Thursday, July 20, 2017

Government Spending

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Budget Committee
"Ok, how do we want to waste taxpayer money this year fellas?"

The budget resolution of $1.1 trillion from the House Budget Committee has a questionable future as an internal conflict arose among the representative of the GOP over the $203 billion in mandatory spending cuts.

After an extensive session where the democrats were expected to propose 28 different amendments, the budget committee is set to finally pass the budget. The steps that follow are not concrete yet as the Republicans are still short of votes needed to pass the resolution on the House floor.

The chairwoman of the committee, Diane Black, says that she will make sure each and every member understands the value and significance of whatever they decide to add in the resolution before everyone reaches a general consensus.

The Freedom Caucus have managed to secure reductions worth $53 billion as a result of weeks of pushing higher mandatory spending cuts to offset discretionary spending in the proposed resolution. However they are asking for almost twice the previous amount coming mostly from Medicaid, welfare programs, nutrition assistance as well as education. Few of those savings would be the result of adding work requirements for Medicaid and the Welfare Support Programs.

According the vice chairman of the House Budget Committee, Todd Rokita, the economic growth has been said to be slower than anticipated while millions of citizens are choosing not to even look for a job.

Centrist Republicans say the mandatory cuts are too much to be pushed through as part of the reconciliation process. According to them, the proposed budget resolution is oblivious of the political realities that exist.

Democratic support in the Senate will be required to pass any spending package. Same goes for lifting the budget caps to appropriate significant increases for the defense budget.

As the legislative weeks come to an end of the fiscal year 2017, they say that instead of negotiating a deal at the eleventh hour, the Republicans should negotiate with the Democrats otherwise it will yield different spending levels.

“We are writing the appropriations bill with numbers that are not real,” said Tuesday Group co-Chairman Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), citing the budget’s $511 billion allocation for nondefense discretionary spending and $621.5 billion allocation for defense.

The Co-Chairman of the Tuesday Group, Charlie Dent, says that the appropriation bill is being drafted by them is using numbers that are far from reality while citing the $621 billion budget allocation for the defense and $511 billion for non-defense discretionary spending.

While referring to a republican plan of speeding up the process by combining all 12 appropriation bills into a single bill called the ‘omnibus’ he said, “Everyone knows that there will be a bipartisan, bicameral budget agreement at some point, and that 511 number will come up, the 621 number on defense will come down, those will be the real numbers, and the real omnibus will be later this year.”

Some members of the GOP are still concerned that they need more time to read the complex bills before the vote while others want to proceed with the plan as is.

Another complication for the budget is the fact that the efforts to repeal Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act, also collapsed in the Senate.

The Republicans will be patient and let Senate do their job with the proposal as they have no plans to alter the healthcare assumptions of the budget plan. Whereas, the groups leaning to the left and the Democrats stood up against the budget plan, considering them to be cruel cuts,

“House Republicans have devised a toxic budget whose sole purpose is to hand tax breaks to billionaires on the backs of seniors and hard-working Americans,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.).

Budget Committee ranking member John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) said that Black had not invited him for any discussions on the budget and predicted that the resolution would fail on the House floor.

According to John Yarmuth (D-KY.), ranking member on the Budget Committee, Black did not invite him or any discussions on the budget. He further expects the resolution to fail on the House floor.

“The problem with the whole exercise is that it is designed to pave the way for a huge tax cut,” he said.

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The National Institutes of Health should be studying how to cure cancer, but instead they spent almost a million dollars on this…

At a time when our nation is almost 20 trillion in debt and close to 50 million on food stamps, our genius government decided to award Old Dominion university a grant of $911,056 to study the drinking habits of lesbian couples.

Instead of awarding some university a million dollars to research something that might actually help people, they study drinking habits of women in relationships with women.

No wonder he have so much debt.

According to the grant for the study, the younger sexually minority like to drink.

