By Nancy Thorner and Jane Keill –
Could government mandated guaranteed retirement accounts (GRAs) be in Illinois’ future?
Disturbing information that could one day affect all private sector employees was discussed recently on Fox’s Neil Cavuto (w/Stewart Varney) and later in the day on Special Report with Bret Baier:
The California state legislature is pushing a new plan, called ‘Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program’, which will require private-sector employers to extract 2 percent of every employees’ paycheck and send it to the state coffers, even though the employee may choose not to participate.
The money would be put into a state fund with a guarantee – Oh, we Promise, Promise, Promise! – that all funds will be invested and you will get your money, plus gains, back at your retirement age.
California’s plan is yet another way to look for a way to open the door to grab your personal income and force you to ‘save with the state’ – whether you want to or not. Employers who do not send in this 3% requirement would be penalized $250 for each employee.
The program is supposed to supplement Social Security and provide forced retirement savings for workers who do not have access to a retirement program with their current employer, or who have chosen not to take their employers’ offered retirement program. Whether or not the individual may wish to participate, it would amount to a forced, no-choice 3% deduction out of every paycheck.
California’s proposal is the first-in-the-nation law at the state level, but of course other states have shown interest in it, as well as our politicians in Washington, DC. California’s program must have approval from the IRS and the U.S. Labor Department before it can be enacted, but quick and easy approval is expected. Once these approvals have been made, California can vote on the program, probably by next year. More here.
As far back as October of 2008, the federal government has been exploring ways to stem losses by workers and retirees who were losing money from their 401Ks and IRA accounts due to unemployment and the bad economy. At the 2008 hearing of the House Committee on Education and Labor, Teresa Ghilarducci, professor of economic policy analysis at the New School for Social Research in New York, proposed mandatory participation in a government-run savings plan to which each citizen would contribute 5 percent of his salary, to be administered by the Social Security Administration, but separate from a citizen’s social security account.
The issue came up again in October of 2010 in another hearing, this time by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Ms. Ghilarducci, again a witness, proposed the same plan she advanced at the 2008 House hearing. At that time, there was no follow through, but the concept of financial confiscation was not forgotten.
In an article published at Illinois Review by Thorner and Keill on Sunday, April 13, 2013, Sticky Fingers Eye Your IRAs, “sticky fingers” referred to a proposal, given short-shift at the time by the news media. It was on April 10 when President Obama released his FY $3.77 trillion budget proposal. Under current law, Americans who save money in tax-deferred retirement accounts are taxed on the money when they withdraw it. An additional tax penalty is imposed if withdrawal is made before retirement age.
Obama’s proposal would limit an individual’s total balance across tax-preferred accounts to an amount sufficient to finance an annuity of not more than $205,000 per year in retirement. First Obama decides you’re wealthy if you make $250,000 or more. Now, he’s telling you how much you can have to live on in your retirement. What will he do with the rest of it? Tax it, of course!
In addition, the ideas from Richard Cordray, Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for ‘helping you manage your savings’ and Jesse Jackson’s suggestion to use your savings to make loans to low-income groups, show the variety of politicians who are interested in relieving you of your hard-earned savings.
The Federal and many of the state governments are desperate for money. They’ve gotten us into a huge mess of debt and overspending and are determined to find money anywhere they can. They are drooling to confiscate, attach, grab and otherwise latch onto your personal savings and incomes. These governments also have their union buddies who are demanding payback for getting them elected. The unions want this money to back up and support their own very expensive pensions, retirements and health care plans.
We can now see there are multiple agencies who have their eyes on the estimated $20 trillion in American savings: a ‘Social Security’ type savings account, a Presidential limit on how much you deserve to have for retirement, elimination of the tax-deferred status of savings accounts, government help in managing your money, using savings accounts to make loans to low-income groups and now California’s punitive, enforced savings – like it or not. They are coming at us from many directions in an effort to find an opening to put their foot in the savings doorway.
When Senators and Representatives and states see billions and billions of dollars sitting out there in investment and savings accounts, it is not difficult to imagine what they thinking of – YOUR MONEY.
If you think this can’t happen, you haven’t been paying attention. California’s Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program proposal should serve as an eye-opener, as it represents appealing legislation that could be rammed down the throats of Illinoisans.
If you care about your money, and object to either Illinois or the federal government latching onto your personal savings and incomes, then pick up the phone and do something about it by calling both your state and federal representatives. Tell them not to monkey around with your money.
For Californians, if you allow this to happen you are total idiots!
For more insight, a must read is an article that appeared February 22, 2013 at the American Thinker by John White, The Feds Want Your Retirement Account. The first paragraph of John White’s article should be enough to convince you to check out his comments.
Quietly, behind the scenes, the groundwork is being laid for federal government confiscation of tax-deferred retirement accounts such as IRAs. Slowly, the cat is being let out of the bag.
Tuesday, July 30, 2013 at 11:48 AM | Permalink
July 30, 2013
Daily Herald: Fence Post letter, July 29, 2013:
As the Earth cools, President Obama is distracted by a fraudulent warming narrative.
The centerpiece of Obama’s climate change plan, which includes a timeline for setting new environmental regulations limiting how much carbon pollution can be emitted from both new and existent power plants, is causing great angst in coal-producing states like Illinois.
Reaction to the Obama’s call for the EPA to regulate coal plant emissions was swift from the Midwest Generation coal-fired plant located in Waukegan, recently a subject of a heated emissions debate. Midwest Generation officials claim that the Waukegan plant has been a model of transitioning its energy supply to cleaner sources in a balanced manner, without federal mandates.
