Power Company Fights with Farmers Over Private Property Needed for Pipeline

Kenric Ward /

RICHMOND, Va. — Dominion Power is firing back at opponents by shooting down what it calls “myths” over the utility’s proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

A hot-button issue is the potential use of eminent domain to seize private property along the natural gas pipeline’s projected 550-mile route across the state.

Rural groups in Augusta and neighboring Central Virginia counties say the $5 billion venture will disrupt farms and destroy livelihoods by taking agricultural lands.

Dominion says critics are putting the cart before the horse.

Chet Wade, vice president for communications at the state’s largest power provider, forecasts a lengthy process involving public meetings, court reviews and ultimately a ruling by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

“Seeking authorization for eminent domain can come only after the project has been shown to be in the public interest,” according to a Dominion briefing paper. “In this case, the review is expected to take two years and will include multiple opportunities for public participation.”

Dominion, which operates numerous pipelines, said a route running from West Virginia to Chesapeake and North Carolina can be accommodated.

“We have avoided the need for eminent domain 95 percent of the time,” Wade said of previous projects. “We do not want to go to eminent domain. If we do, there are accommodations, including easement payments, if crops cannot be grown for a year.”

Under Virginia’s 2004 Wagner Act, a public utility can take property through eminent domain if needed land can’t be acquired in any other manner.

Dominion says nearly 70 percent of landowners affected by the Atlantic Gas Pipeline have signed certified letters from the utility requesting permission to survey their property.

But Bonner Cohen, senior policy adviser for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow, said the letters do not contain the option of denying permission.

“Many landowners believe they have no choice but to sign,” Cohen wrote in a new article titled,“Yes to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline; No to Eminent Domain.”

Read more at Watchdog.org

The Left Keeps Trying to Win Elections By Litigation Over Rules Governing Elections - Daily Signal

The Left Keeps Trying to Win Elections By Litigation Over Rules Governing Elections

Kenric Ward / Hans von Spakovsky /

With little time before the midterm election, the decisions in the courts, including the Supreme Court, on the procedural rules that will govern the election keep coming on an almost daily basis. This has been pretty much the norm since the 2000 elections, as liberals and progressives have used the courts — rather than the legislative process — to try to change the rules governing voter registration and voting in order to benefit them politically.

In a prior post, I reported on court decisions in Ohio and North Carolina over early voting and same-day registration. After a federal district court refused to block North Carolina’s multi-pronged reforms — voter ID, eliminating same-day registration, shortening the early-voting period (from 17 days to 10), and banning ballots cast outside voters’ assigned precincts — the Fourth Circuit enjoined two of the four (the elimination of same-day registration and the ban on out-of-precinct ballots). However, the U.S. Supreme Court dissolved that injunction on Oct. 8. The high court’s 7–2 decision means that all of the changes made by the North Carolina legislature that had already been implemented by state election officials will remain in place for the Nov. 4 election.

As reported previously, the Supreme Court issued a similar order on Sept. 29 dissolving an injunction against Ohio’s elimination of same-day registration and reduction of early voting days from 35 to 28 days. Those changes also already had been implemented by state election officials.

On Oct. 6, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals threw out an injunction issued against Wisconsin’s new voter-ID law by a lower court. The court’s opinion, written by Frank Easterbrook, systematically dismantled all of the frivolous claims made by opponents of voter ID. However, three days later, the U.S. Supreme Court restored the injunction, so it will not be in effect on Nov. 4.

Although the Court’s one-page order was unilluminating, a possible reason for its decision can be gleamed from the dissent filed by Justice Alito (and joined by Justices Scalia and Thomas). Unlike the changes in North Carolina and Ohio, the Wisconsin voter-ID law had never been implemented because of the various injunctions issued against it in both state and federal court. The ID requirement applies not only to in-person voting, but also to absentee ballots.

As Justice Alito noted in his dissent, there “is a colorable basis for the Court’s decision due to the proximity of the election” and the fact that it was “particularly troubling that absentee ballots have been sent out without any notation that proof of photo identification must be submitted.” Other conservatives on the Court may have signed on to the majority opinion because the state already has mailed out absentee ballots to voters who had requested them without informing them that they had to meet the new ID requirement.

Despite that, Alito would not have dissolved the Seventh Circuit’s stay because, according to precedent, the Supreme Court “may not vacate a stay entered by a court of appeals unless that court clearly and ‘demonstrably’ erred in its application of ‘accepted standards.’” Alito, Scalia and Thomas clearly believe that test was not met in the Wisconsin case. Thus Wisconsin’s voter ID will not be in place on Election Day, but this clearly was not a decision based on the law’s merits.

