Budget Betrayal Threatens GOP Control of Congress

The unified Republican government this week passed a spending package that would have been praised by Barack Obama. The $1.3 trillion omnibus spending package was created in secret and was passed with the pressure of a looming government shutdown. This disaster of a spending bill raises discretionary spending and grows the national debt, two things Congressional Republicans have campaigned against in the past four elections.

This spending glut increases discretionary spending by 13 percent, and all but assures that the federal government will run a $1 trillion deficit this year. This will be the highest deficit since mid-way through the Obama Administration. It betrays the Republican promises of cutting spending, capping spending as a percentage of our economy, and dashes any hope of balancing the budget in the near future. It is fiscal recklessness that undermines our nation’s financial future and our government’s solvency.

The passage of this package is the most egregious fiscal betrayal of the Republican base since the Tea Party movement of 2010. This spending package, coupled with this Congress failing to repeal Obamacare last year, may create an obstacle to the GOP retaining control of Congress this fall. Republican voters are tired of being sold-out by party leaders, and just running against Democrats is not enough to energize voters desperate for an end to $ trillions in debt and the ongoing nightmare of Obamacare.

It is past time for Congress to do something it has done only twice in decades: pass individual appropriations bills for various departments of government, combine them into an actual budget, and hold the departments of government responsible for living within that budget. Instead, Congress is now merely presiding over the demise of a great nation, and time is running out.

Clearly, electing Republicans is not an automatic answer for fiscal responsibility; we must elect conservative champions intent on rolling back spending, capping it as a percent of our economy, and balancing the federal budget.

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Tariffs and Trade Wars Won’t Stimulate American Manufacturing

Late last year Congress passed the Tax Reform and Job Creation Act of 2017, which saved the year from being a total bust with regard to conservative legislation. The combination of President Trump’s roll-back of the regulatory state, coupled with Congress passing the largest tax reform package since the 1980s, sent the economy soaring. For more than two consecutive quarters, the U.S. economy topped 3% GPD growth, a level not seen since the middle of George W. Bush’s second term. This boosted consumer confidence, consumer spending, and prompted businesses to expand operations and hire new employees. On the economic front, America really did become great again.

All of this renewed prosperity, however, could be threatened if America were to enter into a trade war prompted by proposed Tariffs on steel and aluminum. I am a big believer in American manufacturing. Having worked in the financial services industry for years, I have worked with manufacturing operations that served as tier I suppliers for large corporations like GE, BMW, and Boeing. These skilled manufacturers have helped America recover its edge when it comes to building things. Durable, high-priced goods are our new specialty. These operations, which have endured the disaster of Obamacare, the nightmare of Obama-era regulatory overreach, and Dodd-Frank cutting off their access to banking services, are finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel. If our nation now engages in tariffs and a trade war, however, that light may turn out to be a train.

I understand President Trump’s honorable desire to protect American workers. It is the job of the American President and the American Congress to put America and Americans first. There is no doubt that nations like China have cheated, and that they have hurt certain segments of our economy through currency manipulation and unfair trade practices. It is true that these nations have subsidized exports to America, and punished imports from America to their countries. Dealing with these bad actors individually, however, is the better solution versus smacking tariffs on categories of goods like steel and aluminum. In the end, tariffs will adversely impact American manufacturing and American consumers, because foreign factories will impute into their prices the cost of the tariff, while maintaining a slight price edge over American producers. This will mean that American consumers and manufacturers will feel the pinch from U.S. tariffs, not foreign steel and aluminum manufacturers overseas.

I support President Trump’s desire to revive the American economy, protect our workers, and rebuild our manufacturing base. The best way to do this, however, is through even further tax and regulatory reform, not through tariffs. By continuing to lower U.S. corporate and individual income taxes, or pursuing an outright elimination of them through the Fair Tax, we can further lower American manufacturing costs and gain a greater competitive advantage. By further reducing the regulatory state, and eliminating job-killing regulations, we can further free the entrepreneurial spirit in our nation and incentivize the growth of skilled manufacturing jobs in America. If we try tariffs as a way to grow the American economy, I fear that it will fail. If the European Union, Australia, Canada and / or Mexico stopped importing, or significantly taxed the import, of American farm goods, Harley Davidsons, airplanes, computers, etc, we would lose more jobs than we gain through the imposition of tariffs.

We must rebuild American manufacturing through internal tax and regulatory reform, and deal with bad trade actors like China directly, instead of imposing tariffs that would broadly affect America’s economy and international trade partnerships. Freedom and free-markets will protect American workers and our economy far more than protectionism.

