New York Times Writer Wants to ‘Ruthlessly’ Stamp Out ‘Anti-LGBT’ Attitudes

Kelsey Harkness /

Josh Barro, a writer for The New York Times, wants to stamp out what he considers to be “anti-LGBT” attitudes from communities “ruthlessly.” Barro was writing in response to a speech Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, gave where he mentioned he was in support of marriage as union of a man and woman.

In a tweet sent Wednesday, Barro wrote:

Anti-LGBT attitudes are terrible for people in all sorts of communities. They linger and oppress, and we need to stamp them out, ruthlessly.

— Josh Barro (@jbarro) July 24, 2014

Barro is a domestic correspondent for The New York Times, where he writes on economic issues including fiscal policy and labor markets. In May 2013, he was coined “the Loneliest Republican” by the Atlantic and regularly comments on LGBT issues.

As a gay man, I find it so touching to hear how difficult it is to be part of a disliked minority, subject to negative social attitudes.

— Josh Barro (@jbarro) July 25, 2014

His tweet, calling to “ruthlessly” stamp out pro-traditional marriage attitudes, sparked backlash from conservative commentators, including The American Conservative’s Rod Dreher, who wrote:

If you are the sort of person who thinks traditional Christians are ‘obsessed’ with sex, you need to think about how it would feel to you to you to read a tweet that said, Pro-LGBT attitudes are terrible for people in all sorts of communities. They linger and oppress, and we need to stamp them out, ruthlessly.’

Ryan T. Anderson, William E. Simon Fellow at The Heritage Foundation and co-author of the book cited twice by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense, also expressed dismay over Barro’s tweet:

Josh Barro is rightly looked to as a thought leader in American politics, so it is disconcerting that he fails to recognize that reasonable people of good will are on both sides of the marriage debate. That, as President Obama said, supporters of marriage ‘are not coming at it from a mean-spirited perspective.’

Anderson, who has written extensively on marriage, argued “it is intellectually dishonest” for Barro to compare the debate over marriage to the debate over segregation and to compare supporters of marriage to racists.

In another tweet, Barro said:

Did the segregationists go through a period, like in the 1970s, where they whined that people were mean to them for being segregationists?

— Josh Barro (@jbarro) July 24, 2014

“Race has nothing to do with marriage, and laws that kept the races apart were wrong,” said Anderson. “Marriage has everything to do with uniting the two halves of humanity—men and women, as husbands and wives and as mothers and fathers—so that any children that their union produces will be united by the man and woman who gave them life. This is why principle-based policy has defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”

“Bans on interracial marriage and Jim Crow laws, by contrast,” Anderson added, “were aspects of a much larger insidious movement that denied the fundamental equality and dignity.”

Josh Barro and The New York Times could not be reached for comment.

 

Paul Ryan’s New Anti-Poverty Plan Should Take Work and Marriage Seriously - Daily Signal

Paul Ryan’s New Anti-Poverty Plan Should Take Work and Marriage Seriously

Kelsey Harkness / Rachel Sheffield / Robert Rector /

On Thursday at the American Enterprise Institute, Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., outlined plans to reform welfare and fight poverty. Ryan’s policies are well intentioned but not crafted in a way that will achieve reduced dependency. Ryan focuses on giving state governments greater flexibility in spending federal funds. While paying tribute to the principles of welfare reform that significantly reduced welfare dependence in the late 1990s, his plan does not draw the right lessons from that reform.

The 1996 welfare reform was successful because for the first time the federal government mandated that state welfare bureaucracies impose work requirements on recipients of federal welfare funds. The federal work requirements led a sharp reduction in welfare dependence and child poverty in the late 1990s. The reform also cut federal welfare spending and insisted that state governments bear a greater share of the welfare costs. These fiscal changes further incentivized states to reduce welfare caseloads. The reform did give states greater flexibility in spending federal money but this aspect was peripheral to the success the reform achieved.

