Feb. 20, 2014
“Public virtue cannot exist in a nation without private, and public virtue is the only foundation of republics. There must be a positive passion for the public good, the public interest, honor, power and glory, established in the minds of the people, or there can be no republican government, nor any real liberty: and this public passion must be superior to all private passions.” –John Adams, letter to Mercy Warren, 1776
TOP 5 RIGHT HOOKS
Not Another ‘Red Line’
Foreign policy neophyte Barack Obama once again made a bone-headed pronouncement about world affairs, this time addressing the violence in Ukraine. “[W]e’re going to be watching closely and we expect the Ukrainian government to show restraint, to not resort to violence in dealing with peaceful protesters,” he said Wednesday. “We’ve also said we expect peaceful protesters to remain peaceful.” He added, “[T]here will be consequences if people step over the line.” Unfortunately, everyone knows that Obama speaks loudly and forgets his stick, especially when the nation in question is in any way associated with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, which Ukraine’s government is. Just like his “red line” with Syria, this latest warning is huff and bluster that will only weaken U.S. standing in the world.
Tea Party Turns Five
Yesterday was the fifth anniversary of CNBC’s Rick Santelli reporting from the Chicago stock exchange floor and calling for a new “Tea Party.”1 He was specifically opposed to Barack Obama’s “stimulus,” bailouts and other massive spending growth. “A lot of people have been credited with starting the modern-day tea party but make no mistake, it was Rick Santelli,” said Glenn Beck. “His off the cuff monologue spoke the words that millions of Americans felt but could not nor dare not speak.” The Tea Party remains a force in the GOP, and is the reason the party swept to victory in the House in 2010. We hope the movement can regain that momentum this fall, retake the Senate, and restore some fiscal sanity to Washington.
Insurance Tax Will Raise Premiums
Before ObamaCare was passed, Barack Obama repeatedly told us that his new law would save the average family $2,500 a year on their health insurance premiums. Wrong. A new study2 by Robert Book of the American Action Forum shows that the annual tax on health insurance companies based on their market share will inevitably be passed on to consumers. As a result, he says, it “will result in a premium increase of $60 to $160 per person in 2014, rising to $100-$300 by 2018, for the average insured individual – and over $260 per family in 2014, rising to over $450 in 2018, for families with employer-sponsored, fully-insured coverage.” Once again, we see all too clearly that the BIG Lie was calling ObamaCare the “Affordable” Care Act.
$100 Billion in Bad Payments
The federal government wastes a lot of money, that much is inarguable. But thanks to Veronique de Rugy and Jason Fichtner3, we have some new detail, specifically on various welfare programs and wrongful recipients. Medicare fee-for-service is the worst offender in nominal terms, with nearly $30 billion in improper spending in 2012 alone. But the Earned Income Tax Credit is worse in percentage terms – de Rugy writes that it’s “responsible for $12.6 billion in improper payments, almost a quarter of what the program spent in 2012.” In conclusion, she says, “The reality is that federal spending has grown too massive to be adequately overseen, and the resultant waste, fraud, and abuse squanders public resources and undermines trust in government.”
Report Dramatizes Shootings
A new report4 released by Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun groups Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in American (MDA) and Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) claims that, “In the fourteen months since the mass shooting in Newtown, CT, there have been at least 44 school shootings including fatal and nonfatal assaults, suicides, and unintentional shootings – an average of more than three a month. These school shootings resulted in 28 deaths and 37 non-fatal gunshot injuries.” This data however is highly misleading. “Included in the numbers are  suicides,” explains columnist John Lott. “Also included are late night shootings in school parking lots, on other school grounds or even offschool property, often involving gangs. As ‘shootings,’ they also include any incident where shots were fired, even when nobody was injured.” They also fail to mention that the overall number of school shootings continues to decrease.
For more, visit Right Hooks5.
Report: Minimum Wage Increase Decreases Employment
Conservatives have argued for years that raising the minimum wage leads to a decrease in employment among those on the bottom rung of the economic ladder, an argument leftists vehemently deny. But a report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that a proposed minimum wage increase to $10.10 an hour by 2016 would eliminate 500,000 jobs despite the prospect of enhanced economic activity overall. While that’s a bad scenario, even the best number the CBO could come up with was the increased minimum wage would lead to a “very slight decrease” in employment. Their worst case projection is that one million jobs may be lost.
It’s also worth considering that the increased economic activity, once losses from those who were furloughed, business owners making less profit, and overall higher costs due to the inflationary effects of an artificial wage hike are factored in, would result in a paltry $2 billion increase in real income overall. In part, this is because just 19% of these additional earnings would accrue to families below the poverty line; meanwhile 29% would go to families who make three times the poverty level. In other words, many of those workers who actually make minimum wage – representing less than 2% of the workforce – are those just entering the workforce, meaning they most likely still live with their parents and supplement a far larger household income. The CBO estimates just 2% of those who live in poverty will be lifted out of it by a minimum wage increase. But how many non-minimum wage earners will be forced into poverty by the increased costs?
