Jeb Bush Pleases Conservatives by Saying Export-Import Bank ‘Should Be Phased Out’

Ken McIntyre /

Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush’s declared support for phasing out the Export-Import Bank could give him an opening with conservatives who had grown skeptical of what they consider his more establishment cast in recent years.

Bush, laying out his conservative record as a two-term governor of Florida, told a group of wealthy, pro-free-market donors that the Export-Import Bank was on his list of federal intrusions in the marketplace that “should be phased out.”

“Ex-Im is a smaller one,” Bush said of the federal bank, compared with other targets for phase-out such as taxpayer-backed mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Bush made the remarks during his appearance Thursday night before the Club for Growth in Palm Beach, Fla., which during its winter conference also heard from other potential GOP candidates for president such as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

Heritage Action for America, part of a coalition along with the Club for Growth and other free market and taxpayer groups that advocate pulling the bank’s plug,  welcomed Bush’s remarks.

Dan Holler, communication director for Heritage Action, the lobbying arm of The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal today:

The Export-Import Bank is becoming a threshold question for any Republican primary voter, but beyond that, it is a way for the eventual nominee to distance the party from corporate welfare and cronyism. It is very encouraging to see Bush, and many of the other potential 2016 candidates, rejecting this blatant slush fund for corporate welfare.

Ex-Im is an 81-year-old federal agency that provides taxpayer-backed loans and loan guarantees to foreign countries and companies for the purchase of U.S. products.

Conservatives in Congress last year came close to shuttering the bank at the end of September, when the most recent charter was to expire. Lawmakers, however, ended up extending its life through June.

Opponents on both sides of the aisle argue the agency is a dispenser of corporate welfare and center of cronyism that for the most part benefits a small number of politically connected corporations.

Supporters contend that Ex-Im creates or preserves U.S. jobs and helps small businesses compete in the global market. In recent days, business leaders organized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers, have renewed their appeals to lawmakers to save the bank.

 

Cartoon: Net Neutrality and Cat Videos - Daily Signal

Cartoon: Net Neutrality and Cat Videos

Ken McIntyre / Glenn Foden /

150227_Cartoon

Heritage analysts James Gattuso and Michael Sargent weighed in on the issue in a column last week:

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to place massive “net neutrality” restrictions on America’s Internet providers, in the process redefining them as public utilities.

If the decision stands, it would be a significant blow for the Internet and for its users.  The issue is far from settled, however: the FCC’s rules will almost certainly be subject to review in the courts, where their fate is uncertain. Moreover, Congress—the constitutionally-charged body for lawmaking—may also have its say.

Under the new rules, wireless Internet service providers will also be treated as public utilities, facing thousands of regulations.

Network-neutrality regulation—roughly defined as government-imposed rules that force Internet service providers to treat every bit of content on their networks exactly the same way, limiting not just premium service offerings, but also discounts to consumers (such as T-Mobile’s plan to waive data fees for users of certain music services)—has been contentiously debated for over a decade now. Twice during this time, the FCC has tried to impose such rules—in 2005 and again in 2010—and twice it has been rebuffed by the courts, which found the agency lacked authority to act.

Hoping that the third time is the charm, the FCC, led by Chairman Tom Wheeler, proposed yet another set of rules last May. Initially, Wheeler intended to more or less re-adopt the 2010 rules, with minor changes intended to address the problems identified in court.

However, President Barack Obama upped the ante in November urging the FCC to turn Internet access providers into public utilities subject to comprehensive regulation of their activities with potential consequences far beyond net neutrality itself. Today, the three Democratic members of the FCC submitted to Obama’s urging and reclassified wireline Internet service as common carrier service, under Title II of the Communications Act, making them public utilities.

Under the new rules, wireless Internet service providers will also be treated as public utilities, facing thousands of regulations, despite the robust competition and unique technical constraints in wireless markets.

Devised for the static world of monopoly landline telephone service, public utility regulation will be devastating to today’s innovative and competitive Internet. Not only will the imposition of net neutrality rules themselves hurt consumers, but other restrictions triggered by public utility status—as well as billions in possible new taxes—will be similarly costly.

With the FCC’s vote, the battle over how (and whether) the Internet will be regulated by Washington moves to two new but familiar venues. The first is Congress, where members will want to—and arguably have a duty to—have a say. Congress’s options, however, are limited, given the likelihood of a White House veto of any bill that overturns the FCC. There are approaches worth exploring, however, such as attaching a reversal to other must-pass legislation such as an appropriations bill.

