Day that “by nearly any measure, the economy is doing better.” Well, actually, for more than half of Americans, their personal financial situation is worse.

The poor and unskilled that Obama says he cares so much about saw their incomes fall by 7.4 percent for those with less than a high-school diploma

Now let’s look at who the Obama voters were in 2012 — and the numbers weren’t a whole lot different in the “hope and change” election of 2008. The demographic groups that were crucial to his victory were: young voters 60 percent (for Obama), single women 67 percent, Hispanics 71 percent and blacks more than 90 percent.

Here’s how these groups have fared economically since Obama became president. According to the Sentier research, single women with and without children present saw their incomes fall by roughly 5 percent. Those age 25-34 experienced an income decline of 4.4 percent. Black heads of households saw their income tumble by 7.7 percent, while the income of Hispanic heads of households fell 5.6 percent. In other words, many of these groups experienced double the income fall than the average voter.

Crystal Caballero, who said she needs a job so she can get off welfare, holds her son, 2 1/2-year-old Lah-Johndre (cq) Pardue, as she waits in line outside Chukchansi Park to apply for seasonal work. / © Eric Paul Zamora/The Fresno Bee/

Crystal Caballero, who said she needs a job so she can get off welfare, holds her son as she waits in line to apply for seasonal work. (Photo: Eric Paul Zamora/The Fresno Bee/Newscom)

Oh and by the way, the poor and unskilled that Obama says he cares so much about saw their incomes fall by 7.4 percent for those with less than a high-school diploma and 8.2 percent for those with only a high-school diploma.

In dollar terms, between the time the Obama recovery began in June 2009 and June of this year, median black household income fell by nearly $3,000, Hispanic households lost nearly $2,500, and female-headed households lost roughly $1,500.

The jobless numbers show pretty much the same pattern. July’s Bureau of Labor Statistics data (the most recent available) show a national unemployment rate of 6.2 percent. The highest jobless rates by far are for key components of the Obama voter bloc: blacks (11.4 percent), Hispanics (7.8 percent), those with less than a high-school diploma (9.6 percent). For teens, it’s 20.2 percent.

In the 1980s and 1990s, it was blacks and women who had the largest percentage income gains. Now that progress in reducing racial and gender income gaps has reversed course under Mr. Obama. The income gains under Mr. Obama have been concentrated in those in the top 20 percent of income.

One reason incomes haven’t risen for most groups is the steady decline in labor-force participation. That number has dropped to 62.9 percent from 65.5 percent five years ago. This means a 6.4 million drop in workers earning paychecks.

Income redistribution isn’t an economic strategy for growth. It’s a lifeboat strategy. It would be hard to point to a single initiative the Obama administration has proposed that would help businesses grow and invest. In fact, as the Burger King fiasco documents, companies are leaving the United States owing to taxes and regulation. The poor and minorities have taken the big hit — and that’s the real injustice of Obamanomics.

Originally appeared in the Washington Times.

For Voter ID Opponents, This Was a Stunning Blow - Daily Signal

For Voter ID Opponents, This Was a Stunning Blow

Melissa Quinn / Salim Furth / Rob Nikolewski / Nile Gardiner / M.D. Kittle / Stephen Moore / Hans von Spakovsky /

Voter-ID opponents have suffered another stunning blow.

On Friday, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals dissolved the injunction that had been issued against Wisconsin’s voter-ID law by a federal district court in April. The court told Wisconsin that it “may, if it wishes (and if it is appropriate under rules of state law), enforce the photo ID requirement in this November’s elections.” In reaction, Kevin Kennedy, the state’s top election official, said that Wisconsin would take all steps necessary “to fully implement the voter photo ID law for the November general election.” The appeals court issued its one-page opinion within hours of hearing oral arguments in the appeal.

As I explained in an NRO article in May, the district court judge, Lynn Adelman, a Clinton appointee and former Democratic state senator, had issued an injunction claiming the Wisconsin ID law violated the Voting Rights Act as well as the Fourteenth Amendment. Adelman made the startling claim in his opinion that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in 2008 upholding Indiana’s voter-ID law as constitutional was “not binding precedent,” so Adelman could essentially ignore it.

However, that was too much for the Seventh Circuit. It pointed out, in what most lawyers would consider a rebuke, that Adelman had held Wisconsin’s law invalid “even though it is materially identical to Indiana’s photo ID statute, which the Supreme Court held valid in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, 553 U.S. 181 (2008).”

It was also obviously significant to the Seventh Circuit that the Wisconsin state supreme court had upheld the state’s voter-ID law in July, since the three-judge panel cited that decision, Milwaukee Branch of NAACP v. Walker, too. In fact, the appeals court said the state court decision had changed the “balance of equities and thus the propriety of federal injunctive relief.”

