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The official blog of the National Center for Public Policy Research, covering news, current events and public policy from a conservative, free-market and pro-Constitution perspective.

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Sunday
Feb092014

NAACP Pushed Rally ID Requirement at Protest Against Voter ID Requirement

With William Barber and the North Carolina NAACP, it’s do as I say and not as I do.  At the “Moral March on Raleigh” last Saturday, invitees to the event — called in part to protest the recently-instituted voting protections in that state that feature a requirement for identification such as a driver’s license and passport at the polls – were told to bring photo identification such as a driver’s license or passport with them as an important “do” for participation in the event.

But why should anyone be shocked by the inconsistency.  Reverend Barber’s overall “Moral Monday” campaign is an allegedly non-partisan and non-violent campaign “opposing the Republican agenda in North Carolina” (according to the Associated Press) that resulted in over 900 related arrests of activists in 2013.

The North Carolina NAACP, of which Barber is president, is also involved in a lawsuit seeking to overturn North Carolina’s polling place protections.  The legal complaint says that ballot protections unconstitutionally restrict voter access.  Barber says that asking for proof of identity before something as important as a ballot is given to a person “takes us backwards.”

However, on an official handout of “Important Do’s and Don’ts for Marchers!!!” that was provided to “invitees” to the Moral March by the NAACP, one item states “DO bring photo identification (driver’s license, passport or other valid photo ID) with you and keep it on your person at all times.”  What is “valid” is not stated.

With the “invitee” language, it is implied that this march is an exclusive, private event that took place on the public streets of North Carolina’s capital city.  The NAACP one-sheet advised invitees to rat out anyone they know not to have been invited or joining spontaneously, advising then to “watch for people who join the march from the public and notify a Marshal [sic].”

So, the many everyday things that a North Carolina resident needs to have government-issued ID for – such as banking, shopping, mass transit by rail and air and voting – now includes joining a NAACP rally protesting an ask for an ID to vote (if invited).

Perhaps the reminder for bringing an ID is because, of the thousands of people who reportedly participated in an alleged grassroots event, community organizers told the Associated Press that they expected people from 30 states would be participating in the rally.  They might have needed it to travel.  Or verify their credit card when checking into a hotel.

According to a poll of actual North Carolina voters conducted for Elon University in 2011, there is hardly a smidgen of opposition to voter ID laws.  Of those surveyed, 80 percent believed the state’s voter ID law was fair and 75 percent supported the ballot safeguard.

In many ways, this handout hassle is Reverend Barber’s third strike.  Since the beginning of the year, Barber made national news and earned dubious recognition on three occasions.  Already, he demeaned Senator Tim Scott (D-SC) by comparing his to a ventriloquist’s dummy and said black conservatives in general are “mouthpieces” for a nondescript conservative power.

Now this.

It’s hypocritical, and none of this sits well with the conservative activists of the National Center’s Project 21 black leadership network.

For example, Project 21 member Emery McClendon said:

Apparently, neither the NAACP staff that planned the event nor William Barber who presided over it took the time to review their own ground rules for their “Moral March on Raleigh.”

They are against having to show a valid ID to vote.  Yet they included the same stipulation as a requirement for people to be involved in the actual march.

We are either witnessing gross hypocrisy here or a case of incompetent leadership.  Perhaps both!

Adding to this criticism is Project 21 member Kevin Martin, who said:

There is no logical excuse for the NAACP to remain opposed to photo ID requirements for voting that were recently passed in many states.  This is especially true considering allegations of stolen votes and the extensive coverage of credit-related identity theft in general.

The very fact that the North Carolina NAACP requested its supporters show up with official government-issued ID in hand to rally against the very same requirement exposes their misleading talking points that allege minorities, women, the elderly and students have a harder time obtaining such credentials.

It’s beyond time the NAACP dropped these discredited excuses and joined the majority of Americans who support protections that secure free and honest elections.

It’s time for the yelling and the lawsuits to stop.

Furthermore, Project 21 member Demetrius Minor said:

The NAACP’s call for participants to bring a valid government-issued ID to their rally is not only ironic, but hypocritical.