The Wisconsin decision, viewed in conjunction with the decisions in the Ohio and North Carolina cases, indicate that the Supreme Court is stopping federal courts from changing the rules applying to the conduct of the registration and voting processes right before the election.

In Texas, to no one’s surprise, Obama appointee Nelva Gonzalez Ramos of the federal district court in Corpus Christi issued an injunction against the state’s voter-ID law despite the fact that it was successfully implemented in state elections in 2013 with none of the problems predicted by its opponents. As opposed to suppressing anyone’s vote, 2013 voter turnout actually went up compared to 2011 levels. This held true throughout the state, including its heavily minority counties.

Ramos made the remarkably illogical claim that, although Texas offers a free ID to anyone who doesn’t have one, the ID requirement still amounts to a prohibited poll tax. Her decision is an outlier. Federal district courts in other states including in Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, and Tennessee have concluded that an ID requirement is neither discriminatory nor a poll tax.

Fortunately, on Oct. 14, a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals dissolved the Ramos injunction “based primarily on the extremely fast-approaching election date.” In other words, with Ramos issuing her opinion only nine days before early voting started and just 24 days before Election Day, the injunction “substantially disturbs” the election process. As Judge Edith Brown Clement said, the “Supreme Court has repeatedly instructed courts to carefully consider the importance of preserving the status quo on the eve of an election.” Otherwise, court orders affecting elections “especially conflicting orders, can themselves result in voter confusion and consequent incentive to remain away from the polls. As an election draws closer, that risk will increase.”

The NAACP filed an emergency petition with the Supreme Court to overturn the Fifth Circuit and restore the injunction. But on Saturday, Oct. 18, the Supreme Court rejected the petition and refused to overrule the Fifth Circuit. Curiously, Justice Breyer did not join the dissent filed by Justices Ginsburg, Kagan and Sotomayor. So Texas’s voter-ID requirement will remain in place for this year’s election.

Finally, on Oct. 16, the Arkansas state supreme court threw out that state’s voter-ID law, concluding that it violated the state constitution. The court held that voter ID is an additional “qualification” on voters that can be implemented only if the requirement is placed in the state constitution. Other state supreme courts have concluded that voter ID is just a way of verifying that a state resident meets the eligibility requirement to be a qualified voter — it is not a new qualification. Since this is a state constitutional issue, there is no basis for an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Thus, the law will not be in effect in Arkansas in the election, but the state legislature may be able to implement a voter-ID requirement if the Arkansas constitution is amended.

These are the last major cases affecting the upcoming election. But given the Left’s penchant for litigating elections instead of trying to win them with the best candidate, who knows? We may yet see another flurry of new lawsuits filed before Nov. 4.

Originally appeared on NationalReview.com.

Showing ID When Voting Should Be One of the Least Controversial Policies in the World - Daily Signal

Showing ID When Voting Should Be One of the Least Controversial Policies in the World

Kenric Ward / Hans von Spakovsky / Ed Feulner /

If you’ve ever tried to board a plane, cash a check or rent a car, you’ve almost surely had to show some form of identification with your picture on it. For most people, that takes the form of a driver’s license, but there are other forms of photo ID. Millions of Americans produce them every day to do dozens of everyday tasks and think nothing of it.

Why should it be any different when we vote? Anyone can show up and claim to be you. Imagine if all someone had to do was state your name and address. I don’t know about you, but producing a form of ID when I vote gives me some peace of mind that no one else is voting in my name.

The short answer to the above question is that it’s no different at all. In fact, to the extent that it is different, you could say it’s even more important to produce a photo ID for voting. What civic duty supersedes that of voting? It’s a responsibility we must take seriously.

That helps explain why 31 states have some form of voter-ID laws in effect. Some are stricter than others, but all send an important message: Voting is too important not to take fraud seriously. We need to make sure that when someone shows up to vote, he is who he says he is, and not someone else.

You’d think this would be the most noncontroversial thing in the world. Who could oppose voter-ID laws? Some fringe groups? A few, yes, but unfortunately, they’re joined by some people who ought to know better, such as U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr., whose headquarters in Washington requires a photo ID to enter.

