About Me

In writing the "About Me" portion of this blog I thought about the purpose of the blog - namely, preventing the growth of Socialism & stopping the Death Of Democracy in the American Republic & returning her to the "liberty to abundance" stage of our history. One word descriptions of people's philosophies or purposes are quite often inadequate. I feel that I am "liberal" meaning that I am broad minded, independent, generous, hospitable, & magnanimous. Under these terms "liberal" is a perfectly good word that has been corrupted over the years to mean the person is a left-winger or as Mark Levin more accurately wrote in his book "Liberty & Tyranny" a "statist" - someone looking for government or state control of society. I am certainly not that & have dedicated the blog to fighting this. I believe that I find what I am when I consider whether or not I am a "conservative" & specifically when I ask what is it that I am trying to conserve? It is the libertarian principles that America was founded upon & originally followed. That is the Return To Excellence that this blog is named for & is all about.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

New ACTA Website Shows How Colleges Spend Money

  click on image to enlarge
 
Long time readers of this blog know that from time to time I present information regarding the academic excellence work being done by the American Council of Trustees & Alumni (ACTA) – mostly ACTA's critique rating & grading of over 1,100 American colleges & universities – see WhatWillTheyLearn.  ACTA not only reports the evaluation results of the schools but works with the schools to improve their grades.  The best example is the University of Georgia that improved from an "F" to an "A" & a charter member of this readership has a daughter who is new University of Georgia graduate with countless job offers & unlimited potential – the sky is the limit for this girl.
 
On January 30, @ the National Press Club, ACTA publicly launched their new website entitled HowCollegesSpendMoney.  Just like the aforementioned website that evaluates the schools' academics this website puts college spending of almost 1,500 schools under close scrutiny.
 
ACTA reports that two thirds of college students graduate with an average of over $28,000 in student debt & that the price of tuition continues to rise even faster than healthcare costs.  See graphic below.
 
click on graphic to enlarge
 
The following graphic shows the inevitable result of such tuition escalation - the default levels of the last two quarters have each exceeded $100 billion.
 
click on graphic to enlarge
 
The new ACTA website shows how colleges spend their money so that not only parents & students know where their money goes @ all of the 1,500 universities studied but so do trustees, policymakers, & other higher education decision makers so there is a common ground of financial understanding for all concerned.
 
After bringing up the website online you can click on the tour of the website to get a capsule view of everything included.
 
For each school you will learn how much of tuition goes for instruction & how much goes for administration, the upward or downward trend in inflation-adjusted costs, tuition as a percentage of state median household income, graduations rates, & the all-important full time retention rate.
 
Who would want to owe a large student loan for a poor education with no job potential only to find out you had given your money to an institution with an exorbitant amount of overhead & administration costs meaning you had financed some bureaucrat's salary.
 
The above two ACTA websites are resources that help you narrow your selection to find a college that will provide a first rate education @ the lowest price.
 
How valuable is that? 
 

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Venezuela Inflation Quiz

 
 
click on graphic to enlarge
 
The above graphic shows that the Argentine Republic (Argentina) is on its way to being the next South American financial disaster unless its economy can be turned around quickly.
 
Inflation in Argentina has risen to a 54.7% annual rate in March from 25% @ the start of 2018 – new price controls were announced earlier this month.  Unemployment is 9.1% & 30% of the people live in poverty.
 
Argentina's problem is the result of the 12 year rule of Cristina Kirchner & her late husband, Nestor Kirchner, in which they nationalized businesses, raised taxes on Argentina's vital grain exports, financed their deficit by printing money, imposed price controls, & defaulted on the debt.
 
Argentina's president since 2015, Mauricio Macri, has not been able to turn Argentina's economy around fast enough to suit many people & Cristina Kirchner is planning a comeback with a plurality of poll respondents approving of her return – interventionist socialist policies & all.
 
Heaven help them.
 
But Venezuela, the subject of many posts, remains the far worse case of socialist failure – socialism in Venezuela is @ the final stage of poverty, tyranny, confiscation & misery as the Venezuelan government violently attacks its own citizens using armored military vehicles – & neither Bernie or AOC says a word. 
 
click on graphic to enlarge
 
The above two graphics illustrate how much Venezuela has been wrecked by corruption & socialism.  Independent economists estimate Venezuela is being devastated by an annual inflation rate of 2,000,000%.  The first graphic above shows consumer prices have risen more than 50% per month since November 2017 & consumer price inflation was 261.18% higher in January than December. 
 
The second graphic shows that the richest 10% of households now receive more than 60% of Venezuela's total income compared to about 30% in 2014.  When countries hit hard times it seems the rich always find a way to wind up on their feet & everyone else ends up worse off.
 