Predictably, the Sierra Club with its “Beyond Coal” campaign has claimed otherwise. As of May 6, Illinois ranked as the fifth-largest coal-producing state, producing 47.2 millions tons of coal last year and exporting 13 million.
This important question must be asked of both Sens. Durbin and Kirk: Do you agree with this comment made by Daniel P. Schrag, a counselor of the White House on climate issues: “A war of coal is exactly what’s needed”?
The emission of CO2 is what the “war” is all about, with CO2 having been declared a pollutant and the cause of global warming, even though it is essential to all life on earth.
Certainly jobs would be lost, energy prices would increase, and just about everything we buy, eat, and wear would be more expensive under Obama’s climate change plan, which is yet another ploy to seize regulatory control of the production and use of energy so as to further concentrate power in Washington.
Contact Sens. Durban and Kirk and your federal and state legislators about the economic harm it would impose upon Illinoisans.
Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.
Not all was rosy in the time of “Mom and Apple Pie.” As such author David Gelernter didn’t discount some of the problems that the era faced in the years spanning the late 50’s to 1975. Racial bigotry was bad. Anti-Semitism was also prevalent and was given even greater importance by Gelernter than racial bigotry.
By 1975, however, the major goals of the cultural revolution had taken place and a new elite had taken charge in what had been a gradual step-by-step process over a period of years.
How did this happen? It came about through a two-step process:
1. There was a takeover of the elite-most influential universities (the top 50-100) from the WASPS (White, Anglo-Saxon Protestant), who initially funded the great universities, put up their building, paid their bills, supplied their art collections, and populated their student bodies, faculties and governing councils, by the PORGIs (post-religious,globalist, intellectuals). These so-called intellectual elites, unlike the WASPS, harbored a distrust of patriotism and hostility toward the family.
There were WASP defections. McGeorge Bundy, initially an academic WASP, didn’t attempt to stop the transformation from happening and even worked to topple the old WASP establishment. Coming from a true blue elite family — both Bundy and his father were Yale graduates — Bundy morphed into a leftist, Once a hawk in the Kennedy administration, Bundy eventually had a change heart when he left government service in 1966 to become head of the Ford Foundation, driving it steadily leftward.
McNamara, described as a self-hating Jewish WASP, became an influential force at a critical time in history, helping as he did to topple the old WASP establishment and set PORGIs on the throne instead. McNamara turned against his past actions, even hating himself, when he condemned his own conduct as defense secretary and apologized for being “wrong, terribly wrong” about the war in Vietnam.
2. With the takeover by the PORGIs, came the expansion of individuals going to colleges. This resulted in the disbursement of their alumni to places of influence in society. According to Gelernter there exists a huge branch of Yale alumni in Hollywood.
It was only natural that a similar transformation would take place at the public school level. Intellectualism was relegated to academic experts to do our thinking for us and to become our guiding lights. It mattered not that these academic experts lived in a world of theory with disdain for facts. Not surprising is that global warming is advanced as fact, and that America is spoken of as a nation that is almost always nasty, while others nations are equally nice.
The secret weapon presented by David Gelernter to counter America’s cultural dismantling and to get back in the driver’s seat was online or digital learning. Education must be recreated from scratch, for only in transforming education can this nation be transformed back to one which can offer a better future for those who follow. It is urgent that schools change now. The Internet was given as the way to go, a wonderful tool that must be utilized.Gelernter wondered aloud why conservatives are not making use of the Internet? All the big players in education like Harvard know where the future lies. They are using the Internet to reach pliable and receptive minds through course offerings, etc.
Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, as a Christian University, is reaching thousand of students through Liberty University Online.
Conservatives should be establishing Internet schools at every level, recognizing the Internet as the educational tool that it is. Such neutral or mildly right-leaning Internet grade schools and colleges could tug against the reactionary left of the elite universities and give conservative ideas a fighting chance.
In conclusion Psalm 127 was quoted by David Gelernter as connecting with the cultural revolution (The Psalm is about Laboring and Prospering with the Lord):
Unless the Lord builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the guards stand watch in vain. In vain
you rise early and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
for he grants sleep to those he loves.
Children are a heritage from the Lord,
offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
when they contend with their opponents in court.
As an addendum to my two-part article spotlighting David Gelernter and his book, American-Lite, it would be an omission not to mention a Digital Learning Symposium that was held in Chicago on Tuesday, June 25, especially after the strong endorsement given by Gelernter about the powerful tool of the Internet in education.
The Illinois Policy Institute, in partnership with the Union League Club of Chicago and its Public Affairs Committee, hosted the one-day conference at the Union League Club of Chicago. Explored was how students can achieve their full potential with digital learning.
The keynote speaker, Dr. Howard Fuller, Distinguished Professor of Eduction and Founder/Director of the Institute for the Transformation of Learning at Marquette University, continues to explore how digital can transform learning while empowering families to choose the best options for their children. His concern is the future of education in America and the role of digital in disrupting the traditional education model.
Surprisingly, Chicago was presented as a city that has the ingredients to become a hub for education innovation with venture capital, ed-tech startups and an education system ripe for disruption.
Although the Internet could open up new horizons for students, the learning experience is only as good as the educational material provided via the Internet.
