Dec 10

Conservatives Support President Trump’s Decision to Move the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem

President Donald Trump has been criticized for his decision to start the process of moving the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. But most conservatives strongly support the decision for a number of reasons, including (1) it recognizes the

Permanent link to this article: http://www.daytonohioteaparty.com/?p=2247769

Dec 07

Heritage Foundation Analyzes Republican Tax Bills

The Heritage Foundation has reduced the 479 pages of the Senate Tax Reform Bill and compared it to the current law, House bill, and Heritage recommendations that the House/Senate Conference Committee should consider! With both the Senate and House …

Permanent link to this article: http://www.daytonohioteaparty.com/?p=2247767

Dec 04

Supreme Court Gives President Trump a Major Travel Ban Victory

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday gave President Donald Trump a big victory as it ruled in favor of President Trump’s travel ban affecting residents of six majority-Muslim countries. The justices said the policy can take full effect despite …

Permanent link to this article: http://www.daytonohioteaparty.com/?p=2247766

Dec 02

President Trump Embraces the Celebration of Christmas

President Obama and most of the Left promoted making society more and more secular, including avoiding public reference to Christ during the Christmas season. In sharp contrast, President Trump has brought a strong return of the true meaning of

Permanent link to this article: http://www.daytonohioteaparty.com/?p=2247764

Dec 02

No Evidence of Anything Unethical by President Trump

In spite of wishful thinking by many in the mainstream media, there continues to be NO evidence that President Trump has done anything illegal or unethical! Conservatives need to unite behind President Trump to Make America Great Again for

Permanent link to this article: http://www.daytonohioteaparty.com/?p=2247763

Nov 09

MVCI to Host Secretary of State Jon Husted on Monday, November 13, 2017

It is important for all Conservatives to be well informed about candidates running for Ohio governor in 2018. One big opportunity to learn more is at the Miami Valley Citizens Informed meeting next Monday, November 13:

 

MIAMI VALLEY

Permanent link to this article: http://www.daytonohioteaparty.com/?p=2247761

Nov 05

Ohio Issue 2 on Prescription Drug Pricing – Important Information for Election November 7, 2017

Many Conservatives have significant reservations about Ohio Issue 2, which deals with the pricing of prescription drugs, and it is important for all voters to be informed! The information below was compiled by Dennis Crouch, President of the Greene

Permanent link to this article: http://www.daytonohioteaparty.com/?p=2247760

Nov 02

Planned Parenthood Promotes Widespread Abortion in the Black Community

Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger was a blatant racist, and the organization continues to promote widespread abortion in the minority community! In spite of this, almost all Democratic politicians continue to endorse funding Planned Parenthood with hundreds of millions

Permanent link to this article: http://www.daytonohioteaparty.com/?p=2247756

Oct 28

Greene County not to endorse until after filing deadline

All over Ohio candidates running for governor are trying to use their political ties and recruiting efforts to get party endorsements and we’ve seen some county parties endorsing in October. Greene County had their CC meeting last night and as the Freedom caucus chair I heard rumors that Mike DeWine supporters were going to attempt to make a motion to endorse him for Governor. The leadership of the party elected last year backed by the […]

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Oct 26

Jake MacAulay, CEO of the Institute on the Constitution (IOTC), to speak at GCTP on November 16, 2017

We are indebted to CEO Jake MacAulay, of the Institute on the Constitution (IOTC) for taking time to speak at the Greene County Tea Party (GCTP) Public Meeting. An exceptionally knowledgeable and dynamic speaker, he speaks on the Law

Permanent link to this article: http://www.daytonohioteaparty.com/?p=2247751

Oct 26

IRS targeting of Tea Party groups, admits wrong doing issues apology

WASHINGTON – Today, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) announced that they have agreed to settle the lawsuit brought by the Portage County TEA Party and 35 other TEA Party and conservative groups for the targeting of TEA Party Groups during the Obama Administration. In the settlement the IRS acknowledges that its treatment of the TEA Party groups was wrong, details how it has installed procedures to […]

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.ohiolibertycoalition.org/irs-targeting-of-tea-party-groups-admits-wrong-doing-issues-apology/

Oct 26

Rep. Meadows’ Statement on Oversight, Judiciary Committee Investigation of Obama DOJ

Rep. Meadows’ Statement on Oversight, Judiciary Committee Investigation of Obama DOJ Washington, D.C. – Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) released the following statement on House Oversight Chairman, Trey Gowdy (R-SC), and House Judiciary Chairman, Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), opening a joint investigation of the Obama Justice Department’s handling of the investigation into former Democrat presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton: “It’s no secret that Washington, D.C. has plenty of flaws to complain about—but one of the things American voters […]

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.ohiolibertycoalition.org/rep-meadows-statement-on-oversight-judiciary-committee-investigation-of-obama-doj/

Oct 24

NFL Continues to Allow Players to Disrespect the American Flag

The National Football League continues to ignore the wishes of the public as they allow players to kneel or do other actions disrespecting the flag during the national anthem. Their business is suffering as a result, as more and

Permanent link to this article: http://www.daytonohioteaparty.com/?p=2247745

Oct 18

National Security Briefing by ACT in Cincinnati Tuesday, October 24, 2017, with Philip Haney & Jim Simpson

 

ACT for America has announced at National Security Briefing next Tuesday in the Cincinnati area. They state “ACT for America is committed to recruiting, training, and mobilizing citizens community by community to help protect and preserve American culture

Permanent link to this article: http://www.daytonohioteaparty.com/?p=2247638

Oct 08

Vice President Pence Leaves Game to Show Respect for the Flag and All It Represents

Vice President Mike Pence walked out on his home-state Indianapolis Colts Sunday when members of the opposing team kneeled for the National Anthem. He later tweeted this statement:
“I left today’s Colts game because President Trump and I will

Permanent link to this article: http://www.daytonohioteaparty.com/?p=2247432

Oct 06

Wright State to Host Summit on October 16 to Help Fight the Opioid Crisis

Wright State is playing a key role in a new initiative by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and will host a summit October 16 designed to throw the spotlight on the dangers of opioid abuse and the importance of …

Permanent link to this article: http://www.daytonohioteaparty.com/?p=2247387

Oct 05

White House Rips Senate Panel for Continuing Russian Investigation

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders criticized the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, a day after the panel said its probe into possible collusion between Trump associates and Russian officials remains open.
“The Senate Intel Committee told us yesterday

Permanent link to this article: http://www.daytonohioteaparty.com/?p=2247367

Oct 04


OHIO TEA PARTY LEADER ZAWISTOWSKI CONSIDERING CONGRESSIONAL RUN IN OHIO 16TH


AKRON, OH – Tom Zawistowski, President of the We the People Convention and Executive Director of the Portage County TEA Party, confirmed today that he is indeed considering running for Congress for the open seat in the Ohio 16th District. The seat is currently held by Republican Jim Renacci, who is running for Ohio Governor. The Ohio 16th District includes parts of Cuyahoga, Media, Summit, Stark and Portage counties as well as all of Wayne […]

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Oct 01

Thoughts on the NFL and the National Anthem

Thoughts from Dennis Crouch, Greene County Tea Party President:
As a retired Air Force military man and combat veteran I have fought for our flag. There is no higher symbol than the flag that expresses the values that made

Permanent link to this article: http://www.daytonohioteaparty.com/?p=2247280

Oct 01

Vote to Protect Unborn Babies Expected Tuesday, October 3, 2017

As House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has stated “Science is increasingly showing by eight weeks children in the womb react to touch, by 20 and if not before, they feel pain,” McCarthy said. “Not only can they feel pain …

Permanent link to this article: http://www.daytonohioteaparty.com/?p=2247278

Oct 01

Hello world!

Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start writing!

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Permanent link to this article: http://ohiorising.org/2017/10/01/hello-world/

Sep 19

London Bombing Shows Danger of Islamification in Europe. Is the US Next?

The terrorist bombing Friday of a train on the London Underground, which injured 30 people was yet more evidence of a painful truth: the Islamification of the United Kingdom and Europe is well under way. Many now fear that

Permanent link to this article: http://www.daytonohioteaparty.com/?p=2247273

Sep 17

State School Board of Ohio attempt to eliminate American Government Testing

Liberals on the Ohio State School Board are trying to eliminate American Government and History​ testing in Ohio.​ The State School Board will meet on Sept. 18th and 19th (2017) (YES, that is tomorrow and the day after!) to consider a proposal urging the Ohio Legislature to eliminate the required end-of-course testing in American Government and History. Six years ago, we were able to get a law passed for the Founding of America Documents curriculum, which guarantees that […]

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.ohiolibertycoalition.org/state-school-board-of-ohio-attempt-to-eliminate-american-government-testing/

Sep 14

Join us September 30th for this Great Informative Event!

You are invited to the OLC Statewide Event happening at the end of this month.  Join with other liberty-loving patriots from all over Ohio to stoke the fires of liberty.  We have a great line-up of speakers starting with Lisa Watson. Former national extreme leftist activist, Lisa Watson, is our keynote speaker.  Lisa is a walking talking billboard for why Christian parents must RUN, not walk, their kids out of government schools.  Using the skill set she learned on […]

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.ohiolibertycoalition.org/join-us-september-30th-for-this-great-informative-event/

Sep 11

Haupt: The White House press secretary, reporter or employee?

 “The news media isn’t there to tell you what has really happened. It’s there to tell you what it wants you to hear. It’s there to make their editors and advertisers happy, not inform you.”

– Joan Wheston

Thomas Carlyle praised political philosopher Edmund Burke, who publicly recognized the press as gatekeepers of a democratic society to protect it from government. As Parliament opened in 1787, Burke proclaimed, “There are three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters’ Gallery yonder, there sits the Fourth Estate, far more important than they all.” Though the press, lawyers and other non consorts have had access to governments throughout most reported history, Burke designated the press, as the lynchpin to secure the people’s government. He conceded an ill informed public was the subject of tyrannical abuse.

“Education is the cheap defense of nations.”

– Edmund Burke

Before the 19th century, the U.S. press didn’t have much interest in the White House since Congress was so accessible and eager to trade scoops for votes. But in 1893 during Grover Cleveland’s presidency when economic chaos gripped the nation and reporter William Pierce bullied his way into the White House, things changed. As Cleveland failed to right the economic ship and sway public opinion, the reporters capitalized on this Panic of 1893. A hyperbolic press ruined the Democratic Party’s image, which floundered dismally for decades. The yellow dogging of these reporters helped incubate the ontogeny of the progressive era.

“A nation run by reporters is a nation run by fools.”

– Alan Strong

In 1904, Teddy Roosevelt invited rain-soaked reporters into the White House. They were awestruck as he offered them an office to work in and brought them coffee and a meal. And this was the birth of the White House Press Corps. But as always, when you give the press an inch they stretch it to infinity. Soon, reporters grew their presence and influence and shortly they weaseled into previously un-chartered “off limit” enclaves. It was this tradition that has morphed into an uncontrolled arm of government used to control public opinion rather than to report the news. Far too many of these former reporters have forgotten:

“A free press needs to be a respected press.”

– Tom Stoppard

By 1933 when FDR took office, he realized the powerful weaponry of the press in pitching his “Bad Deal,” which set the stage for today’s political news circus. By now, the charges of the White House press secretary environed dealing with newspapers as well as radio media. This fueled the engine for FDR’s fabinistic social re-engineering. Secretary Stephen Early was a coy and able hireling for a cagey FDR. As a former journalist and elected official, he held the tools to delude press releases and promote FDR’s agitprop to reporters. He was keenly adept in helping FDR to subvert legal protocol to suppurate progressivism.

“Dangerous masters depend on a few willing servants.”

– Aldo Dolores

Press secretaries cautiously grapple presidential antics to appease the press. At times, they must breach journalistic ethics to barter news releases. They obfuscate facts in a way that sounds more optimistic than misanthropic to these famished predators. Secretary Mike McCurry was the first to televise live press briefings under Bill Clinton. Little did they know the White House would become Peyton Place-East. One of these briefings opened the can of worms where Monica Lewinsky was hiding out. As this soap opera crept into every U.S. home, it became the hottest topic on the comedy circuit since Watergate. In an interview years later, McCurry said he and Clinton regretted they ever authorized broadcasting TV briefings. “That was the dumbest thing we ever did!” Obviously, there isn’t any doubt:

“Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.”

– George Carlin

The job of press secretary has less security than that of the guy who hired them. Most remain on the job only a few years because it’s impossible to continually sugarcoat the blunders of their boss. They are not only hired and fired faster than a Vegas comedian can tell a bad joke, they are under the scrutiny of social media and alternative journalism and can’t play hide and seek with the truth. Maybe that’s why few women have ventured into this dark field of journalism? Bill Clinton’s first press secretary, Dee Dee Meyers, abruptly quit without notice. Obviously, few people wonder why. Dana Perino was admirable under George W. Bush but left to take a position as a political analyst.

“Being a woman is a terribly difficult trade since it consists principally of dealings with men.”

– Joseph Conrad

Presidents have unique and combative affinities with the press and the secretary works for them.

It is the reporter’s duty to disregard party hype and report genuine news. Some secretaries lose sight of their journalistic duties but reporters can’t. Last decade proved presidents can’t effectuate while at war with the media. Media segued further left, and turned the other cheek to progressive failures and took the liberty to report them.

“Liberal news outlets and their activist readers routinely reiterate the incendiary rhetoric and accusations fed to them by progressive politicians.”

– R. Kliner

The presses’ romance with the White House has been checkered since it’s up to them what they spin and how they spin it. And since the recent political divide, it has festered into a mass-media infection. To insure a progressive victory, with the help of liberal White House cronies they turned an economic downturn into the “Eve of Economic Destruction.” And after eight years of helping Barack Obama rewrite the Constitution, confidence in media dropped to 32 percent, its lowest in Gallup poll history. Since the election of Donald Trump, it’s down another 8 points! With arrant assailing of Sean Spicer and their tenacious underpinning of his new press secretary, Sarah H. Sanders, the third woman in history to permeate their good ol’ boys club, their credibility has gone belly up.

“I’m tough, I’m ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a b****, OK.”

Madonna

Author Bernie Mares wrote, “Thank God I’m a journalist and no longer a reporter.” Yes, a reporter’s job isn’t easy but it was their career by choice. A good one disseminates the truth, even it they fall in disfavor with their editor or the White House. When they sit behind a typewriter they know they have no friends. A bad one goes along to get along if it sells papers or increases ratings. He will prostitute his oath of truth and dignity to please an editor or the White House. A D.C.  press secretary dawns a dissimilar hat the day he takes the job. He’s no longer a good cop or a bad cop, but an employee on the payroll.

“The boss is always right even when he’s wrong.”

– Blaine Fulbright

The best press secretaries have seen their job as two-way streets: from principle or pragmatism. Not only to convey White House minutiae to the media, but to represent the press in high councils of the government. There’s much to be admired about their work and dedication. But even the best ended up pounding sand when they showed more loyalty to their master rather than their oath of allegiance to the Fourth Estate. When asked about Watergate, Nixon’s patriotic and competent press secretary retorted:

“If my answers sound confusing, I think they are confusing because questions are confusing and the situation is confusing, and I’m not in a position to clarify it.”

– Ron Ziegler

Plutarch wrote, “No man delights in the bearer of distorted truth.” White House press reporters are distorting news worse than a fable written by a bad comic book science fiction writer. The enemy is not the press secretary, they are only the messenger. Let’s not continue to kill the messenger, but reporters who breach the ethics of their trade.

“Journalism is a profession. It takes skill, courage and conviction. If a writer does not possess that talent, they become a news reporter.’’

– Carla Rice

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Permanent link to this article: http://watchdog.org/294908/haupt-white-house-press-secretary-reporter-employee/

Sep 09

Judicial Watch Response to DOJ Decision NOT to Prosecute Lois Lerner

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton made the following statement regarding the  Department of Justice’s decision not to bring charges against Lois Lerner, former director of the Exempt Organizations Unit of the IRS, whose own emails place her at the heart of the politicization of the IRS for the targeting of conservative groups: I have zero confidence that the Justice Department did an adequate review of the IRS scandal. In fact, we’re still fighting […]

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.ohiolibertycoalition.org/judicial-watch-response-to-doj-decision-not-to-prosecute-lois-lerner/

Sep 07

Frederick Douglass Expert to Speak at University of Dayton and Greene County on September 11, 2017

 

Frederick Douglass was by far the most famous Black Republican who rose from slavery to prosperity. A number of groups are sponsoring several events featuring prominent speaker, K. Carl Smith to share the inspiring story of Frederick Douglas.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.daytonohioteaparty.com/?p=2247260

Sep 07

RLCOH endorses Ann Becker to replace Rep. Margy Conditt

(Columbus, Ohio) September 6, 2017: The Republican Liberty Caucus of Ohio (RLCOH) proudly endorsed Ann Becker to replace Rep. Margy Conditt in the Ohio House. Speaker of the House Cliff Rosenberger will appoint the successor to Rep. Conditt after her recent resignation.   Says RLCOH Chairman, Bill Yarbrough, “I have never before been as confident in an endorsement. Ann has proven her dedication to principled leadership for all Ohioans regardless of political party. She’s worked tirelessly to elect follow Republicans […]

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.ohiolibertycoalition.org/rlcoh-endorses-ann-becker-to-replace-rep-margy-conditt/

Sep 06

Many agree: Time for Congress to act after DACA decision

Illinois’ two Democratic U.S. senators agree with President Donald Trump on one one aspect of DACA: Congress now needs to act.

After calling Trump cruel, Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin said Congress needs to step into the DACA fight.

“I have always held out the hope that President Trump would keep his word and ‘take care’ of the Dreamers. After all, the president told America, ‘We love the Dreamers,’ ” Durbin said in a statement. “Starting this countdown clock will require Congress to act fast.”

Democrat U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth said much the same thing. So did Trump, for that matter.

And so does Alex Nowrasteh, an immigration policy expert at the Cato Institute.

“The ball is now in Congress’ court,” Nowrasteh said. “It is their job to pass a law. To provide a long-term solution to this immigration problem, specifically to try and legalize a lot of these DREAMers who were brought here as children.”

The Trump Administration said it ended President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy because it exceeded his Constitutional authority when he ordered as many as 800,000 illegal immigrants to be able to stay in the U.S. The White House said Trump is willing to work with Congress to find a solution.

Nowrasteh said the problem may be getting Congress to agree with itself.

“It’s a big ‘if.’ Congress hasn’t passed a substantive immigration bill since the 1990s,” Nowrasteh said. “This is different because the DREAMers are a very sympathetic group. I don’t think any bill that includes E-Verify, or a border wall, or a RAISE Act will pass because those are so unpopular.”

The president’s decision to end DACA won’t mean any changes for anyone for the next six months, and could allow some DREAMers to stay in the U.S. for as long as two years.

Nowrasteh said no matter what you think of DACA as policy, the best solution for all sides is to have Congress act.

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Permanent link to this article: http://watchdog.org/294807/many-agree-time-congress-act-daca-decision/

Sep 05

Foes of Ohio drug-pricing initiative see many side effects for state

An Ohio ballot initiative that aims to cut prescription drug costs for millions has drawn opposition from health officials, business groups and community organizations, all of whom find the measure’s promises hard to swallow.

The Ohio Drug Price Relief Act, which will appear on the Nov. 7 ballot, would mandate that the state government pay no more for prescription drugs than the federal Department of Veterans Affairs. Typically, the VA gets discounts of about 24 percent.

Supporters of the initiative, which was spearheaded by the California-based AIDS Heathcare Foundation, say it will benefit four million Ohioans, save about $400 million annually and help get drug companies to mend their ways.

But opponents view the measure as ludicrous, unworkable and simplistic, and they say the promised cost savings are illusionary. If passed, the initiative would actually raise drug costs for the majority of Ohio residents, they say.

“The other side has a very easy issue to demagogue, and they do it all the time,” Dale Butland, spokesman for Ohioans Against the Deceptive Rx Ballot Issue, told Watchdog.org.

Three quarters of state-purchased drugs in Ohio go to the Medicaid program, which already gets a discount of 23.1 percent, Butland said. Ohio negotiates further discounts through private agreements as well, he said.

“Ohio is already paying very close, if not the same, as the VA …” Butland said. “The alleged savings that the ‘yes’ campaign talks about is simply not there.”

And though the initiative says the state would have to spend no more than the lowest drug price paid by the VA, it’s not possible to know the lowest price because the VA also negotiates voluntary discounts with drug manufacturers that are not disclosed, according to Butland.

Because the initiative does not apply to those with private health care, Ohioans insured through their employers could see their drug prices go up, he said. If drug manufacturers are told they have to sell their products to certain buyers at a lower rate, they could opt to recoup any losses by raising the costs for those not covered by the initiative, Butland said.

The campaign opposing the drug price initiative sees its role as educating voters about the proposal’s details. A similar proposal in California lost by a 53-to-47-percent margin last November, but it started out with an 80 percent approval rating, he said.

“By election day, a lot of Democratic voters thought this really wasn’t a good idea,” Butland said.

The opponents have endorsements from 70 statewide organizations in Ohio, including medical associations, business and labor groups, and community organizations. Several former Ohio Medicaid directors have joined the opposition as well, saying that uncertainties about how market forces would play out make it a risky deal for taxpayers.

But Dennis Willard, spokesman for Ohio Taxpayers for Lower Drug Prices, sees the current drug pricing market as dysfunctional, with drug companies having the ability to raise prices at will. The idea that Ohio already receives drug discounts of more than 20 percent is both inaccurate and illogical, Willard said.

“Drug companies would not be spending tens of millions if this had no impact on their bottom line and their price gouging,” he told Watchdog.org.

Any drug discount is actually split between the federal and state governments, with the feds getting the vast majority of it, according to Willard.

“The discount is tied to Obamacare, and we do not know the future of Obamacare at this point,” he said, adding that the discount does not apply to all Medicaid recipients.

One statewide medical organization supporting the measure is the Ohio Academy of Family Physicians, which sees the high cost of drug treatments as a crucial issue for patients and one state and federal lawmakers have not solved.

“This initiated statute is far from perfect, simplistic and flawed in many respects, and may not be the best approach for addressing high drug costs,” the academy said in a statement. “But, because of the inaction of state and federal lawmakers, it is all we have. By supporting this issue, we hope to send a message to legislators — the exorbitant cost of medications and the negative impact those costs have on patients must be addressed.”

But the Ohio Pharmacists Association rejects such notions, arguing that the measure contains no requirement that pharmacies would be able to purchase prescription drugs at the VA rate. So if the measure passes, pharmacies serving Medicaid patients could end up having to pay the going commercial rate from their suppliers while receiving a smaller reimbursement from the state government, according to Antonio Ciaccia, director of government and public affairs for the association.

Under such a scenario, pharmacies that have 40 to 50 percent of their business with Medicaid could not afford such a squeeze and would have to go out of business, Ciaccia said, adding that Medicaid is already underfunding pharmacies.

“This will just exacerbate the current landscape,” he said.

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Permanent link to this article: http://watchdog.org/294678/foes-ohio-drug-pricing-initiative-see-many-side-effects-state/

Sep 04

Open the Books: Tracking military weaponry and war machines flowing to America’s local police departments

[Last] week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced President Donald Trump’s plan to distribute military gear to state and local law enforcement agencies. The rule change means weapons typically reserved for war-time use – tracked armored (tank-like) vehicles, weaponized aircraft and vessels, grenade launchers, bayonets, and firearms with ammunition of .50-caliber or higher – will start flowing to local law enforcement agencies through the Department of Defense’s 1033 Program.

Yes, the story is familiar. In 2016, we sounded the alarm at Forbes about the Obama administration sending heavy weapons to local police departments. We noted that people of good faith on both the left and right were raising serious concerns regarding civil liberties and the growth of government.

Today, the same questions are valid: What’s the legitimate law enforcement purpose for these weapons? Does the militarization of local police threaten our civil liberties?

Search our OpenTheBooks interactive map for all weaponry transferred to the 6,500 local, state and other federal police agencies across America since 2006. See it all – in your hometown, park district, forest preserve, junior college, university, county, state police – or federal agency such as Homeland Security, Interior and the Justice Department – across any ZIP code!

What military gear will you find in your local police department? Here’s a sample of our findings:

 – In Illinois, the College of DuPage received 14 fully automatic M16 rifles. The police department in Wheaton (pop. 53,000) picked up 68 M16 and M14 rifles plus five pistols (.45 caliber). Evanston – a small community known to promote gun control ordinances – procured 20 M16 rifle.
– In Ohio, the Department of Natural Resources received 240 fully automatic M16 and M14 rifles. Why? To enforce hunting laws?
– Mine-resistant armored vehicles (49) were transferred to many small towns and counties in Florida including Baker County (pop. 27,000), Leesburg (pop. 22,400), Hallandale Beach (37,113), and Suwannee County (pop. 43,000).

To read this full column, visit Forbes.com.

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Permanent link to this article: http://watchdog.org/294744/open-books-tracking-military-weaponry-war-machines-flowing-americas-local-police-departments/

Sep 04

Haupt: The forgotten faces of American labor

 “As we celebrate Labor Day, we honor the men and women who fought tirelessly for workers’ rights, which are so critical to our strong and successful labor force.”

– Elizabeth Esty

The dynamic contributions of our ladies of past generations are overshadowed by today’s “mock feminism.” Real American women had a profound effect on our society, economy, and our liberty during the course of our history. One needs only to look at the strategic roles women played during our war times. From the Revolutionary War’s “Molly Pitcher” to the thousands in our military today, our nation’s women have timely impacted our historical conflicts. They transformed necessity into opportunities for women today. This was cogent during Worl War II, when more than 200,000 women served in the military, and more than 6  million flooded the American workforce from 1941 to 1945.

“If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.”

– Margaret Thatcher

Rosie the Riveter is a U.S. cultural icon, representative of the patriotic American women who worked in factories and shipyards during WWII. Many of these patriots produced munitions as well as other strategic war supplies to propel our troops to an allied victory. These women stepped up and took jobs their male counterparts left behind. Male workers in machine shops and foundries needed replacing and they answered the call. Rosie the Riveter became a symbol of our women’s new economic and social power. Her story spread worldwide as images of female war-workers appeared in allied countries. They became media icons on government posters that encouraged us to support the war!

“Strong woman harvest the spoils of war with coy ennobled valor.”

– W. Howard

Today, few Americans are fully aware that women played an important part in providing them with many opportunities in the workplace. These are a result of the strategic roles that our mothers and grandmothers played in WWII. Unfortunately, what little knowledge we have is often limited to those such as Rosie the Riveter. We hear of the wives and mothers left to manage households, waiting to hear from their soldiering spouses abroad. Rosie was a trail-blazing feminist who captivated the world with her female might. But there were many essential roles our patriotic women filled during the second Great War that contributed greatly to our labor force. They are the forgotten “faces of labor.”

“It is amazing what a woman can do if only she ignores what men tell her she can’t.”

– Chris Carns

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, our government called upon our factories to produce war goods. The workplace atmosphere was often tense. This was due to resentment of labor union bosses dictating policy to reluctant manufacturers throughout the 1930s. Many companies were feeling the sting of aggressive attempts to control free markets. The last thing they wanted was the feds flexing their mussel over production-line, war-time profiteering. To appease them and minimize past friction, they sent an olive branch to our zealous women. They trained them and helped care for their children. The UAW produced a poster in 1942 showing management and women aligned maintaining an assembly line. This powerful poster read:

“Together We Can Do It!”

– UAW

The need to mobilize the population behind the war effort was so compelling, political and social  leaders agreed men must change their perceptions of gender with a national emergency at hand. This brought about sacrifices, new jobs, new skills, and opportunities for America’s women.  The new U.S. secret weapon was the women who mobilized to meet the new challenges demanded of  them. As U.S. government and industry rapidly expanded to meet wartime needs, our women made this possible. Women were needed to fill traditional male jobs and roles during the war and needed little encouragement to answer the call. As each U.S. factory retooled for war production, this greatly expanded industrial output made women the nation’s most dominant labor force. Our women kept the country running, working night shifts and weekends to meet the pressing needs of our war machine. They showed the whole world:

“We make the things that matter, matter.”

– Teresa Funke

Before the war, many occupations were reserved for men in most states. But the war changed this quickly. Women contributed in a variety of ways to preserve world liberty and national peace. They labored in factories and became civic leaders. They sold war bonds, rolled bandages, coordinated blood drives, and ran civil defense teams. They tended Victory Gardens, and entertained returning troops on leave. They recycled scarce materials needed by our armies. They managed the strains of rationing gas, tires, sugar, meat, silk; shoes, and even “nylons” and many other necessary war commodities. And they did this while sustaining their families, though many knew they would face mourning after the war. They were aware that:

“Only the dead have seen the end of war.”

– Plato

Before the war, there were few opportunities for women to make full use of their academics. But the government knew they needed qualified leaders to teach and to train, and turned immediately to readily identifiable women. The government was fully aware of the unleashed power possessed by our women in scholastic institutions. They tapped into this energetic labor force immediately. And they responded with fervor from networks of university-trained women. Women were recruited for government service, education, military and civilian management jobs. Our “Government Girls” came from all over the country to Washington, and ran our ever-expanding war-time machine. They were the army fighting on the home front behind lines to defend us and support the war.

“A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.”

– Gloria Steinem

After the war, some women returned to their former places in society, while others refused to do so. Many had learned new skills and were prepared to use them, and they continue to contribute each day to our nation. Many knew they had finally achieved that economic and political clout they had not entertained before the war. They proved they were capable in any chosen role and have made remarkable contributions to industry, politics, and the military for decades since. And industry today is reaching out to qualified women as a result of the attainments of our WWII women. It was our American women who proved:

“Work is valued by the social value of the worker.”

– Gloria Steinem

The intent of Labor Day is to honor the social and economic achievements of American workers. It is a day of national tribute to the contributions so many made to the prosperity of our nation. The Industrial Revolution is considered the birth place of the modern labor movement. Although in 1830 women first appeared in this mechanized evolution, it was during WWII they brought the greatest influx of new faces in history to our workforce. They dispelled the mores and attitudes that reflected primeval values of past generations. They delivered lasting dignity to working women around the world. They opened doors that had been nailed closed. They challenged the credibility of social limitations with righteous indignation.

”Any woman who understands the problems of running a home will be nearer to understanding the problems of running a country.”

– Margaret Thatcher

America as well as organized labor benefited from these women. They voyaged into un-chartered waters and laid the cornerstone for modern labor today. Women are no longer an underclass in the work force because of these brave feminists.

“The abolition and suffrage movements progressed because we were never damaged by division; we should always remember that.”

– Gloria Steinem

 

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Permanent link to this article: http://watchdog.org/294734/haupt-forgotten-faces-american-labor/

Aug 30

Haupt: Obamacare, corporate America’s stepchild

“Socialized medicine is the keystone to the arch of the Socialized State.”

– Vladimir Lenin

The Social Transformation of American Medicine, by sociologist Paul Starr depicts the rise of our sovereign medical profession and how it became such a vast enterprise. He claims the autonomy of our medical professionals has been responsible for its evolution. He establishes their role as unique in our society and details how they used private capital to do this. Starr, a liberal activist in healthcare circles, admits government contributed moderately in developing the world’s greatest healthcare industry. But he cautioned, to maintain it, it would take corporate control of healthcare under government supervision to maintain it as the need for increased services became necessary in the future.

