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Freedom in the 50 States 2015-2016 | Overall Freedom …

William P. Ruger

William P. Ruger is Vice President of Policy and Research at the Charles Koch Institute and Charles Koch Foundation. Ruger is the author of the biography Milton Friedman and a coauthor of The State of Texas: Government, Politics, and Policy. His work has been published in International Studies Quarterly, State Politics and Policy Quarterly, Armed Forces and Society, and other outlets. Ruger earned an AB from the College of William and Mary and a PhD in politics from Brandeis University. He is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan.

Jason Sorens is Lecturer in the Department of Government at Dartmouth College. His primary research interests include fiscal federalism, public policy in federal systems, secessionism, and ethnic politics. His work has been published in International Studies Quarterly, Comparative Political Studies, Journal of Peace Research, State Politics and Policy Quarterly, and other academic journals, and his book Secessionism: Identity, Interest, and Strategy was published by McGill-Queens University Press in 2012. Sorens received his BA in economics and philosophy, with honors, from Washington and Lee University and his PhD in political science from Yale University.

Originally posted here:

Freedom in the 50 States 2015-2016 | Overall Freedom …

Austin Petersen: Why I became a Republican – Washington Examiner

To the casual observer, it certainly seems like the Republican Party is in an identity crisis. After years of consensus and sweeping the 2016 national elections on the promise of repeal and replace of Obamacare, Republicans in a stunning 11th-hour failure failed to pass even the so-called “skinny” repeal.

Amid this failure and the apparent chaos in Washington, many have drawn the conclusion that Republicans are in disarray and unable to govern. Others wonder if we are witnessing the end of the GOP. Many people I’ve met on the campaign trail have asked me why at a time like this I would choose to join the Republican party.

It’s a fair question. For years, I was a big-L Libertarian, competing in a crowded field for the party’s nomination for the presidency in 2016. Changing parties especially at this time might seem like a counterintuitive move.

But although turncoats like John McCain and Susan Collins have taken center stage and confused the party’s image, several Republican leaders remain faithful to basic conservative principles. Leaders like Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Mike Lee in the Senate and the Freedom Caucus in the House have refused to budge on Obamacare and have made their dedication to individual liberty and limited government clear.

I’m running for Senate from Missouri as a Republican in order to work alongside leaders like these. At its core, the Republican Party is supposed to be a liberty party that’s why it was the party of Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan. For a Republican, so long as you are not violating the lives and liberties of other human beings and that includes the lives of human beings in the womb the government should give you the freedom to do as you see fit. The party strives to put the trust and the power back in the hands of the people instead of handing it over to unelected bureaucrats.

I believe in these core conservative principles. I’ve spent my whole career speaking on and fighting for freedom the freedom to spend as you see fit, worship as you see fit, study as you see fit, and speak as you see fit. And I’m eager to partner with liberty-loving Republicans and President Trump in restoring federalism, freedom of faith, and fiscal responsibility in this country.

Above all, however, I found that a move to the Republican Party was the move my fellow Missourians wanted me to make. Before launching my campaign, I called hundreds of Missourians to lay out the principles of liberty that form the bedrock of my political beliefs and to ask for their support. Not only did I receive a consistently positive response, but I also was asked by many to run as a Republican instead of as a Libertarian. They want to beat Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., as badly as I do, and what better than to replace a Democrat with a liberty-loving Republican?

Missourians want and deserve the kind of Republican who will stick to his guns, both literally and figuratively. They want a Republican in the model of the Freedom Caucus, Cruz, Paul, and Lee a Republican who has the grit to withstand the pressures of political gamesmanship and special interests and the gumption to vote by principle and for the people every time.

I know I can be this kind of leader, and I’m ready to represent my fellow Missourians faithfully from within the GOP. And I know that by working together, we can bring about real reform.

That’s why I’m a Republican. And it’s why I’m asking my fellow Missourians to join me in restoring the GOP and returning the country to the constitutional principles of justice and liberty for all.

Austin Petersen is a candidate for the United States Senate. Learn more at austinpetersen.com.

If you would like to write an op-ed for the Washington Examiner, please read our guidelines on submissions.

Here is the original post:

Austin Petersen: Why I became a Republican – Washington Examiner

September Will Be a Mess in Congress; Budget, Spending and Debt Fights Ahead – Indian Country Today Media Network

TRAHANT REPORTS September is going to be a mess. Congress must sort out some really complicated fiscal issues. There is the budget, an increase in the debt limit, how much to spend on federal programs and services, and, if theres time, tax reform.

This should be easy in a one-party government. Republicans come up with a budget plan. Then the House acts, the Senate does its thing, and President Donald J. Trump signs the idea into law. Easy. Except there is no Republican majority in Congress (other than the R listed by members names.)

The House is made up of at least three factions, or parties, and no majority. (The three groups are: Republicans, Democrats, and the more conservative House Freedom Caucus.) So in order to gather enough votes to pass a budget, or any other of the challenges, at least two of the three factions have to agree on a plan.

Download our free report, Intergenerational Trauma: Understanding Natives Inherited Pain, to understand this fascinating concept.

The Senate has its own divisions within the Republican Party. (The very reason why a Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act has not yet become law.)

And the White House is not on the same page either. The president proposed a stingy budget thats been pretty much rejected by members of the House and the Senate (except the more conservative elements such as the House Freedom Caucus.)

Courtesy Trahant Reports

Mark Trahant, Trahant Reports

For example the Trump administration proposed budget calls for$4.7 billion for the Indian Health Service, a cut of some $300 million or 6 percent of the agencys budget. But a House spending plan calls for anincrease of $97 million over last years levels. Indeed,the Appropriations Committeethat funds IHS and the Bureau of Indian Affairs plans to spend a total of $4.3 billion more than the president requested on programs under its jurisdiction. (In general: The presidents budget reflects significant budget cuts across Indian country,according to analysis by the National Congress of American Indians.)

The Senate will come up with its own spending plan. Then, in theory, the two houses will resolve their differences and agree on how much the federal government should spend next year (and the president can go along or veto the legislation and start all over).

But no. Thats not how Congress is actually legislating these days. More often Congress agrees to a temporary spending plan based on last years budget, the Continuing Resolution. Thats an easier sell to members because it represents a last minute, throw up your hands, and do something, approach. The other alternative is a government shutdown. President Trump tweeted in May that our country needs a good shutdown in September to fix mess!

Yes, the budget is a mess. Period. Even take the word, budget. Thats a proposal from the president. But in Congress a budget is a spending limit that Congress imposes on itself. It sets a ceiling that each of the 12 Appropriations subcommittees have to live with. And, more important right now, the budget sets the rules for debate so the Senate can pass some legislation (such as the health care bill) with only 50 votes. (Most bills need 60 votes to stop a filibuster from stopping the process.)

Back to the congressional budget. Last month the Budget Committee approved a plan that would cut domestic spending by $2.9 trillion over the next decade. The full House will vote on this plan when it returns. Its a bleak document that would end up slashing many of the programs that serve American Indians and Alaska Natives. Remember the appropriations committees would still spend the money; but the budget would act as an overall cap.

This budget plan starts off withhistorically low federal spendingfollowed by even more severe budget cuts between now and 2027. To show how out of touch this budget is, it includes program cuts for Medicaid that were a part of the failed health care legislation. (Whats changed? Nothing.) This bill tips toward the conservatives who want more spending cuts to be sooner, as in right now.

That makes the problem political. There are probably not enough votes to make this budget so. A few Republicans dont see this harsh approach as good government. And even if the votes are found in the House, the Senate is another story. Think health care.

And if this budget cannot pass, its not likely there is another one that would.Democrats in the House say: Congress cannot continue to underfund these crucial investments (and) without relief from these spending caps, vital government programs are facing significant cuts for fiscal year 2018 that would have significant effects on American families all across the country.

And the budget is only one fiscal crisis. Another issue that is immediate and serious involves the debt limit. Thats the amount of money the federal government can borrow is currently set at $19.85 trillion (federal debt exceeds that level now, but the Secretary of Treasury can basically shuffle money from different accounts). Conservatives want spending cuts as part of any deal to increase the debt limit. As Rep. Tom Cole, R-OK, and a member of the Chickasaw Tribe, told MSNBC. A debt limit increase without spending cuts is like having a credit card and saying, Ive reached my limit, Im just going to change the limit higher without changing any of my spending habits.

