The Daily Signal http://dailysignal.com/ Policy News, Conservative Analysis and Opinion Sat, 18 Nov 2017 11:01:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.2 http://dailysignal.com/wp-content/uploads/cropped-favicon-32x32.png The Daily Signal http://dailysignal.com/ 32 32 Must-See Moments: Is the Left Turning on Bill Clinton? http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/18/must-see-moments-left-turning-bill-clinton/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/18/must-see-moments-left-turning-bill-clinton/#respond Sat, 18 Nov 2017 11:01:56 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=370657 The Daily Signal’s Facebook Live show “Top 10” features the top news stories of the week, many of which have either gone underreported or have... Read More

The post Must-See Moments: Is the Left Turning on Bill Clinton? appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
The Daily Signal’s Facebook Live show “Top 10” features the top news stories of the week, many of which have either gone underreported or have been misreported by the mainstream media. This week, after many past allegations of sexual assault, the left has finally turned their backs on former President Bill Clinton.

We also address the latest on the Sen. Al Franken sexual assault accusation, as well as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s call for an investigation into the groping case. Another story we address that went widely underreported: The Hispanic Caucus has denied membership to Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a Republican congressman who represents a heavily populated Latino district in Florida. We covered all of this and much more on this week’s top 10 must-see moments. Check out the full video above.

The post Must-See Moments: Is the Left Turning on Bill Clinton? appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/18/must-see-moments-left-turning-bill-clinton/feed/ 0
Trump Administration Cites MS-13 Arrest to Push Change in Minor Immigrant Law http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/trump-administration-cites-ms-13-arrest-to-push-change-in-minor-immigrant-law/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/trump-administration-cites-ms-13-arrest-to-push-change-in-minor-immigrant-law/#comments Sat, 18 Nov 2017 02:28:09 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=370761 The Trump administration is pointing to a large federal roundup of members of the violent gang MS-13 as vindication of increased enforcement efforts and reason... Read More

The post Trump Administration Cites MS-13 Arrest to Push Change in Minor Immigrant Law appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
The Trump administration is pointing to a large federal roundup of members of the violent gang MS-13 as vindication of increased enforcement efforts and reason to change the policy on unaccompanied minor illegal immigrants.

The Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security announced a joint effort that led to the arrest of 214 gang members and those involved with gang-related crime.

MS-13 is an international criminal gang that spread throughout Central America into the United States–in largely urban centers such as Los Angeles, Boston, New York City, and into Toronto, Canada. The organization’s motto is “mata, viola, controla,” which means, “kill, rape, control.”

Of the 214, just 16 were U.S. citizens while 198 were foreign nationals. Of the foreign nationals, only five were in the country legally. Among those arrested, 64 entered the country as unaccompanied alien children, but most are now adults, according to the Trump administration.

During a press conference Thursday announcing the arrests, Tom Homan, deputy director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, noted the 2008 law on unaccompanied minors does not allow them to be immediately returned to their country of origin.

“The agencies sent up a series of policy requests to the Hill to address a lot of issues to further control the border and illegal immigration,” Homan said. “Some of these policies are being exploited and used by criminal organizations. That’s why that’s one of the policy issues we asked Congress to look at and help us with.”

The multi-state, multi-federal agency program was called “Operation Raging Bull.”

The current law states that unaccompanied minors from countries other than Canada or Mexico aren’t subject to expedited removal, but the minors are promptly released into the United States upon arrival at the border. The Department of Homeland Security transfers custody to the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement within 72 hours. That office must promptly release the minor to relatives or other sponsors, according to the White House. In some cases, the sponsors were criminals who abused law.

Of the total immigration hearings for unaccompanied minors that came to the United States between 2014 and 2016, 12,977 cases out of 31,091 completed ended in removal, according to a Congressional Research Service report in January. Out of those removals, 11,528, or 89 percent, were did not show up for their hearing to make their case against removal proceedings, and often remained in the country.

Also, more than half of the unaccompanied minors that came into the United States in 2014 and 2015 were 16 or 17 years old, according to the Government Accountability Office in a February 2016 report.

Out of the 214 arrested, 93 were charged with crimes including murder, aggravated robbery, racketeering, narcotics trafficking, narcotics possession, firearms offenses, domestic violence, assault, forgery, drunken driving, and illegal entry/reentry. The remaining 121 were arrested on administrative immigration violations, according to the Justice Department.

“With more than 10,000 members across 40 states, MS-13 is one of the most dangerous criminal organizations in the United States today,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “President Trump has ordered the Department of Justice to reduce crime and take down transnational criminal organizations, and we will be relentless in our pursuit of these objectives. That’s why I have ordered our drug trafficking task forces to use every law available to arrest, prosecute, convict, and defund MS-13. And we are getting results.”

The post Trump Administration Cites MS-13 Arrest to Push Change in Minor Immigrant Law appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/trump-administration-cites-ms-13-arrest-to-push-change-in-minor-immigrant-law/feed/ 1
Cartoon: Democrats Take Aim at Tax Reform http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/cartoon-democrats-take-aim-tax-reform/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/cartoon-democrats-take-aim-tax-reform/#respond Sat, 18 Nov 2017 00:15:48 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=370890 The post Cartoon: Democrats Take Aim at Tax Reform appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>

The post Cartoon: Democrats Take Aim at Tax Reform appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/cartoon-democrats-take-aim-tax-reform/feed/ 0
Russia’s Hybrid War Against the West Began on the Battlefields of Ukraine http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/russias-hybrid-war-west-began-battlefields-ukraine/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/russias-hybrid-war-west-began-battlefields-ukraine/#respond Fri, 17 Nov 2017 23:06:30 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=370812 KYIV, Ukraine—Russian revanchism has spread beyond the battlefields of Ukraine’s Donbas region into a global, hybrid conflict that has redrawn the balance of power in... Read More

The post Russia’s Hybrid War Against the West Began on the Battlefields of Ukraine appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
KYIV, Ukraine—Russian revanchism has spread beyond the battlefields of Ukraine’s Donbas region into a global, hybrid conflict that has redrawn the balance of power in Eastern Europe and pitted the world’s two largest nuclear powers against each other.

“When a country can come interfere in another country’s elections, that is warfare,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Oct. 19, referring to reports of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Russia has been honing its hybrid warfare playbook in Ukraine for almost four years. Consequently, when it comes to Russia’s hybrid war against the West, all roads lead back to Ukraine.

A protest against Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine during the height of the war in the summer of 2014. (Photos: Nolan Peterson/The Daily Signal)

“We must finally wake up and unite against this imperialist Neo-red threat posed to the free world by the current Kremlin administration,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin told MailOnline, a British news site, on Wednesday.

“We suffer at the hard end of Russia’s hybrid war, which they unleashed on the world in 2014 with the invasion of Crimea and Donbas in my country,” Klimkin reportedly said in the interview.

Nothing has been the same between Russia and the West since patch-less Russian soldiers—the “little green men”—stormed into Crimea in March 2014.

One month later, Russia launched a proxy war in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. That war, which is ongoing, along with the Crimean land grab were the opening salvos in Russia’s hybrid conflict against Western democracies—a gambit, some say, to fundamentally reshape the post-World War II world order.

Russia’s actions “threaten the international order on which we all depend,” British Prime Minister Theresa May said in a speech on Monday.

“Russia has fomented conflict in the Donbas, repeatedly violated the national airspace of several European countries, and mounted a sustained campaign of cyber espionage and disruption,” May said. “This has included meddling in elections, and hacking the Danish Ministry of Defense and the Bundestag, among many others.”

Proliferated Conflict

The war in Ukraine is not a civil war. It is, and has always been, a Russian invasion.

“It’s not an internal strife. It’s not an ethnic conflict. It’s not an indigenous conflict. It is one where on the eastern side you have 100 percent Russian command and control of what’s happening there,” President Donald Trump’s special envoy to the Ukraine conflict, Kurt Volker, reportedly told a briefing in Washington on Nov. 3, according to a readout published on the Department of State’s website.

Further, the war is no longer simply a regional conflict. In addition to Russia’s hybrid aggression against the West, the war in Ukraine is now at the nexus of an increasingly interwoven web of geopolitical interests—including China’s.

Beach defenses in the eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol.

Ukraine will be a key node in China’s One Belt, One Road (“New Silk Road”) trade route across Asia to Europe. According to the Chinese initiative, the Ukrainian port city of Odesa will be a key waypoint for Chinese trade into Europe.

Chinese investment in Ukraine is already ramping up. Lawmakers recently awarded a contract to two Chinese companies to build a new subway line in Kyiv. One Chinese company has been dredging Ukraine’s Yuzhny port, and another has been tapped to repair roads in Ukraine necessary to transport goods into the European Union.

At a recent forum in Kyiv, Chinese Ambassador to Ukraine Du Wei said the One Belt, One Road project would be “unthinkable” without Ukraine’s involvement.

As Beijing’s economic interests deepen in Ukraine, it’s unclear how much tolerance China will have for Russian hybrid warfare aggression against Ukraine.

Looming Threat

As Russia’s proxy war in eastern Ukraine nears its fifth calendar year, soldiers and civilians are still dying on both sides of the front lines in Ukraine’s southeastern Donbas region.

It is a frozen war, which so far has killed more than 10,100 Ukrainians and created a long-term humanitarian catastrophe affecting millions more.

Despite a February 2015 cease-fire, known as Minsk II, the war is not over. It’s a low intensity conflict, mainly fought from trenches and ad hoc forts along a 250-mile-long, static front line in the Donbas region. Fighting is mostly done at a distance, using indirect fire weapons like artillery, mortars, and rockets.

Inside a Soviet-era nuclear fallout shelter in the eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or OSCE, is the multinational body charged with monitoring the Ukraine cease-fire. This year, OSCE cease-fire monitors have recorded more than 325,000 cease-fire violations in Ukraine, including 27,000 violations that involved the use of heavy weapons proscribed from the front lines by the Minsk II cease-fire.

To be clear, each “cease-fire violation” is not an individual shot fired—it can comprise dozens of separate artillery, mortar, rocket, or small arms shots.

Beyond Ukraine’s borders, the 44-month-old conflict still hangs like a sword of Damocles over Eastern Europe, spurring a regional race to militarize against the revanchist Russian threat that has upheaved the regional balance of power.

To reassure its eastern members, NATO is rotating military forces across Eastern Europe. The Western alliance has also increased the number and frequency of its exercises in the region.

Still, many Eastern European countries see Russian military aggression in Ukraine as an existential national security threat. Consequently, the Baltic countries—Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania—are now among the most rapidly militarizing on earth.

War has become a way of life along the front lines in eastern Ukraine.

Poland, which shares a border with Ukraine, is also building up its military. Poland launched an ambitious 10-year defense project in 2015 aimed at upgrading its military forces and doubling its ranks to 150,000 soldiers. Poland raised its military expenditures by 13 percent between 2013 and 2014.

In a 2016 interview with Radio Poland, Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz said Russia’s war in Ukraine spurred Poland’s military buildup.

“Russia is the aggressor,” Macierewicz said. “Never before, since World War II, did we face such a situation.”

“What’s more,” Macierewicz added, “Russia is not hiding its aggressive intentions, neither toward Ukraine—whose territory it is occupying—nor toward other countries of the region, including Poland … This situation is unprecedented and until the Kremlin authorities change their policy, we have to treat Russia as the biggest threat to peace in Europe and in the world.”

Hybrid Superpower

The U.S. and its NATO allies collectively overwhelm Russia in terms of both hard and soft power.

“The Kremlin has no intention to engage in a full-scale conflict with the North Atlantic Alliance,” according to a 2017 report on Russian hybrid warfare by the National Institute for Strategic Studies of Ukraine, a Kyiv-based think tank.

“[Russia] understands that their technological and economic backwardness will result in a definite and quick defeat,” the report said.

NATO’s military arsenals dwarf Russia’s. And Russia’s 2016 gross domestic product of $1.283 trillion is about half that of California, and roughly on par with Spain. (Russia has about three times the population of Spain.)

A Ukrainian soldier at the U.S. Army training program in western Ukraine. (Photo

Moreover, Russia’s diplomatic trustworthiness is shot after years of absurd denials of incontrovertible facts about the war in Ukraine, such as diplomatic shoulder shrugs about the identity of the group of patch-less Russian soldiers who invaded Crimea in March 2014, or claims that Russian soldiers captured while fighting in Ukraine were there on holiday.

Yet, despite its weaknesses, Russia is a hybrid superpower with an unparalleled ability to control the world’s attention economy.

Moscow does not lean on military force, economic clout, or diplomatic persuasion to shape world affairs to its interests. Rather, the Kremlin seeks to lower an alternate-reality shroud over both the civilian populations and the political institutions of its adversaries.

Russian propaganda mouthpieces, such as RT and Sputnik, masquerade as alternative news outlets purporting to provide an unbiased alternative take on the news for which so many Western citizens are now clamoring.

According to the United Nations, about 4 million people are at risk in the eastern Ukrainian war zone.

May, the British prime minister, said Russia is seeking to “weaponise information” by “deploying its state-run media organizations to plant fake stories and photoshopped images in an attempt to sow discord in the West and undermine our institutions.”

Russia has built a worldwide empire of propaganda, which, thanks to the advent of the internet and social media, is able to directly target its adversaries’ civilian populations in ways the Soviet Union’s influence operations were never able to do during the Cold War.

Additionally, historically low levels of confidence in media institutions among the populations of many Western democracies—the United States in particular—has made the citizens of Russia’s adversaries particularly vulnerable to propaganda manipulation.

According to the the National Institute for Strategic Studies of Ukraine report: “Lacking sufficient capabilities to establish even regional dominance, but having ambitionist revisionist plans regarding world influence, Russia made great efforts to disrupt the foundations of power of Western civilization.”

Tinderbox

Relations between Russia and Ukraine remain locked one “Franz Ferdinand scenario” away from a much larger war, which could have global consequences.

The two Russian-backed separatist territories in eastern Ukraine are among the most militarized parcels of land on earth. According to Ukrainian intelligence officials, combined Russian-separatist forces in eastern Ukraine currently wield 675 tanks, of which about 500 are operational.

“Russia says they are not there, despite having up to 500 tanks—four times as many operational tanks as the British army—in addition to hundreds of other heavy weapons and thousands of Russian regular troops and mercenaries,” Klimkin, the Ukrainian foreign minister, told MailOnline, referring to Russia’s military presence in the Donbas.

Memorials to fallen protesters in Kyiv’s central square—the Maidan—in the summer of 2014.

According to the Kremlin, separatists pilfered Ukrainian military bases in the Donbas to build their arsenal. (Russia’s proxy separatist territories in eastern Ukraine comprise about 5 percent of Ukraine’s total landmass.)

Notwithstanding Kremlin statements to the contrary, Moscow is supplying the two breakaway separatist republics in eastern Ukraine with weapons, financial aid, military hardware, and its own troops—mainly for command and control purposes. There are also foreign mercenaries fighting among the combined Russian-separatist forces.

Russia’s proxy war has galvanized Ukrainian public opinion against Russia. Kyiv has named Russia as the “aggressor nation,” and has specifically rebuilt its military to defend against a Russian invasion from the east. Kyiv has also revamped its military industrial complex, climbing the ranks among the world’s top arms exporters.

Four years ago, Ukraine had a defunct military, crippled after decades of corruption under successive pro-Russian governments in Kyiv. Today, the country fields a military force with about 250,000 active-duty soldiers and a reserve corps of 80,000. In terms of manpower alone, among European countries, only Russia has more soldiers than Ukraine.

After almost four years, the Russo-Ukrainian war has frozen into a static, trench warfare shooting gallery.

Neither side is fighting to take new ground, or to overwhelm the enemy with superior force. The conflict is not an acute crisis, but a grinding, de facto state of war between Ukraine and Russia. The objective, at this point in the conflict, is Balboan—to “go the distance” until a political solution is hashed out.

Yet, the conflict remains a tinderbox ready to ignite, potentially engulfing an already skittish region into a larger conflagration.

Battle scars outside the eastern Ukrainian city of Sloviansk in August 2014.

