• Sen. Graham Says He's Committed to Getting Judges Confirmed

    Sen. Graham Says He’s Committed to Getting Judges Confirmed

    Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says he is committed to processing judges in the 116th Congress, as well as working to reform immigration and forcing a vote on late-term abortion.

    “So I’m committed to processing as many highly qualified conservative judges at the district circuit level as possible,” Graham said Thursday at an event at The Heritage Foundation titled “Republican Judiciary Committee Priorities for the 116th Congress.”

    “We’re off to a very good start,” the South Carolina senator added. READ MORE...

  • House GOP Demands Nancy Pelosi Hold Hearings on Green New Deal

    House GOP Demands Nancy Pelosi Hold Hearings on Green New Deal

    “As the committees to which it has been referred, we have a responsibility to fully understand how the Green New Deal will affect the cost of living and economic mobility of hardworking Americans,” 11 House GOP members wrote to Pelosi on Thursday.

    “Americans. We need to get to the facts, the American people deserve answers,” wrote lawmakers, including Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Rob Bishop of Utah, Kevin Brady of Texas, and Greg Walden of Oregon.

    Republicans also plan to hold a press conference Thursday to push their case, Axios reported. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is set to attend the press conference, signaling a coordinated effort to keep the Green New Deal at the forefront ahead of the 2020 elections. READ MORE...

  • Class Warfare Only Benefits Elites, Politicians

    Class Warfare Only Benefits Elites, Politicians

    Some Americans have much higher income and wealth than others.

    Former President Barack Obama explained, “I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.”

    An adviser to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., who has a Twitter account called “Every Billionaire Is A Policy Failure,” tweeted, “My goal for this year is to get a moderator to ask ‘Is it morally appropriate for anyone to be a billionaire?’”

    Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., in calling for a wealth tax, complained, “The rich and powerful are taking so much for themselves and leaving so little for everyone else.” READ MORE...

  • Study Shows School Choice Program Reduces Young Adult Crime

    Study Shows School Choice Program Reduces Young Adult Crime

    A first-of-its-kind paper on private school vouchers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, looks beyond student test scores and focuses on the impact the school choice vehicle has on crime reduction.

    “We took a representative sample of participants in the [Milwaukee Parental Choice Program] and carefully matched them to similar Milwaukee public school students and then tracked their outcomes over time,” Patrick Wolf, professor at the University of Arkansas’ Department of Education Reform, told The Daily Signal in an interview about the new paper.

    “Initially, those outcomes focused on test scores,” Wolf said, “but test scores are not everything that we want from a child.”

    Wolf and Corey DeAngelis, an education policy analyst with Cato Institute, evaluated the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, first launched in 1990. It is commonly referred to as the nation’s first modern school choice program, providing vouchers to Milwaukee’s low-income students for use in private schools.

    The test score analysis, which began in 2007 and ended in 2012, found the program had positive effects on students’ reading scores, but little impact on math. However, in the the latest analysis titled “Private School Choice and Character: More Evidence from Milwaukee,” the evidence is clear: School choice alleviates young adult crime.  

    In this paper, Wolf and DeAngelis evaluated non-test score impacts of school choice such as student character.

    “It was mainly driven by our appreciation that test scores aren’t the only things that matter in the formation of young people,” Wolf said. “We expect [schools] to shape all young citizens. Avoiding arrest and conviction for crimes—that’s really an important measure of how successful schools have been in preparing responsible young citizens.”

    According to the paper, students who took advantage of the school choice option committed fewer crimes than counterparts in public schools. As young adults, these students committed about 53 percent fewer drug crimes and 86 percent fewer property crimes.

    The results also show 38 percent fewer paternity suits filed once students reach their mid-20s. These suits occur when there is difficulty identifying a child’s biological father so child support can be properly paid.

    “The simple interpretation is that access to private schools of choice for students in urban environments lead to certain payoffs in terms of character development,” Wolf said. “Somehow these private schools are doing a more effective job of shaping the character and influencing the responsible decision-making of young adults.”