To hear Mr. Holder and others tell it, voter ID is — for starters — a huge imposition. They make it sound as if getting a photo ID is an almost insurmountable burden. Of course, that rings a bit hollow to the millions of Americans who have obtained photo ID with ease, so they don’t lean on that line of attack very heavily.

Instead, we’re led to believe that voter ID is a form of discrimination. Like the disgraceful Jim Crow laws that were once all too common in the decades following the Civil War, voter ID is meant to disenfranchise minority voters. Like literacy tests, voter ID is there to make it harder for them to cast their ballots — or so we’re told.

Indeed, it’s not unusual to hear outrageous comparisons made between voter ID and the violence that erupted in the Bull Connor era of the 1960s, when black voters were assaulted with “billy clubs and fire hoses, bullets and bombs,” as Mr. Holder has pointed out.

This line of argument is so patently absurd it would be laughable if the subject matter were not so serious. How can anyone compare physical assaults and threats of violence to showing a photo ID, a simple act that many of us — regardless of race, creed, color or religious belief — do every day without thinking twice?

Nonetheless, the opponents of voter IDs have been pressing their case in courts nationwide. In some places, the battle has seesawed back and forth.

In Texas, for example, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos, an appointee of President Obama, recently struck down a state law requiring voters to show photo ID that was successfully implemented with no problems in 2013. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit threw out that decision because of the short time remaining before the election, a decision upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In Wisconsin last April, a federal district court issued an injunction against the state’s voter-ID law. Although the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dissolved it, saying Wisconsin officials can enforce the law during next month’s elections, the Supreme Court reinstated the injunction because the election is too close to put in new rules.

Voter ID shouldn’t even be controversial. What could be more crucial than taking this simple step to ensure the integrity of our elections?

Originally appeared in the Washington Times.

The True Reason Gas Prices are Falling (Hint: It’s Not Because of Green Energy) - Daily Signal

The True Reason Gas Prices are Falling (Hint: It’s Not Because of Green Energy)

Kenric Ward / Hans von Spakovsky / Ed Feulner / Stephen Moore /

American workers and motorists got some badly-needed relief this week when the price of oil plunged to its lowest level in years. The oil price has fallen by about 20 to 25 percent since its peak back in June of $105 a barrel. This is translating to lower prices at the pump with many states now below $3 a gallon.

Already the lower oil and gas prices are the equivalent of a $70 to 200 billion cost saving to American consumers and businesses. That’s $70 to 200 billion a year we don’t have to send to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other foreign nations. Now that’s an economic stimulus par excellence.

There are many global reasons why gas prices are falling, but the major one isn’t being widely reported. America has become in the last several years an energy-producing powerhouse. And sorry, Mr. President, I’m not talking about the niche “green energy” sources you are so weirdly fixated with.

Oil prices are falling because of changes in world supply and world demand. Demand has slowed because Europe is an economic wreck. But over the last five years since 2008 the U.S. has increased our domestic supply by a gigantic 50 percent.

This is a result of the astounding shale oil and gas revolution made possible by made-in-America technologies like hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. Already thanks to these inventions, the U.S. has become the number one producer of natural gas. But oil production in states like Oklahoma, Texas and North Dakota has doubled in just six years.

Without this energy blitz, the U.S. economy would barely have recovered from the recession of 2008-09. From the beginning of 2008-13 through the end of 2013 the oil and gas extraction industry created more than 100,000 more jobs on net than all other industries combined while the overall job market shrank by 970,000.

When the radical greens carry around signs saying “No to Fracking,” they couldn’t be promoting a more anti-America message. It would be like Nebraska not growing corn.

We are just skimming the surface of our super-abundant oil and gas resources. New fields have been discovered in Texas and North Dakota that could contain hundreds of years of shale oil and gas supplies.

Here’s another reason to love the oil and gas bonanza in America. It’s breaking the back of OPEC.

Saudi Arabia is deluging the world with oil right now, which is driving the world price relentlessly lower. The Arabs understand — as too few in Washington do — that shale energy boom is no short-term fad. It could make energy cheaper for decades to come.

As American drillers get better at perfecting the technologies of cracking through shale rock to get to the near infinite treasure chest supplies of energy locked inside, we will soon overtake Saudi Arabia as the dominant player in world energy markets.

You can’t have a cartel if the world’s largest producer — America — isn’t a member. OPEC will never again be able to hold the world at knife’s point and create the level of economic turmoil that the Arab members of OPEC engineered in the 1970s with their oil embargo.