About 60,000 Ukrainian soldiers are deployed to the eastern war zone—known as the Anti-Terrorist Operation zone, or ATO, among Ukrainian officials.

On the other side of no man’s land in the Donbas, according to Ukrainian intelligence reports, combined Russian-separatist forces comprise about 34,000 separatists and foreign mercenaries, as well as about 3,000 Russian soldiers who serve, for the most part, in command and control positions.

Altogether, Russia has about 60,000 troops deployed on Ukrainian soil in both Crimea and the Donbas, according to Ukrainian military officials.

“Ukraine is crucial for [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s legacy,” Slawomir Debski, director of the Polish Institute of International Affairs, told The Daily Signal.

Debski added: “Russia’s president is mortal and he knows perfectly well that he will be remembered either as the Russian leader who lost Ukraine or the one who caused Ukraine’s failure. So he will use all tools in his disposal to shape the minds of Russians in the way that leaves no doubt for them who is a winner in Ukraine. And from this point of view it must be him.”

The post Russia’s Hybrid War Against the West Began on the Battlefields of Ukraine appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/russias-hybrid-war-west-began-battlefields-ukraine/feed/ 0
Louisiana Is Leading on Long-Overdue Criminal Justice Reform http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/louisiana-leading-long-overdue-criminal-justice-reform/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/louisiana-leading-long-overdue-criminal-justice-reform/#respond Fri, 17 Nov 2017 21:52:46 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=370789 Louisiana has joined the growing ranks of states that have embraced comprehensive criminal justice reform. The Pelican State passed a reform package in June 2017... Read More

The post Louisiana Is Leading on Long-Overdue Criminal Justice Reform appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
Louisiana has joined the growing ranks of states that have embraced comprehensive criminal justice reform.

The Pelican State passed a reform package in June 2017 with strong bipartisan support, and will pursue additional reforms over the next year.

These reforms are designed to reduce recidivism, improve public safety, and invest in proven re-entry programs while saving the state’s already-overburdened taxpayers millions of dollars in the process. They include:

  • Focusing prison space on serious and violent offenders.
  • Tailoring habitual offender penalties to the severity of the offense.
  • Ensuring that criminal justice fines and fees do not become a barrier to successful re-entry.
  • Requiring that savings are reinvested into programs and policies that will reduce recidivism and support victims of crimes.

These are reforms that conservatives should continue to champion across the country, including here in Louisiana.

As is the case of many other states, Louisiana spends extravagantly on criminal justice. In fact, we currently imprison more people per capita than any other place in the world. That comes with a hefty price tag—$700 million per year, to be exact.

Yet there is little evidence to suggest that the status quo leads to any meaningful improvement in public safety. But thankfully, change is now coming to Louisiana.

The new reforms are estimated to save taxpayers about $262 million in incarceration expenses. Of that, $184 million will be reinvested into programs proven to reduce the incidence of repeat offenses and to support victims of crimes, all the while reducing our prison population by 10 percent over the next 10 years.

These reforms are the result of years of spadework, led in large part by conservative and free-market leaders and organizations both inside and outside of Louisiana.

Conservatives should continue to work together with state leaders to ensure the reforms are implemented well, so we can see the same kind of demonstrable results for public safety that other states have enjoyed, and continue the growing momentum for the national reform movement.

In-state supporters of these reforms—which include the Pelican Institute, Right on Crime Louisiana, Smart on Crime Louisiana, the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, and numerous regional chambers of commerce and economic development organizations—anticipate positive results similar to those in other conservative Southern states.

Consider these figures from other states who have adopted similar reforms:

  • In Texas, prison populations have declined by 16 percent while crime rates have dropped 30 percent.
  • In South Carolina, which began its criminal justice reform initiatives in 2010, both crime rates and imprisonment rates have dropped 16 percent.
  • In Georgia, crime rates have dropped 10 percent since 2012.
  • In North Carolina, crime rates have plummeted by 19 percent since 2011.

To be sure, these reforms have generated some opposition, and the temptation for some conservatives might be to write them off, given the enthusiastic level of support they have enjoyed from groups on the political left.

The fact is that these reforms will make Louisiana safer by reducing both crime and recidivism, yet in a smart, proven, fiscally responsible manner.

These are just the kinds of reforms we should all come together to support. We should welcome anyone from across the political spectrum who joins us in supporting these values. Working together, we can make Louisiana—and our nation—a better place to live, work, and raise our families.

The post Louisiana Is Leading on Long-Overdue Criminal Justice Reform appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/louisiana-leading-long-overdue-criminal-justice-reform/feed/ 0
Meet These 5 Stellar Conservatives Trump Just Added to His Supreme Court List http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/meet-5-stellar-conservatives-trump-just-added-supreme-court-list/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/meet-5-stellar-conservatives-trump-just-added-supreme-court-list/#respond Fri, 17 Nov 2017 21:32:40 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=370702 On Friday, President Donald Trump announced the addition of five individuals to his outstanding list of potential candidates for a future Supreme Court vacancy. As... Read More

The post Meet These 5 Stellar Conservatives Trump Just Added to His Supreme Court List appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
On Friday, President Donald Trump announced the addition of five individuals to his outstanding list of potential candidates for a future Supreme Court vacancy.

As was the case with the lists Trump put out during his presidential campaign, these new additions to the list are conservative men and women who are committed to interpreting the Constitution according to its original public meaning.

While there are currently no vacancies on the Supreme Court, rumors abound that Justice Anthony Kennedy may retire in the near future. Here’s a look at the new names.

Amy Barrett

Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit
Age: Approximately 45

Barrett, a former University of Notre Dame law professor, was recently confirmed to the 7th Circuit. After graduating from Rhodes College and Notre Dame Law School, Barrett clerked for Judge Laurence Silberman on the D.C. Circuit and Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.

She then worked in private practice (where she was part of the team that represented George W. Bush in Bush v. Gore) before starting her career in academia, teaching briefly at George Washington University and the University of Virginia before joining the Notre Dame Law faculty in 2002.

Barrett is a prolific writer, having published in leading law reviews across the country on topics including originalism, federal court jurisdiction, and the supervisory power of the Supreme Court.

In 2010, Chief Justice John Roberts appointed her to the Advisory Committee for the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, where she served for six years.

At her confirmation hearing in September, Senate Democrats chided her for her writings as a law student in 1998 and asked inappropriate questions about her Catholic faith. But Barrett received robust bipartisan support from the legal community, including from Neal Katyal, a prominent liberal who served as President Barack Obama’s acting solicitor general.

Britt Grant

Justice, Supreme Court of Georgia
Age: Approximately 39

Appointed to Georgia’s highest court by Gov. Nathan Deal in 2016, Grant previously served as the state’s solicitor general and in other capacities in the state attorney general’s office. She also worked in the George W. Bush administration, serving on the Domestic Policy Council and the Office of Cabinet Affairs.

Grant began working at the White House weeks before the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and after that horrific day, her mission became making government “as effective as it can be and as protective of liberty as it can be.”

Earlier in her career, she served as an aide to then-Rep. Nathan Deal, R-Ga., on Capitol Hill, clerked for Judge Brett Kavanaugh on the D.C. Circuit, and worked in private practice at Kirkland & Ellis, one of the top appellate law firms in Washington, D.C.

She is a graduate of Stanford Law School and Wake Forest University.

>>> Listen to SCOTUS 101: Elizabeth Slattery and Tiffany Bates bring you up to speed on their Supreme Court podcast.

In a letter recommending her appointment to the state’s high court, Kavanaugh praised Grant’s “superb” writing, which is “[o]ne of the most important duties” of judges. In her 11 months on the bench, she’s heard numerous cases and displayed her excellent writing abilities.

In a recent decision reinstating criminal charges against a woman who secretly filmed her boss in the nude, Grant wrote a special concurrence agreeing with the judgment but not the reasoning of the majority. The majority analogized a state law criminalizing “hostile intrusion or surveillance” by a private party with the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. She explained, “[t]he statute cannot bear the weight that the Fourth Amendment puts on it when addressing the behavior of private parties and not of the government” and that it “addresses a privacy interest quite different than the one that we all share against government search and seizure.”

Brett Kavanaugh 

Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit
Age: 52

A former clerk for Justice Anthony Kennedy and graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School, Kavanaugh worked as a senior associate counsel and assistant to President George W. Bush and as an associate independent counsel.

He was nominated to the D.C. Circuit in 2003 but not confirmed until 2006.

Former Attorney General William Barr stated that Kavanaugh “quickly established himself as one of the key outside lawyers I went to on some of my toughest legal issues. He has a keen intellect, exceptional analytical skills, and sound judgment. His writing is fluid and precise. I found that he was able to see all sides of an issue and appreciate the strengths and weakness of competing approaches. He was particularly effective in dealing with novel issues which required some original thinking.”

Since joining the bench, Kavanaugh has distinguished himself as a thoughtful, apolitical jurist, who is not afraid to stake out bold positions on complex issues. We included him on The Heritage Foundation’s list of potential Supreme Court nominees.

Kavanaugh recently delivered the annual Joseph Story Distinguished Lecture at Heritage—joining the ranks of Justice Clarence Thomas and many other renowned federal judges. He spoke eloquently about the judiciary’s essential role in maintaining the separation of powers.

>>> Watch Judge Kavanaugh’s Speech at The Heritage Foundation.

Kevin Newsom

Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit
Age: Approximately 45

Kevin Newsom, former all-star appellate lawyer, was confirmed to the 11th Circuit in August. After graduating from Samford University and Harvard Law School, Newsom clerked for Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain on the 9th Circuit and Justice David Souter on the Supreme Court. He then worked in private practice before serving as Alabama’s solicitor general.

After five years of government service, Newsom went back to private practice where he became a partner at Birmingham’s Bradley Arant.

Before joining the bench, Newsom had an extensive Supreme Court practice, arguing four cases at the high court and authoring dozens of cert. petitions and amicus briefs. Newsom has won countless awards for his work, including the National Association of Attorneys General’s Best Brief Award four times.

He has argued more than 30 cases in federal appellate courts across the country as well as in Alabama’s appellate courts. In 2011, Roberts, the chief justice, appointed Newsom to the Advisory Committee on Appellate Rules.

Patrick Wyrick

Justice, Supreme Court of Oklahoma
Age: 36

Patrick Wyrick is the youngest person on the Trump list, at 36 years old. Then again, Joseph Story was only 32 when he was nominated by President James Madison to serve as an associate justice to the Supreme Court, a position in which he served with great distinction for nearly 34 years.

Wyrick was appointed to the Oklahoma Supreme Court last February, after serving as the state’s solicitor general for six years.

As solicitor general, Wyrick argued cases before the Oklahoma Supreme Court, and also successfully argued Glossip v. Gross (a case challenging the constitutionality of lethal injection) before the U.S. Supreme Court.

A graduate of the University of Oklahoma and that school’s College of Law, Wyrick clerked for U.S. District Court Judge James Payne.

When Wyrick was nominated to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, then-State Attorney General Scott Pruitt described Wyrick as “a superb lawyer” and “a constitutional scholar well-versed in both state and federal law … ” He added that Wyrick’s “wisdom, compassion, and integrity are unparalleled among the many public servants with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working.”

In his short time on the bench, Wyrick has written some noteworthy opinions, including the majority opinion in a case striking down a fee that the Oklahoma Legislature imposed on cigarette companies for violating a provision in the Oklahoma Constitution that sets forth the procedures that must be followed before enacting a “revenue raising” measure.

Although young, Wyrick’s meteoric legal career could ultimately land him on the high court.

We commend the president for taking the utmost care in continuing to identify outstanding individuals to serve on all levels of the federal bench.

The post Meet These 5 Stellar Conservatives Trump Just Added to His Supreme Court List appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/meet-5-stellar-conservatives-trump-just-added-supreme-court-list/feed/ 0
FCC Finally Puts an End to Regulations Made for 1970s Media World http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/fcc-finally-puts-end-regulations-made-1970s-media-world/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/fcc-finally-puts-end-regulations-made-1970s-media-world/#respond Fri, 17 Nov 2017 21:20:38 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=370747 On Wednesday, the Federal Communications Commission—led by Chairman Ajit Pai—put a long-overdue end to a set of FCC rules that limit ownership of media outlets... Read More

The post FCC Finally Puts an End to Regulations Made for 1970s Media World appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
On Wednesday, the Federal Communications Commission—led by Chairman Ajit Pai—put a long-overdue end to a set of FCC rules that limit ownership of media outlets in America.

The most controversial of these was a 1975 rule banning newspapers from owning broadcast stations. (The FCC also repealed a similar rule limiting TV and radio cross-ownership).

Predictably, the decision has been met with outrage by supporters of regulation, who say the decision imperils consumers and their access to information. They could not be more wrong.

In their action on Wednesday, Pai and the FCC simply recognized that the media world does not look at all like it did in the 1970s, and ignoring this fact only puts unnecessary burdens on struggling media trying to survive.

While Pai has earned a reputation as a foe of overregulation—famously vowing at one point to take a “weed whacker” to unnecessary rules—this was no rash decision by the FCC. The agency in fact has been considering the need for these rules almost continuously since 1996.

During that time, it has become abundantly clear to anyone with a computer or a phone that these rules were written for a media world that no longer exists.

As Pai put it recently, the now-repealed rules presumed that “the marketplace for news is defined entirely by pulp, rabbit ears, and transistor radios.”

But that marketplace, if it ever existed, was toppled long ago by new technologies and new choices for consumers, as anyone with a PC or a phone already knows.

The challenge for consumers has been more over how to sort through the mountains of information presented to them, rather than how to access more content.

At the same time, “old” media has been in freefall. Newspaper circulation in particular has plummeted, with print newspaper advertising dropping 50 percent since 2008. Hundreds of daily papers have closed their doors, with many of the rest no longer publishing on a daily basis.

At the same time, broadcast television has moved from an essential outlet to one among many distribution systems for news and entertainment.

The power over information that the FCC’s rules were meant to control simply is no more. In today’s marketplace, the old media is threatened rather than threatening.

But rather than help newspapers and broadcasters attempt to right their ships, the FCC’s restrictions make it harder to do so by making it impossible for them to combine their resources to compete in the marketplace.

The FCC deserves kudos for standing up to controversy and acknowledging the undeniable: The media world of the 1970s has been erased forever. And the government red tape made for that world should be erased as well.

The post FCC Finally Puts an End to Regulations Made for 1970s Media World appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/fcc-finally-puts-end-regulations-made-1970s-media-world/feed/ 0
Cuban Exiles Recount ‘Sonic’ Torture by Castro Regime http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/cuban-exiles-recount-sonic-torture-by-castro-regime/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/cuban-exiles-recount-sonic-torture-by-castro-regime/#respond Fri, 17 Nov 2017 21:14:38 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=370545 A group of Cuban exiles and former political prisoners gathered on Capitol Hill Wednesday to recount human rights abuses that they and their relatives suffered... Read More

The post Cuban Exiles Recount ‘Sonic’ Torture by Castro Regime appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
A group of Cuban exiles and former political prisoners gathered on Capitol Hill Wednesday to recount human rights abuses that they and their relatives suffered at the hands of the Fidel Castro regime.

In a hearing organized by Freedom House and the Justice Cuba International Commission, survivors told gripping stories about friends and family who were imprisoned, tortured, and killed for resisting communist rule in Havana.

dcnf-logo

The tales of two former political prisoners stood out among the heart-wrenching accounts of abuses, if only for their parallels to the strange, unexplained sonic attacks inflicted upon U.S. diplomats in Havana last year. Ernesto Diaz Rodriguez and Luis Zuniga, anti-Castro dissidents who were sent to hideous regime prisons, said they were repeatedly subjected to “ultra-sonic” torture over more than 20 years in confinement.

“The methodology consisted of placing large loudspeakers around 4 feet high each … at both ends of the hallway of cells,” Zuniga recalled of his experience in 1979. “Then, they were connected to some sort of electronic device that produced high-pitched sounds.”

“The sounds oscillated from high pitch to very high pitch that almost pieced the eardrums,” he added.