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Liberal Courts Are Actively Dismantling the Second Amendment

Democrats for decades have pursued gun control as an article of political faith, though there is no evidence that their proposals would curb gun violence. Increasingly, Americans are rejecting their arguments in spite of their opportunistic emotional appeals in the aftermath of tragedies like in Parkland, Florida. The reason is that, in an age when mass shootings are becoming all-too-commonplace, it is not lost on the American people that these horrific mass murders always happen in “gun free zones.” The logical result is that gun control measures that further restrict lawful gun ownership are not met with approval.

In light of their legislative failures on gun control, the Left is falling-back to its true stronghold: the federal judiciary. In spite of President Trump’s conservative court appointments, the majority of the justices on the federal bench remain democratic appointees. This is certainly the case with regard to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals based in Richmond, Virginia. This week, in a 10-4 ruling, the Court ruled that a Maryland law banning 45 types of firearms and limiting magazines to 10 rounds be upheld. Writing for the majority, Judge Robert King wrote “Put simply, we have no power to extend Second Amendment protections to weapons of war.”

Maryland’s law did not ban “weapons of war,” it banned some of the most popularly purchased and owned private firearms in America. Maryland put a tremendous burden on law abiding citizens with this law, and shaped a balance of power in favor of those who will commit heinous acts of violence regardless of gun laws placed on the books. By banning widely used firearms from use by law abiding Marylanders, Maryland has imposed one of the most oppressive anti-gun bills in modern memory.

Congress must be prepared to push-back against the overreach of the federal judiciary in this case. As the elected representatives of the American people, Congress must become the guardian of the Constitution that the courts have failed to be in this age of political correctness. Nationalizing an unconstitutional state law in Maryland is the first step toward judicially imposed gun control, and the brakes must be applied. Congress should move to strip the courts of their usurped jurisdiction over gun policy. It is not for the courts to decide when it comes to the Second Amendment; they do not get to impose their interpretation of this fundamental right on the American people.

The Fourth Circuit’s ruling clearly ignores Supreme Court precedent in the Heller decision, which struck-down Washington, D.C.’s unconstitutional gun ban. As NRA Spokeswoman Jennifer Baker wrote in response to the ruling, “It is absurd to hold that the most popular rifle in America is not a protected ‘arm’ under the Second Amendment…[the ruling] clearly ignores the Supreme Court’s guidance from District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment protects arms that are ‘in common use at the time for lawful purposes like self-defense.’”

Maryland’s gun grab law is prototypical of what Democrats want at the federal level, and passage of such a law in Congress would amount to the destruction of the Second Amendment. Even worse, the imposition of such a law by a federal court would not only jeopardize the Second Amendment, but the separation of powers fundamental to our republic. This ruling by the Fourth Circuit must not be allowed to stand if the American people are to be secure in their Second Amendment rights.

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What Billy Graham and Ronald Reagan Taught Us in Death

We Americans admired Billy Graham and Ronald Reagan in life, but we learned something even more special about them in death: that they were deeply loved figures who transformed America. Transformational leaders are rarely fully appreciated at the height of their careers; their reputations improve over time as the true impact of their influence is realized. Both of these leaders held the loyalty of their countrymen because they were the keepers of America’s faith and values.

The Left was caught off-guard at the outpouring of support for both men at their deaths. Millions mourned them, revealing the extent to which the American people appreciated their tireless championship of our national values. Both Graham and Reagan defended values that many modern elites have written-off as old-fashioned…namely faith, family, and freedom. These are still the values by which most Americans outside liberal urban metropolises live. These are still the values that are the heartbeat of American culture.

I never had the honor to meet Ronald Reagan or Billy Graham, but I felt like I knew them both on a certain level. The majority of Americans feel this way, because both leaders spoke to the heart and soul of the American ethos. The secret to their greatness was their humility and concern for others. Instead of pursuing their own honor, they served a cause greater than themselves. Their honor came as a by-product of their pursuit of good for other people.

At a time that we feel there are no more heroes, we now know where to look. We look to the quiet faith and duty of men like the late great Billy Graham, who realized the promise contained in James 4:10: “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.” True greatness can be defined as the application of wisdom for the public good. By this definition, Billy Graham and Ronald Reagan were both among the greatest citizens in our country’s history.

The outpouring of support that we have witnessed since the passing of Reverend Graham, not unlike we saw with Ronald Reagan in 2004, has stirred the conscious of our country. The humble preacher from Charlotte truly lived Psalm 119:46 “I will speak of your statutes before kings and will not be put to shame.” Billy Graham was never put to shame in his preaching of the good news to his fellow citizens.