“Sexual minority women (i.e., women who self-identify as lesbian and bisexual) report more heavy drinking, more alcohol-related problems, and higher rates of alcohol use disorders as compared to heterosexual women. Young sexual minority women are particularly vulnerable.”

“Despite this awareness, no studies have examined how relationship factors and partners’ alcohol use contribute to hazardous drinking among female sexual minority couples.”

This isn’t an article that is upset because we are researching “gay” people, but the fact that we are researching drinking habits at all is ridiculous. The answers to the scientific study are going to come out one way.

People drink to cope with problems. Young gay people have a lot of problems in our society because of bigotry and ridicule.

One would think that young gay people would turn to alcohol like everyone else that has problems. I mean, it’s not too scientific, but it will come to the same conclusion and we didn’t have to spend $911,056 on it.

Next year, give the grant to a university studying cancer research.

What do you think the results of the grant will be? Let us know in the comments below.

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Attempting to describe Donald Trump in conventional political terms is like trying to explain a smart phone app to a Neanderthal. Despite the candidate’s claim to be “conservative,” looking at Trump’s “political” past, one would find ample support for policies at the heart of an avowed leftist; including progressive taxation, gun control, and single-payer healthcare. Even if one were to afford Trump the benefit of the doubt that his views have genuinely “evolved” rightward since his days of palling-around with the likes of Al Sharpton and Hillary Clinton, the man remains more a chameleon than a conservative.

For example, where he would attempt to solve America’s immigration issues — a key concern of conservatives — Trump would vastly expand the size and power of the federal government. In combatting domestic terrorism threats, Trump would gut religious freedoms conservatives have fought hard to preserve, while further curbing civil liberties and privacy rights. Other “policy” statements Trump recently has espoused make even less sense; for example, championing ethanol regulations as a means of fostering “energy independence,” and eminent domain as a way to create jobs. Always a fast moving target, Trump often changes his positions from one ideological polarity, to the other in a matter of hours as he mentally works through how to “make America great again.”

On the surface, Trump’s kitschy campaign tagline might seem like just another hollow campaign ploy to take advantage of the growing political unrest on both sides of the ideological aisle.  However, when looking at Trump’s stances both in the past and in present day, a common theme emerges that sheds a light on what a Trump presidency would look like, and what it would mean for the future of conservatism. That theme? Trump’s fondness for authoritarianism.

While Trump’s opponents in the GOP race moor themselves to traditional conservative values such as cutting spending, taxes, and government, Trump eschews such specificities as unimportant nuances. He prefers instead to focus on broad, abstract problems such as “illegal immigration,” “terrorism,” and “outsourcing.” It is always easier, of course, to avoid tough questions or criticism by speaking in platitudes. In this way, Trump can appear to remain relatively consistent, notwithstanding that he is not. Even when forced to elaborate on details, he is seemingly unaware of the policy specifics his campaign has crafted for him. Trump apparently views rigid adherence to these dogmas, no matter how sacred to conservatism, as unnecessary if not silly constraints on hispower to achieve his goals for America.

In Trump World, if President Trump has to raise taxes on the rich in order to pay for his border wall or to deport millions of illegals, that’s just the cost of making America great. If he has to undermine the First Amendment to keep tabs on Muslims, that’s the price we must pay to keep America safe. If his protectionist policies dramatically raise the cost of goods for middle class families, that’s the cost of making America less dependent on countries like Mexico and China. And, if Congress is not on board with any of his plans, then he will be forced to take matters into his own hands, just as Obama has done.

This is precisely how Trump and his supporters rationalize his plans for using executive power. Whereas Obama is viewed as a liberal elite who usurped power to do wrong, Trump fancies himself a benevolent dictator who must do whatever it takes to circumvent an ineffectual “Establishment” Congress for the greater good. In Trump’s case, his supporters actually excuse potentially extra-constitutional methods – the same they accused Obama of using – since it is not Trump but the Establishment that has pushed America to the breaking point. In other words, it’s not Trump’s fault he has to go it alone; it’s Congress’ or the media, or the other candidates.