“Some feel the only way to survive is to sell out to establishment politics.”

– Jeri Keys

Transforming our free-market medical industry into a socialized nightmare came with the passage of Obamacare in 2009. When Obama led his “hit-squad” to the torture chamber that Christmas Eve, he had secured deals with corporations and special interest groups like AARP, the AMA and insurance companies. With the stroke of a pen he turned Dr. Jekyll into Mr. Hide. His hocus pocus pulled off the most dastardly hat trick in American medical history. Like Dr. Jekyll, he convinced major players they would reap big profits with federal mandates to buy products from them. But like Mr. Hide, he deceptively fooled Americans while embellishing corporate conglomerates the real benefactors.

“It is one thing to mortify curiosity, another to conquer it.”

– Robert Louis Stevenson

Obama knew he could not sell socialized medicine in a country built on a free market. He cleverly skewed his sales pitch claiming his magical healthcare elixir of federal pixie dust was the panacea. He rallied select target industry players to endorse his plan. Then he could take small incremental steps at “reforms,” regulations and mandates that would eventually lead to rationing services and coverage. This would allow government to ration medical care and liability by consolidating free-market medicine under corporate banners. His corporate comrades would love this since they’d be off the hook providing health benefits and send employees off to Obama exchanges. Obama gave them a double dose of Kool-Aid.

“Yes, you can fool some of the people all of the time.”

– Al Thorn

Walter Scott said; “O, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive!” Only a few years later people are waiting for the unicorns at their doorsteps to tote them off to local healthcare resorts, where mythical Tinkerbell wizards will cure them with magic wands. They’ll be waiting till the “12th of Never.” Instead of increasing access to services, ObamaScare limited their choices in the free market. Now the feds are dictating the coverage we must buy, and what insurance must cover, and every doctor must write a thesis to justify this. What happened to the free market? If everyone sells the same product and they know you must buy it, they will just kick back and wait for the phone to ring.

“A monopoly renders people complacent with mediocrity.”

– Neil Parcey

To progressives, freedom means their right to usurp our God-given rights so they can exploit the vulnerability of the public. When their dream of socialized medicine forced our trusted PCPs to abandon their practices and join corporations, this was a perilous blow to all Americans. When the public saw them fall, one by one, they envisioned Obama’s ultimate goal was a single-payer type healthcare system. When all individual medical providers ultimately disappear and are absorbed into HMO’s conglomerates, they will administer healthcare under government jurisprudence. One Obama spokesman said, “We can no longer pay for healthcare under the current PPO model. We must phase out all fee-for-service care for us to survive. We’ll pay doctors a finite amount to take care of a defined population, within our parameters, not theirs.” Even communist Karl Marx realized the importance of our personal care physicians: “Medicine heals doubts as well as diseases.”

As America watched their healthcare system erode under the rubric of mandated insurance, they rebelled. The next general election they replaced most of the progressives that had ganged up on them and stole their free market health care. This new group of Congressmen promised to dump Obamacare in favor of a legitimate free market system to assist in providing healthcare for all. But these promises went the way of the corset. And we have been re-electing them as our insurance premiums go through the roof! Although the House voted to defend Obamacare four times since then, nobody has come up with an alternative plan.

“Sometimes is takes intuitive thinking to come up with a plan that really works. That is something Congress is incapable of doing.”

– Theo Blane

One of the key ingredients of President Donald Trump’s campaign whistle stomping was to repeal the dreaded ObamaScare Americans despised more than a trip to the dentist to get a tooth pulled.

He talked a good talk and the people listened, and he had grandiose solutions that would make everyone happy. His plan would reduce premiums and provide assistance for those in need, and not arm wrestle anyone into buying something they didn’t want. He wanted to reduce the work our doctors did for the government so they could work more for us. This sounded great until Congress stepped in, and fooled with his proposal to appease their favorite sons. By the time they got done detonating his bill, it was just another Obamcare in disguise.

“Whenever everyone puts their two cents in, you end up with a bank filled with depositors who get little or no return.”

– Roy Small

There is no question, Obamacare will soon self-destruct. And the Trump administration along with the Republican Congress is faced with a crisis when it bites the dust. Most of the co-ops are gone. A large portion of the exchanges have only one plan to choose from. Money earmarked to shore up insurance companies has dried up. All attempts to secure funds to support Obamacare have been challenged in court. Although our economy, our medical system and our patients must be freed from the grip of this monster, if Congress can’t fix it now, maybe they should just watch it implode. Then they will be forced to prudently address real free market healthcare reform.

“Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.”

– Milton Friedman

It is the essence of pragmatism to acknowledge ObamaCare is not working. From its inception, too many ingredients of Obamacare were consolation prizes to Democrats, insurance companies and big corporations. We cannot “tweak” or reform Obamacare, we need to wait for it to self destruct so liberal Americans who thought they were getting the deal of a lifetime understand that free market healthcare is the only real deal of them and our doctors. In America, nobody is denied medical care at a trauma center or a county hospital. And there are many state and federal programs to assist all those in need.

“Some people need a hand up for help but too many want a hand out.”

– Jill Provo

If we wait long enough, Obamacare will collapse. It’s a fact Obamacare is bankrupting the nation with disastrous consequences.  It is suicidal. But if that is the only way we can open up health care to more competition outside of federal mother-henning we must watch this happen. Healthcare is not a government responsibility. Each of us is responsible to buy our own. Let’s hope sanity prevails, before more doctors go belly up. Congress must repeal ObamaCare for the good of all. If you recall, Karl Marx said, “First you socialize medicine and everything else follows like night follows day.”

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Permanent link to this article: http://watchdog.org/294651/haupt-obamacare-corporate-americas-stepchild/

Aug 27

Krug: Let’s get real about fake news

Fake news is so passé, but we can’t get past it.

Seriously, it’s been probably, what, at least 15 seconds since someone accused someone else of stretching a story to suit their needs, twisting a fact, a comment or an image to fit nicely into their narrative, or engaging in an all-out peddling of baloney.

Or is it bologna? No matter.

The reason we can’t get past fake news is that we secretly love it. And we love to accuse each other of selling it. Yes, baloney and fake news. And neither is too terribly good for us, but that doesn’t stop us from consuming them when nobody is looking.

Let’s skip right past the blatantly awful and contrived stories that have no basis in fact. These are the clickbait stories of inland sharks, miracle pills and most outright political condemnations. These stories are so transparently untrue that a person of average wherewithal and news savvy can immediately determine they are false.

From there, they may have entertainment value in their creativity, but they present no reason for readers to accept them as factual.

Nonetheless, stories such as these entrap the casual news consumer, and those unwilling to think at a level that requires more than the ability to swipe left or right, or communicate effectively without emojis.

If this is you, and you can’t – or won’t – see through stories such as the ones I have illustrated, and still consider them as part of fake news, stop reading here. Please.

I can’t help you. You can’t help you. Nobody can help you, and you can return to whatever it was before I wasted the past four minutes of your happy existence.

No, when I think of criteria for fake news, I stop to ponder stories that have been twisted, manipulated or presented without regard for fairness or accuracy.

These stories would seem plausible, resonate as possibly containing the truth, but – upon closer inspection – are missing some details or pieces, or lack in context and completeness. They require further reasoning or research to confirm initial suspicion that the story is too good (or too bad) to be true. Remember the old game “Two truths and a lie?”

It’s reasonable to expect that a roomful of reporters can participate in the same news conference, take comparable notes, capture the quotations correctly and come away with different stories. Reportage is, after all, a human function.

Perhaps the reporters’ angles are different. Perhaps they represent publications with a specific focus or niche audience that cares intensively about a single issue. Perhaps their news outlet assigned them to focus on a subject that only was a small piece of the news conference because it has special import to their defined geography.

Or maybe these men and women with the notebooks and pens came with their story already written and weren’t really interested in what was said as much as what they think they heard. To think that some journalists don’t start with a story before their reporting begins is to be naïve.  We’ll leave that noble but insulated perspective to academia.

If you hold yourself to a journalistic standard, the goal always is to present your story truthfully. So if the reporter who authored the story you are reading consistently skips facts, lacks the intellectual ability to hold seemingly opposing concepts in their mind and then weigh them fairly or just wants to get home for dinner by 6 each night, well, their stories will fall short of the ideal.

And while there certainly are acts of commission in creating fake news, lazy reporting and inherent bias that goes unrecognized would be key contributors to why it continues to plague journalism.

Before this lands as an outright condemnation of reporters and their ability to perform without prejudice, consider that the rope they walk has been pushed farther away from the safety net. While your local news outlet may have managed to maintain the veneer of health by holding on to its top reporters, or replacing them when they’ve moved on, the backline defense of copy editors and fact-checking has all but evaporated. At the same time, the stakes for error-proof reporting have gotten higher.

In the context of a news operation, the vast majority of the content should be news. That is to say original reporting, or source-cited material, that attempts to identify the news fairly and with context.

Television and digital media are frankly awful at maintaining this measure, and for obvious reasons: Most do not have the financial capacity to invest in reporting, and instead lean on “experts” to riff on the news rather than report it. Newsgathering is expensive, relative to other forms of content for publication.

News ahead of an opinion on the news is good practice. Opinion leading news? Not so much. If your news source subscribes to this pattern, metaphorically (or perhaps euphorically), find a better source.

Reporters have to work hard to fairly create the stories on the beats or within the niche they cover. A story that took you 5 or 10 minutes to read may have taken 5 or 10 hours – and in some cases much longer – to report. They intrude into people’s lives for a living. Some do it far better and far more professionally than others. Some make the world a better place to live in by exposing truth. Some don’t and operate as if they are tenured and untouchable.

Journalism is challenging work. It requires intelligent people with curiosity, confidence and mental dexterity. It takes long hours, and the courage to ask difficult questions to people who oftentimes are difficult. Said another way, you have to give a damn about things that matter, while not giving a damn about what people think of you.

But don’t cry for people in the media. They know the job and its demands before they get into it, or soon after they start. They’re not providing a volunteer service, haven’t answered a calling from a higher power, and are compensated for their time and quality of work. The market determines their value, and they have the opportunity to apply for jobs doing something else, somewhere else anytime they’d like. Nobody is stuck in a journalism job that doesn’t want to be stuck in a journalism job.

In just about every conversation I have with someone who wants to know what they can do about fake news, I offer the same advice: Call it out as false, and detail why. Point out the flaws. Identify the errors of commission as well as those of omission, accuracy and context.

Above all else, stop sharing baloney.

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Permanent link to this article: http://watchdog.org/294596/krug-lets-get-real-fake-news/

Aug 25

Ohio legislature moves to crack down on local government credit, debit card abuse

Two Ohio representatives have submitted a bill that would curtail the kinds of  local government debit and credit card misuse that, in one recent instance, allowed the administrator of a small village to charge more than $700,000 in personal items to taxpayers.

House Bill 312, introduced late last month, would ban debit cards for all but “law enforcement purposes” and require local government entities to establish policy limiting credit card use. Though it provides some latitude in how those policies are written, it does specify that the policy must include rules on credit limits, who is authorized to use the card, and what constitutes acceptable use.

The bill appears to have received at least some tepid support among municipalities. Kent Scarrett, executive director of the Ohio Municipal League, told Watchdog.org that though his group is always concerned about state mandates on local government, it remains neutral on the bill.

“We don’t oppose it – there were some changes we sought and received,” Scarrett said. “It’s kind of in the vein of good government and setting some guidelines … it’s something we’ve already been talking to our members about, and we’re kind of following along.”

The bill, sponsored by Reps. Dave Greenspan, R-Westlake, and Kirk Schuring R-Canton, comes in light of a recent report by the state auditor, summarizing $1.2 million in local government card fraud discovered through 35 investigations since 2011.

In its most high profile example, the administrator for the Village of Mt. Sterling – with just over 1,700 residents – used over $724,000 in public funds to buy personal items ranging from a washer and dryer for his girlfriend, to a camper. Nearly half of the expenditures were made using the village credit card. The fraud, which began as early as 2012, was only discovered after the manager, mayor and the village’s fiscal officer simultaneously retired in 2016.

The manager, Joseph Johnson, faced 10 felony counts and ultimately entered into a plea deal in which he was sentenced to 10 years in prison and an agreement to repay the $724,000.

 

After finding that many of the instances of fraud stemmed from poor or lacking credit card policies, State Auditor David Yost sent out a survey to local government entities to determine the extent to which local government controlled credit card use. Though roughly 90 percent of respondents claimed to have some form of policy in place, a majority of those did not spell out “allowable expenses” as part of that policy.

“The response and findings were solid and provided the framework for the auditor and several state legislators to pursue … policies to safeguard credit-card use and protect taxpayers,” a representative for the Auditor’s office, Benjamin Marrison, told Watchdog.org. “In the meantime, the findings have encouraged local government employees, citizens and others to more closely examine credit and debit card spending, limits and policies.”

A representatives of the State Auditor’s office said that HB 312 was written in close consultation with the auditor’s legislative team.

Illinois’ most prominent action on limiting credit card use came in a state Supreme Court ruling nearly a decade ago against the former mayor of the City of Pekin, who used the town’s credit card for gambling-related cash advances during his term beginning in 2004. After he was caught, People v. Howard made its way to the the Illinois Supreme Court, which disagreed with the former mayor’s argument that since he repaid the withdrawn funds from his personal accounts, it was not misconduct. It ruled that the violation of the policy from the outset was a violation of the Illinois Constitution, regardless of whether the money was ultimately returned.

Since then, the Illinois Municipal League has warned members that even paying a double-occupancy fee for an accompanying spouse at a professional development event should be booked first with personal funds and reimbursed minus the fee. Like Ohio, Illinois’ rules on local government credit and debit cards appears to be at the discretion of local entities.

The Ohio bill also addresses increased oversight of credit card use, which the auditor advocated as part of its report. The report highlighted a township in Franklin County where the fiscal officer spent nearly $40,000 on unauthorized purchases over two years, including retail stores, amusement parks and more. In the ensuing investigation, it was uncovered that local policy made the officer responsible for not only deciding who received the township’s credit cards, but also for signing the monthly payment checks to those cards, and “maintaining support for expenditures.”

“In other words, she had total power over using and accounting for debit and credit cards,” the report said. “With no one looking over her shoulder, it was a situation ripe for exploitation.”

Provisions in the bill help enforce checks and balances, including regular reviews of credit card purchases by boards and councils and, for instances where local government has limited home rule, rules against appointing the fiscal officer to be the credit/debit card compliance officer mandated by the bill.

The ban on debit cards appears to stem from concerns expressed in the auditor’s report that such cards can be used for difficult-to-trace cash withdrawals.

If passed by the Ohio legislature, local governments in Ohio would have three months to establish a policy, or submit to a board policy.

The Ohio Senate and House are scheduled to reconvene floor sessions in September.

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Permanent link to this article: http://watchdog.org/294544/ohio-legislature-moves-crack-1-2-mil-local-government-credit-debit-card-abuse/

Aug 25

Democrats attempt to re-write history by blaming soldiers for slavery

The Military and its soldiers are called upon by the government that controls them.  They take their orders from these leaders. The Democrat party bears the sole responsibility for the most treasonous war in our history.  The Democrats in the south wanted to keep their slaves.  Republicans in the North said that all Men are created equal and should be free , not slaves. And the war began.  The Democrats fought to keep their slaves,  […]

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.ohiolibertycoalition.org/democrats-attempt-to-re-write-history-by-blaming-soldiers-for-slavery/

Aug 23

Ohio, Pennsylvania among states with highest student loan debts

Ohio and Pennsylvania’s first- and third-place finishes on a recent national ranking of student indebtedness comes as no surprise to those familiar with the issue in the two states.

The personal-finance website WalletHub earlier this month released the study, which showed residents of Ohio, Mississippi and Pennsylvania carrying the heaviest student debt load among all U.S. states. Ohio ranked No. 3 in the category of overall student loan indebtedness and No.  20 among states in providing grants and student work opportunities.

Pennsylvania came in fourth in student loan indebtedness and 19th in offering grants and student work opportunities. The state was No. 2 in the category of highest average student debt.

“Both states are struggling with student loan indebtedness,” WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez told Watchdog.org in an email. “Ohio and Pennsylvania each have an average student debt of over $30,000, and over 66 percent of students have student loan debt. That’s one of the highest rates in the country.”

The study also found parallels between the two states in terms of the low availability of student jobs. Citing numbers from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics and Indeed.com, WalletHub found that there were only six to seven student jobs per 1,000 civilians aged 16 to 24 in each state’s labor force, according to Gonzalez.

Several factors explain why the two states finished so high on the student debt ranking, she said.

“The issue comes down to [the availability of] grants for public schools, student jobs during school to deter borrowing and employment post-college,” the WalletHub analyst said.

And the debt numbers could encourage out-migration of students to other locales, according to Gonzalez.

“There might be better opportunities in other neighboring states,” she said.

Victoria Jackson, a state policy fellow at Policy Matters Ohio, a nonprofit research institute, said Ohio’s ranking on the WalletHub study comes as no surprise. Indeed, a Vanderbilt University study earlier this year rated the state 45th in college affordability.

For the lowest-income families in Ohio – those making under $31,000 annually – it would take 81 percent of their earnings to send a family member to an Ohio public university and 31 percent  to attend a community college, Jackson said.

Student debt numbers have been exacerbated by the actions of for-profit colleges, the low level of state financial aid to students and lack of regulation of loan services, she said.

“We’re finding that loan servicers are making it hard for people to pay back their loans,” Jackson told Watchdog.org. Often, students are eligible for less-burdensome income-based repayment plans but were not told about such options, she said.

Typical for-profit college career programs in the state offer graduates earnings that are so low that they fail to end dependence on food assistance, according to Jackson. Their graduates’ annual earnings come in at more than $9,000 below that of certificate earners at public colleges and universities, she said.

“The outcomes for students who attend them are so poor that it’s important to draw attention to them,” Jackson said.

For-profit colleges also tend to prey on veterans, people of color and women, and they operate in an environment where there’s little regulation or oversight, she said.

Ohio could help address its student debt problem by prohibiting for-profit colleges from receiving state grants, increasing regulation of loan services and expanding funding for Ohio College Opportunity Grants, she said.

Jackson pointed to a report from Philanthropy Ohio that found the state ranked last in the Midwest in access to need-based financial assistance for higher education students.

The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, which provides financial aid services to higher education students, has also been tracking the trend of increasing student debt in the state, according to spokesman Keith New.

“As a public servant, we’re trying to chip away at the student loan debt,” New told Illinois News Network.

The state agency has been conducting outreach efforts at high schools to encourage students to borrow only what they need and to ensure they will have the ability to pay back the loans, New said. The agency also operates a website, Mysmartborrowig.org, to encourage students to engage in thoughtful borrowing practices.

“We are very sensitive of the growing student loan problem in Pennsylvania …” he said. “The key to reversing it is through increasing financial literacy and empowering students at an early age to be smart in making borrowing choices.”

And because the numbers of high school graduates in Pennsylvania have been declining due to changes in demographics, the agency has been able to better meet the financial needs of students due to declining applications for aid, he said.

The agency also offers loan forgiveness programs for those in the fields of public service and teaching.

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Permanent link to this article: http://watchdog.org/294422/ohio-pennsylvania-among-states-highest-student-loan-debts/

Aug 21

Haupt: Why traditional media segued to the left

“Edmund Burk designated the Fourth Estate as watchdogs of government; the press.”

– Albert Clogen

The media has long been regarded as the most important force in government. It is considered the heart and soul of democratic egalitarianism. Thomas Carlyle is a legendary writer and considered the most conspicuous social commentator of his time. He saw the press as instrumental to the birth of democracy, spreading facts and opinions and sparking revolution against tyranny. Carlyle was the first luminary who recognized the importance of the press during the French Revolution. He said, “A Fourth Estate, of able editors, springs up, increases and multiplies; irrepressible, incalculable.”

It is a simple fact that a functioning democracy requires informed citizens. Since our coordination of jurisprudence is a government of “we the people,” rule by the people entails that the people should be informed. And no governing body can operate without knowledge of the issues on which it is to rule. In a representative democracy, the role of the media is a key ingredient to the success of this ability to rule. It not only has an obligation to inform the citizens, it is responsible for bridging the communications gap between the government and voters. It is their duty to indubitably elucidate complex national policy, and …

“Write to be understood, and speak to be heard.”

– Lawrence Powell

Singer Jim Morrison told us, “Whoever controls the media, controls the mind.” It is the media’s responsibility to make the actions of the government known to the public. They have a duty to give equal representation to all opinions as a source of public information. Without media, the loop between the government and the public welfare no longer exists. This makes media indispensable in a functional representative democracy. Without an unbiased media, a utilitarian democracy has little chance of surviving. Regardless of public opinion, the media’s obligation is to report and inform not to trade appeasement for approval.

“Ratings don’t last. Good journalism does.”

– Dan Rather

Today the Fourth Estate has taken a back seat from professionalism. The evolution of the liberal media since the 1950s clearly validates how they have dishonored their once-esteemed vocation. The great “sell out” started after WWII. Media was used to promote the war effort and the networks took notice. And now with national TV in every home, our media outlets realized they had a captive audience. For most all national networks, this was a financial blessing, but for the public it was a curse as they traded ethics for dollars.

“Money often costs too much.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

But why did they choose the Left and not the Right? After WWII, there was a tremendous focus on higher education. And since many of our universities converged on teaching liberal ideology, they received grant money to promote the liberal model of the economy and its benefits to our society. As a result, new journalists, reporters and news anchors were indoctrinated by liberal professors about the evils of capitalism and the damage done by the free market. This played right into the hand of the left as these reporters became liberal robots.

“When yellow journalism replaced real reporting, it forever displaced the Fourth Estate in Parliament’s reporter’s galley.”

– Sir Walter Ebson

By the late 1950s, far left politics dominated most major national newspaper media organizations. And once television became popular, liberals saw how Americans could be influenced by it. This is when they made their move to gain control of the networks. With predominance over them, they controlled all prime time TV and used this valuable air time to sway a gullible public into believing the liberal ideologues would save them. And since news media and political parties share crucial geographic boundaries, this was an obviously beneficial marriage of influential entities. And because all “media markets” and “voting districts” share the same characteristics, they were collectively able to buy predominant market shares. It is with these combined resources they have been manipulating elections for decades:

“The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse.”

– Edmund Burke

The media also realized since the larger U.S. cities are controlled by the far left, the vast majority of newspaper readers and TV news-watchers in these cities must be Democrats. Since the media did not want to alienate their markets’ voters, they bought into the leftist agenda. Yet this is actually a bit of an oxymoron. What came first, the chicken or the egg? While both the media and Democrats are ultimately dependent on their demographics for survival, the Democratic Party is the one that controls the populations of the major cities; not the media. The media simply nurses from its udder, which keeps it nourished. The left must remain diehard bedfellows with the media to maintain their politically-social dominance.

“Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.”

– Rob Heinlein

Plutarch stated, “In words are seen the state of mind and character and disposition of the speaker.” Instead of liberating voters from perjury-emanating spin-hacks, the right of center depends on new age media to defy them. But this only reaches their base while the left sustains inclusive exposure. Traditional media is firmly entrenched in progressive ideology and willingly espouses this while the right-of-centers call talk radio hosts and vent about this bias. When the right has had occasions to retort, they failed to sway public opinion with mundane repartee. Liberal media continues to control markets by demagoguing half-truth opinionated news, claiming this aggrandizement is reporting.

“Truth does not sell nearly as well as a cleverly contrived disingenuous fairy tail.”

– Chadwick Black

The left keeps the wheels of deception running with well-oiled spin. They feed the media unlimited agitprop to enhance their rhetoric of helping the poor, punishing the rich, and chastening those who contribute most to our nation. The media in turn pontificates this re-branded federalism with gallant enthusiasm that helps them expand federal programs and bring federal dollars into urban markets that support their patronage. Now, reporters espouse more hyperbole than a science fiction writer. They’ve been trained liberalism is synonymous with journalism by federalist professors. CNN’s Jeff Zucker’s nose grew greater than Pinocchio’s when he said, “If it’s of real news value, we’ll cover it”.

In establishing our independence, the pen and the press had a merit equal to that of the sharpest sword. Newspapers were pivotal in the making of America. As the only mass media of the time, they fanned the flames of rebellion, which sustained loyalty and ultimately brought independence. Without the contributions of Ben Franklin, Tommy Paine and some of our lesser known writers, we would still be begging Parliament for tax relief so we could buy tea and crumpets!

“What motivated the British to colonize much of the world was they were looking for a decent meal.”

– Max Harrison

The progressive media has catechized our nation into divide. The last eight years of reporting was abhorrent. We had an administration that ruined free markets, the job market, ravaged national and international security, and was praised for it. Americans have been dumbed down by spoiled brats with typewriters. Anyone who has not discovered the many new sources for altruistic journalism is an obvious candidate to buy a 1985 Yugoslavian Yugo. Dr. King told us “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” Republicanism can’t survive without a candidly ingenuous Fourth Estate.

“The press should be not only a collective propagandist and a collective agitator, but also a collective organizer of the masses.”

– Vladimir Lenin

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Permanent link to this article: http://watchdog.org/294455/haupt-traditional-media-segued-left/

Aug 18

Former President of Vermont AFL-CIO and AFT unions supports Right to Work

By Ben Johnson.  I support Right to Work. Nationwide in the private sector, in the public sector, in any other sectors that unions create, full stop. I spent the last decade as treasurer, then president of AFT Vermont and for three years president of the Vermont AFL-CIO, and I think it’s time to eliminate unions’ right to collect mandatory agency fees from non-members. That’s what the ‘Right to Work’ bill in Congress would strike down […]

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.ohiolibertycoalition.org/former-president-of-vermont-afl-cio-and-aft-unions-supports-right-to-work/

Aug 15

Congressman: Repealing death tax would be ‘nirvana’

It was Founding Father Benjamin Franklin who said, “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” One Illinois congressman wants to disconnect the two by eliminating the so-called death tax.

Tax reform is one of the major issues being pushed by the administration of President Donald Trump.

U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Illinois, recently shared what’s been concerning his constituents the most.

“Less government,” Shimkus said. “Individual responsibility, lower taxes, more personal freedoms and liberties.”

While tax reform has been elusive so far in Washington, Shimkus said one issue he hopes to get right is eliminating the federal estate tax, also known as the death tax.

“We don’t want triple taxation,” Shimkus said. “We want a simple code that says, ‘You’ve got income, you’re gonna be taxed on income. You’re not going to be taxed on assets evaluations over families, over generations and force people to sell farms.’”

Tax reform is going to happen, Shimkus said, it’s just a matter of what reforms and when.

“So now it’s a matter of how you get lower rates,” Shimkus said. “To get lower rates you have to reduce what we call the loopholes, or the exemptions and all that stuff, and that’s what the fight is going to be.”

As for the estate tax, Shimkus said it doesn’t just hit family farms with triple taxation.

“It could be the automobile repair shop down the street now,” Shimkus said, “with that much assets and just a building and equipment.”

Shimkus said repealing the estate tax would “be nirvana.”

Even if Congress abolishes the federal estate tax, Illinois still levies levels the tax at the state level.

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Permanent link to this article: http://watchdog.org/294387/congressman-repealing-death-tax-nirvana/

Aug 14

Haupt: Abandoning the gold standard created legalized theft

“The gold standard kept us honest and forced us to control out of control spending.”

– Lane Brody 

Alan Greenspan told us, “Gold is a good place to put money, given its value as a currency outside of the policies conducted by governments.” This basic truism certifies that money has emerged by evolution from the market process. It was not invented by governments. For centuries, economic forces contributed to the evolution of world monetary systems. The security of nations has always been judged by how they manage their money. Those with stable economies have fewer social and political conflicts. Nations that don’t practice credible guardianship of their currency continually fight for survival. There is nothing more destructive to any society than a government that cannot manage their finances competently. Although we’ve been told “Money can’t buy happiness,” that wise comic Groucho Marx reminded us that, “It certainly lets you choose your own form of misery.”

Centralized banking systems have been around for centuries. Dutch merchant Johan Palmstruch formed Stockholms Banco in Sweden 1657. But this bank ended in disaster when the value of the paper currency exceeded the amount of dalers backing it. When customers learned this, there was a run on his bank and it collapsed. In France 50 years later, John Law, a Scottish womanizer and gambler once convicted of murder and exiled by England, talked the French into helping him open a central bank, the Banque Générale backed by government IOUs. His inept blundering caused the bank and the economy to collapse. Law was banned from France forever. Palmstruch and Law both forgot:

“Rule No.1: Never lose money. Rule No. 2: Never forget Rule No.1.”

– Warren Buffett

The first legitimate paper currency issued by European governments was distributed by colonial governments in North America. The shipment of goods between Europe and the colonies took so long, the colonists often ran out of cash. To pay for luxury items, due to a shortage of currency, the colonial governments used IOUs. This practice of “trading paper for goods” started in Canada, a French colony, in 1685. Military personnel were issued denominated playing cards signed by the governor to pay for goods instead of French coinage. Although primitive, this system of bartering worked well for their colonies: As Plato told us in 390 BC: “Necessity is the mother of invention.”

By the mid 1800s, most countries adopted the gold standard. This guaranteed paper money could be redeemed for its value in gold. This also facilitated trade since it no longer had to be done with heavy gold bullion. It increased trust in world currencies since paper currency had value tied to a precious commodity, gold. And in 1913, America created the Federal Reserve to stabilize gold and currency values. Since printing money not backed by gold created hyperinflation, their goal was to keep inflation low and guarantee the health of the dollar. But that did not last. We soon would learn that:

“Governments lie; bankers lie; even auditors sometimes lie: gold tells the truth.”

– Lord Mogg

In 1900, The Gold Standard Act officially placed the U.S. on the gold standard. America remained on the gold standard until President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his Congress passed the Gold Reserve Act in 1933. It required all gold and gold certificates held by the Federal Reserve to be surrendered to the U.S. Treasury. All contracts and currency that required redemption in gold were declared null and void. He justified this claiming we wanted to stop the run on banks. But contrary to his populist propaganda, his real motive was simply to gain control of our money supply. He was planning massive, expensive socio-economic programs that required capital. Controlling the gold supply would give him money to do this. He knew:

“He who controls the money supply of a nation controls the nation.”

– James Garfield

Before 1934, the government was allowed to print $20.67 in paper money for each ounce of gold.

After FDR did his damage, it increased to $35; a difference of $14.33. By doing this, the value of the gold held by the government increased by over $3 billion! This enabled FDR to create $3 billion in new money out of nothing. He then used it to fund his expansion of government. In doing so, FDR flooded the market with currency, which initially helped the economy. However, this cost us dearly. FDR devalued U.S. paper money by 41 percent to finance his “Bad Deal.” This brought more uncertainty to industry and discouraged investment. Like our former president, he was totally unpredictable? As author Ivan Panin commented, “Of the future, man knows least; yet, about this, he worries most.”

Reaction by the rest of the world to FDR’s actions was immediate. When they heard the U.S. pulled off of the gold standard, it stunned world leaders and seriously damaged world monetary markets. It also locked in pestiferous worldwide economic nationalism. Skyrocketing tariffs, trade subsidies, manipulated fiat currencies became universal and global leaders lost faith in the U.S. economy.