Of course with such hyperinflation rates the local currency, the bolivar, has increasingly become more worthless every day.  People who have stayed in Venezuela are more & more dependent on U.S. dollars being sent back to their home country by emigrants who had fled Venezuela as the U.S. dollar has become the preferred means of payment.  About one quarter of the people now use the dollar for ordinary transactions.
 
To clearly see the affects of this type of hyperinflation, like in Venezuela, please use the above information to determine the cost of an item, like one stick of chewing gum, @ the end of January that is priced @ 1,000 bolivars on January 1.
 
Please let me know how you work the problem – guesses on this one are OK if you have an idea of the answer but are not sure of the math. 
 
I will post all correct answers or alternatively will send the solution privately to anyone who requests it if no one figures it out – or guesses the right answer.
 

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Part A - 2020 Presidential Election May Turn On America’s Attraction To Democrat Socialist Government Dependent Policies

"A system of pure, unregulated laissez-faire capitalism has never existed anywhere." – Ayn Rand writing in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal
 
"Wherever the free market has been permitted to operate, wherever anything approaching equality of opportunity has existed, the ordinary man has been able to obtain levels of living never dreamed of before.  Nowhere is the gap between rich & poor wider, nowhere are the rich richer or the poor poorer, than in those societies that do not permit the free market to operate." - Professor Friedman writing in Free To Choose
 
"America has been more than fifty percent socialist for many years & we are not getting our money's worth." – Professor Friedman in 1996
 
"A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul." – British playwright George Bernard Shaw
 
 
 
 
 
Hillsdale College reports:
 
1.  Only 51% of high school students think America is the greatest country in the world (no word as to which country they think is).
 
2.  Only 11% of high school students could name the specific rights enumerated  in the First Amendment, & 87% of high school students flunked a five-question test on basic knowledge of American history (I hope they remain in high school until they don't flunk the test).
 
3.  A Harvard University poll in 2017 showed that 51% of young people said they oppose capitalism, & 44% would prefer to live in a socialist country.  (They don't have to leave America to find another country because they are winning - changing America to suit their preferences.)
 
4.  Just 19% of Americans younger than forty-five could pass the U.S. Citizenship Test (then why are the 81% citizens?).
 
For those of us still breathing the above statistics are not surprising because we know that long ago progressive statists' teaching of socialism infiltrated American education & now dominates it.  Civics, & our American history & heritage, long a staple of government school education, are no longer taught in far too many American schools.  The latest example is the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point which recently announced a cut in both faculty positions & six programs including history – source ACTA.
 
Far-left celebrities & professional athletes openly reject our nation's founding principles, deem America "racist" & "sexist" & distort our history, effectively turning our youth against their own country without ever saying what other country is better.  Second string football players dominate media coverage for years, kneeling in protest as our national anthem is played but the CBS TV cameras quickly turned off the locker room cerebration when Texas Tech coach Chris Beard knelt in prayer with his entire team after winning the semi final NCAA basketball game on April 6.
 
Self proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders received 13 million votes in the 2016 primaries & more millennial votes than Hillary & Trump combined.  Since that election nearly 200 socialists have been elected to school boards, city councils, & state legislatures all across America – & even to the U.S. Congress where socialist AOC partners with Bernie to lead their government dependent effort. 
 
Although Bernie has a pathetic record of sponsoring bills that pass into law it is more important to realize Sanders has successfully cosponsored more than 200 bills & holds or has held six committee appointments including Health, Education, Labor & Pensions where he can do damage promoting Medicare for All & free college education – two of his pet projects that have taken hold with far too many Americans.  Bernie is also the Ranking Member on the Senate Budget committee reviewing Trump's budget issued in March.
 
In short socialism has taken hold in a group of young people who have never known an economic system other than the ones presided over by GW Bush &/or BO - & those systems were not capitalistic.
 
See Parts B & C below for continuation of this post.
 

Part B - 2020 Presidential Election May Turn On America’s Attraction To Democrat Socialist Government Dependent Policies

Continuation of Part A above.
 
Check out the following graphic to see exactly how much significance Millenials & members of Generation Z believe in socialism & government control of their lives.
 
click on graphic to enlarge
 
Although the positive view of socialism among 18 to 29 year olders remained constant @ 51% between 2010 & 2018 those with a positive view of capitalism dropped from 68% to 45% during these eight years so the positive view of capitalism is now below that of socialism with the youth of America by a 45% to 51% tally.  See table from Gallup below.
 
click on table to enlarge
 
For Democrats as a whole it is 57% with a positive view of socialism & 47% with a positive view of capitalism.  See table from Gallup below.
 
click on table to enlarge
 
Now President Trump is confident of winning reelection in 2020 because of his accomplishments despite the mindless anything-but-Trump resistance of the Democrats & the universal opposition of the hostile anti-American media except for networks like One America News.
 