Godspeed Billy Graham, your faith has now become sight and we all honor you.

 

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The NRA Is Not Pro-Death, Planned Parenthood Is

The astonishing hypocrisy of the American left is on full display with regard to liberal activists now seeking to shame supporters of the National Rifle Association. For the Left, which worships at the altar of Planned Parenthood, to attack second amendment supporters as not being “pro-life” is pathetic. Anti-gun protests are popping-up around the country that are being billed as “stand for life” rallies. The message is clear: if you support the NRA and the second amendment, then you are the enemy of public safety and should be ashamed. This is a naked attempt by the Left to twist the meaning of being pro-life into being pro-gun control.

It is a contradiction in political philosophy to promote Planned Parenthood while accusing gun rights advocates of being against life. Planned Parenthood is America’s abortion giant, and is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths every single year. The NRA, by contrast, does not advocate gun violence or promote a culture of death. In fact, the NRA is the nation’s largest gun safety advocacy organization, and provides excellent gun safety training resources to all ages. The contrast to Planned Parenthood could not be clearer.

It is understandable that many young Americans have anxiety about this sustained rash of school violence and shootings. Such violence is unnerving and shatters a person’s sense of security, regardless of their age. What compounds such tragedy is when opportunistic politicians tell young Americans that gun control will protect them from these threats. The NRA and gun owners are paraded-out as the problem, and we’re told that ending the second amendment will save folks’ lives. Gun control measures do not save innocent lives; they shape a balance of power that favors those who intend to commit crimes by unilaterally disarming the innocent.

The best steps we can now take as a country are to expand, not curtail, right to carry protections – namely national right to carry reciprocity. Further, we should seek to place armed guards in schools and allow teachers, coaches, and administrators who have carry permits to carry their firearms at work. Ending the status of schools being “gun free zones” for resource officers and responsible adults will protect students, not endanger them.

Curtailing the constitutional rights of law abiding American citizens is not the answer to our current woes. America does not have a gun problem; we have a culture problem. Too many kids grow-up without their parents, we have driven God from the public square, and we have extolled violence and a culture of “if it feels good, do it.” We must seek to restore our faith and values, protect our second amendment rights, and resist the siren song of gun control that will not curtail violent crime in this country.

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Who’s to Blame for Wild Stock Market? Look to the Federal Reserve

The upheaval on Wall Street this week has been blamed, by Democrats, on Donald Trump, the GOP tax bill, and deregulation. None of these are the cause, of course, because this is a panic that has been brewing for almost a decade. As the economy has finally hit a growth spurt, thanks to those tax cuts and deregulation, the loose money policy practiced by the Fed for the entirety of the Obama Administration must come to an end. If anyone or anything is to blame for this week’s wild market gyrations, it is the Federal Reserve and its policies since 2009.

While the government grossly overspent at a time that the economy was sputtering along from 2009-2016, the credit card bill was picked-up by the Fed. The central bank printed the necessary money to finance purchases of federal debt. This practice kept interest rates artificially low, which forced investors looking for a return into the stock market. The flood of cash into the market helped prop-up prices even during the economically lean Obama years. Thus, the strong stock market of the Obama era was inversely related to the weak underlying economy.

Under President Trump, the economy is now growing at recent records, and has reached a growth rate not seen since the Bush Administration. This economic growth has begun to put inflation pressure on the economy, since the Fed flooded money markets during the lean years. This means that interest rates must now begin to rise to keep inflation from wiping-out our economic recovery and the value of people’s money. These rising rates, however, will have the effect of correcting an overvalued stock market from the era of Barack Obama, and then-Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke.

This market correction does not predict economic weakening or impending recession. In fact, it is the result of the economy growing more quickly. Because of misguided monetary policy, the market is going to remain inversely related to the economy; it will now perform less well than the overall economy as opposed to outperforming it as it has for nearly ten years.

If the American economy and stock market are ever to get back into sync again, the Fed’s power must be curtailed. These boom and bust cycles are almost always brought-on by monetary manipulation at the Federal Reserve. In order to end this crazy cycle, Congress must work to restrain the power of the Fed by ending its ability to manipulate interest rates in a vain attempt to maintain employment levels and price stability. It should only have one purpose: maintain stable currency values. The free market can better determine stock prices and interest rates than the central planners on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.

This week’s mess was caused by the bad monetary policy of Ben Bernanke and his successors. If we want to avoid a repeat of his mistakes, the Fed must be reformed and it must be audited at least annually. By ending the Fed’s economic overreach, we can smooth-out these boom and bust stock markets and stabilize our overall economy.