Zuniga went on to describe symptoms from the torture sessions, saying that he began to feel “increasingly uneasy” and “unable to think.” Other prisoners suffered debilitating headaches. The brutal punishment lasted for days, he recalled, leading to the suicide of a fellow inmate.

“This torture was kept [up] for days and nights without a respite,” Zuniga said. “It ended when one of the prisoners … hung himself. He died from the torture.”

For the former prisoners and exiles gathered at Wednesday’s hearing, the memories of audio torture were made fresh this summer, when it was revealed that American diplomatic personnel had been subjected to similar treatment over the previous year. What the State Department described as “sonic attacks” may have occurred in diplomatic residences and hotels in Havana—not in the regime’s dank prisons—but many of the physical and mental effects were eerily similar to those described by Zuniga.

Victims of the mysterious attacks, which began in late 2016 and continued through this summer, experienced disturbing symptoms, including permanent hearing damage, memory loss, and impaired cognitive function. In several cases, the affected officials reported hearing noises similar to loud crickets and then experiencing physical distress.

Last month, the Associated Press obtained and released an audio recording of the noise that U.S. intelligence officials believe was used in some of the incidents. Like the sound described by the Cuban political prisoners, the noise heard by American diplomatic personnel was a high-pitched whine that modulated in intensity and tone.

The U.S. has not directly accused the Castro regime of carrying out the attacks. Investigators are looking into the possibility that Cuban intelligence, perhaps a rogue element of spies, orchestrated the provocations in order to derail the normalization of diplomatic relations begun under the Obama administration, reports Politico.

Whoever is to blame, the episode has certainly soured relations between Washington and Havana. In a series of diplomatic reprisals, the State Department reduced the size of its Cuban mission, ordered Havana to withdraw several of its own diplomats, and issued a special warning advising Americans to avoid travel to Cuba until further notice.

Those moves were a prelude to new travel and trade restrictions President Donald Trump implemented earlier this month, halting and reversing the bilateral rapprochement initiated by his predecessor. Trump, who came into office highly critical of the Obama administration’s opening to Cuba, has made good on his promise to take a tougher stance toward the Castro regime.

Trump’s position was met with unanimous approval among the exiles, their relatives, and Cuban-American politicians assembled at the Justice Cuba event. Rene Bolio, Justice Cuba’s chairman, told attendees that human rights abuses in Cuba did not end with Fidel Castro’s death and the succession of his brother, Raul Castro.

“It’s not a thing from the past,” he said.

Rep. Mario Diaz Balart, R-Fla., one of the most ardent Cuba hawks in Congress, concluded the event with praise for the Trump administration’s hard line on Castro—and a swipe at President Barack Obama’s approach.

“I am exceedingly grateful that the policy of the last number of years, of trying to legitimize the corrupt, murderous [Castro] regime, of the visual of the president of the United States doing the wave at a baseball game with a tyrant—those days are over,” Diaz said.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities for this original content, email licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

The post Cuban Exiles Recount ‘Sonic’ Torture by Castro Regime appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/cuban-exiles-recount-sonic-torture-by-castro-regime/feed/ 0
Q&A: Rep. Jim Banks Talks About the Benefits of Tax Reform http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/rep-banks-talks-about-the-benefits-of-tax-reform/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/rep-banks-talks-about-the-benefits-of-tax-reform/#respond Fri, 17 Nov 2017 20:22:50 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=368801 Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., spoke to The Daily Signal’s Genevieve Wood earlier this month, before the tax reform bill passed the House, about how eliminating... Read More

The post Q&A: Rep. Jim Banks Talks About the Benefits of Tax Reform appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., spoke to The Daily Signal’s Genevieve Wood earlier this month, before the tax reform bill passed the House, about how eliminating the state and local tax deduction will benefit middle- and working-class families. Below is a transcript of the conversation, edited for style and clarity:

Wood: So, tax reform, as many of the folks out there know, that’s been one of the top stories coming off the Hill. We are going to get into some of the specifics, but let me first ask: Are you excited about the tax reform package the House has put together?

Banks: I am. As you know, Genevieve, I served in the state Senate for six years in Indiana before I came here. And we had historic tax cuts, we eliminated the death tax in Indiana, we reduced substantially the corporate tax rate in the state of Indiana. We saw the benefit from it in our state and largely the plan that’s been introduced that we’re debating in Congress looks a lot like what Hoosiers enacted over the past few years. We’ve reaped the benefit of that, businesses have moved to Indiana, the economy has grown, unemployment is historically low in our state. So Hoosiers know what happens when you cut taxes and they want to see it happen again at the federal level.

Wood: Now I’m gonna guess you had people though in Indiana on the other side saying this is gonna be bad for the economy, it’s gonna be bad for the state. Were people concerned about that when you first put it through?

Banks: They were and it took a lot of political action by Gov. [Mitch] Daniels and then Gov. [Mike] Pence in our state to make it happen. We had a supermajority, Republican majorities in the state House and Senate. But overall, Hoosiers reacted well when they saw tax cuts, when they saw more good-paying jobs in the economy. Gov. Daniels was always fond of saying that when in Indiana, living next door to Illinois was like living next to the Simpsons.

Wood: No offense to our viewers out there in Illinois, of course.

Banks: Well, it should be a little bit because it meant when we cut our tax, when we cut our corporate tax rate in Indiana, Illinois raised theirs, and we saw dozens of major businesses and a lot of jobs move from Illinois to Indiana to take advantage of it. That’s what’s going to happen in America if we reduce corporate tax rates from 35 to 20 percent, middle-class tax cuts for working-class families. We’re going to make America competitive again and see investment come from other countries back to the United States. That’s exciting, that’s exciting as a new member of Congress to be a part of that.

Wood: So one of the things that’s been talked about is this whole idea about what to do about state and local deductions. I’m sure many of you have been hearing about this conversation going back and forth as well. You have folks in high-tax states, states that have high state income taxes or high property taxes, they don’t want to get rid of this deduction. But a lot of states that have lower taxes say, yeah, we should be getting rid of it. First of all, explain how that works and why it’s important.

Banks: Well, as a conservative, we should look at the elimination of the state and local tax deduction as good public policy. It’s not just about making an offset for tax reform, which we have to do with the reconciliation rules in the Congress. This is good public policy because in states like Indiana where we have low state tax rates and low local tax rates as well, we shouldn’t subsidize states like New York who have bloated government at the local and state levels.

So this is good public policy, but also helps make up that difference to get to revenue neutrality and get the numbers right to pass it through with reconciliation. But, you look at what we do currently with the state and local tax deduction for high-income, wealthy individuals to write off bloated local and state government in states like New York and California. Hoosiers shouldn’t pay for that. That’s why I support it as good public policy and not just as part of a trade-off, a pay-for as it is in the legislation today.

Wood: So for people who say what is this exactly, how does this work? Basically, if you live in New York and you have a high state income tax, the folks who live there, they actually itemize on their taxes, they can deduct that local tax and state tax from their federal bill. If you are in Indiana, your taxes aren’t that high so you don’t get that kind of deduction. You talked about the trade-off here—it’s over a trillion dollars is my understanding that we end up not taking in—because we allow these folks to do that kind of write-off.

Banks: That’s right. The legislation that [House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady proposes], the piece of legislation that’s working its way through, still allows for a $10,000 property tax deduction, so there still is room there for deduction of property taxes in those states. But overall, this is bad public policy; we shouldn’t reward big government and the policies of big government states like New York and California.

My friends on both sides of the aisle who are opposed to eliminating the SALT [state and local tax] deduction in the Congress, especially their constituents in their states, they should want more efficient and more affordable local and state government as well. Ultimately, they might not know that they want it, but eventually they’re going to realize that eliminating the SALT deduction is good for them, good for taxpayers as well.

Wood: And it might very well then force their state governments to start lowering their taxes because they’re gonna get that kind of pressure. One aspect of this is how it would affect real estate and people who want to buy homes. Families out there, they say, “OK, well, if I am a homeowner or want to become a homeowner, how would this affect me?” The National Realtors Association has been sending a lot of lobbyists to Capitol Hill, saying, “We want to keep the state and local deduction.” You have a real estate background, you’re saying that’s not the right thing. Explain that for us.

Banks: Well, first of all, it’s a significant tax cut and more families, especially a lot of working-class families, are going to have more money in the bottom line of their bank accounts at the end of the year, seeing the tax cut add to their bottom line. But [they will] also see wages rise, that’s going to give families more money to buy homes and to invest in their homes, and that’s good for the housing economy as well.

But there’s also another aspect of tax reform, that’s the mortgage interest deduction and capping that at $500,000 is worrisome to the homebuilders and the realtors. But overall, we have to look at the bigger picture. The bigger picture of raising, doubling the standard deduction of joint filers and single filers to $24,000 for joint filers and $12,000 for single filers. That’s a big tax cut that’s going to give individuals and families more room to invest in homes and in their current homes.

Wood: And really, middle-class families. Because when you talk about a $500,000 mortgage interest deduction, a lot of folks have homes that don’t cost $500,000. So it’s really people in those higher-income brackets, or more expensive homes, that might still be paying, or not getting the break they’ve been getting. Is that correct?

Banks: That’s exactly right. So, a lot of these issues are bound to change, especially with the influence of special-interest groups on Capitol Hill that are trying to impact this legislation. But we’ve got to look at the bigger picture. The bigger picture is that this is really good for middle-income, middle-class families. It’s going to put more money in their pockets to invest. A $1.5 trillion tax cut, that’s going to put money back into the economy, that will grow the economy, get us back to 3 or 4 percent [gross domestic product] growth for the foreseeable future. That’s good for the economy, it’s good for homebuilders, it’s good for Realtors, it’s good for the consumers and local businesses in our local economy. So that’s going to create more good-paying jobs.

Wood: You’re going to vote, hopefully, next week sometime. Then the Senate is going to take up their aspect of it. What are you looking for in the next few weeks? I know you all want to get something passed and to the president before the end of the year. How do you see it playing out?

Banks: When I go back to Northeast Indiana and speak to my constituents, they’re still deeply upset about what happened with repealing Obamacare and the lack of action on doing something about the catastrophe that is the health care system as it is today. So I’m a little bit concerned about what happens when the legislation goes to the Senate.

I think a lot of us are worried about what that will look like. But right now there is broad support in the Republican conference in the House, from the Tuesday Group moderate Republican faction to the Republican Study Committee and Freedom Caucus on the right and those in the middle. So I am optimistic that we’ll do our part in the House, pass it hopefully by the end of next week before Thanksgiving. And then let the Senate do their work, hopefully, and have something go to the president for his signature by the end of the year.

Wood: Do you expect to get any Democratic colleagues to come alongside you and vote for the tax reform?

Banks: I might be in the minority in this thinking, but I really do. I don’t know, for example, how Sen. Joe Donnelly from Indiana, who bills himself as a moderate Democrat who’s on the ballot next year, will face the voters next year. I don’t know how he can afford to vote against a significant tax cut for middle-class families, to grow the economy. If he does vote against it—which will likely happen, again, by the end of the year—he’s going to see the impact next year in an election year and a lot of people, a lot of Hoosiers, will question why he voted against it. So there are a lot of Joe Donnellys in the Senate. A lot of Democrats who are on the ballot in contested races next year, a lot of House members as well who are Democrats that are facing tough elections. There’s gonna be a heck of a price to pay to vote against it.

Wood: Final question for you. Your constituents, I’m sure you’re hearing a lot from them. What are their main questions when they hear about tax reform? Because it is tax reform, it’s not just tax cuts, it’s reforming the system as well. What are your constituents asking and what are their main concerns?

Banks: I think they’re confused. They hear the rhetoric from the Nancy Pelosies and those on the left who want to change the subject and do everything they can to stop progress from those of us on the Republican side from doing what we said we would do. So when they hear the rhetoric, they’re confused. They know their taxes are too high, they know they spend, they give the government too much money at the local, state, and federal level. So automatically, they trust us, they know that we’re trying to do the right thing. But they have a lot of questions about what it would do for them.

And when we take the time to explain what doubling the standard deduction will do, what a $1.5 trillion tax cut will do for the economy, what lowering tax rates on corporations and small businesses will do for the local economy, overall, it’s a positive response. They just want to know that we’ll do our job and do what we said we would do.

The post Q&A: Rep. Jim Banks Talks About the Benefits of Tax Reform appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/rep-banks-talks-about-the-benefits-of-tax-reform/feed/ 0
Trump Administration’s 2 Priorities for Welfare Reform Executive Order http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/trump-administrations-2-priorities-for-welfare-reform-executive-order/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/trump-administrations-2-priorities-for-welfare-reform-executive-order/#respond Fri, 17 Nov 2017 20:09:05 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=370608 President Donald Trump is making welfare reform a major priority and will sign an executive order laying out the administration’s goals while also urging action... Read More

The post Trump Administration’s 2 Priorities for Welfare Reform Executive Order appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
President Donald Trump is making welfare reform a major priority and will sign an executive order laying out the administration’s goals while also urging action by Congress, a White House official said Thursday.

Trump’s executive order will be twofold, said Paul Winfree, director of budget policy at the White House. The order will state the Trump administration’s principles for welfare reform of empowering individuals and learning from state and local initiatives, and then direct federal agencies to come back to the president with recommendations for implementing the principles.

“Welfare reform is something that is very important to the president,” Winfree said during a panel discussion at The Heritage Foundation’s anti-poverty forum on Thursday. “It’s something that excites him. It’s something that he has a lot of energy about.”

The White House is also working with Congress on reform proposals, Winfree said, but in the short term is looking at what federal agencies can do unilaterally. The federal government has 89 different welfare programs spread across 14 departments and agencies.

Winfree explained the two priorities of Trump’s upcoming executive order.

The first thing it does, it sets out a series of principles for welfare reform that we would like to be a message to Capitol Hill and the direction we want to take. … We want to empower people. We want to learn from the states. We want to learn from local communities.

One of the messages is that I’ve been driving to essentially our staff and our agencies on welfare reform and the direction we are taking is this message that it’s people that help people. It’s not governments that help people.

So, how do we learn from people who are actually in the communities actually helping people and then ultimately empower them by either getting out of the way or redirecting the resources in their direction to essentially reward successes without a unilateral approach or without just kicking it to the states and transition [to] what is essentially a federal role into a state role.

The second half of the executive order, which is yet to be signed, essentially directs agencies to take a look at the principles and then figure out what they can do on their own to start meeting some of the objectives that are out there through changes in regulation and guidance and then to ultimately submit those recommendations to the president for an evaluation.

The last sweeping welfare reform package came more than two decades ago, passed by a Republican Congress and signed into law by Democratic President Bill Clinton. However, Robert Rector, who helped shape some of the 1996 bill, said new improvements are needed.

“The current welfare system harms the very poor that it’s trying to help,” Rector, a senior research fellow for domestic policy studies at The Heritage Foundation, said. “We need a reformed welfare system that promotes work and marriage, and rewards outcomes rather than simply greater spending.”

The Heritage Foundation is supportive of the principles in several proposals in Congress now.

A bill by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and companion House bill by Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, would require all welfare programs to strengthen existing work requirements in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program; and establish a real work requirement in food stamps. Separately, a bill by Rep. Garrett Graves would require work requirements for the food stamp program.

Other members of Congress have talked about saving $15 billion annually by eliminating fraud, waste, and excessive benefits in the earned income tax credit, while making the program more encouraging of work. Others call for removing the marriage penalty with regards to welfare programs.

The post Trump Administration’s 2 Priorities for Welfare Reform Executive Order appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/trump-administrations-2-priorities-for-welfare-reform-executive-order/feed/ 0
2 Gay Men Explain Why They Support Baker’s Refusal to Make Same-Sex Wedding Cakes http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/two-gay-men-explain-why-they-support-bakers-refusal-to-make-same-sex-wedding-cakes/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/two-gay-men-explain-why-they-support-bakers-refusal-to-make-same-sex-wedding-cakes/#respond Fri, 17 Nov 2017 20:06:15 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=369856 “T.J.” and Matt are gay, but they support the Colorado bakery owner fighting a legal battle for his right, on religious grounds, to refuse to... Read More

The post 2 Gay Men Explain Why They Support Baker’s Refusal to Make Same-Sex Wedding Cakes appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>

“T.J.” and Matt are gay, but they support the Colorado bakery owner fighting a legal battle for his right, on religious grounds, to refuse to make wedding cakes for same-sex couples.