Trump & his supporters believe that the immediate doubling of real GDP economic growth from 1.5% in BO's final six full quarters in office to 3.0% in Trump's first six full quarters in office with its natural private sector job creation, prosperity, & wealth creation is a game winner if it is sustained.  Trump cites record, near record, & 50 year lows in black, Hispanic, & women's unemployment rates.  Add the two Supreme Court justices, moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, building a relationship with North Korea, & fighting for all he is worth against southwestern border invaders to maintain U.S. sovereignty with no help from Congress & a deliberate hindrance & desire to make control of the border impossible by the judiciary & you have more than the perception that Trump is the only one standing up for America – you have the reality that he is.
 
But does any of the above mean anything anymore?
 

Part C - 2020 Presidential Election May Turn On America’s Attraction To Democrat Socialist Government Dependent Policies

Continuation of Part A & B above.
 
Millennials & members of Generation Z are projected to make up 37.5% of the 2020 electorate.  See graphic below.
 
click on graphic to enlarge
 
The youthful voters are not focusing on Trump's above list of accomplishments & neither are the older generations to some degree.  Generation Z is interested in mass shootings, racial equality, & immigration policy & treatment of immigrants.  Millennials are interested in healthcare, global warming/climate change, & mass shootings.  Generation X & older generations are interested in healthcare, terrorism/national security, & the national debt.
 
The 19 Democrat candidates running in opposition & resistance to Trump for the presidency offer plenty for every socialist voter to like – led by the ideas of the five freshman Congresswomen shown in the photo above, & especially the ideas of AOC & her mentor Bernie Sanders.  AOC worked as an organizer in the primaries for Bernie's 2016 presidential campaign.  She previously worked for Ted Kennedy & has been called "the future of the Democratic Party."
 
AOC graduated cum laude in 2011 with a degree from Boston University majoring in economics & international relations.  Following graduation she was employed as an educational director, strategist, & organizer working for various firms & projects with college-bound high school students.  After her father died she took an additional job working as a waitress & bartender in lower Manhattan to help her mother who was fighting foreclosure of their home.  AOC is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (see graphic below that shows the growth in membership of DSA from 2016 to 2018) which has its roots in the Socialist Party Of America whose most prominent leaders are former many-times socialist presidential candidates Eugene Debs & Norman Thomas. 
 
 
But AOC discredited her fine college education & work credentials when she told Margaret Hoover on Firing Line that unemployment was low because everyone has two jobs working 60, 70, 80 hours per week, listed the three branches of government – the House, Senate, & Presidency, compared the plight of the migrant caravan mobs to Jews fleeing the Holocaust, threatened Don Jr. with a subpoena she would issue, & called four star Marine general & Gold Star father John Kelly a coward – Kelly had enlisted in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War & his son 1st Lt. Robert Kelly was killed in Afghanistan after stepping on a landmine in November 2010.
 
AOC's progressive platform which virtually all of the Democrat presidential candidates support to one degree or another, include Medicare for All, a federal jobs guarantee, a proposed Green New Deal that calls for the end of the use of fossil fuels within 12 years – by 2030, abolishing ICE, eliminating the electoral college, free public college & trade school, & a 70% marginal tax rate for incomes over $10 million.  A Sienna College Research Institute poll of AOC's constituents conducted earlier this month found 75% support Medicare for All, 76% support free college, 73% support a federal jobs guarantee program that pays a living wage, & the Green New Deal is favored 41% to 20%.
 
AOC was born in 1989 & as I have written many times about Millennials they have never really experienced the power & benefits of free enterprise capitalism – growing up under GW Bush & BO.  Click here to hear AOC define democratic socialism & explain how she came to hold these views – mostly formed because she "never experienced a time of prosperity in the United States".
 
Other Democrat ideas with near universal support of all the Democrat presidential candidates include reparations for slavery for some kind of compensation to descendants of slaves from the Atlantic slave trade hundreds of years ago, packing the Supreme Court with liberal judges, increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour while waiting for the guaranteed federal jobs program to become law, & limiting political speech – Hillsdale College reports that 37% of American college students think it is acceptable to shout down speakers & 10% support violence to keep someone from speaking.
 
In addition to AOC's 70% tax on "tippy tops" income, Democrat presidential candidates fall in line supporting Warren's wealth tax, Wyden's plan to tax capital gains as ordinary income & institute an annual unrealized capital gains tax, Sanders 77% estate tax, Castro's 90% top income tax rate, & Connecticut Congressman John Larson's uncapped 2.4 percentage point increase in payroll taxes.
 