I rather doubt that any digital learning programs developed in Chicago, where liberalism reigns, would be pleasing to David Gelernter, as his call was for conservatives to establish their own Internet learning centers to tailor the learning experience accordingly.
Sunday, July 28, 2013 at 12:47 PM | Permalink
On Wednesday, July 24, Joe Bast, president and CEO of the Heartland Institute, (heartland.org) hosted a continuing Heartland Author Series event featuring David Gelernter and his book, American-Lite: How Imperial Academia Dismantled Our Culture (and Ushered In the Obamacrats).
Gelernter was introduced as a writer, artist, and a professor of computer science at Yale, contributing editor at the Weekly Standard, regular contributor to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and a former board member of the National Endowment for the Arts.
On June 24, 1993, Gelernter was critically injured opening a mailbomb sent by the Unabomber. He recovered from his injuries, but his right hand and eye were permanently damaged. Gelernter has chronicled the ordeal in his 1997 book Drawing Life: Surviving the Unabomber.
As stated on the book jacket of American-Lite:
In discussing President Obama, Gelernter discounts Obama as the one responsible for the fix this country is in, but instead blames the people who elected him.
Despite David Gelernter’s horrific, life-maiming injuries sustained from the 1993 Ted Kaczynski (the Unabomber) attack Gelernater believes “This is a bad time for the country, but a good time to go to the root of the problem.”
According to Gelernter, political correctness has run amok. It is also a travesty that a deep intrinsic belief prevails that America is stupid and that America is a dangerous weapon. These fallacies resulted in thugs being sent out to murder the U.S. of America . They carried off a symbolic murder, and the U.S. shrugged it off. As with Hillary, she really didn’t believe one word of what she said about the Bengali attackers (terrorists). Were they really just out for a walk, Hillary?
As to Gelernter’s thoughts about the Academia who now run this nation, this collection of individuals considers it uncouth and non-productive to wax nostalgically that life used to be better, happier and nobler in the America of the 1960’s. Nor is it good to think of so-called “golden eras” of the past, such as what our forefather produced in an attempt to be as good as they were and even better.
Notwithstanding, E.B. White a great essayist and a lifelong optimist, patriot, and a liberal to boot wrote in 1975 that in less than 20 years “proud confidence was gone, crumbled like mud-bricks into fly blown clouds of dust”. . . “No one knows which way to turn and which way to go.”
Defined by David Gelernter are the cultural and social norms that prevailed in society from the end of the 50’s to 1975. By 1975 a radical transformation had been achieved:
- There was a tone of confidence, optimism, and self-respect.
- Schools taught a lot more with less cost.
- At the college level undergraduates were expected to take course in mathematics, science, literature, language and history courses.
- Universities existed to tell students what an education should consist of to be considered an educated person. Now days Ivy League schools exist to turn out people who will make lots of money and who will advance to leadership positions in government and industry.
- Christian roots were not stifled.
- Schools did not know multiculturalism, but Americanism.
- An interest in the arts increased among the broader educated middle class. It was a time when Leonard Bernstein became a popular TV figure with his lectures on music filling the homes of many Americans. Everyone knew the name of poet Robert Frost who was invited by Joh F. Kennedy to his inaugural to present a poem. Artist Jackson Pollack was likely widely known and respected.
- Courtesy and etiquette still existed. “Madam” and “sir” were used when addressing an elder or one in authority. Students wouldn’t think of addressing teachers by first names.
- Talk about sex was inappropriate and was not an appropriate topic for schools to advance. Now days anything goes!
- The phrase “Mom and Apple pie” was very much in vogue. It was a fundamental unifying idea which elevated making a home and raising children a highly honored “profession” for women.
Part 2: Will note how the takeover by the PORGI’s from the WASPs was accomplished and the secret weapon needed to get back in the driver’s seat.
Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 09:30 AM | Permalink
With little discussion and just one dissent, the District 115 School Board approved on Tuesday, July 11, for the 8th year in a row a consulting contract for the retired Lake Bluff Middle School principal (District 65), Ms. Kathy O’Hara. Ms. O’Hara’s contract is for the position of Student Service and Community Coordinator at Lake Forest High School, a position that did not exist prior to her retirement and that was seemingly created just for her by prior superintendent Dr. Harry Griffith.
The lone dissenter, Board member Ted Moorman, is new to the Board and ran on a platform of greater accountability for spending of taxpayer funds. Mr. Moorman raised the issue as to the need for O’Hara’s position, as she replaced no one when she was hired as a consultant in 2005. In the future, other Board members should follow Mr. Moorman’s lead and vote against consulting contracts such as Ms. O’Hara’s that are of marginal need and add to the already bloated administrative staff of Districts 65 and 115.
There is no question about Ms. O’Hara’s fine reputation and service to the community of Lake Bluff. A Gazebo post dated July 21 of this year noted an event at which Lake Bluff Village President Kathy O’Hara (as of May, 2013) would be one of the featured speakers — along with the Lake Forest Mayor Donald Schoenheider– on July 23rd at the annual Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce Municipal Undate: Lunch with the Mayors at the Deer Path Inn.
In the Gazebo article Miss O’Hara was described accordingly:
Nonetheless, the question remains whether the perpetuation of Ms. O’Hara’s consulting position is a prudent use of taxpayer funds, particularly in these hard economic times. Although compensation for O’Hara’s ten-month a year consulting contract at $53,000 is far less than that of other lofty administrative salaries in our school districts, it is still a very significant amount of money (top 50% of all wage earners) for a job that appears to be of marginal need and one that is duplicative of existing LFHS positions.