And by the way: lower oil prices place increased pressure on Iran’s mullahs to abandon their nuclear program and curb Putin’s capabilities to engage in is there a better way to defund the terrorists who run ISIS or to thwart Putin’s East Europe aggression. than to drive down the price of gas and oil?

Yet the political class still doesn’t get it. As recently as 2012 President Obama declared that “the problem is we use more than 20 percent of the world’s oil and we only have 2 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves.”

Then he continued with his Malthusian nonsense, “Even if we drilled every square inch of this country right now, we’d still have to rely disproportionately on other countries for their oil.”

Apparently, neither he nor his fact checkers have ever been to Texas or North Dakota. And we don’t have 2 percent of the world’s oil. Including estimates of onshore — and offshore resources not yet officially “discovered,” we have ten times more than that the stat quoted by the president – resources sufficient to supply and hundreds of years of oil and gas.

America, in sum, has been richly endowed with a nearly invincible 21st century economic and national security weapon to keep us safe and prosperous. The fall plunge is gas prices is just one visible sign of this supply explosion.

Think of how much bigger this revolution could be if we started building pipelines, repealed the ban on oil exports, expanded drilling on public lands, and stopped trying to punitively tax and regulate the oil and gas industry out of existence.

America, in sum, has been richly endowed with a nearly invincible 21st century economic and national security weapon to keep us safe and prosperous. The fall plunge is gas prices is just one visible sign of this supply explosion.  Think of how much bigger this revolution could be if we started building pipelines, repealed the ban on oil exports, expanded drillinged on public lands, and stopped trying to punitively tax and regulate the oil and gas industry out of existence.

For much of the last forty years, oil’s periodic  price spikes have remained a constant threat to economic growth. Higher consumer energy costs as well as increased industrial production costs weighted on the economy. Now, oil it is one of the primary accelerators;  and the new big drag on the economy is politicians who hate despise the carbon-based is industry.

Originally appeared on FoxNews.com.

Q&A: Couple Look to Paul’s Example in Resisting Order to Perform Gay Marriages - Daily Signal

Q&A: Couple Look to Paul’s Example in Resisting Order to Perform Gay Marriages

Kenric Ward / Hans von Spakovsky / Ed Feulner / Stephen Moore / Kelsey Harkness /

Perform same-sex wedding ceremonies or pay tens of thousands of dollars in fines and spend months behind bars. That’s the choice their Idaho town gave one Christian couple who have made marriage ministry their life’s work.

Donald and Eyelyn Knapp, ordained ministers, are married to each other. Together, they have run Hitching Post Wedding Chapel in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, since Ronald Reagan’s last year as president.

“The Apostle Paul spent quite a bit of time in jail for his faith, so who am I to feel like I have any right to avoid the same thing?” Don Knapp says during the couple’s exclusive interview with The Daily Signal.

“We can’t go against the teachings of the Bible and break our ordination vows,”  Evelyn “Lynn” Knapp adds.

The test of faith began for Don, 68, and Lynn, 66, after the courts overrode Idaho’s voter-approved constitutional amendment affirming marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Citing a “non-discrimination” ordinance, officials of Coeur d’Alene told the Knapps that they would be required to hold same-sex weddings at their chapel.

Earlier this month, the Knapps respectfully declined to hold a same-sex wedding in their small, lakeside chapel in the city of about 46,000. They face up to 180 days in jail and $1,000 in fines for each day they decline to celebrate that wedding.

>>> Commentary: Government to Ordained Ministers: Celebrate Same-Sex Weddings or Go to Jail

On Oct. 17, the couple’s attorneys from Alliance Defending Freedom filed a federal lawsuit and a motion for a temporary restraining order to stop the city from forcing the Knapps to violate their religious beliefs.

Now, in an exclusive interview with The Daily Signal via email, Don and Lynn Knapp speak out for the first time about why they decided to stand up to the law. The following Q&A was edited for length and clarity.

The Daily Signal: How did you meet and come to run Hitching Post Wedding Chapel?

Don: We both went to Bible college in our early 20s and both became ordained ministers. We have been married for 47 years and have been Christians for even longer. We have been serving couples at the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel for 25 years, and served at several churches for 13 years before that.

Lynn: We always felt called into full-time ministry; we thought we might be missionaries. The Lord specifically called us into wedding ministry. We love meeting the couples that walk through our doors. Our strengths and weaknesses complement each other. It’s been an adventure, to say the least.

closeupHitchingPost

‘We try to create a service that conveys God’s intention for marriage,’ Lynn Knapp says.