    Since Wisconsin is the only state in the U.S. that publishes every citizen’s record of criminal charges and convictions in a database searchable by the public, the report’s research team was able to easily cross-reference its voucher student information with the state’s criminal records database.

    In the mid-2000s, Wolf said, policymakers were conflicted about changes to be made to the voucher program, which had not been analyzed since 1995.

    “There was a group of legislators who wanted to put additional restrictions on the program, and there [was] a group of legislators who wanted to raise the cap on enrollment and expand the program,” Wolf said. “And they came to a compromise that included a call for an evaluation of the [Milwaukee Parental Choice Program].”

    When Wolf and DeAngelis pitched to the legislators their idea to study the program in 2007, supporters and skeptics agreed on a new regulation that lifted the enrollment cap so more students could be evaluated.

    So it was lawmakers’ reaching across the aisle that later would reveal the hidden gem of school choice’s benefits in preventing crime among young adults.

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  • Actor, Writer & Political Commentator: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is "Puppet Congresswoman... Controlled By Dangerous People" (Video)

    Some States Abuse This Provision to Block Critical Projects. Here’s What Congress Can Do.

    There are seemingly endless regulatory obstacles for critical infrastructure projects.

    One of these obstacles is starting to get some much-needed attention: abuse of Section 401 of the Clean Water Act.

    The Congressional Research Service has explained that Section 401 “requires that an applicant for a federal license or permit provide a certification that any discharges from the facility will comply with the act, including state-established water quality standard requirements.”

    This provision is a good example of the cooperative federalism that characterizes the Clean Water Act. Under this federal statute, states can use the Section 401 certification process to ensure that state water quality will not be harmed through federally permitted activities.

    But some states may be abusing this important power.

    Last year, during a hearing that addressed Section 401 abuse and considered a potential legislative remedy, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., pointed out that some states have abused the Section 401 certification process:

    Recently, a few states have hijacked the water quality certification process in order to delay important projects. The state of Washington has abused their authority to block the export of coal mined in Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, and Montana. The state of Washington has refused to grant a water quality certification for the Millennium Bulk Terminal project.

    That Millennium Bulk Terminal project is a proposed large coal export facility along the Columbia River that would help export coal to Asia.

    The state of Washington’s decision to block the project might have significant economic implications and may even harm foreign commerce. But this, by itself, is not evidence of Section 401 abuse. After all, states are afforded significant power under Section 401.

    Here’s the abuse: In order to deny the Section 401 certification, the state of Washington heavily relied upon factors that have nothing to do with water, such as vehicle traffic, train noise, and rail safety. This section of the Clean Water Act does not give states a green light to veto projects for whatever reasons they desire.

    The Water Quality Certification Improvement Act of 2018, sponsored by Barrasso, would have clarified that Section 401 reviews are limited to water quality issues.

    Some organizations, such as the Western Governors’ Association, have expressed concerns about altering the Section 401 process in a manner that would limits the states’ ability to manage their water resources. Those concerns are understandable.

    Any legislation to address this specific abuse should be drafted narrowly so that it only prohibits the consideration of non-water factors under Section 401, and in no way affects existing authority to directly address water concerns.

    The Water Quality Certification Improvement Act of 2018, as Barrasso pointed out, would also have clarified that “states, when evaluating water quality, can only consider discharges from the federally permitted or licensed activity itself—not from other unrelated sources.”

    In addition to this important clarification, any legislation should also address a closely related Section 401 abuse in which states are not merely considering unrelated discharges, but also expecting a federal permit applicant to take action to address pollution arising from unrelated discharges.

    For example, in Maryland, Exelon is seeking to renew its Federal Energy Regulatory Commission license for its hydroelectric power plant. As a condition of securing a 401 certification, Maryland is allegedly requiring Exelon to remove water pollution that is not coming from the project, but instead coming from other sources.

