Daily Archives: December 20, 2019

How the GOP Gave In to Trump on Government Spending – The Fiscal Times

Posted: December 20, 2019 at 7:45 pm

Theres no doubt that its President Trumps party now. Wednesdays impeachment vote was just the latest indication that Republicans have lined up squarely behind the president, but this week offered another dramatic sign as well. As The Washington Posts Robert Costa reports, Congress approved a nearly $1.4 trillion spending package that will push deficits well beyond $1 trillion a year but there was hardly a peep from manyRepublicans who have shut down the government over spending in the past.

Costa continues:

The mammoth spending deal provides another stark indication of the Republican Partys near-total capitulation to Trump, who pays little mind to the goals of fiscal austerity that animated the GOP establishment and its tea party wing during years of dramatic fiscal standoffs with President Barack Obama.

But as Trump has rallied the GOP to defend him from Wednesdays House impeachment vote, the Republican drumbeat on the looming threats of debt and deficits has faded replaced with an increasing emphasis on grievance politics, tax cuts and revamping the judiciary.

Democrats and some conservative Republicans see rampant hypocrisy in this turn of events, particularly after Republicans made shrinking the size of government a central pillar of their agenda during the Obama years.

Some critics of the GOP argue that the partys Obama-era alarmism was always more about bludgeoning Democrats and blocking progressive policies than about fiscal responsibility. And they say that conservatives care more about slashing taxes than they do about deficits, pointing to the 2017 Republican tax law and President George W. Bushs two terms as evidence.

To be sure, some Republicans have pushed back on the latest spending deal, and the conservative House Freedom Caucus officially opposed it, citing debt and deficit concerns. Other Republicans called it a flawed but necessary compromise to fund the military and keep the government from shutting down. Either way, as Costa notes, GOP lawmakers have consistently shied away from pointing any fingers at Trump, focusing instead on the lack of interest among Capitol Hill lawmakers of both parties in addressing the long-term challenges facing Social Security and Medicare.

For now, Republicans who do try to press debt and deficit concerns find little traction around the issue. Costa points to the short-lived presidential campaign of Mark Sanford, the former South Carolina governor who recently dropped his primary challenge to Trump. I thought there was still a market for conservatism that would go after the debt and deficits, Sanford tells Costa. I thought my conversations with Republicans years ago about those issues were real. Im not sure anymore if they were.

Read the full piece at The Washington Post.

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How We Ranked The Best States For Business 2019 – Forbes

Posted: at 7:45 pm


North Carolina leads ForbesBest States for Business list for the third year running, but Texas is giving the Tar Heels some competition.

Our 14th annual ranking is based on measures of six categories relevant to businesses: costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, current economic climate, growth prospects and quality of life. We factor in 40 metricsfrom 17 sources to determine the ranks across the six main areas. The overall scores are based on a combination of ranks in the six main categories. Below is a breakdown of each category with the best and worst performer, along with the data sources.

Read: The Best States For Business 2019: North Carolina And Texas On Top

Business costs incorporatethe Moodys AnalyticsCost of Doing Business index, which includes labor, energy and taxes. Moodys weighs labor costs the most heavily in its index. We also included a state tax index from theTax Foundation.

Labor supply measures college and high school attainment based on figures from theCensus Bureau. We also consider net migration over the past five years and the projected population growth over the next five years. Other factors include the percentage of the workforce that is represented by a union, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the percentage of the population between the ages of 25 and 34.

Regulatory environment includes metrics influenced by the government. We incorporate the regulatory component of the Freedom in the 50 States report from theCato Institute. It considers the liability system, property rights, health insurance and the labor market. Other data points include Moodys bond rating on the states general obligation debt and the transportation infrastructure including air, highway and rail.

Another factor in the regulatory component is a measure of the best and worst legal climates for businesses compiled by theU.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform. Seventy percent of general counsels who participate in the survey say a states lawsuit environment impacts decisions such as where to locate or expand. One other factor was a measure of astates fiscal healthbased on a study from the Mercatus Center that examines short- and long-term debt and other key fiscal obligations.

Finally, we measured laws that protect people from employment discrimination based on sexual and/or gender identity, using ratings by theMovement Advancement Project.

The economic climate category gauges job, income and gross state product growth as well as average unemployment during the past five years. Other metrics include the average 2019 unemployment rate and the number of the 1,000 biggest public and private companies by revenue headquartered in the state.