In other words, there was no justification for striking down a state voter-ID law that was identical to one that had been previously upheld by both the Supreme Court of the United States and that state’s highest court.

This decision is only on the appropriateness of the injunction that was issued. But in a bad omen for the plaintiffs, the Seventh Circuit said the “state’s probability of success on the merits of this appeal is sufficiently great that the state should be allowed to implement its law, pending further order of this court.” The appeal “remains under advisement” and the court said that “an opinion on the merits will issue in due course.”

This is also another big defeat for Attorney General Eric Holder, who announced in July that the Justice Department would be intervening in this lawsuit. The Department lost a lawsuit that claimed South Carolina’s voter-ID law was discriminatory in 2012, and a federal judge recently refused to issue an injunction against North Carolina’s voter-ID law in another lawsuit filed by Justice.

Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, who is in a hard-fought reelection campaign, said after news of the Seventh Circuit’s action came out that “voter ID is a commonsense reform that protects the integrity of our voting process.” Echoing similar claims by state representative JoCasta Zamarripa of Milwaukee, Dale Ho, a lawyer at the ACLU, claims this will cause “chaos at the polls,” despite the fact that there has been no such “chaos” in any of the other states that have implemented voter-ID laws over the past ten years.

What this decision means is that, as Governor Walker said, at least in Wisconsin, it will now be “easier to vote and harder to cheat.” And it adds to the long string of losses suffered by opponents of voter-ID laws. Slowly but surely, voter ID is getting implemented across the country.

Originally appeared on National Review Online.

Sheriffs in the Southwest: Border ‘Spiraling Out of Control’ - Daily Signal

Sheriffs in the Southwest: Border ‘Spiraling Out of Control’

Melissa Quinn / Salim Furth / Rob Nikolewski / Nile Gardiner / M.D. Kittle / Stephen Moore / Hans von Spakovsky / Rob Nikolewski /

SANTA FE, N.M. — Describing the immigration crisis  as “spiraling out of control,” a coalition of five sheriffs’ organizations in the Southwest released a three-page statement calling on the federal government to resist “outright amnesty” for people in the country illegally.

The document called for increased funding for border security programs, including removal programs supervised by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and DNA samples, fingerprinting and iris scans for people apprehended for entering the U.S. without documentation.

“The immigration crisis has overwhelmed the capabilities of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and all the federal agencies attempting to assist in the efforts to secure our borders,” said the statement, approved by the boards of the Western States Sheriffs’ Association, the Texas Border Sheriff’s Coalition, the Southwestern Border Sheriffs’ Coalition, the New Mexico Sheriffs’ Association and the National Sheriffs’ Association.

The groups are meeting in Santa Fe through Wednesday.

“We’re not just saying we have problems,” said Donald Reay, executive director of the Texas Border Sheriff’s Coalition, based in El Paso. “We’re saying we have solutions to those problems.”

The sheriffs’ statement went on to say the coalition is willing to form a “united security zone in sufficient depth along the border” to ensure safety.

That prompted criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union.

“Sheriff’s deputies may need more resources to do their jobs, but enforcing federal immigrations laws is not one of them,” said Vicki Gaubeca, director of the Regional Center for Border Rights of the ACLU of New Mexico.

The sheriff’s coalition statement says, “Amnesty is not the answer.”

But wouldn’t the sheriffs’ five solutions be expensive?

“When you weigh the expense versus the benefit, absolutely not,” said Reay, who didn’t offer an estimate of the cost. “Because you are saving lives, you are identifying people later who are possibly criminals.”


Why Won’t the Obama Administration Fund Efforts to Make the Rest of the World Not Hate Us? - Daily Signal

Why Won’t the Obama Administration Fund Efforts to Make the Rest of the World Not Hate Us?

Melissa Quinn / Salim Furth / Rob Nikolewski / Nile Gardiner / M.D. Kittle / Stephen Moore / Hans von Spakovsky / Rob Nikolewski / Mike Gonzalez /

The U.S. Congress heard recently from the President that the world is a dangerous place and that we may need to defend our national security soon. That is as it should be. But before the first bullet is fired in most contests, there’s usually an information war that must be won, and there the Senate has dropped the ball by not taking up a House bill that reforms U.S. International Broadcasting (USIB).

Consider the hostilities between Russia and Ukraine, a prime example of the importance of the communications war. Vladimir Putin’s invasion of his southern neighbor marks the first time since World War II that a European country has officially annexed the territory of another.

But before Putin invaded Ukraine he occupied the Russian mind. Having taken complete control of his country’s media, Putin was able to paint Ukraine’s new leaders as “Nazis” and the country’s Russian minority as “oppressed.” Thus brainwashed, Russians clamored for intervention; Putin merely acceded to their demands. No Roman emperor ever did it better.