    The Section 401 certification process is not supposed to be a scheme for states to compel permit applicants to fix the state’s water problems.

    There are likely many other Section 401 abuses that Congress should address, including unnecessary delays imposed by states. But at a minimum, Congress should make these commonsense clarifications to existing law.

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  • Sanders Says ‘Thousands’ to Die as Budget Chief Predicts Medicare Boost

    Sanders Says ‘Thousands’ to Die as Budget Chief Predicts Medicare Boost

    President Donald Trump’s budget proposal would extend the life of Medicare by eight years, the administration’s budget chief told a Senate committee Wednesday.

    But Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., had a sharp question during the Senate Budget Committee hearing.

    “How many thousands do you think will die because of massive cuts to Medicare and Medicaid?” Sanders asked Russ Vought, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget.

    Several Democrats on the panel also accused the Trump administration of wanting to cut Medicare.

    That’s not the case, Vought said.

    “Our Medicare reforms that provide savings to lower pricing costs–and attempts to make other program integrity reforms– they push out the expiration date of the Medicare trust fund by eight years,” he told the Senate committee.

    Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., sounded impressed by Vought’s description of an extended life for Medicare.

    Perdue had decried federal spending  that led to $22 trillion in debt and left the Medicare trust fund at zero in eight years and the Social Security trust fund projected to reach zero in 12 years.

    The Social Security and Medicare Trustees’ report last year projected that the Medicare trust fund would be depleted by 2026 if Congress did not reform the entitlement program.

    The Trump budget proposal, released Monday, would limit what Medicare recipients have to pay for prescription drugs.

    Currently, Medicare has a 5 percent co-pay for high-priced medicines that may cost as much as $1,000 per pill.

    Sanders, the committee’s ranking member, took another take on the budget–and stuck with a rhetorical question.

    “You obviously studied how many people would die as a result of a lack of access to health care,” Sanders said. “What kind of conclusion did you reach? How many thousands do you think will die because of massive cuts to Medicare and Medicaid?”

    Vought replied that the budget outline doesn’t propose any cuts to Medicare.

    “Senator, those numbers you cited are not accurate. We do not cut Medicare or Medicaid,” Vought said.

    As he explained some of the reforms, he told Sanders: “There is no cut at all, because Medicare is going up each and every year.”

    Trump’s $4.7 trillion budget proposal for fiscal year 2020, which projects a $1.1 trillion deficit, also asks Congress to cut discretionary spending. Lawmakers haven’t done that in recent years, even when Republicans controlled both the House and the Senate.

    The proposal would cut nondefense discretionary spending by 5 percent across the board, for a total of $2.7 trillion in savings for taxpayers over 10 years.

    The OMB projects a balanced budget by 2034. Deficit spending, now 5 percent of gross domestic product, would fall to 1 percent by 2029, according to the projections.  

    Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., complained to Vought: “When I look at your budget, it offers up an almost inexhaustible supply of bad ideas for working families, for seniors, for the vulnerable.”

    Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., showed visible frustration in describing her view of the budget proposal.

    “We have this outrageous budget in front of us,” Stabenow said. “The administration may claim to care about women and children. There is no way that’s true, obviously. … I don’t even know where to begin with all this. I would suggest that we just throw it out the window.”

    After those remarks, Perdue asked his colleagues to be serious about the nation’s fiscal problems.

    “Let’s just talk about the reality here, instead of the emotion,” Perdue said. “In 2000, this government had $6 trillion of debt. At the end of President [George W.] Bush’s eight years, we had $10 trillion in debt.”

    The Georgia Republican also called out the Obama administration that followed for eight years, though not by name, saying:

    [After] 2016, we know what doesn’t work, because we had eight years of the lowest economic output in U.S. history.  We added more debt as a government than all prior presidents before. We doubled the debt in eight years. Now, we want to hide behind that the tax bill that made our corporations more competitive with the rest of the world, created 5 million jobs over the last two years.