Growth prospects measures job, income and gross state product growth forecasts over the next five years from Moodys Analytics. We also factor inEmsis bottom-up job forecasting approach, which complements Moodys top-down forecasts. Another metric was venture capital investments, per the PricewaterhouseCoopersMoneyTreesurvey. The final data point in the category isentrepreneurial activityas tracked by the Kauffman Foundation.

Quality of life takes into account cost of living via Emsi, school test performance via theDepartment of Educationand crime rates from theFBI. We factored in the mean temperature in the state as a proxy for the weather and the number of top-ranked four-year colleges in the state fromForbes annual college rankings. We considered the culture and recreational opportunities in the state based on an index created byBert Sperling as part of our annualBest Places for Business and Careers list. Other factors include commute times from the U.S. Census and theUnited Health Foundations Americas Health Rankings.

Full List:The Best States For Business

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So the House impeached Trump. Now what? – POLITICO

Posted: at 7:45 pm

IMPEACHMENT PURGATORY -- The House impeached President Donald Trump last night but what happens next is totally up in the air. After a mostly party-line vote to oust Trump from office, Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to commit to immediately sending the impeachment articles to the Senate, upending the timeline for an impeachment trial and teeing up a potential clash with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Senior Democratic aides later confirmed that the House likely wouldnt transmit the articles until at least early January. While Pelosi cant hold on to the articles forever, the trial wont start until they are submitted.

The backstory: Anger has been steadily building on the left after McConnell promised to coordinate closely with the White House on an impeachment trial. So some House Democrats started pushing leadership to hold off on sending the articles until McConnell agrees to fair ground rules for the trial. The thinking is that it would give Democrats some leverage, since Trump is eager to be publicly acquitted ASAP. So far we havent seen anything that looks fair to us, Pelosi told reporters. And the delay could also allow time for some court cases to play out, supporters of the idea say.

But, but, but the unorthodox procedural gambit drew some eyerolls and head-scratching off Capitol Hill, where political observers wondered why McConnell would be bothered by a delay. He might even welcome it, they argued, since it would forestall a potentially messy clash in the upper chamber that would put a handful of senators facing reelection in uncomfortable spots. The move could also infuriate moderate Democrats in the House, who reluctantly embraced impeachment and likely would not be thrilled by a prolonged process that could have unpredictable political effects. Kyle, Sarah and Bres with the story: https://politi.co/2sLhSqj.

For your radar: Pelosi will sit down with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) at 11:30 a.m. this morning to discuss their strategy and figure out their next move, per The Hills Alexander Bolton. More on that here: http://bit.ly/2Z1bDL8.

Related read: Senate Republicans pray Trump won't tweet during trial, by Marianne and Burgess: https://politi.co/2Z4zzgD.

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 18: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) presides over the House of Representatives as they vote on the second article of impeachment of U.S. President Donald Trump at in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol December 18, 2019 in Washington, DC. The U.S. House of Representatives voted to successfully pass two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) | Getty Images

WHIP IT GOOD -- As expected, zero Republicans voted for impeachment the first time in history that impeachment has not garnered bipartisan support. But Democrats were pretty solidly united as well: Reps. Collin Peterson and Jeff Van Drew (who is soon switching parties) voted against the abuse of power charge, with Rep. Jared Golden joining them in opposing the obstruction of Congress charge. And Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, a 2020 presidential candidate, voted present for both. Kyle and Andrew have the full rundown: https://politi.co/36GZuxA.

ROLLIES, THAT DONT TICK TOCK Inside the decision to impeach Trump: How both parties wrestled with a constitutional crisis, via WaPos Rachael Bade, Mike DeBonis and Josh Dawsey: https://wapo.st/2MqbQCP; and Inside the 85-day march to impeach Donald Trump, from Jeremy Herb, Alex Rogers and Phil Mattingly: https://cnn.it/2PYGkMY.

MEMORABLE MOMENTS -- Santa Claus protesters, Michael Moore cameos and Trump Christmas cards oh my. Yesterday's historic impeachment vote was accompanied by a mix of colorful and somber moments in and around the Capitol, as lawmakers prepared to make Trump the third president in history to be impeached. Here are some of the highlights (with links to pictures):

When the gavel came down after the first impeachment vote, a smattering of Dems started clapping prompting Pelosi to motion to them to knock it off. Republicans, who noticed the exchange, sniggered and then later started chanting: Four more years! Four more years!

Republicans held a moment of silence for an unusual suspect: the results of the 2016 election. In other floor speeches, GOP lawmakers compared impeachment to everything from Pearl Harbor to the crucifixion. And Rep. John Ratcliffe of Texas, a fierce Trump defender, scribbled in hell no on his red voting card.