All of the above statistics, tables, & graphics whether from Hillsdale College, the Harris Poll, Gallup, or Pew Research show the movement of Democrats toward socialism.  The following graphic provides further gender & age breakdown in this regard from WSJ/NBC News polls including percentages of Democrats that consider themselves moderates & conservatives.
 
click on graphic to enlarge
 
To a greater & greater extent from so many sources we see that the 2020 presidential election may very well not be about the normal peace & prosperity issues that have dominated previous election results that President Trump is counting on.  The country has moved or even lurched to the socialist left.  See graphic below from Pew Research Center that surveyed five generations of Republicans with each one moving further left than the one before – i.e., becoming more statist. 
 
click on graphic to enlarge
 
To answer the question I am so often asked – yes, many people living up & down your street prefer the Democrat socialist policies described in this post whether they be presented by a 29 year old freshman Congresswoman whose lack of substance is stunning or Bernie Sanders who unapologetically admitted on FNC on April 15 that he was one of the millionaires or billionaires he rails against because of his capitalistic book writing endeavors.
 
We have seen time & again that as liberal Democrats leave the oppression of statist hellholes in states where they reside & move to traditional neighborhoods in conservative states, they still prefer the dependence of government programs – but not the responsibility to pay for those programs.  Consequently they continue to vote Democrat & turn more red states blue thereby continuing the incremental transformation of America that BO started.
 
Both AOC & Bernie have very high energy work ethics & should not be easily or quickly dismissed - they really can convince people that they believe what they espouse.  They both acknowledge that America is the richest nation ever in the world.  But do they not recognize that it was capitalism that built & sustains this wealth – not socialism?
 
Do the American people not see this?
 

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Huckabee's Income Tax Day Message

Click here to hear Governor Mike Huckabee's summary presentation of the best plan I know of to replace the federal income tax.
 

Sunday, April 7, 2019

NY's Subsidies To Amazon For High Taxes & Cost Of Living Leads To Cancellation of HQ2 Project

In the Fall of 2018 Amazon completed its yearlong competitive search of more than 200 cities to find a second U.S. headquarters.  The final result was that there would be two second headquarters because Amazon could not find any one location in the U.S. with enough qualified technical talent to meet their needs – a sorry enough story in & of itself. 
 
Long Island City in Queens NY & the Crystal City neighborhood of Arlington, VA were Amazon's preferred locations with each city expected to realize an increase of 25,000 high paying jobs as the total $5 billion Amazon investment in the two locations progressed.  The plan was for Amazon to build @ least four million square feet of office space @ each location.
 
In order to secure their half of the HQ2 project NY state & NYC offered up to $3 billion combined total in pot sweetening incentives to Amazon in one form of subsidy or another.  For their part Virginia kicked in a substantial amount but quite a bit less than NY: $573 million in cash grants & infrastructure improvements.
 
NY Governor Andrew Cuomo & NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio could not have been more excited about the prospects of the Amazon HQ2 project.  But socialist Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), whose congressional district #14 includes the eastern part of the Bronx & portions of north-central Queens, but not Long Island City where the HQ2 project was to be located, considered the deal one of the biggest giveaways in state history & thought that Amazon was taking advantage of the governor's & mayor's eagerness to spend other people's money saying that the $3 billion could be put to better use for middle class people currently living in NYC rather than $150,000 per year computer scientists brought in from who knows where in the future.
 
On February 14 Amazon cancelled its plan to build HQ2 in NYC. 
 
Although AOC & her political supporters like NY State Senator & Deputy Majority Leader Mike Gianaris, an Amazon HQ2 opponent whose district includes Long Island City & who was appointed to the board that would have had to approve parts of the deal, were victorious in squelching the NYC Amazon HQ2 project the idea of adding 25,000 jobs to the area had the support of two thirds of registered voters surveyed by the Siena College Research Institute last month.  Even before the results of the Siena survey were known the Jobs Creators Network installed the following billboard in Times Square on February 20:
 
click on image to enlarge
 
I received a very discerning comment from a subscriber that pointed out that NYC has a tremendous advantage in large "people talent, services, & infrastructure" over just about every place that competed for HQ2 except DC.  If not for that advantage Amazon "would have gone to Podunk town in Rural America & forgot NYC & DC with their big city problems."
 
But Cuomo & de Blasio did not trust the intelligentsia, education, or sophistication of the legal residents of NYC enough to think Amazon would not go to Podunk without the pot sweetening incentives the state & city offered.  Both men wanted HQ2 & that is why they offered the $3 billion in incentives to attract Amazon.  In this regard socialist AOC has more faith in her fellow New Yorkers than the longtime establishment Democrats do.
 