For an organization that deems voter ID laws as disfranchising to minorities, they sure are willing to embrace it when they are setting the rules for their own event.

Given Reverend Barber’s demeaning remarks in the past toward Senator Tim Scott, in which he likened the lawmaker to a ventriloquist’s dummy, I’m not sure Barber’s motives are objective or relevant.

Sunday
Feb092014

Democratic Congressmen Seek Investigation of IRS Inspector General for Reporting Alleged IRS Wrongdoing Against Conservative Groups

IRSScandalWordArt

It seems the inspector general is a Republican.

Not long after the Obama Administration's Department of Justice appointed an Obama bundler to investigate the are-conservatives-being-targeted-by-the-IRS? scandal, two influential Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee are complaining that the IRS inspector general who released a report revealing significant details of the scandal can't be relied upon because he's not independent -- he used to work for Republicans on the Hill and was appointed to his job by George W. Bush.

One of these men, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), said last year that everything is already known about the scandal that needs to be known. He wanted the investigation ended. Now he wants it expanded, but to investigate the inspector general who alleged wrongdoing, not to find if wrongdoing occurred.

The other Congressman, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), called the inspector general "a tainted IG." (Does he believe the DOJ investigation is "tainted"?)

The Congressmen also complained that Democrats had been left out of certain meetings. As the blog Weasel Zippers reports:

Why might some Democrats have been kept out of meetings? Because Congressional Democrats were being looked at during the investigation for their role in the IRS targeting.

Seems reasonable.

In any case, as long as the Department of Justice completes a comprehensive investigation of the charges in the actual scandal, including the IG's report, it won't matter in the end. If a through investigation is done, we'll all find out what happened, and the IG will either be vindicated, or he won't be.

No need Congressmen Cummings and Connolly to fuss...

...unless they have some reason to suspect that Eric Holder's Department of Justice won't conduct a full investigation.

Do they?

Surely not.

The House of Representatives should appoint a special investigator with full subpoena powers to investigate this scandal. Possibly he or she will reach the same conclusion the DOJ investigation reaches, but if that happens, it is still worth doing, because then the public will have far more confidence in whatever that conclusion is.

And while I'm on the subject of the IRS scandal, readers might be interested in an interview my husband and the National Center's president, David Ridenour, did on the scandal on WGSO-AM's Jeff Couere show in New Orleans Friday. The recording is rather long because they took questions from callers, so feel free to listen to, as the president might say, only a smidgen. You'll still get good content.

Saturday
Feb082014

Can We Trust President Obama to Investigate the IRS? We Say No, and Here's Why

Can we trust President Obama to investigate the IRS -- especially when he says no wrongdoing has occurred there under his watch? David Ridenour, president of the National Center for Public Policy Research, says NO on WQSC-Charleston's Rocky D Show on February 6, and explains why.

Friday
Feb072014

Black Conservatives With No Regrets on Beliefs

Between the fact that it’s Black History Month and that it’s getting close to the observance of President’s Day, there can be more pressure than usual on black conservatives to compromise their values as a show of respect for Barack Obama.

Over the past few weeks, for instance, there was the case of Reverend Willian Barber, the head of the North Carolina NAACP chapter.  Barber criticized Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) for being what he considered a ventriloquist’s dummy.  Later, Barber called all black conservatives “mouthpieces” in league with a nondescript conservative conspiracy.

Project 21 members don’t believe that the color of one’s skin merits a free pass for making bad decisions — for themselves or for bad policies that impact the entire nation.

As a result, almost every Project 21 member has their own stories about being ostracized at some point by friends and family for going against the political grain.  Some of these stories have more divisive endings than others, but the end result is almost always that the Project 21 member emerges even more confident and contrarian.

In the wake of recent events such as President Obama’s poorly-received State of the Union address, another bad jobless report, more extensions and problems related to the rollout of ObamaCare and no end in sight for controversies regarding the NSA’s spying and the IRS’s alleged targeting of conservatives, at least two Project 21 members are showing that they remain steadfast and justified in their conservative beliefs.