Ryan is correct in asserting that the 1996 welfare reform is a rare example of a  policy that actually reduced welfare dependence and poverty while cutting welfare costs.  It is, therefore, worthwhile to examine the actual policy carefully.  The 1996 reform transformed the old Aid to Families with Dependent Children program (AFDC) into the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Within about five years, welfare rolls dropped by half, child poverty plummeted, and employment among low-income individuals jumped. This was an important first step in decreasing poverty and dependence, and one that should be replicated in other programs like food stamps and public housing.

What was at the heart of the progress made by the TANF reform? Its carefully crafted federal work requirement. The 1996 reform focused on work and self-sufficiency, clearly specifying requirements for able-bodied adults to work, prepare for work, or look for work in exchange for receiving welfare assistance. This held the state bureaucracies administering welfare programs accountable for ensuring that assistance provided with federal dollars provided a hand up not a handout.

In addition, the 1996 reform also capped the amount of welfare assistance states received. Prior to the reform, AFDC was an open-ended entitlement: states received more funding from the federal government if they grew their rolls. After the reform states received a fixed amount of funding. This reform incentivized states to reduce dependence rather than rewarding them for increasing welfare rolls.

The 1996 welfare reform also had formal goals of strengthening marriage and reducing unwed childbearing. Regrettably, these pro-marriage aspects of the law lacked teeth.  In contrast, to the federal work requirements, the pro-marriage elements of the law merely suggested rather than mandated state action. In consequence, state welfare bureaucracies simply ignored the pro-marriage elements of the law. Today, only one state runs a pro-marriage program and every state continues to operate a welfare system that actively penalizes low income parents who do marry.

The non-marital birth rate has grown from about 32 percent of children born in 1996 to nearly 41 percent of children today. The growth of non-marital childbearing and single parenthood is the predominant cause of child poverty in the nation today. Children in single-parent homes are more than five times as likely to be poor compared to their peers in married-parent homes. They are also at higher risk for numerous negative outcomes.

Ironically, although Ryan’s welfare plan is intended to reduce poverty, his 80-page report barely mentions the profound link between poverty and single parenthood. Increasing marriage is not a goal of the Ryan block grant strategy. In fact, Ryan’s policy would actually increase penalties on low-income parents who do marry.  This occurs because Ryan plans to increase the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for single adults without children. Low-income fathers who were unmarried would receive this credit; if they did marry they would lose it. Rather than piling on to the already substantial marriage penalties in the welfare system, policy-makers should look for ways to reduce them.

Ryan’s efforts to focus on fighting poverty and reforming welfare are commendable. That focus should be on replicating the elements of reform that have helped to reduce dependency and controlled spending in TANF. Taking work seriously, capping welfare spending, and strengthening marriage will be the elements of success to continue the on-going work of welfare reform.

 

Reform, Not Ex-Im, Is the Key to American Nuclear Competitiveness - Daily Signal

Reform, Not Ex-Im, Is the Key to American Nuclear Competitiveness

Kelsey Harkness / Rachel Sheffield / Robert Rector / Jack Spencer / Katie Tubb /

While the Export-Import Bank struggles to find reasons to justify its reauthorization, some have begun claiming that the U.S. nuclear industry needs Ex-Im to compete internationally. According to Westinghouse’s president Danny Roderick, “For us to get a share of [the international market] in a competitive way, we have to have something that negates the Russians, the French, the Koreans, who are offering financing on these packages.”

But the biggest threat to the competitiveness of the American nuclear industry isn’t the disappearance of the Export-Import Bank, the Russians, the French, or the Koreans, but the American government.

Drawn out permitting timetables, ill-conceived regulations, and other government-imposed market distortions create so much risk and price inflation that some believe the industry needs subsidies to compete internationally and to offset the negative impacts of these policies. There is indeed a problem, but subsidies and Ex-Im aren’t the solution.

As it is, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission operates under an outdated regulatory system that isn’t adaptable to new technology and designs and over regulates existing nuclear plants and technologies. And the federal government’s total mismanagement of nuclear waste has played a significant role in choking new growth in domestic use of commercial nuclear energy by adding political inefficiency and uncertainty to the process.