Sweden, Holland, and France shortly abandoned the gold standard. This fiasco left international financial markets demoralized. FDR’s idea of a one size fits all economy failed the international litmus test. Author Dean Koonts reminded us that, “One man’s idea of perfect order is another man’s chaos.”

Removing us from the gold standard caused irrevocable damage. And the passage of FDR’s next Bad Deal made matters worse. He spent like a junkie on a money fix. When the Treasury tightened its grip on currency, this economic uncertainly prolonged the Depression until WWII. FDR went too far. His credibility suffered ineluctable damage and the spell he cast over his Congress vanished quicker than Genie can go back into her bottle. Most of his legislation to expand government was rejected en masses by Congress. They knew we were headed to the “eve of destruction.” As Milton Freeman said, “The great achievements of civilization have not come from government bureaus.”

Four decades later, in 1971, the remaining U.S. ties to the gold standard were severed by President Richard Nixon. Desperately in need of money to pay for the Vietnam War he dubiously inherited from former President Lyndon B. Johnson, he unilaterally canceled the direct convertibility of the U.S. dollar to gold.  And we have had wafting free floating fiat currencies since. Later, he told critics: “Well, I screwed it up real good, didn’t I?”

Since we’ve been divorced from the gold standard, we have suffered three atrocious recessions. Unemployment has been as high as 11 percent. These are horrendous numbers compared to the post WWII era, from 1947 to 1970, when we averaged less than 5 percent. Since government has the power to manipulate the quantity and value of our money, it controls the economy but not our free markets. U.S. Keynesianism has usurped the role of free enterprise and it has created a new era of austerity at the expense of prosperity.

“We pay dearly each day for the cost of free money.”

– Chadwell Black

It’s impossible to return to the gold standard now. But we can resurrect the “classical school” of economics. The health of our economy is dependent upon its valued-real money supply and our free markets must adapt to the changes in equilibrium necessary for “laissez faire” government to work. This is the only responsible way for us to remain independent and maintain individual liberty. Every country that has taken control of their economies also found it necessary to restrain freedom and re-engineer society.

“A major source of objection to a free economy is precisely that it gives people what they want instead of what a particular group thinks they ought to want. Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.”

– Milton Friedman

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Permanent link to this article: http://watchdog.org/294362/haupt-abandoning-gold-standard-created-legalized-theft/

Aug 09

New health care plan would make smaller, bipartisan reforms

A number of Congressional members have begun working on a new alternative health-care plan after the last effort to replace Obamacare stalled. But a healthcare expert says it’s likely too late.

The Problem Solvers’ Caucus, consisting of a bipartisan group of 43 House members, introduced a plan to try and combat the coming spike in health-care costs. Companies have until Aug. 16 to lock in their rates and decide whether they’ll participate in a county’s marketplace.

Reps. Dan Lipinski, a Democrat, and Adam Kinzinger, a Republican, both from Illinois, are members of the 43-member Problem Solvers Caucus. The caucus unveiled a health-care plan last week that wouldn’t be as far-reaching as Obamacare or the American Healthcare Act, which stalled last month in the Senate.

The new plan would make small reforms that have been largely agreed to by both parties. Republicans persuaded Democrats to go along with raising the small business exemption from 50 employees to 500. Democrats pushed to maintain levels of Medicaid expansion.

The centerpiece is funding for the cost-sharing reduction program designed to keep premiums low. Without that, insurance companies have indicated that rates would skyrocket for high-risk or low income patients. President Donald Trump has hinted that he may pull that funding, but the bipartisan plan would appropriate it.

The plan also includes coverage for chronic and pre-existing conditions, repealing the medical device tax, and giving states the ability to do business with companies across state lines.

Kinzinger said there are still ways to improve health care for people over what’s out there now.

“Unless the Senate can somehow pull a rabbit out of a hat this month, there is going to be a failing of the health-care system,” he said. “Let’s explore areas of common ground between Republicans and Democrats to try to help give people a better health-care system.”

In a release, Lipinski said their plan will likely see detractors looking to blame the other side of the aisle for a collapse of the health-care industry.

“Some partisans in both parties may even believe that if the ACA fails, the other side will get blamed in the next election,” Lipinski said. “Others will oppose it because they want the ACA to collapse.”

Naomi Lopez Bauman, director of Healthcare Policy for the Goldwater Institute, thinks the failure to repeal Obamacare has killed momentum on more health-care votes in D.C. She thinks that any more action this year will be to simply subsidize providers to keep them offering plans.

“Anything that they’re going to do this late in the game is going to basically involve throwing money at the exchanges,” she said. “After the debacle that was repeal and replace, there’s just not much appetite for the heavy lifting on major health-care reform this year.”

She says that Trump could force the issue of reform by making lawmakers subject to the Obamacare exchanges.

Insurance companies must submit whether they will participate in a county’s exchange by Aug. 16.

###

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Permanent link to this article: http://watchdog.org/294289/new-health-care-plan-make-smaller-bipartisan-reforms/

Aug 07

Haupt: America and the Roman Empire’s political downfall

“At the height of its mastery, Rome was the pulsing heart of the earth. The day the empire fell the world learned even the most stalwart empires can fail if avarice replaces prudence.”

– Solon Greco

There is not a continent on this planet where one cannot unearth the fallen ruins and silent stories of forgotten great civilizations. Tales of their broken past lay buried deep within the earth under the canopy of the bustling industry, imposing skyscrapers and apartment duplexes of a modern world. These fallen empires that once stood mighty among the most prodigious and influential societies of their respective era, all met their eventual demise for various reasons. There is a salient consensus on one collective attribution for failure; delusive management of finances and excessive taxation.

“The heaviest penalty for declining to rule is to be ruled by someone inferior to yourself.”

– Plato

The overarching criterion for determining the collapse of these governments lays in their inability to deliver political goods and services coerced by their citizens. When supply doesn’t meet demand, it is impossible to sustain security and preserve law to regulate and supply blood to the arteries of its legislative body. This strangles their ability to officiate, and severely limits their functional capacity. It eventually cuts off their oxygen and they self-suffocate. There’s no timeline for failure. Some self-implode, with a total collapse of all institutions. Others fall without a whimper. There are no violent revolutions, or catastrophic natural disasters. Instead, they quietly fall victim to collapse unable to manage the central population. This is a consequence of man.

“In a society governed passively by free markets and free elections, organized greed defeats disorganized democracy.”

– Matt Taibbi

The Roman Empire reached its zenith in the 2nd century. At that time, there was unprecedented stability and prosperity. This powerful kingdom was an example of good stewardship. The Empire was ruled with authority and obedient restraint. Rome was a pillar of strength no man challenged. As their economy blossomed they became the world leader in the arts, education, and commerce. Their institutions and culture had a lasting influence on language, religion, architecture, and law. The value this brought to expansionism throughout the modern world was more significant than anyone will ever fathom.

“Rome was great in arms, in government, and in law.”

– Goldwin Smith

But the decline of Rome became inevitable due to its immoderate and unmanageable greatness. Once all foe had been conquered, prosperity ended. Its aftermath was moral decay. Rudimentary principles of governing the lives of citizens became irrelevant. Incompetent leaders led to political necrosis, corruption and instability. The Senate and the Emperors were sullied with power, and thought themselves as cardinal gods. Inordinate spending led to economic decline, skyrocketing debt, oppressive taxation, inflation, and a devalued currency. Class warfare and cuts in the military further burdened the republic. Increasing dependence on municipal gratuities stifled incentive in favor of support from the treasury.

“Rome was great as long as she had enemies who forced her to a vision of unity and heroism. When she had overcome them, she then began to die.”

– Webb Dante

Rome’s fall from grace as the epitome of world powers was less unpredictable than the weather in Tennessee. Who would ever think the mightiest of all mighty empires in the history of man would stumble into oblivious demise, without taking up arms to maintain its dignity? Although their future was clearly written on the Coliseum walls, they refused to remove the blinders that sheltered them from indulgent sins of omission. The magistrates frolicked in fruition, while intellectual mediocrity, over-population of the urban areas, disease ridden streets, prostitution, homosexuality, alcohol and drug abuse all led to social and legal putrefaction. This ultimately caused Rome’s collapse. This is what ended Classical Antiquity along with the fall of the great Roman Empire.

“Today, Rome has not seen a modern building in more than half a century. It is a city frozen in time.”

– Richard Meier

The history of this once great republic was omnipresent in the minds of America’s founders as they created our republic centuries later. As a consequence of their deliberations and obvious reliance on divine providence, our founders shaped the United States, fashioned as the modern equivalent of the Roman Republic. And the similarities are illusory and uncanny. The Roman Republic was established in 509 BC by the overthrow of Roman King Lucius Tarquinius Superbus and expulsion of the Etruscan theocrats by the Latin Italic tribes from the south. And America is a prime example that history repeats itself. The Republic of the United States was birthed in a bloody revolution against the British King George over 2,000 years later.

“If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience?”

– George Bernard Shaw

Despite the efforts of our founders to set a different course than that experienced by our Roman predecessors, an analysis of these two great republics is inevitable. There are stark congruencies between them. Both societies were the pre-eminent entities in military might and economic power. They were leaders in culture, commerce, technology and ideas. Today, the world turns to America for guidance and leadership. In the heyday of the empire, Publius Cornelius Tacitus claimed even “things atrocious and shameless flock from all parts to Rome.” Thus today, as Romans claimed “all roads lead to Rome,” America projects the same image: All roads lead to the U.S.

“America, just as Rome envisioned, considers the U.S. unequaled in national character and strength.”

– Tibius Culens

Roman politicians had difficulty disjoining public and private liabilities. As a consequence, public services declined while pet projects of the public officials and their patrician sponsors grew at the expense of their citizens. Multitudinous failed reforms were resisted by the patricians that parrot the partisan battles in America today. Middle class Romans were cowed by slave labor much as rising technological change and the transfer of entry level jobs overseas threaten our middle class. The inability of the opposing political parties of the Republic, the Optimates and Populares focused on political gain rather than tasking the people’s work. America too faces a political system transfixed in political party idealism; too shamelessly egomaniacal to govern.

“To run an effective political party you need a degree of tribalism, it’s the glue that holds everyone together.”

– Charles Kennedy

Roman Senator Tacitus said, “Great empires are not maintained by timidity.” The Roman Republic survived 500 years and the American Republic has weathered around 250 years. America lingers on facing major challenges that could negatively affect its future. We lack the ability to satisfy the economic demands of too many at the expense of a few. Our social divisions over priorities and growing unrest caused by a negative political environment heighten the likelihood we could parallel the final stages of Rome. Let’s hope we heed this atrophy before we garner the fate of Rome. The power to do this lies in our hands, not in the politicians. A republican government belongs to we the people, not politicians. We can only hope we have the courage to stop history from repeating itself.

Thomas Sowell said, “Much of the social history of the Western world, over the past three decades, has been a history of replacing what worked with what sounded good.” If we lose sight of culpable governing, future civilizations will be walking on our memories.

“Our Republic has chartered a path similar to Rome. If we don’t change course, America will end, as a replay of Rome.”

– Tiberius King

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Permanent link to this article: http://watchdog.org/294260/haupt-america-roman-empires-political-downfall/

Aug 05

New Evidence of Hillary Clinton Pay-to-Play Scheme

As Special Counsel Robert Mueller hires lawyers who worked for Hillary Clinton to dig up anything they can to accuse President Trump of something (anything!), there is even more evidence of pay-to-play schemes by Hillary and her friends!

Click …

Permanent link to this article: http://www.daytonohioteaparty.com/?p=2247221

Aug 04

Congressman pushes for federal tax reform to help offset state income tax hike

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., is embarking on a tour to talk federal tax reform, and he’s getting an earful from constituents.

One of the participants in the roundtable discussion in Springfield Aug. 1, Merrill Lynch financial adviser Gary Seitz, told Davis to be bold, throw out the current tax code, and start from scratch.

“I’m a believer that as the government grows, the economy slows,” Seitz said. “Take less money from the individual so they can use it for themselves to buy houses, buy cars, invest, buy a pizza.”

Seitz said the economy works best when people spend or save their money as they see fit.

Davis, who hails from Taylorville, is pushing for tax reforms that will help middle-income families, who, Davis said, are too often forgotten by Washington. Materials from Davis’ office explain that the plan is to simplify the tax code so that 9 out of 10 Americans will be able to file their taxes on a simple post card. Davis also wants to lower rates for Americans across the board, preserve important middle-income deductions to help Americans buy homes, pay for college, or donate to charity, and allow more savings by cutting in half the tax rates on personal savings and investment.

Davis said simplifying the tax code and reducing rates across the board would save taxpayers a lot of money.

“The average middle-class family in Illinois,” Davis said, “would get an extra $5,200 dollars in their pocket to be able to pay for a house, to be able to send their kids to college, and to be able to save up for a rainy day.”

Davis said getting federal tax relief will help alleviate part of the newfound burden Illinois residents have with an increased state income tax.

The state income tax went up 32 percent to 4.95 percent from 3.75 percent after Democrats and some Republicans overrode Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of the tax hike.

The state corporate income tax also went up to 7 percent from 5.25 percent.

Illinois Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Todd Maisch said federal tax reform will also help Illinois’ small and midsized businesses.

“Illinois definitely needs to get its act together and have its own policy changes,” Maisch said, “but Illinois will definitely benefit if there is federal action.”

For businesses, Davis’ office said the tax reforms discussed so far would help create more than 70,000 jobs in Illinois by no longer taxing small-business income at an individual rate, which his office said can be as high as 44.6 percent. The plan would also end the federal estate tax, also known as the “death tax,” which would allow family farms and businesses to pass property down to future generations without a large tax bill.

Davis said it’s up to constituents to help cut through the partisan divide in D.C. “It’s going to be their responsibility to talk to all policymakers to find bipartisan solutions.”

Davis said it’s unfortunate the Senate didn’t act on health care reform, which he said goes hand-in-hand with tax reform.

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Permanent link to this article: http://watchdog.org/294220/congressman-pushes-federal-tax-reform-help-offset-state-income-tax-hike/

Aug 03

President Trump Proposes Much-Needed Immigration Reforms

President Trump has proposed a number of great reforms for the nation’s legal immigration policy which will help put Americans first over foreigners. The plan would help boost American wages by reducing the flood of unskilled labor immigrants entering …

Permanent link to this article: http://www.daytonohioteaparty.com/?p=2247218

Aug 03

Ohio policy group joins federal legal fight against forced union dues

Illinois workers whose fight against being forced to pay dues to a union they don’t want to join have an ally in an Ohio policy group.

The Buckeye Institute last month filed what’s called an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of state of Illinois employee Mark Janus, who filed a federal lawsuit claiming his free speech rights were being violated by being forced to pay dues to a public employee union that he has no interest in being a part of.

“Forcing employees to pay for speech with which they disagree is a violation of their First Amendment rights,” Robert Alt, president and CEO of The Buckeye Institute, said in a news release announcing the filing. “Neither Mr. Janus, nor anyone else, should ever be forced to pay fees to a union just to keep their jobs. Such compulsion is fundamentally unjust and unconstitutional.”

National Right To Work Foundation represents the plaintiffs. Their case was struck down by the Illinois  7th Circuit Court of Appeals in March. They filed a petition in July asking the Supreme Court to hear the case.

Foundation President Mark Mix said this is about compelled speech vs. free speech.

Mix said what’s happened is there’s “a private institution in between taxpayers and elected officials and [the union] is able to speak for government employees that, heretofore, never asked for, never wanted, and in fact stand back and say, ‘I don’t want you to speak for me,’ as [plaintiffs] have said in this case,” Mix said.

Janus is a child support specialist with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services and, because of Illinois law, is forced to pay fees to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a government union, to keep his job.

“I went into this line of work because I care about kids. But just because I care about kids doesn’t mean I also want to support a government union,” Janus told the Chicago Tribune. “Unfortunately, I have no choice. To keep my job at the state, I have to pay monthly fees to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, a public employee union that claims to ‘represent’ me…
“The union voice is not my voice. The union’s fight is not my fight. But a piece of my paycheck every week still goes to the union. I am not anti-union. Unions have their place. And some people like them. But unions aren’t a fit for everyone. And I shouldn’t be forced to pay money to a union if I don’t think it does a good job representing my interests.”

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Permanent link to this article: http://watchdog.org/294032/ohio-policy-group-joins-federal-legal-fight-forced-union-dues/

Aug 02

Krug: President Trump disrupting news consumption, bringing in more women

This just in: President Donald Trump is polarizing.

Some love him. Some hate him. Hate is a strong word, but they hate him.

There are probably some who are too busy watching “The Price Is Right” or rainbow-vomiting cat videos to care. But they still might make time to check in on Trump.

Regardless of your thoughts on his presidency, Trump’s effect on media has been fascinating to witness.

No presidential candidate more masterfully usurped the mainstream media’s system to create his own narrative. Unquestionably, this disruption – primarily through the 140-characters-or-less social feed Twitter – is a byproduct of Trump’s ability to demean the mainstream media and leverage social media to allow for direct communication with the citizenry.

The so-called Trump effect has been stunning with regard to a renewed interest in national news. What audience segment is growing the fastest?

A recent Pew Research Center study says that American women represent the largest-growing demographic of national news consumers. Trump has stimulated a wave of new interest in media and current events among women, despite his past comments about women that have drawn the ire of the left (and, frankly, some on the right).

The study suggests that 58 percent of American women say they are paying more attention to politics since Trump was elected. That same research showed that 63 percent of women who identify as Democrats have increased their interest in U.S. political news. Interest in domestic political news among women who identify themselves as Republicans is up 54 percent.

Overall, Trump’s presidency has increased U.S. interest in political news by 52 percent.

Former President Barack Obama compares in numbers, but not in impact. Obama has about 93 million Twitter followers – nearly 55 million more than Trump. Together, they are the two most followed politicians in the world, but the winner on impact is decidedly lopsided – and there is nobody in politics who’s even close to Trump.

Trump’s Twitter feed is hyperactive, rarely boring and often the root of stories that aren’t reported exactly the same elsewhere. He’s randomly on Twitter, occasionally around the clock. This began well ahead of the past election cycle, and hasn’t slowed down. Trump vowed nobody would take away his phone. Nobody has.

In a completely unscientific polling of people I know who are dialed into social media, there seems to be equal measures of left- and right-leaning followers who mind his feed. And people from all walks of life seem to speak of Trump with corresponding degrees of disgust and curiosity.

Set aside the messaging for a moment and purely consider the impact to media: He’s demonstrated that news can be a business-to-consumer proposition for politicians, following the path of entertainers Katy Perry and Justin Bieber.

Trump is cutting a new path in that regard – utilizing direct-to-market bursts of commentary to prompt behavior and create news narratives that the media is only too willing to follow. At its purest, it’s business-to-business communication.

He has, effectively, bypassed the permission of the press. He stays in the news by creating the news and discounts the media’s account of his story. Take a step back, and it’s difficult to argue that he isn’t setting the news agenda masterfully.

When you have the same tools as multi-billion-dollar media companies that could cloud your message, why bother offering the stories to them when you could skip the distributor and sell to the customer? Question Trump’s business acumen if you will, but his ability to promote and draw attention are changing the way that we think of presidential communication.

Since his election, which seemingly came against every legacy media prediction or poll, Trump has continued to be a boon to coverage of national affairs. If people didn’t care about national news in the smooth-jazz presidency of his predecessor, they care now.

And they are following.

Amid the otherwise awful news of decline of the mainstream press, New York Times CEO Mark Thompson told MSNBC in May that the company had added 308,000 digital subscribers in the first quarter (the company reports that is most in its history in a given quarter), and another 93,000 net subscribers in the second quarter. That was after the company reported that it increased by 276,000 digital readers in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Newsonomics author Ken Doctor reported in a May article for The Street that, “The Washington Post said that January generated more subscription starts than any other month, beating what had been a record-setting November, with the Post overall seeing ‘doubled digital subscription revenue in the past 12 months, with a 75 [percent] increase in new subscribers.’ “

The news will always matter.

Where you get it, how you get it, and from whom you get it, though, may matter substantially more.

Chris Krug is President of the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity.

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Permanent link to this article: http://watchdog.org/294192/krug-president-trump-disrupting-news-consumption-bringing-women/

Aug 01

Haupt: No confidence in the political class

“There is no act of treachery, infidelity, or avarice of which a politician is not capable; for in politics it’s every man for himself to remain in the graces of the political party.”

– Marty Blunt

The Articles of Confederation was a noble attempt at creating a central government in the colonies. But it was both a blessing and a curse. It was a blessing that is established order but it was a curse since it did not provide provisions for the government to govern with authority. It was a determent that crippled governing during the Revolutionary War. Since the Articles were designed to recognize a division of powers similar to the British, it was flawed from the beginning. There was no king in the colonies nor was there a parliament. Although it served as a war-time confederation to help direct the colonies, it lacked central leadership. As the war moved on it was obvious this divisive chaos had to end for our nation to survive. And we needed “change we could believe in” to make it better before it got worse.

“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”

– Winston Churchill

Once the Convention commenced, it was clear this would not be a walk in the park. The only thing they agreed on was the necessity to create a government that was not subject to the vagaries of regional influence or majority dictatorship. This opened the doors of republicanism. Considering the political mobocracy that took place with each changing of the guard in past republics, they sought to avoid entrapment by creating buffers between the government and the people. With a House elected by the populous, a Senate by state legislatures, and a president by a convocation of elders, they figured they had enough detours to insure no political force or roguish group could usurp the people’s will.

“Sometimes, simple things turn out to be the most complex of all.”

– Harold Butler

The core idea of the Constitution was to restrain ambition and force competing powers to make legitimate attempts at compromise and keep the integrity of the republic in check. The delegates felt the brand of federalism they created was bullet proof during those patriotic times. But they were to find out during the 1st Congress their failure to make constitutional provisions to hold politicians accountable to one another or us was a serious omission. They were forgivingly naive, putting such amatory faith in politics. They never envisioned two antipodal opposing political parties hijacking the people’s government. One that would control it and citizen influence would be subservient to their parties.  A lesson learned the hard way.

“Hindsight is always 20/20.”

– Billy Wilder

Our founders set fourth to develop a perfect government. Since most came from across The Pond, they were gun-shy about mimicking the King’s government in our constitution. Therefore, there was no provision made to hold politicians within the legislature accountable if they proved incapable to govern. Unlike England, where all government ministers, and the Prime Minister, are accountable to all branches of the legislature with de facto power vested in the House of Commons. Motions of no confidence are key components in the Westminster government that requires an executive to retain the impudence of the House of Commons. It is a fundamental principle that their government must retain the confidence of the legislature to operate effectively with majority support of the legislature.

“Reporters who brandish parliament would have a field day if they covered Congress.”

– Litton Sidle

Since the 1st Congress when Jefferson and Hamilton reignited the fuse of vexation, politicians have scurried to parties. Unfortunately, our Constitution makes no provisions for a political structure of political accountability. So Congress formed a way to control government with seniority rewarding through the committee system. We continued to develop an awkward self-policing system within the system to make a legitimate effort to legitimize the party system. By 1830, the party system had festered like a bad splinter. Politics was run by well-oiled machines. They seemed harmless since they helped to maintain order between competing factions and greased the wheels to control in-party turmoil. They vetted candidates while picking the pockets of donors to fill their political war chests. They formed voter groups to bring others to the party and forged policy to promote party propaganda. This sustained the illusion that they were doing what was best for the populous.

“In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.”

– Franklin D. Roosevelt

Hierarchical political bosses like Boss Tweed, Huey Long, Jefferson Randolph, Soapy Smith, E. H. Crump, Richard J. Daley, Frank Hague, Hinky Dink and Bathhouse John around the nation took control of local and national politics. They held the keys to the doors of government. They hand-picked political hacks whose feet they held to the fire through incentives, promotions, financial contributions, pet-project spending and other perks. The “outsiders” were banished into the Land of Oz with the Tin Man. And this became the DNA of American politics.

“One of the key problems today is that politics is such a disgrace, good people don’t go into government.”

– Donald Trump

For decades our branches of government have worked against each other and against us. It is a fundamental principle in parliament that government must retain confidence to function or they can be replaced with a no confidence vote. Unlike Westminster that requires legislative confidence to operate effectively, we’ve mastered the art of ineffectiveness. We have no authority like parliament to cast a no confidence vote. The only confidence we have is tremendous confidence nothing will get done each session in our congressional houses. British politicians are always looking over their shoulder for ways to appease each other to insure public and legislative confidence. On this side of the pond, our politicians are looking over their shoulders to make sure their party bosses are happy. In America:

‘We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.”

– Aesop

In America, the only way we can rid ourselves from non-achieving politicians is by impeachment. And charges against them must be substantial. It’s a complex and complicated process purposely devised to insure it was not abused. But what happens when a whole Congress is deadlocked in incompetence?  By law, the British can put an entire body of government or individual on notice, shaming them from office with a no confidence vote. When Congress continues to demonstrate no power to govern, voters publicly denounce them and the media chastises them, expressing that they have no confidence in them. But this falls on deaf ears except at election time and everyone sings ‘Kumbaya’. Then they have little or no recourse except to vote for another hand-picked party hack.

“Politics is the art of choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.”

– John Galbraith

Thomas Sowel wrote, “There are no solutions. There are only trade-offs” in American politics. Our political system was an afterthought, invented as it went along without planning or conviction. Our founders had great faith in their fellow Americans and the future generations to follow. They were obviously blinded by the greatness of their patriotism and belief. Giving us a government of free men controlled by free men, it would be self-policing with no need to protect us from artless party politics. Although we have no law that grants us or other branches of government to issue “a no confidence vote,” we have that opportunity each Election Day. If we don’t judge a candidate by his character instead of his party, we have not used our “no confidence vote” wisely. Little confidence is as bad as no confidence.

“No matter what name we give it or how we judge it, a candidate’s character is central to political reporting because it is central to a citizen’s decision in voting.”

– Roger Mudd

 

 

 

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Jul 26

VP Pence breaks tie to open debate in Senate on Obamacare replacement

Both parties in Washington D.C. know Obamacare is flawed and getting worse, but no Democrats and two Republicans voted Tuesday against opening debate to change things.

That meant it took Vice President Mike Pence to break a 50-50 tie just to open up debate on reforming the country’s controversial health care law, the Affordable Care Act.

Goldwater Institute Director of Health Policy Naomi Lopez Bauman said there needs to be radical reforms to focus on access and affordability.

“Congress, lawmakers, really need to clean up this mess,” a mess Bauman said federal lawmakers created. “It’s the people in the states that are suffering as a result of these very misguided policies.”

Opponents of reform, such as U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, said they hope Republican efforts fail.

“You cannot take helpless people, some who are working hard in jobs, two and three jobs at a time, that have no health-care benefits and say to them, ‘Sorry, our system won’t take care of you’,” Durbin said.

Bauman said people already are losing out because of high prices and lack of insurance and care options. She said two main reforms should be a priority.

“Return the regulation of insurance back to the states where it was before the Affordable Care Act and where it rightfully belongs,” Bauman said. “And what that would do is that would make it legal to sell insurance policies that better meets individuals’ needs and preferences.”

Bauman also said Medicaid should be a real safety net, not expanded to assist able-bodied people.

“What has happened under the Affordable Care Act,” Bauman said, “is that the federal government is basically providing a lot more money to states to provide benefits and coverage under the Medicaid program for able-bodied adults above the poverty level.”

That means tax dollars to provide services to the most vulnerable will get squeezed out even more, Bauman said, adding that the promises of many individuals keeping insurance, doctors and lower premiums fell apart, as she’s predicted for several years.

Even New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer acknowledged on the Senate floor the current law is flawed and needs to be fixed.

Despite revelations he’d been diagnosed with brain cancer, Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain appeared on the floor and said ACA needs to be changed. He voted to allow debate but said he’s not promising to vote in favor of what ultimately comes out. He wants there to be bipartisan efforts to change the bill.

Durbin and others blasted leading Republicans for allowing for debate on reforms without unveiling what reforms were going to be on the table.

“The bottom line is that lawmakers in Washington created this mess,” Bauman said. “They knew from the beginning that the promises from the Affordable Care Act were not going to be delivered. We’ve seen, year after year, more failures.”

Any reform measures will now have to go through a process known as conference with the House before advancing to President Donald Trump’s desk.

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Permanent link to this article: http://watchdog.org/294107/vp-pence-breaks-tie-open-debate-senate-obamacare-replacement/

Jul 25

Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin score well in manufacturing report; Illinois not so much

The Midwest as a whole received relatively high grades in an annual rating of states’ manufacturing industries, but Illinois’ manufacturing sector is still struggling due to an unpredictable economic climate and unfunded public liabilities.

The 2017 Manufacturing & Logistics Report Card gave Illinois a “C+” for the overall health of its manufacturing industries, but the state earned a “D” in the “Tax Climate” category and an “F” in “Expected Fiscal Liability Gap.” That latter estimates the state’s ability – or inability – to fund bond obligations and pension costs.

Illinois also received an average grade – “C+” – in “Human Capital,” which measures the education level of the state’s workforce in an effort to gauge how well it is serving manufacturers.

The study gave Michigan an “A” for the health of its manufacturing sector, while Ohio and Wisconsin both received “B” grades.

Mark Denzler, vice president and chief operating officer of the Illinois Manufacturers Association, echoed some of the points made in the Ball University study.

“Manufacturing is alive in Illinois,” Denzler told Illinois News Network, noting that manufacturers in the state employ about 570,000 people. “However, it is struggling.”

The state’s strengths include good colleges and universities and a great transit system, according to Denzler.

“Seventy-five percent of the nation’s freight comes through Illinois,” he said.

But an out-migration of jobs to other states and workers compensation costs that are the highest in the Midwest and eighth highest in the country continue to add to the state’s economic uncertainties, Denzler said.

Although Denzler said today’s manufacturing workforce in Illinois is second to none, the employers continue to deal with a skills gap as they try to hire new workers. Manufacturers need to hire 20,000 to 25,000 production workers and 5,000 engineers every year just to remain at a constant level, he said.

“The governor has put a focus on vocational education and trying to provide workers with the skills needed,” Denzler said, but lately there has been no money for job-training programs.

Manufacturers have some advantages in the near future, including a growing advanced-manufacturing industry around the Chicago area, he said. But the state needs major structural reforms and begin to live within its means, according to Denzler.

“Quite frankly, Illinois needs to change its focus moving forward,” he said.

Illinois did end it’s more than two-year-long budget stalemate last week, but it came at a high cost to both businesses and workers, who will both see tax increases.

“[Last week’s] action by the Illinois legislature will speed up the loss of manufacturing jobs and will further decimate our economy,” Greg Baise, president and CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers Association, said shortly after the state House voted to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s vetoes of the tax hikes and budget bills.

Those knowledgeable about the manufacturing industries in other Midwest states questioned some of the conclusions in the Ball State University study. Kurt Bauer, president and CEO of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, took issue with the state’s “C-” grade in the “Tax Climate” category.

“I don’t think the Ball State report recognizes that Wisconsin’s Manufacturers and Agricultural Production Tax Credit reduces the corporate tax liability for qualifying companies from 7.9 percent to 0.4 percent,” Bauer said in an email to Illinois News Network. “Combine that with our right-to-work status and our recent regulatory and litigation reforms, and Wisconsin is clearly one of the most attractive states for manufacturing in the U.S.”

All of Illinois’ neighbors are right-to-work states – meaning employees can opt out of joining a union if they choose – which is another competitive disadvantage.