Standing outside the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado, the bakery at the center of the court case that goes before the Supreme Court on Dec. 5, they explained why they support its owner, Jack Phillips.

“We’re here to buy stuff from him,” Matt said, in a video he and T.J. made for Alliance Defending Freedom, “and support him, because we don’t think any artist should be forced to create for something that violates their beliefs.”

The Scottsdale, Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom, a nonprofit legal organization that litigates for religious liberty, will represent Phillips in that Supreme Court hearing in December.

The legal group posted T.J. and Matt’s video on its Facebook page Monday.


A second video, posted Tuesday, features Kristen Waggoner, the ADF lawyer who will represent Phillips at the Supreme Court next month.

Waggoner says in her video that defending Phillips’ case represents defending not just his but everyone else’s right to free expression and free exercise of their religious faith.

“If we want freedom of expression for ourselves,” Waggoner says, “if we want the free exercise of religion for ourselves, then we have to support that right for others, even those we disagree with.

“We also know that civil liberties travel together,” she continued, noting that even if someone doesn’t care about religious freedom, “if we care about economic liberty … what we can see from other countries that don’t have religious freedom, is they also don’t have robust freedom in other areas.

“So we sink or swim together, no matter what our beliefs are on marriage, and this case will affect all of us.”

Phillips’ case began in 2012, when a homosexual couple filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission against him after he declined to make a wedding cake for them.

An administrative law judge ruled against Phillips in December 2013, “saying that designing and creating cakes for same-sex wedding ceremonies are not speech protected by the First Amendment,” according to the ADF’s website.

“The commission ordered Jack and his staff to either violate Jack’s faith by designing custom wedding cakes that celebrate same-sex marriages or stop designing all wedding cakes, which was approximately 40 percent of Jack’s business.”

The ADF appealed Phillips’ case, and the Supreme Court announced in June that it would hear the appeal.

The post 2 Gay Men Explain Why They Support Baker’s Refusal to Make Same-Sex Wedding Cakes appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/two-gay-men-explain-why-they-support-bakers-refusal-to-make-same-sex-wedding-cakes/feed/ 0
Watch Our Tour of the New Museum of the Bible in Washington http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/watch-tour-new-museum-bible-washington/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/watch-tour-new-museum-bible-washington/#respond Fri, 17 Nov 2017 19:47:24 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=370671 The Museum of the Bible opened its doors to the public on Friday, Nov. 17. We got a sneak peek when the museum’s director of content,... Read More

The post Watch Our Tour of the New Museum of the Bible in Washington appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
The Museum of the Bible opened its doors to the public on Friday, Nov. 17. We got a sneak peek when the museum’s director of content, Seth Pollinger, took us on a tour of one section of the over 400,000 square feet museum.

Considering there are over 500 artifacts and biblical texts in the History of the Bible exhibits alone, it’s estimated that it would take nine days (72 hours) to read every placard, see every artifact, and experience every activity in the museum.

The Museum of the Bible is located near many of the Smithsonian museums scattered along the National Mall in Washington. It is privately funded, most significantly by the Green family of Oklahoma who is best known for owning the world’s largest arts and craft retailer, Hobby Lobby.

Asked about the project, Steve Green, who serves as the museum’s chairman of the board, said in a statement: “The Bible is the best-selling, most translated book of all time and is arguably history’s most significant piece of literature. It has had an unquestionable influence on science, education, democracy, arts and society.”

The post Watch Our Tour of the New Museum of the Bible in Washington appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/watch-tour-new-museum-bible-washington/feed/ 0
America Needs a Stronger State Department, Not an ‘Independent’ Foreign Aid Agency http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/america-needs-a-stronger-state-department-not-an-independent-foreign-aid-agency/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/america-needs-a-stronger-state-department-not-an-independent-foreign-aid-agency/#respond Fri, 17 Nov 2017 19:10:16 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=370590 President Donald Trump has ordered the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development to come up with a plan to reorganize themselves... Read More

The post America Needs a Stronger State Department, Not an ‘Independent’ Foreign Aid Agency appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
President Donald Trump has ordered the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development to come up with a plan to reorganize themselves to improve their efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability.

After decades in which trillions of taxpayer dollars have been sent overseas in the form of foreign assistance, it is not an unreasonable request by the president. Improvement of foreign aid is in the interest of all Americans.

To assist the Trump administration and Congress with reorganization plans, The Heritage Foundation published a comprehensive study that recommends a fundamental re-ordering of how the U.S. government delivers foreign assistance. Specifically, Heritage calls for:

  • Complete restructuring of the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, with its core health and humanitarian missions incorporated into the State Department.
  • Transferring USAID’s development assistance work to the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a relatively new U.S. foreign aid agency with a superior business model.
  • Tasking the Millennium Challenge Corporation with ensuring that all developing countries “graduate” from the need for foreign aid by adopting policies to strengthen the rule of law, attract private investment, and increase economic growth.

Other Washington think tanks are defending the status quo, arguing that USAID should remain as an independent agency, and perhaps even be expanded.

The Atlantic Council’s report on State Department reform repeats the words “independence” or “independent” in conjunction with USAID six times.  The Center for Strategic and International Studies also calls for USAID to remain independent. The Center for Global Development calls for more effective foreign aid, but is silent on the future status of USAID.

The report from the Brookings Institution is the most forward-leaning, not just insisting on independence but actually calling for the USAID administrator to be raised to Cabinet rank—equal to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, instead of his subordinate.

Here’s a question: Why did these centrist and left-leaning think tanks suddenly become concerned about USAID’s independence?

The answer likely is that they want to protect foreign aid programs started at USAID and elsewhere under President Barack Obama from cuts by the Trump administration.  It’s sort of the development-assistance policy version of the “Resist” campaign.

And these think tanks never really precisely define what they mean by “independent.” Should the provision of foreign aid be insulated from broader U.S. foreign policy and security concerns? Should State and USAID be placed in an adversarial relationship, fighting over limited resources from Congress?

Both would be counterproductive outcomes. Foreign assistance programs were designed and are funded by Congress to help the State Department achieve the U.S. government’s foreign policy objectives. But an “independent” U.S. Agency for International Development is a stovepiped USAID.

This would continue a long-term trend: State steadily has ceded its role as lead foreign affairs agency to a host of other agencies in the decades since its core bureaucratic architecture was established after World War II.

For example, the Treasury Department long has had the lead on international fiscal and monetary policy. Trade policy is set by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative in the White House. Other agencies have the lead on international airspace or telecommunications agreements, and on any number of other arcane scientific or global health issues.

This is not necessarily bad. It is no longer 1947, and the State Department does not and should not have the expertise to take the lead on the countless complicated issues that confront the government.

But foreign assistance is increasingly a core State Department function. Money is critical in influencing people and governments around the world to achieve America’s short- and medium-term national security objectives.

Those who trumpet USAID’s independence and oppose its merger with the State Department basically are arguing that the United States should have two State Departments—one with money and one largely without. That may fulfill the desires of bureaucrats building their fiefdoms or foreign aid contractors that prefer to deal with one independent federal agency, but such a solution ill serves the country.

Just as is the case overseas, where the U.S. ambassador is the senior-most official in an American embassy, in Washington the secretary of state should have undisputed authority over decisions about allocating U.S. foreign assistance.

The State Department—highly competent, well-equipped, appropriately staffed and resourced—should include a foreign assistance component.  That is what countries such as Canada, Denmark, and Sweden already have done.

The Trump administration has signaled that it is ready to press for fundamental reforms.

Ambassador Mark A. Green, recently confirmed as administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, pledged during his Senate confirmation hearing to make “hard decisions” to reform and reshape USAID in particular and American foreign aid in general.

As Green has said, “aid should aim to build institutions that are effective, accountable, and ultimately replace aid.”  In other words, a successful development strategy is one that renders development assistance unnecessary.

The defenders of the status quo complain that threatening a deep budget cut to USAID is not the right way to start a conversation about reform. In fact, after decades of studies recommending fixes to foreign aid, the Trump administration may have hit upon the only way to do it.

The post America Needs a Stronger State Department, Not an ‘Independent’ Foreign Aid Agency appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/america-needs-a-stronger-state-department-not-an-independent-foreign-aid-agency/feed/ 0
The Real Russia Scandal the Media Is Ignoring http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/real-russia-scandal-media-ignoring/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/real-russia-scandal-media-ignoring/#respond Fri, 17 Nov 2017 18:55:18 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=370606 We’ve heard much ado about Trump-Russia “collusion” in the print and broadcast media since the president’s inauguration. The media’s interest in this non-story has not... Read More

The post The Real Russia Scandal the Media Is Ignoring appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
We’ve heard much ado about Trump-Russia “collusion” in the print and broadcast media since the president’s inauguration.

The media’s interest in this non-story has not ceased. Yet when reports emerged last year that Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, that story was mostly ignored by the major networks.

As co-chairs of the House Media Fairness Caucus, we sent letters to the presidents of ABC, CBS, and NBC News concerning their lack of coverage of this actual Russian scandal. Despite the severity of the allegations, at the time of our letter, the three networks had only spent a combined 4 minutes and 38 seconds covering the story.

In comparison, the networks had spent 1,000-plus minutes on their Trump-Russia collusion stories since President Donald Trump’s inauguration, representing 20 percent of all their coverage of the Trump presidency.

As secretary of state, Clinton’s role was critical to the sale of Uranium One—a uranium mining company—to the Russian-controlled firm Rosatom. The House Intelligence Committee, along with the FBI, opened an investigation into this deal.

That’s two active congressional investigations into an issue of major national security concern, with less than five minutes of news coverage informing the American people about it.

The Media Fairness Caucus, which we lead, stresses the need for objective and fair reporting. We encourage fairness and balance in reporting, in addition to pointing out examples of biased coverage.

>>> Learn more about the Media Fairness Caucus and its efforts to combat media bias.

We find the statistics on news coverage of the Uranium One scandal to be alarming. They reveal the depth of bias in these major networks, as they are unwilling to air stories that place members of the Democratic Party in a negative light.

With this bias, it’s not surprising that most Americans lack trust in the media. A recent NBC Marist Poll revealed that two-thirds of Americans trust the media “not very much” or “not at all.”

A new Quinnipiac poll released Tuesday shows American voters disapprove of media coverage of Trump by a 20-point margin. The poll shows 58 percent of those surveyed disapprove of the way the media covers the president, while 38 percent of those polled said they approve.

We anxiously await the network executives’ response as to why this story does not deserve to be covered while the unproven Trump-Russia collusion story deserves wall-to-wall coverage. The uranium investigations are in the public interest, and the American people should be made aware of them

Thomas Jefferson once said, “The only security of all is in a free press.” Our caucus strongly supports a free press and does not condone any form of censorship. We seek to examine the causes of one-sided reporting, and remind media of their profound obligation to provide the American people with the facts, not tell them what to think.

If the American people do not have the facts, they cannot make good decisions, and if they cannot make good decisions, our democracy is at risk.

The post The Real Russia Scandal the Media Is Ignoring appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/real-russia-scandal-media-ignoring/feed/ 0
Gorsuch Touts Originalism, Textualism in Address to Conservative Legal Society http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/gorsuch-touts-originalism-textualism-in-address-to-conservative-legal-society/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/gorsuch-touts-originalism-textualism-in-address-to-conservative-legal-society/#respond Fri, 17 Nov 2017 18:52:46 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=370623 Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch touted the importance of faithfulness to the Constitution in an address during the 2017 National Lawyers Convention in Washington, D.C.... Read More

The post Gorsuch Touts Originalism, Textualism in Address to Conservative Legal Society appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch touted the importance of faithfulness to the Constitution in an address during the 2017 National Lawyers Convention in Washington, D.C.

“A person can be both a committed originalist and textualist and be confirmed to the Supreme Court of the United States,” Gorsuch said at the event Thursday hosted by the Federalist Society, a conservative legal organization.

The justice said it is the role of those serving on the courts to look to the Constitution rather than society in practicing law. “The job of a judge is not forward-looking but backward; it is applying pre-existing law,” Gorsuch said.

At one point, Gorsuch asked the crowd of hundreds if they thought his commitment to the original meaning of the Constitution was important in his role on the bench.

“I want to know what you think, all of you,” Gorsuch asked. “Should I just keep on asking about the text and original meaning of the Constitution?”

After being answered by vigorous applause, Gorsuch said, “Maybe these questions are pretty popular after all.”

He also encouraged the law students and the young lawyers in attendance to stick to ideals set by the Constitution.

“Even if … you might find yourself the only person in a class or in your office who holds to textualism, it would still be OK to say so, because what matters isn’t whether an idea is popular, what matters is whether it is right,” Gorsuch said.

The 50-year-old Supreme Court justice promised that he would remain faithful to the guidelines laid out in the Constitution.

“Originalism has regained its place at the table with the Constitution interpretation and textualism in the reading of statutes … and neither one is going anywhere on my watch,” Gorsuch said.

The Senate voted 54-45 April 7 to confirm Gorsuch, a federal appeals court judge nominated by President Donald Trump.

The post Gorsuch Touts Originalism, Textualism in Address to Conservative Legal Society appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/gorsuch-touts-originalism-textualism-in-address-to-conservative-legal-society/feed/ 0
Texas Budget to Include $20 Million for Pro-Life Options http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/texas-budget-to-include-20-million-for-pro-life-options/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/texas-budget-to-include-20-million-for-pro-life-options/#respond Fri, 17 Nov 2017 18:50:44 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=370521 Texas has allocated $20 million in its 2018-2019 budget to go to a pro-life program that offers alternatives to abortion and provides services to new... Read More

The post Texas Budget to Include $20 Million for Pro-Life Options appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
Texas has allocated $20 million in its 2018-2019 budget to go to a pro-life program that offers alternatives to abortion and provides services to new parents.

“If they’re self-sufficient through the process of childbirth and afterward, that saves the state money and makes for much happier women and children and families,” Texas Alliance for Life Executive Director Joe Pojman said, according to The Texas Tribune. The $20 million brings the program’s total operating budget to over $38 million.

dcnf-logo

The Alternatives to Abortion program provides pregnant women with support groups in maternity homes and referrals to community and social service programs like child care, transportation, and housing. It also offers support to new parents on how to best handle the stress of raising a new life. The program also has classes on life skills, stress management, budgeting, as well as items that new parents need like car seats, maternity clothes, infant diapers, and formula.

“Clearly the state is prioritizing ideology over public health because a true alternative to abortion would be ensuring access to health care, especially family planning,” NARAL Pro-Choice Texas Executive Director Heather Busby said, according to The Texas Tribune.

The new funds will be used to provide services not just for newborns but also for youngsters up to age 3, according to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, which is in charge of overseeing the Alternatives to Abortion program. It intends to provide pregnant mothers with access to Medicaid services, food stamps, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

The new funds will also go toward job training in order to fuel “greater self-sufficiency and lower reliance on health and human service programs across the lifespan,” the Health and Human Services Commission report says.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities for this original content, email licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

The post Texas Budget to Include $20 Million for Pro-Life Options appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/texas-budget-to-include-20-million-for-pro-life-options/feed/ 0
How the GOP Tax Bill Will Affect the Economy http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/gop-tax-bill-will-affect-economy/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/gop-tax-bill-will-affect-economy/#respond Fri, 17 Nov 2017 18:29:01 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=370588 The House passed its version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on Thursday, a bill that would reform the tax code by lowering marginal... Read More

The post How the GOP Tax Bill Will Affect the Economy appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
The House passed its version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on Thursday, a bill that would reform the tax code by lowering marginal rates for most households, corporations, and small businesses.