    Vought said interest payments on the debt are projected to exceed military spending by 2024.

    He also noted that federal tax cuts have not been the cause of the government’s fiscal crisis.

    “Contrary to fearful predictions before passage of historic tax reform, revenues are increasing and are in line with 50-year historic averages,” Vought said. “The problem is not that Americans are taxed too little, it is that Washington spends too much.”

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  • AFL-CIO Tears Apart Green New Deal

    AFL-CIO Tears Apart Green New Deal

    The largest organization of labor unions in the U.S. slammed the Green New Deal for combating climate change by threatening the livelihoods of millions of Americans.

    The AFL-CIO sent a letter on Friday to Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey, the two lawmakers leading the Green New Deal push in Congress. The labor group demanded a larger role in crafting future solutions, slamming the current proposal as “not achievable or realistic.”

    “We welcome the call for labor rights and dialogue with labor, but the Green New Deal resolution is far too short on specific solutions that speak to the jobs of our members and the critical sections of our economy,” the letter, signed by 10 national labor unions on the AFL-CIO’s energy committee, says.

    “We will not accept proposals that could cause immediate harm to millions of our members and their families,” the letter says. “We will not stand by and allow threats to our members’ jobs and their families’ standard of living go unanswered.”

    The Green New Deal calls for an end to fossil fuel use and heavy investment in renewable energy technology such as wind and solar. Meeting the resolution’s goals would require a massive restructuring of the American economy.

    Electricity production from fossil fuels makes up about 64 percent of the United States’ total energy demand. Nuclear energy, a clean energy left out of the Green New Deal, makes up about 19 percent of the U.S. energy mix. Wind and solar energy make up just over 8 percent, according to 2018 data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

    “We should not be haunted by the specter of being automated out of work,” Ocasio-Cortez told a crowd at the South by Southwest festival Saturday in response to a question about the threat of automation to jobs, according to The Verge.

    “We should be excited by that. But the reason we’re not excited by it is because we live in a society where if you don’t have a job, you are left to die. And that is, at its core, our problem,” Ocasio-Cortez said, pushing for further automation to free up time for people to be creative and “[enjoy] the world that we live in” instead.

    Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience.

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  • Trump Budget Seeks More Border Wall Funding, Work Rules for Welfare

    Trump Budget Seeks More Border Wall Funding, Work Rules for Welfare

    President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2020 budget proposal would eliminate the federal deficit in 15 years, add new work requirements for welfare recipients, and fund additional construction of a border wall.

    The reaction to the spending blueprint by Democrats was predictably negative.

    The $4.7 trillion proposal, which projects a $1.1 trillion deficit, also asks Congress to cut discretionary spending, something it hasn’t done in recent years, even when under Republican control.

    “You mention mandatory spending. It is a driver. We have more reforms than any other president’s budget in history, but, look, what has happened for far too long is that Congress has blamed mandatory spending and then increased discretionary spending, which they have a vote on every single year by large degrees,” Office of Management and Budget acting Director Russ Vought told The Daily Signal on Monday.  

    The fiscal 2020 spending blueprint cuts non-defense discretionary spending by 5 percent across the board, for a total of $2.7 trillion in savings for taxpayers over 10 years.

    The OMB projects a balanced budget by 2034. Deficit spending, now 5 percent of the gross domestic product, would fall to 1 percent by 2029, according to the projections.

    “They continue to let a paradigm exist in this country that says for every dollar in defense spending, we’re going to increase nondefense spending by a dollar,” Vought said at a press briefing. “We think we need to break that paradigm. We don’t think that paradigm allows us to get our fiscal house in order.”

    Presidents are constitutionally required to present a budget proposal, but such proposals are never enacted as delivered. The document stands as an outline of administration priorities and represents what each department is requesting from Congress.

    The budget requests seek $8.6 billion for an additional 722 miles of border wall construction, with $5 billion for the Department of Homeland Security and $3.6 billion for the Defense Department construction budget to go toward the wall.