For instance, Project 21 member Christopher Arps, who is also a founder of the Move-On-Up.org social networking site for black conservatives, said about the mostly unswerving black political support for Barack Obama:

I’m all for black pride, and I can understand on an emotional level why black folk have a loyalty to President Obama.

I get it.  I really do.

But if loyalty is not being returned and I’m just being taken for granted, all bets are quickly off!

I am nobody’s fool — not even for the first black president.  Sorry.

Likewise, Project 21 member Darryn “Dutch” Martin, a former diplomatic service official and business consultant, sees the poor policy returns for the black community during the Obama presidency and his blood boils.  For all of the criticism he has endured, he doesn’t hold back in his rebuttal:

This is what the Obama Kool-Aid drinkers voted for — twice?!

What do you want to bet that blacks, Obama’s most loyal voting block, are going to be the ones most adversely affected by all of this progressivism when everything is said and done?

To all of you true believers who have bad-mouthed me for being a black conservative and for daring to disagree with Obama’s policies and showing — or at least trying to show — you fools why his administration was heading our nation in the wrong direction, this is what you get.

I hope you are ready for the shock, because the downside of this president’s policies are likely to hit Obama’s most ardent constituency the hardest.

Friday
Feb072014

Benen: Putting More Lipstick On The ObamaCare Pig

Jonathan Cohn wasn’t the only one who tried to make the Congressional Budget Office’s Budget and Economic Outlook look rosy, despite the fact that it was a major blow against ObamaCare.

Steve Benen, producer of the Rachel Maddow show, dutifully repeated all the progressive talking points, including, “For Obamacare critics, the law has increased part-time employment over full-time employment. The CBO found ‘there is no compelling evidence’ to support the argument.”

What Benen is referring to here is the ObamaCare employer mandate that requires businesses with 50 or more full-time employees (full-time defined as working 30 hours or more a week) to provide their employees with health insurance or pay a penalty.  Alas, what the CBO actually said about the employer mandate was a bit more complex than Benen let on:

In CBO’s judgment, the costs of the penalty eventually will be borne primarily by workers in the form of reductions in wages or other compensation—just as the costs of a payroll tax levied on employers will generally be passed along to employees. Because the supply of labor is responsive to changes in compensation, the employer penalty will ultimately induce some workers to supply less labor.

In the next few years, however, when wages probably will not adjust fully, those penalties will tend to reduce the demand for labor more than the supply. In the longer run, some businesses also may decide to reduce their hiring or shift their demand toward part-time hiring—either to stay below the threshold of 50 full-time equivalent workers or to limit the number of full-time workers that generate penalty payments. But such shifts might not reduce the overall use of labor, as discussed below.

In short, the employer mandate could induce some workers to work less and some businesses to hire less.  It’s just uncertain at this point.

As for there being no compelling evidence that the employer-mandate has increased part-time employment over full-time employment, a more accurate description is that the CBO has no compelling evidence as of right now:

In CBO’s judgment, there is no compelling evidence that part-time employment has increased as a result of the ACA. On the one hand, there have been anecdotal reports of firms responding to the employer penalty by limiting workers’ hours, and the share of workers in parttime jobs has declined relatively slowly since the end of the recent recession. On the other hand, the share of workers in part-time jobs generally declines slowly after recessions, so whether that share would have declined more quickly during the past few years in the absence of the ACA is difficult to determine. In any event, because the employer penalty will not take effect until 2015, the current lack of direct evidence may not be very informative about the ultimate effects of the ACA. (Italics added).

Thus, the CBO has not by any means closed the book on the effect of the employer mandate.  Rather, it doesn’t expect to have any direct evidence until after 2015.

And yes, the evidence right now on the employer mandate is anecdotal.  But progressives should be a little worried, since there are at least 401 anecdotes.

Friday
Feb072014

About Those January Jobs Numbers…  

Despite the official unemployment rate going down against slightly in January, there is absolutely nothing to celebrate.  A year into President Obama’s second term, the numbers behind the official figure shouldn’t excite anyone.