At least he’s “telling it like it is,” his supporters repeat; seemingly unaware (or uncaring) of what “it” really is. Yet, it really does matter what the meaning of “it” is.

Conservatism in America has survived decades of challenges from within and without, but it cannot long survive conservative authoritarianism such as that espoused by Trump. Authoritarianism is the antithesis of constitutional government, and without the Constitution, conservatism dies, for there is no rule or structure to limit the scope and power of the government.

Contrary to what Trump’s supporters may believe, there is no “thin line” that separates a benevolent dictator from a tyrannical one; they are both dictators. Whether one promises to govern with a gentle hand or an iron fist, it requires a unilateral, unchecked Executive Authority  that is not possible without first undermining the Constitution. And, without the Constitution’s legal safeguards against the autonomous actions of men like Trump and Obama, we are left with only a promise of altruistic intentions to keep us safe from total tyranny. The streets of Washington are paved with such broken promises.


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climate change

If Obama’s serious about climate change, it’s going to cost him literally trillions of dollars.

While leaders from the world’s richest countries met in Paris to hammer out a global treaty on climate change, a group of poorer countries were also meeting—and figuring out how they could turn the West’s climate guilt into a big bundle of cash.

According to The Times of London, these countries came in with big demands—totaling $3.5 trillion—in order to sign on to the controversial treaty.

The Times reports:

“Developing countries have added a clause to the latest draft of the text under which they would be paid the ‘full costs’ of meeting plans to cut emissions.

An analysis of plans published by 73 developing countries shows that they want $3.5 trillion by 2030. India alone is seeking $2.5 trillion…”

However, the amount of money is proving to be a contentious point. Developed countries have pledged $100 billion a year in financing to poorer countries, by 2020.

While that’s a massive amount of money, it’s a far cry from $3.5 trillion.

India’s environmental minister, Prakash Javadekar, said that the West was going to have to do better—since the billions his country is currently receiving is “not significant.”

The big problem with getting poorer countries to sign onto climate change regulation is the added expense. When countries like the United States and the United Kingdom industrialized in the late 1800s and early 1900s, pollution wasn’t a concern—meaning factories and technology could be developed cheaply.

But by adding more expenses to startup costs for industrialization, it makes it harder for countries like India to develop—hence why they’re basically saying that, if the West wants climate change so badly, they’re going to have to pay for it.

So far, no final deal has been made.

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Donald Trump announced how much he wants to be paid per year as President of the United States–and the businessman is raising some eyebrows.

While President Barack Obama receives a salary of $400,000 per year–in addition to a number of expenses covered by the federal taxpayer, like the use of Air Force One and the White House–Trump said, in a recent Q&A interview posted on Twitter, that he wouldn’t take anything.

“I won’t take even one dollar. I’m totally giving up my salary if I become president,” he said.

The billionaire businessman has an estimated net worth of somewhere between $2.7 billion at $10 billion–depending on the source. Simply put, he doesn’t need a comparatively small salary from the federal government to do the job.

This reiterates the point Trump made during last week’s presidential debate, when he said he would also not take social security:

“I know people that, frankly, [social security] has no impact on their life whatsoever,” he said. “There are many people — I would almost say leave it up to them, but I would be willing to check it off, and say I will not get Social Security.”

While the salary of the President or one person’s social security payments are hardly a large expense considering the outlays of the federal government–which number in the trillions–it’s refreshing to know Donald Trump is willing to put his money where his mouth is, and refuse to take money from the federal government that he doesn’t need.

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Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is under attack–from his own Republican Lieutenant Governor, Jay Dardenne.

Dardenne, who is running for Governor to replace Jindal in 2016, has issued a letter calling on Jindal to pay back the state for state police travel expenses, claiming that these expenses were for the benefit of Jindal’s presidential campaign, not the state of Louisiana.