But, like on the budget, the votes are not there. (Especially in the Senate where 60 votes will be needed.)

Download our free report, Intergenerational Trauma: Understanding Natives Inherited Pain, to understand this fascinating concept.

This is tricky because the Republican administration understands what failure could do to the country. Budget director, Mick Mulvaney, is now supporting a debt limit increase. But when he served in Congress, Mulvaney said he was willing to risk a default to force a discussion on spending.

In both the House and the Senate votes from Democrats will be needed to pass the debt limit. But will there be enough Republicans.

If Congress does not pass the debt limit, the United States would be catastrophic. And, almost immediately, this failure would impact federal budgets because interest rates would spike upward. Interest rates are already the fastest growing part of the federal budget and a sharp increase in rates would add significantly to the total federal debt. In other words: By voting against a debt limit increase, Congress would make the debt problem worse. Far worse.

But Republicans have campaigned against a debt limit increase for a long time. Its going to be one tough vote.

In case youre keeping score:

So yes, September is going to be a mess. And after the budget, spending bills, and debt limit is complete, theres still tax reform on the agenda. Yet another mess.

Mark Trahant is theCharles R. Johnson Endowed Professorof Journalism at the University of North Dakota. He is an independent journalist and a member ofThe Shoshone-Bannock Tribes.OnTwitter @TrahantReports.

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September Will Be a Mess in Congress; Budget, Spending and Debt Fights Ahead – Indian Country Today Media Network

Hood: Focus on long-term growth – Henderson Daily Dispatch

RALEIGH So far in 2017, North Carolina is adding jobs at a slower pace than the national and regional averages. Thats a noticeable change from recent trends but its a reason only for concern, not for panic or pontification.

Through July, the states economy has added about 32,000 net new jobs this year, with total employment growing by 0.7 percent. Thats a rate of increase lower than the national average (0.9 percent) and the average of the 12 Southeastern states (1.1 percent). During 2016, by contrast, North Carolinas rate of job growth exceeded both averages. The same is true for the longer-term trend, measured from 2012 to 2016.

Republicans might like to pin our job-creation slowdown on Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who took office in January. But that would be premature. Regardless of whether you like Coopers picks or policies, its too soon for them to have affected significantly a state economy estimated at $530 billion in goods and services.

Democrats might like to blame the Republican legislatures conservative fiscal and regulatory policies, which began in 2011 and then dramatically expanded in 2013. But that would be logically incoherent. Did these policies first boost North Carolinas job-creation rate above the national and regional averages, and then suddenly pull it down in 2017?

Moreover, it would be odd to attempt to disprove the economic benefits of smaller government, lower taxes, and less-burdensome regulation by pointing to the higher employment growth being enjoyed by regional competitors such as Florida, Georgia and Tennessee, as these states rank even higher than North Carolina does on measures of economic freedom.

So trying to turn the states relatively weak performance in job growth since the beginning of the year into a political bludgeon is unjustified and unhelpful.

I would similarly urge North Carolinians against panic. The future of the state, and the prosperity of its residents, can be neither measured nor determined in seven-month increments of time. We face significant challenges, due primarily to structural changes in the national and international economy. Some jobs and industries that were viable in the past are no longer viable and politicians who tell you otherwise are fooling you, themselves, or both.

What we should focus on is a comprehensive, long-term strategy for encouraging sustained economic growth. Governors and legislatures dont control the money supply, set trade policy, or run fiscal deficits. They affect economic growth by influencing the creation and deployment of valuable capital assets that make it much easier and less expensive to produce goods and services, make those goods and services much higher in quality, or some combination of the two.

Some of these assets are physical ones. Others are forms of human capital, such as the education and skills of workers and entrepreneurs or the social trust that allows households and businesses to make plans and strike deals with confidence.

Governments clearly have a role to play in building and maintaining physical assets such as highways. Governments also have a role to play in human capital, such as funding schools and establishing a fair and consistent system for enforcing contracts and adjudicating disputes.

But most capital assets are privately created, privately owned, and privately managed. The private sector is the lead actor in the story of economic growth and job creation, with the public sector playing an important but supporting role. Fiscal conservatives never forget that when governments collect taxes to spend on a public program, that removes dollars from the pockets of their original owners, at least partially supplanting an investment that would otherwise be made voluntarily and skillfully.

North Carolinas future rests on wise investment by both the public and private sector, with a strong emphasis on the latter and on innovators hatching new ideas and turning them into new industries.

State leaders have prudently built up the governments cash reserves, just in case the current slowdown in job-creation rates leads to something worse. More importantly, however, they have enacted policies to welcome and foster private investment in North Carolina over time.

John Hood is chairman of the John Locke Foundation and appears on the talk show NC SPIN. You can follow him @JohnHoodNC.

Read more:

Hood: Focus on long-term growth – Henderson Daily Dispatch

Freedom in the 50 States 2015-2016 | Overall Freedom …

William P. Ruger

William P. Ruger is Vice President of Policy and Research at the Charles Koch Institute and Charles Koch Foundation. Ruger is the author of the biography Milton Friedman and a coauthor of The State of Texas: Government, Politics, and Policy. His work has been published in International Studies Quarterly, State Politics and Policy Quarterly, Armed Forces and Society, and other outlets. Ruger earned an AB from the College of William and Mary and a PhD in politics from Brandeis University. He is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan.

Jason Sorens is Lecturer in the Department of Government at Dartmouth College. His primary research interests include fiscal federalism, public policy in federal systems, secessionism, and ethnic politics. His work has been published in International Studies Quarterly, Comparative Political Studies, Journal of Peace Research, State Politics and Policy Quarterly, and other academic journals, and his book Secessionism: Identity, Interest, and Strategy was published by McGill-Queens University Press in 2012. Sorens received his BA in economics and philosophy, with honors, from Washington and Lee University and his PhD in political science from Yale University.

See the original post here:

Freedom in the 50 States 2015-2016 | Overall Freedom …

Austin Petersen: Why I became a Republican – Washington Examiner

To the casual observer, it certainly seems like the Republican Party is in an identity crisis. After years of consensus and sweeping the 2016 national elections on the promise of repeal and replace of Obamacare, Republicans in a stunning 11th-hour failure failed to pass even the so-called “skinny” repeal.

Amid this failure and the apparent chaos in Washington, many have drawn the conclusion that Republicans are in disarray and unable to govern. Others wonder if we are witnessing the end of the GOP. Many people I’ve met on the campaign trail have asked me why at a time like this I would choose to join the Republican party.

It’s a fair question. For years, I was a big-L Libertarian, competing in a crowded field for the party’s nomination for the presidency in 2016. Changing parties especially at this time might seem like a counterintuitive move.

But although turncoats like John McCain and Susan Collins have taken center stage and confused the party’s image, several Republican leaders remain faithful to basic conservative principles. Leaders like Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Mike Lee in the Senate and the Freedom Caucus in the House have refused to budge on Obamacare and have made their dedication to individual liberty and limited government clear.

I’m running for Senate from Missouri as a Republican in order to work alongside leaders like these. At its core, the Republican Party is supposed to be a liberty party that’s why it was the party of Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan. For a Republican, so long as you are not violating the lives and liberties of other human beings and that includes the lives of human beings in the womb the government should give you the freedom to do as you see fit. The party strives to put the trust and the power back in the hands of the people instead of handing it over to unelected bureaucrats.

I believe in these core conservative principles. I’ve spent my whole career speaking on and fighting for freedom the freedom to spend as you see fit, worship as you see fit, study as you see fit, and speak as you see fit. And I’m eager to partner with liberty-loving Republicans and President Trump in restoring federalism, freedom of faith, and fiscal responsibility in this country.

Above all, however, I found that a move to the Republican Party was the move my fellow Missourians wanted me to make. Before launching my campaign, I called hundreds of Missourians to lay out the principles of liberty that form the bedrock of my political beliefs and to ask for their support. Not only did I receive a consistently positive response, but I also was asked by many to run as a Republican instead of as a Libertarian. They want to beat Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., as badly as I do, and what better than to replace a Democrat with a liberty-loving Republican?