January jobless numbers from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics put the official unemployment rate at 6.6 percent — a one-tenth of a percent decrease since December.  While this is a low for the Obama presidency, the BLS announcement qualifies the news that there was “little change” in the state of affairs for pretty much any demographic.

Only 113,000 jobs were created in January — much fewer than expected and certainly much less than needed to replace those normally leaving the workforce.

The labor force participation rate was an anemic 63 percent.

And things are not likely to get better at the rate things are going.  The latest report on ObamaCare from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office predicts that the President’s signature takeover of American health care will destroy another 2.5 million jobs over the next decade.  Perhaps the opening round of those lost jobs is the announcement from Radio Shack this week that it will close at least 500 stores in the next few months.

Project 21 member Derryck Green, in his monthly “About Those Jobs Numbers…” report, takes a journey to Planet Progressive.  On Planet Progressive, all is fine despite the poor economic news — and Derryck doesn’t agree with the Obama Administration’s rosy opinion of its performance as it ends its fifth year in the driver’s seat of the American economy:

For those who suffered through President Obama’s State of the Union address last month, few should have been deceived into believing the pretty picture he painted regarding the state of our economy.  The attentive certainly were not.

Today’s jobless numbers prove that any skepticism was indeed well-founded.

That the economy is doing anything remotely positive and worth commending in this anemic, so-called recovery has more to do with the strength and resiliency of the American people and not because of the President’s stewardship.

In fact, the President’s supporters seem to revel in the potential expansion of a welfare state.

Today’s jobless report once again showed the continued drop in the unemployment rate isn’t the result of the economy making the progress that is desperately needed.  Rather, it seems to be the result of more Americans giving up hope and leaving the workforce.

However dishonestly the administration may attempt to spin the news, a deep dive into the statistics doesn’t lie.  Things are still bad.

The official unemployment rate, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is 6.6 percent — down a tenth of a point since December.  But the press release that announced the drop said the overall situation created “little change.”

For the second month in a row, job creation fell far below expectations (113,000 jobs created in January).  The U-6 total unemployment rate, the one that includes the underemployed and the despondent who have quit looking altogether, is at an unbearably high 12.7 percent.  The very low labor force participation rate is at 63 percent — not a record, but close.

As for the President’s core constituencies, the news once again is not good at all.  Black men saw their unemployment rate rise from 11.9 percent to 12.1 percent.  The rate for black women also rose, from 11.5 percent to 12 percent.  Hispanic unemployment rose from 8.3 percent to 8.4 percent.

And black teenagers appear to be the hardest hit.  Their rate of joblessness rose from a high rate of 35 percent to an obscenely high rate of 38 percent.

Also consider the following:

  • Real median household income continues to fall;
  • The civilian labor force with a bachelor’s degrees, older than 35, continues a historic fall;
  • The labor force participation rate of men between the ages of 25 and 54 — men in their prime — continues to drop.  It’s estimated that close to 10.5 million men, aged 25 to 54 don’t have work;
  • Hours worked continues to decrease;
  • There are now more than 50 million Americans now living below the poverty level — a number exacerbated during Obama’s presidency;
  • According to the Corporation for Enterprise Development, half of Americans are living in what they call “persistent economic insecurity… making it difficult to look beyond immediate needs and plan for a more secure future.”  In other words, half of Americans are unfortunately living paycheck-to-paycheck.

All of this presents serious causes for concern about the economy now and effects on the future.  Sadly, the news concerning the economy continues to grow more worrisome.

The Congressional Budget Office recently released a report stating that unemployment remains historically high as a result of the slowest recovery following a recession since 1975.  Further, the report affirmed that, despite the projections of decreasing unemployment rates in the future, the labor force participation rate would likely continue to drop.

The report also stipulates that, as a result of the ObamaCare’s subsidized provisions — provisions that decline with increased income — people will inevitably determine there is a considerable financial incentive (in the form of subsidies in combination with the current marginal tax rates) to work less — if at all.

This, of course, negatively affects the labor force participation rate.