Because navigating this expensive and onerous regulatory gauntlet is nearly impossible for any private company to do alone, they rely on taxpayer help. The Department of Energy, for example, picks up the tab for some projects and provides loans and loan guarantees to a lucky few to test out technology or to build plants that the government finds promising. The problem is that these subsidies do not work. They give industry enough money to partially offset the cost of bad policy, feed the Washington bureaucracy and allow politicians to claim that they are helping nuclear power. In the end, commercially relevant nuclear technology stagnates because the incentive to reform the broken system is removed.

Commercial nuclear exports are suffering the same fate as government costs are reducing the competitiveness of American nuclear power. The commercial nuclear export regime is convoluted and burdensome, spread between three different federal departments and agencies.

While Roderick’s concerns may be legitimate, the way to decrease credit risks and costs is not to patch them with more government subsidies but to fix the policies that create undue risk in the first place. The U.S. government could do far more for the American nuclear industry by developing a modern regulatory system, fixing nuclear waste, ending market distorting technology programs, and creating an efficient system for peaceful nuclear trade than by reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank.

By itself, it is a matter of good economic policy to eliminate arbitrary barriers and enable American companies to compete. But it is also a matter of foreign policy – preventing American companies to compete closes off important opportunities to integrate America’s safety, transparency, and nonproliferation standards in the programs of partnering nations through nuclear trade agreements.

Perpetuating the current broken system by mitigating bad government policy through subsidies simply further embeds this flawed approach.  Instead, Roderick’s comments and others like his should draw policymakers’ attention to the many government erected barriers thwarting a competitive American nuclear industry. Getting rid of the subsidies will finally force Washington to fix these underlying problems.

Why Are U.S. Interest Rates Falling? Thank the Chinese - Daily Signal

Why Are U.S. Interest Rates Falling? Thank the Chinese

Kelsey Harkness / Rachel Sheffield / Robert Rector / Jack Spencer / Katie Tubb / William Wilson /

U.S. employment growth has recently accelerated, and the Federal Reserve is winding down its program of buying U.S. Treasuries with expectations of raising interest rates as soon as early next year. Yet the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note has fallen from 3 percent at the end of 2013 to approximately 2.5 percent today. Where is the source of this conundrum? You can thank the Chinese.

Just when it seemed the Chinese were determined to diversify their foreign-exchange holdings away from U.S. government bonds, they have returned to the U.S. Treasury market and are buying with a vengeance. According to the U.S. Treasury, during the first five months of 2014, China boosted its holdings of Treasury debt by $107 billion. This represents the fastest pace of Chinese buying since records began more than three decades ago and easily surpasses the $81 billion of debt purchased by China for all of 2013.

Why the reemergence of China in the U.S. debt market on such a scale? First and foremost, the Chinese have little choice but to keep purchasing U.S. Treasuries given the dearth of investment choices elsewhere. Nothing can come close to matching the size and liquidity of the U.S. sovereign debt market. And with the Chinese bilateral trade surplus with the U.S. running at record levels in the first five months of the year, the authorities need a secure place to invest all those dollars. Secondly, with economic growth slowing recently—particularly from a deceleration in Chinese net exports—a weaker yuan contributes to the competitiveness of their exports.

The benefits of lower bond yields for the U.S. are obvious. Interest rates on everything from mortgages, corporate debt, and credit cards are reduced (or are lower than they otherwise would be), motoring up the domestic economy. The benefit for the Chinese is having a relatively safe and highly liquid place to park their roughly $1.3 trillion of U.S. debt, or about 11 percent of the $12 trillion U.S. Treasury market.

But many of the costs from lower yields are hidden or difficult to predict. For example, lower bonds yields translate into lower income for bondholders (the current yield on the five-year Treasury is only 1.66 percent). This forces investors to search the globe for higher yielding assets, possibly fueling asset bubbles. (U.S. equities and junk bonds, for example, look historically pricey.)

The Chinese, in turn, are constantly purchasing U.S. dollars in exchange for yuan (to keep their exchange rate from appreciating). This results in a rapid growth in their monetary base which can eventually translate into higher domestic inflation as it did before the global economic crisis.

Looking longer term, the costs of this relationship will eventually exceed the benefits. Loose money and low interest rates are never sustainable. For now, however, both sides seem content with the current arrangement.