Missourians want and deserve the kind of Republican who will stick to his guns, both literally and figuratively. They want a Republican in the model of the Freedom Caucus, Cruz, Paul, and Lee a Republican who has the grit to withstand the pressures of political gamesmanship and special interests and the gumption to vote by principle and for the people every time.

I know I can be this kind of leader, and I’m ready to represent my fellow Missourians faithfully from within the GOP. And I know that by working together, we can bring about real reform.

That’s why I’m a Republican. And it’s why I’m asking my fellow Missourians to join me in restoring the GOP and returning the country to the constitutional principles of justice and liberty for all.

Austin Petersen is a candidate for the United States Senate. Learn more at austinpetersen.com.

If you would like to write an op-ed for the Washington Examiner, please read our guidelines on submissions.

Read more:

Austin Petersen: Why I became a Republican – Washington Examiner

Focus on long-term growth – The Mountaineer (subscription)

RALEIGH So far in 2017, North Carolina is adding jobs at a slower pace than the national and regional averages. Thats a noticeable change from recent trends but its a reason only for concern, not for panic or pontification.

Through July, the states economy has added about 32,000 net new jobs this year, with total employment growing by .7 percent. Thats a rate of increase lower than the national average (.9 percent) and the average of the 12 Southeastern states (1.1 percent). During 2016, by contrast, North Carolinas rate of job growth exceeded both averages. The same is true for the longer-term trend, measured from 2012 to 2016.

Republicans might like to pin our job-creation slowdown on Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who took office in January. But that would be premature. Regardless of whether you like Coopers picks or policies, its too soon for them to have affected significantly a state economy estimated at $530 billion in goods and services.

Democrats might like to blame the Republican legislatures conservative fiscal and regulatory policies, which began in 2011 and then dramatically expanded in 2013. But that would be logically incoherent. Did these policies first boost North Carolinas job-creation rate above the national and regional averages, and then suddenly pull it down in 2017?

Moreover, it would be odd to attempt to disprove the economic benefits of smaller government, lower taxes, and less-burdensome regulation by pointing to the higher employment growth being enjoyed by regional competitors such as Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee, as these states rank even higher than North Carolina does on measures of economic freedom.

So trying to turn the states relatively weak performance in job growth since the beginning of the year into a political bludgeon is unjustified and unhelpful.

I would similarly urge North Carolinians against panic. The future of the state, and the prosperity of its residents, can be neither measured nor determined in seven-month increments of time. We face significant challenges, due primarily to structural changes in the national and international economy. Some jobs and industries that were viable in the past are no longer viable and politicians who tell you otherwise are fooling you, themselves, or both.

What we should focus on is a comprehensive, long-term strategy for encouraging sustained economic growth. Governors and legislatures dont control the money supply, set trade policy, or run fiscal deficits. They affect economic growth by influencing the creation and deployment of valuable capital assets that make it much easier and less expensive to produce goods and services, make those goods and services much higher in quality, or some combination of the two.

Some of these assets are physical ones. Others are forms of human capital, such as the education and skills of workers and entrepreneurs or the social trust that allows households and businesses to make plans and strike deals with confidence.

Governments clearly have a role to play in building and maintaining physical assets such as highways. Governments also have a role to play in human capital, such as funding schools and establishing a fair and consistent system for enforcing contracts and adjudicating disputes.

But most capital assets are privately created, privately owned, and privately managed. The private sector is the lead actor in the story of economic growth and job creation, with the public sector playing an important but supporting role. Fiscal conservatives never forget that when governments collect taxes to spend on a public program, that removes dollars from the pockets of their original owners, at least partially supplanting an investment that would otherwise be made voluntarily and skillfully.

North Carolinas future rests on wise investment by both the public and private sector, with a strong emphasis on the latter and on innovators hatching new ideas and turning them into new industries.

State leaders have prudently built up the governments cash reserves, just in case the current slowdown in job-creation rates leads to something worse. More importantly, however, they have enacted policies to welcome and foster private investment in North Carolina over time.

John Hood is chairman of the John Locke Foundation and appears on the talk show NC SPIN. You can follow him @JohnHoodNC.

See the original post here:

Focus on long-term growth – The Mountaineer (subscription)

Report: Brockton lawmaker is ‘big winner’ from legislative pay raise vote – Enterprise News

Information received through a Freedom of Information Act request shows that a state lawmaker representing Brockton received a pay increase from $67,232 to $107,547 from the pay raise that she and other legislators voter for earlier this year. Mass Fiscal Alliance dubbed state Rep. Claire Cronin, D-Easton, “the big winner” in The House from the pay hike vote held on Beacon Hill in January this year.

BROCKTON A state lawmaker representing Brockton was the big winner in the House of Representatives from pay raises that legislators gave themselves in a vote earlier this year, according to the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance.

The Beacon Hill group, which calls itself a nonpartisan advocate for fiscal responsibility and transparency, published the findings of a Freedom of Information Act request for payroll records of state lawmakers before and after they passed a legislative pay raise in January.

State Rep. Claire Cronin, D-Easton, who represents part of Brockton, received the largest percentage increase 60 percent in the House of Representatives, the group said.

The information published by the group shows that Cronins raise went from $67,232 in total take home pay in 2016, to $107,547 in 2017.

That included $30,000 in additional leadership pay, which is additional compensation for state lawmakers with various leadership roles. Cronin is the chairperson for the Joint Committee on the Judiciary, according to her legislative profile.

Cronin and others also received additional compensation for office expenses, varying depending on the lawmakers distance from home to Boston. Cronin and other lawmakers in Brockton received an additional $15,000 for this in 2017, compared to the $7,200 they received in the previous year.

Cronins base pay also increased by about $2,500.

Cronin and all other state lawmakers representing Brockton voted to give themselves the pay raise, justifying the pay increase with a bipartisan report authored in 2014 that recommended additional compensation. They also pointed to the lack of a legislative leadership stipend increase since 1982.

Cronin provided a statement to The Enterprise on Thursday celebrating her new leadership position the primary reason for her pay increase and she commented on the added work that it entails.

“This year I was proud to receive a promotion, being named the first woman House chair of the Judiciary Committee,” Cronin said. “With this promotion, I have increased responsibilities, including hearing and considering nearly 800 pieces of legislation, among them bills dealing with criminal justice reform, a priority of the speaker, Senate president and governor. There are more bills and more hearings in the Judiciary Committee than any other committee in the Legislature.”

However, advocates from groups like Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance are not buying the explanations from local politicians, and they argue that state lawmakers are trying to downplay the pay raises they gave themselves.

The slippery stories legislators are telling about this vote are outrageous, said Paul Craney, a spokesperson for Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance. Only the professional politicians win when information like this is kept secret. We think people deserve the truth.

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Report: Brockton lawmaker is ‘big winner’ from legislative pay raise vote – Enterprise News

Watchdogs Raise Concerns Over Budget ‘Earmarks’ | 90.5 WESA – 90.5 WESA

Its been nearly a month since the state Senate voted through a revenue plan that would fund the state budgetif the House agrees to it.

But Harrisburg watchdogs are still poring over it to figure out where money is going.

The right-leaning Commonwealth Foundation has released a report detailing instances where senators slipped spending into a bill meant to fund the budget.

All told, the chambers fiscal code bill includes $65 million thats split up among several dozen groups deemed worthy of the money.

The process is colloquially called earmarking.

Commonwealth Foundation Director Nathan Benefield said recipientslike hospitals, schools, or townsare hard to determine, because they arent listed by name.

It says like, well this is open to any organization thats in a third-class county, in a second-class city, with a population of 35,000, Benefield said. And its only one organization that fits that definition.

The foundation is on a multi-year quest to make so-called earmarks more transparent. Benefield said this year, they spent several weeks studying the fiscal code and still werent totally able to figure out where all the earmarked money was going.

He added, putting spending into the fiscal code makes it easier to use taxpayer dollars as political collateral.

Lawmakers who vote the right way or vote the way leadership wants them to are going to get earmarks in their districtand those earmarks are traded, basically, for votes on legislation, he said.