CBO analysts estimate that those responding to the incentive not to work could reflect the potential loss of upwards of 2.5 million jobs over the next ten years.  The report goes on to state that, though total employment will increase, it will do so at a slower rate as a result of ObamaCare’s adverse affects.

This job-loss projection doesn’t include the full impact of the employer mandate, which doesn’t go into effect until 2015.  Millions more jobs could be forfeited when employers calculate that penalties, layoffs and reducing employee hours are preferable to increasing their labor costs or simply going out of business.  As the CBO report states: “[T]he costs of the penalty eventually will be borne primarily by workers in the form of reductions in wages or other compensation…  Because the supply of labor is responsive to changes in compensation, the employer penalty will ultimately induce some workers to supply less labor.”

There may be two jobs created under ObamaCare, but they will likely be two people working 20 hours a week.  It helps employers stay under ObamaCare mandates and maintains individuals’ ObamaCare subsidies, but it’s going to devastate the American taxpayer.

In other words, ObamaCare is the job-killer many knew it to be and, over the next couple of years, that truth will be laid bare for the American people to see.

The response to all of this from liberal lawmakers and the White House and its allies has an expectedly cartoonish spin.  It serves as more indication that they really aren’t taking the poor economic situation seriously.

This was seen in the comments of Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), a high-ranking Democrat in Congress.  He suggested it’s apparently a blessing that more Americans will have the freedom to “choose to work less or not at all” because the government has now provided them with health insurance.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said that the report “rightfully says that people shouldn’t have job lock.  We live in a country where we should be free agents.  People can do what they want.”

What!?

Jason Furman, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors said, “This is not businesses cutting back on jobs.  This is people having new choices.”  Furman went on to say this new freedom would create a dynamic marketplace that magically encourages entrepreneurship.

Because they’ll have what accumulated wealth?  Or what collateral to secure a bank loan?

White House press secretary Jay Carney simply disagreed with the non-partisan CBO report because he didn’t like what it had to say.

“Job lock?”  “Free agents?”  “New choices?”  This is Alice in Wonderland stuff.  Too bad this is real-life, and not just a story.

It’s so bad that President Obama finally acknowledged his unpopularity to his allies in the Senate.  He should try telling people something they don’t already know.

Unpardonably, the President and his supporters idiotically embrace the job losses anticipated by the CBO report.  In a sane world, politicians would pass legislation, reduce taxes and regulations upon hearing such bad news to try and counter such poor projections.

Not on Planet Progressive.

On Planet Progressive, projected and actualized job losses are celebrated and touted with assertions that the impending unemployment of millions of Americans will is a good thing because these Americans will be able to “choose” to work less hours and “choose” to be jobless because they’ll still be able to receive health insurance.

On Planet Progressive, unemployment is a good thing because the jobless have health insurance while lacking a consistent paycheck.  In what sensible way does this fantasy balance itself out?

I applaud and commend the determination of Americans who stubbornly attempt to persevere despite the odds.  I’m talking about those people who persevere no mater what gets thrown at them.  They don’t step aside and seek a hobby.

But applause is not enough.  Despite their heavy lifting, no amount of super-human performance can overcome a government and chief executive so stuck on stupid that our nation’s economy careens toward oblivion.

Bottom Photo Credits: iStockPhoto.com

Friday
Feb072014

Do Americans Have a Free Speech Right to Flash Their Headlights? A Debate on the Sean Hannity Show

Do Americans have a free speech right to flash their headlights to warn other motorists of a speed trap? Is the Obama Administration attacking the heart of the American work ethic? Should an American dip the U.S. flag in respect before Vladimir Putin? And is MSNBC's Chris Matthews right to claim that conservatives want to have President Obama executed?

These and other questions were debated on the February 6 Sean Hannity radio show between attorney Horace Cooper, Co-Chairman of Project 21 and an adjunct fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research and Thaddeus Russell, author of "A Renegade History of the U.S." (Free Press/Simon & Schuster, 2010) and an adjunct assistant professor of American Studies at Occidental College.