Opponents who want to keep the Internet dynamic and free of regulation may have a better chance of success in the courts. The unusually political nature of the decision, and the fact that it reverses previous FCC findings that Internet access is not a public utility, will raise serious questions as the propriety of the FCC’s action today. For wireless Internet service, there are additional hurdles for the FCC—including a specific provision in the Communications Act actually barring the agency from treating wireless data service as a public utility.

Today’s vote is clearly not the end of this long-running debate.

 

What This Homeschool Mom Thinks About How the Government Regulates Homeschooling - Daily Signal

What This Homeschool Mom Thinks About How the Government Regulates Homeschooling

Ken McIntyre / Glenn Foden / Genevieve Wood /

If millions of Americans are doing it, the conventional wisdom among government bureaucrats is that somebody ought to regulate it.

Look no further than the growing movement known as homeschooling. It’s estimated that upwards of 3 million school age children in America are now foregoing the traditional schoolhouse, public or private, and getting their education at home.

That has some people concerned – primarily those in the public education establishment who have done such a stellar job educating the children under their care they believe they have time to monitor what’s going on elsewhere.  (For the record, according to the 2013 findings of the Program for International Student Assessment, students in 29 countries statistically outperformed U.S. students in math, 19 did so in reading, and 22 did so in science.)

>>>To see the homeschool laws in your state, see this map from the Home School Legal Defense Association.

But according to a January New York Times article, some critics of homeschooling are coming from within the community itself. That piqued my interest.

Take the young woman featured in the story who bemoans the fact that her mother “used science textbooks that taught the theory of intelligent design and shied away from rigorous math during her high school years.” She says the result was that she had to take some remedial math classes in college.

Hmmm. Considering she is now a doctoral candidate in history at the University of Michigan, maybe the reality is that math just wasn’t her strong suit and her talents lay in other subjects. And, I’d venture to guess that the percentage of public school students who graduate every year that have to take remedial courses in math (and a number of other subjects) when they enter college far outweigh the number of homeschoolers who do.

But let’s keep looking…

What about the homeschooling mom also featured in the Times article, who let her son play a video game, Minecraft, to burn off energy after only 10 minutes of schoolwork?  Surely we should be monitoring that kind of thing, right?

Homeschooling challenges the public education bureaucracy in America that says children are better off with professional educators.

Well, not so fast. The reporter only references that particular scene which takes place in the afternoon with no mention as to what little 10-year-old Elijah may have already accomplished in terms of schoolwork that day. Can he read and write for his age level? The article doesn’t say but my guess is he can do that and more–otherwise such shortcomings would have been reported in the story.

To get more insight into all of this, I decided to talk with someone who is a real expert in education – my sister who lives in North Carolina and, in addition to having more degrees than I do and being a college professor, homeschools my three oldest nephews. I asked my sister, Amanda Aucoin, what she thought about homeschool regulations, testing, and the desire by some to encourage more of both.  Here is her take:

Q:  How much regulation of homeschooling is needed?

A:  I think North Carolina is a great example of striking a balance. Parents are asked to register with the Department of Non-Public Education, which also has oversight of private schools in the state. You let them know when you open, add a student or close your homeschool.  You also are asked to keep ‘attendance’ records, meaning you check a box on a sheet for each day ‘educational activities or instruction was conducted.’ It’s flexible, but you do agree to do 36 weeks of educational days per year.

Amanda Aucoin and her family. (Photo courtesy of Amanda Aucoin.)

Amanda Aucoin and her family. (Photo courtesy of Amanda Aucoin.)

Q:  What about annual testing?

A:  In North Carolina, you agree to give a standardized test to each student age seven and over in your homeschool. Parents choose the test, and I don’t know of any restrictions there. You also agree to keep the scores of the test on file for voluntary inspection. So, there are regulations, but it’s all voluntary.  And I think that’s good because it shows the state is not completely unconcerned with the welfare of homeschool students, but also not micromanaging at all.

Q:  But you also say you don’t find the tests particularly helpful. Why?

A:  The point of testing in all schools initially was to let parents know how their children are doing academically. Well, if you homeschool, you pretty much know that already. Now the motivation for testing seems to have changed, it’s a test of the educators and the school more than the students, and it’s not surprising some would want to apply this to home schools as well.

Q:  What do you think are the primary motivations of those who want more regulations?

A:  Homeschooling challenges the public education bureaucracy in America that says children are better off with professional educators. The more it grows the more they believe it threatens public schools, education programs at colleges (which grant teaching certificates), thousands of bureaucrats, millions of paid teachers, and billions in state and federal dollars – especially when it is demonstrated how well homeschool students do academically, on a fraction of the yearly budget per student.  THAT, in my opinion, is the real reason behind the ‘concerns’ of most non-homeschoolers on this issue. Public education is an industry in our country.