Professor Edward Hill, a faculty member at the Ohio Manufacturing Institute, took issue with some of the variables the study used to give Ohio a “C-” in “Human Capital.” The six states receiving “A” grades in this category were Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota and Washington.

“There are good manufacturers in many of these states, but none, with the exception of Washington and possibly Minnesota, can be claimed as centers of exceptionally skilled pools of manufacturing workers,” Hill said.

Still, Ohio is not doing particularly well in providing the type of skilled workers manufacturers need, he said, but all states likely have this problem.

“Manufacturers themselves are just waking up and taking ownership of the problem … and reinventing secondary and community college manufacturing training programs,” Hill said.

In Ohio, major employers such as Honda, Minster Machine, Lincoln Electric and Yaskawa Motoman are working hand-in-hand with educators to turn out a more skilled workforce, he said.

“We will see progress over the coming year,” Hill said.

Though Michigan was rated a top performer in manufacturing, it received “D” grades in both “Human Capital” and “Sector Diversification” in the Ball State study.

“It’s all tuned to just transportation,” Devaraj said, adding that the lack of diversification in Michigan’s manufacturing economy means that if any shocks hit that industry, the impact for the state as a whole will be major.

Recently released economic forecasts for Michigan have been positive. A University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, study said that the state recorded 28 straight quarters of payroll growth through the first quarter of 2017. But job growth should moderate through 2018, the report said.

“Manufacturing employment declines modestly over the forecast, reflecting the slowdown in the light vehicle sector,” the University of Michigan forecast said.

Devaraj stressed that manufacturing remains a key player in the U.S. economy, even as productivity gains have held down employment growth. Increased skill attainment by workers will help lower the risk of them being replaced by automation, he said.

“In reality, things are going really well in terms of manufacturing,” Devaraj said.

Back in Illinois, the state earned an “A” for the health of its logistics industries. That was due to a number of Illinois’ assets, including its central location, the value of shipped goods in the state and an efficient transportation system.

“Chicago is leading the pack in terms of the commodities flows,” Devaraj told Illinois News Network.

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Permanent link to this article: http://watchdog.org/293898/michigan-ohio-wisconsin-score-well-manufacturing-report-illinois-not-much-2/

Jul 24

Haupt: America needs group of Tom Paines to take government back from elites

“Of more worth is one honest man to society and in the sight of God, than all the crowned ruffians that ever lived.”

– Thomas Paine, Common Sense, January 10, 1776

The year was 1776 and the time had come for Americans to assert their independence from the British. This was the topic of contentious debate throughout the colonies in the summer of 1776. Though locked in a bloody struggle with British troops, the talk was not about battles won or lost. People gathered, in townships, villages, taverns and churches, to talk about one thing: Common Sense. This was the title of a scholarly pamphlet on the rights of man which captivated a country caught between war and peace. Its powerful arguments against empirical rule were both revered and questioned, which provoked oracular thought throughout the anxious colonies between loyalists and patriots.

“The supposed quietude of a good man allures the ruffian; while on the other hand, arms, like laws, discourage and keep the invader and the plunderer in awe.”

– Paine

At the time, few knew who the author of this work was. Yet this enlightenment text was dramatically changing the attitude of many Americans toward their conflict with the English. At one time or the other, one of the political or intellectual elites was credited with the prodigious work of Paine since he never stepped forward to claim it. Paine knew a true leader remains anonymous so the people will believe they were the ones responsible for this new breed of insurgent thinking. He was keenly aware after watching revolutionaries across Europe; nobody can plan revolutionary change. It is a spontaneous combustion that is ignited by thought-provoking idealism. And Paine was so gifted to plant those seedlings that could be cultivated in the minds, hearts and souls of many others.

“One encourages intercourse, and promotes our happiness by uniting our affections.”

–Paine

Despite his humble beginning, Paine was admired and respected by founders such as George Washington, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson. Yet, his workingman’s perspective threatened the elites who wanted to design a government primarily to benefit aristocrats. To some, Tom Paine was the most hated man in America, and others, a light in the wilderness for those who sought direction, courage and leadership. Those who loved him for his benefaction of guidance saw Paine as the patriot that he was. And those who hated him thought of him as a trouble maker stroking his eccentric ego for indulgent narcissistic causes. And much of the legacy of that apprehensive animosity lives on by activist groups for one who thinks sovereign from them. They chasten those like Tom Paine who fail to court their compatriots.

“Character is much easier kept than recovered.”

– Paine

Paine had an unselfish ability to keep fellow patriots aligned for the common cause. Many feel his greatest contribution to our liberty was Common Sense, which demeaned the authority of the British and the royal monarchy. It was that pamphlet that brought the breath of freedom to the embers of independence. But few comprehend the significance of Paine’s The American Crisis. Paine wrote these articles during the Revolutionary War. His unrelenting inspiration for American patriots during this inexorable crisis kept the blood of liberty flowing freely in their veins. George Washington was so moved he recited The Crisis word for word to his sullen troops at Valley Forge.

“Reputation is what men and women think of us; character is what God and angels know of us.”

– Paine

Paine rallied troops at The Battle of Saratoga, which is considered the turning point for America in the War. They stopped the southern advance of the British, which brought them French support.  Although this was a cardinal victory, their problems remained incessant. By 1781, the Continental Congress was bankrupt. Citizen support was dwindling faster than the English could enact a new tax. Army desertions were common place. The army was indigent and no longer united because the generals blamed others for this chaos. And once again Paine stepped forward and galvanized the troops. In 1781 at Yorktown, Paine motivated them to fight their best fight and they answered with their greatest victory. The colonies beheaded the great British Goliath to end the war.

“The strength and power of despotism consists wholly in the fear of resistance.”

– Paine

Throughout the decades, America has faced insurmountable crisis. But in those darkest of hours, a Thomas Paine stepped up to find a way to reignite the founding flames of republicanism. Many felt The Civil War would forever dis-unify our country once the last cannons fired at Palmito Ranch in 1865. Yet the day word reached the south that Lincoln had been assassinated, one southern telegraph operator saw this as a signal to begin the healing. And the entire south joined him. As word spread from the plains of Texas to the farms of Virginia that Lincoln had died, church bells rang for their fallen enemy.

“An army of principles can penetrate where an army of soldiers cannot.”

– Paine

Again, America is in crisis. It’s a crisis planted in American polity with the election of Barack Obama and his socialization of the republic. When voters rebelled and elected Donald Trump, the left cried he was unfit for the presidency; just as the right had claimed about Obama. Each party can make a case but that isn’t the crisis, only a symptom of it. This won’t be resolved until the elitists are removed from party politics. Leftist elitists supported Obama whose agenda few ever wanted. And cynical voters then choose a man who ran against party elites. That signals to both parties, elites are the real problem.

“It’s the duty of every patriot to protect his country from its government.”

– Paine

The elitists have always moved policy, yet the average voter doesn’t realize this. In the past, party elites imposed their authority to benefit their pocketbooks. In a capitalist society, as long as voters benefit from the profits of industry they go along to get along. But party elites went too far under Obama. Leftist elites crossed over the path and those on the right counter-reacted. When far left elites endorsed social engineering to romance the progressives, party politics replaced the will of the people in government. With each invented crisis to gain support from his flock, Obama drove a wedge between the two parties and true republicanism that even Tom Paine would find difficult to close.

“Society is produced by our wants and government by our wickedness.”

– Paine

After Obama’s reign, the two parties took sides and refused to back down. There’s a learning curve for every president and its far steeper without political experience. Obama had political experience, so one would think he could learn the job competently. But that never happened. From the day he took office, he acted like the bully in the school yard who cries “it’s my ball so we play my game or you can go home.” On the other hand, Trump had no political experience and is learning the art of governing the hard way; yet from day one the left has been bashing his inexperience inexorably. Elitists in his party excoriate him the worst.

“He who dares not offend cannot be honest.”

– Paine

The elitists have painted us into a corner. To them, the only way to end this one crisis is to remove Trump from office with no constitutional justification or collective voter consent to appease the left. To subject the right to this punishment will not only acerbate the crisis in American polarity, it will prove that our democratic republic has lost all legitimacy. We need a group of Tom Paines to step forward and take back our government from the elites to end this crisis forever.

“A body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody ought not to be trusted by anybody.”

– Paine

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Jul 21

Ohio grants property tax relief to farmers, but some fear homeowners will pay a price

Ohio just modified how it calculates property taxes for agricultural lands in order to rescue farmers from soaring tax bills, but some fear the fix will eventually burden homeowners and provide less funding for some school districts.

The state’s operating budget, which was signed June 30 by Gov. John Kasich, alters a complex formula used to calculate the value of agriculture lands. The original goal of the Ohio tax program was to give farmers a property tax break and encourage the preservation of farmland by valuing such property according to its agricultural value, rather than its market value.

But a “perfect storm of circumstances” upended the formula in recent years, according to Jenna Beadle, director of state policy for the Ohio Farm Bureau. Farmers were hit with 300 percent spikes in their property tax bills at a time when farm income dropped by 50 percent, Beadle said.

“Nonfarm factors were inflating the CAUV values,” Beadle told Watchdog.org, referring to what is known as the Current Agricultural Use Value formula.

The CAUV reforms that passed Ohio’s Senate altered the formula in terms of appreciation of farmland values and equity buildup, which the author of the legislation, state Sen. Cliff Hite, R-Findlay, said was inflating the valuation of agricultural lands.

The state’s Farm Bureau reports that the average savings for farmers’ land reassessments in 2017 will be about 30 percent. The changes will be phased in over six years so that the funding effects on school districts and local governments are not felt too abruptly, according to Beadle.

But Dr. Howard Fleeter, a consultant with the Ohio Education Policy Institute, sees the farmland tax reforms cultivating problems in the future. There’s little dispute about farmers suffering tax spikes in recent years, Fleeter said, but since 2014, the CAUV valuations have been trending downward in a way that would have eventually provided some relief without a major formula change.

“The problem is that not all farmers are getting the benefit of that formula yet …” Fleeter told Watchdog.org. “There’s a three-year lag for CAUV values taking effect.”

The idea of having farmland reappraised annually to help stabilize fluctuations has been proposed , but that hasn’t happened, he said. In turn, Fleeter is concerned that the approved CAUV reforms – which he says over time will result in a $60 million property tax shift from agriculture lands to residential areas – will overly burden homeowners and reduce funding to school districts.

“The pendulum swung from one end of the spectrum to the other,” he said, noting that the CAUV formula placed relatively low values on farmland in 2005, providing an 85 percent tax break to farmers, prior to reaching a peak in 2014.

Although Fleeter said the goal of encouraging farmers to keep their lands in production is sound, he sees the latest reform as a blunt instrument that may cause unintended consequences.

“It is possible there may be a legal challenge to this,” Fleeter said.

Jim Rowan, the executive director of the Ohio Association of School Business Officials, echoed some of Fleeter’s concerns. If homeowners come away with a perception that they are being overly burdened due to the CAUV reforms, school districts may have a tougher time getting residents to approve tax increases in the future, Rowan said.

But John Fortney, spokesman for Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Medina, defended lawmakers’ votes on the CAUV reforms as appropriate because Ohio farmers’ taxes had been doubling every three years.

“We’re not in the business of putting family farms out of business,” Fortney told Watchdog.org.

Lawmakers have also included language in the two-year budget blueprint to set aside funds – $10 million in fiscal year 2018 and $7 million in fiscal year 2019 – to help school districts whose school funding formulas are affected by the CAUV changes, he said.

“The legislature was aware of the potential impact on districts that are in more rural areas and addressed that as part of the budget,” Fortney said.

Overall, effects on nonagricultural properties should be minimal, he said, adding that the tax spikes farmers had faced needed to be addressed head-on to ensure fairness and sustainability.

“But it is true that as the formula is adjusted on agriculture use values, there will be some type of change on the residential values,” Fortney said.

Another benefit for farmers in the newly passed budget is that farmlands placed in year-round conservation to protect water quality will no longer be taxed as if they are in production, according to the Ohio Farm Bureau.

Ohio’s policy to encourage farmers to preserve their lands for agriculture dates back to the 1970s. The tax program is classified as a “differential assessment,” a system used for agriculture in several other states, but agriculture officials in Ohio describe the details of the state’s program as “unique.”

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Permanent link to this article: http://watchdog.org/293969/ohio-grants-property-tax-relief-farmers-fear-homeowners-will-pay-price/

Jul 20

GCTP Hosting Public Meeting on “The Deep State,” July 25, 2017, With John Michael Chambers

The Greene County Tea Party will be hosting Mr. John Michael Chambers as speaker at our public meeting on Tuesday, July 25, 2017, at the Xenia Community Center. Mr. Chambers is a dynamic speaker, commentator and writer, and will

Permanent link to this article: http://www.daytonohioteaparty.com/?p=2247195

Jul 19

Proposed legislation would open up records on federal pension recipients

A Florida congressman and an open-government organization have launched a campaign to make key information on federal pension recipients subject to public disclosure.

The legislation, which is being sponsored by Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis, would make information about pension recipients subject to the federal Freedom of Information Act. The information subject to public review would include the retiree’s name, monthly annuity amount, the retiree’s total contribution to the annuity, total wages earned and retirement date, according to a draft of the bill.

Federal employee pensions are currently hand-calculated inside a Cold War-era facility deep inside a Pennsylvania mountain using 28,000 filing cabinets, according to Adam Andrzejewski, the chief executive officer for OpenTheBooks.com, a watchdog group that works on behalf of government transparency issues.

“This legislation has the potential to pass with huge majorities in both houses and go straight to the president’s desk,” Andrzejewski told Watchdog.org.

Similar transparency laws on state public pension systems in states such as Illinois, California, New York and Oregon have resulted in the uncovering of abuses and corruption, he said. A federal law would allow citizens to engage in a robust debate over federal retirement payouts and also shed light on the system’s liabilities, according to Andrzejewski.

It remains uncertain just how serious the effort is, however. DeSantis’ office did not respond to requests for comment about the legislation, dubbed the Taxpayer-Funded Pension Disclosure Act, and there is no mention of it on a list of legislative priorities on the congressman’s website.

DeSantis did co-author an opinion article with Andrzejewski about this issue. That article said that in states with pension transparency, waste and mismanagement have been identified, including how two union officials in Illinois taught as substitutes in public schools for a single day and then retired to collect pensions with lifetime values of $1 million.

“Pulling this data out of the government’s underground pension cave and into the light will protect taxpayers, retirees and near-retirees who have a right to ensure these taxpayer dollars are well-spent,” DeSantis and Andrzejewski said in the co-authored 0p-ed.

Many observers have pointed to the debt-ridden federal retirement system as a source of concern, including Moody’s Investors Service.

“The unfunded liabilities of the various federal employee pensions systems, covering civilian and military employee benefits, amount to about $3.5 trillion, or 20 percent of the U.S. GDP,” or gross domestic product, Moody’s said in a statement last year.

Another nonprofit group that advocates for government transparency, the Sunlight Foundation in Washington, D.C., takes a more nuanced view of making the federal pension system subject to public disclosure. While there is a presumption of openness in the Freedom of Information Act, government also has an interest in protecting people’s privacy, according to the foundation’s deputy director, Alex Howard.

“It is conceivable that you could rank individual pensioners to expose them to public incrimination,” Howard told Watchdog.org. In addition, disclosures of personal information require a thoughtful, ethical review, and certain data would always have to be redacted, such as certain medical information or personal financial identifiers, he said.

And the test of whether disclosing pension information is in the public interest might vary based on whether the retiree is a public figure or not, according to Howard.

But the proposed pension transparency legislation does call for the exclusion of medical conditions and any data that identifies the retiree’s beneficiary, according to OpenTheBooks.com.

“We’re aware of absolutely no instances where this information can possibly be used to create identity theft,” Andrzejewski said.

His group’s website has published the salaries of 15 million federal, state and local public employees and has never run into a privacy concern, according to Andrzejewski.

“Not one single time did we run across any case of stolen identities or anything else,” he said.

Andrzejewski expects the campaign to attract bipartisan support in the same way that former Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma teamed up with then-Sen. Barack Obama in 2006 to author legislation that placed federal “checkbook” payments on a public website.

Howard acknowledged that pensions can be used as vectors for corruption and that bringing more public scrutiny on how pension dollars are spent can help identify abuses of the system.

“It’s reasonable for the public to want to ask, ‘Who made those decisions and at what time?’” he said.

But Howard also stressed that government has to take care to be good stewards of such financial data and respect civil liberties of the parties involved.

“These are public records,” he said. “They are not our deepest, darkest secrets.”

Andrzejewski remains upbeat about the prospects of passing the pension transparency bill, saying that public employee unions might oppose the bill but would likely not win.

“I definitely think [President] Trump would sign it,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any question about that.”

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Permanent link to this article: http://watchdog.org/293976/proposed-legislation-open-records-federal-pension-recipients/

Jul 18

Haupt: Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

– Francis Bellamy

Those that crossed the Mason-Dixon Line to work in the Civil Rights Movement were shocked to experience denial of justice and the violation of their Constitutional rights. They entered a twilight zone in a mythical Orwellian novel. They gathered from around the U.S. for an adventure few knew little about. Some wandered to the delta of the Mississippi, the red hills of Georgia, and war zones of Montgomery to Selma for conviviality. Others came to listen to Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger and Joan Baez. But by the time they navigated Highway 61 back to the North, they knew why they’d ventured south.

“A nation that denies equal access to justice is a prison of malcontents.”

– William Howard

The Civil Rights Movement has taken on an air of inevitability in the popular imagination. Far too many have reduced its significance to a few heroic figures and the words “I have a dream.” The true purpose of the Civil Rights Movement has been distorted and romanced into something each individual, secular, political or religious group wished it to be for convenience or condemnation. The Civil Rights Movement had only one salient, underlying purpose: To banish the practice of denying equal justice to all Americans. Those ideals are embedded in every founding document. It remains an enigma why so many distort its historical significance, with false narratives promoted by liberal race baiters, media pundits and politicians.

“The true rule of law and justice in a judicial system is one in which the rights of some are not secured by the denial of rights to others.”

– John Seales

Three documents, known collectively as the Charters of Freedom, have secured the rights of all Americans for over two centuries and are considered instrumental to our founding and philosophy of our nation. These are The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, and The Bill of Rights. In each founding document, they guarantee us equal rights and equal access to justice, which is the most indispensable right of all. Without access to justice, none of our rights are guaranteed or protected. Any American who does not covet their right of expedient access to justice is forsaking liberty. If we don’t protect that one right, it’s impossible to defend all others.

“The patriot volunteer, fighting for country and his rights, makes the most reliable soldier on earth.”

– Stonewall Jackson

Americans are continually at the mercy of lesser magistrates who cowardly subvert the provisions in our founding documents to deliver justice. Our right to justice is guaranteed by the Department of Justice, yet government subordinates regularly invent ways to abridge them. We hear about this on TV, see it in the fish-wrap and social media during high-profile trials, but hear little about the denial of justice by our local governments. We permit this to happen daily, yet this is a federal right and is disciplined by the DOJ!

“America was founded upon the doctrine of equal rights. Its cornerstone is the principle every man is endowed with access to equal justice to defend them.”

– Randal Hall

In hearing rooms across this nation, questionable legal practices are being reported to the DOJ to expose a miscarriage of justice in court proceedings. If a litigant cannot afford a high priced mouth-piece, they are appointed counsel. If they foresee an unfair advantage for the defense, they seek a change in venue, dispose of a capricious juror and recuse a judge. Although this is not a perfect system, most Americans have a fighting chance to improve their access to unabridged justice in our courts when they suspect malpractice. Even a green horn public defender will point out abuses of statutory protections to insure his client has access to justice.

– “Today, there are few times we are powerless to prevent injustice, but we must possess the knowledge on how to do so.”

– May Willard

The biggest offenders are not criminal or civil courts. We’ve all heard about the speed traps in our local “one-blink-of-the-eye speed limit signs” in rural townships. Although America has its fair share, they pale in comparison to the rights we thought we had and found out we didn’t have in local and state governments. These are rights denied at what are billed “informal hearings.” The only thing informal about these proceedings is how “informally” you find out they were anything but “informal.” Once a gavel is dropped, and the magistrate makes his decision, more times than not, you leave this “informal hearing” wondering if you just appeared before Judge Judy in a kangaroo court.

“One cannot bandage a mortal wound, that’s been inflicted by a miscarriage of justice.”

– Throe Bradley

This judicial deception has been going on for decades when offended citizens choose to protest any activity they have a right to in the governments they own. This is common when their property rights are violated. If their home or business is hijacked by eminent domain, the decision is etched in stone before the commission meeting. The hearing officer makes up rules as he goes along if they do not have Perry Mason there to scold him. If their rural neighborhood is rezoned to build a burger joint or county dump, notifications for these meetings are tacked on the bathroom door of the county seat or placed on page 10 in a local throwaway scandal sheet so they can call it legal.

“Those who make the law know best how to break the law without getting caught.”

– Albert Simms

States never reassess all counties at the same time. If they did this they’d have a tax revolt similar to California’s tax tsunami Prop 13 that rocked the U.S. like a New Zealand earthquake from east to west. “Prop 13 made the Gold Coast as infamous as Boston Harbor.” When a homeowner receives a tax bill for a Taj Mahal and they live in a 1,000 square foot home, they are forced to buy back their rights at dubiously “informal” tax hearings. The homeowner is guilty until proven innocent in the eyes of the taxman. The moment they arrive to face this hit squad, they are intimidated by the judge who is also the jury and only allows them to present what he wants to hear, not what they prepared. They feel like a Roller Derby skater in the “penalty box” wearing a dunce cap and wonder why! To this judge, just showing up is a capital offense!

“Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere.”

– Dr. King

Denial of justice is generic in local tribunals. Most are semi-structured to mimic a fair legal process. There is no impartial verdict, to the detriment of the accused. It is decided in advance. This violates all formal judicial process. Rules are invented by the officer obtusely, which even the best jailhouse lawyer cannot defend! If you try to quote law, you are declared out of order. Humbling intimidation is the worst injustice of all. Taxpayers are made subservient to justice that is rationed to guarantee they lose. When a taxpayer is scolded for something insignificant to put them in their place, they are defeated before they have a chance to win or lose and sheepishly give in to the tax man to end this abuse! They quickly learn how it feels to be a punching bag in a federal penitentiary gym!

“Bullies are everywhere, but the worst kind of bully is one who bullies behind the cloak of law.”

– Eely Stalls

President Ronald Reagan once said, “There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right.” The only way we can guarantee our access to justice is to know the law. If you feel violated in any way by a magistrate, you have the duty to file a formal complaint with your governmental controlling agency or the federal DOJ. You must know your rights and how to defend them!

“It takes great courage to stand alone against a judge whose best resource is to intimidate you when you and he both know you are innocent.”

– Reggie Stone

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Jul 17

Krug: Editors and publishers fail when transparency is absent in reader ‘comments’

Where the media falls down so badly so often is in its approach to stories.

Slanted and misleading headlines, hyperbolic and unsubstantiated reporting that’s short on facts and long on opinion, and manufactured outrage probably are the worst of what stands for journalism today.

But that’s simply the content that lives above the comment line. What of the interactive, social aspects of today’s journalism?

Well, that can be all forms of awful, too.

According to a report released July 12 by the Pew Institute, four of 10 Americans have experienced online harassment, 18 percent have been threatened in some way for sharing their point of view, and more than 60 percent consider this form of harassment a problem.

If you operate a news media site and allow the online forums to fester with hateful comments when matters are less important, they implode when real issues arise.

Most traditional media companies are so stripped down that they don’t have the resources to monitor comments and, as a matter of creating some visibility, have turned to Facebook comments to create some transparency. Oh, sure, they’ll take the clicks, but the responsibility for the environment? Not so much.

Others, well, I am not sure what they’re doing or if they are adhering to their own criteria because the inclusions and extractions appear arbitrary and capricious. One moment, a seemingly innocuous comment is there. The next time you might visit the site to see how people responded to your comment, but what you wrote is gone. Why? Nobody knows. For readers, the absence of continuity is jarring.

More than a decade ago, a daily newspaper and digital news site in greater Chicago I oversaw became one of the first in the country to allow comments on stories. We had this functionality and interactivity before any of the U.S. metropolitan newspapers had entered into the space. At that time, there was great debate whether the voice of the reader belonged alongside the journalism that had been published.

During my tenure as executive editor there, I saw comments as a meaningful way to interact with readers, and it provided explosive online growth at what was the onramp to the internet for most newspapers seeking to grow a digital presence.

We wanted to engage with the communities that we served. We believed, correctly, that our reporting was not the final word. We were part of a discussion – a significant part, but a part nonetheless. And we wanted meaningful conversations to occur around our reporting, because that is what journalists should strive to achieve.

We opened our online comments – I believe in 2005 – without rules, without filters, without any parameters at all really. It was a new frontier, so nobody knew what to expect.

Iterations ensued that required registration with a confirmed email, a profanity filter, and comments to remain in line with the subject of the story. It was an early handle on this key element of community building, interaction and balancing the newspaper’s standards with the community’s contributions that earned the 2007 Chicago Headline Club’s Lisagor Award for best website (over the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, et. al.) and an innovator of the year award from Local Media Association (an organization that then was called Suburban Newspapers of America).

The online community on our news site was vibrant, somewhat civil, oftentimes humorous, and with balanced and interesting points of view that – on occasion – brought new information or insight to the story. Because we served to include our community, we welcomed a reasonable amount of readers who came in without bringing their flaming torches or pitchforks.

There is nothing more essential to our democracy than the protections provided by the First Amendment. But if you want to hijack a discussion and run away with it on someone else’s news site, you’re not practicing discourse. Stay with the story. Participate in the discussion germane to that story. Be civil. Be frank, but be civil.

Civility may be too much to ask, though, as a story as innocuous as a local lemonade stand could elicit tangential commentary from trolls and wing nuts. Any digital forum, in particular those that welcome comments without accountability for them, can be hijacked by people far less interested in discussion and far more interested in hit-and-run bomb-throwing.

For publishers, a hands-off approach to comments on your site isn’t good ethical practice. It’s malpractice.

If you operate a site, and welcome guests to comment, your guests should adhere to house rules. So, as a site operator, basic rules should be determined that welcome discussion. Be clear about them; and fairly apply them.

And, to evolve the thinking, any organization that would seek to control the comments on their site through deceptive means (cloaking, fire-starting provocation, et al) is equally bad practice and, frankly, unethical.

Anyone who administers a site that allows comments knows the value of comments. And the law is on the side of the site owner. A site owner incurs no more responsibility for what is written on their “wall” than the landlord of a building whose alley-facing fence would for the scrawling from a graffiti artist. It’s actually one of my favorite aspects of digital news, because light reveals truth – right there in front of God and everyone else.

Bottom of Form

Trolls, flamer-throwers, and other cowards make some news media sites run. They drive more traffic than the content itself. Some editors say they deplore them. But they know readers like them, and visitors return again and again to see what the newest screed says.

Online comments have become the media’s click machine, powering their sites by blowing breath into what otherwise can be so-so stories that don’t advance the reader’s understanding of a subject. As mainstream journalism continues to wane, comments often are more interesting and insightful than the stories that prompted them.

But anyone who operates a news media site and allows anonymous attacks – or those created under the veil of pseudonyms – to stand is morally complicit in those comments.

I don’t care what your lawyer says. Lawsuits shouldn’t be the bar by which this is measured. Responsible news sites should aspire to higher standards.

And, when comments are anonymous and authors shielded by the public, the scrutiny of authenticity is not met. It harms the journalism.

  • Chris Krug is President of Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity. This column is original, but draws from his thoughts included in a column for ILNews.org that was published on July 7, 2017.

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Jul 17

GOP tax reforms stoke debate in states with large manufacturing, agriculture sectors

A congressional panel last week spotlighted how federal tax reform could help small businesses, but one possible component of the GOP reform plans would cost businesses an estimated $1.5 trillion over the next decade.

Though a hearing scheduled Thursday by the Tax Policy Subcommittee will highlight how tax reform could strengthen economic growth nationwide, one major piece of the reform effort would end the deduction for interest businesses pay on debt financing. Some of the Republican tax reform plans under discussion in Congress would also help offset that revenue boost with immediate write-offs on capital investments in a bid to encourage business expansion.

Other ideas include slashing the top federal corporate tax rate of 35 percent.

Business reactions to the tax proposals will likely vary markedly by industry and region, depending on the composition of a state’s economy, according to tax policy experts contacted by Watchdog.org. Businesses in states with a large presence of both manufacturing and agriculture, such as the Midwestern states of Ohio, Illinois and Wisconsin, may have especially divergent opinions.

“Farming is 95 percent debt-financed,” Patricia Wolff, senior director for congressional relations at the American Farm Bureau, told Watchdog.org. So losing the business interest deduction would have a huge impact on farmers and ranchers, according to Wolff.

In addition, many farmers already qualify for small business exemption limits for expensing farm equipment, she said. The farmers under that exemption can now write off equipment expenses such as tractors or combines up to $500,000, according to Mark O’Neill, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau.

Farmers like the idea of being able to write off such expenses during the current year, rather than take depreciation amounts over a period of several years, O’Neill said.

“Under existing law, basically farmers are allowed to legally depreciate farm equipment over seven years,” O’Neill told Watchdog.org. One compromise proposal would reduce that depreciation period to five years to help agricultural businesses, he said.

“In the last couple of years, farm income has been way down,” O’Neill said.

The American Farm Bureau opposes ending the business tax deduction, even if paired with tax advantages on expensing, according to Wolff.

“We’re very concerned about that,” she said. “It’s one of our top-tier issues.”

The Farm Bureau is now making its positions known in Congress and waiting to see what the final congressional tax package will look like, Wolff said. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, has acknowledged that small businesses and family farms have limited access to capital for borrowing, and he may include tax provisions that recognize the need to borrow to obtain additional farmland, Wolff said.

“We’re hoping that when the legislation is introduced that it will be helpful to farmers,” Wolff said.

Manufacturers, whose revenues figure prominently in states like Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania, may view the combination of limiting business interest deductions and providing immediate write-offs for capital expenses more favorably, according to Joseph Rosenberg, a senior research associate with the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center in Washington.

In states with large manufacturing operations, the reforms would help manufacturers that have a lot of capital expenditures, such as longer-lived assets such as structures, Rosenberg said. But even so, the swap with ending the business interest deduction will likely be a difficult sell in some regions of the country.

“It’s not clear to me that a lot of businesses would be willing to give up their ability to deduct interest,” he told Watchdog.org.

And taking capital investments out of the federal tax base might not produce the kinds of effects proponents expect, according to Rosenberg. But the change could hold down debt financing, which tends to distort some companies’ investment strategies, according to some economists,

“It’s a little unclear how big of a change that is relative to the current tax system,” Rosenberg said, adding that the combination could be a wash in terms of overall corporate tax burdens.

Zach Schiller, research director at Policy Matters Ohio, echoed some of those concerns about the overall impact of the federal tax reform ideas.

“I am immediately somewhat skeptical that changes in tax policies are going to have huge impacts,” Schiller told Watchdog.org.

Making it a little cheaper for businesses to invest in capital improvement can have some positive effects, he said, but Schiller favors a different approach than what’s in the Republican plans.

“Investing in workforce and infrastructure and improving public services is oftentimes a more useful and long-term strategy than a tax-cut strategy,” he said.