The Senate is also working on its own version of the bill. Though the complete details are yet to be finalized, both the House and Senate versions contain enough in common that we can estimate the effect these bills would have on the economy once a new equilibrium is reached. Most of these effects would likely occur within the 10-year budget window.

The following estimates reflect the House bill as reported out of the Ways and Means Committee and the chairman’s mark being debated in the Senate Finance Committee. (The version that the House passed is nearly identical to the bill reported out of committee).

Main Reforms in the Bill

Both versions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act reduce the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent, reduce tax rates on non-corporate (pass-through) businesses, and increase the present discounted value of capital cost recovery allowances.

The capital cost recovery allowance improvements are primarily a function of a reduced class life for structures in the Senate bill, and higher section 179 expensing thresholds, as well as temporary expensing for machinery and equipment in both the House and Senate bills.

The Senate bill generally lowers the rates on pass-through entities to a greater degree than the House bill.

Long-Run Estimates

The economy and our tax code are complex systems. A complete analysis of any tax reform proposal should reflect that complexity. However, a simple estimate that focuses on the key marginal rate changes is sufficient to give an idea of the magnitude of the economic effects without resorting to complicated models.

The estimates presented here are within a reasonable range of values, based on empirical studies as described below in the methodology section.

We estimate that the House bill would increase the capital stock related to equipment by 4.9 percent, and the capital stock related to structures by 9.1 percent. These estimates are very similar to the comparable projections for the Senate bill (4.6 percent and 10.9 percent for equipment and structures, respectively).

The House bill is projected to boost long-run gross domestic product (GDP) by 2.6 percent, and the Senate version is expected to increase long-run GDP by 2.8 percent. To put that number in perspective, the increase in GDP translates into an increase of $4,000 to $4,400 per household. These results are comparable to other recently published estimates, such as those released by the Tax Foundation and the Council of Economic Advisers.

Both bills only temporarily change the rules for expensing of new investment. We calculated the effects of the bills when the expensing rules are in place and the effects after the expensing changes have expired. Our reported estimates are the simple average of the two, which reflects business’ expectations that the changes in expensing rules may or may not be made permanent at a later date.

If the expensing rules were made permanent, we estimate that GDP would be 3.0 percent higher than baseline under both bills. If the expensing rules were to expire, we estimate the House bill would increase GDP by 2.3 percent and the Senate bill would increase GDP by 2.6 percent.

Methodology

Our estimate is based on a standard neoclassical production function, which shows how the amount of capital and labor used in production determine economic output. When more capital or labor is used in production, output increases.

Our estimates reflect the steady-state values of capital and labor. In the steady state, the capital stock and hours worked per person have reached their equilibrium values because the marginal costs from additional investment and work just equal the marginal benefits, after taxes. However, economic growth continues due to increases in population and technological innovation.

The presence of taxes on businesses and households creates differences between the returns generated by investment and the returns paid to savers, as well as differences between the wages paid by employers and the wages received by workers.

These differences create lost opportunities. Firms don’t invest and households don’t work on projects where the marginal benefit is lower than the amount of the tax. Economists often call this loss dead-weight loss or excess burden.

Our analysis shows the effects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act through two channels. The first channel focuses on the demand for financing capital. A firm considering an investment in capital has to weigh the marginal cost of the capital investment against its marginal benefit, which is its projected return. The cost of capital to a firm is a function of the return it pays to equity and debt holders, the rate of depreciation of capital, and the taxes due on that capital. The equation for calculating the cost, originally set forth by Robert Hall and Dale Jorgenson, is referred to as the user cost of capital. Higher corporate tax rates increase the user cost of capital. Additionally, increases in the present discounted value of capital cost recovery allowances decrease the user cost of capital.

The second channel focuses on the supply of labor. When households decide how much to work, they have to weigh the marginal benefit of their after-tax wages against the marginal cost of activities other than work. An increase in after-tax wages increases the benefit to households from forgoing other activities, resulting in additional hours worked.

The lower the corporate tax rate, the greater the number of investment projects that are economically worthwhile, and higher the steady-state level of capital. Similarly, the lower the income tax rate, the greater the number of job opportunities that are economically worthwhile, and the higher the steady-state level of hours worked.

Economic growth would increase temporarily following the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act as the economy would move to a new steady state with a higher per-capita GDP. The benefits of these reforms would accrue every year as the economy would operate in a steady state with higher GDP into the indefinite future.

Details About How the Estimate Was Conducted

We take the nominal rate of the return to capital to be 9 percent, which is the approximate average annual nominal return on the S&P 500 from 1871 to 2017. Recent yields on Baa corporate bonds have averaged around 5 percent. We take the inflation rate to be 2 percent, which is the value that the Federal Open Market Committee judges to constitute stable prices. Assuming that companies rely on debt for 25 percent of their financing, these values imply a required real rate of return of 6 percent. We assume that interest rates remain the same following the change in taxes.

The marginal tax rates for pass-through entities change with income and type of pass-through entity. We simplify the range of rates and take the current law to have a marginal rate of 28 percent, the House bill to lower the marginal rate to 25 percent, and the Senate bill to lower the marginal rate to 21 percent.

For depreciation rates, we use 0.13 for equipment and 0.03 for structures, which correspond to the average depreciation relative to the current-cost stock of each asset type as reported by the Bureau of Economic Analysis in the period 2006-2016.

The user-cost elasticity of capital describes the percentage change in the capital stock given a one percent increase in the user cost of capital. It also corresponds to the elasticity of substitution between capital and labor in production. The larger this value, the easier it is for firms to change the mix of capital and labor used in production. The standard neoclassical Cobb-Douglas production function implies a value for this elasticity of -1. A recent report from the Council of Economic Advisers notes a consensus in the literature around this value.

The cut in the corporate tax rate only applies to corporations, which hold about 75 percent of private, non-residential fixed assets, according to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The changes in expensing will apply to all firms. Our estimates of the change in capital stock reflect the distribution of capital holdings by legal form of organization.

The output elasticity of capital describes the percentage change in output that follows a one percent increase in capital. We use values of 0.15 for equipment and 0.13 for structures, which are both taken from a paper by Akos Valentinyi and Berthold Herrendorf.

Though both bills maintain the graduated income tax brackets, for simplicity we reduce the several marginal income tax brackets to a single marginal rate. We take a weighted average of the marginal rates according to the proportion of filers in each bracket as reported by the U.S. Census. The weighted changes are dominated by the $15,000-$75,000 bracket, which contains approximately half of households. We take both bills to increase after-tax wages by 4 percent.

We use a labor supply elasticity of 0.3. In a survey, Michael Keane suggests that this is a typical estimate for the labor supply elasticity of individuals. It is also the value used by the Tax Foundation in their Taxes and Growth model.

We use a value of 0.6 for the output elasticity of labor. That value approximately corresponds to the share of labor’s compensation in output.

Additional Considerations

The estimates we report are for our preferred values. Changing the parameters of the model or incorporating additional features will produce slightly different estimates, though they should be within the range of what we report here.

There is some disagreement in the literature about the appropriate value for the user-cost elasticity of capital. However, a relatively recent survey by Robert Chirinko reports a number of estimates in that range, but places more weight on estimates in the range of -0.4 to -0.6. Using these alternative values suggests that the change in GDP due to changes in the cost of capital would be half as large as reported in the table above. We also note that the lower the elasticity of substitution between capital and labor, the higher the increase in labor productivity and wages from additional investment.

Additionally, there is a range of estimates for labor supply elasticity. This range is in part due to differences between labor supply at the individual household level and at the aggregate, economy-wide level. Individuals tend to work around 40-hour work weeks, and may change hours only a little in response to lower taxes. However, lower income taxes are more substantial factors for people deciding whether or not to enter the workforce. Thus, while the micro estimates may place the elasticity of labor supply around 0.3, Edward Prescott and Johanna Wallenius suggest that the aggregate labor supply elasticity is around 3. That elasticity would imply that the effects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on labor supply are 10 times larger than what we have reported in our estimates. However, we choose to use the conservative elasticity value in our estimates.

All of our estimates assume that wages and interest rates remain constant. The changes in the tax code constitute shifts in the demand for capital financing and the supply of labor. Wages and interest rates will only stay constant if the supply of savings and the demand for labor are perfectly elastic. The former is more plausible once the international mobility of capital is considered. The lower the elasticity of these curves, the larger the increase in returns and decrease in pre-tax wages, and the smaller the increases in capital and labor.

This calculation is not meant to substitute for the full analysis of a more detailed model. However, the simplicity of the calculation clarifies the mechanisms at work.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would lower the cost of capital and increase after-tax wages, which would increase the capital stock and number of hours worked, both of which would cause an increase in GDP.

The post How the GOP Tax Bill Will Affect the Economy appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/gop-tax-bill-will-affect-economy/feed/ 0
Democrats’ Move to Impeach Trump Seen as Political Theater http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/democrats-move-to-impeach-trump-seen-as-political-theater/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/democrats-move-to-impeach-trump-seen-as-political-theater/#respond Fri, 17 Nov 2017 17:48:42 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=370551 Spurred by recent state election wins, a liberal billionaire, and a leading legal scholar on the left, six House Democrats have signed onto a resolution... Read More

The post Democrats’ Move to Impeach Trump Seen as Political Theater appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
Spurred by recent state election wins, a liberal billionaire, and a leading legal scholar on the left, six House Democrats have signed onto a resolution to impeach President Donald Trump.

“Calls for impeachment started before the guy even took office,” @georgepieler says.

The party’s leadership has not embraced the movement, and the resolution faces numerous hurdles to go beyond political theater.

Still, the five proposed articles of impeachment advance earlier, isolated efforts to put Trump on trial in the Senate. Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., who hasn’t signed on to the new resolution, introduced a bill, and some of the House’s other most liberal Democrats have made scattered speeches invoking impeachment.

The resolution offered Wednesday attracted more noteworthy Democrats, including Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio, former chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky, the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee.

The lead sponsor is Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., who also was joined by Reps. Luis Gutiérrez of Illinois, Al Green of Texas, and Adriano Espaillat of New York.

“Mr. Trump is failing and has turned back the clock on the more than 50 years of progress our country has made in civil rights and equality,” Espaillat said in a prepared statement.

The five articles of impeachment accuse Trump of obstructing justice, violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution, and undermining the judiciary and the press.

Special counsel Robert Mueller, investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, reportedly is exploring potential obstruction of justice in Trump’s firing of James Comey as FBI director.

Meanwhile, the liberal watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has joined the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia in filing suit over emoluments—that is, Trump’s foreign business ties amounting to potential conflicts of interests.

It is improbable that legal charges would stick at this point, but impeachment can be broadly defined and is ultimately a political process, said George Pieler, a former deputy legal counsel for Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and a former acting assistant secretary of education.

“The concept of high crimes and misdemeanors doesn’t have a historically defined legal meaning,” Pieler told The Daily Signal in an interview. “Is there a credible ground? The answer is no, but that’s mainly because calls for impeachment started before the guy even took office. But, impeachment isn’t based on ‘this law must be violated’ or even ‘a law must be violated.’”

The new book “Impeachment: A Citizen’s Guide” by Harvard law professor Cass Sunstein, the Obama administration’s director of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, argues that illegality isn’t needed to oust a president.

Referring to the Constitution, a description of the book on Amazon says: “[T]he president can be impeached for abuses of power that do not violate the law. Even neglect of duty counts among the ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ delineated in the republic’s foundational document.”

Liberal billionaire Tom Steyer launched a $10 million ad campaign urging Congress to impeach Trump, saying in one of the commercials that “people in Congress and his own administration know that this president is a clear and present danger who is mentally unstable and armed with nuclear weapons.”

Steyer’s rationale wasn’t included in the articles of impeachment introduced by the six Democrats.

The push comes just a week after Democrats had decisive statewide victories in New Jersey and Virginia, which many Democrats hope foreshadow the 2018 midterm elections.

But those articles seem a bit of a stretch, Pieler said. Accusing Trump of disrespecting federal judges and the press is a nonstarter for impeachment, he said.

But he noted that both of the legal matters—obstruction and emoluments—haven’t been settled.

“As far as the emoluments go, there is some litigation going on now. I know the application to emoluments in his situation is a novel approach to emoluments, but courts change their minds all the time,” Pieler said. “The other, obstruction, supposedly that’s on Mr. Mueller’s list, the issue of whether there was obstruction in the Comey firing. So, that’s not a resolved matter.”

Two of the Democrats’ articles of impeachment deal with emoluments, one with foreign businesses and another with domestic businesses, and note that Trump has not released his income tax returns. The fourth and fifth articles deal largely with Trump lobbing insults at judges and journalists.

Article IV accuses Trump of “undermining the independence of the federal judiciary and the rule of law.” The grounds? Trump called a U.S. district judge a “so-called judge” in a tweet, and pardoned Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, after a federal judge found Arpaio in criminal contempt.

Article V accuses the president of “undermining freedom of the press” by calling media organizations “fake news,” for “circulating a video of himself violently wrestling a man covered by the CNN logo,” and for disparaging remarks about TV news hosts Megyn Kelly and Mika Brzezinski.

“His attacks on ‘so-called’ judges and ‘fake news’ have undermined public confidence in the judiciary and the press,” Cohen said in a public statement that also criticized Trump for firing Comey and alleged conflicts of interests related to his businesses.

“It’s time for Congress to take action to stop this reckless and harmful behavior by removing Mr. Trump from office,” the Tennessee Democrat said.

The impeachment articles are “bizarre and unsubstantiated,” said Kelly Shackelford, a constitutional lawyer who has argued before the Supreme Court and is president and CEO of First Liberty Institute, an organization that defends religious freedom.

“The only reason an impeachment push is going is because they didn’t want him to get elected: ‘We lost the election so now we want impeachment,’” Shackelford told The Daily Signal in an interview, adding:

That’s not how the Founders intended. Otherwise, every time the party that loses could say, ‘Hey, that’s not the guy we want, let’s impeach him and come up with some justifications that are really weak.’

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., both have vocally opposed impeachment and said the special counsel’s investigation should proceed.

A majority vote in the House is required to approve articles of impeachment. But even if Democrats regained a majority in the 2018 elections, it takes 67 senators to convict and remove a president from office.

The House voted to impeach President Andrew Johnson in 1868 and, more than 100 years later, President Bill Clinton in 1998. In each case, the Senate failed to reach the supermajority threshold for removal.

Still, much of the liberal base could demand impeachment, Shackelford said.

“It’s all political theater and no substance,” he said, adding:

But how many people when they run for election, Democrat versus Republican, are going to run on the issue that they are going to impeach? Because I think the more Democrats talk about that, I think the more it will probably work against them…

My prediction of what you are going to see in the Democratic Party is the really hard-line base run on this and the rest are going to say, ‘You’re killing us, stop it.’ They [the White House] will probably like it because it will stoke how unreasonable [some Democrats] are, and nobody wants that.

The post Democrats’ Move to Impeach Trump Seen as Political Theater appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/democrats-move-to-impeach-trump-seen-as-political-theater/feed/ 0
Foreign Automakers Are Investing in US Because of Pro-Business Climate http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/foreign-automakers-investments-in-u-s-are-testament-to-pro-business-climate/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/foreign-automakers-investments-in-u-s-are-testament-to-pro-business-climate/#respond Fri, 17 Nov 2017 14:37:09 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=370446 Foreign investment is vital for a healthy U.S. economy. America’s unique and hospitable climate for foreign investment brings with it economic growth, quality jobs, increased... Read More

The post Foreign Automakers Are Investing in US Because of Pro-Business Climate appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
Foreign investment is vital for a healthy U.S. economy.

America’s unique and hospitable climate for foreign investment brings with it economic growth, quality jobs, increased consumer choice, and reasonably priced goods.

As President Donald Trump recently told business leaders in Japan:

When you want to build your auto plants, you will have your approvals almost immediately. When you want to expand your plants, you will have your approvals almost immediately.

And in the room, we have a couple of the great folks from two of the biggest auto companies in the world that are building new plants and doing expansions of other plants. And you know who you are, and I want to just thank you very much. I want to thank you.