Thursday
Feb062014

Why Did President Obama Claim There's "Not a Smidgen" of IRS Corruption Before the Investigation Ends: A Radio Debate

Why did Obama say there's "not even a smidgen of IRS corruption" even before the FBI investigation has been concluded? And the CBO has increased its projection for Obamacare-driven job-quitting to jump from 800,000 to 2.3 million. How serious is this?

Democratic strategist Bob Weiner and I debated these and related questions on the Mainstreet Radio Network's Alan Nathan Show on February 6, 2014. Listen in, if so inclined.

Thursday
Feb062014

Stop Segregating Black History Month

Stacy Swimp, a member of the National Center’s Project 21 black leadership network, notes the origin of “Black History Month” is rooted more in fostering “unity” among all Americans regardless of race.

But that’s not the way it is usually presented nowadays.

As the observance grew from the humble beginnings of Dr. Carter G. Woodson’s “Negro History Week” in 1926 and into a full month that has been co-opted by the political left, Stacy says it has diverged from Woodson’s vision to become a tool of “ethnocentric pride and cultural divide.”

Stacy, a supporter of the original intentions of Dr. Woodson, points out:

When we segregate months to highlight ethnicities and genders, we cease to simply recognize accomplishments and instead encourage disunity among Americans of all stripes.

In this 2013 New Visions Commentary, Stacy issues a call for taking back the observance of Black History Month from the left and returning it to Woodsonian principles:

The Origin and Purpose of Black History Month

History is a clock that people use to tell their political and cultural time of day.  It is also a compass that people use to find themselves on the map of human geography. History tells a people where they have been and what they have been, where they are and what they are.  Most important, history tells a people where they still must go, what they still must be.  The relationship of history to the people is the same as the relationship of a mother to her child.

-J.H. Clarke

February is observed as “Black History Month” in America.

Its precursor, “Negro History Week,” was created by Dr. Carter G. Woodson in 1926 and observed on the second week of February.

A staunch Republican, Woodson choose that week in that month to honor the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.

Woodson created Negro History Week because black Americans and their accomplishments were largely left out of the educational curricula of that time.  Where blacks were mentioned, it was usually very demeaning imagery or discriminatory ideas.

Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Negro (now African-American) Life and History in 1915 and the Journal of Negro History in 1916.  He was dedicated to helping educate black and white Americans about blacks and their accomplishments and potential in a way that would benefit everyone.

His week-long observance was expanded to become Black History Month — officially recognized by the U.S. government — in 1976.

Unlike it often seems to be today, Woodson never intended black history to be about black firsts and a parade of black icons.  Woodson was a scholar.  He intended this observance as a means to get around the institutional hatred of the era and ultimately have this new information included in the teaching of American history, period.

In particular, Woodson wanted black Americans to understand the strong family values, work ethic, sense of individual responsibility, spirit of entrepreneurship and incredible dignity that was indicative of black Americans and their African ancestors.

This educational pursuit was also important to Woodson because he felt that historical awareness would inspire black Americans of his time to avoid becoming dependent on government to do for them what they could do for themselves.

Woodson also believed that, if white Americans knew the true history of blacks in America and in Africa, it would help overcome negative stereotyping.

Negro History Week was envisioned as a tool to develop and cultivate new awareness and new critiques.  It was about unity.  It was not a basis for ethnocentric pride and cultural divide — the path radical black Americans on the left have pursued over the past few decades.

I personally take advantage of the national spotlight that Black History Month provides to educate others about the real history leftist scholars rewrite or ignore, and stress the original purpose of Negro History Week.

Woodson’s vision was that someday a special week or month would no longer be required in order to appropriately honor black Americans and their accomplishments.  Black history is American history — and a year-round school curricula relevant to all.

But that won’t occur under the oversight of the U.S. Department of Education as long as there continues to be a left-wing domination of public education.

When we segregate months to highlight ethnicities and genders, we cease to simply recognize accomplishments and instead encourage disunity among Americans of all stripes.  The political left deserves scorn for their determination to keep America divided along ethnic, cultural and so-called class lines.

