Big government

Opinion/Analysis: Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s stall tactics hurt America’s economy

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if for one brief shining moment in Washington, Congress put good policy over politics — and passed a bill that would benefit American workers, investors and businesses? We haven’t had a true bipartisan victory in Washington for seemingly ages, but we are tantalizingly close to getting there. This would be the passage of the U.S. Mexico Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA). Both parties want this modernized version of NAFTA to pass. It is the legacy of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. But this latest modernized trilateral trade deal for North America hasn’t happened yet because of an endless parade of stall tactics by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She is blockading a vote of the 435 members of the House of Representatives. The odds are very favorable that Democrats and Republicans would provide enough yays to pass it and move it on to the Senate where the trade deal would be approved by a wide margin. The whispering campaign on Capitol Hill is that Mrs. Pelosi is worried about giving Mr. Trump a “win,” so she’s inventing flimsy excuses for endlessly delaying a vote. Her strategy might have some credibility if she had credible objections to this modernized trade deal, which was carefully crafted by Donald Trump with trade negotiators from our neighbors Canada and Mexico. First, Mrs. Pelosi said she wanted more worker protections in the trade deal — but this bill actually has stronger job and wage protections for American workers (some of which I think go too far) than the old North America Free Trade Agreement. Mr. Trump insisted on those broader labor protections for the auto and other blue-collar workers in many of those Midwestern states that have seen middle class job losses. She continues to broach the idea of attaching a pension bailout bill to the trade deal. That pension bill has nothing to do with trade. It would also potentially cost taxpayers tens of billions of dollars of costs to bailout mismanaged labor union pension funds. This is Mrs. Pelosi’s way of throwing a wet kiss to the union bosses as payback for their support in helping her become Speaker. An even wilder idea is a scheme by Democrats to force Mr. Trump to allow the United States back into the Paris Climate Accord — a $100 billion tax on Americans — as the ransom for passing USMCA. These are obvious poison pills and the speaker knows it. Mr. Trump would never allow the U.S. into the climate treaty and many fiscally-conscientious Republicans would withdraw their support for the USMCA if they were forced to endorse these new giant taxpayer liabilities for obese pensions. Then there is Mrs. Pelosi’s ploy to reopen the trade deal to repeal the hard-won patent protections for American pharmaceutical companies. Mrs. Pelosi is acting as if this were a giant “giveaway” to the U.S. drug companies that will raise prices for American consumers. She has it all wrong. This provision of the trade deal actually protects America patent rights for 10 years when made-in-America drugs and “biologics” are sold in foreign countries. The USMCA — expertly negotiated by Mr. Trump’s lead trade negotiator, Robert Lighthizer — actually forces Mexican and Canadian citizens to honor our patents and pay more for American drugs. This could in the end mean lower prices for these drugs here in the United States because our two neighbors would pay their fair share to cover the billions of dollars of research costs to bring to market new life-saving drugs. Mr. Trump should be applauded for getting Mexico and Canada to agree to live by the same patent protections that we require here in America. Why would Mrs. Pelosi object to a provision that effectively curtails foreign freeloading off the medical R&D investments of American firms? Why should foreigners get special discount deals on our patented drugs that are not similarly available to American patients? Mrs. Pelosi’s cynical strategy to change the USMCA would bust the trade deal wide open and kill it. Trying to renegotiate a trade deal that has been years in the making is like putting toothpaste back in the tube. Opening up one section of the law makes every section negotiable and brings us back to square one. The victims here would be American farmers, ranchers and hard-hat manufacturing workers. The economic benefits of the USMCA have been estimated by the U.S. International Trade Commission to be almost $60 billion in higher exports each year and some 175,000 new jobs. Passage of this law would put added pressure on China to pass its own trade deal with the Trump administration. Mrs. Pelosi should put America first by putting the political games aside and bringing USCMA to a vote urgently. Democrats won back the House in the 2018 elections by promising Americans that they could govern the country. Obstruction is not governing and blocking free trade deals is no way to keep the Trump economic boom going. I hate to think that may be the point of her political tactics.

No kidding!!  Thanks to economist Stephen Moore for calling out Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on her shameless, and shameful, politics that are just hurting everyday Americans. Stephen Moore is an economic consultant with Freedom Works and served as a senior economic adviser to Donald Trump. His latest co-authored book is “Trumponomics: Inside the America First Plan to Revive Our Economy.”