According to the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, Japanese-owned carmakers—including Toyota, Nissan, and Honda, among others—have invested more than $45 billion in manufacturing in the U.S. as of 2016, and are directly responsible for more than 90,000 jobs from Massachusetts to California.

The same characteristics that make the United States attractive to Japanese automobile manufacturers also make it attractive to the rest of the world.

In early 2017, South Korean car manufacturer Hyundai promised to increase its investment in the United States by $3.1 billion. European car companies, such as Volkswagen, BMW, and Mercedes, own and operate car manufacturing facilities in South Carolina, Alabama, and Tennessee, and European companies as a whole are directly responsible for millions of American jobs.

Despite a heavy regulatory burden and a tax system in need of reform, the United States is able to bring a rare combination of advantages that is attractive to investors.

America combines stability, a hospitable environment for investment growth, and a highly skilled and adaptable labor force. If the Trump administration is successful in its efforts to reduce tax and regulatory barriers, the United States will be even more attractive to U.S. and foreign investors.

That is part of why mandating that people “buy American” is largely unnecessary, as the United States already has a unique advantage in many fields.

Foreign direct investment is crucial to the American economy. Every state depends on it. Nationwide, 7.4 million Americans owe their jobs to foreign direct investment. The results are undeniable.

The post Foreign Automakers Are Investing in US Because of Pro-Business Climate appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/foreign-automakers-investments-in-u-s-are-testament-to-pro-business-climate/feed/ 0
Group That Rates Trump’s Judicial Nominees Has History of Liberal Advocacy http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/sasse-to-aba-the-american-bar-association-is-not-neutral/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/sasse-to-aba-the-american-bar-association-is-not-neutral/#respond Fri, 17 Nov 2017 13:04:17 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=370470 The consideration of federal judges with lifetime appointments is perhaps the most important and long-lasting work the Senate will do between now and the end... Read More

The post Group That Rates Trump’s Judicial Nominees Has History of Liberal Advocacy appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
The consideration of federal judges with lifetime appointments is perhaps the most important and long-lasting work the Senate will do between now and the end of the year.

Every senator, Republican and Democrat, took an oath to perform this duty. Nobody took an oath to outsource this duty to any outside organization. Unfortunately, some of my colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee are apparently willing to hand over their voting cards to the American Bar Association based on the claim that the ABA is an unbiased, indifferent umpire that just calls balls and strikes.

The American Bar Association is not neutral. The ABA is a liberal organization that has publicly and consistently advocated for left-of-center positions for more than two decades now. The ABA has no right to special treatment by members of this body.

It’s pretty simple—if you’re playing in the game, you don’t get to cherry-pick who the referees are. Take just for a moment a look at the amicus briefs that they have filed in recent years.

  • In District of Columbia v. Heller, the ABA supported denying individuals their constitutional right to keep and bear arms.
  • In the Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, the ABA supported forcing Christian organizations on campuses to accept members that reject their faith.
  • In Medellin v. Texas, the ABA forced states to recognize the judgments of the World Court in order to stop the execution of a gruesome murderer.
  • In United States v. Windsor, the ABA supported the recognition of same-sex marriage through judicial fiat rather than through legislative debate.
  • In Arizona v. United States, the ABA supported a constitutional ban on state and local law enforcement assisting and enforcing federal immigration laws, and the list goes on.

In each of these cases, the ABA decided to wade into divisive and contentious issues. This is their right, indeed, but it is definitely not neutral. In each of these cases and many more, the ABA took what can only be described as left-of-center positions. In each of these cases, the ABA was picking a side.

Again, to be clear, they are absolutely allowed to do this. It is what makes this country great. But it’s laughably naive to suggest that they are an objective and neutral organization. They are not.

The ABA cannot make liberal arguments to the nine members of the Supreme Court and then walk across the street and seriously expect that the 10 members of the Senate will be treating them like unbiased appraisers.

That is essentially what Attorney General Bill Barr said in 1992 when the ABA first began to openly take pro-abortion positions, which led to thousands of members quitting in protest because those members knew that the ABA’s claims to neutrality about political issues were no longer even possibly defensible.

Barr commented on the ABA’s pro-abortion advocacy at the time: “[B]y adopting the resolution and thereby endorsing one side of this debate, the ABA will endanger the perception that it is an impartial and objective association.”

Twenty-five years later, Barr’s words were right. His words ring true.

Again, I want to be perfectly clear. The ABA is allowed to have any view that its members want to have, and they are allowed to advocate and to protest on behalf of those views and on behalf of their members. This is America, and that’s exactly what the First Amendment is about.

That is fine, but what’s not fine is that the ABA, which is a liberal advocacy organization, would masquerade as a neutral and objective evaluator of judicial candidates.

The ABA cannot take blatantly liberal positions on the one hand and then masquerade as a neutral party on the other and then demand a special seat at the table in the Senate Judiciary Committee and in the Senate, in this body, to try to tell us who is and isn’t supposedly qualified to be a judge.

Just like the ABA has every right to advance its liberal policy positions, every senator has the right and indeed the duty to give our advice and consent on judicial nominees.

If senators decide that they like and value the ABA’s policy positions and they like and value the ABA’s ratings, they are free to give them due deference and consideration. But don’t hide behind it. Don’t pretend that the ABA is something that it is not. Do not ignore the facts of what the ABA has become. The American people deserve honesty, not thinly veiled partisanship.

The post Group That Rates Trump’s Judicial Nominees Has History of Liberal Advocacy appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/17/sasse-to-aba-the-american-bar-association-is-not-neutral/feed/ 0
Problematic Women: Taylor Swift Isn’t Political Enough for Marie Claire http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/16/problematic-women-taylor-swift-isnt-political-enough-for-marie-claire/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/16/problematic-women-taylor-swift-isnt-political-enough-for-marie-claire/#respond Thu, 16 Nov 2017 22:56:16 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=370371 Women’s magazine Marie Claire has a problem with Taylor Swift: According to it, the songstress is not political enough. “Taylor is not required to be... Read More

The post Problematic Women: Taylor Swift Isn’t Political Enough for Marie Claire appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>

Women’s magazine Marie Claire has a problem with Taylor Swift: According to it, the songstress is not political enough.

“Taylor is not required to be open about her politics, of course, but it’s also fair to question her decision to remain silent in what was a particularly contentious and consequential presidential battle,” wrote Kayleigh Roberts in a piece for the magazine.

Like any good businesswoman, Swift, who released her new album “Reputation” this week, has stayed away from overt political statements throughout her successful career. But to Marie Claire, that’s problematic, which is why this week, The Daily Signal is crowning Swift the “Problematic Women of the Week.”

Every week, The Daily Signal’s Facebook Live show and podcast “Problematic Women” shines a spotlight on strong conservative women, current events, and the hypocrisy of the “feminist” left. Co-hosted with Bre Payton of The Federalist, this week’s episode also takes on the issue of a Democrat congressman shouting down a pro-life woman, Glamour magazine ignoring the accomplishments of conservative women, and the most recent wave of sexual assault allegations.

Also, in honor of Thanksgiving next week, we’re joined by special guest Lisa De Pasquale, author of “The Social Justice Warrior Handbook: A Practical Survival Guide for Snowflakes, Millennials, and Generation Z,” who offers tips for surviving the holiday season.

Watch in the video above, or listen to the podcast below.

The post Problematic Women: Taylor Swift Isn’t Political Enough for Marie Claire appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/16/problematic-women-taylor-swift-isnt-political-enough-for-marie-claire/feed/ 0
Mistrial: Democrat Senator Escapes Conviction After Jury Deadlocks http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/16/mistrial-menendez-escapes-conviction-after-jury-deadlocks/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/16/mistrial-menendez-escapes-conviction-after-jury-deadlocks/#respond Thu, 16 Nov 2017 22:35:36 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=370383 The jury in the corruption trial of Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., said for a second time Thursday that it is deadlocked on the counts of... Read More

The post Mistrial: Democrat Senator Escapes Conviction After Jury Deadlocks appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
The jury in the corruption trial of Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., said for a second time Thursday that it is deadlocked on the counts of the indictment, prompting U.S. District Judge William Walls to declare a mistrial.

“We cannot reach a unanimous decision,” a note from the jurors read. “Nor are we willing to move away from our strong convictions.” One juror told reporters  the jury was deadlocked 10-2, with 10 favoring acquittal.

The mistrial is a temporary victory for the embattled Democrat. Federal prosecutors will now decide whether to bring another case against him.

The panel first indicated Monday afternoon that it was struggling to reach a verdict, but Walls instructed the jury to keep deliberating.

Judges often give deadlocked juries an instruction called an “Allen charge,” sometimes referred to as a “hammer charge.” The instruction reminds jurors of the time, effort, and resources expended over the course of the prosecution, and asks jurors in the minority to reconsider the reasonableness of their positions. The jury then retires to resume deliberations. Walls declined to pursue that course on the advice of the jury, which has been deliberating for over a week.

“Based upon what has been so clearly and definitively written, that would be a futile exercise,” Walls replied when prosecutors asked him to order further deliberations.

The mistrial is a major defeat for the Department of Justice, which has struggled to bring successful corruption prosecutions in recent years. Matthew Miller, a former DOJ spokesman, noted prosecutors have not secured a major political corruption conviction since 2008, when GOP Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska was convicted of making false statements.

Recent Supreme Court decisions have narrowed the scope of corruption laws. The justices established in a 2016 case, McDonnell v. U.S., that public officials only violate anti-corruption laws when they accept gifts, payments, or benefits in exchange for a specific and official act. That sort of specific, quid-pro-quo corruption is often difficult to prove.

Prosecutors in the Menendez case put forward a “stream of benefits” theory of the law, arguing that a donor essentially had the senator on retainer, by making gifts and privileges available to Menendez on the understanding he would provide assistance as needed at some point in the future.

After days of deliberations, the jury appeared to reject that theory, leaving federal prosecutors searching for a proposition on which to advance future corruption prosecutions.

A defiant Menendez spoke to reporters after Walls declared the mistrial, and vowed to take revenge on New Jersey politicos who jockeyed to succeed him in the Senate.

“To those of you who were digging my political grave so you could jump into my seat, I know who you are and I won’t forget you,” he said.

Menendez faced 18 charges including, bribery, honest services fraud, conspiracy, interstate travel to carry out bribery, and making false statements on federally mandated financial disclosure forms.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities for this original content, email licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

The post Mistrial: Democrat Senator Escapes Conviction After Jury Deadlocks appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/16/mistrial-menendez-escapes-conviction-after-jury-deadlocks/feed/ 0
It’s the Senate’s Turn After House OKs GOP Tax Cuts and Jobs Act http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/16/action-moves-to-senate-as-house-passes-republican-tax-reform-plan/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/16/action-moves-to-senate-as-house-passes-republican-tax-reform-plan/#respond Thu, 16 Nov 2017 22:33:28 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=370323 Following the House’s 227-205 vote Thursday to pass its version of the Republicans’ tax reform bill, all eyes now move to the Senate, where a... Read More

The post It’s the Senate’s Turn After House OKs GOP Tax Cuts and Jobs Act appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
Following the House’s 227-205 vote Thursday to pass its version of the Republicans’ tax reform bill, all eyes now move to the Senate, where a committee vote is expected Friday.

“I commend [House] Speaker Paul Ryan, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, and all the members of the House who have worked tirelessly to get this critical bill through their chamber,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement, adding:

Through regular order and an open and transparent amendment process, the members of the Senate’s tax-writing committee are also making real progress on a bill that’s been years in the making, to fulfill our promise to the American people.  

Ryan called the vote on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act “historic.”

The House Republican tax plan, released Nov. 2 by Brady, R-Texas; Ryan, R-Wis.; and other GOP members, condenses the current seven tax brackets to three, nearly doubles the standard deduction, and caps the amount taxpayers can write off in state taxes at $10,000.

The House bill passed on a straight party-line vote, with 13 Republicans joining all Democrats in voting against it.

The Senate Republican tax plan, released Nov. 8, eliminates the state and local tax deduction and keeps the current seven brackets, but lowers rates.

The Senate Finance Committee is expected to vote its version of the tax reform bill out of committee on Friday, according to The New York Times, with a full Senate vote expected after Thanksgiving.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who has voted with Democrats against repealing Obamacare, is reportedly having a more difficult time coming to a “yes” vote on the Senate Republicans’ tax reform plan since McConnell announced Tuesday that a repeal of Obamacare’s individual health insurance mandate would be added to the Senate version of the tax bill.

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., announced Wednesday that he would not vote for the Senate tax plan as it stands.

“I’m not going to vote for this tax package,” the second-term lawmaker said.

A senior Senate conservative aide told The Daily Signal in an email Thursday that he thinks Johnson “will be a ‘yes’ when it’s time to vote.”

President Donald Trump has made passing an overhaul of the federal tax code a goal for his first year in office and, in a tweet, praised the House’s passage of the bill.

Adam Michel, a tax policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, praised the House’s passage of the bill in a statement provided to The Daily Signal.

“The tax reform bill passed by the House today will provide significant tax relief for many American families. It is pro-worker and will lead to greater economic growth,” Michel said, adding:

While the bill is a positive start, there are many areas where the plan can be improved to unleash additional economic growth. Making expensing permanent, fully eliminating the property tax deduction, eliminating the additional fourth tax bracket, and limiting the scope of the new international minimum taxes are good places to start.

There is still much work to do, and Congress should seize on every opportunity to improve the current tax plan to further enhance the proposed reforms’ benefits for all Americans.

The post It’s the Senate’s Turn After House OKs GOP Tax Cuts and Jobs Act appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/16/action-moves-to-senate-as-house-passes-republican-tax-reform-plan/feed/ 0
In 1 Chart, the Differences Between the House and Senate Tax Reform Bills http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/16/in-1-chart-the-differences-between-the-house-and-senate-tax-reform-bills/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/16/in-1-chart-the-differences-between-the-house-and-senate-tax-reform-bills/#respond Thu, 16 Nov 2017 22:16:05 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=370356 The House has now passed its version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The Senate is still working on the final details of its... Read More

The post In 1 Chart, the Differences Between the House and Senate Tax Reform Bills appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
The House has now passed its version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The Senate is still working on the final details of its reform package. The Senate plan improves on the House bill in many places and misses important opportunities elsewhere. Here are the differences you need to know about:

The post In 1 Chart, the Differences Between the House and Senate Tax Reform Bills appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/16/in-1-chart-the-differences-between-the-house-and-senate-tax-reform-bills/feed/ 0
Innocent Americans Are Being Squeezed by Local Authorities. Here’s How Congress Can Bring Reform. http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/16/innocent-americans-extorted-local-authorities-heres-congress-can-bring-reform/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/16/innocent-americans-extorted-local-authorities-heres-congress-can-bring-reform/#respond Thu, 16 Nov 2017 21:47:22 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=370317 Civil asset forfeiture is facing renewed pressure for reform from members in Congress concerned about its abuse, and the Justice Department appears to be pushing... Read More

The post Innocent Americans Are Being Squeezed by Local Authorities. Here’s How Congress Can Bring Reform. appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
Civil asset forfeiture is facing renewed pressure for reform from members in Congress concerned about its abuse, and the Justice Department appears to be pushing back—hard.

Last week, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein penned a lengthy panegyric to the controversial practice, calling it “a powerful tool to make victims whole and prevent crime.”

That is undeniable. But the question being asked in Congress and in virtually every state legislature is whether that tool has become too powerful, too stacked against innocent property owners, and whether some law enforcement officials have become too determined to get at the proceeds of crime, even at the expense of traditional functions like arresting and prosecuting criminals.

To date, 24 states have answered “yes” to one or all of these questions, and have reined in or eliminated the practice. Yet, judging from his piece, Rosenstein fervently disagrees with that assessment.

The Evidence

Rosenstein points to three high-profile cases in which civil forfeiture has recently been used to positive effect: the recovery of $3.9 billion of illicit proceeds related to Bernie Madoff’s infamous Ponzi scheme; the forfeiture of $48 million from the criminal masterminds behind the notorious dark web drug emporium, the Silk Road; and the seizure of property from three brothers who defrauded Medicare to the tune of $110 million and then fled to Cuba.