The above point became evident when Cuomo admitted "that high costs & taxes in NY contributed to the Empire State's package (to Amazon) being more generous than Virginia's" or dare I say Podunk's.  In fact NY politicians spent $10 billion last year – more than any other state – on business incentives.
 
Governor Cuomo has been a vociferous opponent of the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act ever since it was signed into law on December 22, 2017 mostly because NY has the highest state & local tax (SALT) deduction & the new income tax law limits the federal SALT deduction to $10,000, meaning those New Yorkers who pay very high state & local taxes to NY are still paying that same amount but now are paying more federal taxes because of the limited SALT deduction.  Cuomo has blamed the SALT deduction cap for the state's revenue decline that produced NY's $2.3 billion budget shortfall & has called it the driving force for high income people leaving the state for places like Florida which, unlike NY, does not have an estate tax.  See table below for comparison of states with the highest & lowest SALT deductions.
 
click on table to enlarge
 
Cuomo says that someone in the highest income tax bracket living in NYC paid a combined federal-state-city income tax rate of 45% prior to the 2017 income tax law overhaul & that the rate increased to 50.4% in 2018 because of the changes to the SALT deduction.
 
Wealthy taxpayers in the high SALT deduction states in the above table have been using the SALT deduction for decades to lower their federal income tax bills which makes a bad, read high or expensive, state & local tax burden more tolerable.  The Tax Cuts & Jobs Act of 2017 gives taxpayers of high SALT deduction states a much better chance to do something about high taxes other than complain or deduct them on their federal income tax returns.
 
SALT deductions on federal income tax returns have been one of the largest tax breaks that Democrat controlled states like NY have benefitted from for decades.  It is not the new income tax law that is driving people out of NY but the combination of the limitation of the SALT deduction & the high taxes & cost of living in NY state & city.  It is the profligate state & local government spending that must be brought under control - not just in NY but also NJ, CT, MD, CA et al. that is subsidized by all the other states who do not have large state & local taxes.
 
The following Gallup study table shows that the state tax burden is linked to people's desire to leave their state.  This study also reveals what Cuomo & de Blasio knew about Amazon – that people would be reluctant to come to NY with its high taxes & cost of living.
 
States Whose Residents Are Least Likely, and Most Likely, to Want to Leave, 2015
 
Reference Post:  SALT Deduction Quiz
 

Thursday, March 28, 2019

North Carolina Patriots Help Influence Senator's Vote

Along with fellow Republican senators Susan Collins (ME) & Lisa Murkowski (AK) North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis was one of the first three Republican senators to say he would vote with all Democrats against President Trump's decision to declare a national emergency because Congress refused to spend $5.7 billion to construct a wall along 234 miles of our southwest border.
 
Since I expected this of Tillis, as well as Collins & Murkowski, I was very surprised when Senator Tillis's name was not on the list of the twelve Republican senators who voted to terminate Trump's Declaration of National Emergency: Alexander – TN, Blunt – MO, Collins – ME, Lee – UT, Moran – KS, Murkowski – AK, Paul – KY, Portman – OH, Romney – UT, Rubio – FL, Toomey – PA, & Wicker – MS.
 
Earlier this month I was briefed on the Tillis matter by very dear friends & charter members of RTE who had invited Carol & me to their house in NC.  Tillis is up for reelection in 2020 along with 21 other Republican incumbent senators versus 12 Democrat incumbent senators.  NC is a competitive state.
 
Below is our friend's letter to Senator Tillis on the subject.
 

Dear Senator Tillis,

 

Your recent decision to vote with Democrats and against your Party concerning the President's Emergency Funding for the border wall is truly a huge disappointment!  The situation at the border is certainly an emergency. I know this with first hand knowledge from relatives who live near the border in Texas and Arizona.

 

( Why is it that Democrats have no problem sticking together? )

 

You are an embarrassment to your state and discredit your own political party!

 

I will remember your decision at Primary time and encourage everyone I know in the Old North State to do likewise.

 

Very truly yours,

A concerned voter

 

Our NC friends also had received the following response to their above letter from Senator Tillis that they shared with us. 