Durham’s investigation into possible FBI misconduct is now criminal probe, sources say

U.S. Attorney John Durham’s ongoing probe into potential FBI and Justice Department misconduct in the run-up to the 2016 election through the spring of 2017 has transitioned into a full-fledged criminal investigation, two sources familiar with the investigation told Fox News on Thursday night. One source added that DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s upcoming report on alleged FBI surveillance abuses against the Trump campaign will shed light on why Durham’s probe has become a criminal inquiry. Horowitz announced on Thursday his report would be available to the public soon, with “few” redactions. The investigation’s new status means Durham can subpoena witnesses, file charges, and impanel fact-finding grand juries. Fox News reported on Tuesday that Durham’s probe had expanded significantly based on new evidence uncovered during a recent trip to Rome with Attorney General Bill Barr. Barr reportedly told embassy officials in Italy that he “needed a conference room to meet high-level Italian security agents where he could be sure no one was listening in.” A source in the Italian Ministry of Justice told The Daily Beast earlier this month that Barr and Durham were played a taped deposition made by Joseph Mifsud, the professor who allegedly told ex-Trump aide George Papadopoulos that the Russians had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. Mifsud reportedly was explaining to investigators in the deposition why people would want to harm him, and why he needed police protection. Papadopoulos has suggested he was connected with Mifsud as part of a setup orchestrated by intelligence agencies. Sources told Fox News that Durham was “very interested” to question former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former CIA Director John Brennan, an anti-Trump critic who recently dismissed the idea. The New York Times reported Thursday that Durham’s criminal review has prompted some CIA officials to obtain criminal legal counsel in anticipation of being interviewed. Brennan and Clapper were at the helm not only when Mifsud spoke to Papadopoulos, but also when an unverified and largely discredited dossier, written by British ex-spy Christopher Steele and funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee, was used to help justify a secret surveillance warrant against former Trump adviser Carter Page in the run-up to the 2016 election. (The Times’ reporting on Thursday, which overtly framed Durham’s probe as politically tainted without evidence, did not mention the Steele dossier at all.) The FBI apparently obscured the fact that the Clinton campaign and DNC funded the dossier in its warrant application, telling the secret court only that the dossier was prepared at the behest of an unidentified presidential campaign. Additionally, in its original FISA application and subsequent renewals, the FBI told the FISA court it “did not believe” Steele was the direct source for a Yahoo News article implicating Page in Russian collusion. Instead, the FBI suggested to the secret court, the September 2016 article by Michael Isikoff was independent corroboration of the dossier. But, London court records showed that contrary to the FBI’s assessments, Steele briefed Yahoo News and other reporters in the fall of 2016 at the direction of Fusion GPS. It has further emerged that Steele had communications with a State Department contact — which were relayed to the FBI — in which Steele claimed the Russians were running a “technical/human operation run out of Moscow targeting the election” and that “payments to those recruited are made out of the Russian Consulate in Miami.” There is no Russian consulate in Miami, a fact the State Department official, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kathleen Kavalec, emphasized in her notes. And, Steele had suggested his client was “keen” to see his information come to light prior to Election Day. Kavalec forwarded her notes to the FBI and other government officials several days before the FISA warrant was issued for Page. Additionally, Special Counsel Robert Mueller was unable to substantiate other key claims in the dossier, including that the Trump campaign employed hackers in the United States, that there was a compromising recording of the president in a hotel room, and that ex-Trump attorney Michael Cohen flew to Prague to build a conspiracy with hackers. Cohen has denied ever heading to Prague, and no public evidence has contradicted that claim.

Uh oh!!  Boy are the Dems and their willing accomplices in the dominantly liberal mainstream media losing their minds.  They can’t stand that the shoe is now on the other foot.  Rachel Maddow nearly had a meltdown last night on MSNBC.  The whole Russia so-called “collusion” hoax is unraveling, and those responsible for creating it in an attempt to undue the results of the 2016 election are the ones now being investigated.  Some of them will probably end up going to jail.  Guess we’ll see..  This story is developing..  Sit back and pop some popcorn..  This is gonna be fun to watch!      🙂

FBI’s Foreign Surveillance Program Violated Americans’ Civil Liberties, FISA Court Finds

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has ruled that an FBI program intended to target foreign suspects violated Americans’ constitutional right to privacy by collecting the personal information of American citizens along with the foreign targets of the surveillance. According to the ruling, tens of thousands of searches the FBI made of raw intelligence databases from 2017 to 2018 were illegal, the Wall Street Journal first reported. The searches involved personal data including emails and telephone numbers of private citizens. “The court…finds that the FBI’s querying procedures and minimization procedures are not consistent with the requirements of the Fourth Amendment,” wrote U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in the ruling, which was released Tuesday in partially redacted form. Boasberg said the Trump administration failed to persuade the court that adjusting the program to more efficiently protect American citizens’ privacy would impede the FBI’s ability to counter threats. Federal law limits searches on such databases to to those that are explicitly related to the collection of evidence of a crime or foreign intelligence. In one case revealed in the ruling, an FBI official used a database to search for information on himself, his relatives and other FBI personnel. The Foreign Intelligence Service Act has come under scrutiny in recent years after the FBI obtained a FISA warrant to conduct an investigation into former Trump-campaign adviser Carter Page. The FBI maintains it suspected Page may have been working with Russian officials to interfere with the 2016 presidential election campaign, while President Trump has said the FBI “illegally spied” on his campaign.