Lawmakers have defended their freedom to have some discretionary spending. And Senate GOP spokeswoman Jenn Kocher noted, the process for allocating the money isnt without oversight measures.

People have to make applications for them, they have to go through and publicly apply and fulfill all the requirements from the specific departments from which theyre receiving the money, she said.

The Commonwealth Foundation wants the earmarks to be itemized in the actual budget spending plan instead of the fiscal codesaying that would better-ensure the allocations are fair.

The Senate plans earmarks include money for certain state parks, community colleges, and autism services, among other things.

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Watchdogs Raise Concerns Over Budget ‘Earmarks’ | 90.5 WESA – 90.5 WESA

City Hall staffers see $2.8M in raises through fiscal year 2017 – NY … – New York Daily News

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Updated: Thursday, August 3, 2017, 9:41 AM

The mayor’s poll numbers may be down, but salaries for his staff are going up, up, up.

Mayor de Blasio doled out $2.8 million in raises in fiscal year 2017, which ended June 30, a Daily News analysis found.

The News analyzed the salaries of 538 staffers who worked in the mayors office in both fiscal years 2016 and 2017 and found that 426 of them got raises. Of those, 40 staffers got pay hikes of 20% or more and 15 saw their pay increase by 30% or better.

The payroll data for fiscal 2016 and 2017 were obtained through a Freedom of Information Law request.

City urged to verify if mayor’s legal bills are job-related costs

The biggest raise, measured as a percentage of the salary, went to Alexander Merchant whose salary shot up 81% from $67,000 in 2016 to $121,000 this year.

Merchants pay hike came in two parts a raise to $82,555 in December 2016 for a promotion within the mayors Office of Operations.

Next, he received a jump to $121,000 in May for a new position as an adviser with the first deputy mayors office, according to City Hall.

Mkada Beach, chief of staff at the Mayors Office of Special Projects and Events, saw her salary boosted by 38%, to $85,000 before being suspended without pay in June.

Mayor, governor rally against Republican health care bill

Beach was charged in connection with an auto insurance fraud ring busted by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. She has since been let go, city officials said.

Avi Fink who has been linked to several questionable campaign donors saw his salary climb by 42% this year.

Fink, 31, was promoted to be the mayors deputy chief of staff in October. His salary jumped then and once again on March 1, landing at $175,000.

While not reflected in their titles as listed in the payroll documents, many of those earning raises of 30% or more Merchant, Beach and Fink included wound up in entirely new jobs, moving from one office to another, with new responsibilities, said de Blasio spokeswoman Freddi Goldstein.

De Blasio to taxpayers: Pay my $2.3M legal bill from ethics probe

I know its fun to beat on public servants, but these are people who received promotions or more senior jobs. When you get a new job, you get a new salary, whether you work in city government or a grocery store, Goldstein said.

The most common raise was for considerably less 3%, which was what 302 staffers gained. That is in line with the raises that went to city employees who are represented by District Council 37, Goldstein said.

While de Blasio clearly approves of his staffers, just 50% of city voters gave Hizzoner favorable marks in the latest survey of his approval rating, released by Quinnipiac University this week.

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City Hall staffers see $2.8M in raises through fiscal year 2017 – NY … – New York Daily News

GOP leaders enlist Pence, Mulvaney to help with budget woes – Politico

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney will be calling on his rabble-rousing friends and former colleagues to get in line behind a House budget proposal. | Getty

Republicans hope lobbying from key White House conservatives will ease opposition from the hard-line House Freedom Caucus.

By Rachael Bade and Sarah Ferris

07/13/2017 02:15 PM EDT

Updated 07/13/2017 06:20 PM EDT

House GOP leaders are bringing in the big guns to help ease their budget woes: Vice President Mike Pence and White House budget director Mick Mulvaney.

Pence and Mulvaney committed Thursday to helping GOP leaders muster support among their divided conference to pass a fiscal 2018 budget. Republican leadership and House Budget Chairwoman Diane Black are hoping that Mulvaney will be particularly helpful in wooing his former colleagues and friends on the hard-line Freedom Caucus, where he was once a member.

Story Continued Below

The Freedom Caucus’ opposition has the potential to be one of the greatest hurdles to passing the budget, which is crucial if Republicans want to pass tax reform on a party-line vote. Caucus leaders, who have pushed hard to include mandatory cuts to welfare programs in the budget, have said they will not support the fiscal plan until they also get the details of the Houses tax reform proposal.

But tax reform details are still far off, insiders say. And GOP leaders, not to mention Black, are eager to move on the budget before the August recess.

Its frustrating in a sense that theyre demanding that we stay here [through August recess] and work, which is fine with me, but they’re not working while were here, said Budget panel member Tom Cole (R-Oakla.) of the Freedom Caucus threat to block the budget without tax details. I just think thats unrealistic Theyre not necessarily related.”

The Vice President’s office confirmed that Pence would be on the Hill to help get the budget passed. An Office of Management and Budget official confirmed that Mulvaney would be “working the phones” as well as making in-person pitches.

“The White House wants to be helpful in any way it can,” OMB spokesman John Czwartacki said by phone Thursday. “The White House sees tremendous value on a 2018 budget resolution passing both chambers of Congress.”

Black set out early to woo conservatives, even taking on GOP leadership as well as other Republican committee chairs to include $200 billion in entitlement cuts. Many moderates have balked at the proposal, with as many as 20 centrist Republicans in the Tuesday Group threatening to vote against such a plan almost enough to block it.

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Still, some Freedom Caucus members say those cuts are not enough. Vice chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) suggested during a news conference Wednesday that $200 billion in mandatory cuts was, essentially, a rounding error compared to the nations larger spending issues.

Meadows also said the group would need to see the details of the tax plan. They’re wary of Speaker Paul Ryan’s proposal to increase taxes on imports to pay for other tax cuts and want assurances the so-called border adjustment is dead.

Without decisions on tax reform, there will not be enough votes to pass it in the House because of the conservative concerns, Meadows said.

Enter the White House. Mulvaney and Pence huddled Thursday morning with Ryan (R-Wis.), Black (R-Tenn.) and White House legislative liaison Marc Short to devise a strategy to get Black’s budget passed. That plan includes talking not just to members of the Freedom Caucus but any recalcitrant Republicans to get the 218 votes needed on the floor.

The meeting followed several calls between Mulvaney and Black this weekend.

Several GOP sources following the budget process closely said they think the White House’s pitch for opponents to back the budget will work, allowing Black to move the bill through committee as soon as next week. Two members of the committee, Reps. Mark Sanford of South Carolina and Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, told POLITICO on Wednesday that they were told to expect a Budget Committee markup next week.

Mulvaney and Pence’s first task will be helping Black move the bill through the panel, where some conservatives like Reps. Dave Brat (R-Va.) and Gary Palmer (R-Ala.), both Freedom Caucus members, have not yet committed to supporting the plan.

Palmer in an interview off the House floor Thursday said he wanted the budget to rein in more spending.

Im still looking at it. I think theres time to improve it,” Palmer said, when asked if he’d support the budget. “At some point everybodys got to come to the realization that were on a path to fiscal disaster.”

Palmer, however, might be one of the easier conservatives to win over: He does not agree with his fellow Freedom Caucus members who say they want to hold up the budget in order to squeeze out the details of tax reform.

“The Freedom Caucus doesnt speak for all its members,” he said. “I think that the tax reform effort is a separate issue. I dont believe in holding something else hostage.”

Palmer also praised Black for her work, saying he can’t remember the last time a budget was crafted to trigger billions in cuts.

Brat said he couldn’t back a budget without more tax details.

“How do you get corporate rates down when you’re minus a few trillion [in deficits]? We have to know the answer to that question because tax reform is the Holy Grail,” he said. “I am not able to take a budget vote until I know how all the big trillion-dollar pieces fit together.”

Even if Mulvany and Pence are able to help Black move the budget out of committee next week, they’ll have an even heavier lift with the rest of the conference. Freedom Caucus members have not yet taken a position on the issue, but they could soon.

“Why arent we seeing the tax plan? I think [our opposition is] a move to try to spur things along,” said Freedom Caucus member Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.). “Its a shame we would have to do that but weve got to keep things moving.”