Q:  Now that you’ve told us what you really think…any other points you’d like to make about homeschooling?

A:  Even though one may think public education is okay, that doesn’t mean it’s the standard by which every educational practice should be normed or tested. Homeschoolers may be seen as having knee-jerk reactions to the idea of state regulation but we know regulators are usually not satisfied with minimalist oversight, and opening the door to more government intervention will not lead where most of us want to go.  Homeschoolers do not wish to replicate the public schools just in a different setting and with prayer. For many, it’s a whole different philosophy of education.

For the First Time on Camera, Meet the Man Who Exposed the Gruber Videos - Daily Signal

For the First Time on Camera, Meet the Man Who Exposed the Gruber Videos

Ken McIntyre / Glenn Foden / Genevieve Wood / Sharyl Attkisson /

Rich Weinstein is the single person considered most responsible for exposing one of the biggest blows to the Affordable Care Act’s image: a series of videos in which a key Obamacare architect discusses the “stupidity of the American people” and how that helped get the bill passed.

Now, Weinstein is speaking on camera for the first time in an exclusive interview with The Daily Signal.

An investment adviser from Philadelphia, Weinstein says he began researching the Affordable Care Act when his own health insurance was canceled in late 2013.

“When they said, ‘If you like your plan, you can keep your plan,’ I believed that just like everybody else,” says Weinstein.

Using nothing more complicated than Google, Weinstein unearthed a treasure trove of publicly available information, including embarrassing videos starring Jonathan Gruber.

Gruber is a Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist described as a key architect of Obamacare. He reportedly received $400,000 in federal consulting contracts to provide expertise on the Affordable Care Act. He previously helped design the Massachusetts health care law that is considered a model for Obamacare.

Jonathan Gruber (Photo: Newscom)

Jonathan Gruber (Photo: Newscom)

The ‘Stupidity’ Videos

In several videos unearthed by Weinstein, Gruber refers to voters as “stupid.”

“And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but, basically, that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass,” Gruber says of the Affordable Care Act in an academic lecture on Oct. 4, 2013.

In another, Gruber discusses how a trick in wording hides a large tax that is passed onto consumers.

“Because the American voter is too stupid to understand the difference,” Gruber says, prompting laughter from the audience.

Weinstein says when he first heard the comments on the video he’d found, “I just thought he was trying to put one over on us. Not just on me or you, but on everybody.”

Transparency Comments

Weinstein also discovered videos in which Gruber refers to the intentional lack of transparency in the Affordable Care Act.

“I wish … we could make it all transparent but I’d rather have this law than not,” Gruber says in one excerpt.

In another, he states, “If you had a law in which it said healthy people are gonna pay in, you made [it] explicit that healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed. Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage.”

Weinstein spent countless hours scouring the Internet. As he found more videos and information, he became disenchanted with the news media.

“It’s pretty disappointing,” he says. “The media just has not had any, very little intellectual curiosity … all these videos were out there in plain sight.”

The ‘Noblis’ Video

Weinstein considers what he calls the “Noblis video” to be the most important of the bunch. It shows Gruber speaking at a technical conference sponsored by a company called Noblis on Jan. 18, 2012.

The find is considered so significant, it’s entered as evidence in the U.S. Supreme Court challenge to the Affordable Care Act that justices will hear Wednesday.

In that case, King v. Burwell, the administration argues the Affordable Care Act confers federal assistance—subsidies—to qualified consumers in all 50 states.

Opponents, a majority of the states, argue the law only applies to the 16 states that set up their own health care exchanges to sell insurance under Obamacare.

Gruber has been quoted as calling the challenger’s theory “nutty.” Yet, in the Noblis video, recorded nine months before HealthCare.gov went live, he agrees with the opposing side. He clearly states that tax subsidies were only meant for states that established exchanges.

“What’s important to remember politically about this is if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits—but your citizens still pay the taxes that support this bill,” says Gruber. “So you’re essentially saying [to] your citizens ‘you’re going to pay all the taxes to help all the other states in the country.’”

If the Supreme Court believes what Gruber said in the video is correct, Weinstein says it’s “obviously a big wrench” in Obamacare. It’s estimated that more than 5 million people could lose their subsidies.

“Millions of people would lose their health insurance subsidies and therefore would no longer be able to afford health insurance,” says Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell.

150227_SharylWeinstein-3

‘Lack of Economic Understanding’

In still more videos excerpts, Gruber talks about ways to mask a health care-related tax on the public by “mislabeling it” as a tax on insurance companies.