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Senator McCain Is Repeating a 1986 Mistake on Immigration

In 1986, President Ronald Reagan worked with Congress to pass the Immigration Reform and Control Act. This bill, sold to Reagan and the public as a crackdown on illegal immigration, was a trade-off much like what seems to be materializing in Washington right now. In exchange for the legalization of roughly 3 million unauthorized immigrants, the border would be secured and illegal crossings curbed. Predictably, the Democratic Congress completed the amnesty but never secured the border.

Reagan and the American public were sold-out by Democrats who had no intention of securing the nation’s borders, but only used the issue as an enticement.

We face a nearly-identical situation right now, and it is as if Senator John McCain doesn’t care about history. Democrats recently shut-down the government over DACA, and are still refusing the Republicans’ offer of DACA legislation that includes border security measures and an end to chain migration. With another funding deadline looming Friday, Democrats are, again, demanding legal status for over 2 million Dreamers without border security measures included.

Luckily for the Left, Senator McCain is teaming-up with Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware to pass DACA without security measures, but with a promise to study available options in the future. Unfortunately for the American people, this deal is even worse at the outset than in 1986. The predicable result of such legislation will be legalization followed by no border security. This will result in another wave of unaccompanied minors showing up on our border, which will create a humanitarian crisis and a law enforcement nightmare.

Instead of capitulating to Democrat demands on DACA without border security, while holding the federal budget hostage, Republicans should just suspend the filibuster rule in the Senate to overcome this fiscally reckless game of chicken Democrats are playing over illegal immigration. American voters didn’t give the GOP a majority at all levels of government just so that John McCain could team -up with Chris Coons and make a bigger mistake than the immigration reform bill in 1986 that did nothing to end illegal immigration.

Immigration policy has nothing to do with the budget, so Republicans should stop allowing it to be used as a weapon to slow completion of a true two-year budget for the United States Government.

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Is the FBI the Home of the Deep State?

I am not a conspiracy theorist. I believe America landed on the moon, that Area 51 is not inhabited by aliens, and I do not for a minute believe September 11th was an inside job. I typically shut-down when people start spouting-off conspiracy theories, because I think reality is often as insane as theory. Recent events, however, have established the fact that various agencies of government have acted outside their charter and have been weaponized for political purposes. Such actions are what turn republics into banana republics, and lead to a loss of liberty.

Nowhere has this been better illustrated than with regard to the politicization of the FBI during the waning days of the Obama Administration and the transition to President Trump. Evidently, a cadre of agents wanted to form a “secret society” to counter the possibility of a Trump presidency and, in the event of his election, mount an internal resistance. Two of the agents at the center of this unfolding controversy are Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who exchanged very colorful messages about how to counter the “threat” of a Trump presidential win. In a text exchange in August, 2016, Strzok tells Page: “I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office” – referring to FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe — “that there’s no way he gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”

Amazingly, after incendiary messages like these were unveiled between Strzok and Page in the run-up to the 2016 election, the FBI now admits that the majority of their text messages were not archived between December, 2016 and May, 2017. These missing texts were sent in a crucial timeframe between the election through the presidential transition, and into the beginning of the Robert Mueller Russia Probe. Both Strzok and Page were assigned to the Russia probe in its earliest days, while Strzok was also a senior counterintelligence officer who helped lead the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email usage. For their text messages during this crucial period to have gone missing stretches credulity.

The bombshell about the missing texts was initially blamed by the Department of Justice on faulty technology. In a letter to the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs Stephen Boyd wrote “The Department wants to bring to your attention that the FBI’s technical system for retaining text messages sent and received on FBI mobile devices failed to preserve text messages for Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page from December 14, 2016 to approximately May 17, 2017.” When asked by a reporter, however, if other similar Samsung 5 devices, like those used by Strzok and Page, failed to archive an FBI agent replied “no comment.” Are the American people really supposed to believe that the archive system at the FBI failed only to capture texts between two romantically involved senior FBI agents involved in the Russia probe, who talked of creating a “secret society” to oppose Donald Trump?

Trust must be restored in the FBI, as failure to do so would jeopardize trust in the rule of law in this country. The FBI is supposed to be an impartial, unbiased agency committed to the pursuit of justice. Political activism while on duty by agents is always unacceptable, regardless of which party is in power. In order to restore trust in the FBI, law and order must be restored at every level of the Bureau. This means, among other things, that Strzok and Page need to be fired, the archives need to be recovered, and people need to go to jail if there was political collusion taking place before or after the 2016 election. The more we learn about the sad state of affairs at the FBI, the more that it appears that James Comey was just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to corruption.