…which it did.  But, this is an interesting development.  It’s the classic battle between law enforcement trying to protect us, and the need to make sure that they don’t cross that line where they impede on our civil liberties as Americans.  It’s a very fine line..

‘Death by a thousand cuts’: Government-mandated wage, benefits hurting small businesses

Business owners say the government-mandated minimum wage of $15 an hour is hurting New York City businesses, including popular eateries with years of history like Gabriela’s Restaurant and Tequila Bar. Gabriela’s, which opened 25 years ago according to The New York Post, invited customers to eat and drink for the restaurant’s final weekend before closing at the end of September. Owners Liz and Nat Milner told The New York Post that the minimum wage hike basically killed their business. They’re not the only ones making difficult decisions. The New York City Hospitality Alliance surveyed 324 full-service restaurants at the end of 2018 and found that 75% of respondents will cut hours for employees and 47% will cut jobs in 2019 because of the minimum wage hike that went into effect on Dec. 31, 2018. The wage hike affected employees at corporations like McDonald’s and small businesses alike. “It’s death by a thousand cuts,” the alliance’s executive director Andrew Rigie said. “The minimum wage increases put pressure on small businesses. They are well-intended but unsustainable. There’s only so many times you can increase the price of a burger and a bowl of pasta.” That’s what Gabriela’s experienced. The Milners said they had to lay off cleaners, middle managers, their general manager and extra servers. “I’m not against people making more money,” Nat Milner told The New York Post. “These people have worked for me for 20 years. But taxes, groceries, everything is going up and people have a little less money to spend on guacamole and tequila.” Other small business owners are feeling the pinch, too. Wage hikes have led to less hours and education seminars for Philippe Massoud’s staff at Lebanese restaurants Ilili and Ilili Box, the CEO and executive chef said. “I can’t even train or educate my staff the way I want to anymore,” Massoud told The New York Post. The Post editorial board cited the plight of Gabriela’s owners in an op-ed slamming the $15-an-hour minimum wage hike on Monday night. “Just as predicted, the $15 minimum wage is killing vulnerable city small businesses, with the low-margin restaurant industry one of the hardest-hit as it also faces a separate mandatory wage hike for tipped staffers,” the board wrote. “All this is fine with the union organizers behind the ‘fight for $15’ and the elimination of the tipped-wages system: They don’t care about any job, or any business, that doesn’t play ball with organized labor. Mom-and-pop shops can go to hell,” the board added. “Plainly, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature, who are passing the laws the unions want, don’t care much, either.”

Editorial: Trump Is Right to Ditch the California Auto Waiver

The Trump administration is pushing ahead with a plan we endorsed previously. It will revoke California’s ability to set separate greenhouse-gas standards for cars — so that a single policy will apply to the entire country, and so that California can’t use the threat of a bifurcated regulatory regime to influence that policy in a way other states cannot. We are fans of federalism. But Congress, understandably not wanting automakers to have to comply with 50 different sets of regulations, has generally preempted state regulation in this area — with the exception that California, and California alone, may apply for a waiver to create its own emission rules to address “compelling and extraordinary conditions.” Other states may then adopt these rules if they choose. “Compelling and extraordinary conditions” was intended as a reference to smog. And in contrast to Californian smog, there is nothing compelling and extraordinary about Californian climate change. Climate change is happening to the rest of the country (and indeed the world) too, and climate change is what the state’s greenhouse-gas rules — as opposed to policies regulating other emissions — address. Thus the legal basis for the waiver does not apply here. Further, under the Obama administration, California leveraged the car industry’s desire for a single regulatory regime into an agreement with the federal government, under which the nationwide regulations would reflect California’s priorities. As a result, car buyers nationwide had to pay extra for vehicles meeting the state’s preferences. No single state should have such power. The waiver needs to go. And the Trump administration should continue with the other element of its plan too: nixing Obama-era rules that required fuel economy to hit nearly 55 miles per gallon on average by 2025, a far-fetched goal that could force car companies to sell electric vehicles at a loss to bring down the average fuel economy of their overall fleets. Freezing the standards after next year, as the administration plans to do, could reduce the future price of a car by thousands of dollars — and also reduce motor-vehicle fatalities, because one way carmakers increase fuel efficiency is to make cars lighter and more dangerous. It’s important to note that nothing in either policy change stops companies from making more fuel-efficient cars if Americans want to buy them. In fact, several carmakers have already struck a deal with California to follow the state’s higher standards whether or not the waiver continues. The Trump administration questions the legality of the pact, but the agreement will help these companies appeal to customers who are willing to pay for fuel economy, and also reduce the stakes of any future court battle over the waiver. It’s fine for car companies to go above and beyond what’s legally required of them. But the government should not force the industry to meet unreasonable standards, force customers to pay for it, or allow California to set national policy.