Ms. O’Hara and her paid part-time assistant perform a variety of service-related duties. They provide students with a list of school and community volunteer opportunities and log students’ service hours. However, these duties are duplicative of, and certainly could be absorbed by, the five LFHS student service clubs, each of which has one or more teacher advisors who are paid extra for that role.
Moreover, if we are trying to teach our children that volunteerism is laudable, then why not set an example by having the adults who are organizing/supervising volunteer activities be volunteer themselves? There is no shortage in this town of parents who are willing to volunteer their time for school-related activities.
Ms. O’Hara and her assistant also organize a once a year Service Award Banquet and a once a year career day (10% of the student population participated this past year, up 30% from the prior year). The planning of these events could be absorbed by one of the many student clubs or by parent volunteers.
Ms. O’Hara is also the advisor of the peer tutoring club and the co-advisor of three other clubs. A teacher could assume the role of advising the tutoring club and the other three clubs could function adequately with just one paid advisor. All over the country teachers and other core school employees are being laid off (e.g., as close to home as Chicago). We simply do not have the luxury of sustaining a marginal job, even if it is for a person such as Ms. O’Hara who has served the community very well for many years.
Of interest is that Ms. O’Hara is drawing a yearly pension of $123,328 from her 36-year tenure at Lake Bluff Middle School, while at the same time she is receiving compensation for her consulting position at LFHS. Ms. O’Hara is not the only consultant drawing both a salary and a pension. When our school system is looking to eliminate costs, as it should be, marginal positions held by retirees collecting a pension should be primary candidates for elimination.
Again, this author means no slight to Ms. O’Hara’s esteemed status and service to the community. The author merely advocates prudent spending of taxpayer funds.
Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 03:00 PM | Permalink
There was an element of surprise when after being introduced by Jim Lakely, Communications Director at The Heartland Institute, a boyish-looking, twenty-four-year-old described as a prolific, independent writer took over the podium. Johnson’s work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, among many others noted publications, and already Johnson has been the recipient of both the Robert L. Bartley Fellowship and Eric Breindal Award at the WSJ, the Robert Novak Award at the Philips Foundation, and the Publius Fellowship at the Claremont Institute.
As a paradox to Johnson’s present political leaning, as a twenty-four-year-old he grew up in a family that espoused the political Left. At age ten Charles’ grandmother gave him a copy of eight Calvin Coolidge’s speeches, who was rated low in the Johnson household, which jump-started Charles’ interest in Coolidge.
Relatively little is known about Calvin Coolidge in comparison with other presidents. Only 20 books have been written about Coolidge, and all were read by Johnson in writing his book. Nevertheless, Coolidge did leave behind quite a paper trail as a prolific writer.
Just why should Coolidge matter? In the study of presidents, history has not been kind to Calvin Coolidge in so far as Coolidge was a formidable figure as president who believed in limited government and constitutionalism. He was also pro-business even though he lived like a pauper in his private life.
Although often wrongly classified as a Libertarian president because of his belief in “limited” government, this was not in keeping with the Libertarian “small” government philosophy. Although Coolidge might have had certain Libertarian instincts, he believed that government was entrusted with certain powers but that did not include boundless spending and regulations. Although conceding that temporary help to the needy may have been justified, Coolidge thought large expenditures only delayed business recovery.
Johnson was quick to point out that the two things most Americans know or have heard about Coolidge are false. His image of being a “Silent Cal” and Coolidge as a mouthpiece for industry. According to Johnson, Coolidge was quite a chatty individual but adverse to glad-handling people at parties.
As for Coolidge’s closeness with industry, Coolidge embraced the free enterprise system. He thought it far better to trust the churning ingenuity of American business than any official bureau, as within man was the natural impulse of human nature to improve, produce and progress. Coolidge recognized the utter hopelessness of having any considerable business enterprise conducted by the Congress, recognizing the errors of nationalization,
A cartoonist portrayal of President Coolidge was the function of New Deal historians who wanted to down play Coolidge’s accomplishment.
Informational tidbits shared about Calvin Coolidge by Johnson include:
1) In running for office twenty times, Coolidge only lost once, and that was for school board.
2) As president, Coolidge had a closed relationship with the press. The press was required to come to his office. In reporting meetings the press had to refer to Coolidge as an administration official.
3) In his use of money, Coolidge thought the American people knew how to spend money better themselves, rather than to allow government to spend it on excess. Coolidge learned this as a youth when he went with his father, a tax collector, to collect taxes in his community.
4) Young Ronald Reagan listened to the speeches of Calvin Coolidge.
5) Regarding his relationship with unions, Coolidge thought is impossible to swear loyalty to unions and to the public at the same time.
6) Coolidge worked to bring in blacks, women and Indian Americans, even joining an Indian tribe, thinking that if he could become an American Indian, they in turn could think of themselves as Americans. All American Indians were made citizens by Coolidge in 1924.
7) As an affront to today’s society, Coolidge believed that the Bible should be taught in public schools.
8) Coolidge believed that all Americans had a common father in God the Father and that man should behave in the image of Christ.
9) Coolidge wanted to restrict immigration from other countries, his main concern being how to make those born in other countries into Americans. He thought that a too rapid increase would make assimilation difficult.
10) Coolidge accepted and applauded the Jews as having been involved from the very beginning in this nation’s founding, having cast their lot with America in the run up to the American Revolution, and not just a product of immigration in the 1900’s.