“…Calling it a tax on insurance plans rather than a tax on people, when we all know it’s a tax on people who hold those insurance plans,” says Gruber.

Gruber also explains, “We tax the insurance companies, they pass it on [in the form of] higher prices, that offsets the tax break we get, it ends up being the same thing. It’s a very clever, you know, basic exploitation of the lack of economic understanding of the American voter.”

After Weinstein helped expose the videos, Gruber apologized for his embarrassing remarks. He called them “inexcusably arrogant” and says he was speaking “off the cuff.”

President Obama has said he does not agree with Gruber’s assessment of the American public’s intellect, and that the former adviser’s views do not reflect “the process.” The White House did not respond to a request for further comment for this story.

150227_SharylWeinstein-2

The ‘Cadillac Tax’

Ask Weinstein what is the biggest shoe yet to drop regarding the Affordable Care Act and he immediately points to the so-called “Cadillac tax.”

“That Cadillac tax—it’s a whopper,” says Weinstein. “That’s a real problem.”

The Cadillac tax is a huge tax that will be levied on high-end insurance plans—the “Cadillacs” of health insurance.

Starting in 2018, Obamacare imposes the 40 percent tax on individual health plans costing more than $10,200 for an individual or $27,500 for a family. The idea is to press employers to offer less generous plans.

Many people, including Weinstein, believe it will prompt employers to cut out health insurance altogether, forcing some of the 158 million people who are currently insured through work onto the Obamacare exchanges for plans they don’t like as much, with limited choices and higher deductibles.

“The employers are gonna get frustrated, not offer employer-sponsored insurance anymore,” predicts Weinstein. “I don’t think those people are expecting what’s going to hit them.”

Weinstein says thanks to Obamacare, his insurance premiums have doubled. Today, he has connected with three other “citizen journalists” who say they’re committed to doing the job that the news media is not doing well: critically investigating the Affordable Care Act.

“One person can make a difference,” says Weinstein. “I’m nobody special. I had a problem, I got onto Google … but anybody can make a difference and if you don’t like what’s going on, you can make a difference.”

Gruber Removed

Last week, Gruber was one of four members removed from the Massachusetts’ Health Connector Board, which oversees the state’s health care law.

In asking for the resignations, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker said he’s establishing a new leadership team.

Why Are Lawmakers Attacking This Archbishop for Requiring Catholic Teachers to Not Slam Catholicism? - Daily Signal

Why Are Lawmakers Attacking This Archbishop for Requiring Catholic Teachers to Not Slam Catholicism?

Ken McIntyre / Glenn Foden / Genevieve Wood / Sharyl Attkisson / Katrina Trinko /

If McDonald’s told its employees that it was unacceptable to diss its fast food as gross, disgusting or unhealthy at either McDonald’s or in a public setting, would it elicit a heated reaction from lawmakers?

Probably not.

So why are lawmakers getting involved in a Catholic bishop’s decision to tell diocesan employees he expected them to not publicly object to church teachings?

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone is under fire for adding new clauses to archdiocese’s high school teachers contract that require “Catholic teachers in their professional and public lives uphold Catholic teaching,” according to the diocesan newspaper Catholic San Francisco.

Acknowledging not all teachers are personally Catholic, the archdiocese is pushing that its public and classroom statements and behavior reflect Catholic teaching on matters ranging from abortion to contraception to the Eucharist being the real presence of Jesus Christ.

Enter, after public controversy, California state lawmakers.

Last week, eight California assemblymen and state senators, representing the areas in the archdiocese, sent Cordileone a letter, saying the new clauses “conflict with settled areas of law and foment a discriminatory environment in the communities we serve.” They continued:

Although your position wields discretion over working conditions at schools affiliated with the Catholic Church, the standards within the morality clauses would be illegal for any other [sic] employer. Your proposal goes beyond regulating behavior in the workplace and infringes upon the personal freedoms of your employees.

Let’s remember a few facts.

First, no one has to work for the San Francisco archdiocese. Plenty of people would find the clauses far too restrictive—and they can choose to never work at these Catholic high schools or to quit their current jobs there.

Second, it’s fairly typical for people to want to hire employees who are comfortable with and in agreement with the mission of the person or company—or who at least won’t publicly bash the company line. In his response to the eight lawmakers, Cordileone made that case, writing, “Would you hire a campaign manager who advocates policies contrary to those that you stand for, and who shows disrespect toward you and the Democratic Party in general?” He added:

On the other hand, if you knew a brilliant campaign manager who, although a Republican, was willing to work for you and not speak or act in public contrary to you or your party—would you hire such a person? If your answer to the first question is “no,” and to the second question is “yes,” then we are actually in agreement on the principal point in debate here.