 

Dear NC Resident:
Thank you for taking the time to contact me about President Trump's National Emergency Declaration. I appreciate hearing from you.
As you may know, on February 15, 2019, President Trump issued a national emergency declaration in order to provide the rest of the funds he had previously requested through Congress to secure the southern border.
Let me be clear: I strongly agree with President Trump that there is a humanitarian and drug crisis at our border. It's unfortunate that some elected officials are denying this reality, because the numbers do not lie. Every year, hundreds of undocumented immigrants die trying to cross our border, and tens of thousands of Americans die from heroin-related overdoses, the vast majority of which is smuggled from the southern border.
That is why I have repeatedly supported and voted in favor of President Trump's plans to secure our borders and reform our nation's broken immigration system. In fact, last Congress I worked directly with President Trump and my Senate colleagues to introduce legislation based on President Trump's border security plan. This bill, known as the Secure and Succeed Act, included $25 billion for border security including walls, barriers, and other infrastructure. However, this legislation did not ultimately gain the support needed from my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to become law. I wholeheartedly share President Trump's frustration that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have continually blocked the reasonable and good faith efforts to secure our borders and I stand with him in his efforts to protect the American people.
Due to Congressional obstruction, I understand why President Trump took the step of making a national emergency declaration, which would provide about $8 billion for border security infrastructure.
Please know that my concern with the emergency declaration has nothing to do with the President's goal of securing the border, but it is about maintaining Congress' power of the purse and preventing a future president from exploiting this precedent for their own agenda.
For example, in recent weeks, we have heard from two prominent elected officials who entertained the notion of removing walls and physical barriers, effectively opening up our borders. If we had a president who shared their views, they could also declare a national emergency, and use those same funds, originally appropriated by Congress for other purposes, to literally tear down border security infrastructure that already exists.
I applaud President Trump's efforts and determination to deliver on the promises he made to the American people and I will continue to work with him on ways to provide for billions of dollars in additional funding to finally secure our border and protect the American people. I know we can get it done.
Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me. Please do not hesitate to contact me again about other important issues.
Sincerely,
Thom Tillis, U.S. Senator
Now our friends were surprised to hear that Carol & I agreed with much of Tillis's above response.
The part we disagreed with is "preventing a future president from exploiting this precedent for their own agenda."  We think that any future Democrat president would declare a national emergency for any purpose whatsoever regardless of any precedent Trump's border wall funding sets.  The cat is out of the bag.
Nevertheless Tillis made a speech on the Senate floor & wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post saying "Republicans need to realize that this will lead inevitably to regret when  Democrats once again controls the White House, cites the precedent set by Trump, & declares his or her own national emergency to advance a policy that couldn't gain congressional approval."  So Tillis really believes this.
But on March 15, one day after the Senate voted 59 to 41 to support the Resolution of Disapproval on the National Emergency Declaration, our NC friends received notice from Senator Tillis that he had reversed course & voted against the disapproval resolution.  Our friends sent Carol & me the following message of explanation from Tillis.

Dear NC Resident:

Thank you for taking the time to contact me about President Trump's National Emergency Declaration.  I want to give you an update on the vote that occurred in the Senate yesterday.

I voted with President Trump and against the Resolution of Disapproval on the National Emergency Declaration.

From the beginning, I agreed with President Trump that there is a crisis at our southern border and have always supported his desire to build new infrastructure and barriers.

The concerns I raised about declaring a National Emergency to secure border wall funding were never about what President Trump is trying to accomplish but rather with setting a precedent that a future Democratic president would exploit to bypass Congress to implement policies well outside the mainstream.

Over the past several weeks, I've met with the Vice President and senior White House staff to build consensus on amending the National Emergencies Act.  I'm incredibly encouraged by the historic commitment from the President to restore proper balance between the executive and legislative branches.

While the Trump Administration is working in good-faith with Congress to amend the National Emergencies Act,  I was very disappointed that Democratic leaders have outright rejected attempts to do so, in addition to calling the dire situation at the southern border a 'manufactured crisis.'

In the coming weeks, I'll continue to work with the White House and my Republican colleagues on a long-term solution, and I hope some of my Democratic colleagues will join us.

All the best,

Thom Tillis, U.S. Senator

In his Senate floor speech given as part of the lead up to the Senate vote on the Resolution of Disapproval on the National Emergency Declaration Senator Tillis said that he had "received a lot of feedback" on his initial decision to vote with the Democrats to negate Trump's declaration.

After receiving the above unsolicited update from Senator Tillis our NC friends summed it up best when they wrote to me "Well it looks like I am on the Senator's mailing list now!  My letter must have made an impact."

I'll say it made an impact – along with all the other feedback the senator received. 

In this series of events Tillis did not write canned boiler plate letters like we have all received from politicians.  He also did not cave after listening to his constituents in a blatant attempt just to get reelected but rather offered a reasonable explanation of why he changed his vote after consulting with the Vice President to address his concerns.

The work & persistence shown by two patriots in NC are an example of what Benjamin Franklin had in mind when he responded to Elizabeth Powell's question @ the end of the Constitutional Convention about what sort of government the delegates of the Convention had created on September 17, 1787 – "A republic, madam, if you can keep it."                    