Moreover, an immediate write-off for capital investments made by businesses would prove expensive, if the proposed limits on business interest deductibility didn’t produce the anticipated windfall in federal revenues, Schiller said.

Ohio already gives businesses tax breaks, and cuts in the federal corporate income tax would be a bad idea because so few corporations now pay the top rate due to deductions, he said.

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Jul 14

Ohio gets down to business of retooling its workforce

Ohio’s state government leaders are venturing beyond tax policies, fiscal issues and regulations and into the wonky realm of realigning its workforce and higher education system to better meet the needs of businesses.

Since taking office in 2011, Gov. John Kasich has highlighted the disconnect among university and college programs, employer training programs, economic development agencies and the needs of businesses around the state. Kasich signed an executive order in 2012 creating the Office of Workforce Transformation (OWT) and the governor’s Executive Workforce Board to bring order to the fragmented arrangement of workforce agencies in Ohio.

“Kasich has worked hard to diversify the state in terms of the industries that are here,” OWT Director Ryan Burgess told Watchdog.org, noting that Amazon and IBM now have operations in the state and energy companies are showing a renewed interest in southeast Ohio.

Both Kasich and Burgess have emphasized how changing technologies and innovation, from driverless vehicles to delivery drones to robotics and artificial intelligence, are challenging the skill levels of the state’s workforce. In turn, all of the OWT’s actions are geared to making sure state workforce agencies are aligned with the needs of business, Burgess said.

But it’s unclear whether the increased coordination between the private and public sectors in Ohio is yet paying off. The state’s unemployment rate was 4.9 percent in May, according to federal Bureau of Labor Statistics figures, compared to 4.6 percent in Illinois, which has endured protracted political divisions and a two-year state budget impasse.

A study released by Ball State University in Indiana on manufacturing and logistics industries gave Ohio a grade of “C-” in “Human Capital,” which measures the skills levels of the state’s workforce.

But the state’s efforts should bear fruit in the coming year, according to Edward Hill, a member of the faculty at the Ohio Manufacturing Institute. Manufacturers in the state are taking ownership of the workforce problems, and the state is showing pockets of progress in producing skilled workers, Hill said.

In addition, the state has started funding training in robotics and advanced manufacturing centers around Ohio, he said.

Burgess emphasized that Ohio has created 460,000 private-sector jobs since 2011 and that labor force participation and wages are both headed in the right direction.

Dave LeDonne, a member of the Executive Workforce Board who works for MPLX, a division of Marathon Petroleum, sees 2017 as a foundation year for the workforce efforts – one that will help put business leaders and educators on the same page.

MPLX’s operation in Harrison County has gone from having 30 employees in 2013 to 300 today, LeDonne said, and its production of natural gas from the Utica shale region has increased more than 20-fold.

“The state itself has done a good job to create a collaboration” on workforce training, he told Watchdog.org. And LeDonne’s company has been able to take people from mills that were shutting down and transfer their skills to natural gas collection and processing.

“We’ve had a lot of success with transferring skill sets from the existing industry that was around here,” he said.

The challenge now is to get more young people onto career paths that will prepare them for in-demand jobs in fields such as energy, nursing, medicine and information technology, LeDonne said. That may mean exposing them to training options beyond four-year degree programs, such as apprenticeships, internships and skills-based certification training.

“You’ve got to get down to grade schools and high schools,” he said.

Burgess said a key focus of the OWT, an umbrella organization for 13 state agencies, is to make sure that state programs are preparing future workers for in-demand jobs. Such jobs may be driven by demographics, as is the case for health care occupations, or a high turnover rate, as is common in occupations such as trucking, according to Burgess. Other in-demand jobs rely on advanced technology, cyber security and information technology, he said.

The OWT has its sights on helping both high school graduates looking at career options and workers in shrinking industries. The key question for the 50-year-old who is losing his job is, “How do we help that person pivot and get into a new industry,” Burgess said.

But the agency is also looking at younger people and getting them and parents to think about career opportunities.

“Sixty-five percent of secondary students are predicted to work in jobs that do not yet exist,” one OWT report states.

Workforce proposals in the governor’s current budget include several key themes, Burgess said. These include creating a culture of continuous learning to cope with rapid technological change and building more career pathways to in-demand jobs, such as apprenticeships and internships.

Lorain Community College in Elyria has been among the key players in higher education on workforce issues and forming alliances with Ohio businesses.

“In northeast Ohio, health care, manufacturing and IT are certainly the drivers” in the workforce, Terri Burgess Sandu, director of talent and business innovation at the college, told Watchdog.org.

Among the changes Burgess Sandu has seen is the state’s expansion of hands-on learning opportunities for high school students who take college-level courses. The state has also given community colleges the go-ahead to offer four-year baccalaureate degrees to certain in-demand workers, she said.

And Ohio has changed its formula for funding community colleges to one based more on performance, she said, as educators work to break down barriers between educational programs and businesses.

“Conceptually, we all know that we need to partner and do it differently,” Burgess Sandu said.

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Jul 12

Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin score well in manufacturing report; Illinois not so much

The Midwest as a whole received relatively high grades in an annual rating of states’ manufacturing industries, but Illinois’ manufacturing sector is still struggling due to an unpredictable economic climate and unfunded public liabilities.

The 2017 Manufacturing & Logistics Report Card gave Illinois a “C+” for the overall health of its manufacturing industries, but the state earned a “D” in the “Tax Climate” category and an “F” in “Expected Fiscal Liability Gap.” That latter estimates the state’s ability – or inability – to fund bond obligations and pension costs.

Illinois also received an average grade – “C+” – in “Human Capital,” which measures the education level of the state’s workforce in an effort to gauge how well it is serving manufacturers.

The study gave Michigan an “A” for the health of its manufacturing sector, while Ohio and Wisconsin both received “B” grades.

Mark Denzler, vice president and chief operating officer of the Illinois Manufacturers Association, echoed some of the points made in the Ball University study.

“Manufacturing is alive in Illinois,” Denzler said, noting that manufacturers in the state employ about 570,000 people. “However, it is struggling.”

The state’s strengths include good colleges and universities and a great transit system, according to Denzler.

“Seventy-five percent of the nation’s freight comes through Illinois,” he said.

But an out-migration of jobs to other states and workers compensation costs that are the highest in the Midwest and eighth highest in the country continue to add to the state’s economic uncertainties, Denzler said.

Although Denzler said today’s manufacturing workforce in Illinois is second to none, the employers continue to deal with a skills gap as they try to hire new workers. Manufacturers need to hire 20,000 to 25,000 production workers and 5,000 engineers every year just to remain at a constant level, he said.

“The governor has put a focus on vocational education and trying to provide workers with the skills needed,” Denzler said, but lately there has been no money for job-training programs.

Manufacturers have some advantages in the near future, including a growing advanced-manufacturing industry around the Chicago area, he said. But the state needs major structural reforms and begin to live within its means, according to Denzler.

“Quite frankly, Illinois needs to change its focus moving forward,” he said.

Illinois did end it’s more than two-year-long budget stalemate last week, but it came at a high cost to businesses and workers, who will both see tax increases.

“[Last week’s] action by the Illinois legislature will speed up the loss of manufacturing jobs and will further decimate our economy,” Greg Baise, president and CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers Association, said shortly after the state House voted to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s vetoes of the tax hikes and budget bills. “Imposing a $5 billion dollar tax hike on Illinois families and businesses without addressing the root causes of our stagnant economic growth is a recipe for disaster and will only hasten the further loss of Illinois’ middle class.”

Those knowledgeable about the manufacturing industries in other Midwest states questioned some of the conclusions in the Ball State University study. Kurt Bauer, president and CEO of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, took issue with the state’s “C-” grade in the “Tax Climate” category.

“I don’t think the Ball State report recognizes that Wisconsin’s Manufacturers and Agricultural Production Tax Credit reduces the corporate tax liability for qualifying companies from 7.9 percent to 0.4 percent,” Bauer said in an email. “Combine that with our right-to-work status and our recent regulatory and litigation reforms, and Wisconsin is clearly one of the most attractive states for manufacturing in the U.S.”

All of Illinois’ neighbors are right-to-work states – meaning employees can opt out of joining a union if they choose – which is another competitive disadvantage.

Professor Edward Hill, a faculty member at the Ohio Manufacturing Institute, took issue with some of the variables the study used to give Ohio a “C-” in “Human Capital.” The six states receiving “A” grades in this category were Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota and Washington.

“There are good manufacturers in many of these states, but none, with the exception of Washington and possibly Minnesota, can be claimed as centers of exceptionally skilled pools of manufacturing workers,” Hill said.

Still, Ohio is not doing particularly well in providing the type of skilled workers manufacturers need, he said, but all states likely have this problem.

“Manufacturers themselves are just waking up and taking ownership of the problem … and reinventing secondary and community college manufacturing training programs,” Hill said.

In Ohio, major employers such as Honda, Minster Machine, Lincoln Electric and Yaskawa Motoman are working hand-in-hand with educators to turn out a more skilled workforce, he said.

“We will see progress over the coming year,” Hill said.

Though Michigan was rated a top performer in manufacturing, it received “D” grades in both “Human Capital” and “Sector Diversification” in the Ball State study.

“It’s all tuned to just transportation,” Devaraj said, adding that the lack of diversification in Michigan’s manufacturing economy means that if any shocks hit that industry, the impact for the state as a whole will be major.

Recently released economic forecasts for Michigan have been positive. A University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, study said that the state recorded 28 straight quarters of payroll growth through the first quarter of 2017. But job growth should moderate through 2018, the report said.

“Manufacturing employment declines modestly over the forecast, reflecting the slowdown in the light vehicle sector,” the University of Michigan forecast said.

Devaraj stressed that manufacturing remains a key player in the U.S. economy, even as productivity gains have held down employment growth. Increased skill attainment by workers will help lower the risk of them being replaced by automation, he said.

“In reality, things are going really well in terms of manufacturing,” Devaraj said.

Back in Illinois, the state earned an “A” for the health of its logistics industries. That was due to a number of Illinois’ assets, including its central location, the value of shipped goods in the state and an efficient transportation system.

“Chicago is leading the pack in terms of the commodities flows,” Devaraj said.

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Jul 06

Overtime rule changes great news for small businesses

Small businesses across the country are breathing a sigh of relief on news that the Trump administration is walking back former President Barack Obama’s proposed overtime expansion.

Small businesses were dreading the Obama-era order that would have doubled overtime eligibility to cover people making as much as $47,000 a year. It was scheduled to go into effect Dec. 1 last year, but a federal judge ordered an indefinite stay.

Terry McClallen with Integrity Data, an HR system company in Lincoln, Illinois, said most small businesses were still unprepared for all of the regulations on salary, time-keeping, and paperwork that the overtime rule brought with it.

“People who never had to keep a time card, and companies that never really had to deal with time cards, were going to have to not only deal with time cards but deal with calculating overtime rates,” McClallen said.

The U.S. Department of Labor said as many as 193,000 people in Illinois would have been impacted by the rule.

McClallen said the overtime rule forced many small businesses to move some workers from salary to hourly. It would have been a move that cost some workers money and even jobs as employers sought to make up for the new costs.

“If you’re talking about service industries that are running on a very, very narrow profit margin, and all of a sudden you have to start paying overtime, those are things those businesses just aren’t able to absorb,” McClallen said.

The Trump administration said it intends to walk back many of the federal mandates included in the old overtime rule.

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Jul 03

Haupt: Let freedom ring this Independence Day

“This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing, ‘My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing: Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,  “I Have A Dream” speech, August 1963

Everyone in America enjoys the 4th of July. Much like all holidays of significance, the true meaning of the 4th of July has mutated into another annual tradition. It has become a day of frolicking in the first days of fair weather and plentiful sun. It’s marked with outdoor activities such as BBQs, pick-up sports games and picnicking. Copious amounts of food, beer, soda and snacks are consumed until the sun begins to fade into the welcome twilight of the evening shadows of night. That is when many Americans begin celebrating the close of a blissful day of visiting with cousins they’ve never met and playing lawn games with friends and relatives. Before the first twinkling star has a chance to breach the horizon, the sky is populated with an assortment of Chinese sky rockets, horsetails, and Roman candles. The sounds of merriment echo from sea to shining sea.

“We play our favorite American guessing game every 4th of July. Are we hearing gunshots or fireworks?”

– Arthur Oman

For as long as Americans can remember, the nation has celebrated the 4th of July with fireworks shows in public squares and lighting displays at home. But the reality is that no fireworks went off on that day, nor was there any signing ceremony. That was a month later. But the events of the 4th of that very day changed the course of history. During the sweltering heat of a tortuous summer in Pennsylvania, at the second Continental Congress, delegates from 13 colonies debated whether to adopt the Declaration or not. As the heat continued to rise, the temperatures in the room became so sweltering, it’s been said they broke every thermometer in the hall. Jefferson noted that by the evening the Declaration of Independence was approved, it concluded a battle more fiercely fought than the Revolution itself.

“The United States is the only country with a known birthday.”

– James G. Blaine

Most Americans are clueless why we shoot off fireworks on the 4th of July, and fewer remember its true significance. The answer is considered folklore. But weeks before the Declaration was signed, John Adams envisioned fireworks as a part of the festivities. In a letter he wrote to Abigail on July 3, 1776, he postulated this occasion should be celebrated “with Pomp and Parade, Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one end of this Continent to the other.”

The first recorded Independence Day fireworks were ignited in Philadelphia on July 4, 1777. That night, the skies were cloaked with ringing of bells and a grand exhibition of fireworks that included 13 sky rockets cascading across the skies above the Commons. Today,

“The 4th is when children running around with fire sticks burning at 400 degrees are supervised by intoxicated adults.”

– Milo Vance

Although founder John Adams is responsible for this monumental day being morphed into a display of fireworks, clannish carousing, mischief and merriment, much of what he wrote wife Abigail was never retold. After declaring independence, he wrote, “This marked the most memorable epoch in the history of America.” He had hoped the day would be “Celebrated by succeeding Generations, as the greatest anniversary Festival.” It should be commemorated, “as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty.” Although it was two days later Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, Adams was right about the celebrations through much of our history. For us July Fourth remains a salient holiday, it no longer has the solemnity and the significance that Adams hoped it would maintain. Much of the meaning of these festivities has been shadowed by commercial enterprise and self indulgence with little thought for our true patriotism.

“Capitalists must never forget what made them Capitalists; that was American patriotism.”

– Chadwick Black

July Fourth is not only the most important day in American history, but in the world’s history also. It created the most powerful nation the world has ever known. This one Declaration legally formed a more perfect union. It announced to an “insolent world” we were assuming the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God entitle to us as free men. Additionally it cautioned governments everywhere, they derived “their just powers solely from the consent of the people.” And when any governments became destructive of the people’s rights and liberties, the people had the authority to alter or abolish a government and institute a new one.

“Democracy is the government of the people, by the people, for the people.”

– Abraham Lincoln

The words our founders so carefully chose to scribe on that parchment in Philadelphia we now call our Declaration have served as an inspiration for the people of the world for centuries. They’ve been the battle cry of Colonial rebellions against imperial regimes around the globe as justification for chasing the flag of liberty to hang in their capitals and parliaments. Vietnam used these words in declaring independence from France in 1945. Ho Chi Minh cited our Declaration word for word. In Poland, Members of Solidarity and dissidents in Czechoslovakia invoked these words in opposition to Soviet subserviency in the 1980s. In Tiananmen Square in 1989, Chinese students quoted our founders to stand against government abuse. And some say activists in the Arab Spring chanted phrases from our Declaration of Independence in their rebellion for democratic liberty.

“It’s the love of country that has lighted and that keeps glowing the holy fire of patriotism.”

– Horace McFarland

For us Americans, the Declaration is the central ingredient of the combining of thirteen individual colonies in a unified body of free men emboldened with a sense of unity and of nationhood that has never been seen before. Because America is composed of many immigrants, races and ethnicities, we’ve cast aside the boundaries of separatism in favor of a brotherhood under the cloistered cloak of liberty for all. America became a nation of one identity comprised of many the day our colonies signed the Declaration. We agreed to agree on the most important ingredients that were necessary to comprise a free government of free people. We empowered the people to remain as free men in free states to control the central government and to never let it control us. July 4th is what birthed Americanism.

“The American Revolution was a beginning, not a consummation.”

– Woodrow Wilson

Even former President Barack Obama said, “We still believe in an America where anything’s possible.” Our founders christened us the first states to form a nation while others conquered states to form theirs. And our history has been an effort to continually define that nationality. We remain not a nation in traditional meaning but one reliant on collective individualism to sustain our republic. We take no orders from a central oligarchy to hold us in unison. The Declaration has embodied these ideals in its sacred creed. And this is the true significance of July 4, 1776. Each year after we hang our flags, fill our cars with camping gear and head for the highways; keep in mind what this day means to all of us. It is our patriotic duty to light our first firecracker in the name of liberty remembering what John Adams wrote,

“This is the Day to celebrate our Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty.”

– John Adams

The members of the Continental Congress could only “mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred Honor. There was no nation, no fatherland, nor a union; nothing but the pledge itself to honor and uphold. A man’s country is not a certain area of land, of mountains, rivers, and woods, but it is a principle; and patriotism is loyalty to that principle.”

– George W. Curtis

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Permanent link to this article: http://watchdog.org/293849/haupt-let-freedom-ring-independence-day/

Jul 03

Krug: Trump hunt begs question: What is the media’s business?

Supporters said all along that President Donald Trump would be good for American business.

But many didn’t anticipate that the American media business stood to benefit from his presidency.

Currently the greatest love-hate relationship in U.S. politics, the mainstream and legacy media revels in Trump’s “fake news” claims. While they denounce his behavior publicly, reporters draw strength from Trump’s insults and use it as fuel to power their self-righteous crusade to shame the president.

They wear each hostile tweet as a badge of honor and consider it confirmation they are doing God’s work.

Trump has worked the media masterfully. He didn’t need the legacy media’s support or endorsement when he campaigned for president, and he doesn’t need them now. They are a distraction, and Trump is working them.

Historically, American media have pursued a noble mission to serve the public and keep the government in check. But that mission falls on deaf ears when the watchdogs become attack dogs. We have reached that point.

When does pursuing a story become crafting a narrative with an obvious political agenda? It starts with basic editorial decision-making. And according to the Media Research Center’s recent study, network news has decided that Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election outweighs other critical issues such as health care, tax reform, and jobs. It feels almost as if it was pulled from a season of Netflix’s “House of Cards” – only not as clever.

And then there’s CNN, the cable news network that continues to beat the Russia drum even after there is no new evidence or information to report. Their desperation to find the smoking gun resulted in the retraction of a Russia-related story and the resignation of three staffers last week.

The driver? Not truth. No, it was red meat for the left; creation of controversy. We’ll wait for the next public opinion poll, but I think it’s safe to say that the Russia investigation is not at the top of everyday Americans’ priority list.

The videos released by conservative journalist James O’Keefe, known for undercover sting operations, show CNN producers admitting that the Trump-Russia investigation is overhyped for enhanced ratings. They need something they can own to differentiate themselves from other cable-news channels. And so the love-hate cycle continues.

Although this epic rivalry can be comical at times, it’s sad to look behind the curtain and realize that Big Media has its interests too – and it doesn’t always include the American public.

For media to be credible – truly credible – it must report independently verified facts. It must seek the truth, and report with integrity. It must distill facts and straight news from opinions and insights gleaned from perceptions of original reporting.

The criteria for whether a story is good to air or publish should be somewhat higher than a corporate lawyer’s opinion on the likelihood that it opens up the organization to a lawsuit.

The lone criteria should be truth and public interest. Often, it’s not.

Television news, in particular that which appears on 24-hour cable cycle, is rife with opinion. Understandably so: There simply are not enough resources on any network or cable channel to fulfill a mission of 365-day news content that would be interesting enough to hold an audience’s attention. Without commentary, every network would resort to the C-SPAN model of airing raw footage of endless committee meetings.

Opinion is less expensive than actual reporting, and is in endless supply. It is far more economical to bring in a person from a studio in Washington, D.C., than it would be to send a correspondent and crew to Moscow. That’s a business decision that saves media brands money and costs taxpayers in reliable information.

So what is passed off as straight news often is a new take of an opinion. And with each passing “hot take,” the message is pushed further and further away from the truth.

Why does it matter? Can’t people have an opinion on the news?

Certainly. This is America, and our speech is protected constitutionally. But it matters that the continuous news cycle rarely differentiates between straight news and opinion. The content is often indistinguishable. Context is rarely offered. Oftentimes, the crawl beneath the commentary is in clear conflict. The opinion often overwhelms the core of the story.

The result is that the news itself – the facts, the verification, the story, and the truth – has been discarded in favor of a take on the news.

A controversial or salacious quote often makes a better headline than the old journalism standby of who, what, where, when, and why. Just look at the mainstream media’s obsession with President Trump’s recent tweet about Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, or the video he posted of an old WWE appearance where Trump punches out a man with a CNN logo superimposed on his face. The exaggerated response gives President Trump an even greater villain to demonize and justification for controversial actions such as banning cameras from the White House press briefings. Veering from the facts lowers the public perception and credibility of media as a whole. It threatens our democracy.

So much so that it must be next to impossible for Americans to understand the media’s job, or what business we’re in anymore.

  • Chris Krug is president of the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity.

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Jun 30

10-month-old Charlie Gard and U.K. Government

“We’re not allowed to choose if our son lives and we’re not allowed to choose when or where Charlie dies,”

Maybe you’ve read about Charlie who lives in the U.K. Charlie Gard is a 10-month-old baby who has a rare genetic disorder called mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, one of only 16 children in the world with this disorder.

Charlie has loving parents who want to care for him the best they can. He is currently being treated at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London, but the hospital decided they can’t do anything more for Charlie. The hospital made the decision to take him off life support.  Trying to end his life; premature, without the consent of his parents, so that he could “die with dignity.”

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The parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, disagreed with taking him off life support and have raised $1.6 million to airflight Charlie to the United States for care. All the parents needed for this to happen was for the British hospital to release Charlie into their care as parents. Sadly, the UK hospital wouldn’t release custody, cue ongoing legal battle ending on July 27th:

  • 3 March 2017: Mr Justice Francis starts to analyse the case at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London

  • 11 April: Mr Justice Francis says doctors can stop providing life-support treatment

  • 3 May: Charlie’s paren ts ask Court of Appeal judges to consider the case

  • 23 May: Three Court of Appeal judges analyse the case

  • 25 May: Court of Appeal judges dismiss the couple’s appeal

  • 8 June: Charlie’s parents lose fight in the Supreme Court

  • 20 June: Judges in the European Court of Human Rights start to analyse the case after lawyers representing Charlie’s parents make written submissions

  • 27 June: Judges in the European Court of Human Rights refuse to intervene

For Charlies parents and people around the world this is heartbreaking and scary. American parents, friends, individuals…wake up, Universal Healthcare is the detriment to a thriving society! This is the effects of Universal Health Care: freedom and human rights are being mercilessly stripped away. Not just for people like Charlie, but for individuals, parents, grandparents, and every citizen the government deems as useless to society.

As an American society we no longer value life, but thank goodness we value ourselves. Because of individual healthcare, we can choose what we want for ourselves. The moment we start a centralized government based health care system, we are at the mercy of the government. Let me explain: in the United States people choose the level of healthcare insurance they want, which in turn they pay for themselves. This allows them the freedom to treat their illness in the way they choose. Under Universal healthcare, the government covers all medical expenses, which sounds great. However, this puts the power of choice in the hands of a governance board.

This is what is happening to Charlie. The government sees this little boy as an unneeded expense and a burden to society, thanks to universal healthcare. The government feels like this is the most humane way to dispose of him. His parents said, “Not only are we not allowed to take our son to an expert hospital to save his life, we also can’t choose how or when our son dies.”  His parents see him for his true worth in the sight of God and tried to give him the health care he deserves. But the government felt it unnecessary and unneeded to spare his life, so they are choosing to let him die.

charlie-gard-parents

Universal Health Care will be the detriment of your children, your grandchildren, and your great grand children. The effects of it will be astronomical and you need to fight and speak up today against this flawed system that will cause unneeded death and crushing heartbreak for generations to come.

As American citizens we have to understand that fighting against universal healthcare is not a problem we can put off for tomorrow. Something has to happen today, the senate is currently debating regulations on the healthcare system which has colossal immediate and future implications. We as citizens need to stay informed, knowledgeable, and speak out against an overreaching government. As we celebrate freedom this weekend on July 4th, we are celebrating what people have fought so hard over the years to attain. Let us not be the generation who puts down our battle swords for the sake of “peace, comfort, or laziness,” resulting in years of bondage and death by the American government.

 

 

WRITTEN BY JENA POWELL: Jena Powell is co-founder of Blue Ash Media, a digital advertising company in Southwest Florida and VP of sales at Huntington Outdoor Advertising, a Midwest-based outdoor billboard company. She stays up-to-date in the political world through her involvement with Forge Leadership Network. She has a passion for small business, marketing, the Gospel, and politics.

 

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Permanent link to this article: http://ohioconservativereview.com/2017/06/30/10-month-old-charlie-gard-and-u-k-government/

Jun 30

Congressional bill would fix income tax confusion for businesses who send employees across state lines

A bill fresh out of the U.S. House of Representatives would fix a long-standing problem in states’ tax code that has likely resulted in businesses and employees overpaying the state for decades.

Companies that send a worker to another state have to make sure their complying with that state’s tax code. The problem in Illinois and possibly other states is that their laws are all different and complicated. The Mobile Workforce State Income Tax Simplification Act that currently is awaiting a Senate committee vote would make all states adopt the same 30-day threshold before someone can be taxed.

Based on their answers in April, Senator Dick Durbin’s office, the Illinois Department of Revenue, and a number of accounting firms weren’t on the same page about Illinois’ current threshold.

“It’s a compliance nightmare,” said Maureen Riehl, Executive Director of the Mobile Workforce Coalition. She said the confusion around Illinois’ laws are a perfect example of the need for uniformity. “Organizations are sending money to Illinois that, last I was told, those checks aren’t being returned.”

Riehl says the new proposal would require an employee based on one state to work at least a month in another state before needing to pay income taxes there.

A 2015 Bloomberg study on multi-state tax compliance showed that less than half of the companies they surveyed keep up with the regulations of every state where their employees travel.

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Permanent link to this article: http://watchdog.org/293807/congressional-bill-fix-income-tax-confusion-businesses-send-employees-across-state-lines/

Jun 28

Congressional bill would allow private donations to fund abandoned mine redevelopment

A bill filed in the U.S. House would  allow private donations help revitalize the nation’s abandoned mines so they can be used for recreational areas.

U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Illinois, says there’s a hurdle keeping private foundations from renovating abandoned mines across the nation. LaHood said it’s modeled after a program in Pennsylvania, which has done this with a number of its mines. He wants to allow it to happen nationwide

“The reason why they haven’t been able to do that in the past is sometimes there is a liability associated with those abandoned mines,” he said. “These mines have been long abandoned.”

LaHood’s bill, introduced last week, would lift some of the liability on these charitable organizations. He says this will allow them to repurpose the areas for hunting, fishing and other activities.

“If you are a third party group and you want to come in and take over that land, if you meet certain criteria, you’ll be able to do that,” he said.

There is $10 billion worth of abandoned mine sites with no living responsible party across the country. The outstanding abandoned mine land liability in Illinois is $156 million. States are currently responsible for these projects and receive money from a dedicated  fund supported by fees from coal operators.

Members of both conservation groups and the coal industry have expressed support for LaHood’s bill.

“[Trout Unlimited] stands ready to expand our work to clean up abandoned mine pollution, but we need passage of the Community Reclaimer legislation to make it happen,” President Chris Wood said.

“This is vital work that is necessary in helping keep our mines clean, safe, and available for reuse,” said Phil Gonet, president of the Illinois Coal Association.

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Permanent link to this article: http://watchdog.org/293739/congressional-bill-allow-private-donations-fund-abandoned-mine-redevelopment/

Jun 26

Haupt: Only we can cure D.C.’s swine flu

 “It is interesting back in 2011, shortly after the swine-flu epidemic broke out; Congress enacted an earmark moratorium that would supposedly put an end to pork-barrel spending.”

– Jenny Reed

The phrase “pork-barrel spending” derives from the antebellum period. Plantation owners would give barrels of salt pork to their slaves, who fought with each other for a share. The term acquired its derogatory connotation after the American Civil War. References to “pork” became common in Congress as representatives competed for Reconstruction dollars. By 1919 the National Municipal Review started scolding Congress for passing legislative acts and referencing them as “pork barrel bills.” And today it is common practice in Congress. Pork-barrel coupling is politely called earmarks added to the federal budget as “appropriations.”

“Being willing to donate the taxpayers’ money is not the same as being willing to put your own money where your mouth is.”

– Thomas Sowell

Due to an influenza epidemic in 2009, referred to as “swine flu,” people worldwide stopped eating pork. Although this merging of human and animal strains proved non-transmissible by consuming pork, sales tanked. By the end of 2009, the pork industry suffered a $98 million loss, and was forced to hit back. Through costly advertising, they revealed facts to disprove this fiction. They convinced The Center for Disease Control to inform the public they were erroneously informed. The CDC issued an obsequious retort: “We have concluded pork has no relationship to this influenza. We’ll refer to it as H1N1 from now on.” Pork industry spokesman Bill Brier cried foul! “Calling this influenza ‘Swine flu’ damaged us needlessly. We’ve spent millions to convince people these claims were bogus.”

Unlike Congress’ 2011 earmark moratorium on pork-barreling, the pork industry’s reputation was deceptively damaged. But consumers found out “facts” out-weighed fables and this was not just lip service to regain loyalty. On the other hand, Congress has been preaching for years about cutting back on ear-marked favors for everyone. Yet, their claims are shallow promises made to impress a disenchanted electorate. Each year as session opens, they chant the same redundant song. This makes fiscal conservative voters furious for not dropping the hammer on them. But every time their state requests more money to bail them out in a trade for votes, those freeloading off federal dollars cry foul. It’s easier to talk the talk than it is to walk the walk.

“American government has turned into a cow that gives more milk the more it’s kicked in the flanks by special interests.”

– Drew Rusk

Everyone blasts Congress for their inability to control spending. They are more reckless with our tax dollars than a driver is at the local demolition derby. But far few discern the federal government operates from a reactionary podium. They jump higher than a kite flies in an Oklahoma tornado when those most influential to their benefit desire more tax dollars. Their actions reflect the will of special interests and those most venerable to treasury favors. In 2016, there were over 200 earmarks, an increase of almost 50 percent over 2015. This was disconcerting, hitting voters far below the belt!

“Who is in charge? Is it taxpayers or is it the special interest groups?”

– Scott Walker

Pork-barrel spending is alive and well in Washington, D.C., despite their fabled claims of denial. The most frequent argument in favor of earmarks is they help pass critical spending bills. However, in the past, many members of Congress have voted for excessively costly legislation because they have received an earmark for their constituents or an avid party supporter. Don’t let anybody fool you. Congress takes their marching orders from those closest to them. That does not exclude the states eager to endorse federalism in trade for their votes.

“Balanced budget requirements seem more likely to produce accounting ingenuity than genuinely balanced budgets.”