The Daily Signal: Why are you opposed to holding same-sex wedding ceremonies?

Don: As Christians and ordained ministers we follow the teachings of the Bible, which makes clear that marriage is between a man and a woman. Our wedding ceremonies follow the traditional Christian format.

Each ceremony we perform includes an exchange of vows, a short sermon based on the Bible and teachings of Jesus, and prayer over the couple. We also give each couple a CD with two sermons about marriage and recommend biblically based marriage literature.

Lynn: We view what we do as a ministry, and hope and pray that each couple we serve will come to believe in Jesus Christ and base their marriage on biblical principles.

We try to create a service that honors God and that conveys God’s intention for marriage. We try to communicate that God loves marriage and people should follow God’s guidance about marriage

>>> Farmers to Lesbian Couple: ‘We’re Not Hateful People’

The Daily Signal: Is this the first time you declined to host a wedding — for any reason?

Don: In trying to remember back through 25 years of service, we were able to recall at least two specific instances where we declined to perform a one-man, one-woman wedding ceremony: a nudist wedding and a wedding at a cemetery during Halloween.

But one-man, one-woman ceremonies rarely conflict with our religious convictions because we are in control of the content of the ceremonies and ensure that they are consistent with our religious beliefs. There is no way a same-sex wedding ceremony can be consistent … because our sincerely held religious belief is that marriage is between a man and a woman.

The Daily Signal: Do you agree with Coeur d’Alene officials and your critics that by declining to host same-sex wedding ceremonies you are “discriminating” against these couples?

Don: Of course we don’t agree with that.  As ministers of the Gospel, we love all people. It is the core of who we are and what we are about. That’s not what’s at issue here, though. We run a marriage ministry and have felt called by God to do so for many years. The Bible is clear that marriage is a one-man, one-woman union. We pledged to uphold marriage in our ordination vows.

For the government to force us to reject that teaching and celebrate a ceremony that is forbidden by the teachings of our faith not only undermines the very ministry we have built our lives upon, but also violates our duty to God as his ministers and what He has entrusted us to do.

>>> Commentary: Protecting Religious Liberty in the State Marriage Debate

The Daily Signal: Is that why you decided to fight city officials and file a federal lawsuit?

Don: The city of Coeur d’Alene made it clear at least three times this past year — both publicly and twice privately to me — that we would be breaking the law if we declined to conduct a same-sex ceremony. I was told we could face criminal prosecution, with a jail sentence of up to six months and/or a fine of up to $1,000 each time and each day we declined to perform a same-sex wedding ceremony.

On Friday, Oct. 17, around noon, a same-sex couple contacted us and inquired about us doing a ceremony. We respectfully declined because of our religious beliefs. Our attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom filed the lawsuit against the city Friday afternoon. On Friday evening, we received another request about a same-sex ceremony.

If someone was told by the government that he or she would be prosecuted and face up to six months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines for exercising their First Amendment rights, they would not wait around to see if the government made good on that threat. They would file a lawsuit to protect their freedom and avoid jail and fines. And that’s what we did here.

HitchingPost2

‘It’s heartbreaking,’ Lynn Knapp says. ‘We love the Hitching Post and the people that walk through our doors on a daily basis.’

The Daily Signal: Some critics allege that you edited your website so that Alliance Defending Freedom can turn you into “the latest victims of the marriage equality push.” Is this true?

Don:  Our website change is irrelevant to the case. We have always only performed one-man, one-woman ceremonies. When Idaho redefined marriage to be something other than that last week, we updated our website to merely state what we have always done in light of the state’s change in position.

Our wedding ceremonies continue to be one-man, one-woman ceremonies like they always have been, and will continue to reflect our Christian faith and biblical principles.

The Daily Signal: What does the prospect of months in jail and paying thousands of dollars in fines mean to your family and business?

Don: Well, I don’t think anyone looks forward to the possibility of going to jail. That being said, though, people of faith throughout the centuries have faced jail or punishment for following the teachings of their faith. The Apostle Paul spent quite a bit of time in jail for his faith, so who am I to feel like I have any right to avoid the same thing?

Lynn: It’s heartbreaking. We love the Hitching Post and the people that walk through our doors on a daily basis. It’s our life, our ministry, our calling. From a financial perspective, even though it’s a small income, it’s what we live on. I really like to be able to do little things for my grandchildren, and I’m dreading the thought of not being able to do that anymore. But we can’t go against the teachings of the Bible and break our ordination vows.