11) As a non-drinker Coolidge hung out in bars, getting the Irish-Catholics vote to back him.
12) Believing in the spiritual nature of man, Coolidge thought it good politics to speak about this connection.
13) Coolidge considered the Declaration of Independence the most spiritual document ever written, calling it “a miracle that inspired reverence,” believing also that man’s progress owed much to man’s natural rights.
14) Coolidge believed that “our nation cannot live without morality and that morality cannot live without religion.”
The most frequent put-down of Coolidge is that he was incompetent, failing as the activist many historians would have liked him to be, which made Coolidge a serious challenge to those who principles were not appreciated or understood. Classified as a fool, Coolidge wrote hundreds of speeches to prove otherwise.
As a deeply religious man, Coolidge trusted God that time would give him his proper due, believing that his role in government was to let Americans be great all on their own. His decision to cut taxes four times indicated his faith that the American people could tend to their own business and that generally lowering taxes was not only economically wise but also moral. Coolidge was the last president to pay down the national debt.
Regarding the Declaration of Independence, in a 1916 speech made in Daniel Webster’s home Coolidge declared it to be a great document ranking above mankind’s best. To Calvin Coolidge this nation was the fulfillment of God’s promise. The Declaration was a promissory note and a covenant with the American people. So long as Americans clung to its truth the system would endure, as the Declaration’s self-evident truths bound all Americans together in a common race.
Foremost in evaluating Coolidge are the lessons to be gleamed from the Coolidge administration that today’s America might be the beneficiary of. Most importantly, there was economic prosperity under Calvin Coolidge.
Coolidge inherited an America that looked much like the America of today. There were strikes by public-sector unions occupying the public square; foreign policy wandered aimlessly; there was a potential civil war on the southern border where racial and ethnic groups jostled for political influence; there was a war on illicit substances leading to urban violence; there were dramatic changes in how people were communicating and moving about; and the educated harbored increasing contempt for the philosophic underpinnings of our Republic.
It turns out that our Cal wasn’t as silent as we thought. Coolidge’s life speaks volumes about the sad state of contemporary politics, and may offer a map for the way out. Charles Johnson’s smart and entertaining book about our witty, wise, and humane 30th president is a must-read for anyone who cares about the history of the presidency, or its future.
Announced by Charles Johnson, with a most favorable response, was that he is currently involved in writing a political biography of Barack Obama from his home in California’s San Gabriel Valley. Johnson believes he is qualified to write on Obama, having met many Obama-types when attending Black River Academy, a liberal prep school. Johnson is fascinated by President Obama, perceiving him to be a fraud. Among many misconceptions related by Obama is one in which he claimed to be present when his mother died.
Johnson’s Obama biography is sure to be a hit. Stay tuned!
Sunday, July 21, 2013 at 12:07 PM | Permalink
I recently participated in an Illinois Policy Institute conference call briefing with Arthur Brooks, President of the American Enterprise Institute.
Arthur C. Brooks has been the president of AEI since 2009, a non-partisan public policy think tank in Washington, D.C. committed to expanding liberty, increasing individual opportunity, and strengthening free enterprise. He also holds the Beth and Ravenel Curry Chair in Free Enterprise. Previously he was the Louis A. Bantle Professor of Business and Government Policy at Syracuse University. He is author of 10 books and hundreds of articles on topics ranging from the economics of the arts to military operations research.
Before pursuing his work in public policy, Brooks spent 12 years as a professional French hornist with the City Orchestra of Barcelona and other ensembles.
Jonathan Greenberg prefaced Brooks’ remarks as those which would indicate where this nation was heading as a country and how Republicans can fight the competition of ideas more effectively.
Arthur Brooks began his briefing with a rather interesting and what must have been a questionable remark for some by saying that he was more optimistic than he has been in a long time about the direction of this nation.
When speaking about his meet with Republicans at their Congressional retreat in the spring, he gave Republicans credit for having good ideas, coupled with a message telling how great ideas go no where if they don’t resonate with a large segment of the American people. Brooks went on to indicate how things are pretty good for those in the top half, but not so good for those in the bottom half. Republicans are not connecting with the latter. Bottom half examples given were a 5th straight year of declining purchasing power and low high unemployment.
Obama’s claim that “Rich people have your stuff and I’m going to get it back for you,” is resonating, but this argument shouldn’t be a win for Obama.
This word of warning was then offered by Brooks: When Republicans talk about money they lose; there is zero interest among the bottom half.
All too often the Republican message implies that people who aren’t working like getting stuff for free, but statistics prove otherwise. Only 11% consider themselves as wards of the state. The majority who have these benefits would prefer earning a living, but will accept benefits if handed to them.
Republican policies, continued Brooks, would have more resonance if they connected to an individual sense of loyalty and patriotism. Republicans must likewise tout programs that advance the dignity of every person and which show compassion. An example given was this nation’s failing schools in minority neighborhoods where the opportunity exists to advance school choice with vouchers and the establishment of charter schools.
Arthur Brooks reminded listeners of the two sides of the debate (or argument) Republicans are dealing with, either of which would influence policy decisions:
- Fight against government and government regulations or
- Side with those who need help by creating opportunities for the betterment of life.
But here is this hitch: It is how to develop policy that embraces the concepts of compassion and fairness?, realizing that not all policy can be formulated along these lines.