There were some interesting visitors who watched the debate from the gallery, including a pair of women draped in red cloaks who were "grieving the death of Democracy and filmmaker Michael Moore.

Across the Capitol, White House staffers made a special delivery to Senate offices: they dropped off Christmas cards and copies of Trumps scathing anti-impeachment letter to Pelosi.

More scenes from the historic day, from Heather, your Huddle host and Sarah: https://politi.co/2S8i5OZ.

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Government price-control not the answer for the beer industrys woes. The beer industry is trying to game the system through government price-controls instead of seeking out new revenue streams and developing products consumers want to drink. Find out how and oppose the APEX Act.

OFF TO GREENER MEADOWS -- Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, one of Trumps closest confidants on Capitol Hill, will not seek another term in Congress, our friends at Playbook scooped. His decision which comes a day after the Houses impeachment vote isnt entirely surprising for congressional observers. Meadows stepped down as chairman of the House Freedom Caucus this fall, and has shown no interest in jumping into a Senate race in his home state. The filing deadline in North Carolina is Friday.

But his exit is still seismic for conservatives on Capitol Hill. He was a founding member of the hard-line Freedom Caucus and has been one of the most visible Trump defenders throughout the impeachment fight. Its unclear whether he will land a job in the Trump administration or the campaign, but hes leaving the door open (he has been floated for chief of staff or a strategist role in the past.) And he may get one last chance to battle impeachment: the White House is considering giving him some type of role in the Senate trial. Check out his interview with Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman: https://politi.co/34zuWws.

Related: GOP embraces Trump as never before with anti-impeachment, from the APs Alan Fram: http://bit.ly/2Z52j93.

GOOD MORNING! Welcome to Huddle, the play-by-play guide to all things Capitol Hill, on this Thursday, December 19, where your host is ready for a serious post-impeachment diet (and vacation.) Please send along the newest craze.

WEDNESDAYS MOST CLICKED: Darren Samuelsohns story on the impeachment tourists was the big winner.

SPLIT SCREEN -- Trump took the stage last night at his Michigan rally which featured a Christmas tree decorated with a MAGA hat on top just as the House started the first vote to impeach him. Trump punched back against the impeachment effort in a lengthy speech, but one of the most controversial moments was when he attacked Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) and her late husband, the former Rep. John Dingell, suggesting he was looking up from hell. The move prompted a mix of groans and cheers in the audience.

The comment sparked instant backlash in Congress. Dingell, who had been watching snippets of the rally on her iPad during the floor votes, said in a tweet directed to Trump: you brought me down in a way you can never imagine, noting that this will be her first Christmas without her beloved husband. And Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) called on Trump to apologize in a tweet. Gabby Orr, who was at the rally, has much more : https://politi.co/2sHdM2z.

Related: Impeachment day for Trump: A bruised ego, a Twitter eruption and a winding rally, per Nancy Cook, Burgess and Gabby: https://politi.co/35CRqxZ.

IMPEACHMENT IS A BATTLEFIELD -- Twenty-nine Democrats just voted to impeach Trump while representing districts that helped elect him in 2016. Wednesdays vote puts an even bigger target on endangered Democrats back, who have soberly acknowledged the political risks while attempting to quickly pivot quickly to their policy agenda. Republicans, meanwhile, are eager to use impeachment to take them head-on in 2020, with even more pro-Trump protests and even more GOP-funded attack ads.

That includes a $2.5 million ad blitz by the American Action Network, bringing its total impeachment-related spending to $11 million. Still, Republicans face long odds to win back the House next year and Democrats are heading home for Christmas with a Santas sleigh full of local wins. More from Ally Mutnick and Sarah: https://politi.co/2PZHF6m.

Related: 'If I lose my seat over it, so be it': Moderate Democrats confront consequences of impeaching Trump, from CNNs Lauren Fox and Clare Foran: https://cnn.it/34CKvDF.

THE OTHER STUFF -- So what else is happening on Capitol Hill besides impeachment? Well, today the House will vote on Trumps trade pact with Mexico and Canada, which is expected to pass with support from both parties. The vote was strategically scheduled to be the last vote that Democrats take before heading home for the holidays. But some moderate Democrats are upset that McConnell wont even be taking it up right away, after railing on Democrats for holding up the deal for so long. Sabrina Rodriguez with more: https://politi.co/35yt889.