Dodd-Frank Overregulation Prolongs Conflict in Eastern Congo - Daily Signal

Dodd-Frank Overregulation Prolongs Conflict in Eastern Congo

Kelsey Harkness / Rachel Sheffield / Robert Rector / Jack Spencer / Katie Tubb / William Wilson / Ryan Olson / Charlotte Florance /

The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (known as Dodd-Frank) is not just damaging the U.S. economy through excessive and ill-designed regulations. It’s also contributing to a conflict halfway around the world.

Under Dodd-Frank, countries registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and neighboring countries are subject to enhanced regulatory scrutiny to combat “conflict minerals” (raw materials that finance armed violence) that have helped fund rebel groups in the eastern region. The problem is serious, but rather than helping, the clumsy and expensive regulations of Dodd-Frank are ultimately forcing the closure of artisanal mines and pushing former miners into dangerous militias.

The scope of regulations is onerous. The SEC estimated regulatory costs associated with the law at $3 billion to $4 billion in the first year of implementation and $200 million per year afterward. These compliance costs are absurdly high considering regional trade volumes. In 2012, recorded exports from the 10 affected countries in the three target minerals (tin, tantalum, and tungsten) reached only $283 million total—meaning compliance costs will be over 70 percent of the total value of the minerals.

According to reports, these stringent regulations (which in addition require companies to verify that minerals are not “conflict minerals” along the entirety of the value chain) are simply locking the poorest miners in the region out of the market. In some cases, buyers have backed away from the market entirely, leaving miners unemployed. Without economic opportunity, these unemployed miners are then drawn to local militias that ravage the region. Other miners, seeking to avoid regulation in the formal sector, have turned to smugglers, who pay the militias for protection. This entrenches the militias—the very actors the law sought to hinder—within the illicit mineral market.

Ultimately, the law failed to recognize the detrimental affect it would have on the very people Washington lawmakers sought to help. By simply reducing the conflict in the eastern DRC to mineral extraction, conflict-mineral advocates and Dodd-Frank supporters intervened in a way that is more harmful than helpful.

Boeing In Talks for Deal with Iran, Seeks Ex-Im Financing for China - Daily Signal

Boeing In Talks for Deal with Iran, Seeks Ex-Im Financing for China

Kelsey Harkness / Rachel Sheffield / Robert Rector / Jack Spencer / Katie Tubb / William Wilson / Ryan Olson / Charlotte Florance / Melissa Quinn /

One of the Export-Import Bank’s biggest beneficiaries is working to solidify a deal to sell airplanes to Iran. Unrelatedly, Boeing is also asking for more than $200 million in financing from the bank for exports to China.

“These two deals reflect the problematic nature of so many of Ex-Im’s deals,” said Diane Katz, a research fellow on regulatory policy at The Heritage Foundation. “Not only are some of America’s largest corporations the biggest beneficiaries of the bank’s taxpayer subsidies, but so, too, are some of the worst political regimes in the world. Both deals strengthen the case for simply allowing the Ex-Im charter to expire.”

As first reported by CQ, Boeing “entered into an agreement and engaged in related discussions with Iran Air pursuant to a license from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (‘OFAC’).” The potential agreement, which is with Iran’s national airline, was disclosed in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission this week.

According to the filing, Boeing’s deal with Air Iran defines terms and conditions “with respect to the potential sale of certain goods and services related to the safety of flight, including airplane parts, manuals, drawings, service bulletins, and navigation charts and data.” The plane manufacturing company also held discussions with Iran Air Tours, a subsidiary of Iran Air.

Boeing’s deal with Iran is the first between U.S. aerospace companies and Iran since the Iran hostage crisis in 1979, Reuters reported. Sanctions were put in place after the hostage crisis and were strengthened as countries like the United States became concerned with Iran’s nuclear program.

In November, Iran agreed to stop its nuclear program for six months starting Jan. 20. In exchange, six world powers including the United States and Russia offered relief from the sanctions. This month, Iran and the six countries agreed to an extension of sanctions relief. Because the sanctions against Iran are still lifted, Boeing’s dealings are allowed.