To be sure, Ryan, the White House and Senate leaders have indeed begun working on a tax bill. But right now, those discussions and decisions are being made at a high level not with the rest of the conference.

The Freedom Caucus would like to have input in those discussions.

Asked about Mulvaney whipping the Freedom Caucus, Meadows on Thursday gave a hearty laugh off the House floor.

“We’re not voting for the budget until we get all those other things done, and Mick Mulvany can come up here and we can have nice lunch … and it ain’t gonna change a single vote,” Meadows said.

Meadows then called Mulvaney to press him on his intentions to whip the Freedom Caucus into passing the budget. He said Mulvaney denied that was his intention.

Alyssa Farah, a spokeswoman for the Freedom Caucus, said: “Chairman Meadows has a great degree of respect for Director Mulvaney and always appreciates his input on policy matters.”

And that’s just the conservative end of the House GOP conference.

GOP leaders and the White House will also have to presuade moderates in the Tuesday Group to back the budget. A few weeks ago, members of the group said they wouldn’t vote for a fiscal blueprint until Republicans strike a broader spending deal with Democrats, which seems a world away amid the partisan rancor on Capitol Hill.

In other words, Pence, Mulvaney and Ryan have some serious work to do.

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Freedom Caucus Fires First Volley in New Debt Ceiling Battle | The … – The Fiscal Times


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Freedom Caucus Fires First Volley in New Debt Ceiling Battle | The …
The Fiscal Times
The jockeying for position over the coming need to increase the Treasury Department's borrowing limit, known as the debt ceiling, has begun in Congress.

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Freedom Caucus Fires First Volley in New Debt Ceiling Battle | The … – The Fiscal Times

The Health Care Security And Freedom Act Of 2017 – Investor’s Business Daily

After years of subjecting ObamaCareto the harshest criticism, the Senate GOP’s struggles to come up with a replacement over the past several weeks havebeen a revelation:A critical mass of Republican senators seem to be saying that wresting the health care security provided by the law from their constituents is a nonstarter.

That leaves Congresswith two possible paths forward. The most likely path is a form of triage that would try to control the bleeding, rather than address ObamaCare’sunderlying problems that explain why enrollment was weak even before premiums spiked, and why the law was unpopular before”mean” TrumpCare came on the scene.

Stabilizing insurance markets, principally by providing protection for insurers against high-claims customers, is a good idea and an important step. But let’s be clear about what that won’t achieve: It won’t create a robust nongroup insurance market with rules that Americans can broadly support, and that work reasonably well for the finances of healthy and sick, old and young, working class and middle class.

To create a robust nongroup insurance market with lower premiums that serves people well will require taking the other potential path forward: transforming the Affordable Care Act, largely byinjecting the ingredient that Republicans say the law is most sorely lacking freedom.

While ObamaCare has helped thenear-poor and those with chronic conditions who otherwise might be stuck without affordable coverage, it gives a bad deal to pretty much everyone else, which iswhy the exchanges’ pool of customers is too small, too old and too costly, and premiums have soared asinsurers likeUnitedHealth Group (UNH),Aetna (AET) andHumana (HUM) have mostly exited the markets.

Simply stabilizing theturbulent insurance-exchange markets wouldn’t do anything to ameliorate ObamaCare’s harshest reality:Even among working-class households earning 150% to 250% of the poverty level, supposedly among the law’sbiggest beneficiaries, just 1 in 3 people who lack insurance from other sources are getting coverage that will protect them from financial disaster. Most of the other two-thirds are uninsured, either because they or a spouse work full time and don’t qualify for exchange subsidies, or else they’ve spurned subsidized bronze plans that carry $6,000-$7,000 deductibles despite the threat of a individual-mandate penalty.

While Americans aren’t crying out for the freedom to buy the skimpiest coverage that insurers can dream up, and pretty much everybody would rather have insurance than not if the price is right many people would benefit from greater flexibility than the ACA allows, and the entire country would benefit from a bipartisan consensus on health reform that helps those who have fallen through ObamaCare’s wide cracks.

That is whythe very best step for public policy, within the realm of what might be possible, would be to give people a choice between the comprehensive coverage that Democrats want them to have and that many people with chronic conditions or low incomes clearly need and the consumer-driven model that Republicans believe in, which allows people to opt for high-deductiblecoverage and set aside funds to cover basic medical needs.

This would involve turning ObamaCare’s cost-sharing support into something more akin to working-class tax cuts and removing ObamaCare’s heaviest-handed mandates, while preserving the ACA’s critical protections and support.

A central problem with ObamaCare is that the rules stacked the deck in favor of those needing comprehensive coverage, leaving far too many in the working class with three unappealingoptions: a silver plan that costs too much; a bronze plan that won’t pay their medical bills until long after they’re in financial distress;or anindividual-mandate penaltyfor opting against coverage that may be of little use.

Think ofa couple, age 30, in St. Louis with income of $40,000 (about 200% of the poverty level) and a child covered by Medicaid. For this couple, the cheapest silver plan under ObamaCare offers pretty solid coverage but costs$2,430 likely too much for a young family that’s probably already struggling to save anything. The cheapest bronze plan, costing $1,068, might be doable, but the $13,300deductible ($6,650 per person) could make a hospital stay financially devastating.

The chasm between ObamaCare’s silver and bronze deductibles $700 vs. $13,300 is by design, though clearly a poor one. ObamaCare provides extra cost-sharing subsidies that shrink deductibles for modest-income households, but only if they buy silver plans. Those cost-sharing subsidies work exactly like premium subsidies, paid directly from the government to insurers each month, even if the policyholder gets no medical care.

Looking through the lens of these 30-year-olds in St. Louis, a bipartisan replacement, merging Republican principles and Democratic values, is easy to identify.

First, don’t get rid of the comprehensive option. If this couple is trying to have a second child or one spouse has a chronic condition, they will be desperate for a low-deductible plan with a wide range of essential benefits.

Second, offer people the flexibility to choose a Republican option. A replacement for ObamaCare could give young, modest-income families the chance to set aside some savings for health expenses with two simple tweaks. Relax ObamaCare’s age-rating restrictions that inflate insurance costs for the young, but only for high-deductible plans, keeping comprehensive plans affordable for older adults. (That could mean silver plans with a 3:1 age rating, bronze 4:1 and catastrophic 5:1.)

Next, let people use cost-sharing subsidies to reduce premiums, if they prefer, effectively making it a tax cut. Those two steps would shrink that St. Louis couple’s bronze premium to zero, and they’d have about $900 left to put in a Health Savings Account to defray medical expenses not nirvana, but a dramatic improvement over what ObamaCare offers. Yes, this family would still be subject to very high deductibles, but no greater than under ObamaCare, and they’d have a $2,000 head start on their medical bills, giving them a chance to put aside some savings not because their tax credits are more generous than under ObamaCare but because they would be more usable.

From 100% to150% of the poverty level (about $12,000-$18,000 for a single), roughly90% of exchange enrollees sign up for silver coverage. Bronze-level deductibles would bealmost too extreme to bother if not for the mandate penalty though some percentage don’t bother and remain uninsured. So here’s a beautiful compromise that would inject some freedom and flexibility but not too much into the ACA.

ACA cost-sharing subsidies, which are even higher for this income tier, turn silver plans to ultra-low-deductible platinum plans.That option would still be available, but they also could opt to use their cost-sharing subsidy to cover a basic silver-plan premium and deposit the extra amount in a Health Savings Account. What’s beautiful about this is that the bar on minimum coverage would risecompared to the ACA, yet people would still have more freedom to pick a plan that works for their finances and their health status.

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We also should do something about thesteep drop-off in cost-sharing subsidies that acts as a disincentive to earn above 200% of the poverty level and is an especially big deal for people with significant medical needs. A more gradual phase-out by300% of the poverty level would provide more constructive incentives, while delivering modest tax cuts to income-tax-paying households. Premiums could essentially be free for everyone up to 250% of the poverty level if a catastrophic-planoption is made available to people above 200% of the poverty level and they opt to apply their cost-sharing subsidy to the premium for the lowest-cost plan, roughly around the “copper” option proposed by the insurance industry and some moderate Democrats.