And across the Capitol the Senate is expected to pass a massive $1.37 trillion spending deal, sending it to Trump's desk for signature. There has certainly been some grumbling on the right over the price tag Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) even dramatically showed his opposition to the bill by lighting up a cigar and stubbing it out on top of a printed copy of the bill. But for the most part, the GOP once known as the party of fiscal restraint has all but surrendered to Trump on spending. Its depressing, isnt it? said Sen. Ron Johnson, one of the few Republicans who opposes the deal. WaPos Robert Costa with the story: https://wapo.st/34BnWPu.

Nothing today.

The House gavels in at 9 a.m., with first votes expected between 9:15 and 10:15 a.m. Todays agenda: http://bit.ly/38TjfUG.

The Senate meets at 9:30 a.m. to resume consideration of the two House-passed packages to fund the government for fiscal 2020, H.R. 1865 (116) and H.R. 1158 (116) . At 11 a.m., they will vote on the motion to invoke cloture on H.R. 1865.

House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.) and Reps. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Michael Doyle (D-Pa.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), and Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) hold a news conference on the committee's "2019 accomplishments and to discuss some of the key priorities for 2020 at 10:30 a.m. in Rayburn 2123.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) holds her weekly press conference at 10:45 a.m. in HVC Studio A.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) holds his weekly press conference at 11:30 p.m. in HVC Studio A.

WEDNESDAYS WINNER: Steve Finley was the first person to correctly guess that New York Knicks star-turned-NJ Senator Bill Bradley began his career in Washington as an intern for Donald Rumsfeld.

TODAYS QUESTION: From Steve: Who was the future congressman who played in the 1961 Rose Bowl? First person to correctly guess gets a mention in the next edition of Huddle. Send your best guess my way: mzanona@politico.com

GET HUDDLE emailed to your phone each morning.

A message from S&P Global:

Government price-controls could cost beer drinkers. The beer industry is trying to game the system through government price-controls and it could cost you. Find out how and oppose the APEX Act.

CORRECTION: This version of Huddle has been corrected to reflect that Fred Upton is not retiring.

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The world is watching as our SNP MPs are being shouted down – The National

Posted: at 7:45 pm

THE contempt shown toSNP MPs, in particular Ian Blackford, does not show the mother of Parliaments (their terminology, not mine) in a credible light. So much for this union of nations, this family of countries, this blending of cultures!

What it has demonstrated beyond any shadow of doubt is that no matter who sits on the government benches, Scotland, its peoples, its concerns and its representatives are but a side show in the Etonian establishments grand game.

We are at the stage of being ignored by the elite. That is to say, unless our views are of undying (wars excepted) loyalty to the unelected head of state and the establishment then they are, these products of public schools, justified in arrogantly ignoring these troublesome plebs from the northern colony.

READ MORE:Boris Johnson blasted for playing with phone during SNP speech

They are led by PM Johnson and to be clear about him, his every act is measured and with purpose. He is no buffoon, quite the opposite really. He is a product of one of the most corrupt training regimes in the world. Forget Sparta of old, because the graduates of Eaton have more blood on their hands than those of any other schooling establishment throughout the measured time of history.

They are a desperate, despotic regime of loathsome self-serving ingrates. They preach democracy and practice totalitarian ideals. They are also and more importantly reaching their end. The whole world has watched and laughed at their EU extraction technique. How, they wonder, can a country that was at the top of the heap a little more than 100 years ago have fallen so quickly and so completely? With this collapse comes the exposure of the fragile nature of their existence. Those that would rule with an iron fist are, when challenged, about as true of strength as saturated paper. This is why they try to shout down our MPs, this is why they in petulance ignore our MPs and why the stand and walk out like the over-privileged poisoners of democracy that they are.

I am convinced that the SNP would have anticipated these actions and have planned for them. Like many others I feel frustrated at this time, but as has been said by others we must stay our hand and see how this plays out.

We are in the wonderful position of having the world watching, and those countries that practice true democratic principles will side with us. The false headlines of the Etonians have been shown to be that. They and their supporters can curse and moan about the SNP all they wish, but truth be known the SNP have been the only effective party in Scotland for many years a fact reflected in the amount of MPs and MSPs returned.

Ah, but what about 2014? people will shout! Yes it was lost, we accepted that and have moved on. As someone with a lot more education under their belt than me once wrote: Indyref1s binary was Union, economic devil you know vs independence, economic devil you dont know.

I think that we can all agree that those binary options have now changed. Interesting days ahead.