Tim Neale, a spokesman for Boeing, told CQ the deal with Iran does not involve financing from the Export-Import Bank, which provides taxpayer-backed loans and loan guarantees to foreign companies and countries. “There would not be any Ex-Im involvement in any transactions we might do with Iran’s commercial airlines under the terms of the OFAC license,” Neale said.

Boeing is one of the biggest beneficiaries of Export-Import financing, and critics have referred to the agency as the “Bank of Boeing.”

From 2009 to 2013, Ex-Im authorized more than $95 billion in loans and loan guarantees for Boeing. Approximately $16.1 billion of that financing went to foreign state-owned airlines from around the world, including Air China, Air India and Emirates Airlines.

According to a notice filed with the Federal Register from Ex-Im, the bank received an application this week for a loan guarantee to export Boeing airplanes to China. The specific airline, amount of the loan guarantee and value of the transaction are not included.

The notice does state that the transaction is, however, worth more than $200 million.

“The aircraft in this transaction will enable passenger route service within China and from China to various regional and international destinations, potentially including the United States,” it says.

The 80-year-old bank has been the center of much debate on Capitol Hill in recent weeks. Ex-Im’s charter expires Sept. 30, and Republicans and Democrats are sparring over whether to reauthorize the bank or allow its life to end.

Opponents of Ex-Im, led by House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, argue the bank furthers corporate welfare and cronyism. However, its supporters, led by President Obama, say it helps small businesses and creates jobs.

Obamacare Here to Stay? Ha! - Daily Signal

Obamacare Here to Stay? Ha!

Kelsey Harkness / Rachel Sheffield / Robert Rector / Jack Spencer / Katie Tubb / William Wilson / Ryan Olson / Charlotte Florance / Melissa Quinn / Genevieve Wood /

This has not been a good week for President Obama: Obamacare is back on the front burners and back in trouble.

This week, the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled that another aspect of Obamacare is unconstitutional. In this case, an IRS rule (one of over 20 such executive orders related to Obamacare whereby the administration created a new rule/law without legal authority) called for subsidies to flow through both state and federal exchanges.

The problem? The law clearly states only plans obtained through state exchanges qualified for subsidies. And the problem with this? When Obamacare took effect, over 30 states said “no thanks” to creating their own exchanges. That means many Americans will have to get a plan through the federal exchange and, if this ruling holds, they won’t qualify for a subsidy —which likely means their premiums will be much more expensive.

>>> The Obamacare Employer Mandate Could Die in Some States

The bottom line is that with so few states participating, and many of the exchanges of the ones who are participating in serious financial trouble, this ruling makes much of the “Affordable Health Care Act” completely the opposite.

Earlier this month, another court delivered Obamacare a major blow. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of two family businesses, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood, who claimed Obamacare’s Department of Health and Human Services mandate was forcing them to provide abortion inducing drugs against their will and that violated their religious freedom rights. Over 100 similar cases are making their way through the courts now and there is good reason to believe they too will be successful.

But the courts are not the only place producing bad news for the president’s signature piece of legislation. The latest numbers from the Congressional Budget Office project that 31 million Americans will remain uninsured in 2024, a full 10 years after Obamacare has been at work.

And, according to Heritage research associate Alyene Senger:

“…half of Obamacare’s reduction in the uninsured is projected to come from adding 13 million people into the poor-performing, government-run health program, Medicaid. Obamacare expands the program despite its well-documented history of poorer health outcomes and limited access for beneficiaries.”

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Recent events only pile on the over 40 changes and counting that have been made to the law since its passage – a clear indicator the law is unaffordable, unworkable and unfair.

To those who maintain, “Obamacare is here to stay,” I say, not so fast.

How Ryan T. Anderson Responded to a Gay Man Who Wants to Redefine Marriage - Daily Signal

How Ryan T. Anderson Responded to a Gay Man Who Wants to Redefine Marriage

Kelsey Harkness / Rachel Sheffield / Robert Rector / Jack Spencer / Katie Tubb / William Wilson / Ryan Olson / Charlotte Florance / Melissa Quinn / Genevieve Wood / Daily Signal Commentary Video /

“Why should I, as a gay man, be denied the same right to file a joint tax return with my potential husband that a straight couple has?”