$2.2 million has been spent in the last twelve months on out-of-state police travel expenses. Dardenne has attempted to figure out how much of that has been accrued since Jindal declared his candidacy.

“Despite repeated requests, my office has not been able to obtain any updated numbers from [Louisiana State Police] on those costs since March,” Dardenne wrote in a letter to his boss.

Regardless, Dardenne alleges that Jindal has used those expenses predominantly for his campaign–and tells him that to pay up.

“Louisiana taxpayers should not pay any part of the costs of your travel while you campaign for President,” Dardenne scolded. Including “the cost of your protective services detail provided by Louisiana State Police.”

Jindal, once touted as an up-and-coming Republican Governor with national ambitions–even giving the party’s official 2009 State of the Union Rebuttal–has seen his star fall in recent years.

Deeply unpopular in his home state of Louisiana–where he’s lost the support not just of Democrats, but Republicans and friendly media outlets that previously endorsed him for Governor.

But Jindal’s spokesman, Mike Reed, swatted away the criticism, claiming that Dardenne is just playing politics–trying to curry favor with an electorate that has soured on the incumbent Republican Governor.

“Candidates for governor should not make the safety of the governor and his family a political issue,” Reed said. “We appreciate the work that State Police does for the governor and his family every day and we’re grateful for their service. We leave all security determinations up to the State Police and we trust them to do their job.”

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Washington D.C. has been telling America for years that the Social Security system is headed to inexorable demographic doom. Typically, though, the estimates have been far enough into the future for present politicians to safely ignore what has been called “the third rail of American politics.”

That illusion of safety in distance from the event was shattered Wednesday, as trustees of the Social Security disability trust fund reported that the program will be insolvent next year. The retirement fund will make it longer – until 2035, according to the trustees – but calls are already emerging for congress to take action to prevent the bankruptcy of the disability portion of the Social Security programs.

Of course, congress’ actions are limited. They can either raise taxes which is never a winner in an election year, they can borrow money from the retirement fund, they can take on more debt, or they can cut the programs. All of these options are bad for individual politicians who have to answer to voters, and the temptation to simply take on more debt and allow the Federal Reserve to Quanititatively Ease our way out of the immediate emergency is surely powerful.

President Obama advocates a different path of little resistance, that of raiding the retirement fund to prop up the disability fund. “The president has proposed a common-sense solution to improve the solvency of this fund in the short run so that Americans who rely on it will continue to receive the benefits they need,” Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said.

Meanwhile, the two houses of congress are fighting over proposed highway funding bills that advocate taking that same Social Security money. There is no clear indication of how many programs that are not Social Security the Social Security funds are actually expected to finance.

Currently, 11 million Americans receive Social Security disability benefits to the tune of $1,017 per beneficiary per month. Insolvency triggers an automatic 19% cut in benefits. In a rational world, insolvency would end the program entirely. Regrettably, our politicians left rationality far behind.

Untrammeled entitlement spending is a huge part of the financial meltdown currently ongoing in Greece, and the US would do well to learn some lessons from the Greek situation. The population stopped working, government programs paid them to do so, Greece borrowed money to fund its unsustainable programs, and eventually ran out of other people’s money.

Some parallels are evident in America’s current economic situation. Since Obama’s election in 2008, home ownership has declined across all demographics, childhood poverty has jumped from 18% to 22%, dependence payouts have doubled to $74 billion annually, the national debt has doubled to $18 trillion, the median household income has declined almost $3,000 annually, and 17% of the middle class fell out of the middle class. In short, we’re earning less, owning less, working less, borrowing more, and living more off the government. Too bad we don’t have an oppressive Euro Zone to blame.

Another huge similarity between the US and Greek situations is immigration. In America, illegal immigration across a porous border leads to pockets of mostly Mexican illegals associated with lower employment, higher rates of violent crime, and increased drug use. In Greece, illegal immigration across a porous border leads to pockets of mostly Islamic illegals associated with lower employment, higher rates of violent crime, and increased drug use. In both countries, the influx of illegals also strained the government entitlement systems, leading to more borrowing and, in the case of the USA, more taking from Social Security.