Just as the Obama Administration pulled all troops out of Iraq and did not leave a residual force, so it also dismantled our information armory.

It is the same with the conflicts we face with Islamists from Boko Haram in Nigeria to the Taliban in Pakistan, and of course with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The battle for hearts and minds takes place in every conflict we face. Very often, the first ammunition fired are sound bites and pixels of information.  For the West, when it sticks by its values, this means using the truth.

We used to be good at lobbing the truth over the parapets, beaming Voice of America broadcasts into the darkest of dungeon-nations, unstintingly showing the benefits of religious tolerance, freedom of speech and association and all the other rights that provide liberty.

Then we unilaterally disarmed. Just as the Obama Administration pulled all troops out of Iraq and did not leave a residual force, so it also dismantled our information armory.

Voice of America Interview (Photo: Flickr)

Voice of America Interview (Photo: Flickr)

Most damningly, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which oversees most of the activities of U.S. International Broadcasting (USIB), all but eliminated broadcasts in Russian and Ukrainian in the past few years.

Acting through the USIB, the Administration has also made deep cuts in the Office of Policy, which creates the editorials that explain U.S. policy to foreign audiences. Last September Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats, complained that these cuts were in contravention of the VOA charter and public law.  Those complaints went completely unheeded by IBB Director Richard Lobo, an Administration appointee.

Often times, VOA staff have sought to define their mission not as purveyors of American values and explainers of policy overseas, but as straight up journalists who must criticize both.

Standing behind these issues is also the ideological baggage that the Obama Administration has brought in. President Ronald Reagan had no compunction about calling the Soviet Union “the evil empire”—drawing derision from Paris, Bonn and the Upper West Side, but giving comfort to prisoners in the Gulag, who heard from it after word had been beamed in by VOA. President Obama, by contrast, has reportedly banned the administration from using such terms as “jihad” and “Islamic terrorism.”

The United States International Communications Reform Act of 2014, or H.R. 4490, won’t fix the Obama Administration’s ideological biases, but it would do much good.

Among its many positive aspects, H.R. 4490 would provide adult supervision for the $700 million broadcast group, replacing the BBG with a “United States International Communications Agency,” and establishing within the agency a Board of Directors and a Chief Executive Officer.

The role of VOA in public diplomacy is moreover underlined: the bill expresses the sense of Congress that VOA “has been an indispensable element of U.S. foreign policy and public diplomacy efforts and should remain the flagship brand of the Agency.”

The other so-called “surrogate” institutions, such as Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia and the Middle East Broadcasting Network, would be consolidated into a “Freedom News Network” to facilitate better management.

H.R.4490 is, moreover, that rarest of things: a bipartisan bill, introduced by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., and Ranking Member Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., not exactly ideological birds of a feather.

The bill passed the House by a voice vote on July 28 and now awaits action from a Senate that has precious few days left in this session. Senators serious about facing up to the challenges posed by ISIS, Putin and others should understand that information wars well fought can avoid ones that involve real bullets.

Originally appeared in the National Interest.

This New Technology Could Allow Police to Catch You Texting While Driving - Daily Signal

This New Technology Could Allow Police to Catch You Texting While Driving

Melissa Quinn / Salim Furth / Rob Nikolewski / Nile Gardiner / M.D. Kittle / Stephen Moore / Hans von Spakovsky / Rob Nikolewski / Mike Gonzalez / Kate Scanlon /

Police may soon have new technology to help them identify texting drivers.

A Virginia-based company called ComSonics is developing a detection device resembling a radar gun that can pick up the distinctive radio signals generated by texting, according to the Virginian Pilot. Being able to distinguish between a phone call and a text would be useful for police in states like Virginia, where it is legal to talk on the phone while driving, but not to text.

The device is currently in production and has several potential flaws that ComSonics is still addressing – such as determining which person was texting in a car with more than one passenger.

“Police have an obligation to make sure the roads are safe,” said Andrew Kloster, a legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation. “And states generally have the authority to pass laws that prohibit you from driving while doing things that might impair your driving. This seems like a reasonable effort to do so.”

Kloster is not concerned about privacy issues, but did raise another concern.

“It’s not really a privacy issue since they’re looking at the fact that you texted rather than what you texted. In my mind, the bigger question is an evidentiary one. If I’m driving, and my wife sends a text message on my phone, and I’m pulled over, what happens then?  I don’t think that would be good enough evidence to get a conviction.”

Jordan Richardson, a visiting legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, raised another concern.

“In an age where the police have been caught using ticket quotas, this would give them an additional excuse to pull over drivers,” said Richardson.

According to CBS, the device is not yet in production because the company is still waiting for “legislative approval and a commitment from law enforcement.”