Cliff PurvisVeterans for ScottishIndependence 2.0

IN the wake of the utter humiliation of the Scottish Tories and the solid consolidation of the position of the SNP after the General Election, it is perfectly valid for Nicola Sturgeon MSP to remind people of the broad coalition of political parties, trade unions, and civic Scotland which delivered devolution, and to use that as a template to build an equally diverse pro-independence coalition.

The First Minister should be aware, and if not let me remind her, that the 1995/98 coalition in which the SNP was an equal partner only took place after key assurances to the party that it would not be confined, or locked into, campaigning for only a devolved settlement. The key issue for the SNP leadership at that time was that, in the famous words of the Irish political leader, Michael Collins, devolution allowed the freedom to achieve freedom, and they had the freedom to continue to argue for independence.

READ MORE:Carlaw forced to apologise for suggesting Leonard abstained in vote

Great tectonic political plates have began to move over the last week, and it is particularly satisfying to see a revival of the Labour for Independence organisation. In the light of the pertinent comments by the First Minister to Alex Rowley MSP about the positive role which an independent Scottish Labour party can play in a post-independence Scotland, it is to be hoped that the SNP leadership will hold true to its stated objective of building a strong pro-independence coalition based on unity in diversity. United in aiming for the restoration of national sovereignty, but with the freedom to allow diverse visions which do not tie Scotland to the dubious benefits of retaining a class-based English monarchy, having our fiscal policy controlled by Westminster, our economic policy controlled by Brussels, and our defence policy controlled by Washington.

Cllr Andy Doig (Independent)Renfrewshire Council

CONSERVATIVE governments love taking public cash and funnelling it to their chums. This is called privatisation.

When Boris promises more money for the NHS in England, where does he get it from? Will he be increasing corporation tax? Will he be increasing the higher personal tax rates? Probably not. More likely he will increase the pension age to 75! Wherever he finds the money you can be sure it will be Joe Public that pays, not the billionaires.

Many people would suggest that this is exactly what should happen. The public through taxation should fund the NHS.

However, the devious Boris has only promised (for all that is worth) to send more money to the NHS. The cynical among us may suspect that if you wish to privatise an industry and funnel huge funds to your chums, you would want to increase the pot you intend to plunder.

Andrew DarbyPerth

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D.R. Horton, Inc. to Release 2020 First Quarter Earnings on January 27, 2020 – Business Wire

Posted: at 7:45 pm

ARLINGTON, Texas--(BUSINESS WIRE)--D.R. Horton, Inc. (NYSE:DHI), Americas Builder, announced today that the Company will release financial results for its first quarter ended December 31, 2019 on Monday, January 27, 2020 before the market opens. The Company will host a conference call that morning at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time (ET). The dial-in number is 877-407-8033. Participants are encouraged to call in five minutes before the call begins (8:25 a.m. ET). The call will also be webcast from the Companys website at investor.drhorton.com.

A replay of the call will be available after 12:30 p.m. ET on Monday, January 27, 2020 at 877-481-4010. When calling, please reference conference ID #56998. The teleconference replay will be available through February 3, 2020. The webcast replay will be available from the Companys website at investor.drhorton.com through April 30, 2020.

About D.R. Horton, Inc.

D.R. Horton, Inc., Americas Builder, has been the largest homebuilder by volume in the United States since 2002. Founded in 1978 in Fort Worth, Texas, D.R. Horton has operations in 90 markets in 29 states across the United States and closed 56,975 homes during its fiscal year ended September 30, 2019. The Company is engaged in the construction and sale of high-quality homes through its diverse brand portfolio that includes D.R. Horton, Emerald Homes, Express Homes and Freedom Homes ranging from $100,000 to over $1,000,000. D.R. Horton also provides mortgage financing, title services and insurance agency services for homebuyers through its mortgage, title and insurance subsidiaries.

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16000 AFSPC Head To Space Force; What About The Rest? – Breaking Defense

Posted: at 7:45 pm

Gen. Jay Raymond, Commander, Space Command and Air Force Space CommandWASHINGTON: Some 16,000 people civilians and airmen will be shifted from Air Force Space Command to the Space Force upon its stand-up sometime early next year.

Its a lot of people, said Kaitlyn Johnson, who has been tracking the Space Force concept at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, although about the number DoD has been projecting. She noted that AFSPC currently numbers 26,000 personnel from military to administrative staff, although the Congressional Budget Office estimates there are 23,000 full time personnel in all of the Defense Department, excluding the intelligence agencies. But not all of those folks are actually well-versed in the space mission, given the Air Forces practice of rapid rotation and its past emphasis on general, rather than specialized, training.