Democrats presently excel on the issues of showing compassion to the weak and poor and on the fairness issue. For the Left is good at advancing the concept of compassion, which they have fine tuned to appeal to a group of vulnerable individuals who perceive government as a nanny state set up to care for their needs. Obama, with his Democratic policies, has enabled people to live in fear that government assistance will be taken away from them.
According to Author Brooks, Republicans have a moral obligation to fight like warriors, not as warriors for money, but as warriors to assist people who need our help. Brooks did admit that he has experienced some opposition through the advancement of his benevolent warrior concept.
As expressed by Mr. Brooks, the route toward achieving Republican policies that relate to the human condition of people can be achieved through embracing the free enterprise system in contrast to capitalism, which has gotten a bad rap through corruption and too much coziness resulting in big business cronyism.
In making his claim for the free enterprise system Brooks relied heavily on the work of psychology professor, Johathan Haidt, which shows that humans process moral judgments more quickly than rational ones.
As set forth by Brooks, the free enterprise system maps out a three-part moral case that appeals to all Americans, regardless of their economic status or ethnic background:
- Free enterprise encourages true happiness based on earned success.
- Free enterprise creates true fairness by rewarding merit.
- Only free enterprise creates true fairness by rewarding merit.
As America’s Founders knew, free enterprise underpins the moral case for human freedom. Economic freedom produces unimaginable material prosperity, but it’s also the only economic from that encourages individuals to freely pursue their destinies, develop the character of self-responsibility, and strengthen communities.
To gain more insight into the paradox of how vast majorities of Americans claim to support a free enterprise system based on limited government even though the size and scope of federal and state governments has steadily increased over the last century, read Aurthur Brooks’ first New New York Times bestseller released on May 8, 2012: The Road to Freedom: How to Win the Fight for Free Enterprise.
Brooks’ argument for how Americans can support free enterprise even though the size of government has increased over the years can be summed up in this way: It is because advocates of limited government often rely on complex, date-driven arguments while progressives wrap their argument in moral language, appealing to American hearts rather than their heads. authurbrooks.aei.org
Saturday, July 20, 2013 at 12:04 PM | Permalink
Within the next few weeks, perhaps even today, the House will vote on various bills to defund and delay Obamacare. These steps represent part of a strategy of the House aimed at achieving repeal by teeing up votes in the fall that will press the issue even further.
House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) is backing the leadership proposals of House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) to hold votes on delaying the employer and individual mandates in Obamacare. Ryan told the National Review Online that delaying the mandates will help Republicans achieve their ultimate goal of repealing the law altogether.
House action was called for when the Obama administration announced its decision to unilaterally delay the health-care law’s employer mandate until 2015, conveniently beyond the upcoming mid-term election, by canceling the employer mandate requiring employers with more than 50 employees to offer and heavily subsidize health insurance to their workers. Individual mandates, however, were left in place for the rest of us.
On the fairness issue, the government has already granted more than 1,200 waivers to labor union allies and corporate cronies excluding them from ObamaCare provisions. Big business is the winner with the most costly burden falling on young adults in their twenties and thirties. Considered to be the linchpin of Washington’s takeover of health care, if the individual mandate were to go the takeover of health care would unravel, as it is imperative that young healthy people enroll in Obamacare in order to fund it.
Sponsored by Rep. Todd Young (R-IN), H.R. 2668 calls for a one-year delay of the “individual mandate” of Obamacare. Young’s bill is scheduled to be taken up shortly by the House. As it now stands, the “individual mandate” of Obamacare, effective January 1, 2014, would require most U.S. citizens to purchase government-controlled health insurance. Recommended is that Illinoisans call their representatives asking them to vote “yes” on H.R. 2668.
Another bill under consideration in the House is one sponsored by Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) in which 100 other House members have joined forces with a bill to keep the IRS from enforcing Obamacare.
Representative Tom Cruz (R-TX) has gone even further with a bill to defund all of Obamacare permanently, but even with permanent defunding hundreds of provisions would be left in place, such as:
- Student loan takeover.
- Sharing of electronic medical records.
- Individual Mandate.
- Employer Mandate.
- Contraception Mandate.
- State implementation of exchanges.
Hopefully any action taken to chip away at the bill, or even defund parts or all of Obamacare, will amount to more than just grandstanding on the part of House Republicans. After all, the American people sent many Republican congressmen to Washington to end Obamacare, not just mend it. Regarding the individual mandate taking effect in 2014, a mere 12% of Americans back it.
As indicated above, defunding without repeal would allow cronies on both sides to conspire to quietly add funding to an appropriations bill. It would also set up a potential battle to challenge the administration whenever an agency spent money. But realistically speaking, repeal would never advance past the House with President Obama in the White House and with the Senate controlled by Democrats!
If that’s all Obamacare’s opponents in Congress do, it’s underplaying their hand.” . . . “Repealing or delaying the painful parts while keeping the rest in place will not only be a source of even more economic disruption and uncertainty, but Obamacare opponents will be blamed for it.
- Attach an Obamacare-repeal bill to something the President and Senate Democrats actually want — like a debt limit increase or a continuing resolution to fund the government.
- Go to conference. Senate would have passed a version of a bill without the House’s repeal. Therein lies an opportunity for Republicans (although skepticism exists over Republican conferee negotiation skills) to offer the President and his party something they can’t live without paired with something they really don’t want.
According to Benjamin Domenech, managing editor of Health Care News at The Heartland Institute, a series of delay votes in the House pales in contrast to the opportunity that was provided by the administration by its delay of its employee mandate.