The FBI is critical to our national security, thus it is critical that corruption be routed-out of the bureau. I hope Congress continues to peel back the layers of the onion to expose the corruption that is crippling the nation’s preeminent law enforcement agency.

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The Shutdown is a Democratic Electoral Gimmick

As Americans awoke this Saturday morning to the first government shutdown in nearly five years, the blame game had already begun. When I was a child, my parents taught me that “it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.” It seems that the Washington version of those words of wisdom is “it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you place the blame.” Clearly, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer wanted this government shutdown as a way to create some electoral momentum at the outset of 2018. As the Wall Street Journal words it so well “The Democrats Won’t Take ‘Yes’ for an Answer” with regard to a deal to avoid a shutdown.

As this midterm election year opens, Democrats have less to run on than they anticipated. The tax reform bill they denounced as “Armageddon” has already led to real pay increases for American families, jobs being created, and companies expanding their American operations. These tangible economic benefits of the tax act are going to bolster GOP prospects this fall, as not a single Democrat voted for the law in December. DACA policy seemed like a place where Democrats could corner Republicans, and set-up a fight over the future of Dreamers. Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans, however, signaled a willingness to work on a legislative form of DACA, so long as it was coupled with border security measures to avert further illegal immigration.

After Republicans agreed to address DACA legislatively, Democrats grew even more desperate for a wedge issue for 2018. Thus, the demands began with Democrat Dianne Feinstein of California calling for a “clean” DACA bill. Clean is code for do it the way Democrats demand: legislation to enshrine DACA with zero additional border security measures. Enacting DACA without border security measures will lead to a repeat of what we witnessed when President Obama illegally enacted DACA by executive order in the first place. We will see tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors crossing our borders in hopes of being granted amnesty. This will lead to a true humanitarian crisis, as desperate parents in impoverished countries put their children onto trains, into trucks, and on foot to try and obtain entry into the United States. We cannot repeat this mistake again.

Make no mistake, this government shutdown is on the shoulders of Democrats. They want this shutdown to try and frame Republicans as opposed to Dreamers (which isn’t the case as long as there’s border security included), and as responsible for a government shutdown while there’s total Republican control in the capital. This entire fiasco is designed to help Democrats raise money and win elections this fall. It’s unfortunate that Democrats don’t care about our military men and women, who will be forced to serve without pay if this issue is unresolved, and the millions of people who will, in some form, feel the effect of their electoral gimmicks.

Republicans should not back-down, but make the Democrats own this obstructionism until they act like adults and run the country responsibly. I agree with White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, this is the Schumer Shutdown.

 

 

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ABC News Blames Donald Trump for False Alarm in Hawaii

If you watched ABC News this morning, you would be forgiven for believing that President Trump has caught-up Hawaii in a new Cold War. After a government employee hit the wrong button and set-off the state’s incoming missile alert system, people ran for cover, said their last goodbyes, and prepared for the worst. After 38 excruciating minutes, the false alarm was signaled, but the trauma remained. All of this, according to the mainstream media, is Donald Trump’s fault.

The entire episode in Hawaii looks like something from the Cold War Era, and is the result of North Korea’s saber rattling with regard to their nuclear program. This reality is lost on liberals like George Stephanopoulos, who think that the uproar in the Aloha State is entirely Donald Trump’s fault. During a segment on Sunday morning on the false alarm, ABC News ran clips of Trump’s “fire and fury” comments regarding North Korea’s missile tests and suggested that he was ratcheting-up tensions. While I don’t always agree with President Trump’s rhetoric, and think that some restraint is warranted, it is more than a stretch to accuse the President of creating this crisis with North Korea.

North Korea’s goal since the Kim dictatorial dynasty began after Kim Il-Sung, the grandfather of Kim Jong-un, seized power in 1948 has been a unified Korean Peninsula under North Korean control. The United States has long represented the single greatest national obstacle to the Kim Dynasty’s dream of a communist unified Korea. This has led the North Koreans to maintain a belligerence toward the United States from the time of the Korean War to the present.

In spite of multiple American presidents seeking diplomatic solutions to North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, the Kims have moved ahead unabated. Most recently, President Obama’s policy of “strategic patience” toward the regime failed to produce any meaningful results, other than providing time for North Korea to further develop its nuclear weapons delivery systems.

President Trump may not be restrained with words, but his tough stance on North Korea is long overdue. Putting Kim Jong-un on notice is the only way to protect America and our allies from a rising nuclear threat. The false alarm in Hawaii yesterday is more a symptom of decades of passivity toward North Korea, while they’ve armed-up, than of Donald Trump’s fiery rhetoric.

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