Two of the San Francisco lawmakers, Assemblymen Phil Ting and Kevin Mullin, who assigned the initial letter weren’t happy with Cordileone’s response.

On Monday, they asked the California Assembly Labor and Employment Committee and the Assembly Judiciary Committee to investigate the archdiocese’s actions. In particular, Ting and Mullin questioned the archdiocese’s decision to classify high school teachers as “ministers”—a classification that matters because of the 2012 Supreme Court decision in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Michael Stokes Paulsen, a law professor at the University of St. Thomas, explained in a 2012 Public Discourse article how the Supreme Court decision broadened the definition of ministers:

The principle established by the First Amendment is that a religious group has the “right to shape its own faith and mission through its appointments” and thus has plenary “control over the selection of those who will personify [its] beliefs.” This includes teachers, lay leaders, and persons who perform a mix of religious and seemingly “secular” functions. The right extends to those whom a religious community, operating under its own system of rules, designates as central to its religious mission and identity. The court’s one-word descriptor perhaps says it best: those persons that the community identifies as personifying its religious identity. The court decided only the case before it, but it made clear that the right itself is one of religious community autonomy, broadly understood. It is not a right limited to pastors alone.

It seems clear that the archdiocese has legal precedent to call high school teachers at Catholic schools “ministers.”

This week, however, the archdiocese suggested that it would no longer push for the teachers to be called ministers. The National Catholic Register reported an archdiocesan priest “clarified that while the archbishop is no longer considering the use of the word ‘ministers’ to describe the Catholic teachers, he is now using the word ‘ministry’ instead to define their work.”

Regardless of the legal terms the archdiocese ultimately uses, what’s clear is that it is not unreasonable—or illegal—for a religion to ask teachers in its schools to adhere to certain practices. As written in the Hosanna-Tabor decision:

By forbidding the “establishment of religion” and guaranteeing the “free exercise thereof,” the religion clauses ensured that the new federal government—unlike the English crown—would have no role in filling ecclesiastical offices. The establishment clause prevents the government from appointing ministers, and the free exercise clause prevents it from interfering with the freedom of religious groups to select their own.

Ting, Mullin and the other six lawmakers may vehemently disagree with Cordileone’s decision—and that’s their prerogative. But it should concern all religious or religion-friendly Americans that a religious leader’s decision to ask teachers employed by the religion to refrain from public bashing of that religion has elicited such a strong reaction and a request of a probe from lawmakers.

Religious leaders should be free to make such decisions without worrying about interference from the government.

‘We’re Going to Keep Fighting This Battle’: Steve Scalise on Homeland Security Funding Fight - Daily Signal

‘We’re Going to Keep Fighting This Battle’: Steve Scalise on Homeland Security Funding Fight

Ken McIntyre / Glenn Foden / Genevieve Wood / Sharyl Attkisson / Katrina Trinko / Kate Scanlon /

During an appearance on Fox News Sunday, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., said that the House would “keep fighting” to both fund the Department of Homeland Security and stop the president’s “illegal” executive action on immigration.

Scalise denied host Chris Wallace’s statement that the temporary funding bill merely “kicked the can down the road,” in the stalemate, leaving the House in the same position it was last week.

“What we did was passed a bill that now forces the Senate to vote on going to conference,” Scalise said. “We actually passed a bill that pushes back on the president’s illegal actions on immigration. They made changes to that bill that we don’t like, and so the way Congress works is, when the House and Senate have a disagreement, you go to conference. So, Monday the Senate will actually be taking that vote.”

Scalise repeatedly stressed that the House forced the Senate to take up the House bill, and that the dispute should be settled in conference.

“Let’s go to conference and work out these differences, and finally put a check on this president that he himself said 22 different times, he doesn’t have the authority to write his own immigration policies. We’re going to keep fighting this battle,” he said.

Scalise said differences of opinion within his party over how to combat the president’s actions are over tactics rather than substance.

“We did pass a bill to keep this fight going through next week, and Monday is that vote… We forced a vote in the Senate,” Scalise said. “Obviously, our members have a lot of differences on how maybe we want to go about tactics, but our goal is the same. Our goal is to fight this president’s illegal actions on immigration.”

Scalise said that “anybody that disagrees with the president’s illegal action on immigration” should “light up the Senate switchboard between now and Monday” when the vote will occur.

Here’s how other members of Congress reacted on Twitter:

The President said 22 times that he did not have the authority to act unilaterally on #immigration. What changed? The #Constitution did not.

— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) March 1, 2015

Let’s go to Conference, because even Harry Reid said in 2013, that’s how we settle our differences. We avoided a cliff. They created one.

— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) March 1, 2015

We can’t govern in 3 week increments from shutdown to shutdown. It’s no way to run the govt. #DontShutDownOurSecurity http://t.co/BzdNJyih9L

— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) March 1, 2015

Why Scott Walker ‘Changed’ His View on Immigration - Daily Signal

Why Scott Walker ‘Changed’ His View on Immigration

Ken McIntyre / Glenn Foden / Genevieve Wood / Sharyl Attkisson / Katrina Trinko / Kate Scanlon / Kate Scanlon /

During an interview with Fox News Sunday that aired today, host Chris Wallace showed footage from July 2, 2013, when the Wausau Daily Herald asked Walker, “Can you envision a world where, with the right penalties and waiting periods and meet the requirements, where those people could get citizenship?”

“Sure. Yeah. I mean, I think it makes sense,” Walker responded at the time.

“Isn’t that amnesty?” Wallace asked Walker.

Walker responded that he has changed his view on immigration, in part due to what he called the president’s “mishandling” of the issue, and speaking with voters and border-state governors.

“I don’t believe in amnesty, and part of the reason why I’ve made that a firm position is I look at the way this president has mishandled this issue,” Walker said. “I think the better approach is to enforce the laws and to give employers, job creators, the tools like e-verify and other things to make sure the law is being upheld going forward.”

Walker added that “the better approach is to enforce the laws.”

Wallace countered that Walker’s statement was different than what he said in 2013.

“My view has changed. I’m flat-out saying it,” Walker said. “A candidate can say that. Sometimes they don’t.”

Walker said that the first step in any new system for legal immigration must be to secure the border, “or none of these plans make any sense.”

The interview was taped last week at the Conservative Political Action Conference. Walker came in second behind Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., in CPAC’s annual presidential straw poll.

Here’s how some reacted to Walker’s comments on Twitter:

Already flip flopping-Scott Walker: ‘My view has changed’ on immigration http://t.co/D16WbeGlTX via @usatonpolitics

— Kinji Ridley, MBA (@kinji3pr) March 1, 2015

Scott Walker: ‘My View Has Changed’ on Amnesty http://t.co/STxt73hbQp #tcot #pjnet #2016 Finally, someone who wants to enforce the law! :D

— jeaniebgd (@jeaniebgd) March 1, 2015

Sounds like Scott Walker has come around to my position on amnesty. I like that. #CPAC2015

— Joe Dunn (@JoeDunn8) March 1, 2015

Good! The one issue for me, concerning him. RT “@allahpundit: Scott Walker: ‘My view has changed’ on immigration http://t.co/NYbRe3Y84O

— Dan Wardy (@WardyPawns) March 1, 2015

Disappointed that @ScottWalker caved and flip flopped on immigration. To be president requires sticking to unpopular positions sometimes.

— Thoughts N. Views (@Thoughtsnviews) March 1, 2015

Paging 2016 MT @leighmunsil @ScottWalker says views on immigration changed & more from his Sunday show appearance: http://t.co/WrMpvv4GSt

— James Norton (@jamesnorton99) March 1, 2015

How These Two Government Programs for Farmers Could Hurt You - Daily Signal

How These Two Government Programs for Farmers Could Hurt You

Ken McIntyre / Glenn Foden / Genevieve Wood / Sharyl Attkisson / Katrina Trinko / Kate Scanlon / Kate Scanlon / Daren Bakst /

Last year, Congress created two major programs for farmers that, not surprisingly, will shatter Congressional Budget Office’s cost projections. Taxpayers’ liability for these programs is open-ended because a widely-supported limit on costs to protect taxpayers didn’t make it in the final farm bill. Congress should put an end to this liability immediately.

The 2014 farm bill eliminated the infamous direct payments program that gave farmers subsidies regardless of need. However, it also created two new programs that are likely to be even more expensive.

Farmers can participate in either the Agricultural Risk Coverage or Price Loss Coverage programs on a crop-by-crop basis. The Agricultural Risk Coverage program covers shallow losses (i.e. minor losses) incurred by farmers. The Price Loss Coverage program provides payments to farmers when commodity prices fall below a fixed reference price set in law. This program set the reference prices so high that, for some commodities (such as corn), payments were likely to be triggered from the outset.

Critics of these programs warned that assuming prices would stay at or near record highs was a mistake because prices would likely decline. As a result, the programs would incur far greater costs than projected.

Even before the farm bill passed, corn and wheat prices had already dropped significantly. CBO was using outdated price projections, and Congress failed to wait a couple of weeks until the U.S. Department of Agriculture could provide more updated price projections.