As noted by *David Rivkin, by choosing to delay only the employee mandate the administration may have given individuals the legal standing to challenge the legal basis for enforcement, potentially giving millions of Americans the necessary standing to challenge President Obama’s conduct. In other words, suspending the employer insurance mandate prevents the individual insurance mandate from working the way Congress intended. Individuals who will have to buy their own health insurance will without doubt have suffered an injury sufficient to give them a right to sue.
Also up for argument would be whether any body other than Congress can determine whether a statue should survive or fall if the statue is fundamentally changed post-enactment.
*Mr. Rivkin is a partner at Baker Hostetler LLP. He served in the Justice Department under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush and represented 26 states in challenging Obamacare.
Heartland’s Benjamin Domenech concurs with David Rivkin, but puts it this way:
What the White House has really handed Republicans is an opportunity to go full-on populist and beat the individual mandate, the least popular aspect of the law, with a sledgehammer.
Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at 03:42 PM | Permalink
By Nancy Thorner –
In what was reported an accomplishment by the House on Thursday, July 11, the House passed the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (HR 2642) by a slim margin, 216 to 208, in what amounted to a scaled down farm bill sans food stamps better known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program).
This was second go-around of the farm bill, this time without the food stamp program. House Majority Leader Cantor of Virginia convinced Republican House members that this would be the best change to get the farm bill passed to erase the embarrassment of the defeat of the Thursday, June 20, House farm bill. Eric Cantor promised to “act with dispatch” to get a food stamp bill to the floor.
The vote was mostly bipartisan. Every Democrat voted no, with all but six U.S. Republican House members voting yes. All six Illinois Republican House members voted in favor of the scaled down farm bill san federal food stamps. They were: Representatives Aaron Schock (18); Adam Kinzinger (16); Randy Hultgren (14); Rodney Davis (13); Peter Roskam (6); and John Shimkus (15)
An outraged House Minority Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., offered this comment:
There is no resemblance to the bill that came out of committee. The audacity is stunning. When you take food out of people’s mouth, what are you thinking or are you thinking?
It is somewhat interesting that Ms. Pelosi is so concerned about feeding babies, yet she has no interest in defending them!
SNAP has more than doubled in cost in the last five years from $40 billion to $80 billion, now serving 1 in 7 Americans. In April more than 47 million people were using the program, including those in 23 million households. Average benefit: $130 a month for an individual; $270 for a household.
When announcing that the food stamp program (SNAP) and the farm components of the “farm bill” would be considered separately, it was assumed that the House leadership and House Republicans had received the message that the current farm policy was in need of serious reform After all, the express purpose of splitting the bill was to give taxpayers an honest look at how Washington spends our money.
Republicans, however, by splitting the bill and moving forward on the farm subsidies component, have most likely made passing a bipartisan House-Senate farm bill even harder. This Republican action could result in Congress simply extending current law, or the Senate could offer its food stamp proposal with its $4 billion in cuts or perhaps no cuts at all, based on the different expiration dates for food stamps and farm subsidies. Commodity subsidies for farmers expire on Sept. 30, while the food stamp program doesn’t expire and remains untouched as long as no food aid cuts becomes law.
As a matter of reference, the farm bill that failed on the House floor this past June had food stamp cuts amounting to $20.5 billion. At the time sixty-two House Republicans felt that the $20.5 billion in food stamps cuts wasn’t deep enough. Although the GOP conference might be able to live with $33 billion in food stamp cuts, such a cut would most likely make any House-Senate conference unworkable.
Just how did Republicans do with taxpayer’s money when they passed the farm component of the farm bill as a separate entity?
The House unfortunately resorted to late night farm bill shenanigans the evening before the vote took place. The resulting flawed bill (HR 2642) that passed on July 11 simply brought the same troublesome farm programs up for a vote that were considered and soundly rejected by the House on June 20. Everything that was bloated and egregious in the bill remained bloated and egregious, and then some.
- It still goes out of its way to tax Christmas trees, in an effort to override the Obama Administration’s decision to not tax Christmas trees.
- It still drives up food prices—which hurts low-income Americans most.
- It still spends more than President Obama even wanted to spend on the costliest farm program, crop insurance. The House bill adds $8.9 billion (CBO score), while Obama wanted to makes cut of $11.7 billion.
- It still hands out taxpayer money to these surprising recipients:.
President Jimmy Carter $272.288
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack $82,874
Manhattan, N.Y. residents 9 million
The Rockefeller Family $947,075
Families of Congressmen $995,805
Unlike the previously rejected House farm bill, the following two new costly programs were added:
- It sets up a “reference price program” (Guaranteed payment), which was sold as covering only major losses for farmers which is even more generous than the Senate program.
- It provides extreme protection for farmers through a “shallow loss program” which helps to guarantee most revenue for farmers. Federal farm programs have traditionally existed to help farmers survive large, systemic losses.
HR 2641 likewise permits some of the costliest and most indefensible programs to live on indefinitely instead of expiring after five year to sunset as most farm programs do. The sugar program is one such program which will have no sunset date absent Congressional action, possibly locking in bad public policy forever. Sugar prices have consistently been two to three times higher than world prices. Ditto also with the dairy program that will restrict supplies in order to drive up dairy prices.
It is unconscionable that all six Illinois Republican congressmen supporting wasteful spending by voting for HR 2641, but they also violated their promise to the American people.