The Daily Signal: How have people responded to your story?

Lynn: We have received an outpouring of support both around this country and internationally. I think people realize that if the government can force pastors to perform religious ceremonies that violate their faith’s teachings — or throw them in jail if they don’t — no American’s freedoms are safe.

The Daily Signal: Why is this issue so important to you?

Don: Our faith drives everything we do, both professionally and personally. And, as ordained ministers, we certainly don’t check the teachings of our faith at the door when we open the Hitching Post on Monday mornings and begin marrying people.

No one, minister or not, should be forced by the government to abandon their religious beliefs, simply because they go to work.

Lynn: We follow the Bible, which is clear that marriage is between a man and a woman. For the government to demand we go against that would be a total violation of our relationship with God and a violation of our ordination vows.

The Hitching Post’s bylaws state that it is a religious organization owned by two ordained ministers who operate it as an extension of their religious beliefs and ministerial vows.  If ministers cannot operate a business according to their religious beliefs, then no one can.

This Infographic Shows How Obamacare Might Be Just One Big Expansion of Medicaid - Daily Signal

This Infographic Shows How Obamacare Might Be Just One Big Expansion of Medicaid

Kenric Ward / Hans von Spakovsky / Ed Feulner / Stephen Moore / Kelsey Harkness / Kelsey Harris /

Spoiler alert! When it comes to covering the uninsured, Obamacare has proven itself to be one giant expansion of Medicaid. A new report released Wednesday reveals the total coverage increase for the first half of 2014. While total coverage increased by 8,538,327 individuals, enrollment in Medicaid accounted for 71 percent of that growth. Check out the infographic below for the full breakdown of the numbers.

 

Infographic by Kelsey Harris

Infographic by Kelsey Harris

>>> The Full Numbers: Obamacare’s Enrollment Increase Mainly Due to Medicaid Expansion

Meet the New Class Warrior in Chief - Daily Signal

Meet the New Class Warrior in Chief

Kenric Ward / Hans von Spakovsky / Ed Feulner / Stephen Moore / Kelsey Harkness / Kelsey Harris / Stephen Moore / Joel Griffith /

We learned last week that new Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is not so much our nation’s central banker as class warrior in chief.  In a widely publicized speech Ms. Yellen parroted all of the left’s talking points on the divide between rich and poor.  “The extent of and continuing increase in inequality in the United States greatly concern me,” she lectured.  “It is no secret that the past few decades of widening inequality can be summed up as significant income and wealth gains for those at the very top and stagnant living standards for the majority.”

Actually, that’s a factually dubious claim given that the 1980s and 1990s saw wide gains for the middle class and even those at the bottom of the income pyramid.  Middle income families saw a  more than 30%  inflation-adjusted rise in income in those years. From 1982-1997 those who started out as poor actually saw faster income gains than those who started out as rich, according the U.S. Treasury Department study on income mobility.  Upward mobility defined that era of broad-based  prosperity.

Ms. Yellen also failed to note that the income gap is widening today because this has been the slowest recovery from a recession since the 1930s. Compared the other economic recoveries since 1960, Our national output is about $1.6 trillion (in inflation-adjusted dollars) behind; and compared to the Reagan recovery in the 1980s, we’re now $2.2 trillion behind, according to the Joint Economic Committee of Congress.

Ms. Yellen never mentions that Obamanomics has made inequality much worse.  Almost all of the income gains under Barrack Obama have gone to the top 5% in income.

Her silence on this point shouldn’t be too surprising because she has supported most of Obama’s economic policies.  She has also been a cheerleader of the Fed’s easy money policies which have benefited those at the top and almost no one else.  She never spoke out against the nearly $8 trillion in debt spending since the end of 2008, the big tax increase on investment in 2013, the expansion of welfare benefits, and other policies that have backfired.  One could argue the best way to reduce inequality is to repeal everything that President Obama has done since he entered office.

The real estate bust also exacerbated inequality, she concludes.  “Since housing accounts for a larger share of wealth for those in the bottom half of the wealth distribution, their overall wealth is affected more by changes in home prices,” she says. “Homeowners in the bottom half of households by wealth reported 61 percent less home equity in 2013 than in 2007. The next 45 percent reported a 29 percent loss of housing wealth, and the top 5 lost 20 percent.”  Again, this is because of federal housing policies at FHA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac that encouraged mortgages to people who couldn’t afford them.