Nobody can argue with any of these outcomes.

But these anecdotes are hardly representative of the norm in modern civil forfeiture cases. The tool was ramped up in the 1980s to go after the assets and ill-gotten gains of the worst-of-the-worst offenders—the Madoffs and Silk Road operators of the world—and the implication in Rosenstein’s piece is that this class of offender remains the principal target of forfeiture operations.

The data, however, suggest otherwise. One analysis of seizures in the state of California found that, in 2013, the average value of seizures was $5,145.

A review of seizures in Cook County, Illinois, found the median value of cash and property seized between 2012 and 2017 was $1,049.

In Washington, D.C., the median value of seizures from 2009 to 2014 was a scant $141.

Kingpin money, this is not. Forfeiture’s reach has extended well beyond its intended purpose.

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Another problem is that the current forfeiture process requires little—if any—actual evidence of criminality to justify a seizure.

Rosenstein insists that “money or property cannot be seized without a lawful reason. The evidence must be sufficient to establish probable cause to believe a crime was committed.” This “evidence,” though, often amounts to little more than an officer’s belief that carrying any large sum of money is evidence in itself of wrongdoing.

George Reby, an insurance adjuster from New Jersey, had $22,000 in cash seized by a Tennessee cop as he was driving to a Nashville conference. Reby had proof that the money was legitimate, but the officer seized it anyway, stating in an affidavit that “common people do not carry this much U.S. currency.”

Matt Lee had $2,400 seized by a Nevada sheriff’s deputy during a cross-country drive to start a new job in California. The money was a gift from a loving father hoping to help his son get on his feet, but the deputy called it drug money and seized it despite uncovering no evidence of illicit behavior.

Lee and Reby were obviously innocent, but only after considerable effort and publicity did they manage to get their money returned. Many are not so lucky.

In his piece, Rosenstein points out that 80 percent of seizures are never challenged, a fact he interprets as a clear sign that “most cases are indisputable.”

But there is another potential explanation. Civil forfeiture laws offer scant due process protections. Property owners contesting a seizure must hire an attorney out of pocket, or navigate a tortuous legal landscape alone, and the administrative process has many traps for the unwary that can result in property owners inadvertently waiving their rights to contest a forfeiture.

In either case, they face long odds: Federal forfeiture laws place the burden on the property owners to prove, in essence, their own innocence. When the value of what is seized is less than the cost of an attorney, a rational property owner—even an entirely innocent one—may have little choice but to drop the matter.

In fairness, the majority of cash seizures likely can be tied to drug offenses or other crimes. As Rosenstein points out, “when the police find $100,000 in shrink-wrapped $20 bills hidden in a suitcase, usually there is no innocent explanation.”

That is true. Still, the question must be asked, what do law enforcement officials do after they discover this sum of money? Do they make arrests? Do they seek to prosecute offenders? The answer to these questions is frequently “no.”

Extortion of the Innocent

This year, a scathing Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General report revealed that poor data collection and analysis made it impossible to say conclusively whether seizures “benefit law enforcement efforts, such as advancing criminal investigations.”

This same report reviewed 100 cash seizures made by the Drug Enforcement Administration, finding that only 44 could be tied to an arrest, a prosecution, or the initiation or advancement of a criminal investigation.

The Washington Post has previously reported that, from 2001 through 2014, law enforcement officials nationwide seized more than $2.5 billion in cash from 62,000 people in a series of roadside, warrantless seizures that resulted in no indictments.

In 2010, two drug task force officers working a strip of highway in rural Tennessee pulled over a refrigerated truck, suspecting it was being used to transport drug money.

According to dashboard video, one officer told the driver, “Hey, I’m not asking you if you have knowledge about it, and I won’t ask you if you have knowledge about it. You understand me? It’s not my job. … All I’m asking you is, where’s the money?”

Shortly thereafter, the driver revealed the location of $500,000 in shrink-wrapped bills, signed a waiver disclaiming any interest in the currency, and was allowed to go free.

In Oklahoma, a sheriff was indicted on bribery and extortion charges stemming from a 2014 traffic stop. The sheriff discovered $10,000 in cash and evidence of drug dealing in the car, and initially arrested the driver on charges of felony possession of drug proceeds. But then the sheriff made the driver an offer he couldn’t refuse: to let him go if he waived his rights to the money.

The sheriff’s department got $10,000 richer, and the drug dealer was released, only to be convicted later (thankfully) in Missouri of methamphetamine distribution.

Surely, this is not the sort of police work the Department of Justice wishes to condone or incentivize.

In his piece, Rosenstein writes of the need to enhance accountability within the department and provide additional “training on the ethics and legal requirements of forfeiture.” These are welcome developments, but preventing abusive and unjustifiable forfeiture practices will require more significant steps.

Reform Starts in Congress

Congress should end the forfeiture financial incentive, which allows agencies to retain the proceeds of successful forfeitures, and spend it with little accountability. This encourages profiteering, risks agencies becoming dependent on revenue from seizures, and can so warp department priorities that cash seizures displace arrests and prosecution, and become ends in themselves.

We can all agree that law enforcement officers should be generously funded, but that funding should come through the appropriate constitutional channel: the legislature.

At the very least, so long as law enforcement authorities are permitted to keep some or all of these funds, there should be much greater transparency about how much is seized and the uses to which those funds are put.

Congress must also enhance the due process protections available to innocent property owners, beginning with the standard of proof in forfeiture cases. Rosenstein insists that the normal civil standard, a preponderance of the evidence, is more than sufficient in these cases.

With all due respect, this is simply not the case. Going back to 1886, the Supreme Court has recognized that forfeiture is quasi-criminal in nature. With this in mind, and given that someone’s home or life’s savings may be at stake, the normal civil standard is too low.

Congress should elevate the standard to clear and convincing evidence, and require that the government prove not only that the assets to be seized are tied to a crime, but that an owner knew about or turned a blind eye toward the illegal conduct.

These are just two of nine critical reforms to asset forfeiture laws that The Heritage Foundation has proposed. Many of them have been adopted in two bills now before Congress—the FAIR Act and the DUE PROCESS Act.

In the final analysis, Rosenstein’s article aims to buttress the status quo by charging that reforms will make it impossible to go after the Bernie Madoffs, the Silk Roads, and the absconders from justice.

In reality, for two centuries civil forfeiture laws allowed the government to seize assets from criminals beyond the reach of U.S. authorities.

In the 1980s, Congress ramped up forfeiture for the express purpose of targeting the worst-of-the-worst offenders. The reforms now before Congress are not designed to inhibit that government action—they are designed to get back to a forfeiture system that focuses on them, in a way that preserves forfeiture’s moral credibility.

That narrow, noble goal is one Americans can get behind.

The post Innocent Americans Are Being Squeezed by Local Authorities. Here’s How Congress Can Bring Reform. appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/16/innocent-americans-extorted-local-authorities-heres-congress-can-bring-reform/feed/ 0
Don’t Allow Canada and Mexico to Influence US Environmental Laws at NAFTA Talks http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/16/dont-allow-canada-mexico-influence-us-environmental-laws-nafta-talks/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/16/dont-allow-canada-mexico-influence-us-environmental-laws-nafta-talks/#respond Thu, 16 Nov 2017 20:47:45 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=370246 The fifth round of NAFTA renegotiations is getting underway in Mexico City. Unfortunately, American trade negotiators have proposed expanding NAFTA’s environmental reach. This is counterproductive... Read More

The post Don’t Allow Canada and Mexico to Influence US Environmental Laws at NAFTA Talks appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
The fifth round of NAFTA renegotiations is getting underway in Mexico City.

Unfortunately, American trade negotiators have proposed expanding NAFTA’s environmental reach. This is counterproductive and seems to be inconsistent with the Trump administration’s broader deregulatory agenda.

U.S. officials should not only reject an expansion of NAFTA’s environmental regulatory reach in this round, they should work to remove any focus on environmental regulation from the NAFTA process altogether.

By including an environmental side agreement, NAFTA set the precedent for attaching non-trade issues to trade deals. The result is that trade agreements since NAFTA have gone well beyond free trade and into broader regulation of economic activity.

The Trump administration should use this NAFTA renegotiation to reset the precedent by focusing the talks exclusively on expanding free trade.

The Office of the United States Trade Representative, though, listed as NAFTA renegotiation objectives to “bring the environment provisions into the core of the agreement rather than in a side agreement,” and to subject environmental provisions to the same dispute settlement process that exists for other enforceable obligations of NAFTA.

Further, the environment-related objectives go beyond merely incorporating the existing side agreement into the main text of NAFTA. They also include other measures that could lead to boxing the U.S. into a corner when it comes to trying to address the sweeping regulatory overreach that already exists in the U.S.

One of these objectives is to “establish strong and enforceable environment obligations.”

This NAFTA environmental expansion could not only make addressing environmental overreach more difficult, but it could also allow Canada and Mexico to have influence over U.S. environmental laws, specifically by giving them the means to challenge how the U.S. is addressing its own domestic environmental issues.

This apparent environmental push by U.S. trade negotiators is completely at odds with the excellent work the Trump administration has done to address environmental regulation overreach elsewhere.

It’s actually quite confusing: Why push for provisions in a trade deal that would make it harder to address regulatory overreach?

In a recent paper, The Heritage Foundation identified specific recommendations regarding NAFTA and the environmental side agreement:

  • The Trump administration should limit NAFTA renegotiations to provisions directly related to North American trade and investment. All other extraneous measures should be addressed through other vehicles, if at all.
  • If Canada and Mexico insist that NAFTA should include environmental provisions, those issues should be kept in the side agreement and not incorporated into the main agreement.
  • Environmental measures should not expand the existing scope of NAFTA, especially in ways that could make environmental and regulatory reform more difficult.
  • Continued efforts should be made to increase economic freedom by reducing trade barriers, subsidies, and other measures that limit the ability of people in Canada, Mexico, and the United States to better address their environmental challenges.

Leaving out the environmental side agreement and focusing on trade would actually be better for the environment. The best way to improve the environment is to promote economic growth, including through trade.

Data in The Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom show that countries with low trade barriers score better on Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index, for instance.

Bringing unrelated issues such as the environment into trade agreements leads to the U.S. having to simultaneously negotiate environmental objectives that likely will require having to make trade-offs that are counter to reducing barriers to mutually beneficial trade.

Trade deals should be about free trade, not a pretext to push environmental agendas. NAFTA set the U.S. down the wrong path with the environmental side agreement. President Donald Trump can now guide the nation back in the right direction.

The post Don’t Allow Canada and Mexico to Influence US Environmental Laws at NAFTA Talks appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/16/dont-allow-canada-mexico-influence-us-environmental-laws-nafta-talks/feed/ 0
Democrats Berate Conservative Judicial Nominee for Politically Incorrect Tweets http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/16/senate-judiciary-committee-grills-2-texas-judicial-nominees-american-bar-association/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/16/senate-judiciary-committee-grills-2-texas-judicial-nominees-american-bar-association/#respond Thu, 16 Nov 2017 20:39:53 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=370224 This week, two nominees to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee, facing fierce opposition from Democrats. President Donald... Read More

The post Democrats Berate Conservative Judicial Nominee for Politically Incorrect Tweets appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
This week, two nominees to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee, facing fierce opposition from Democrats.

President Donald Trump nominated Don Willett and James Ho to seats on the federal appeals court based in Texas.

Willett, currently a justice on the Texas Supreme Court, is known as the “Tweeter Laureate of Texas” for his entertaining social media presence.

Despite this playful side, Willett is a thoughtful jurist with more than a decade of experience on the bench. He also worked for George W. Bush during his governorship and presidency.

Willett was included on Trump’s list of potential Supreme Court nominees—which ups the stakes of his confirmation to the federal appeals court.

Senators spent much of their time asking about a memo Willett wrote when he worked for then-Gov. Bush and his tweets—calling to mind professor Orin Kerr’s satirical account of a confirmation hearing in 2035.

Starting with ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., several Democrats asked about a gubernatorial proclamation on women’s rights in the workplace Willett worked on for Bush.

In the memo, Willett questioned whether the proclamation should mention things like pay equity (“an allegation that some studies debunk,” he wrote), “glass ceilings,” and other language with a clear ideological bent. Feinstein described the memo as “deeply concerning.”

But as Willett explained, he simply advised that the proclamation be changed to conform to internal guidelines suggesting proclamations not “take a side” on specific policies or legislation.

Rather than focus on Willett’s judicial record and ask questions about his judicial philosophy, senators also picked apart his tweets. They even came armed with a blown-up poster of one tweet.

It’s worth pointing out the majority of Willett’s more than 25,000 tweets commemorate important dates in American history, make jokes about the law, and chronicle the lives of his children, the “wee Willetts.”

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., asked Willett about a tweet mentioning former Yankees player Alex Rodriguez, also known as “A-Rod,” and California’s transgender law allowing a male teen to play on a girls’ softball team. Retweeting a news article about the law, Willett tweeted, “Go away, A-Rod.”

At the hearing, Willett explained this was “a ham-handed attempt” at a joke that was clearly off the mark. Franken asked Willett to walk him through the joke (the former comedian said he couldn’t follow), and Willett said he never meant to demean anyone.

>>> Woman Accuses Sen. Al Franken of Molesting Her During USO Tour

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., brought up Willett’s tweet following the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges recognizing a right to same-sex marriage. Willett tweeted, “I could support recognizing a constitutional right to marry bacon.”

He explained he was trying to “inject a bit of levity” and didn’t mean to disparage anyone.

Sen. John Kennedy, R–La., asked Willett if he would agree not to tweet anymore if confirmed to the federal bench.

Willett responded that he has not decided (despite his wife’s suggestion that he shouldn’t tweet) because he thinks there is a value to tweeting about the Constitution and providing basic civic education. He cited statistics about how one-third of Americans can’t name a single branch of government.

Since his nomination in September, he had been radio silent on Twitter until this week, when he tweeted, “To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race. –Calvin Coolidge.”

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., also brought up the fact that conservative groups in Texas supported Willett’s election to the state’s Supreme Court, asking why these groups would support him without some assurance that he would rule in their favor if elected. Apparently, in Whitehouse’s view, that’s the only reason to support a judicial nominee.

Texas, by the way, has partisan judicial elections, so it’s not unusual that he garnered support in this way.

Willett responded that the “north star” for judges is legal principles, not personal preferences, so any group that supported him would not hold sway over him.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, piped up that what Whitehouse said sounded like an indictment of judicial elections, generally, and that in his time on the bench, Willett had earned a reputation as a fair and impartial judge.

>>> Listen to SCOTUS 101: Elizabeth Slattery and Tiffany Bates bring you up to speed on their Supreme Court podcast.

Though most of the senators’ questions were aimed at Willett, Ho fielded a few as well.

A partner at the Dallas office of Gibson Dunn, Ho previously served as solicitor general of Texas. In that post, he received two Best Brief Awards from the National Association of Attorneys General.

He also served in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel during the George W. Bush administration, and clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Whitehouse pressed Ho on his work in the Office of Legal Counsel and his involvement with the so-called torture memos. Ho explained that he did not work on those memos, although they apparently cited another memo Ho wrote.

Whitehouse complained that Ho did not provide the memo to the committee, but Ho countered that it’s a privileged document, so it’s the government’s decision—not his—whether to release it.

Another feature of the hearing was the testimony and questioning of Pamela Bresnahan, chair of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary. The American Bar Association rates judicial nominees from “not qualified” to “well qualified.”

Nine presidents have solicited these ratings before selecting nominees, but some have expressed concern about the American Bar Association’s liberal bias. Trump, like Bush, has not sought the association’s ratings prior to making nominations.

The American Bar Association has come under intense scrutiny by Republican senators for giving four Trump nominees a “not qualified” rating, particularly 8th Circuit nominee Steve Grasz.

While the American Bar Association claims “ideological or political considerations are not taken into account,” it gave Grasz that rating because he is pro-life and it believed Grasz could not set aside his “passionately-held social agenda” to apply the law fairly.