    The budget proposes $478 million to hire and support 1,750 additional law enforcement officers and agents for Customs and Border Protection and for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

    The budget also would implement a requirement of at least 20 hours a week for work or job training for certain welfare benefits, such as food stamps. Work requirements for recipients in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program was core to the welfare-reform legislation passed by a Republican Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, in 1996.

    “In terms of work requirements, it’s something that has been viewed as a success since the 1990s. We expand on it,” Vought said. “It is something we have long viewed as important with the same principles of reducing dependency that we saw in TANF and apply them to housing and to food stamps and to Medicaid. … There will be many workforce-development programs that will be funded as part of this budget.”

    The Trump budget proposes spending $750 billion for the Defense Department. Of that, $718 billion is for the National Defense Strategy’s efforts to rebuilding readiness and for improving performance and affordability through reform. It also focuses on strategic competition with China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran.

    It includes $4.8 billion in the Department of Health and Human Services for prevention and treatment programs for opioid abuse.

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement Monday the administration’s proposal benefits the “wealthiest 1 percent.”

    “After adding $2 trillion to the deficit with the GOP tax scam for the rich, President Trump wants to ransack as much as $2 trillion from Medicare and Medicaid,” she said. “While demanding billions more for his wasteful, ineffective wall, President Trump will steal from students and hungry families, from rural communities and American farmers, from clean air and clean water, and from vital, job-creating investments nationwide.”

    The proposal would also limit what Medicare recipients have to pay for prescription drugs. Currently, Medicare has a 5 percent co-pay for high-priced medicines that could cost as much as $1,000 per pill. The dollar amount wasn’t specified.

    Vought responded to one question about whether that constituted “cutting Medicare.”

    “He’s not cutting Medicare in this budget,” Vought explained. “What we are doing is putting forward reforms that lower drug prices. Because Medicare pays such a very large share of drug prices in this country, this has the impact of finding savings.

    “We’re also finding waste, fraud, and abuse. But Medicare spending will go up every single year by healthy margins, and there are no structural changes,” he said.

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  • Half of Young Americans Want to Live in a Socialist Country

    Half of Young Americans Want to Live in a Socialist Country

    Half of young Americans would rather live in a socialist country, according to a new poll.

    The Harris Poll found that 49.6 percent of millennials prefer living in a socialist country.

    Pew Research Center defines millennials as those born between 1981 and 1996, ages 23 to 38 in 2019, and Gen Z, those born between 1997 and 2012.  

    Mike Gonzalez, a senior fellow at The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Foreign Policy, told The Daily Signal in an email that the trend toward socialism is due to politically biased education.

    “For several decades now we have forced-fed American students a love of government interventionism and a disdain for our founding virtues,” Gonzalez said. “Our education schools, where our teachers are trained, are especially ideological. Is it any wonder that our youngest generations have no idea about the threats of socialism, how it has failed everywhere it has been tried? They haven’t been taught that.”

    The poll, which was released exclusively to Axios, also found that 73.2 percent of young Americans think the government should provide universal health care, and two-thirds think the government should pay for college tuition.

    However, the poll found as well that 78.9 percent of millenials and Gen X think the government should allow private insurance.

    Medicare for All, a health care plan pushed by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., that would likely eliminate private health insurance, comes with a price tag estimated at $32.6 trillion over 10 years, according to the Mercatus Center.

    The poll also found that 43.1 percent of millennials and Gen Z support abolishing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

    “The word ‘socialism’ does not carry the same stigma it did in the past, now that it has been resurrected by celebrity politicians like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,” wrote Axios’ Stef W. Kight. “Young people’s political views often change as they grow older, but their support for socialistic policies is a sign that the old rules of politics are changing fast.”

    Ocasio-Cortez, the freshman lawmaker from New York, is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America.

    She discussed her peers’ view of socialism during an interview with Business Insider in December.