That was some costly impatience. Between using assumptions that did not reflect declining prices and setting reference prices in the Price Loss Coverage program far too high, Congress almost ensured that the new programs would cost far more than projected.

Sure enough, the new programs are shattering cost projections and will likely be more expensive than the projected costs (about $4.5 billion annually) of the old direct payments program. Right before the 2014 farm bill’s passage, CBO projected the new programs would cost taxpayers $3.6 billion annually over their first five years. Its just released (January 2015) report, however, projects annual costs of $5.3 billion. That’s a 47 percent increase, less than a year after passage of the farm bill.

Even these numbers are very conservative. Some well-respected experts are estimating that these new programs will cost as much as $8 billion in the first year alone. That would be more than double the $3.8 billion originally projected by CBO for the first year.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently explained, “Well, with crop and commodity prices coming down rather precipitously in the last 12 months, it’s anticipated we’re actually going to have to spend a lot more on ARC [Agricultural Risk Coverage] and PLC [Price Loss Coverage].”

He’s right. But it should be noted that when Vilsack says “we’re” going to have to spend a lot more, he really means “taxpayers.”

The House in a bipartisan manner recognized the potential risk that could exist for taxpayers due to these programs. An amendment to the original House farm bill that would have capped the costs of these programs overwhelmingly passed. While the original House farm bill was never passed, the bill that did get through the House maintained the cost cap provision.

Inexcusably, the provision was removed when the House and Senate worked out the final farm bill. Taxpayers are going to pay the price for this action. Congress should immediately pass a cap similar to the one originally included by the House. It would have capped the costs at 110 percent of the CBO projections. A new cap should be based on CBO’s projections right before passage of the farm bill.

As much as legislators are touting that they got rid of direct payments, they should be embarrassed that these two new programs will likely cost even more than what direct payments were projected to cost.  At a minimum, Congress should develop a cap for these programs that limits total costs for the five-year bill to what direct payments were projected to cost, about $22.5 billion.

Make no mistake, these new programs should be repealed. They are costly, unnecessary, and provide subsidies that effectively eliminate most risk, even normal business risk. In the interim though, Congress can provide some immediate protection for taxpayers by creating a common-sense cap.

Originally published in American Thinker

 

In Puzzler, President Lets ISIS Know Iraq Battle Schedule - Daily Signal

In Puzzler, President Lets ISIS Know Iraq Battle Schedule

Ken McIntyre / Glenn Foden / Genevieve Wood / Sharyl Attkisson / Katrina Trinko / Kate Scanlon / Kate Scanlon / Daren Bakst / Peter Brookes /

Team Obama’s decision last month to disclose to the press the operational outline for an all-out assault on the Islamic State (aka ISIS)-held Iraqi city of Mosul is a bit of a head scratcher.

It’s like: “Hey, ISIS—please save the date.”

The Pentagon also reportedly told the press that the April-May offensive would include as many as 25,000 Iraqi/Kurdish Peshmerga troops, alongside Sunni tribesmen and local police.

Now, it’s not as if we gave them the exact hour of the exact day, but we’ve certainly taken away the time-old, treasured military element of surprise—often an important factor.

Plus, given that urban assault can be a serious slog with street fighting and house-to-house clearing operations, isn’t it going to be even more difficult with the steps the enemy will now take to improve its odds of prevailing?

For instance, while the Islamic State expected that Mosul would be contested at some point, its fighters will find the best sniper locations, set up fields of fire, plant IEDs, etc.—ASAP.

Worse, news analysis seems to indicate the Iraqi army probably won’t be ready by the spring and the Kurds aren’t properly armed yet due to Baghdad’s sensitivities about bolstering the Peshamerga forces.

ISIS will also probably look for opportunities to distract the coalition militarily elsewhere from its planned operation against Mosul. In fact, the announcement of the upcoming fight might “turbo-charge” militant recruitment (via social media, of course) to defend the caliphate’s eastern outpost.

None of this is good. So what might account for broadcasting operational information to the enemy?

First, the Obama administration just ended a “Combating Violent Extremism” conference in Washington where the outcome seemed (from the outside) to be more “thud” than “thunder.”

The president came under fire—again—for not calling the violent extremism we’re experiencing either “Islamic” or “Islamist,” even though that is what the conference seemed to be mostly about.

It’s possible the White House concluded that since the confab came off as a bit academic, replete with ideas such as “jobs for jihadists” and “education for extremists,” maybe its overall message needed some muscling up.

What better way than announcing a military operation against ISIS?