Agreed 100%!!  Thanks to the editors at National Review for that spot-on editorial.  Excellent!!   🙂

Arizona Supreme Court rules Christian artists can’t be forced to make same-sex wedding invitations

A pair of Christian artists can’t be forced by the city government of Phoenix to make invitations for same-sex marriages, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled Monday. Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski, the owners of Brush & Nib Studio, were accused of violating a local anti-discrimination ordinance. Monday’s 4-3 decision reversed a lower-court ruling that favored the city. “An individual has autonomy over his or her speech and thus may not be forced to speak a message he or she does not wish to say,” the court’s majority decision read. Duka, a calligrapher, and Koski, a painter, were threatened with six months jail time and $2,500 in fines for every day they were in violation of the ordinance. They are now celebrating their judicial victory as “a huge win for religious freedom and freedom of speech.” Duka and Koski told “Fox News @ Night” last year they “serve all people” and decided to challenge the law to defend “the right of artists to create freely.” “Joanna and Breanna work with all people; they just don’t promote all messages,” Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Jonathan Scruggs, who argued on the pair’s behalf, said in a statement. “They, like all creative professionals, should be free to create art consistent with their convictions without the threat of government punishment.” Writing for the majority, Justice Andrew Gould concluded that the city of Phoenix “cannot apply its Human Relations Ordinance” to force Brush & Nib to “create custom wedding invitations celebrating same-sex wedding ceremonies in violation of their sincerely held religious beliefs.” “Duka and Koski’s beliefs about same-sex marriage may seem old-fashioned, or even offensive to some,” Gould wrote. “But the guarantees of free speech and freedom of religion are not only for those who are deemed sufficiently enlightened, advanced, or progressive. They are for everyone.”

Exactly!!  And well said, your Honor.  We applaud this outstanding decision by the AZ Supreme Court.  Like the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of a Colorado baker for a similar situation, this is a BIG victory for freedom of speech and freedom of religion…some of our most basic values.  Excellent!!   🙂

Greg Gutfeld: Sanders campaign staff wage complaints expose ‘socialist millionaire’ as ‘hypocrite’

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., routinely slams corporate executives and makes calls for wage hikes, a stance that comes across as hypocritical thanks to a new report, according to Greg Gutfeld. The self-described democratic socialist is reportedly taking heat from campaign staffers upset they are being paid “poverty wages” and not the $15 per hour that is a hallmark of the Sanders campaign, Gutfeld claimed Friday on “The Five.” “He is, just by existing, a hypocrite,” he said. “He’s a socialist millionaire with three homes. Wealth is good for him but not for others.” Sanders reportedly has a net worth of about $700,000, but has made more than $1 million annually in recent years. He and his wife Jane own a house in Burlington, Vt., he purchased a $575,000 lakefront property in the Green Mountain State in 2016, and the couple owns a 19th-century townhouse in the District of Columbia. On “The Five,” Gutfeld said it is important that Sanders, “appl[y] the damaging policies that he wants to do to Americans onto his staff.” “But why won’t he?” he asked. “Because he knows when you raise wages… you have to reduce the number of jobs because ‘the pie’ doesn’t grow. “The purpose of the minimum wage is it’s the first rung on the employment ladder. The problem with the left is… they see the first rung as the last rung because they’re not economically competent.” In recent weeks, Sanders has called for a $15 per hour minimum wage on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” and at campaign rallies in Rock Hill, S.C. and in Augusta, Ga. Adding to Gutfeld’s remarks, host Juan Williams claimed the wages Sanders staffers are making average out to $13 per hour. The staff is also unionized, Williams said.

Greg is definitely right..  Regardless of your personal politics, or party affiliation, Bernie is clearly a spectacular hypocrite.  But, then again, so are most socialist leaders.  They’ll want to impose their failed economic/political system on everyone, but themselves.  Socialism keeps people in mediocrity, except those at the very top who are millionaires (some even billionaires) with multiple mansions and so on.  And, that’s been true throughout history.  Bernie is just the most glaring, brazen example in American politics.  Kudos to Greg for calling out that self-righteous hypocrite on his bs.  For more, click on the text above.