One of the issues from the start has been how the Air Force can dig out the space people who may or may not be working in AFSPC or a space-related job, she said. Can people volunteer?

Todd Harrison, who heads CSISs Aerospace Project, concurred that finding the right people will be a big headache for the service, and the fact that they have a hard number already means they must have been doing some serious pre-planning.

That said, Harrison stressed that the big question is actually the other 10,000 billets that are not being transferred to Space Force. What happens to the other 10,000 billets, and what are they being withheld? You dont want the Air Force to withhold support personnel, so the Space Force then has to go back and hire new people to do those functions and you end up with bloat.

Indeed, bureaucratic bloat is what both sides of Capitol Hill have been extremely worried about, and the reason that both the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) setting policy and the appropriations bill put solid bumpers around DoDs freedom of action.

For every single person that doesnt get transferred, the Air Force has to be able to explain why not, Harrison said.

The NDAA, expected to be signed by President Donald Trump tomorrow night, prevents Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett from creating any new Space Force billets. Shes not allowed to create any new ones either, stopping the service from getting around the restrictions. The spending bill chops the services budget request of $72.4 million for launching the headquarters to only $40 million, although in all fairness that could simply reflect a pro-rating for the short fiscal year given the lateness of the appropriation.

Johnson has a new analysis out that compares the 2020 NDAA to the presidents request, the Senate version, and the House version that tracks specific changes.

CSIS last November published a study of possible Space Force structures and the attendant costs of running each, with one of the options being a Space Corps similar to the structure Congress has approved, where the Space Force is a separate Title 10 military service but underneath the Department of the Air Force. In that study, Harrison calculated that such a structure would have an annual budget of about $11 billion.

So we have a baseline estimate to compare to whatever the Air Force comes up with, at least.

Meanwhile, we are hearing rumblings about a turf war between planning cells at Air Force headquarters here and at AFSPC in Colorado Springs.

Maj. Gen. Clint Crosier is in charge of Barretts war roomhere for planning process for the Space Force. He told me earlier this month at the West Coast Aerospace Forum in Santa Monica that his group of senior officers had put together pre-plans based on possible outcomes from the NDAA in order to move out from day one.

Meanwhile, however, Gen. Jay Raymond whom the NDAA specifically allows to become the head of the Space Force for the first year has his own planning task force that has been seeking to shape the new force. Raymond, as Breaking D readers know well, currently wears two hats: head of AFSPC and head of the new combatant command for space, Space Command, stood up in August.

Harrison noted that filling up billets in Space Command while simultaneously shifting people to the Space Force could be another problem for the Air Force, given the relatively small pool of space professionals. For example, there are also rumors that a number of Air Force personnel now on loan to the National Reconnaissance Office which comprises both Air Force and CIA personnel are being shifted over to Space Command.

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Frydenberg needs to focus on genuine reform plan to boost growth – The Age

Posted: at 7:45 pm

The Age has sympathy with these arguments and we are certainly not among those who reject using fiscal policy to manage the economic cycle. For instance, the cash splash by the ALP in late 2008 helped Australia avoid recession during the global financial crisis. The question is whether such an approach is necessary now.

From a political point of view, abandoning or even delaying a surplus would be an embarrassment to the Coalition after it spent so long complaining about Labors debt and deficit disaster.


But the case for trying to post the first budget surplus in a decade is not only about political one-upmanship. It would also send a positive signal to global financial markets and foreign investors. Fiscal stimulus can have bad consequences. Spending measures can be wasteful and, politically, they can be a substitute for harder reforms to boost competitiveness and productivity. These are two areas in which Australia lags behind many of its global peers.

The biggest argument against stimulus, however, is that, for now, the economy is simply not that bad. This is not the GFC. Australia is still growing and in coming years there is hope for an improvement.

Treasury is forecasting that growth will increase in 2020-21 to 2.75 per cent. Consumers, who have been on strike this year, can be expected to gradually start to spend more because low interest rates and rising house prices in Melbourne and Sydney should help.


Australia should also benefit from a better global economy amid relief that the US and China are stepping back from the brink of a trade war. As long as that forecast is accurate, Mr Frydenberg is justified in maintaining the current economic settings.

However, that is not an excuse for doing nothing. The government is happy to devote time to sideshow issues such as its religious freedom bill or mouth platitudes about cutting red tape. Instead, it should seriously re-prosecute some of the important policy debates discarded during this lost decade starting with tax, workplace relations and energy reform.