– Thomas Sowell

“Porking-out” on American tax dollars creates more losers than winners. The losers are the public taxpayers while the winners hide in the halls of chamber. This increases the deficit, with additional funding, by attracting votes for costly legislation that barely passes the scrutiny of the CBO. This interferes with democracy by eclipsing the wishes of the voters and fuels distrust in government. It’s hard for voters to determine which legislators benefit and the ones that don’t in a system that openly incorporates “earmarks” referred to as “appropriations.”

“The problem with earmarks is Congress does not tell you the ear they are marking it from is the innocent porker.”

– John Pope

Nothing is more abused than the U.S. Transportation Authority and our states infrastructure. Donald Rumsfeld told us, “you go to war with the transportation system you have, not the system you might want.” We are currently committed to funding highways, light rail train lines, rural roadways, and even monorails that will be obsolete before they are completed. Yet last year, Americans traveled over 4 trillion miles by car, 700 billion by air, and more than 400 billion on the good old-fashioned bus. Passenger rail was a distant last with only 7 billion miles! Yet the transportation lobbyists are chomping at the bit for federal money for state projects nobody wants or will ever use.

“Wishful thinking is not idealism. It is self-indulgence at best and self-exaltation at worst.”

– Thomas Sowell

American taxpayers have great hopes in President Trump, who promised to “trump” the spending of the previous administration. And his new transportation bill demonstrates he is serious despite the wieners and criers in the states. Barack Obama blew over $150 billion in tax dollars on his green energy hoax that netted us a negative energy output. He subsidized solar and windmills, like the ones lying in the sand in the California desert with taxpayer money to the tune of a $40 billion average a year during his rocky tenure. These massive subsidies did nothing to increase the use of solar power or energy production but it sure made Al Gore ecstatic. Blasé taxpayers watched his pet projects fail as 88 percent went belly up.

“Never waste a crisis when it can impact climate change.”

– Hillary Clinton

Pork-barrel spending is nothing more than putting lipstick on a pig and calling it “appropriations.” It will never be contained; just masqueraded and renamed. And while we are preoccupied blaming Congress for not being able to live within their means, they are only reflecting the requests from those who whimper the loudest and do the most for them. Special interest groups and above all state lobbyists are eager to bury us in debt. Today, legislation is so laden with unrelated political handouts that many members of Congress don’t know what they are voting for. And those that do defend this secretive splurging claiming it is for the benefit of the general population.

“You can never bail someone out of trouble without putting someone else into trouble.”

– Dr. Arthur Laffer

Magic Johnson said, “The best doctors and medicine can’t save you if you don’t do what they tell you.” We have witnessed many medial miracles such as vaccinations for ailments like polio and pneumonia. And every year scientists develop new inoculations against influenza. But none have conjured up a cure for government swine flu. Even the best witch doctors and voodoo chiefs are clueless. This is beyond their wisdom. The only cure for swine flu is Election Day. We must elect healthy politicians instead of those infected with swine flu or susceptible to it. Congress’ manifestos to cure swine flu are like putting a Band-Aid on a malignant melanoma. James Madison warned us in 1782 : “I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.”

 

 

 

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Jun 25

Judge Jeanine Pirro Slams Democrats Who Promote Hatred and Violence

Judge Jeanine Pirro argues that the trickling down of hate from many Democrats and many in the media is a danger to us all. While President Trump is focused on jobs, the economy and our safety and security, many

Permanent link to this article: http://www.daytonohioteaparty.com/?p=2247136

Jun 25

GCTP Public Meeting on the Opioid/Heroin Epidemic, Tuesday, June 27, 2017

“The Drug Epidemic in Ohio and What We Need to Do”

The Greene County Tea Party (GCTP) will host Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, Dr. Greta Mayer, CEO, Mental Health & Recovery Board, Judge Beth Cappelli, Fairborn Drug Court,

Permanent link to this article: http://www.daytonohioteaparty.com/?p=2247134

Jun 21

Study: Heroin use costs U.S. more than $51 billion a year

Heroin use and addiction in the U.S. costs more than $51 billion every year, according to a new study released by the University of Illinois at Chicago’s school of Pharmacy.

Researchers came to the figure by tallying the costs of crime and incarceration, lost productivity on the economy, and treatment of not only addiction but of other diseases addicts are more likely to catch, such as HIV, Hepatitis B and C, and tuberculosis. The overall costs includes overdose deaths as well.

Simon Pickard, professor of Pharmacy Systems, Outcomes and Policy at UIC, said the study allows policy makers to explain the value of fighting heroin addiction.

“If we can avoid some of the cost that this epidemic is imposing on us, $50 billion to American society is a huge cost,” Pickard said. “Policy makers understand economics. They can make a case to the taxpayer in economic terms that fighting this epidemic has value for their money.”

The last time a study looked at the cost of the nation’s heroin epidemic was in 2001, using data from the 1990s. Since then, Pickard said there are a number of different factors that drive up the epidemic’s cost, namely medical advances to treat associated diseases and the higher cost of incarceration.

It costs more than $30,000 to incarcerate an individual heroin user, which does little to solve the root cause of the addiction.

The Illinois Department of Public Health estimates that tens of thousands of Illinoisans are abusing opioids. The figure is growing quickly downstate. Pickard said economically depressed areas such as downstate Illinois, which has seen sharp increases in addiction admissions, need the most attention.

“If Southern Illinois has been very hard hit, we need to try to work with those communities and get people help,” he said.

Pickard said the cost of heroin addiction is more expensive to the nation than Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD, the disease commonly associated with smoking.

“It places it among the highest burdens of disease in the country,” he said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says heroin overdoses have more than doubled since 2002.

There is no one cause to the heroin crisis, experts agree. One major factor, many agree, is the overprescribed use of opioid painkillers.

Illinois has recently enacted laws that make the overdose-fighting drug naloxone, commonly known as NarCan, available to emergency responders.

The study can be found here.

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Permanent link to this article: http://watchdog.org/293637/study-heroin-use-costs-u-s-51-billion-year/

Jun 20

Haupt: Fed up with elder abuse

“The Federal Reserve can continue to print more money, but cities and states can’t.”

– Rob Liner

The central bank has crushed the interest rates seniors have relied on for centuries to supplement their incomes and live lives that are meaningful and independent. After slaving in factories, fighting wars for our country and preserving democracy around the globe, the Fed has ruthlessly cut off the income of many of our greatest contributors to democracy and the free world:

“This generation made the sacrifices and paid ahead, so our country could remain free and libertarian.”

– Al Collins

Although America elected a capitalist leader, so far the Federal Reserve has kept interest rates at sub-zero. Capitalists foolishly felt the Fed would raise them if a conservative was elected, but they were swindled again. They felt they’d stop printing $5 billion a day to stimulate a factitiously contrived housing recovery. Barack Obama’s friends at the Fed made his recovery look real yet it was as phony as a $3 bill! This ghoulish Fed stuck future Americans with a debt they’ll never pay off. This was done to finance an illusion of “non-ready-shovel-ready-jobs” since the housing market could perpetrate the phantasm of a recovery to disguise his failures. Now, taxpayers are footing the bill for this hoax the rest of their lives.

“Blessed are the young for they shall inherit the national debt.”

– Herbert Hoover

From the time this “Monster of Jekyll Island” was first created by JP Morgan and his gang of thugs, it has become the most impudent scam in economic history. Facts speak for themselves! It caused wars, boom-bust cycles, inflation, depression and, once in a blue moon, prosperity. The Fed was not a brainchild the government arbitrarily conjured up to watch over our money supply. It was a tool of a cabal of totalitarian bureaucrats who have helped shape the denigration of the 20th and 21st centuries. Developed in reaction to a catastrophic financial panic in 1907, a few independent wealthy plutocrats met in secret meetings with the vile “Mr. Hyde” on Jekyll Island, and adjured a plan with the blessings of Congress, to set the Central Bankers of the world on fire!

“The central bank nearly wrecked the world economy and has created one calamity after another.”

Jeff Tucker

It took these tycoons nine days to invent the beastly Federal Reserve. The motive behind this devil was more than guarding our money supply. They weren’t trying to solve an economic problem; but a political worriment. The U.S. didn’t need a new central bank; they had one in Morgan. He was the aphoristic lynchpin of Wall Street who bankers turned to when trouble arose. He was spirited, powerful and vain with an apostolic ability to persuade anyone to do anything. The economic future of the world’s greatest power was subservient to his wealth and his inflated ego. When these henchmen left Jekyll, they had taken control of all U.S. money. They have been playing Russian Roulette with it since then.

“He who controls the money supply of a nation controls the nation.”

– James Garfield

The Fed has proven they can screw up a junkyard without ever trying. Their hidden agenda when Obama reigned was to allow him to sky-rocket our national debt by reducing the interest rates to lower our borrowing costs. That raised the national debt higher than the Goodyear blimp flies on Super Bowl Sunday! And this activist Fed didn’t care about the harm they were doing, since elders will be gone when the economic tsunami hits! Because liberal progressivism has influenced every government institution in America, they have chosen sides. And don’t expect them to change now.  They will remain there until it benefits them to sell out to the other guys. This nightmare is alive and well.

“Give me control of a nation’s money and I care not who makes its laws.”

– Mayer Rothschild

During Obama’s tenure, the era of virtual-nothing interest rates was devastating to senior citizens. It was a federal offense: “The Fed Elder Abuse Act.” You’d think now that we have a 70-year-old head of the Fed, Janet Yellen, she’d have sympathy for seniors struggling to survive? But that’s a pipe dream. When you pay someone $199,700 a year who is not concerned about maintaining a house, paying rent, buying groceries, health insurance, and fuel, why worry about others? She obviously agrees with Marie Antoinette when she told the peasants, “Let them eat cake.” And that is Federal Elder Abuse in its quintessence.

“Elder abuse is a slap in the face of all morality.”

– Ellen Waters

The Fed has turned its back on reality. From our first colonies, we have had an investment balance that was the adrenal gland of our economy. People put money in stockings, buried it in cans, kept it with trusted store keepers and later deposited it in our 1st post offices before we had banks. They found innovative ways to stash their money for a time when it was needed. America was built by savers who over-saved and under-consumed so they could survive with a well-earned retirement. It was over-saving that made America financially and economically healthy. Now seniors must say:

“I learned to seek my happiness by limiting my desires, and I have remained content.”

– Jay Strong

The Fed’s blitzkrieg against the elderly is more abusive than anyone will admit. The banks used to give seniors a “living-interest rate” on their savings and trusted them to reinvest their money. This gave them both a good return on their investment, which was healthy. Now that has gone the way of the corset, the infamous Chevy Corvair, and the Dick Clark Show. Seniors, who used to rely on safe investments to live in security, now “pay” for the challenge of letting the Fed steal their money. And the Fed treats them as 2nd class citizens with their hands out! They just tell them to get an EBT card and a free cell phone. Now:

“He who will not economize will have to agonize.”

– Confucius

Today, pension plans are so grossly under-funded, seniors are being told they are in danger of losing that one last remnant of security they had worked for all of their lives. And this is Fed Elder Abuse at its pinnacle! Insurance companies depend on interest rates to survive. They’re sucking air due to ground-zero rates. The companies insuring long-term health care are raising their premiums higher than an addict who just got a fix. Because the Fed has artificially kept the Consumer Price Index so low, seniors aren’t getting increases in Medicare or Social Security stipends. We need to pass the Federal Elder Abuse Act soon, before all of our seniors are forced to take jobs as greeters at the local Walmart!

“These days, you’ve ‘gotta’ milk a dollar out of every dime.”

– Gayle Forman

Those approaching retirement have three choices: save more, work longer, or tighten their belts; and pray. What happens when the whole country is faced with this dilemma? This is why most are wondering how the Fed was ever allowed to abuse its duty to guard and protect our money supply? Why have they become an army for the progressives? How can they justify their incompetent illogic by punishing seniors so young progressives can buy homes paid for with the pensions and security dollars of our elder patriots? Should older Americans be forced to live out their lives barrennessly because of Federal Elder Abuse? “It’s always easier to spend other people’s money than yours.”

The Fed has abused our seniors too long. It’s time to expose this heinous crime! Robbing them of their savings, taking away the security they once cherished, to give it to the federal government to make these villains into heroes should be a felony. That’s a nefarious crime that must be stopped! We need to pass the Federal Elder Abuse Act now. Our society has a duty to pay back those who have paid forward and repay them for their loyalty to the USA.  “To leave our elders stranded on an economic island of despair is a ‘holocaust’ for the purpose of generation cleansing”! (Jane Kline)

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Permanent link to this article: http://watchdog.org/293661/haupt-fed-elder-abuse/

Jun 19

Supreme Court’s ruling on Wisconsin mapmaking case could impact gerrymandering across U.S.

There could be changes coming to how Illinois’ legislative maps are drawn every ten years with the U.S. Supreme Court agreeing to take up a Wisconsin case on the very issue.

Longtime Democratic Party activist Bill Whitford brought the case Gill v. Whitford, which challenges Wisconsin’s 2011 State Assembly map as unconstitutional. He said his state’s apportion scheme denies residents the ability to have real choice at the ballot box.

The Seventh Circuit Court found the map violates the constitution because it gives one party more power than the other. The case was then petitioned to the nation’s high court, which announced Monday it will hear it in November.

A ruling next spring could impact not just Wisconsin, but other states with similar issues, including Illinois.

In Wisconsin, Republican majorities draw political boundaries to favor Republicans. In Illinois, Democrats have that control. The practice is known as gerrymandering.

The Campaign Legal Center (CLC) filed a brief to the Supreme Court to affirm the lower court’s ruling in favor of Whitford.

CLC President Trevor Potter said the effect in Illinois is clear.

“More than 60 percent of the state legislative seats in the general election were uncontested, [with] no Republican running against those Democrats because they were such Democratic districts,” Potter said.

The same was the case for some Republican-dominated districts where there wasn’t a Democrat challenger in the most recent general election.

There could be challengers in party primaries, but Potter said that can make things more politically polarized, “which I think makes it much harder to have legislators do what the voters say they want, which is to come up and solve problems and figure out how to talk to each other and compromise.”

Paul Smith, lead plaintiffs attorney for the Wisconsin map case, said if the outcome is in their favor, there could be a lawsuit challenging Illinois’ map-making process using the ruling from the Supreme Court.

“And they would argue that the new legal standard is such that the Illinois map doesn’t measure up constitutionally and they would have a pretty good argument that it should be fixed before the next round of redistricting comes along,” Smith said.

Potter said the crux of the case in Wisconsin, as it is in Illinois and other states, is politicians pick their voters, not the other way around.

“What we have in this situation is essentially a theft of that right by whichever party is in power at that moment,” Potter said.

Smith said a victory for the plaintiffs would “be to really affect the way the legislators in all of the states draw their maps next time in 2021 because they will know there’s a much-enhanced risk of the map being thrown out and they would much more likely try to minimize the degree of bias in the maps. We’re hopeful that within the next decade, we could have a dramatically changed playing field.”

Last year, a citizen-led group in Illinois collected over half a million signatures to get a question on the general election ballot to change the state constitution, allowing for an independent commission to oversee the map-making process. The measure failed a court challenge brought by an attorney with connections to House Speaker Michael Madigan and the Illinois Democratic Party.

“Illinois suffers greatly from gerrymandered, partisan-drawn legislative districts that result in a lack of fair, competitive elections,” Brad McMillan, Vice-Chair of CHANGE Illinois, the group that took over for the effort to change how Illinois’ maps are drawn, said. “The highest court in America could establish clear constitutional limits on partisan map-drawing that could have applicability to Illinois and other states.”

The national group Patriotic Millionaires put out a statement Monday supporting the plaintiffs in the Wisconsin case.

“Too many Americans have had the key to their power — their votes — stolen by the very system that was instituted to secure their rights,” Morris Pearl, chairman of the group, said.  “Partisan gerrymandering has distorted our political system and disenfranchised voters for far too long.”

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Permanent link to this article: http://watchdog.org/293659/supreme-courts-ruling-wisconsin-mapmaking-case-impact-gerrymandering-across-u-s/

Jun 16

Group seeks transparency in high-stakes Puerto Rico bankruptcy case

A group of investigative journalists in Puerto Rico is suing the congressionally created board that acts as the island territory’s representative in bankruptcy proceedings, claiming they are failing to be transparent in their financial dealings.

The stakes are high for plenty of Americans, as Puerto Rico’s debt has far-reaching implications in a number of financial sectors in the U.S. as well as for privately held public debt in states like Illinois.

The Puerto Rico Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI) filed suit earlier this month against the Financial Oversight and Management Board to compel the disclosure of key documents in the bankruptcy case.

CPI alleges the board won’t share information that would reveal the commonwealth’s financial standing and also won’t release financial disclosures and conflict-of-interest forms submitted by the seven members of the board to the U.S. Department of Treasury and White House.

CPI also said the board won’t disclose documents and other communication between itself and the Puerto Rican government and/or federal agencies. It claims, as well, that the board won’t reveal what contracts have been granted to private entities or the minutes of its meetings.

Congress recommended, and President Barack Obama officially selected, the members of the oversight board in 2016 under the new Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), passed and signed into law that year to deal with the territory’s mounting debt.

Puerto Rico owes an estimated $74 billion to creditors on the island and the mainland U.S. and has pension debt swelling above $40 billion. PROMESA created a process that combines elements of Chapter 9 and 11 bankruptcies, which will allow U.S. owned territories to adjust their debts and can be a future blueprint for future bankruptcy cases.

The U.S. Virgin Islands, for example, has debt of around $2 billion, and will watch this case with interest. States that have hefty pension liabilities – and that’s most of them, these days – might seek similar remedies if their situations worsen.

Under PROMESA, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts appointed in May U.S. District Court Judge Laura Swain of the Southern District of New York to oversee the case.

The oversight board will renegotiate Puerto Rico’s debts with the island’s creditors and then present a debt adjustment plan to the court for approval.

PROMESA gives wide latitude to the oversight board, requiring its members to develop a plan to allow Puerto Rico to achieve fiscal responsibility in a manner that may not necessarily be in the territory’s best interests – even allowing the board to override the island’s laws and elected officials’ actions. PROMESA also provides legal immunity to the oversight board members for all of their actions under the act.

A financial advisor involved in the negotiations told Watchdog.org that given the governance power provided to the oversight board and the financial stakes for American taxpayers, it’s important the members conduct their work in an open manner.

“Democracy and good governance demands that decisions be made in a transparent manner – officials should be held accountable for their actions,” the advisor said. “Monumental decisions that will affect Puerto Rican citizens, the U.S. taxpayer and a $4 trillion municipal bond market are being taken under cover of darkness, with declarations of what is being decided, but not disclosure of how or why decisions are being made, or who exactly is responsible for making those decisions.”

CPI contends that the Constitution of Puerto Rico fully applies to the oversight board, however, because the commonwealth covers its expenses and the board isn’t defined as a federal entity under PROMESA.

“As expressed by the Puerto Rico Supreme Court, access to information constitutes an important component of a democratic society, in which the citizenry can issue an informed judgment regarding the actions of the government,” reads CPI’s lawsuit.

“The right to redress grievances is also implicated, in that without knowledge of the facts, one cannot judge, nor demand remedies with respect to grievances against the government either through judicial or electoral processes.”

The first hearing on the bankruptcy case was May 17 in what’s expected to be a lengthy process – and it’s one Americans shouldn’t ignore.

NBC News pointed out that because Puerto Rico’s bonds have been tax exempt since 1917, American investors have flocked to them, which puts billions of dollars in mutual funds at risk. The outlet noted that more than 40 percent of the Rochester Maryland Municipal Bond Fund and Rochester Virginia Municipal Bond Fund are invested in Puerto Rican bonds, potentially hammering public-sector retirees.

Investment companies that are heavily invested in Puerto Rico could collapse if they aren’t repaid, which could trigger a domino effect similar to the subprime mortgage crisis.

Swain ordered Puerto Rico to file a creditor matrix by June 30 and file a list of all of its creditors by Aug. 30.

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Permanent link to this article: http://watchdog.org/293640/group-seeks-transparency-high-stakes-puerto-rico-bankruptcy-case/

Jun 13

Forbes: New York Shakespeare Festival received $30M from taxpayers

New York City’s Public Theater “Shakespeare in the Park” production of “Julius Caesar” sparked political drama for its on-stage assassination of a Trump-like Roman ruler. Before the performance Donald Trump Jr. asked via a tweet, “I wonder how much of this ‘art’ is funded by taxpayers?”

Here’s the answer to Trump Jr’s question: Data at OpenTheBooks.com shows that over $4.1 million in federal, state and city grants funded the New York Shakespeare Festival (NYSF) – the parent company to Public Theater and its production, Shakespeare in the Park – over the past three years. The total amount since 2009?  Nearly $30 million.

After Trump, Jr’s tweet, the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) was quick to clarify it had not funded this particular Shakespeare in the Park performance. However, the NEA disclosed its $630,000 in grants to NYSF since 2009. The NEA also disclosed that it continued grantmaking to NYSF’s other Public Theater project – “New York Voices” at Joe’s Pub – giving $25,000 in February.

By any estimation, NYSF is cashflow and asset-rich. In the latest year of IRS disclosed data (ending 8/2015), the non-profit had a financial asset base of $53 million; saved $22.4 million in cash-on-hand and invested securities; received nearly $28 million in contributions – $106 million over the past five years; and earned total revenues of $40 million.

Adam Andrzejewski is the founder and chief executive officer of OpenTheBooks.com. To read his full column at Forbes.com, click here.

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Permanent link to this article: http://watchdog.org/293579/forbes-new-york-shakespeare-festival-received-30m-taxpayers/

Jun 12

Haupt: Your governor, your guardian of the 10th Amendment

“The Tenth Amendment said the federal government is supposed to only have powers that were explicitly given in the Constitution but I think the federal government’s forgotten that.”

– David Mills

Our founders penned the Tenth Amendment out of necessity. It was hindsight after a summer of impassioned debates at the Convention of 1787. The adoption of our Constitution was opposed by many influential patriots including Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry and Sam Adams. They were in disaccord over the powers of the central government and its ability to subvert the will and the rights of the states. They persistently argued the Constitution would eventually lead to an over-powering central state which would destroy the individual liberty of the people and the legal integrity of the states. Many dubiously tagged as Anti-Federalists concurred with Jefferson: “When the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force.”

The Tenth Amendment was a necessary bone to toss at the liberty hungry patriots with the Bill of Rights. This reaffirmed their understanding the Constitution guaranteed all powers not granted to the central government were reserved to the states and to “them.” The Tenth Amendment clearly emphasized the limited powers delegated to central and state governments. This helped quiet the storm against ratification by most colonies. The highly susceptible patriots agreed this was the best insurance they could get to be free and continue exercising their sovereignty. They were comforted when Thomas Jefferson echoed: “All authority existing outside this domain belongs to the people.”

Since ratification established a bond of states under federal oversight, two issues have generated constant debate: What’s the true nature of the union? What powers, privileges, duties and controls does the Constitution actually grant the central government and reserve to the states? As a result of these heated disparities, the South engaged in a bloody civil war to put an end to this. But that only opened a bigger can of worms. And after the war, this has been fiercely disputed each time D.C. exercises federalism over our sacred sovereignty to reshape our nation’s political, social, and economic anatomy for their advantage.

“The plan of the convention aimed only at a partial union or consolidation. The states would clearly retain all sovereignty as before.”

– Alexander Hamilton

Federalism has reared its ugly head for decades under different masks and disguises. From 1789 to 1901, we had Dual Federalism with little collaboration between state and federal governments. After 1901, we lost liberty under Cooperative Federalism, marked by increased collusion between all levels of government. We witnessed the national income tax and an influx of federal programs that burden us today. Between 1960 and 1968, Creative Federalism was the beast that ballooned under Johnson’s Great Society. It shifted many powers from the states to the federal government through dependent-aid systems. Today we are fighting Contemporary federalism, characterized by shifts in intergovernmental grants, the growth of forced unfunded mandates, over regulations, and excessive control by Washington.

“Federalism should maintain our unity, not destroy it.”

– Alyn Lun

Though the progressives have established a firm position on the national political battlefront through continual growth of federalism, the complexion of our individual state governments proves we have had enough. Over half of our states are composed of conservative legislatures and governors in an effort to stop runaway federalism. Since Obama took office, Republicans captured control of 27 state chambers that Democrats held after the 2008 elections. The GOP controls the most legislative seats it has held since the founding of the party. Unpopular policies by progressive politicians have not gone unnoticed, and there’s a growing trend in our states to isolate themselves from the evils of federalism. They’re fighting back on Election Day.

Yes, “Elections have consequences.”

– Obama

The governor’s chair is now increasingly important in our states because it is the most powerful office in our legislative caucuses with clout, control and visibility. It is considered vital to isolate the states from federalism. While everyone talks about the presidency, American governorship gets little attention. Since all government is local, many voters think of their mayors and commissioners as those most affluent. They consider the governor as another figurehead stewarding their state. They seldom know anything about their syllabus before Election Day. They fail to perceive it is he or she who sets the states political and social agenda for the legislature and is the ultimate shield that stands between encroachments of federalism in their lives.

“A wise governor told me a long time ago, political capital you don’t get more of by keeping it. You get it by using it.”

– Scott Walker

Conservative state governments around the U.S. have made progress reforming civil service and beating back public sector union power. They are articulating a coherent agenda that satisfies the political center, as well as the moderate left. The red tide in our state governments has brought the GOP to its most commanding position in state governments in years. But it could shift at any time if the people elect the wrong type of conservative who is a mere party politician rather than one who defends their values and independent state culture. And this is not as hypothetical as one might think, considering the strength of the political party machine. It is that machine that bestows their blessings on a potential primary candidate that has the greatest influence on picking winners and losers.

“The history of all hitherto existing societies is the history of political control.”

– Karl Marx

While watching the apocalyptic response to Donald Trump’s victory in so many liberal precincts around the U.S., governors and legislatures in many states realize they now have the headroom to raise state income by lowering business taxes. By taking advantage of cutting back the demands federal government placed on them in the past to toe the line from D.C. or get their entitlements cut, the states can now generate their own creative revenue. By replacing many federal services and benefits they had to pay the government for one-shoe-fits-all mismanaged programs as an agenda for social engineering, they can do it themselves. They no longer have to give the feds huge sums of money and beg to get a portion back by following their rules. They are no longer held hostage by the federalists.

“Governors compete. States compete. People and businesses decide.”

– Doug Ducey

For decades, true conservatives have preached of returning more power to the states, knowing they could do more, and do it more efficiently than Washington. Blue states have supported federalism for years. But red states have fought back to maintain the dignity of the 10th amendment which is our sacred cow. The 10th Amendment is not a sword that cuts both ways. We either govern by it or federalism will consume us. And the governor is the key ingredient in defending us against federal extortion of our rights and liberty. Therefore, it is preeminent we judge every candidate for governor on their legislative history and how they have supported the ethos of the 10th and its proclamations.

Machiavelli wrote: “It is much more secure to be feared than to be loved.” And that is the way the feds have been governing under progressive domination. And if we do not take advantage of our conservative administration in D.C. and its brand of politics, we will forever be wondering why we lost our sovereignty.

“Washington, D.C. is full of think tanks, theoreticians and advocacy groups. Governors are the ones whose feet are on the ground.”

Former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen

If Republicans in state capitols can’t articulate a coherent governing agenda that satisfies the political center, the red tide that has brought the GOP to its most commanding position in state governments in a hundred years could begin to shift.

When states and local communities take the lead on policy, the people are that much closer to the policymakers, and policymakers are that much more accountable to the people. Few Americans have spoken with their president; many have spoken with their mayor.

Up until the outbreak of the Civil War, the federal government for the most part minded their business and kept their grubby hands out of our states’ constitutional privileges.

During the pre-federalism period, the country waged a war for independence and established a confederation form of government that created a league of sovereign states. Deficiencies in the Articles of Confederation prompted its repeal and the ratification of a new Constitution, creating a federal system of government comprised of a national government and states. Almost immediately upon its adoption, issues concerning state sovereignty and the supremacy of federal authority were hotly debated and ultimately led to the Civil War.

The period from 1789 to 1901 has been termed the era of Dual Federalism. It has been characterized as an era during which there was little collaboration between the national and state governments. Cooperative Federalism is the term given to the period from 1901 to 1960. This period was marked by greater cooperation and collaboration between the various levels of government. It was during this era that the national income tax and the grant-in-aid system were authorized in response to social and economic problems confronting the nation. The period from 1960 to 1968 was called Creative Federalism by President Lyndon Johnson’s administration. Johnson’s Creative Federalism as embodied in his Great Society program, was, by most scholars’ assessments, a major departure from the past. It further shifted the power relationship between governmental levels toward the national government through the expansion of a grant-in-aid system and the increasing use of regulations. Contemporary federalism, the period from 1970 to the present, has been characterized by shifts in the intergovernmental grant system, the growth of unfunded federal mandates, concerns about federal regulations, and continuing disputes over the nature of the federal system.

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Permanent link to this article: http://watchdog.org/293574/haupt-governor-guardian-10th-amendment/

Jun 12

U.S. Supreme Court asked to take case challenging forced union dues

The nation’s high court is being asked to take up the issue of whether government employees should be forced to pay dues and fees to government unions.

The case Janus v. AFSCME originated in Illinois. Mark Janus and several other Illinois state employees say they don’t want to be forced to pay union dues. Their case was struck down by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in March, which opens up the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case.

National Right To Work Foundation represents the plaintiffs. They filed a petition Tuesday asking the Supreme Court to hear the case.

Foundation President Mark Mix said this is about compelled speech vs. free speech.

Mix said what’s happened is there’s “a private institution in between taxpayers and elected officials and [the union] is able to speak for government employees that, heretofore, never asked for, never wanted, and in fact stand back and say, ‘I don’t want you to speak for me,’ as [plaintiffs] have said in this case,” Mix said.

An outcome in their favor would be good for public sector workers across the country, Mix said.

“If the court takes it and rules the way we think they should and the way we hope they will, then government employees across the country could no longer be compelled to pay dues or fees to a union to keep their job,” Mix said.

Multiple messages seeking comment from the national AFSCME union were not returned.

Back in March, when the case was struck down by the 7th Circuit, AFSCME President Lee Saunders said in a statement that if plaintiffs win, it would “make it harder for public service workers like teachers, firefighters, nurses, and public safety workers to speak up together for better public services, stronger communities, and wages and protections that benefit all Americans.”

Mix said Saunders “might be damaged by it because he has a pretty neat business model right now where he can compel people to pay him as a condition of them working for government.”

Many states don’t have exclusive union monopoly bargaining privileges, Mix said.

“The fact is, this is a question of union monopoly power and further, to add insult to injury, while we give them the right to – ‘quote, unquote’ – speak for workers that don’t want them to speak for them, we also unfortunately gave them the privilege to compel people to pay fees for taking away their right to speak for themselves,” he said.

“Saunders and the bosses at AFSCME would be troubled by this, but the workers who wanted to voluntarily join the union, participate with the union, could all do that” if the case goes in the plaintiffs’ favor, Mix said.

The plaintiffs are also represented by Liberty Justice Center.