It’s hard to see the Social Security crisis as the tipping point for the American economy entering a Greece-like death spiral. After all, Greece has a debt-to-GDP ratio over 200%, while America’s is only at 104%, about the same as Cyprus when Cyprus… entered a Greece-like death spiral.

Clearly, the country must make some difficult changes in how it approaches Social Security. A great first step would be to stop raiding the funds for whatever harebrained scheme needs a few bucks. Another good idea is to crack down on fraud, which cost the program $14 billion over the last decade according to one study.

Whatever is done, kicking the can down the road and letting the next person deal with the problem is not going to make it easier. It’s just going to make it less painful for the Obama administration and the present congress.

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U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) is adding to the considerable controversy that engulfed Planned Parenthood this week, over reports that it’s selling body parts of aborted babies.

Now, he’s calling for Congress to investigate and defund Planned Parenthood altogether.

Cruz released the following statement:

“Today’s news regarding allegations that Planned Parenthood is possibly selling the body parts of the babies it has aborted is sickening.

“There is no place for taxpayer funding of organizations that profit from taking away innocent life, much less profiting off the bodies of the lives they have stolen. Congress should immediately begin an investigation of Planned Parenthood’s activities regarding the sale and transfer of aborted body parts, including who is obtaining them and what they are being used for. And it should renew efforts to fully defund Planned Parenthood to ensure that its morally bankrupt business receives not one penny of taxpayer money.

“I proudly stand on the side of life and remain committed to fighting for all innocent life to be valued and protected under the laws of this nation.”

Planned Parenthood has long been a controversial organization for many on the right, due to its willingness to push for abortion at seemingly any cost.

But the latest scandal has shocked both people on both sides of the aisle–even some of those who have been supportive of Planned Parenthood in the past.

During a meeting with two undercover journalists–who were posing as executives at a biotech company–Planned Parenthood’s Senior Director of Medical Services, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, casually sipped a glass of wine and described in graphic detail how Planned Parenthood sells baby body parts.

“Yesterday was the first time she said people wanted lungs,” Nucatola casually told the undercover journalists. “Some people want lower extremities, too, which, that’s simple. That’s easy. I don’t know what they’re doing with it, I guess if they want muscle.”

She went on to describe how doctors are careful not to “crush” key body parts, like the baby’s liver, when removing the fetus after an abortion–in order to keep up with demand.

Planned Parenthood has, naturally, claimed this video is a lie, putting out a statement that read, in part:

“A well funded group established for the purpose of damaging Planned Parenthood’s mission and services has promoted a heavily edited, secretly recorded videotape that falsely portrays Planned Parenthood’s participation in tissue donation programs that support lifesaving scientific research.”

It remains to be seen what happens to Planned Parenthood–but conservative-leaning hidden camera videos have been successful at shutting down organizations in the past.

Back in 2009, the liberal non-profit ACORN was shut down–after their employees were caught on video giving advice to undercover journalists about how to engage in human trafficking and tax evasion. ACORN’s reputation was so badly damaged that Congress pulled funding–and the entire organization folded just a year later.

While Planned Parenthood is far larger than ACORN, this scandal may be the tip of the iceberg–and may ultimately seal the fate for Planned Parenthood.

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Crosswalks and Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood are loud and proud–thanks to a new paint job, intended for Seattle Gay Pride Week.

Capitol Hill, a neighborhood that’s been the historic heart of gay culture in Seattle, had the new sidewalks installed recently–but here’s the catch: they cost thousands of dollars a piece, in city funds.

Overall, there are 11 new rainbow colored sidewalks–costing just over $100,000, which is far more expensive than regular crosswalks.

But worse, these crosswalks (because of their multi-colored paint job) are only expected to last about 3 years before they’ll need repainting, adding to the expense. The city, at this point, plans to maintain them–the rainbow colors are supposed to be permanent.