Cruz pointed out that the American Bar Association’s 15 evaluators have made political donations, mostly to democratic candidates and causes (including pro-abortion groups). Cruz correctly pointed out that those individuals no doubt have a right to be left-wing political activists, but they cannot masquerade as neutral judicial evaluators.

Cruz also mentioned the American Bar Association’s troubling pattern of giving lower ratings to Republican presidents’ nominees. He rattled off a long list of federal judges who some American Bar Association evaluators had deemed “not qualified” before their confirmations, including Thomas, Michael Luttig (4th Circuit, retired), Steve Colloton (8th Circuit), Tim Tymkovich (10th Circuit), Bill Pryor (11th Circuit), Janice Rogers Brown (D.C. Circuit, retired), Thomas Griffith (D.C. Circuit), and Frank Easterbrook (7th Circuit).

This is shocking, to say the least, given the fact that these judges are widely regarded as leading jurists.

The White House is reportedly considering telling its future nominees not to interview with the American Bar Association. It’s a wise choice given the fact that Bresnahan did little to dispel the notion that the American Bar Association advances a left-wing ideology under the guise of neutral evaluations of judicial nominees.

The post Democrats Berate Conservative Judicial Nominee for Politically Incorrect Tweets appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/16/senate-judiciary-committee-grills-2-texas-judicial-nominees-american-bar-association/feed/ 0
Podcast: Understanding Tax Reform http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/16/podcast-understanding-tax-reform/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/16/podcast-understanding-tax-reform/#respond Thu, 16 Nov 2017 20:02:42 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=370248 How would tax reform change your life? Does the bill that passed the House today have a chance in the Senate? What would tax reform... Read More

The post Podcast: Understanding Tax Reform appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>

How would tax reform change your life? Does the bill that passed the House today have a chance in the Senate? What would tax reform mean for small businesses? We discuss all this and more with Heritage Foundation tax expert Adam Michel in today’s episode. Plus: whether it’s fair that Taylor Swift is getting slammed for not taking a political position.

The post Podcast: Understanding Tax Reform appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/16/podcast-understanding-tax-reform/feed/ 0
6 Key Elements in Understanding the Tangled Uranium One Scandal http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/16/6-key-elements-to-understanding-the-tangled-uranium-one-scandal/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/16/6-key-elements-to-understanding-the-tangled-uranium-one-scandal/#respond Thu, 16 Nov 2017 19:54:28 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=370230 Two House committees are investigating the tangled deal involving Russia, its acquiring of U.S. uranium, and Bill and Hillary Clinton. But the multiple layers that... Read More

The post 6 Key Elements in Understanding the Tangled Uranium One Scandal appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
Two House committees are investigating the tangled deal involving Russia, its acquiring of U.S. uranium, and Bill and Hillary Clinton. But the multiple layers that lawmakers, and potentially a special counsel, will explore take some unpacking.

The probe addresses unanswered questions about the Uranium One mining company’s ties to the Clinton Foundation, the nonprofit founded by the former president, during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.

In a 2010 deal approved by a committee including Hillary Clinton and eight other members of President Barack Obama’s Cabinet, a Kremlin-connected entity obtained 20 percent of America’s uranium production by acquiring Canada-based Uranium One.

Although a joint investigation by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is just getting under way, many congressional Republicans already are calling for a special counsel to look into the facts.

A Clinton Foundation spokesperson, citing numerous news stories and fact-checking organizations, told The Daily Signal that the Uranium One-related allegations against Hillary Clinton, Democrats’ 2016 nominee for president, have been debunked. A spokesperson for Uranium One did not respond to The Daily Signal’s phone and email messages Wednesday.

Here are six major elements to the scandal now known as Uranium One.

1. What Is the Deal, and Who Approved It?

Uranium One announced in June 2010 it was selling a majority of the mining company to ARMZ, part of Rosatom, a Russian-owned nuclear energy company. Promoters of the Russian company were involved in a $500,000 speaking engagement for Bill Clinton in Moscow.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, a panel charged with approving any merger where national security questions emerge, approved the deal in October 2010.

National security came up in this case because uranium is the primary fuel for nuclear energy and can be used either to make weapons or produce electricity.

The foreign investment panel is made up of nine Cabinet members, two ex officio members, and others as appointed by the president. So, neither Clinton, who was secretary of state from 2009 until 2013, nor the State Department were in a sole position to approve the deal in which Russian interests acquired Uranium One. These officeholders frequently are represented on the foreign investment panel by lower-ranking officials.

If any member of the Foreign Investment Committee opposes a sale, then the president, in this case Barack Obama, is the only one who can step in to block it, according to Treasury Department guidelines.

Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, led by ranking member Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, warned against the sale in an October 2010 letter to then-Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, arguing:

The transaction could give Moscow control of up to 20 percent of the U.S. national uranium extraction capability and a controlling interest in one of the country’s largest uranium mining sites. … Russia’s record of transferring dangerous materials and technologies to rogue regimes, such as those in Iran and Syria, is very troubling.

The Uranium One logo.

2. What’s All This About Racketeering?

Most recently, The Hill news organization reported the foreign investment panel of Obama administration officials charged with approving the Russia-backed purchase of U.S. uranium resources was not made aware of an in-depth FBI criminal investigation related to Uranium One.

“I would hope the board and decisionmakers are as aware as possible of all factors, so they would know what they are voting on,” Ron Hosko, a former assistant director at the FBI, told The Daily Signal this week in a phone interview.

The FBI investigation appeared to be quite broad, The Hill reported that it found “substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion, and money laundering designed to grow [Russian President] Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States.”

The FBI probe began in 2004 when Robert Mueller, now the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, was director of the bureau. The probe ended in three convictions of individuals for money laundering and violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a federal law.

Rod Rosenstein, then U.S. attorney for Maryland and now the Trump administration’s deputy attorney general at the Justice Department, supervised the FBI investigation.

After Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself early this year from probes of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, Rosenstein—No. 2 to Sessions at Justice—appointed Mueller as special counsel.

“There was a criminal investigation related to Uranium One already and it seems because of political considerations, it was kept from the American people,” Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, a conservative government watchdog, told The Daily Signal.

“Uranium One is just the tip of the iceberg regarding foreign money when Hillary Clinton was the secretary of state,” Fitton said in a phone interview. “With the information about the [Clinton] foundation and the State Department, there is easily enough to form the basis for a criminal investigation.”

Published reports have focused on numerous cases in which countries that gave money to the Clinton Foundation also had business before the State Department.

In August 2015, the Justice Department announced the guilty plea of Russian official Vadim Mikerin, a resident of Chevy Chase, Maryland, for his role in arranging more than $2 million in payments to corruptly influence the awarding of private contracts with Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy corporation.

Mikerin was head of Tenam Corp., a U.S.-based subsidiary of Moscow-based Tenax, the supplier and exporter for Russian uranium to nuclear power companies. Tenax was aligned with Rosatom, the Russian energy company, at the time Rosatom acquired Uranium One.

Daren Condrey of Glenwood, Maryland, also pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and conspiring to commit wire fraud. Boris Rubizhevsky of Closter, New Jersey, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering.

The Justice Department press release explained:

According to court documents, between 2004 and October 2014, Mikerin conspired with Condrey, Rubizhevsky and others to transmit funds from Maryland and elsewhere in the United States to offshore shell company bank accounts located in Cyprus, Latvia and Switzerland. Mikerin admitted the funds were transmitted with the intent to promote a corrupt payment scheme that violated the FCPA [Foreign Corrupt Practices Act]. Specifically, he admitted that the corrupt payments were made by conspirators to influence Mikerin and to secure improper business advantages for U.S. companies that did business with TENEX. …

According to court documents, over the course of the scheme, Mikerin conspired with Condrey, Rubizhevsky and others to transfer approximately $2,126,622 from the United States to offshore shell company bank accounts.

Hosko, the former FBI official, said he doesn’t believe the bureau’s past investigation would pose a conflict for Rosenstein, Sessions’ No. 2 at the Justice Department.

Hosko also said he doesn’t think the racketeering case should bear on Mueller’s current investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and suspected collusion between Russians and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, since an FBI director likely wouldn’t be aware of every investigation.

3. How Is the Clinton Foundation Involved?

Conservative author Peter Schweizer’s 2016 book “Clinton Cash,” as well as The New York Times, reported in April 2015 that the Clinton Foundation got millions from investors in Uranium One both before and after the government approved the deal, and the foundation didn’t disclose those donations.

The Clinton Foundation is a 20-year-old nonprofit charitable organization run by the former president along with his wife, Hillary, and their daughter, Chelsea.

After initially making denials, several days after the Times story appeared the Clinton Foundation issued a statement acknowledging that it had made a mistake:

Like every contributor to the Foundation, the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (Canada) is publicly listed as a donor on our website. But as it is a distinct Canadian organization, separate from the Clinton Foundation, its individual donors are not listed on the site. … So yes, we made mistakes, as many organizations of our size do, but we are acting quickly to remedy them, and have taken steps to ensure they don’t happen in the future.

As widely reported, Bill Clinton spoke at a Moscow conference organized by the Russia-based Renaissance Capital Group, collecting $500,000 for the appearance.

Clinton made the speech shortly after the Rosatom-Uranium One merger was announced in June, but before U.S. government officials approved it in October. Renaissance Capital Group reportedly had “talked up Uranium One’s stock.”

4. What’s the Case for a Special Counsel Probe?

Sessions told the House Judiciary Committee during testimony Tuesday that the Justice Department is reviewing requests from Congress to name a special counsel to investigate Uranium One and other legal questions surrounding Hillary Clinton.

However, the attorney general insisted a legal process exists to determine whether an independent investigator is needed.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., for one, is losing patience.

“I have been calling for three and a half months for an investigation on Uranium One and the Obama-Clinton era scandals, and have now reached the point that I am done with the DOJ’s smoke and mirrors,” Gaetz said in a written statement Thursday. “The time has come for Jeff Sessions to name a special counsel and get answers for the American people, or step down from his position as the attorney general.”

Conservative groups also strongly advocate an independent investigation, regarding not only Hillary Clinton but other Obama administration officials.

“The Obama administration cover-ups need to be investigated and exposed. This one is a no-brainer,” Jenny Beth Martin, chairwoman of the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund, told The Daily Signal in an email. “In a nutshell, the American people need to know whether or not Robert Mueller—then the FBI director—and Rod Rosenstein—then a U.S. attorney—told the committee of senior Obama administration officials about the FBI’s yearslong investigation into Uranium One that included allegations of kickbacks, bribery, and money laundering.”

Martin continued:

Those officials, who eventually decided to approve the sale of 20 percent of America’s uranium reserves to the Russians, needed that information before voting to approve the deal. Those officials included Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Eric Holder. If they weren’t told about the [FBI] investigation, why not? If they were told, why did they approve a deal they should’ve certainly nixed? Either way, some big names are in hot water and either way, President Obama had to know.

It would benefit the public to have a fact-finding process, Hosko said, although the former assistant FBI director added that he agrees with the caution expressed by Sessions.

Hosko said the first step is establishing that a crime might have been committed.

“Second, if there is a crime to investigate, has the statute of limitations run out?” Hosko continued. “Third, is there some reason the Department of Justice or the FBI is disabled from conducting the investigation?”

5. Does a National Security Threat Exist?

Uranium, as a nuclear fuel, could be weaponized. However, under the rules of the deal, the Uranium One merger with the Kremlin-backed company Rosatom may not pose a national security threat, based on what the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has stated.

At the time, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said of two Uranium One facilities in Wyoming that “no uranium produced at either facility may be exported.”

In June 2015, the nuclear commission determined that Uranium One could export uranium from the Wyoming sites to Canada. The agency explained that Canada, where the mining company is headquartered, must obtain U.S. government approval to ship U.S. uranium to any country other than the United States.

The commission also said that “no Uranium One Inc.-produced uranium has been shipped directly to Russia and the U.S. government has not authorized any country to re-transfer U.S. uranium to Russia.”

The United States is home to 1 percent of the world’s uranium reserves, while Russia has 9 percent, according to the World Nuclear Association.

Uranium is significant because the metal is the primary fuel for nuclear energy power plants and is used in some regions of the world to produce electricity. Canada has the highest grade uranium in the world, while Australia has the greatest quantity.

6. What About the Congressional Probes?

In late October, the two House committees announced plans to investigate.

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said the inquiry would focus on:

… regulatory approvals related to the U.S. uranium industry, foreign donations seeking to curry favor and influence with U.S. officials, whether a federal nuclear bribery probe developed evidence of wrongdoing connected to the Uranium One mining company, and Department of Justice criminal and counterintelligence investigations into bribery, extortion, and other related matters connected to Russian acquisition of U.S. uranium.

The two committees sent letters Tuesday to the FBI, the Treasury Department, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the State Department.

The House intelligence committee’s investigation is led by Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., chairman of the emerging threats subcommittee, and the oversight panel’s inquiry is led by Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., chairman of the national security subcommittee.

The post 6 Key Elements in Understanding the Tangled Uranium One Scandal appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/16/6-key-elements-to-understanding-the-tangled-uranium-one-scandal/feed/ 0
Broadcaster Accuses Sen. Al Franken of Molesting Her During USO Tour http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/16/woman-accuses-sen-al-franken-of-molesting-her-during-uso-tour/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/16/woman-accuses-sen-al-franken-of-molesting-her-during-uso-tour/#respond Thu, 16 Nov 2017 16:34:28 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=370194 News anchor Leeann Tweeden accused Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., Thursday of sexually harassing her multiple times during a United Service Organizations entertainment tour in the... Read More

The post Broadcaster Accuses Sen. Al Franken of Molesting Her During USO Tour appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
News anchor Leeann Tweeden accused Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., Thursday of sexually harassing her multiple times during a United Service Organizations entertainment tour in the Middle East in 2006.

Franken, a writer for “Saturday Night Live” before he became a senator, wrote a script that featured him kissing Tweeden, and harassed her during rehearsals, Tweeden writes for KABC.

dcnf-logo

When Tweeden returned from the tour, she noticed a photo from the tour where Franken has his hands on her breasts and is smiling into the camera.

“You knew exactly what you were doing. You forcibly kissed me without my consent, grabbed my breasts while I was sleeping and had someone take a photo of you doing it, knowing I would see it later, and be ashamed,” Tweeden wrote.

“I’m still angry at what Al Franken did to me,” she added.

Tweeden is a model, announcer, TV personality, and the news anchor for “McIntyre in the Morning” on Los Angeles radio station KABC. As a model, she appeared in Playboy, Maxim, and FHM.

Franken volunteered to go on many USO tours to entertain troops during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and said the tour was a moving experience.

The USO tour also featured country music acts and cheerleaders of the Dallas Cowboys, and Tweeden said she only expected to emcee the event, “but Franken said he had written a part for me that he thought would be funny, and I agreed to play along.”

The skit featured Franken kissing Tweeden, which the model says she was not happy about but thought she could play off in the act.

Franken insisted that they rehearse the kiss, according to Tweeden, and when she agreed, he grabbed her and “mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth.”

“I immediately pushed him away with both of my hands against his chest and told him if he ever did that to me again I wouldn’t be so nice about it the next time,” Tweeden wrote.

After the tour ended, Tweeden was sent a CD of photographs from the tour, and saw the picture of Franken with his hands on her chest while she was sleeping.

“I felt violated all over again. Embarrassed. Belittled. Humiliated. How dare anyone grab my breasts like this and think it’s funny?” Tweeden wrote.

Tweeden said she told her husband what happened, and wanted to share her story publicly but feared for her career.

“I wanted to shout my story to the world with a megaphone to anyone who would listen, but even as angry as I was, I was worried about the potential backlash and damage going public might have on my career as a broadcaster,” Tweeden said.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities for this original content, email licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

The post Broadcaster Accuses Sen. Al Franken of Molesting Her During USO Tour appeared first on The Daily Signal.

]]>
http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/16/woman-accuses-sen-al-franken-of-molesting-her-during-uso-tour/feed/ 0