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Permanent link to this article: http://watchdog.org/293555/u-s-supreme-court-asked-take-case-challenging-forced-union-dues/

Jun 11

Big Media and Many Democrats Continue Deception About President Trump and Russian Influence

The Russians did work to influence the 2016 election, as they try to influence every election, but there is zero evidence that the Russians were able to change even a single vote! And even Democrat Alan Dershowitz recognizes that …

Permanent link to this article: http://www.daytonohioteaparty.com/?p=2247114

Jun 05

Hauft: Buying loyalty to sell your agenda

“Liberalism is spread by those who feel the world owes them a living, not by those who work for it.

Those who work for every dollar they bank have nothing to gain from being a liberal.”

– Jay Kites

It is easy to see how liberals think backwards from observing how they employ reverse logic to reach their conclusions. This is the way a lot of people justify spending money when they come home and tell their spouse, “I bought this because was 50 percent off.” Yet they fail to realize they spent 50 percent more than they could afford. This was a common theme in sitcoms across the land. Lucile Ball would come home and tell Desi what a great deal she got on a coffee maker when they already had four. He would then spill out his infamous, “Lucy, you got some ‘splainin’ to do!”

“Politicians use reverse logic to justify facts to reach their reverse conclusions.”

– Art Snider

Liberal thinking works backwards and concentrates on flawed conclusions of spend now and pay later if and when you can. Although many Americans employ this every time they use a credit card, they know one day soon they will face the music when the bill is due. But this isn’t a factor when a progressive makes the purchase. This is how Obama used baseline under budgeting to kill our free market. Instead of announcing they were reducing their increase in spending from 5 percent to 4 percent, they claimed they were reducing it by 20 percent. By increasing the budget astronomically each year, and announcing how much they are cutting it back, this fatally flawed system of reporting to the public is why the nation’s debt exploded.

“I am proud that I never hide from the truth.”

– Barack Obama

Democrats decried borrowing for the Iraq/Afghanistan wars but have been using huge quantities of taxpayer dollars to prop up financial markets. That’s why Wall Street is booming while the economy is languishing in a pseudo recovery. Their unreal “economic stimuli” and “quantitative easing” spending put America’s children into debt before they were born. They will be indentured servants to government. Children born this year will see their share of the public debt burden grow by more than $100,000, to over $142,000, by the time they graduate from college due to the debt the Trump administration inherited. This is called public debt, which means the government sold this debt in credit markets to investors in the U.S. and abroad. Progressives love to spend money they do not have.

“He is a fool who spends what he does not have when the bill become due later.”

– Sol Seine

When Obama was elected, they knew they had to do something to make him “King for the day” and the easiest why to do this was to pump $6 billion a day into the housing market. For the first time in history, the progressives worked with an activist Fed and wheeled and dealed with them to print all of the money their presses would handle. Pumping monopoly money in to a broken economy they created with government giveaways created a false recovery to replace an equitable free market natural rehabilitation. Since this industry employed a lot of people, they figured they’d keep doing this until someone pulled the plug on the money machine, or it broke down and the motor wore out.

“To win elections, politicians have promised practically endless government spending and covered up the cost, leaving generations of taxpayers obligated to pay off the public debt. They know that that is wrong. But nobody in either party is very anxious to stop doing this.”

– David Milpass

There are many things that liberal progressives do that are backwards to economic reality. They truly believe that Americans are actually equivalent to people of the dark ages of the past. They express equivalencies that are contrary to righteous morality. If you need just a few examples to comprehend this, think about how they equate modern-day bankers with money changers in the Hebrew temples during the life of Christ. They chastise today’s successful capitalists and compare them with the Robber Barons, feudal lords, and pirates of the days of old. They are worse than Robin Hood, an English Saxon who fought the oppressive taxation of the Norman King John. Not only do they believe that stealing from the rich is morally right to equalize an unequal society that is crying for handouts and free things, they also use trickery in accounting and maneuver the budget office to justify what they are doing with ludicrous inaccurate reporting.

“A long-lasting, sustained economy will never be achieved through massive government spending programs.”

– Stan Graves

Progressives believe capital punishment is wrong and defend the lives of convicted murderers. Yet they see nothing wrong with spending tax dollars to build abortion clinics in minority neighborhoods that threaten to wipe out entire ethnic populations. This is not only a waste of lives and impeding the natural rights of man. This is spending our taxpayer’s money to kill new citizens so they can import undocumented workers who will perform for less. And, of course, since the workers are not here legally, they do not pay taxes and the government uses our tax dollars to supplement their standard of living. When they need to create more government dependence, they reach out to these workers and others considered socially deprived, and advertise how easy it is to get food stamps and free cell phones at U.S. taxpayers’ expense.

“The left wants everyone to focus on the deficit so they can take us away from the focus on spending as a percentage of the economy.”

– Grover Norquist

Progressives subvert everything righteous in order to justify their beliefs. They continue to rewrite history to make villains the heroes and heroes the villains. Past conservative leaders like Ronald Reagan, Douglas MacArthur, Holmes Tuttle, Henry Regnery, and Anthony Fisher are condemned for their dedicated efforts to protect the American way. They deconstruct the teachings of Jesus Christ and other great religious moralists of the past from Saviors to Satans to convert more people to the religion they created that is the religion of the far left. This religion has no commandments, ethics, morals or principals other than those that pontiff their own party beliefs. Progressivist liberalism is now a religion, spending money now to build their party with no regard for the future.

“Given the religious nature and the emotional power of Leftist values, Jews and Christians on the Left often derive their values from the Left more than from their religion.”

– Dennis Prager

The journey back to American reality will not be easy. It took years to destroy it. Like Rome, it was not built in day. It will be a constant battle for Americans to resist the carrots dangled in front of them when the people are making the necessary adjustments and even some sacrifices to restore America to its greatness! So we will have to remain vigilant and aggressive in keeping the Left from destroying Trump’s efforts to rebuild the American Dream. It will be enticing for some to jump off the bandwagon and fall backwards if they hear enough liberal propaganda about how many social programs Trump is trying to reform. Even though he is a tough guy with great business savory, he will be labeled incompetent for wishing to only spend what we have and not what we can borrow.

We must resist the temptations of the past administrations to buy our loyalty and live within our means. The loyalty of a patriot is earned not bought.

“Loyalty cannot be blueprinted. It cannot be produced on an assembly line. In fact, it cannot be manufactured at all, for its origin is the human heart, the center of self-respect and human dignity. It is a force which leaps into being only when conditions are exactly right for it – and it is a force very sensitive to betrayal.”

– Maurice R. Franks

 

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Permanent link to this article: http://watchdog.org/293493/hauft-buying-loyalty-sell-agenda/

Jun 01

Fed report: Obamacare exchange insurance costs double in past four years

The latest look at Obamacare prices show insurance through the marketplace costs more than twice as much now as it did in 2013.

New numbers from the the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services show health insurance in Illinois that cost $248 a month in 2013, now costs $517 dollars. That’s a 108 percent increase.

Trouble is, State Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford, said, most insurance through the Obamacare exchange costs a lot more than $517.

“We warned that this was going to happen,” Syverson said. “When you have a small pool of people, you’re going to have adverse selections and you’re going to have losses that are far worse than Washington projected.”

A number of health insurance companies have said they’ve lost millions of dollars on the plans offered on the exchange. Blue Cross Blue Shield Of Kansas City left Missouri’s Obamacare exchange last week after company executives said they lost $100 million.

Syverson said it will be a bit before Illinois insurers make the same kind of choices. When they do, thousand of people could lose access to care.

But Syverson said many Illinoisans who have Obamacare insurance already have lost access.

“In DeKalb County, there is not one provider that is in the Obamacare network. No one,” Syverson said. “In Rockford, third largest city in Illinois, one hospital and only about 10 percent of providers are willing to see Obamacare patients.”

The HHS numbers put Illinois in the middle of the rate hike pack. New Jersey saw a 12 percent price spike over the last four years, while Alabama saw a 222 percent increase.

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Permanent link to this article: http://watchdog.org/293462/fed-report-obamacare-exchange-insurance-costs-double-past-four-years/

May 28

Undercover Video Reveals the Truth about the Abortion Industry

prolife heart-baby-feet-clipart-_672-616An undercover video made at a National Abortion Federation conference leaves no doubt that people in the abortion industry know precisely what they’re doing when they kill innocent, helpless unborn babies! It also reveals that the selling of baby …

Permanent link to this article: http://www.daytonohioteaparty.com/?p=2247101

May 28

Ohio Senate picks up bill barring undocumented workers’ comp elligibility

Undocumented workers would be barred from receiving workers’ compensation benefits in budget legislation passed by the Ohio House of Representatives and now in the state Senate.

The bill includes an amendment that would require the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation to verify a worker’s status when they apply for workers’ compensation. It also would punish employers that knowingly hire undocumented workers.

Bill co-sponsor Rep. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, said there are about 8 million undocumented workers in the American workforce and that workers in the farming and construction industries, two jobs that result in a high volume of workers’ compensation claims, make up about 40 percent of the American workforce.

“So it stands to reason if that is the case nationally, things would not be much different in Ohio,” Seitz told Watchdog.org.

Mike Shields, a researcher with Policy Matters Ohio,  said that undocumented workers don’t necessarily have a high number of claims, but that the industries they work in have a high risk of injury.

“One of the interesting things about it is, folks who are undocumented tend to work in industries more injury prone, things like agriculture, food processing is a big one,” Shields said. “So it is true that they’re working in roles that are more likely to result in their injury and, of course, more likely for them to need workers’ compensation, but it’s also true that this is based on the type of role not the type of person.”

Seitz has tried to pass stand-alone versions of this amendment several times since 2009 but has not had success. Adding this provision onto the budget has given it a fighting chance as it passed in the House 65-29. He believes it will have a positive impact on the state.

“To the extent that claimants are denied workers’ comp benefits if they are undocumented workers and to the extent that we have, through the direct right of action provision, encouraged employers to adhere to federal law in assiduously checking out those they would hire, those two things will have a salutary effect not only financially but, more importantly, on reducing the number of undocumented workers that are in Ohio,” Seitz said.

Financially, Seitz won’t know the true impact until he sees how well the bureau is able to enforce the law.

Almost all agree that when dealing with undocumented workers, it is nearly impossible to get accurate numbers. So, nobody really knows how big the problem of undocumented workers claiming workers’ compensation is and how big of an impact this provision will have.

Melissa Vince of the press and media department of the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation told Watchdog.org that the state doesn’t track workers’ compensation claims by status and this provision was not something they had requested be put in the budget.

Shields thinks the bill could end up placing a bigger financial burden on taxpayers. If injured employees aren’t able to get financial help from their employers, they will end up using public health care.

“When someone goes to the emergency room with an injury they get treated, you know, hospitals are required by law to treat them and they don’t always get fully compensated for the care that they provide, so when we take away this protection it creates an obligation on the part of taxpayers, not on the part of the employer who has benefitted from the workers’ work,” Shields said.

Bill opponent Rep. Dan Ramos, D-Lorain, called this bill “a solution seeking a problem,” saying the bill will incentivize employers to hire undocumented workers.

“We are actively making it cheaper for unscrupulous employers in the state of Ohio to hire undocumented workers than to hire citizens,” Ramos said.

Employers won’t have incentives to make sure their employees are working in safe environments if they don’t have to provide workers’ compensation, Ramos said.

“There’s a sort of, I would say, recklessness about the fact that this is harmful, of course, to undocumented folks, that’s obvious, but it’s also harmful to workers in general because of the incentive that it creates for employers selectively to hire people who are undocumented and aren’t entitled to protection,” Shields said.

The budget now has to be passed in the Senate. Seitz said he’s been talking to members of the Senate to make sure they understand the provision.

Opponents like Shields fear that because the budget must be passed, this amendment is more likely to also be passed than it has in years past.

Sen. President Larry Obhof, R-Medina, said in a statement to Watchdog.org, “I think the more important question is if you have employers who are knowingly employing undocumented workers, should there be consequences there too, what’s the problem that we are trying to solve here?”

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Permanent link to this article: http://watchdog.org/293414/ohio-senate-picks-bill-barring-undocumented-workers-comp-elligibility/

May 27

President Trump’s Foreign Trip Shows American Leadership is Back!

Trump April 2017Most conservatives believe that President Donald Trump’s foreign trip has sent a strong message that American leadership is back! He made it clear that once again our friends in the world can count on the United States to lead

Permanent link to this article: http://www.daytonohioteaparty.com/?p=2247097

May 25

McCaleb: Public pensions in some ways mirror Madoff’s Ponzi scheme

“In a world full of lies, the most dangerous ones are those we tell ourselves.” 

― Diana B. Henriques

HBO debuted its original movie on Ponzi-schemer Bernie Madoff over the weekend. Based on Henriques’ book “The Wizard of Lies,” the film (and book) tells the chilling tale of Madoff’s fraudulent investment scheme in which more than 2,200 people lost almost $20 billion in retirement savings.

That is a lot of victims losing a lot of money.

But it’s peanuts compared to what public pensioners – in Illinois, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and elsewhere – stand to lose if drastic reform measures aren’t taken soon. More on this in a moment.

A Ponzi scheme is a form of fraud in which early investors see quality returns, not because their money was invested wisely as the investors are led to believe, but because new investors fund the payouts. The cycle perpetuates itself – more and more new investors are needed to continue to fund previous investors’ returns at an unbeknownst higher risk to themselves – until it inevitably collapses.

In Madoff’s case, the collapse occurred in 2008, after almost 30 years, when the housing bubble burst and the economy was sent into the Great Recession. Simplistically, far fewer new investors could be found, and prior investors, many hurting because of the turn in the economy, asked for their full investments back.

Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison after pleading guilty to multiple counts of fraud. His victims suffered untold losses.

What’s the point of my Madoff history lesson?

A strong case can be made that public pensions are eerily similar to a Ponzi scheme, and that a similar collapse in some of the most underfunded systems in the country might be inevitable. That would mean an untold number of new victims that would make the Madoff case seem relatively minor by comparison.

The difference between a Madoff-like Ponzi scheme and the public pension crisis is that government is complicit in the latter, and that dedicated public servants, state retirees and taxpayers are the ones at risk.

I think we all can agree that taxpayers and state workers who have spent their careers serving residents, teachers included, don’t deserve that.

Doubt that will happen? Let’s start with Puerto Rico.

The U.S. territory in the eastern Caribbean declared a form of bankruptcy (after Congressional approval) earlier this month because of massive debt that included $50 billion in underfunded pensions. In a story headlined “In Puerto Rico, pension fund works like a Ponzi scheme,” the New York Times reported the following:

“Puerto Rico, where the money to pay teachers’ pensions is expected to run out next year, has become a particularly extreme example of a problem facing states including Illinois, New Jersey and Pennsylvania: As teachers’ pension costs keep rising, young teachers are being squeezed — sometimes hard. One study found that more than three-fourths of all American teachers hired at age 25 will end up paying more into pension plans than they ever get back.”

For pensioners in Puerto Rico, where a recovery plan is still being devised, it could mean pennies of the dollar of what they were promised.

For current and future public pensioners, a similar fate awaits if drastic reforms don’t happen.

Take Illinois, whose five state pension funds are now underfunded by more than $130 billion, worst in the nation. At that deficit, the pension funds have in hand just about 37 cents of every dollar they will owe to current and future pensioners.

But it actually could be much worse than that.

Money set aside to fund pensions – from taxpayers and public employees – is invested to grow the dollar pool. But most pension systems have over-estimated the rate of returns on these investments. As recently as 2014, Illinois’ Teachers Retirement System projected an inflated 8 percent annual return rate. That projection was dropped to 7.5 percent three years ago. Just last year, Illinois’ State Employees Retirement System downgraded its rate of return estimate to 7 percent. Each of these downgrades cost Illinois taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars annually because the taxpayers are legally required to make up the difference.

What’s worse is that many investment professionals and ratings agencies say a more realistic rate of return is in the 3 to 4 percent range. If that’s the case, Illinois’ already staggering pension debt would balloon by tens of billions of dollars more. That could be devastating to younger state employees who still have decades to go before they retire. A younger teacher who is funding current retirees’ bloated pensions faces a potential collapse in the system, risking much or all of her retirement nest egg.

And as return estimates continue to drop, taxpayers are forced to pick up the ever-growing tab.

There is a partial solution.

Illinois state Sen. Dale Righter has filed legislation that would place all new state employees, including teachers, in a 401(k)-style defined contribution plan. State employees would contribute 8 percent of their salaries into the private investment account, and the state (taxpayers) would contribute an additional 7 percent.

While Righter’s plan wouldn’t solve Illinois’ $130 billion (likely more because of the overstated return on investments) pension deficit, it would relieve new hires of any concerns of a pension collapse and it would drastically slow Illinois’ ever-growing pension obligations. More action, particularly other structural reforms that will improve Illinois’ overall economy and increase its tax base, are needed to chip away at the deficit.

States that have adopted similar plans to Righter’s already are seeing fiscal improvements.

Unfortunately, many in the Illinois General Assembly continue to think that higher taxes are a major part of the solution. But we’ve been there and done that, and it hasn’t worked. It’s led to a stagnant economy and a mass exodus of Illinoisans to other states.

States such as Illinois and and their employees need drastic pension reform measures if they are to stave off a Madoff-like collapse.

It’s time we stop telling ourselves dangerous lies and get these reforms done.

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Permanent link to this article: http://watchdog.org/293393/mccaleb-public-pensions-ways-mirror-madoffs-ponzi-scheme/

May 22

Haupt: Justice and the political machine

 “Now and then an innocent man is sent to the legislature.”

– Kin Hubbard, political humorist

For those who are not familiar with Justitia, the symbol of law, she is the badge and emblem that mirrors the values and morals of free men in a nation of lawmakers. She stands for a society where men and women of honor interact with citizens to legislate and rule in the best interests of a written constitution or charter. Justitia symbolizes the allegorical personification of moral judicial systems and accountability for all lawmakers. She sits atop our judicial houses as an emblematic sign that Lady Justice will protect us from abusive laws. She stands as a guardian of the rights and liberties of free men with laws written by free men. She is beautiful but stoically peers out with an impassive face.

“Lady Justice’s beauty is often overlooked until one’s rights have been violated.”

– Nora Seals

As each legislative session comes to an end in our state houses and federal chambers, we always hear about nonsensical accomplishments and excuses why questionably constitutional laws were passed. There are endless lamentations from our representatives about how special interest groups who are anonymously financed influenced legislation through the committees. Yet the bills the citizens desired ended up in the legislative graveyard. That’s when we play the “blame game” like a broken record in a “Happy Days” juke box that the Fonz kicked too many times. “Money; it’s about money”! They whimper we must get high rollers out of politics to fix corruption that’s impeding the legislative process in our local, state, and federal houses.

“The notion that we have all the democracy that money can buy strays so far from what our democracy is supposed to be.”

– Ruth Bader Ginsburg

The U.S. Supreme Court on January 21, 2010, ruled that the government could not restrict political expenditures by nonprofit or for-profit corporations, as well as labor unions from making political beneficence. In the case, a non-profit organization called Citizens United wanted to air a film critical of Hillary Clinton shortly before the 2008 Democratic primary election. The Left claimed foul since this dubiously violated a federal law prohibiting the airing of certain communications near an election. The court found the provisions of that law in conflict with the U.S. Constitution. Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion claimed the First Amendment guaranteed free speech to everyone “including” Citizens United.

“If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech.”

– Justice Kennedy

The Citizens United decision has been an attack weapon for progressives since. Yet the far Left agrees with SCOTUS protecting anti-American demonstrations, transgender restrooms, and flag burning. Who’s fooling who? We just elected a president who received the least corporate money in decades! Yet many in his party and on the left of center are obsessed with “money and politics.” It is the basis for all class warfare today. Yes, no doubt money influences elections, whose winners willingly endorse legislation which favors these groups, but that is not the most salient problem with American government today. These “Fix-Quick-Government” advocates preach taking money out of politics will solve the problem, does not get to the preverbal “roots of its malfeasance.” They are burying your heads in the sand with this “quick-fix government chivalry.”

“The influence of special interests in politics is the most destructive element of our political equation today.”

– Alvin Simms

Yes, money is abundant in politics. But if you want to end exploitation and follow the money trail, you’ll discover more than “money;” its politics as usual of the political machine. The term “political machine” dates back to the 20th century, where such organizations have existed in many rural municipalities and states since the 18th century. But today, these elements are common to most political parties and are essential to keeping the political machinery oiled and the party running. The political machine relies heavily on rewards for political power and is the party whip. Political machines always have bosses, or conclaves of select leaders who often demand patronage to remain in their good graces. This historic “behind-the-scenes” control has been vital for special interests to retain their position and influence within the structure of a representative democracy. These machines remain organized long after an election or event. Until we throw a monkey wrench into them and derail their locomotive, special interests will control government not us.

“If we take the special favors out of government, there is nothing else for anyone to trade.”

– Sam Goldstein

Political machines dictate whom to give favorable treatment to like trade associations, corporations, and unions because of party platform and campaign promises. The trade associations and unions represent key sectors of our economy and influence millions of members to support candidates of their choice. In turn, the party machine guarantees them billions in bailouts, government subsidies, tax benefits and personalized legislation. They hold the keys to our state and federal houses. Even if we outlawed all payola every election, the true cause of political corruption would still remain. To retain power and promote their agenda politicians would still trade our liberty for votes to appease the party machine and their special interests.

“Politics is a damn expensive business. I had one hell of a time raising money as a candidate. I had to refinance my house to get elected.”

– Joe Biden

Why don’t we read between the lines during those campaign speeches? Who are they preaching to? We must keep in mind that money can only be used to purchase what’s for sale. Restricting the money flow during elections will have little or no effect on politicians who dance to the tune of the party machine once they’re elected. Simply put, “we the people” are their “special interests”! Yet far too few ever remind them of “those interests” once they take their oath of office. How many times has this Congress told us the first thing they’d do after they were elected would be to shoot that lame horse Obamacare and put it out of its misery? Chopping down the special interest money tree will not change the party machine’s control over the political halls of justice. Until we realize our vote is our most powerful weapon, nothing will change.

“It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first.”

– Ronald Reagan

The term “political machine” was considered a pejorative since it was associated with 20th Century, corrupt local politicians in rural governments during our darkest ages. Although today we seldom hear the term “party machine,” a voter must have just fallen off a turnip truck to think politicians are acting in our best interests when they legislate with little regard for Lady Justice and the values she protected since the days of ancient Greece and Rome. And like those past societies that fell from her good graces, we too will join them if we do not help Lady Justice protect our Constitution and our legally written laws.

“Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people and not for profit, honor, or private interest.”

– John Adams

Today’s current political state is an ugly mutation of decades of out-of-control power building that evolved right before our eyes. And it will take a principled stance and decades of hard work for us to dismantle the traditions we have inherited from centuries of political machines writing our laws and running America instead of us. It’s our duty to force them to respect Lady Justice or else!

“Let us be sure that those who come after will say of us in our time, that in our time we did everything that could be done. We finished the race; we kept them free; we kept the faith.”

– Ronald Reagan

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Permanent link to this article: http://watchdog.org/293362/haupt-justice-political-machine/

May 20

Greene County TEA Party Hosting Special Meeting on Education Tuesday, May 23, 2017

GCTP Banner

Public Education Issues- Be Informed!

The Federal and State direction to local school systems is continually changing. Join us on Tuesday, 23 May, as the Greene County TEA Party (GCTP) hosts the Beavercreek School Superintendent, Mr. Paul Otten,

Permanent link to this article: http://www.daytonohioteaparty.com/?p=2247092

May 18

Hearing aid legislation would raise cost of personal sound amplification products

With a committee vote pending on the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017, critics of the legislation warn the bill would increase government regulations and raise the cost of personal sound amplification products (PSAPs).

A gun-owner group warned in a letter on Tuesday that language in the act could even tread into Second Amendment rights.

The legislation, led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), would create a new category of hearing aids that would be available over the counter. They’re expected to be cheaper than current hearing aids. This sounds good on its face, but the concerns about the act are two-fold: it’s likely to draw people away from proper screenings with health professionals, resulting in poorer health outcomes, and it would create more regulations for PSAPs while preempting state laws.

All devices now sold as hearing aids in the United States are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and require a doctor’s prescription. Just a few companies sell them and they often cost thousands of dollars, uncovered by insurance. The barrier to entry for consumers led to the growth of PSAPs, which can’t be marketed as hearing aids but are often just as effective for those who don’t suffer severe hearing loss.

Warren’s act tasks the Department of Health and Human Services secretary with redefining PSAPs, likely shifting many of them into the newly created and more heavily regulated over-the-counter hearing aid category.

A letter from a coalition of free-market oriented groups to U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which signed off on the legislation last week, called the act “a solution in search of a problem that does not exist.”

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is expected to take up the issue Thursday. “It is unfortunate that government regulators and big, rent-seeking corporations are the real beneficiaries of the bill. Consumers are the losers,” the coalition wrote.

Springfield, Virginia-based Gun Owners of America sent a letter to members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, warning the act could impact a variety of PSAPs that are marketed as hunting aids and intended to help hunters detect the presence of game.

“There’s a pretty good chance that these hunting devices would fall within Warren’s definition of ‘over-the-counter hearing aid,’” wrote Erich Pratt, executive director of the group, “which would mean that a new federal bureaucracy would be in charge of regulating hunting. Were Warren less of an enemy of the Second Amendment, we might give more credibility to the argument that we were protected by the ‘perceived … hearing impairment’ language of the Warren bill. But she isn’t. So we don’t.”

The group asked the committee to remove the language from the bill or put the legislation on hold.

Previously, the free-market coalition said some of the larger companies that produce PSAPs believe they could make more money by selling them as a product on a level with hearing aids, marketing them as such and raising prices. The coalition noted that speaker-maker Bose sells a high-end PSAP called HearPhones, which retails for $500, and is headquartered in Warren’s home state of Massachusetts.

Reason pointed out last week that Bose has spent about $50,000 to lobby for Warren’s act this year, and an additional $100,000 lobbying on “issues related to the FDA” in 2016.

Noah Kraft, CEO and co-founder of Doppler Labs, told TechCrunch his company was working with members of Congress on the legislation. Doppler Labs also makes a high-end PSAP called Here One, which costs $300. The company admitted the legislation would help open up new markets for it.

But even taking the non-cynical view that PSAP manufacturers simply seek the new regulations to put their products on a level playing field with traditional hearing aids creates another concern—taking doctors out of the auditory health equation. Opponents of the bill warn that would leave patients uninformed and undertreated.

The AARP cited a study that found that hearing aids and current over-the-counter options were equally effective for those with mild-to moderate-hearing loss. The biggest difference in user satisfaction was the help of a trained audiologist, who would assist with a proper fitting. But the new legislation would push more people away from, rather than toward, using audiologists.

Many experts within the hearing industry warn that the creation of a category of over-the-counter hearing aids could lead to poorer health outcomes. They warn that consumers who pass on a hearing assessment from an expert could run the risk of not discovering underlying medical conditions.

The Hearing Industries Association released a report on the issue stating that “failure to adequately address hearing loss can have profound negative consequences including an increase in dementia risk.”

Even groups that support the measure, such as the Hearing Loss Association of America, hint at the drawbacks of the regulation by warning people not to forgo doctor visits. “Access to technology or hearing aids by consumers is not a substitute for following good health care practices,” the HLAA said in a press release.

Hearing Tracker conducted a survey on the issue and found that nearly 87 percent of audiologists or hearing instrument specialists oppose the concept. One wrote: “I have seen patients come into my clinic with hearing tests provided by retailers at ‘big box stores’ who should have referred for ENT management and did not. These patients were misdiagnosed (hearing loss was exaggerated to make them hearing aid candidates) and red-flags for medical management were ignored. In one case, patient had a tumor on his auditory nerve. Had these patients not come into my clinic for a second opinion, this dangerous management of their care could have escalated into serious health problems.”

The language of the bill also explicitly removes states’ authority to enforce their own laws regulating over-the-counter hearing aids, although the current approach to auditory health varies state-by-state. Some states allow audiologists to dispense hearing aids, while others do not. Some have continuing education requirements for audiologists.

The coalition argues the act would “empower federal bureaucrats.”

“A new layer of regulation is not a stimulator of innovation – it squashes innovation,” they wrote.

Johnny Kampis is investigative reporter for the Taxpayers Protection Alliance Foundation. Kampis formerly served a similar role at Watchdog.org. Over the course of his nearly 20 years in journalism, he has been published in such outlets as the New York Times, Time, Fox News and The Daily Caller. The story initially published at theamericanconservative.com.

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Permanent link to this article: http://watchdog.org/293324/hearing-aid-legislation-raise-cost-personal-sound-amplification-products/

May 16

Haupt: Politics a grandiose sales pitch

“Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich, by promising to protect each from the other.”

– Oscar Ameringer

According to a recent Gallup report, Americans regard the clergy as the most honest and honorable of all professions. And this same survey lists the bottom three professions they deem least tolerant: Car salesman 9 percent, politicians 8 percent and lobbyists 7 percent. Can anyone believe that a car salesman is considered as honest and trustworthy as those running our governments?

“Could it be because you can now merchandise candidates for high office like breakfast cereal? As Adlai Stevenson said, “We gather votes like box tops?” Yes, we are now indeed selling out votes to the highest bidder like used car salesmen hock their 10 year old, high mileage junkers on the late, late show. And,

“This has become the ultimate indignity to the democratic process.”

– Adlai Stevenson

The public’s distrust for car salesmen is universal. As we hear the words “car salesman,” we think of that cigar smoking, tire kicking, slick haired, unfashionably dressed shyster that tried to sell you a car driven by the little old lady from Pasadena. Although this is a far-reaching stereotype, behind every prototype lurks some truth. And,

“What people believe prevails over the truth.”

– Sophocles

Of course, we all understand why lobbyists rate last. They have always been the most questionable ingredient in the political equation. This is political fact without a hint of invented fiction.

“Too often government responds to the whispers of lobbyists before the cries of the people.”

– Andrew Cuomo

But, the dismal rating that they gave to politicians is abhorrently disturbing. Many blame this current intolerance for politicians on the extreme political divide in our country. But that theory is nebulous. In 1513, Machiavelli, considered the king-philosopher of political manipulation, wrote “The Prince.” In that thesis, he profoundly and insightfully described the behavioral patterns of politicians whom he had witnessed and studied for years. Yes even in the 1500s, politicians received a very low rating in the Renaissance public opinion polls.

“Politics have no relation to morals.”

“The promise given was a necessity of the past: the word broken is a necessity of the present.”

– Nicolo Machiavelli

Forbs told us, “Let’s face it, life is a sales game.” It is called marketing. Businesses, car salesmen, telemarketers and politicians have been touting the merits of their goods for centuries. The inimical political position society has taken today is, politicians are so desperate for a piece of the action; voters expect grandiose returns each election! Just like those ludicrous claims car hawkers make, voters are actually buying into these charismatic “pitches” for “add-ons.” They are willing to give up liberty, freely trading it for their votes! They somehow convince themselves those things are “easily financed.” Yet James Madison said, “Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government.”

When these promises are broken, voters go after politicians the same way they denigrate that sales guy who sold them a “barbecue machine.” The one that burnt up three days after their “too good to be true” deal was made. Instead of a wake-up call to the real world, they “bellyache” until the next election and they vote for them again. The U.S. Constitution doesn’t guarantee our happiness, only the ability to pursue it. And when it’s time to buy another car, most avoid the last salesmen who pulled the bait and switch, but they buy from the same type of slick talking shyster who makes them the same enigmatic “pitch.”

“It is easier to prevent bad habits than to break them.”