House Republicans were swept into office in January, 2011, with promises of bringing great transparency to the “people’s house” One such promise included the GOP’s Pledge to America” and later enshrined in House rules, a three-day period to provide members of Congress adequate time to read and debate legislation.
HR 2641 did not meet this three day requirement. Furthermore, claims that the bill was the same text from the failed House farm bill in June despite the sneaky changes that were made to the text, resulted in the denial of amendments.
Instead of the Bait and Switch approach used by House Republicans to pass the farm component of the farm bill, which will likely come back to haunt them, the House leadership should have gone back to the drawing board to fix the flaws to develop real reform.
Separating the farm bill into two parts made sense at first, but Republicans lost credibility as to whether they can reform the SNAP program at a later date when they increased spending above what President Obama wished to spend on farm programs by $8.9 billion. 80% of the nearly trillion dollar farm bill goes for food stamps.
Will the Republican House have the clout or the fortitude to be able to convert food stamps into a work activation program that is so crucial to promoting self-sufficiency and personal responsibility among food stamp recipients?
And what about the next Republican House attempt to prevent the IRS from enforcing Obamacare? Will Republicans stand united and unwavering in their effort?
Monday, July 15, 2013 at 02:53 PM | Permalink
July 11, 2013
By Nancy Thorner and Ed Ingold –
Wednesday, July 10, House Speaker John Boehner led a behind-closed doors meeting of House Republicans to decide whether or not to pass the Senate’s amnesty train wreck.
Prior to the meeting, House member Peter Roskam expressed a view which raised a red flag. Usually considered a paragon of common sense as one of only six Illinois Republican House members, it was rather bewildering and troubling to read an article by Joe Cahill in this week’s Crain’s Chicago Business ,Why business can — and should — save immigration reform, that mentioned Peter Roskam as one U.S. House member who seems to agree with the argument that American businesses need more cheap labor.
Immigration reform is long overdue. Problems are often ignored, opportunities delayed or denied, and enforcement lax. Immigration just happens without any real sense of direction. The needs of applicants go wanting, and the country suffers from this neglect. However, there are major issues which must be resolved in the creation of an immigration reform bill. Amnesty without security and control will be disastrous for our country, and lead to a cascading flow of illegal immigration, which will threaten our economy and national security.
The call for enhanced border security is a smoke screen over the real issue. The real need is for immigration control. At present, there are only 5000 immigration control agents (ICE) to serve the entire nation of 310 million people. There are 15000 police in Los Angeles alone, for a population 1/10th the number if illegal immigrants alone. Securing only the border protects a narrow band of land, implying anyone who crosses undetected is home free. In effect, that’s exactly what occurs.
Even if we increase the border security and beef up immigration control, there’s no guarantee that Homeland Security under any administration would actually enforce the law. Bush resisted enforcement passively, but Obama (and Janet Napolitano) openly refuse to enforce the law, grant broad exceptions to immigration law, and prosecute any local authority who attempts to enforce it in their place.
Any form of amnesty will result in a flood of illegal immigration, and further calls for amnesty if Homeland Security continues to look the other way. Judging from past performance, we are assured that the only part of immigration reform enforced would be the granting of amnesty unless extraordinary precautions are taken.
Visa control is almost nonexistent. In the age of computers where every phone call, email and Google search is recorded, we can’t seem to track who enters and leaves the country. This is not a technical problem. It starts at the top and filters downward.
Immigration control, above and beyond border security, is essential, and the administration must be compelled to enforce it. Without enforcement, it doesn’t matter what the law is, nor how carefully it is crafted. The temptation for politicians to pander for votes under the disguise of humanitarianism must be subjugated to the rule of law.
Worth sharing is an insightful article by Senator Tom Coburn, How the House Can Get Immigration Reform Right. According to Dr. Coburn:
Now that the Senate has passed a flawed $46 billion immigration bill it’s time for the House to be the higher chamber and start over.
. . . you don’t solve a messaging or political problem with bad legislation. You solve it with good policy that honors our values, respects the rule of law, and improves people’s lives.
Coburn goes on to state that a task of the House is to balance an unapologetic pro-legal-immigration message with an equally emphatic emphasis on therule of law, which is what immigration control is really all about, and further negates those who say that it can’t be made more secure. Colburn knows that the border is not secure based on his oversight work as the ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee — the committee over the border.
This powerful and statement was made by Dr. Coburn:
The truth is the administration doesn’t know if the border is secure and they don’t care, and they won’t start caring until Congress and the American people make them care.
What the public wants is to see that we have the political will to secure the border and respect the rule of law. . . Nothing undermines the rule of law more than politicians who pass laws they have no intention of enforcing.
For those who believe what the Obama administration is informing the nation of a border that already has a great deal of security, it is imperative that you watch the complete transcript of filmmaker Dennis Michael Lynch being interviewed over the past weekend with Mike Huckabee on Fox News discussing Part 2 of Lynch’s documentary, They Came to America.
Even if you already believe that border security should come first before all else, the Huckabee/Lynch interview will still be an eye-opener. Representative Peter King of New York changed his mind to security first after viewing Lynch’s all engrossing and troubling documentary.
Make the administration and your legislators care by letting them know that border security and immigration control must come first, with transparency and verifiability. Once this happens, the American people, always gracious and generous, will be more receptive to dealing with the 11 million or so people who wish to make the United States their adopted home.
Thursday, July 11, 2013 at 09:30 AM | Permalink