The Treasurer needs to develop a genuine economic reform plan to boost growth rates. Without one, surplus or not, he deserves to be punished at the next election.

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Frydenberg needs to focus on genuine reform plan to boost growth - The Age

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Awards Have Lost Their Luster Thanks to Political Correctness – Newsmax

Posted: at 7:44 pm

Two events last week prove how worthless awards have become in recent years. Instead of recognizing actual accomplishments, they worship political correctness.

In one, Sports Illustrated honored USA Womens Soccer superstar Megan Rapinoe, by naming her its Sportsperson of the Year. But while accepting the award, she couldnt help biting the hand that honored her.

Is it truth that Im only the fourth woman deserving of this award? I dont think so, Rapinoe said.

Is it true so few writers of color deserve to be featured in this publication? No. Is it true so few womens voices deserve to be heard and deserve to be read in this publication? I dont think so.

As Sportsperson of the Year, Rapinoe joined the ranks of other luminaries, including NBA sensation Lebron James and tennis superstar Serena Williams.

But shes always lacked grace in victory. In late June when she was asked whether she would accept a White House visit, Rapinoe replied, "I'm not going to the f***ing White House," adding, "We're not gonna be invited. I doubt it."

After she was invited, she still refused to go.

Theres no question but that Rapinoe has talent, but there were far more talented athletes Sports Illustrated could have honored, like U.S. gymnast Simone Biles. She became the winningest female gymnast in world competition history this year.

Biles took home her fifth all-around world gymnastics title in Stuttgart, Germany, in October, despite being deducted points for performing routines that her competitors could not shes that good.

In another instance, last week Time magazine named climate activist Greta Thunberg its 2019 Person of the Year.

We cant just continue living as if there was no tomorrow, because there is a tomorrow, she told the publication. That is all we are saying.

Thunberg made waves in September by dressing down world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly.

We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth, she said. How dare you.

The 16-year-old refuses to return to school until the rest of the world bows to her wishes.

No one doubts her sincerity, but shes long on talk and short on actual action "all show and no go" as the saying went back in the day.

If Time wanted to stick to an environmental theme, it might have named as its Person of the Year Irish teen Fionn Ferreira, who invented a method to clean microplastics from the worlds oceans.

Microplastics are plastic particles less than 5 millimeters in diameter.

Better yet, Time could have named the young people risking their lives each night by demonstrating for their own freedom in Hong Kong and Iran.

You can also throw Glamour into the mix. It named Caitlyn Jenner its Woman of the Year in 2015.

Its decision prompted the widower of 9/11 victim Moira Smith to return his wifes own 2001 posthumous Glamour Woman of the Year accolade to the magazine. He said he was shocked and saddened by Glamours decision, adding that the Jenner accolade was an insult to his wifes legacy.

Was there no woman in America, or the rest of the world, more deserving, asked James Smith, who referred to Jenner by the previous name Bruce.

As far as that goes, then-President Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 the first year of his presidency. The committee didnt actually honor him for anything hed actually done, but rather for what they thought he might accomplish.

Before the end of Obamas second term, the Nobel Committees secretary, Geir Lundestad, regretted their decision.

"Even many of Obama's supporters believed that the prize was a mistake," he told the BBC. "In that sense the committee didn't achieve what it had hoped for"

This odd journey down the rabbit hole by rewarding popularity over accomplishment began decades ago, innocently enough and with good intentions. It was an attempt to make everyone feel important by giving every participant a trophy.

Its since morphed into basing our highest accolades on whatever is politically correct at the moment Rapinoes lesbianism, Thunbergs extreme climate views, Jenners transgenderism over excellence. Given that, why should anyone bother to excel?

Weve finally found ourselves in a world where bad is good, left is right and, to quote the Jefferson Airplane classic White Rabbit, where logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead.

Michael Dorstewitz is a retired lawyer and has been a frequent contributor to BizPac Review and Liberty Unyielding. He is also a former U.S. Merchant Marine officer and an enthusiastic Second Amendment supporter, who can often be found honing his skills at the range. To read more of his reports Click Here Now.

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Awards Have Lost Their Luster Thanks to Political Correctness - Newsmax

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Considering Darryl Pinckney and Authenticity – The New York Times

Posted: at 7:44 pm

This week, Lauretta Charlton reviews Darryl Pinckneys collection of essays Busted in New York. In 1992, Edmund White wrote for the Book Review about High Cotton, Pinckneys debut novel about a young black man coming of age.