This is another compromise in which both sides win.Above 200% of the poverty level, ObamaCare’s cracks widen in a serious way. The percentage of the uninsured under ObamaCare takes a big jump, and so does take-up of bronze coverage.Easing the cost-sharing subsidy cliff won’t only make it more attractive for people to get coverage, albeit higher-deductible coverage, but it will allow people who need comprehensive coverage to get a better policy than they do under ObamaCare, since the bigger cost-sharing subsidy will effectively turn a silver plan to gold.

Meanwhile, freedom to choose a catastrophic plan with a 5:1 age-rating should satisfy the GOP that the reformed insurance markets will provide sufficient flexibility to meet the needs of all comers. Democrats should acknowledge that it’s far better to let a young adult member of the working class get a higher-deductible plan for free than pay a penalty for going uninsured, and the broader, healthier risk pool will serve to hold down premiums for everyone.

As for the individual mandate, among the biggest issues of contention, if people earning up to 250% of the poverty level can get high-deductible coverage essentially for free and in most cases get extra cash on top there should be no need to threaten them with fines.

Above 250% of the poverty level, an alternative to the individual mandate is well worth considering. Among the reasons that the ObamaCare individual mandate doesn’t work very well is that relatively young and healthy people who gamble on going without coverage can reasonably expect to win their bet and end up with a financial gain. ObamaCare encourages this kind of short-term calculation, sinceonly those who get sick pay a price.

A more logical approach would eliminate the incentive to go without coverage when one is young and healthy, then sign up when one’s health starts deteriorating. Much like Medicare’s late-enrollment penalties, the idea would be to very gradually shrink future tax subsidies based on how long people go without coverage. This should apply to both the individual market and employer market, or else people would have reason not to get coverage between jobs that offer insurance. The key for this to work in the constructive way intended is that subsidies must be sufficient to make coverage affordable, or else people would opt out for legitimate financial reasons and their future cost of coverage would gradually become even less affordable.

Even without this more constructive incentive, it’s important to give members of the middle class a better deal than they get now. Those who earn too much to receive ObamaCare subsidies including young adults earning well below the official cut-off at 400% of the poverty level should be treated more equitably relative to their peers covered through the workplace.

A fiscally responsible solution would be to put a floor on tax credits for anyone buying coverage on the individual market equal to 25% of the cost of a silver plan, while limiting the income-tax benefit to 25% of the cost of employer-provided coverage and capping that benefit for high-income households. People in the 25% tax bracket (up to $91,151 for singles and $151,900 for married couples) who get coverage from an employer wouldn’t be touchedby the tax change, while there would be minimal effect on those in the 28% bracket (up to $190,150 for singles and $231,450 for couples).

The sad reality today is that ObamaCare throws millions of modest-wage, full-time workers under the bus. There are some4.5 million uninsured full-time workerswho along with their spouses don’t qualify for exchange subsidies, even if bronze-level workplace coverage costs close to 10% of income, which ObamaCare deems “affordable” but clearly isn’t. That can amount to five times what people pay on the subsidized exchanges, sometimes even more. That’s why perhaps a million other modest-wage earners solid numbers arehard to come by opt for”skinny” coverage at work that won’t pay for hospitalization or surgerybut will keep them from having to pay a mandate penalty. This is worth repeating: The skimpy coverage that Democrats hate is exactly the kind of insurance-in-name-only-coverage that a lot of low-wage, full-time workers are settling for under ObamaCare.

Theemployer mandate is easy to dodgeand ends up harming the low-wage workers it was supposed to help. Getting rid of it is a progressive thing to do especially if it is done while fixing the individual insurance market.

Finally, we shouldallowstates that haven’t expanded Medicaid to do so whilelimiting the expansion to 100% of the poverty level, easing the fiscal burden of the expansion on states, as suggested by Urban Institute scholars.

The Health Care Security & Freedom Act wouldn’t deliver gold-plated insurance to most people, but it is the least we can do. All of these features would create a broad, stable risk pool, with affordable coverage options and plenty of flexibility to let people get the coverage that they believe suits them best. While they entail a fiscal cost, we can tackle that while stillputting the nation on a sounder fiscal courseand strengthening the social safety net.

Having a robust nongroup market for insurance that serves people well should be a priority for the nation. The dynamism of our economy will be better served if entrepreneurs and idealists who are willing to step out on a limb don’t have to fear that their health insurance support will come crashing down. Demographic changes make it increasingly important for people to have the flexibility to step back from full-time work to help care for an aging parent or a sick child. Amid minimum-wage pressures and health care mandates, ultra-competitive markets and the advance of technology threaten to widen the cracks in our employer-centric insurance system that millions of workers, many with modest wages, are already falling into. And don’t forget that we’re entering the ninth year of an economic expansion. When the next recession hits, all of these pressures will multiply and millions more people will depend on insurance outside the employer system.

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TrumpCare: Almost Everyone Gets A Worse Deal

How To Replace ObamaCare And Save Social Security

6/30/2017 Combining Republican principles and Democratic values is key to replacing ObamaCare.

6/30/2017 Combining Republican principles and Democratic values is key to replacing…

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The Health Care Security And Freedom Act Of 2017 – Investor’s Business Daily

Trump’s looming steel war, explained – The Week Magazine

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The Trump administration may be about to tick off the world over steel.

President Trump will reportedly soon decide whether to slap tariffs of up to 20 percent on U.S. imports of steel from other countries. Tariffs on other imports like semiconductors, paper, washing machines, and aluminum could also be in the works.

A majority of White House officials apparently oppose the plan just not Trump himself. And it set off plenty of grumbles among the world’s other major economies at the international G-20 summit last week. If Trump goes through with it, officials in the European Union are looking into retaliatory tariffs on American exports in orange juice, whiskey, dairy, and other agricultural products.

Broadly speaking, there are two dimensions to this plan and its consequences: the legal and political complexities, and then any possible economic fallout.

Let’s take them in that order.

If he imposes the tariffs, Trump would actually be using an odd corner of American trade law that dates back to the Cold War. It allows the U.S. to impose protectionist measures if they’re deemed critical to national security. In this case, the ostensible justification would be that the military needs steel for equipment and vehicles and such, so the U.S. must have a robust domestic steel industry in case of war.

This is also where the problems start.

Trusted allies, not just the domestic industry, have historically been considered reliable sources of steel. Furthermore, the process for deciding when to use tariffs under this law usually requires months of committee hearings and knowledge gathering. That Trump is rushing the process suggests that national security is just a pretext. Instead, it is really an effort to protect U.S. steel, and everyone totally knows it. Which is why other Western countries are getting ready to retaliate.

Another justification the White House is throwing around is that China specifically needs to be punished for subsidizing its own steel exports to lower their price, and then dumping them on the international markets.

China is definitely guilty of this. Previous administrations, including Obama’s, have slapped plenty of restrictions and temporary tariffs on Chinese steel as a result. But for that very reason, China’s steel exports to the U.S. are already low it’s not even among America’s top 10 foreign suppliers. A more accurate characterization of the problem is that China’s exports drive down the price of other countries’ steel exports to America.

That’s why Trump may well target other countries think Brazil, Mexico, Japan, Canada, and the European Union as well or just impose the tariffs on everyone across the board. Which brings us back to the problem of pissing off the international community.

Now, Vox’s Zeesham Aleem pointed out that Trump could have yet another strategy in mind here: using the threat of tariffs on everyone to force other Western countries to get tougher on China together. But the White House has a big self-created problem there, too: “Trump’s constant reversals, ambiguity, mixed signals, and outright hostility to following through on U.S. commitments on everything from trade deals to military alliances have destroyed trust in the U.S.’s ability to actually fulfill its pledges.”

Basically, Trump is trying to game the rules of international trade agreements in a way that American allies will find particularly obvious and insulting. And they don’t find him credible enough to trust U.S. commitments anymore.

But what of the economic merits of those agreements? Even if it’s sure to piss off our trade partners, is this still a good idea for American jobs?