 

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Trump's National Emergency Declaration Reveals The Need For Changes In Immigration & Asylum Laws

Background:  In fiscal year (FY) 2012 there were 2 groups of 100 or more people who arrived @ America's southwest border seeking asylum.  In FY 2018 there were 12 such groups & so far in the first five months of FY 2019 there have been 70 – these groups have come to be known as caravans of migrant families (adults & children) with as many as 12,000 people mostly from the Northern Triangle countries of Central America – Guatemala, Honduras, & El Salvador.  Source Graham Ledger.
 
Migrant families no longer try to evade Border Patrol agents after illegally crossing the border but rather have learned that if they turn themselves in after placing one foot on American soil & saying the word "asylum" they will be released into the U.S. in accordance with our asylum laws as they await a hearing in federal immigration court – current hearing backlog: more than 829,000 cases meaning a ruling can take years to be made.  As many as 94.1% of the migrants pretending to seek asylum know they don't qualify for asylum & their claims will be refused – see previous posts dated February 10 & 28 for details. 
 
Arrests of Central American families illegally entering America in the first five months of FY 2019 hit a record (136,150 people) exceeding the total number for all of FY 2018 (107,212 people).  And the flow of migrant families seeking to abuse our asylum laws is growing thereby overwhelming government facilities intended to hold single adults for a few hours @ a time.  In addition, the number of unaccompanied children caught @ the border so far this FY is 26,937 compared to 17,501 for the same period in FY 2018 – talk about separation of children from families.  Overall the Border Patrol has made 268,044 arrests from October through February compared to 136,209 for the same period in FY 2018.
 
U.S. Customs & Border Protection (USCBP) reports that 66,450 aliens were arrested as they tried to illegally enter the U.S. in February – the highest February total since 2008 & the highest monthly total since 2009.  In addition there were over 10,000 people deemed inadmissible @ ports of entry thereby bringing the total arrested or deemed inadmissible to more than 76,400 people in February.  See table below. 
 
click on table to enlarge
 
USCBP further reports that there were 40,000 family units – aliens travelling with children – who were either apprehended or turned back in February, a ten fold increase from two years ago.  See graphic below.
 
click on graphic to enlarge
 
Family units & unaccompanied children make up 62% of those arrested or deemed inadmissible @ the southwest border up from 27% in February 2017.  Families with children require special time consuming medical treatment & facilities that have been overwhelmed by fraudulent asylum seekers who are trying to game our immigration & asylum laws.
 
The above statistics describe the destructive violation of our sovereignty that President Trump has recognized as a crisis for which he has declared a national emergency - a movement of an exponential rate of growth in an endless direction toward America that migrants, drug smugglers, & gangs from all over the world have picked up on.
 
***
 
On December 11, 2018 President Trump met with soon-to-be House Speaker Nancy Pelosi & Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in the Oval office to discuss government funding for the portion of the federal government not already funded in fiscal year 2019 & Trump's request for $5.7 billion to build a 234 miles long wall along the southwest border – the meeting was televised.  After no agreement was reached the government was partially shutdown @ 12:01 AM on December 22 in what was the longest government shutdown to date – 35 days.  See graphic below.
 
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The number of federal employees affected by the partial government shutdown totaled 800,000 people broken down as shown on the following graphic.
 
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After 35 days of shutdown the President & Congress agreed to reopen the government on January 25 for three weeks to see if a deal could be reached regarding funding the border wall.  After Pelosi said she would not approve more than $1 for a border wall Congress passed an 1,159 page, $328 billion spending package, including $1.4 billion to build 55 miles of barrier along the southwest border, that will keep the federal government open until October 1 – there is no reason to believe anyone read the bill that also includes $22.5 billion for other border security measures including 800 new Customs & Border Patrol officers.  The bill passed the Senate 83 to 16 & a few hours later it passed the House 300 to 128
 
Even before he signed the bill on February 15 Trump declared a national emergency under the National Emergency Act of 1976, bypassing Congress to divert money from elsewhere in the government to build the proposed border wall – this totaled $8.1 billion.  See graphic below for breakdown of these redirected funds (includes the $1.4 billion approved by Congress).
 
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On February 26 the House passed a resolution, 245 to 182 with 13 Republicans supporting the resolution, that would terminate Trump's declaration of national emergency specifically objecting to the reallocation of $3.6 billion from Department of Defense (DOD) military construction projects shown in the above graphic.
 
On March 14 the Senate voted to support the House resolution 59 to 41 with twelve Republican senators voting with the Democrats (Alexander – TN, Blunt – MO, Collins – ME, Lee – UT, Moran – KS, Murkowski – AK, Paul – KY, Portman – OH, Romney – UT, Rubio – FL, Toomey – PA, & Wicker – MS). 
 