Ms. Yellen conveniently failed to mention the role the Federal Reserve that she runs played in allowing unqualified borrowers easy access to mortgage loans to purchase homes at prices inflated by the Federal Reserve’s monetary policies.

According to Ms. Yellen, “Public funding of education is another way that governments can help offset the advantages some households have in resources available for children.” But if money were the answer the problem, districts in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, and NYC would be leading the way in performance. After all, these districts spend more than the national average. Why do they have some of the worst schools with the highest dropout rates?

Yellen is correct to point out the failures of our public education system. Young adults from economically challenged backgrounds are certainly being deprived of opportunities which could propel them forward.  School choice programs to allow the poor and minorities better education options are working and should be expanded, but Ms. Yellen dared not take on the teacher unions.

It wasn’t all bad. At one point she noted:  “it appears that it has become harder to start and build businesses.” That’s for sure. The United States has steadily dropped in the rankings of economic freedom, as our colleagues at the Heritage Foundation has documented.

But Ms. Yellen ignored most of the ideas that truly will ignite growth and raise incomes for the poor.  Marriage, the dignity of work, income tax cuts to promote investment here, cutting our corporate tax, replacing welfare with work, preparing our workers with the skills they need to fill millions of unfilled jobs. These are the “values rooted in our nation’s history,” to borrow a phrase from the Fed chief, that could allow the poor to rise up.

This might have been an occasion for Ms. Yellen to use her new perch as Fed chief to boldly challenge the whole litany of tired liberal talking points on inequality. She could have warned that when we focus on economic fairness and not growth, we get neither – as the Obama years have demonstrated.

That’s so disappointing because we’ve tried all of these ideas for five years, and we still have record income inequality.   The nation’s Fed chief ought to be a loud and clear voice for growth – not class envy.

Originally appeared on Forbes.com.

Workers Stuck Paying Plush AFL-CIO Exec Salaries - Daily Signal

Workers Stuck Paying Plush AFL-CIO Exec Salaries

Kenric Ward / Hans von Spakovsky / Ed Feulner / Stephen Moore / Kelsey Harkness / Kelsey Harris / Stephen Moore / Joel Griffith / Jason Hart /

AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, D.C., used money taken from workers to pay its officers and employees an average of $89,328 during fiscal year 2014.

Including every individual for whom AFL-CIO who reported a gross salary to the U.S. Department of Labor — from president Richard Trumka on down — the union coalition spent more than $35 million on compensation for three officers and 391 employees.

In 26 states and the District of Columbia, private-sector workers can be forced to pay AFL-CIO affiliates as a condition of employment. Public-sector workers can be forced to pay union fees in D.C. and 23 states, although thousands of Wisconsin and Michigan workers have exercised their privilege to opt out as a result of recent reforms.

Millions in tax dollars make their way to AFL-CIO each year, as the union coalition’s largest affiliates are American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and American Federation of Teachers.

This explains AFL-CIO support for bigger government, but AFL-CIO headquarters pay stands in contrast to the organization’s politics.

AFL-CIO backed the fringe-left Occupy Wall Street movement launched in late 2011, and it continues to embrace the group’s “99 percent” rhetoric. Solidarity with low-income workers is a major theme of AFL-CIO efforts to increase union membership, grow government and hike corporate taxes.

People’s World, a publication of Communist Party USA, reported that at an April 15 press conference unveiling the 2014 edition of AFL-CIO’s Executive Paywatch report, Trumka said the pay of top CEOs keeps increasing “because the system is rigged.”

“They’re cannibalizing their customer base,” Trumka added. Using money paid to AFL-CIO by its dues-funded union affiliates, Trumka was paid a total of $322,131 during AFL-CIO’s 2014 fiscal year ending June 30.

Read more at Watchdog.org

 

 

How Grade Inflation Hurts College Students’ Futures - Daily Signal

How Grade Inflation Hurts College Students’ Futures

Kenric Ward / Hans von Spakovsky / Ed Feulner / Stephen Moore / Kelsey Harkness / Kelsey Harris / Stephen Moore / Joel Griffith / Jason Hart / Salim Furth /

The scandal at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is principally about academic dishonesty. But it highlights an institutional failure at almost all American colleges that dissuades students from pursuing the best career possible. Some academic departments systematically inflate students’ grades. And many of those departments give students the least rigorous preparation for the labor market.