Anderson also talked about the differences between the law’s interest in contracts and in marriage:

Curious in hearing more? Here are the highlights from Anderson’s remarks, his full speech, and the full Q&A.

Democrat Introduces Bill to Eliminate Obamacare Subsidies for Congress - Daily Signal

Democrat Introduces Bill to Eliminate Obamacare Subsidies for Congress

Kelsey Harkness / Rachel Sheffield / Robert Rector / Jack Spencer / Katie Tubb / William Wilson / Ryan Olson / Charlotte Florance / Melissa Quinn / Genevieve Wood / Daily Signal Commentary Video / Marguerite Bowling /

Looking to require U.S. lawmakers to “play by the same rules” with Obamacare, this week U.S. Rep. Daniel Maffei, D-N.Y.,  introduced legislation that would eliminate taxpayer-funded subsidies for members and their staffs to buy insurance on the health law’s insurance exchanges.

The bill, which is co-sponsored by Reps. Ron Barber, D-Ariz., and John Barrow, D-Ga., would prohibit congressional members from receiving a federal contribution to pay for health premiums bought on Obamacare exchanges. It also would require lawmakers to buy health insurance through their home state’s exchange if they buy a plan through an Obamacare exchange.

“Member of Congress should play by the same rules as the people they represent,” Maffei said in a statement. “That means no taxpayer-funded subsidy to cover the cost of their health insurance and no exemption for Members to get insurance through an exchange that is not available to their constituents.”

Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act, moved lawmakers and their staff from getting health coverage through the Federal Employees Benefits Program to health plans available through the health law’s state and federal-run online insurance exchanges.

To help defray expected high costs for premiums, the Office of Personnel Management last year issued a rule that the agency would give members and their staffs premium support. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., argued that move was unlawful and brought a lawsuit against OPM.

A federal judge earlier this week tossed Johnson’s lawsuit, saying he could not challenge the Obamacare provision, citing Article III of the Constitution, according to Politico.

Robert Moffit, a senior fellow at The Heritage Foundation, said the new legislation shows opposition to the Obamacare exemption for lawmakers is truly bipartisan.

“All of these efforts have one principle in common: No health insurance subsidy or tax credit should be available to House or Senate members that would not be available to regular Americans,” said Moffit, who serves in Heritage’s center for health policy studies.

Hillary Clinton: Russian Reset ‘Worked’ - Daily Signal

Hillary Clinton: Russian Reset ‘Worked’

Kelsey Harkness / Rachel Sheffield / Robert Rector / Jack Spencer / Katie Tubb / William Wilson / Ryan Olson / Charlotte Florance / Melissa Quinn / Genevieve Wood / Daily Signal Commentary Video / Marguerite Bowling / Philip Wegmann /

Hillary Clinton has no regrets about the Russian reset.

Clinton told NPR’s John Harwood in an interview Thursday that she believes “that the reset worked.”

The former secretary of state argued that she designed the strategy with specifically then-president Dmitry Medvedev in mind. With Vladimir Putin’s return to power, however, Clinton explained that the policy had effectively expired and that she told President Barack Obama, “We were going to have to change our thinking and approach.”

The Heritage Foundation’s Nile Gardiner finds Clinton’s defense of the reset “laughable” and representative of the “highest order of delusional thinking.”

Gardiner, director of the Margret Thatcher Center, dismisses Clinton’s leadership caveat to the reset, explaining that Putin controlled power in Russia even during the Medvedev presidency.

Gardiner maintains that the policy is one “of appeasement towards Moscow that has blown up in Washington’s face.”

The scholar says that what Clinton heralds as a success, represents a “staggering embarrassment” to the West, and has allowed the Russians to “become emboldened, more aggressive, and more hostile.”

Gardiner warns that policies like Clinton’s reset are tantamount to appeasement and indicative of weakness. He says Americans should be “very nervous about any continuation of any kind of this failure.”

“Hillary Clinton has held up the white flag to Moscow,” he says, “and that is a recipe for long term American decline.”