On March 15 Trump vetoed the congressional resolution that disapproved the national emergency declaration.  The House plans to hold a vote on March 26 to try to override the veto.
 
It shows the priorities of Democrats & those Republicans in Congress who fight against Trump's authority to declare a national emergency wherever he sees it, an authority that Congress gave to the President via statute in order to avoid as many hard decisions for themselves as possible.  Congress will fight the president on declaring a national emergency on our southwest border but will not change the immigration & asylum laws that are so obviously being abused & used as weapons against America.
 
But Congress may only have the power to block the military construction portion, $3.6 billion, of Trump's plan to fund the border wall.  Without the $3.6 billion Trump would still have $4.5 billon of the original $5.7 billion sought. 
 
Trump already has the authority to move $2.5 billion seized from drug interdiction programs operated by the DOD to projects that would interrupt drug smuggling corridors.  Transferring the $2.5 billion drug interdiction money to the Army Corps of Engineers would provide the money to build barriers along the southwest border where drug smuggling occurs.
 
The $600 million from the Treasury Forfeiture Fund represents money sized in drug arrests & banks that committed sanctions violations & other crimes.  The Treasury uses this fund  for "programs & activities aimed @ disrupting criminal enterprises."  Trump can transfer this $600 million to build the border wall by declaring it is for law enforcement purposes.
 
However, all of this misses the point of how to address an emergency.  The border wall is certainly necessary & can't be built soon enough to suit me but it is not the answer to an emergency.  The solution lies in Congress changing our immigration & asylum laws or @ least the portion of our asylum laws that are being abused thereby making fools of us.
 
No other country would let such abuses continue.  In fact European Union countries have acted to cut off immigration after what became known as the European migrant crisis in 2015 whereby, for example, Germany admitted over 1.4 million migrants.  Now Italy has taken emergency steps to stem the number of seaborne migrants to just 262 the first two months of 2019 down from 5,200 during the same period last year & over 13,000 in 2017.  There were 181,436 migrants that entered Italy's shores in 2016 & only 23,370 in 2018.  See graphic below.
 
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Italy has proven that immigration control can be done but it takes a will as shown in the above graphic – but that will is not there in the U.S. 116th Congress – & really hasn't been in decades. 
 
And you can take me literally on that.  Last week I watched former five term Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo speak @ two town hall meetings broadcast on One America News Network – first in Cincinnati & second in Detroit - with a group of patriots dedicated to building as much of the border wall as possible with private money.  Many readers will remember that Congressman Tancredo's sole issue was border protection & fighting illegal immigration.  In both town hall meetings Tancredo explained that when he was in Congress he could not find one Republican let alone any Democrat who would join him in pursuing a realistic approach to border security.  In fact Tancredo said he was reprimanded on several occasions by Republican leader Tom Delay for even pursuing the issue.
 
So we are up against it as the elites of both parties shout by their actions for all of us to hear & know, but we are unable to hear refusing to listen, heed, or be persuaded, that they want illegal aliens to enter America for one reason or another.  These elites are protected by armed guards & walls so that any problems or crimes resulting from illegal aliens will not apply to them or their families – just to people like the late Kate Steinle or you & me @ random.
 
Now many of our elected representatives don't approve of the way Trump pursued the funding of the border wall – but certainly none can approve of what is actually going on @ the southwest border – click here to see 53 illegal aliens rush to America after cutting the fence in the Pacific Ocean & then only when caught claim asylum & here to see ten illegal aliens sneak across the southwest border in San Diego after smuggler uses young girls as decoys.  The people in these videos are not asylum seekers – they are fraudulent opportunists who are entering America uninvited ahead of people who have legally applied for citizenship & also ahead of people who have legally applied for refugee status or asylum.
 
You can side with the Democrats & the dozen Republicans in the Senate who voted against Trump's emergency declaration or with the Republicans who supported President Trump in looking for a way to protect America from an illegal immigration onslaught that shows no sign of abating & has been in the process of ruining America for decades.  But we should clearly recognize what is happening to our country regardless of whether or not Trump is constitutionally correct in declaring a national emergency or politically incorrect in so doing.
 
The number of illegal aliens entering America dropped in 2017 to new lows after it was perceived that Trump, in his first year in office, would clamp down on illegal immigration – similar to the results in Italy today as shown above.  It was only after the migrants learned they could reach their goal of entering America through the abuse of our asylum laws that the illegal immigration onslaught regained momentum.
 
It is clear that a few changes to the immigration & asylum laws would drastically change the destructive actions @ our southwest border thereby eliminating the emergency.  This could happen in the next five minutes if Congress wanted it to.  But since it doesn't happen we know that our elected representatives in power don't want it to. 
 
This is where you come in.