Part of college is learning what you’re good at. Students use freshman-year courses to gauge their interest and aptitude in different majors. A student who receives an A in writing and a B in calculus might conclude that she’s a better writer than mathematician. But what if she actually earned the average grade in both courses?

Plenty of students who start in difficult fields such as math decide to scale back their ambitions. That’s fine if it’s a personal choice–but not if they’re doing so because they got deceptive messages from their graders.

Women appear to be more sensitive to these grading messages than men. When Wellesley, an elite college for women, instituted a sensible grading system across all majors, the number of students majoring in the previously “easy” disciplines declined by 30%! Colleges that refuse to tackle grade inflation bear some responsibility for the fact that women, on average, end up in lower-paying fields.

Colleges will always have borderline students who hunt for the classes most likely to pass them and keep them enrolled. Educational institutions have a responsibility to ensure that the classes students are most likely to pass are the ones where they have a comparative advantage–not the ones where the faculty is most permissive.

Originally appeared on WSJ.com.

The Obama Administration Is Great at Talking Big–And Not Following Up - Daily Signal

The Obama Administration Is Great at Talking Big–And Not Following Up

Kenric Ward / Hans von Spakovsky / Ed Feulner / Stephen Moore / Kelsey Harkness / Kelsey Harris / Stephen Moore / Joel Griffith / Jason Hart / Salim Furth / Ted Bromund /

The Obama administration has responded to the Ebola epidemic by talking big. It does that well. From the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti to Syria’s use of chemical weapons in 2013, the administration has made a lot of splashy responses. But making a splash isn’t the same as being serious.

Take the Haitian earthquake, which killed more than 300,000 people. The initial U.S. response, led by the Department of Defense, saved many lives, though analysis by the Rand Corp. found that our success was mostly due to luck: if different buildings had collapsed, the U.S. response would have been much more compromised. But the U.S. mission ended in June 2010.

That left the ongoing United Nations mission in charge. By late 2010, UN peacekeeping troops from Nepal had caused a cholera epidemic that has killed more than 8,000 people. In early 2010, Haiti seemed so important that it got a line in Obama’s State of the Union address. But by late 2012, the United States had disbursed less than a third of its promised aid. The administration ignored the UN’s failure and moved on.

In 2011, after an online video went viral, Obama deployed U.S. forces to Uganda to hunt down Joseph Kony, the murderous leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army. In March he reinforced that mission. It would be good to eliminate Kony’s small band of killers. But with neighboring South Sudan on the verge of genocide, Kony is little more than an infamous symbol in a region with far more serious problems.

The pattern is the same. A foreign problem makes the administration look bad, so it responds in a big way. But its efforts don’t focus on substance. They’re merely public relations.

In 2011, the United States provided most of the muscle for NATO’s intervention in Libya, which Obama justified on the grounds that it was necessary to stop then-leader Moammar Gadhafi’s “brutal repression.” But the United States had no plan for what to do after it overthrew Gadhafi. Today, Libya is a failed state, with an elected parliament on the run from local and Islamist militias.

In 2012, Obama issued his “red line” on the Syrian use of chemical weapons. When the Syrians crossed it a year later, Russia, which wanted to protect Syria, made a deal with the United States to destroy the weapons Syria declared. But that did not stop Syria’s use of chemicals: The Bashar Assad regime simply switched from sarin gas to chlorine. The problem was never sarin: It was Assad.

In 2014, first lady Michelle Obama joined the #BringBackOurGirls campaign on Twitter. The girls are not back. More significantly, the Islamist terrorists who kidnapped them are still advancing in northeastern Nigeria. But now Ebola is the fashionable concern.

The Ebola epidemic has been raging since March, and the World Health Organization declared it an emergency in August. But a month after Obama said the disease was “spiraling out of control,” the U.S. military effort in West Africa is barely getting off the ground.

There are a lot of smart, dedicated and brave people doing their best to stop Ebola in West Africa today. And Ebola, like all of the problems Obama’s faced, is hard to cope with, much less to solve.

But under Obama, even when the United States acts, it has no attention span. His actions — like Friday’s appointment of an “Ebola czar” — focus on symbols, and lack a competent, sustained follow-up. The point of his announcements is to win a quick burst of applause and then get the issue out of the headlines.

As the Ebola epidemic shows, the problem with trivializing foreign crises is simply this: They’re not trivial. They affect us. And when we forget that, it’s not just foreigners who die. It’s Americans.

Originally appeared on Newsday.com.