Then, perhaps Team Obama wanted to put pressure on the Iraqi political/military leadership to get hot on defeating the Islamic State, especially after last summer’s Mosul humiliation—which included its troops stripping off their uniforms while in full retreat.

In other words: Baghdad, it’s time to get your act together and take back your country—of which ISIS owns a third, oh, by the way.

It’s also conceivable that perhaps by giving the Islamic State plenty of notice of a spring offensive that it might rapidly retreat for Raqqa or give the nearly two million civilians in Mosul tons of time to beat feet before the bullets start flying.

Regardless of the possible reasons, none seem to satisfy.

The ISIS “pre-vite” also seems to require a successful outcome for the operation, something that has been in short supply. Indeed, anything short of overwhelming victory for the coalition will look like a win for the Islamic State.

Originally published in Boston Herald.

It’s Time to Kill This Tax (Entirely) - Daily Signal

It’s Time to Kill This Tax (Entirely)

Ken McIntyre / Glenn Foden / Genevieve Wood / Sharyl Attkisson / Katrina Trinko / Kate Scanlon / Kate Scanlon / Daren Bakst / Peter Brookes / Stephen Moore /

If there were ever a right time to eliminate the estate tax in America, it is right now.

The latest tax collection data make an overwhelmingly persuasive case for abolishing the most immoral and counterproductive of all federal taxes.

Here is what the latest IRS numbers tell us: In 2013, the estate tax raised $12.7 billion. And estate tax revenue is falling, not rising. In 2001 the tax collected nearly twice as much money as 2013 ($23.5 billion).

This $12.7 billion raised was out of about $2.8 trillion in total federal revenue in 2013. In other words, a trivial 0.46 percent of federal tax receipts now comes from estates.

Its impact on the federal deficit is minimal. If we got rid of the estate tax altogether, the feds, at worst, would still collect more than 99 percent of all federal revenue.

moorechart1

Why does the tax raise such a pittance, compared with income taxes, business taxes, even customs duties? It’s partly because the exemption level was raised to $5 million, indexed for inflation (rising to $5.43 million this year) as part of the tax deal in 2012.

The tax rate was also cut to 40 percent from 55 percent. But the other factor that appears to be driving lower collections is that wealthy Americans are getting savvier in avoiding the tax.

Which brings us to the stupendous inefficiency of the tax. In 2013, only 4,687 estates paid any estate tax. This was about one-fifth of a percentage point of all deaths that year. Yet nearly every medium-sized estate has to waste time and money filling out catalogs of tax forms.

moorechart2

The joke in legal circles today is that we have an estate tax not to raise money, but to keep thousands of accountants and lawyers in jobs.

The common objection screamed from the rooftops to eliminating this tax is: tax cuts for rich trust fund babies.

Actually, no. Most of the billionaire households—Gates, Buffett, Rockefeller, etc.—will pay almost no estate tax. In the case of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, billions of dollars of their wealth is sheltered from the IRS through the creation of tax-exempt entities like the Gates Foundation.

In many cases, the income parked there will never be taxed, neither while they are alive nor after they are dead—thanks to this mother of all tax shelters.

Dick Patten, who runs a coalition of family business owners dedicated to ending the death tax, reminds me that the third plank of Karl Marx’s and Friedrich Engels’ “The Communist Manifesto” was to abolish all rights of inheritance.

“With a 100 percent inheritance tax, the government eventually owns everything. That’s the point, right?” And with an effective federal 57 percent inheritance tax, as President Obama has proposed, the government, in some cases, owns more than half.

Most of the billionaire households—Gates, Buffett, Rockefeller, etc.—will pay almost no estate tax.

This is all so economically self-defeating. Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz, who served as chairman on Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisors, once found in a research paper that the estate tax may increase inequality by reducing savings and driving up returns on capital.

Former Clinton Treasury Secretary and Obama economic adviser Larry Summers co-authored a 1981 study finding that the estate tax reduces capital formation. And a 2012 study by the Joint Economic Committee’s Republicans showed that the estate tax, since its inception nearly a century ago, has reduced the capital stock by approximately $1.1 trillion.

The major propeller of growth in a nation is that one generation after another leaves wealth to the next. This makes societies richer over time as trillions of dollars of wealth are passed to children and grandchildren.

The higher the estate tax rate, the less the incentive for wealth creation in the first place. The incentive is to die broke—in which case future generations get nothing, but the government gets shut out, too. This is called a lose-lose for everyone.

Amazingly, many socialist or former communist nations, like Sweden and Russia, have eliminated their death taxes. They found the tax to be economically counterproductive. America should do the same—at almost no cost to the Treasury, according to the new revenue numbers, and maybe even a big gain.

Originally published in the Orange County Register.