When an African-American writer or a gay writer or a Native American writer publishes a novel, its always read as somehow representative of the whole minority group. Its also regarded as a testimony of the writers own coming to terms with that minority status. This kind of attention automatically focused on such books explains the power they generate and the constraints that are imposed upon them.

Whereas Ralph Ellisons hero was an invisible man to the whites around him, Mr. Pinckneys seems unreal even to himself. He has acquaintances rather than friends, observations rather than passions, few resentments, guarded enthusiasms and no sex life. No wonder hes drawn back again and again to the authenticity of the old-timers he meets in Harlem bars or at family funerals.

At a time in our history when a puerile political correctness imposes hypocrisy on most writers dealing with sensitive topics, Darryl Pinckney has dared to treat his theme with excruciating honesty and the total freedom from restraint that Schiller said we find nowhere else but in authentic works of art.

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Considering Darryl Pinckney and Authenticity - The New York Times

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With Kamala Harris out, many Democrats dread a loss of diversity. But will Black voters care? – The Philadelphia Tribune

Posted: at 7:44 pm

After Sen. Kamala Harris abruptly dropped out of the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, the famously inclusive party wasnt looking very inclusive anymore.

Without being too cheeky, you might say that the party that highlights diversity and equality is suffering from an embarrassment of wealthy white men.

Or, as Sen. Cory Booker described the irony, when only six people, all white, had met the partys new threshold to qualify for the debate in Los Angeles, the stage on Dec. 19 is likely to have more billionaires than Black people.

What message is that sending that we heralded the most diverse field in our history, Booker told a morning crowd in Des Moines, and now were seeing people like her dropping out of this campaign?

Yes, political correctness cuts both ways. As much as the party can boast of having more women and people of color than ever in the House after last years midterm elections, and in their lineup of presidential candidates, its another big challenge to hold onto that diversity.

Among top-tier candidates of color, businessman Andrew Yang qualified for the debate, just days before the deadline, joining six other candidates on the stage. Booker and former Housing Secretary Julian Castro have met the partys donor threshold, but neither has scored high enough in a single qualifying poll to make the debate, according to The New York Times debate tracker.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii scored enough in polling and fundraising to be listed as on the cusp as of Tuesday. Former Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts also appears to have entered the race too late to make the stage.

But things can change. With Harris departure, Bookers blunt blast about billionaires appears to have given a boost to his own fundraising. He raised more than $1 million within three days of Harris dropping out on Dec. 3. The day after Harris dropped out was his best online fundraising day, his campaign announced, and more than half of the surge came from first-time donors.

Of course, I already can see moans and groans in social networks about identity politics, as if that were a new thing in politics. In fact, women and people of color have seen identity politics played against them for so long that one can hardly blame them for using it to push back, especially in a campaign to unseat President Donald Trump, who often has fashioned a tribe based on conservative grievances.

Thats legitimate, in my humble opinion, but it doesnt substitute for a clear theme and purpose to ones campaign. Harris lost momentum on both counts. After her strong performance in the first debate with her takedown of front-runner and former Vice President Joe Bidens early voting record, she seemed to peak quickly, unprepared for criticism of her own record as a prosecutor.

Her campaign struggled with reported fundraising and organizational problems. But mainly she lacked what the late George H.W. Bush once called the vision thing.

Those questions matter as Democrats try to restore the multiracial, multiethnic coalition that carried President Barack Obama to two victories. About 4.4 million voters who cast ballots for Obama in 2012 stayed home in 2016, according to exit polls by Edison Media Research. More than a third were Black.

So, as much as candidates should never make too much of race or gender politics, which can invite a backlash, they cant take women or people of color for granted either.

The politically awkward possibility of an all-white Democratic debate stage shows, among other new realities, that symbolism isnt as powerful as it used to be with potential voters.

It annoys some liberals when electability questions are raised about Sen. Elizabeth Warren, for example. But, for all the milestones that have been made by progressives such as Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders, Black Democrats in particular have been showing a persistent and resilient pull toward the familiar presence of Obamas former vice president, Biden.

Thats important, even as South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has gained top-tier status in Iowa polling and Warren is looking strong in New Hampshire, next door to her home state of Massachusetts.

Biden continues to lead in South Carolina, where most of the Democratic primary voters are Black and where Buttigieg recently scored a 0% of Black voters. The mayor will do better, Im sure, especially since he has nowhere to go in that poll but up.

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