    “So when millennials talk about concepts like democratic socialism, we’re not talking about these kinds of ‘Red Scare’ boogeyman,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “We’re talking about countries and systems that already exist that have already been proven to be successful in the modern world.”

    The poll also found that 67.1 percent of millenials and Gen Z think that high earnings are a result of free enterprise, versus 71.2 percent of the total participants.

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  • Peace Cross Ruling Could Be a Decisive Moment for Religious Toleration

    Peace Cross Ruling Could Be a Decisive Moment for Religious Toleration

    The Supreme Court is currently deliberating over what is arguably the biggest case of the term.

    The court heard oral argument on Feb. 27 in The American Legion v. American Humanist Association, a dispute over the constitutionality of a World War I veterans’ memorial. The pending outcome could make it one of the most important First Amendment cases in a generation.

    The legal dispute involves the Bladensburg World War I Veterans Memorial, also known as the Peace Cross. In 1925, Gold Star Mothers and The American Legion erected the memorial to honor the 49 men from Prince George’s County, Maryland, who fought and died in World War I.

    Sadly, nearly a century after its construction, an activist organization filed a lawsuit to have the memorial torn down because it happens to be in the shape of a cross.

    Although a trial court judge upheld the memorial’s constitutionality, a federal appeals court ruled that it is unconstitutional because, according to the court, it “has the primary effect of endorsing religion and excessively entangles the government in religion.”

    Those words come from the infamous “Lemon test,” named for the 1971 Supreme Court case of Lemon v. Kurtzman. Since 1971, Lemon has been the test used to determine whether the government has violated the First Amendment’s establishment clause, which forbids Congress from making any law “respecting the establishment of religion.”

    The test says that a policy or statute is unconstitutional if a “reasonable observer” perceives it as a government endorsement of religion.

    The Lemon test has led to some absurd outcomes in the real world. It has been used to strike down numerous displays, from nativity scenes to veterans’ memorials to Ten Commandments monuments. Surely those who drafted the First Amendment did not envision a nation purged of all such passive displays.

    The late Justice Antonin Scalia famously referred to it as a “ghoul in a late-night horror movie.” Justice Clarence Thomas also appears to be no fan of Lemon, complaining that the Supreme Court’s “jurisprudence has confounded the lower courts and rendered the constitutionality of displays of religious imagery on government property anyone’s guess.”

    Although predicting the outcome of a case based purely on oral argument is daunting, if the oral argument is any indication, Scalia and Thomas may have larger company.

    During the argument, Justice Neil Gorsuch, referring to Lemon as a “dog’s breakfast,” pondered whether the time has come to “thank Lemon for its service and send it on its way.” The court’s newest member, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, added that “the lower courts need some clarity” about whether Lemon has expired.

    Lemon’s real damage has been the bitter seeds of religious hostility it has sown into American life. As a constitutional attorney, I’ve lost count of how many government officials have responded in doubt and fear to a complaint about some kind of passive religious display, ultimately capitulating under the threat of a lawsuit.

    Notably, Gorsuch pointed out that such lawsuits are an oddity in the first place.

    Any first-year law student can tell you that one of the necessary elements to a lawsuit is standing. During oral argument, Gorsuch identified that in arguably no other area of law is a citizen permitted to bring a lawsuit against the government simply because he or she sees something they find offensive.

    This “offended observer” doctrine is a byproduct of Lemon. But Lemon has another, even more sinister byproduct.

    When government officials become wary of any potentially offended observers in their midst, their default response to any passive display that even remotely touches on religion becomes “remove it” or “tear it down.” Those hostile to religious freedom have seized upon this phenomenon and use it in their crusade to cleanse the public square of any religious symbols.

    The time has come, indeed, to thank Lemon for its service and send it on its way. Our judges deserve better, our government officials deserve better, and we deserve better.

    The Supreme Court is the last hope for preserving the Bladensburg World War I Memorial. It may also be the last hope for returning the First Amendment to its original intent and meaning.

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