Seattle has a long history of being a gay-friendly city, but the crosswalks are one of the most visible symbols they’ve attempted–coming on the back of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Obergefell v. Hughes case, which legalized gay marriage nationwide. It follows after the White House, which President Obama ordered lit up in rainbow lights on the night of the decision.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray was around for the unveiling of one of the crosswalks. He was beaming with pride, announcing that the garish new crosswalk “says something about Seattle,” and the history of the neighborhood that it’s in.

The crosswalks were installed after local groups campaign for the last few years. They’re being paid by taxes levied on new private developers in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Overall, the state of Washington has stepped up the visibility of Gay Pride Month. Apparently, a number of events are being held all month across the state–and the new crosswalks were Seattle’s attempt to do something, well, flamboyant.

Seattle Pride Week begins Tuesday.

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As if it weren’t infuriating enough that American taxpayers are being forced to house, feed, medically treat and educate the never-ending influx of illegal immigrant minors, the Obama administration is also doling out millions of dollars to provide them with free legal representation.

Unlike the criminal justice system, in immigration court the government doesn’t offer free lawyers to those who can’t afford them. This means that illegal aliens who don’t have the money to pay for one must represent themselves in legal proceedings or rely on volunteer attorneys or paralegals provided by immigrant rights groups. This leaves many illegal aliens in removal proceedings without adequate legal representation and that’s simply not acceptable to the president.

So the administration is spending our tax dollars to hire attorneys for the tens of thousands of illegal immigrant minors, mostly from Central America, that have entered the U.S. through Mexico in the last few months. Initially, the government labeled them Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) but the term was evidently offensive and not politically correct enough for the powerful open borders movement so last month the administration renamed them Central American Minors (CAM). The name change was part of a new refugee/parole that offers a free one-way flight to the U.S. from El Salvador, Guatemala or Honduras to avoid the treacherous process of entering the U.S. illegally through the southern border. The program includes “resettlement assistance” and permanent residency.

But many of the thousands who entered through Mexico on foot prior to Obama’s refugee/parole initiative still face immigration court proceedings and most don’t have lawyers. That’s why the administration is investing $2 million to hire attorneys for the new arrivals. The money will flow through a special program, Justice AmeriCorps, launched by the Department of Justice (DOJ) Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) last summer. “The purpose of the justice AmeriCorps grant funding is to improve the efficient and effective adjudication of immigration court proceedings involving certain unaccompanied children,” according to the grant announcement. “Grants awarded in response to this Notice will enable grantees to enroll lawyers and paralegals to serve as AmeriCorps members providing direct legal representation and other legal services to certain unaccompanied children. The program will also help identify unaccompanied children who have been victims of human trafficking or abuse to assist in the investigation and prosecution of those who perpetrate such crimes on those children.”

The administration plans to enroll approximately 100 lawyers and paralegals to provide legal services to the “most vulnerable of these children,” the announcement says. The cash giveaway is also being promoted in the government’s general grant database for all federal agencies as an open-ended project with no listed money cap. This, of course, indicates that the $2 million allocation is just a start. In most cases, an “award ceiling” is listed in the grant amount, but not in this case. The money will likely keep flowing until all the UACs are safe in the United States with full rights and benefits.

Another interesting tidbit is found in the broader Justice AmeriCorps document targeting perspective grantees with a detailed explanation of how the program will function. This includes hypothetical questions and concerns that grantees may have, such as what happens if the program funding expires before a case is concluded. “There is some concern about taking on cases and then having a big caseload and then having no funding by the time the court date arrives to see a case to conclusion,” the document states. The administration virtually guarantees that the cases will be resolved quickly thanks to newly created “relief in various types of immigration proceedings,” including “asylum, Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) status, and/or Tor U nonimmigrant status.” Additionally, the document states that funding will likely be extended anyways.


Insane World

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean – neither...