Well, as I mentioned, the more targeted a tariff is, the less likely it is to do anything for U.S. jobs. Just go after Chinese steel, and domestic producers will still be undercut by cheap imports from other countries. Meanwhile, tariffs on all steel imports only apply to steel. You may create jobs in the U.S. steel industry, but by definition, you’re also raising the price of steel for American consumers. So you gain jobs in steel, but maybe lose them in industries that use steel, like car manufacturing.

So Trump’s jobs goal would be better served by more comprehensive tariffs on all imports. But the closer he gets to that, the more likely he is to blow up international trade agreements entirely and spark a full-blown trade war. Now, American exports to the rest of the world make up just 12.5 percent of our economy, while the portion is much higher for most other Western countries. So they’d have far more to lose from a trade war than we do. But it still wouldn’t be pleasant.

Even many left-wing economists who agree with Trump on the effects of trade think tariffs work best as shots across the bow: temporary and targeted measures to punish specific countries for bad behavior. They’re not well-suited to forcing systemic changes in trade relationships.

If systemic change is Trump’s ultimate goal (and it should be) he could use countervailing currency interventions to fix systemic imbalances between the U.S. dollar and other currencies. Or he could negotiate directly with other governments as previous administrations have successfully done to get them to adjust the value of their currencies relative to ours. Both movies would shrink the trade deficit, and thus increase the amount of American demand going to fuel domestic job creation.

Alternatively, Trump could accept that large trade deficits give the federal government enormous room to borrow without consequence. The stimulative effects of bigger federal budget deficits are actually a natural corrective to the job-sucking effects of trade deficits. Trump could use that fiscal freedom to create jobs and bulk up domestic industries like steel with domestic industrial policy.

Many centrist analysts have fallen into the habit of treating even the whiff of protectionism as a terrible idea with inevitably apocalyptic consequences. But while Trump may be wrong about many things, he’s right that America’s trade relationships harm American workers.

Unfortunately, precisely because Trump is wrong about many other things, his solutions tend to be terrible.

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Trump’s looming steel war, explained – The Week Magazine

US warship sails close to South China Sea island occupied by Beijing – Daily Sabah

An American warship on Sunday sailed close to a disputed island in the South China Sea occupied by Beijing, a US official said, a provocative move that could further strain relations between the superpowers.

The USS Stethem destroyer passed less than 12 nautical miles (22 kilometers) from tiny Triton Island in the Paracel Islands archipelago, which is also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam, the official told AFP.

The operation, meant to demonstrate freedom of navigation in disputed waters, came just hours before a previously scheduled phone call between President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

China did not immediately issue a response.

It was the second operation of its kind carried out by the United States since Trump took office and comes days after his administration took a number of steps that seemed sure to strain US-Chinese relations.

Trump on Thursday authorized a $1.3 billion arms sale to Taiwan, which China considers a rebel province. The same day, the US Treasury Department slapped sanctions on a Chinese bank accused of laundering North Korean cash.

Also Thursday, the State Department expressed concern about Beijing’s respect for freedom in Hong Kong, on the 20th anniversary of Britain ceding the territory back to China.

And two days earlier, the State Department placed China on a list of the world’s worst human trafficking offenders.

– A sharp cooling –

All those steps added up to a sharp reversal in tone from April, when Xi traveled to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida for a first face-to-face meeting that Trump later said had helped build an “outstanding” relationship.

Further positive signs had followed, including an agreement in May on exporting US beef and natural gas to China.

Trump had praised China’s efforts to bring pressure on North Korea over its nuclear and missile programs.

But when those efforts failed to produce results — Pyongyang conducted new missile tests in violation of UN Security Council resolutions — the American president made his frustration known.

Those efforts had “not worked out,” Trump tweeted on June 20, adding, “At least I know China tried!”

Trump is scheduled to speak with Xi on Sunday at 8:45 pm (00h45 GMT Monday), 45 minutes after speaking with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

– A growing Chinese presence –

The latest US “freedom of navigation” exercise comes as Beijing continues muscular efforts to cement its claim to nearly all of the South China Sea, parts of which are also claimed by Taiwan and Southeast Asian nations including the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam.

The United Nations says countries can establish the reach of their territorial waters up to a limit of 12 nautical miles.

China has rapidly built reefs in the area into artificial islands capable of hosting military planes.

Freedom of navigation operations are designed to challenge the sovereignty of countries with claims to disputed territory. Washington has challenged annexations of South China Sea islets while advocating for a diplomatic settlement.

On May 25, the USS Dewey guided-missile destroyer sailed less than 12 nautical miles from Mischief Reef — part of the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, south of the Paracel Islands.

China has recently built up its facilities on Triton Island, including a new helicopter landing site, according to the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), part of the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank.

A large Chinese flag is displayed on the island, visible from aerial and satellite photos.

Beijing’s continuing construction in the area will allow Chinese planes to operate over nearly the entire South China Sea, according to the AMTI.

The United States in fiscal year 2016 conducted freedom of navigation operations “challenging excessive maritime claims of 22 different coastal states, including claims of allies and partners,” the Pentagon said.

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US warship sails close to South China Sea island occupied by Beijing – Daily Sabah

Commentary: Trump’s cuts to education a threat to freedom … – The Daily Herald

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By Kristi Ranta

Education is the gateway to many things here in the United States.

The right to education is the best gift that one can acquire. Children depend on a foundation of education. In a way, for some its their lifeline. Its the place they feel safe and a place that gives them a chance in a world that they can feel so invisible in. Education represents the freedom and happiness America is known for.

Our rights for an education should not be threatened by budget cuts that our government would make. We need to be putting more money into the education system.

When President Trumps budget plan for the fiscal year of 2018 came out, it was astounding to see how much support would be cut from education. About $9.2 billion would be cut from the budget, according to a May 22 NPR report. These budget cuts would take way about $2.4 billion from teacher training and $1.2 billion from summer school and after-school programs.

Not only will it take away from those programs but also from the 20 or more other programs that support schools, according to a June 13 article in The Atlantic. Public schools and particularly the special education system would also see cuts to their programs. It would hit services including speech therapy, vision testing and more.

With all these budget cuts to education programs its hard to see a future of happiness and freedom that the system represents. The budget cuts will make it hard to develop a better education for the next generation. It limits the chance to grow and find happiness and freedom in the depths of what learning can provide.

By letting the government make these budget cuts we are letting it take control of our future. The public should not stand for this kind of outrageous act. Education is always and will be the basic right to any U.S. citizen.

Claudia Wallis is a journalist and is also a managing editor of Scientific Americans Mind section. In an article called The New Science of Happiness in Time magazine, she questions how much we are really in control of our own happiness. The happiness which we receive from education will be limited to such a degree if we continue to let the government take over our control of the education system. We must say no to these budget cuts.

To improve our education we must take a step in the right direction. That direction includes making a voice for yourself. There are a million and more ways you could let your voice be heard, such as: writing a letter to your representatives in Congress, let others know about whats happening, post on social media, etc.

There once was a man whose name was Timothy Treadwell. Treadwell was a man of nature. He spent thirteen summers with grizzly bears up in Alaska, protecting them from any harm that came their way.

He died doing something that he believed in and had a passion for. He is something we should all inspire to be.

To have passion and to fight for the rights in what we believe. Email your representatives in Congress. Shout to the world. Most importantly be brave in supporting something that is important to you.

Freedom and happiness are the first things that come to my mind when I hear about our education system.

There may be some bumps in the system itself, but I know it deserves all the attention it can get. Our education will forever be a safe place for the people of the United States.

Please pay attention to the happiness it brings all who need it. Experience the freedom that education can give you.

Kristi Ranta lives in Lake Stevens.

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Commentary: Trump’s cuts to education a threat to freedom … – The Daily Herald

GOP Senators join in call to nix August recess to work on looming issues – Fox News

Republican senators have joined the call to get leaders of the GOP-controlled Congress to cancel members August recess so they can stay in Washington to fix the countrys health care system and address other key issues, including passing a budget before the end of the fiscal year when the federal government technically runs out of money.

Our current Senate calendar shows only 33 potential working days remaining before the end of the fiscal year, nine GOP senators said in a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

This does not appear to give us enough time to adequately address the issues that demand immediate attention.Therefore, we respectfully request that you consider truncating, if not completely foregoing, the scheduled August state work period, allowing us more time to complete our work.