So why would we engage in what commentator Charles Krauthammer called8“a transfer of wealth from some low-income earners to other low-income earners”? Simple – it’s an election year and goodies have to flow freely to those who typically vote Democrat. Either they’ll get a raise or they’ll be enjoying many months’ worth of unemployment payments, a win-win for the lazy and statists everywhere.
Working Out the Details of NSA Reform
High-ranking members of the intelligence community and civil liberties advocates are trying to figure out just how the government will go about implementing the changes Barak Obama recently proposed9 for the NSA. But what they’ve come up with doesn’t instill a lot of confidence. Obama called for a number of changes to the government’s intelligence gathering infrastructure, including a prohibition on spying on allied leaders and restrictions on gathering and holding data on non-citizens overseas. Both restrictions can, of course, be rescinded if there is a compelling national security purpose – a loophole so broad a Mack truck could drive through it.
One slightly more troubling proposal includes the creation of a privacy advocate that would have a voice in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which currently only hears the government’s side of any national security issue. Injecting a third party into this area of the intelligence infrastructure is fraught with problems. National security information could be compromised and legal proceedings could severely gum up legitimate investigations. Just imagine the damage that could be done if the ACLU had a voice in a FISA court.
The biggest issue of debate, however, is just what to do with the massive amounts of data collected by the NSA’s phone surveillance program. The president proposed putting the collected information in a third-party repository that the NSA would have to seek permission in order to access. No one is sure exactly what this would look like, but telecommunications companies want no part of it. There is no way to guarantee the safety of the data in the hands of a private enterprise, considering the data hacks that take place in the private sector these days. And if the third-party is some quasi public-private institution (think Fannie Mae for spies), who is to say that the operation can be run without leaks, political shenanigans or costly bureaucratic error?
Little mention is made about what to do with the data the NSA currently possesses; these plans are all concerned with future changes, not retroactive ones. However, The Wall Street Journal reports10, “The government is considering enlarging the National Security Agency’s controversial collection of Americans’ phone records – an unintended consequence of lawsuits seeking to stop the surveillance program.”
Meanwhile, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper argued this week that none of this would be necessary had the American public been aware of the NSA surveillance program from the start. Clapper thinks that Americans would have been fine with the extent of the program if the government had just explained its necessity right after 9/11. This, of course, doesn’t excuse his lying to Congress last year about the existence of the program, but that’s okay, too, because Clapper still believes the program is constitutional and effective, despite growing evidence that it is neither.
For more, visit Right Analysis5.
TOP 5 RIGHT OPINION COLUMNS
- Ann Coulter: New Obama Promise: If You Like Your Life, You Can Keep It11
- George Will: The Cold War’s Final Episode?12
- Thomas Sowell: Cruz Control? Part II13
- Victor Davis Hanson: The Outdated Business Model of Diversity Inc.14
- Ben Shapiro: The Left Preaches the Great Apocalypse of Global Warming15
OPINION IN BRIEF
Columnist Ann Coulter: “Our extremely progressive tax system, where nearly half the country pays no income tax at all, and the other half pays about 40 percent of their income, may not be fair. But most people also don’t think it’s fair to tax a guy making $80,000 a year the identical amount as one making $80 million a year. That’s exactly what Obamacare does. With Obamacare, the Democratic Party has foisted the most regressive tax possible on America. This ruthless assault on the middle class is all so we can have a health care system more like every other country has. Until now, the United States has had the highest survival rates in the world for heart disease, cancer and diabetes. … So across the world, we’ll all be equal, dying of cancer, heart disease and diabetes as often as everyone else. It’s not that Obama doesn’t believe in American exceptionalism; it’s that he wants to end it.”
Columnist Ben Shapiro: “[I]f consumerism and virtue are allied, there is no place left for the Marxist critique of capitalism – namely that capitalism makes people less compassionate, more selfish, and ethically meager. And so consumerism must be severed from virtue (very few leftists critique Americans’ propensity for spending cash on Lady Gaga concerts) so that it can be castigated as sin more broadly. In a world in which consumerism is the greatest of all sins, America is the greatest of all sinners, which, of course, is the point of the anti-consumerist critique from the left: to target America. Global warming represents the latest apocalyptic consequence threatened by the leftist gods for the great iniquity of buying things, developing products, and competing in the global marketplace. And America must be called to heel by the great preachers in Washington, D.C., and Hollywood.”
Justice John Marshall Harlan (1899-1971): “In view of the Constitution, in the eye of the law, there is in this country no superior, dominant, ruling class of citizens. There is no caste here. Our Constitution is colorblind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens.”
Columnist Cal Thomas: “Republicans have a lot of problems, but chief among them is that they are known more for what they are against. They hate President Obama, Obamacare, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. Some Republicans don’t even like each other. What and who do they like? What are they for? Where are examples of their policies working – creating jobs, improving lives, lowering deficits and taxes, cutting spending and reducing the size and reach of government? (Hint: States have the answer, not Washington.)”
Humorist Frank J. Fleming: “If you needed the CBO to tell you a minimum wage increase would cost jobs, please stay out of politics.”
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
Nate Jackson for The Patriot Post Editorial Team
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