– Ben Franklin

Politicians use everything to buy votes. And the car salesman does the same to make a sale. Both buyers and voters act on emotion instead of common sense because it’s human nature. Although politicians would have a better reputation if they toned down their rhetoric, the stakes are too high if they “lose the sale.” Both politicians and car salesmen are not pathological liars. But, if a salesman claims his Ford sedan includes far more equipment for the same price as the guy’s down the road, you’ll never know unless you price them both. If a politician claims he’ll bestow lavish entitlements upon you that won’t cost a dime, you should check with his “competitor” to see if he is offering a better deal. Politicians and car salesmen work alike. They both make dubitable promises and we believe them.

“Only God never made a promise that was too good to be true.”

– Dwight Moody

Once you have the keys and drive your car off the lot, there’s no turning back. Before we give the politicians keys to our government’s doors, it might behoove us to study the fine print before we close the deal. We all know states have “Lemon Laws” to protect buyers if they buy a car that’s a pile of junk! They cover expressed and written warranties and buyers have recourse if contracts are breached. You rid yourself of the bad vehicle if it is “does not perform well.” The voters have the same type of law to get rid of an incompetent politician. That law is Election Day! We can trade in the “lemons” when they prove they are “souring” instead of trying to “refurbish” them!

“In Europe, politicians resign when they’ve lost public face. But in America, we must impeach ’em.”

– Bill Rogers

Competition is effective motivation. When healthy competition prevails, you have an opportunity to win. It brings out the best in products and the worst in people. Both customers and voters alike can make or break ones career. Realizing the urgency to “out-pitch” the competitors, politicians and car salesmen do anything to “close the deal” before that prospective buyer flees the lot or voting booth. They will tell them anything they want to hear. It’s hard to get valued answers and it takes common sense to depict the truth. Car buyers go to Consumers Digest and read the reviews before they venture to that antipathetic sales lot! But, we do not research our politicians as fervently. We’re baptized with campaign ads and vote party regardless of their Machiavellian declarations.

“There are many men of principle in both parties in America, but there is no party of principle.”

– Alexis de Tocqueville

Politicians and salesmen work for corporate machines. If they don’t close the deal, they are out of work. For the first time in decades, we elected a “Mr. Smith patriot” for president instead of a slick politician and professional salesman. He did not make elusive campaign sales pitches much like those “tire kickers” who try to “up-sell” us on unrealistic “extras” or “package deals.” Mr. Trump was elected because he made realistic, constitutionally correct promises appealing to a broad base of American voters. But after years of deception and misguided half truths, some voters are getting restless since their Mr. Smith has been waylaid by professional politicians in Congress peddling a bill of goods. President Trump is not a salesman or a politician. And like any consumer and voter, he is trying to survive an onslaught of deceptive rhetoric.

“Any politician who claims to solely vote the way their constituents want them to is either a schizophrenic or “B&% S#% you.”

– Ray Osland

Next time you vote for an incumbent, remember that shady car sales guy: Did he honor his word? How many pledges made were left unfulfilled? Buyer’s remorse is hard to swallow. But voters have the power to bring more Mr. Smiths into our governments. When you vote for a candidate, you are investing in America. You need to do your shopping before you close the deal. If the deal is too good to be true, it is. Do we need to elect more seasoned pros or patriotic real Americans and be patient that this is on-the-job training for him? Did that last candidate deliver “change you believed in?”

“In the face of impossible odds, people who love this country can change it.”

– Barack Obama

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Permanent link to this article: http://watchdog.org/293288/haupt-politics-grandiose-sales-pitch/

May 15

Frontier League supports bill that would exempt certain players from state minimum wage

Independent minor league baseball could be threatened without help from lawmakers, the attorney for the Frontier League with teams in Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and elsewhere said.

Tom Ysursa, general counsel for the Frontier League, said league officials support a measure that recently passed the Illinois State Senate that would exempt certain minor league players from Illinois’ minimum wage requirement. He argues it comes down to how employees are classified.

“The issue for the Frontier League is not about anything to do with any proposed raising of the minimum wage [rate] in Illinois,” Ysursa said, referring to a separate bill that would raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. “The issue for the Frontier League is to get Illinois law the same as federal law when it comes to whether employers of seasonal employees are to comply with the Minimum Wage Act.”

The Frontier League season runs from mid-May until early September. Ysursa said owners need this change to keep players on the field.

“If their seasonal employees, which is what they are, are not exempt, the costs associated with that threatens the business model and threatens to leave many municipal stadiums empty without tenants,” Ysursa said.

Pete Laven, president of the Schaumburg, Ill., Boomers franchise, said he believes this is a reaction by the league to litigation filed by various minor league players across the country. One lawsuit in particular was filed by two former Frontier League players for what they say is low pay that violates federal law.

Laven says he’s heard of players asking to get paid for activities in which they aren’t at the stadium, such as workouts or travel time. He argues teams take care of players in other ways, such as finding living arrangements with nearby families and supplying meals throughout the season.

A bill in the Illinois Senate passed unanimously and now moves to the House for debate.

The Frontier League has teams in Joliet, Crestwood, Schaumburg, Sauget, Normal, and Marion in Illinois; Avon, Ohio; Traverse City, Mich.; Washington, Pa.; Evansville, Ind.; Florence, Ky.; and O’Fallon, Mo.

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Permanent link to this article: http://watchdog.org/293283/frontier-league-supports-bill-exempt-certain-players-state-minimum-wage/

May 14

President Trump Inspires Graduates at Liberty University

Trump at Liberty UniversityPresident Donald Trump gave his first commencement speech at Liberty University on Saturday, encouraging “dreamers” to ignore critics, take risks, never quit, and remember that “in America we don’t worship government, we worship God.”
“America has always been a …

Permanent link to this article: http://www.daytonohioteaparty.com/?p=2247083

May 10

President Donald Trump Fires FBI Director James Comey

James Comey imagePresident Donald Trump has fired FBI Director James Comey, in what many say was a move that might have occurred months ago. James Comey had failed to uphold recognized legal procedures and failed to properly carry out his responsibilities

Permanent link to this article: http://www.daytonohioteaparty.com/?p=2247079

May 10

Overhaul of Dodd-Frank headed to U.S. House

A financial reform bill is heading for a vote in the U.S. House after clearing the Financial Services Committee.

The CHOICE Act is an overhaul of the Dodd-Frank legislation signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2010. Illinois Congressman Randy Hultgren, R-Plano, supports the measure. He pointed out a key provision would prohibit taxpayer bailouts of banks of any size.

“A lot of promises were made when Dodd-Frank passed that it would do away with ‘too big to fail,’” Hultgren said. “It really hasn’t done what it said it was going to do. So that’s really a big part of this … making sure that it’s very clear that we’re not going to be bailing out these entities. They’re going to have to deal with it themselves.”

In 2008, Congress approved the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), which helped bail out banks in the wake of the subprime mortgage crisis. Hultgren doesn’t want a repeat of that scenario.

“They can’t get the private benefit and then, if they make bad decisions or huge risks, put that back on the taxpayers,” Hultgren said.

The CHOICE Act also repeals the so-called Durbin Amendment in Dodd-Frank, which caps fees that banks can charge on debit card transactions.

“This is price fixing,” Hultgren said. “It’s government coming in and saying what has to happen in the marketplace.”

Some said the Durbin Amendment would be a win for consumers, as merchants passed along savings from the lowered swipe fees. However, a 2013 report by the University of Chicago Coase-Sandor Institute for Law & Economics found that consumers lost more on the banking side than they gained on the merchant side.

“[We’ve seen] a loss of services that banks were able to provide before, like free checking and no-cost accounts,” Hultgren said. “Many of these things have gone away.”

Hultgren said the Choice Act would provide relief for smaller banks and credit unions in Illinois by rolling back many of Dodd-Frank’s 23,000 pages of regulations. The 14th District Republican argued many institutions are being micromanaged by the federal government, leading to banking closures across the state and nation.

“If it’s something local that was never part of the problem, we need to recognize that they need some different ways that they can function,” Hultgren said.

A vote on the CHOICE Act in the U.S. House is expected by early June.

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May 10

Haupt: Identity politics handcuffs democracy

“I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

– Martin Luther King, Jr.

During the height of the Cold War, everyone was seeking refuge from the Communist “curtain of fear.” The principal at our parochial school demanded our parents vote for John Kennedy because he was a Catholic. Mother Jude, with holy authority, told us if we did not insist our parents support candidate JFK, it would be sinful.

This reverently stoic nun claimed since JFK was a Catholic, he emboldened the spirituality to protect us from the dreaded USSR. When I told my father what she had commanded, I soon learned my first lesson in identity politics. He told me blatantly: “We never vote because of religion! If we vote for Kennedy it’s because of his capability to govern our nation.”

During a campaign speech, JFK reiterated that: “I am not a Catholic candidate for president. I am the Democratic Party’s candidate for president, who happens also to be a Catholic.”

Throughout his campaign, JFK’s spiritual beliefs were the subject of controversy. Many who disliked him claimed they did not want the Pope running the White House. Although he had a conservative record with 14 years in Congress, and often disagreed with the ambassador to the Vatican, this was ignored. He led the coalition to stop unconstitutional aid to parochial schools, yet few of his critics could see beyond his Catholicism. They continually referenced the articles with scrupulously selected quotations taken out of context from statements, made by church leaders.

Although the Counsel of Bishops strongly endorsed church-state separation, which reflected the views of almost every American Catholic at the time, he was chastened unmercifully for his religion by his foe.

“For while this year it may be a Catholic against whom the finger of suspicion is pointed, in other years it has been, and may someday be again, a Jew or a Quaker or a Unitarian or a Baptist.”

– JFK

Identity politics is voting or supporting an individual because of their pigmentation, number of x and y chromosomes, their religion or ethnicity. Identity politics is nothing new. It has been around since the Dark Ages. Although America has led other societies to declare all people equal before the law, this falls on deaf ears each election. In the last decade, American liberals have pandered to their dependent special identity groups to win elections because it works.

During the 2004 Democratic Convention, Barack Obama told reporters not to look at America as Red States or Blue States but as The United States. Academia and the media were mesmerized by this young unifier and his post-racial post-partisan consonance. He became their poster child for the entire election. Yet after two terms in office, we not only have a Red and Blue America we have a battered and worn “black-and-blue” America.

“The legacy of discrimination is part of our DNA that is passed on.”

– Obama

Jesse Jackson, the linchpin of race baiting, at the Democratic Convention in 1984, defined his base as a “rainbow coalition.” This consisted of racial, ethnic and religious minorities as well as women. But few took notice that this colorful and diverse collage included everybody in America except for those of European ancestry, who founded our Republic. He accepted most women, except those who were independent, successful and would not separate themselves politically from their fathers and husbands.

At that time Jackson lacked the political force to generate much enthusiasm from his lackluster montage of mercenaries. But three decades later, American politics has taken a far left turn in the wrong direction. We are beleaguered by a host of social, cultural and political trends that are transforming the country more rapidly than a con man can steal your money in a New York City “street corner shell game!” And this is influencing the governing of our Republic in ways that were never anticipated by our noble founders at the Convention. George Washington told the other delegates, we must “Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.”

The identity politics of special interests are a danger to America’s tradition of limited government and our ability to maintain law and order. This political philosophy is a by-product of our new age progressive politicians. Their fundamental philosophy is underpinning our Constitution to pander to their base and keep them corralled in a pen of dependence. During the debates in Philadelphia our framers verified they were obsessed with the challenge of keeping our republican government in check. They feared it would aggrandize its power whenever possible. Not only has identity politics diminished the power of lawmakers to govern, it has created animosity across the U.S. Liberally disproportionately redistributing wealth, taxpayers are questioning what they are receiving for their investment? The liberal use of their dollars to buy votes is not a fair return for the amount they invested.

“Today in America we have the best politicians in office money can buy.”

– Stan Gelds

If anyone in the U.S . doubts the power of special interest politics, they need not look any further than the Trump administration. We have a commander in chief who is trying to return America back to its constitutional traditions. Yet each time he proposes legislation, special interest groups inundate representatives with calls and emails excoriating his efforts. As much as America despises Obama-Scare, both Republican houses refuse to put it out of its misery. Nearly 2,000 appointed positions in the Trump administration remain vacant! This leaves many agencies without competent leaders or staffing. Trump is noticeably behind all recent presidents in securing the confirmation of Cabinet appointees and other top positions that require Senate approval. Just recently a progressive lynch mob publicly belittled and scourged a proven patriot war hero for his private religious beliefs! He finally withdrew to protect his family and state.

“Liberalism itself has failed, and for a pretty good reason. It has been too often compromised by the people who represented it.”

– Hunter Thompson

There is no separating special interest from politics. Special interest identity groups, big and small, have a corrupting influence at the very heart of our political system. Each election candidates vow to reform a system that has been broken by the prejudice and influence of special interest groups. Yet many of them feed from its tempting trough. Identify politics not only influences elections but it now convolutes presidential appointments and legislation brought to the floor.

Although Democratic nominees should be judgmentally decided on character and qualifications, progressives piece half-verbiage phrases together to destroy the character of anyone who does not buy into their brand of “control-politics.” The media feeds off of half-truths and misinformation to nurture its hungry cabal of throngs.

“In the political world we live in today, mis-quotations are a national vice.”

– Ellen Sutter

Exploiting politically correct but factually inaccurate racial motifs and gender politics is dividing our nation and threatens our critical place in the world. All patriotic Americans know the world needs a strong and free America. An un-united America at home cannot lead a chaotically divergent globe.

America has entered its darkest period because progressives have ganged up with academia and the left media to use race, sex and “feel-good” identity politics for their political success. President Ronald Reagan told us, “I believe now, as I always have, America’s strength is in We the People.’’

When will we start fighting back for America?

“We must never remain silent in the face of bigotry. We must condemn those who seek to divide us. In all quarters and all times, we must teach tolerance and denounce racism, anti-Semitism and all ethnic or religious bigotry wherever they exist as unacceptable evils. We have no place for haters in America, none, whatsoever.”

– Reagan

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May 06

Conservatives Call for Senate to Act Now to Repeal Obamacare

Heritage-foundation-logo-blueThe Heritage Foundation, along with conservatives across the country, is calling on the U.S. Senate to join the House of Representative in taking real action to repeal and replace Obamacare.  Obamacare is collapsing, with more and more insurers dropping …

Permanent link to this article: http://www.daytonohioteaparty.com/?p=2247060

May 06

Guest Voice: How the New York Times misrepresents the U.S. Supreme Court

A recent New York Times story, titled “A Polarized Supreme Court, Growing More So,” illustrates how left-of-center media distort perceptions of the U.S. Supreme Court.

The story’s problems begin with the lead paragraph’s assertion that Justice Neil Gorsuch’s appointment is “a conservative replacing another conservative.” What the Times probably intended to say is that the appointment replaces an originalist with an originalist. Originalism and conservatism are not the same thing.

Originalism is untied to political results, whether liberal or conservative. It applies the methods English and American judges have used for centuries to interpret most documents, including constitutions. The primary difference between modern originalists and non-originalists hinges on whether judges should be consistent or whether they should change the rules of interpretation for some hot-button constitutional issues.

In the article, as elsewhere, the Times describes the Court as split five-to-four, with the majority constituting a “conservative bloc.” It is more accurate to describe the Court as split four ways: (1) liberal activists (Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor), (2) originalists (Clarence Thomas and Gorsuch), (3) advocates of judicial deference (John Roberts, Samuel Alito), and (4) an erratic social libertarian (Anthony Kennedy).

“And, in a shift in recent years,” the Times writes, “partisan affiliation has become a very strong predictor of voting trends for all its members.” The sentence is technically true but substantially misleading. This description would be better: although Democratic appointees have been reliably liberal on most issues, Republican appointees have commonly slipped to the left—a slippage reduced recently as GOP administrations have adopted better vetting procedures.

The article’s thigh-slapper is its description of Kennedy as “a moderate conservative.” Anyone familiar with Kennedy’s judicial style knows that he is not a moderate anything, much less a conservative. It is true that he has voted to strike down some particularly ambitious pieces of congressional legislation, but he has also reaffirmed the very liberal view that the federal government may exercise almost unfettered control over the national economy. More importantly, he has written a series of opinions reaching radical social results through an untethered and virtually unprecedented methodology.

Similarly revealing are the “experts” the Times chose to quote. Apparently, there are no experts in flyover country or in the South. Everyone worth hearing is from the Northeast or West Coast.  This is an extraordinary omission because the nomination of Gorsuch, a Coloradan, was widely viewed as an effort to rebalance the court toward the country’s center.

Neither do practicing lawyers exist in the Times’ world. Everyone quoted is affiliated with an academic or policy institution.

Nor do consistent originalist experts exist—even though the Gorsuch hearings dwelt largely on originalism. The Times quotes four liberals and one activist libertarian. No originalist scholars at all.

The Times article cites just one case by name: Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The Times treats that case, as is common among liberal writers, as an unqualified “conservative” victory. In fact, it was a split decision, with originalists winning on one issue but losing on the other.

Several years ago, the Times was properly criticized for describing the Court’s activist liberals as its “four moderates.” While the latest article doesn’t make that mistake, it does reveal the Times’ propensity for putting its left-of-center views at the hub of the ideological universe. Thus the reporter describes Obama appointee Merrick Garland as “not especially liberal.” And he selected for publication an unrebutted claim that Garland was “centrist.”

Yet the reporter’s own article shows this to be untrue. It includes another unrebutted quotation in which a long liberal wish list is described as “safe” with Garland. If he were a centrist, presumably liberals would lose sometimes!

In fairness, the Times does quote an expert who cautions against its stereotyped nomenclature—pointing out that labeling Gorsuch and Garland as “‘conservative” or “liberal” is “too simplistic and unfair to both of them.” That caution, however, is buried at the end.

Rob Natelson is Senior Fellow in Constitutional Jurisprudence at the Independence Institute’s Senior Fellow. This column previously published in the American Conservative and on the Independence Institute’s website.

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May 04

President Trump Signs Executive Order to Protect Religious Liberty

Religious-Liberty image from HillsdalePresident Donald Trump today signed an executive order designed to protect religious liberty, fulfilling yet another campaign promise! He declared “No one should be censoring sermons” during a White House Rose Garden ceremony, and added “We will not allow

Permanent link to this article: http://www.daytonohioteaparty.com/?p=2247056

May 04

Vice President Pence Defends Budget Deal on Limbaugh Show

Mike_Pence,_official_portrait,_112th_Congress

Vice President Mike Pence and Rush Limbaugh had a heart to heart chat on the FY 2017 budget when Mike Pence called the Limbaugh show. Many believe that the budget is a total Democratic win and a Republican loss. …

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May 04

Study: Income tax rate has major impact on pro sports teams win-loss record

Upset that your favorite basketball or hockey team is watching the playoffs from their sofas? A UIC professor says a state’s tax burden shares some of the blame.

University of Illinois at Chicago professor Erik Hembre has released a working draft that shows a professional team in a state with high income taxes could win up to four fewer games in an 82 game season compared to a team in a state without income taxes. This is because the better players are more likely to gravitate toward states that allow them to keep more of their money.

Hembre found that, since the mid-1990s, a 10 percentage point increase in income taxes means anywhere from a 1.9 to 3.0 percentage decrease in winning percentage. That formula also takes into consideration other factors such as the weather in Miami being warmer than Minneapolis in January.

The logic behind this, Hembre said, is that players in free agency are being offered deals from states with no income tax that are, all other factors aside, more competitive than other teams because a player would be able to keep more of their salary.

“There’s been this negative correlation between income taxes and winning percentage in both the NBA and the NFL every single year for the past 20 years,” Hembre said. “It’s not saying that income taxes are the only factor. It’s saying that income taxes are a factor, just like the weather. Every single year for the past 20, there’s been this negative correlation, and it’s been growing in the NBA.”

He said the results are more pronounced in sports such basketball, football and hockey because they have salary caps that give free-agent signings more impact.

But agent Michael Naiditch, founder of Chicago-based N.E.T. Sports, thinks players don’t care about their tax burden as much as they should.

“Basketball players often live pretty well, and I think they care more about lifestyle than they do about savings,” Naiditch said.

Decisions on where sports’ free agents decide to sign also is more complicated than money. Factors like weather, family and winning championships all cloud the data, Naiditch said.

A professional athlete also has to file taxes with states other than their place of residence. Some states have what is commonly known as the “jock tax,” which taxes an annual percentage of a player’s total income based on the days they performed in each specific state.

According to 2016 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, hundreds more professional athletes live in Florida than any other state because of it not having an income tax.

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Permanent link to this article: http://watchdog.org/293161/study-income-tax-rate-major-impact-pro-sports-teams-win-loss-record/

May 03

Congressional plan for coal miner health care bailout begs question: Who’s next?

Republican members of Congress face a dilemma, particularly those from coal-mining states.

As Congress considers a $1.3 billion bailout of health benefits for retired union coal miners, they must weigh the arguments for and against such federal bailouts.

 

“My district has more United Mine Workers members than any other Congressional district in the nation,”Congressman Mike Bost, R-Ill., said. “West Virginia has a total of 8,000. Kentucky has a total of 3,000. And I have a total of about 4,500 in my district. It’s a lot of people.”

But Bost also served 10 years in the Illinois General Assembly, and knows that Illinois’ pension systems are more than $130 billion in debt.

Bost said he understands why some taxpayers are worried that a federal bailout for the United Mine Workers’ health care benefits could open the door to a federal bailout for public pension systems across the country.

“There is a danger in bailouts,” Bost said. “But this one is different.”

Congress is considering a $1.3 billion bailout of health benefits for 22,600 former coal miners. The bailout is included in the $1 trillion spending plan designed to keep the federal government running. Bost said Congress is looking to use money from the coal mine reclamation fund to pay for the health care bills of what he calls a “finite group” of elderly people. Bost said this week that he’s pleased Congress has reached an agreement on what he calls “vitally” important benefits.

“The coal companies used a loophole to abandon these people,” Bost said. “It’s the right thing to do.”

Rachel Greszler, a research fellow at The Heritage Foundation, disagrees, saying taxpayers shouldn’t be paying for what the union promised its members but never delivered.

“There was never a promise from the [federal] government,” Greszler said. “It was the union itself. They set up this fund and wanted to pay out benefits right away, in 1947, to people who were retiring. But they never made contributions. It’s the same thing as Social Security. If you start paying benefits to people who didn’t earn them, you’re digging a hole that at some point you have to climb out of. But the problem that you have with the coal industry is that they can’t climb out.”

Coal mining in the United States is not what it used to be. More than 860,000 people worked in the coal industry at its peak in 1923. Nearly 75,000 people worked in the industry in 2000. In 2016, just 65,000 people worked in mines. The number of coal mines also is down significantly, as is total coal output.

Greszler said that’s the biggest problem for union mine workers.

“There’s one worker for every 11 retirees,” Greszler said.

There are also questions about the bailout plan itself.

A new Inspector General’s report from the U.S. Department of the Interior found numerous flaws with the $1 billion former President Barack Obama sent to the United Mine Workers health-care fund between 2011 and 2015. The report said the union listed nearly 1,800 people born in the 1800s as beneficiaries. The report also found the union added thousands more people to the list of “previously retired” miners.

Slippery Slope?

Greszler said Congress is setting a dangerous precedent with a bailout for miners. Even if it’s only their health care.

“If you open the door to the mine workers, how can you say in the future, ‘We’re just going to pick and choose?'” Greszler said.

Bost agrees.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do with the Central State’s pension system,” Bost added. “That’d be a true bailout because there is no revenue there.”

The Central State’s pension fund also is in trouble. It’s underfunded by about $18 billion, and thousands of truck drivers say they could lose their pensions as well. The Central State’s pension fund was supposed to be the retirement account for nearly 400,000 Teamster members in the Midwest. But under funding, questionable accounting, and scandals dating back to Jimmy Hoffa’s days have left the pension fund in the brink of collapse.

But Greszler said miners and truckers aren’t the concern.

She said taxpayers need to be very worried about a Congressional bailout of state and local government pensions.

“If you say, ‘We’re just going to provide a small, limited bailout for the coal miners’, that’s $5 billion,” Greszler said. “But then you just open the spigot. And if you open it to private unions, how can you not then bail out state and local governments? That’s retired firefighters and teachers, and there’s plenty of sympathy for them.”

Greszler said the total unfunded liability for public sector pensions tops $5 trillion.

But the miners’ health care bailout had the bipartisan support of lawmakers from coal-mining states.

“I’m proud to have secured this important provision as we put together the final package,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentuck, said Monday on the House Floor. “I’ll continue to fight for relief for coal communities going forward.”

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Permanent link to this article: http://watchdog.org/293157/congressional-plan-coal-miner-health-care-bailout-begs-question-whos-next/

May 03

Haupt: How overtaxation can kill an economy

“I hate big government, but I really hate a government that doesn’t work. So when they say we either have to raise taxes or cut core services, it’s actually a false choice.”

– Scott Walker

During the late 1970s and continuing for a decade, America experienced unprecedented prosperity.

President Ronald Reagan created wealth and jobs, and everyone prospered. Under his leadership, Americans changed the incentive structure on all taxes, inflation, and regulation. This enabled our economy to roar back to life after the anti-growth, high-inflation Carter years that devastated the US. But as usual, few political leaders profit from the sins of the past. And in the past eight years, America has moved away from protecting capitalism, which has decimated growth and prosperity. This is why blue color America rebelled and elected a president with a stellar record of free market success. He campaigned in blue and red states to give everyone the same opportunity to be prosperous like him.

“Government’s first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.”

– Ronald Reagan

The policies of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi caused America to lose its status as the world’s growth and job-creation machine. Their economic mismanagement of our nation was an unmitigated disaster. Economists warned them if they did not curtail expanding government, we’d go belly up.

This gang of four’s policies not only failed to articulate a recovery; they set us back to the nightmare created by Franklin D. Roosevelt. The activist Federal Reserve and Obama’s fiscal stimulus policies ravaged social and economic progress. Their systemic solution to try and revive a failing economy was to raise taxes and redistribute wealth. This was only a straw man to cover up their plans to facilitate their brand of progressive social engineering.

“Those who believe that what our people desire is big government are living in a state of delusion.”

– Marco Rubio

Before our wise founders set forth to create a free market nation of free men, they were congruent in philosophy on one key principle: History demonstrated that the larger a government is, the more expensive it is to run. Since they wanted to give us a republic, they looked to Rome as an example of what “not to do.”

The cataclysm of the Roman Empire was a result of the greatest tax burden in history for the average citizen. The 3rd century taxation was so desolating that many citizens were driven to starvation and bankruptcy. Rome was so desperate for money they chased after widows and children to collect taxes owed by their deceased. By the 4th century, the Roman economy was dolorous. Many farmers vacated their land and moved into the cities to receive public amenities. By then, Rome was spending most of its taxes on military and public entitlements and people wanted more.

“What people want is big government that they don’t have to pay for.”

– Timothy Noah

Greece mimicked the Romans in 2008 as their economy wilted quicker than a lily in summer. Most of Europe entered the global recession, but Greece bottomed out. Unemployment reached 28 percent in 2013, which was worse than the U.S. during the Great Depression. Government spending was 50 percent of Greece’s economic output by 2013. Greece’s score from The Economic Freedom of the World Index was the lowest in all of Europe’s free nations.

During the heart of this tumultuous fiscal crisis, Greece soon tried to atone for this profligacy by implementing a fiscal “austerity” program to reduce government’s size and cut back onerous levels of entitlements. But the people revolted and Greek leaders cried uncle!

“Big government doesn’t help the middle class, it buries it.”

– Rubio

Like so many countries before, Greece suffered a crisis caused by too much government and the politicians decided the solution was to “drum roll” its size and scope. It is a sobering reality. The tax burden was so oppressive people didn’t want to inherit property. Throughout the land people were lining up renouncing their inheritance. They’d rather give it away than pay the taxes.

When this tax revenue dwindled to a trickle, Greek politicians squeezed even more from the taxpayers. They had drones on social media to see if people had lifestyles more extravagant than income they reported to tax police. Greek officials foolishly thought the more they raised taxes and printed money to pay their bills, the sooner the economy would improve.

“To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”

– Thomas Jefferson

The economic decline of any civilization is caused by political elites who give away the farm and milk the cows dry every time someone demands something. By permitting voters to dictate social policy, they must increase public debt and debase the currency. This results in obloquious taxation and insidious restrictive laws. The people sell their liberty like Judas sold his soul for “30 pieces of silver.”

To support the waterloo of giving government unrestricted power, they put the propaganda machine into high gear to ensure everyone that this is for their good. Deluded by patriotic fervor, voters are too simple-minded to notice they’re being plundered by the state. Whether it’s direct or indirect taxation by printing money like Obama and Carter did, the result is the same. Tactics to support wealth redistribution have been used for centuries to market political agendas at the expense of all taxpayers.

“Unrestricted government power always leads to lost liberty and freedom.”

– Nick Davis

The economic blunders in Greece and Rome will be replicated worldwide for centuries. People cannot comprehend that government does not have any money except what they steal from them. And “He who giveith takeit away”! We have felt the sting of these past failures already.

There are many blue states on a bad trajectory, such as California and Illinois. If there’s any hope for the politicians in Sacramento and Springfield to right the ship, they best do it now. If they beg the feds for money. D.C. must tell them no! This is your faux pas for bankrupting your state houses. Ludicrous, unfunded pensions and obscene benefits for blue state employees are a ticking time bomb. D.C. must school them. There are no more gifts of bailouts from ol’ Uncle Sam.

“A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money.”

– G. Gordon Liddy

Plato saw the writing on the wall in 400 BC: “Democracy is a charming form of government, full of variety and disorder.” Politicians will continue to misappropriate funds when taxpayers foot the bill. Perhaps in 1,000 years, historians will be writing the same thing about us. It’s not far-fetched if we don’t remember our history.

Rome was not built in a day and it did not fall in one. It was a transition from the frugal governing by Julius Caesar to when Odoacer deposed the Emperor Romulus into exile. They were unable to defend themselves and were easily conquered.

“The Roman Empire was much like us. They lost their moral core, their sense of values of who they were.”

– Ben Carson

We must transform our tax policy into an engine of growth and innovation and apply “tough love” to cut back on social engineering and entitlements before we meet the fate of Rome and Greece. We have no more money to buy votes.

Government’s “We have what it takes to take what you have” attitude, “grab our money and run with it,” must be changed. We must maintain capitalism and free markets in order to field our strength as a world leader, to protect our liberty and freedom. Anyone can increase taxes and balance the budget, but it takes guts to tell people the free ride is over.

D.C. must learn how to say “no!” If we fail to do this now, big government will be our Waterloo. Lyndon B. Johnson once said, “In 1790, the nation which had fought a revolution against taxation without representation discovered that some of its citizens weren’t much happier about taxation with representation.”

Read the original story here...

Permanent link to this article: http://watchdog.org/293117/haupt-overtaxation-can-kill-economy/

May 01

Hillsdale College Offers Free Course: “The Presidency and the Constitution”

Hillsdale College LogoHillsdale College is offering a great, free, online course, “The Presidency and the Constitution”. See the message below from Hillsdale College president Larry Arnn:

 

Dear Fellow American,

Donald Trump’s election gave voice to the growing conviction of …

Permanent link to this article: http://www.daytonohioteaparty.com/?p=2247044

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