The senators said they are united toward working “with a sense of urgency to deliver conservative solutions for pressing legislative issues and cited five imperatives to be accomplished by years end.

Those include completing the first phase of ObamaCare repeal and replacement, passing a budget that leads the way to reforming the U.S. tax code, and agreeing on appropriations as well as addressing the country’s debt limit before the start of October, when there is technically no more money left to run the government.

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., who has pushed the idea of repealing ObamaCare first, then voting later to replace it, on Sunday also backed cancelling the August recess.

We should do a repeal with a delay, he told CNNs State of the Union. And then I think the president should call on the Senate to cancel our August state work period. I think we should get straight to work at around-the-clock hearings on the replace plan.

House Republicans, particularly the most conservative members, have been leading the effort to remain at work through August.

On Friday, before Congress adjourned for the July 4 holiday, 12 GOP House members asked Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., to cancel the recess so they could tackle their long list of legislative goals.

During the 2016 elections, President Trump and Republican candidates running for the House and Senate promised the American people that with unified Republican government we could achieve many of the policy priorities that have been mere wishes for the last several years, Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., and the 11 others told Ryan in a letter.

The House list of goals includes the repeal of ObamaCare, passing a tax reform plan, reining in federal spending and working toward balancing the budget. The letter also cited the need to pass a federal budget and appropriating federal funds by Sept. 30.

When Congress returns from its 10-day July 4 break, members will have about 14 legislative working days before their month-long August recess.

The House Freedom Caucus — comprising roughly 30 of the chambers most conservative members, including Biggs — was among the first to support the effort to cancel the August recess.

The group said in early June that Congress must remain in session this summer to continue working to accomplish the priorities of the American people.

White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney recently said that he supports Congress staying in session through at least part of August.

And White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway has made clear that President Trump, a businessman and real estate mogul by trade, wants faster results.

When he says drain the swamp, its not just about getting rid of all the crocodiles in the water that we dont need. Its about moving at a different pace, she told Fox News Fox & Friends.

The GOP-led Senate is perhaps under an even tighter deadline, after leaving for July break without passing their ObamaCare overhaul bill.

Still, getting Republican congressional leaders to cancel or shorten the August recess, practically a perennial request, is unlikely.

Capitol Hill lawmakers historically use August to travel in delegations to foreign countries.

This year, a trip to China is scheduled through the U.S.-Asia Institute, and a trip to Israel is being led by the American Israel Education Foundation, according to a high-ranking congressional aide.

Fox News’ Joseph Weber, Chad Pergram and Mike Emanuel contributed to this report.

Read the rest here:

GOP Senators join in call to nix August recess to work on looming issues – Fox News

Independence Day and Fiscal Responsibility – Summit NJ News … – TAPinto.net

The4th of Julyis far more than hotdogs, fireworks, and swimming. Its a time to reflect upon the sacrifices our forbearers made so that we would be free, that liberty would reign among all.

Foremost among those liberties was economic freedom, often summarized in the phrase: No taxation without representation.

Unfortunately, our economic freedom is very much in peril. Puerto Rico is essentially bankrupt. The Virgin Islands may soon follow. Illinoiss debt ratings have been slashed to near junk, and unpaid bills total over $14 billion. Our Federal debt has nearly doubled to $20 Trillion in the last nine years. No economist believes those trends are sustainable.

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New Jersey is in very difficult straits, too. Its public pensions are massively underfunded, and our politicians are loathe to come up with concrete plans to remedy.

Here in Summit we are very proud of our triple A credit rating. But, ultimately our footing is no better than the ship we stand in, and Summit and its taxpayers must ultimately backstop our States financial responsibilities. Indeed, the auditors of the Board of Education have required a notation in our financial statements of our contingent responsibility for the pension obligations of BOE employees.

Evaluate each candidate this election season with a simple question. Are they more apt to exercise fiscal restraint, look for the most efficient approach to each problem, and treat the taxpayers dime as if it were their own? Or, are they inclined to say tax my neighbor or the next generation, we are owed this new goodie, and appeal to the short term desires of their supporters?

I am proud of my financial record as Board of Education President, two time chair of the Operations Committee of the Board of Education, and three time member of the Board of School Estimate, as all budgets have come in below the mandated cap.Yet such fiscal discipline has had no adverse impact on the quality of our educational system; we were recently ranked quite highly in the national media for quality of our programs.

If elected as the At Large Candidate to Common Council, I would bring this fiscal experience and diligence to the issues that face our great City.

I wish you and your family a most enjoyable4th of July!

David Dietze is the Republican candidate for Summit Common Council, At-Large.

More:

Independence Day and Fiscal Responsibility – Summit NJ News … – TAPinto.net

Moderate House Republicans warn of trouble for tax reform – CNBC

“House Republicans have made significant progress on budget decisions and these family discussions will continue amongst the conference,” Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong said in a statement.

The Freedom Caucus and Tuesday Group each represents enough House Republicans to stymie legislation on its own.

Outside organizations including powerful business lobby groups are increasingly worried that the disagreement could lead to a political stand-off that prevents tax reform from occurring.

“No other reforms under consideration rise to the importance of pro-growth, comprehensive tax reform,” the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, the National Association of Manufacturers and the National Federation of Independent Business said in a joint letter to Republican and Democratic congressional leaders on Wednesday.

Republican moderates also worry that adding mandatory cuts to a reconciliation bill would create unpalatable legislation that reduces benefits for the poor while granting tax cuts to corporations and wealthy individuals, according to aides.

The House Budget Committee canceled plans to send a resolution for fiscal 2018 to the floor this week, after the chairmen of several other committees rejected efforts to wring $250 billion in mandatory spending from spending.

Freedom Caucus members want much larger cuts.

The rest is here:

Moderate House Republicans warn of trouble for tax reform – CNBC

Fiscal Freedom | Prometheism.net – Part 31

The Path to Prosperity: A Blueprint for American Renewal

House Budget Committee Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Resolution

Read Full Report

Read Facts and Summary

A Contrast in Visions

For years, both political parties have made empty promises to the American people. Unfortunately, the President refuses to take responsibility for avoiding the debt-fueled crisis before us. Instead, his policies have put us on the path to debt and decline.

The President and his partys leaders refuse to take action in the face of the most predictable economic crisis in our nations history. The Presidents budget calls for more spending and more debt, while Senate Democrats for over 1,000 days have refused to pass a budget. This unserious approach to budgeting has serious consequences for American families, seniors, and the next generation.

We reject the broken politics of the past. The American people deserve real solutions and honest leadership. Thats what were delivering with our budget, The Path to Prosperity. House Republicans are advancing a plan of action for American renewal.

Our budget:

Cuts government spending to protect hardworking taxpayers;

Tackles the drivers of our debt, so our troops dont pay the price for Washingtons failure to take action;

Restores economic freedom and ensures a level playing field for all by putting an end to special-interest favoritism and corporate welfare

Reverses the Presidents policies that drive up gas prices, and instead promotes an all-of the-above strategy for unlocking American energy production to help lower costs, create jobs, and reduce dependence on foreign oil.

Strengthens health and retirement security by taking power away from government bureaucrats and empowering patients instead with control over their own care;

Reforms our broken tax code to spur job creation and economic opportunity by lowering rates, closing loopholes, and putting hardworking taxpayers ahead of special interests.

At its core, this plan of action is about putting an end to empty promises from a bankrupt government and restoring the fundamental American promise: ensuring our children have more opportunity and inherit a stronger America than our parents gave us.

READ FULL REPORT

The FY2013 Budget Resolution: Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for FY 2013 as Reported The Report on Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for FY 2013

Introduction by Chairman Ryan

Appendix I: Summary Tables

Appendix II: Reprioritizing Sequester Savings

CBO Analysis

Views and Estimates of Committees of the House Additional Information:

A Budget Presentation Charts

Additional Fiscal Comparisons on The Path to Prosperity

The GOP Budget and Americas Future Wall Street Journal op-ed, By Paul Ryan

More here:

Fiscal Year 2013 Budget | Budget.House.Gov

Read more from the original source:

Fiscal Freedom | Prometheism.net – Part 31


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