I am thankful for the work and the vision of Dr. Carter G. Woodson.  History is indeed a human need. His contribution and that of other black Americans is considerable and far too important to ever be compartmentalized into just one month.

I pray for a day when Dr. Woodson’s desire to observe “Negro History” comes to proper fruition.

Thursday
Feb062014

Throw in the Towel on George Zimmerman Boxing Event

It was announced this week that George Zimmerman, the man cleared of murder charges in the death of Trayvon Martin almost two years ago, is involved in negotiations to box rapper DMX in a three-round match as early as next month.

DMX is reportedly in negotiations on money and terms.  Celebrity publicist Domenick Nati said “[n]o contract or paperwork has been signed or agreed to yet.”  Promoter Damon Feldman said he wants to have the planned pay-per-view event to happen as early as March 15.  Zimmerman says he will give any money he earns from the event to charity.

Project 21 member Nadra Enzi is not a fan of the proposed boxing match.  In fact, he thinks the idea should be knocked out before things get out of hand:

I thought the proposed “celebrity” boxing match that is being planned between George Zimmerman and DMX was a hoax until I researched it.

Sadly, it’s not.

A boxing match — with proceeds allegedly slated to go to charity — is actually being discussed between George Zimmerman and DMX!

While I am a fan of the Second Amendment, boxing and non-fratricidal hip hop music, I can’t say I’m enamored by this proposed bout.

The literally deadly serious matter that originally propelled Zimmerman into the global spotlight has, within it all, elements that are too explosive and are better left alone.

Its racial dimension alone begs asking why is this a wise idea.  It smacks of a gladiator match pitting factions of the public who are on violently-opposed sides of that controversial case against each other.

Perhaps some good hovers on the horizon for this stunt, but my initial reaction is simply to shake my head in disgust.

Thursday
Feb062014

Cohn: Putting The Lipstick On The ObamaCare Pig

When the Congressional Budget Office released its Budget and Economic Outlook on Monday that was pretty devastating for ObamaCare, numerous progressives did their best to make it look rosy.

The New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn showed us how it’s done.  And he even managed to quote Society’s official spokesman, Jonathan Gruber!

More important, CBO says, most of the people working fewer hours will be choosing to do so. And that’s a very different story from the one Obamacare critics are telling. Some of the people cutting back hours will be working parents who decide they can afford to put in a little less time with their co-workers and a little more time with their kids. Some will be early sixty-somethings who will retire before they reach 65, rather than clinging to low-paying jobs just to get health benefits. “This is what we want in a fair society,” says Jonathan Gruber, the MIT economist and Obamacare architect. “We don’t want to enslave the old and sick to their jobs out of some sense of meanness. If they are dying to quit/retire, then let’s them. That’s a good thing, not a bad thing.”

If you want my thoughts on Gruber’s nonsense, scroll to end of this post.  As for Cohn, he’s leaving out some pretty important parts of the report regarding who is going to choose to work less.  I mean, you didn’t think it was all retirees and people wanting to spend more time with their kids, did you?  From page 120 of the CBO report: 

Nonetheless, another subgroup that has employment based insurance does seem likely to reduce their labor supply somewhat. Specifically, those people whose income would make them eligible for subsidies through exchanges (or for Medicaid), and who work less than a full year (roughly 10 to 15 percent of workers in that income range in a typical year), would tend to work somewhat less because of the ACA’s subsidies. For those workers, the loss of subsidies upon returning to a job with health insurance is an implicit tax on working (and is equivalent to an average tax rate of roughly 15 percent, CBO estimates). That implicit tax will cause some of those workers to lengthen the time they are out of work—similar to the effect of unemployment benefits.

What the CBO is referring to are the incentives faced by lower-income workers.  In short, ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion and exchange subsidies discourage such workers from increasing their incomes.  In his piece Cohn states that “Of course, some able-bodied will cut back on hours for reasons that conservatives, in particular, might not like.”  One would think that lower-income workers cutting back on hours worked would be something that progressives like Cohn wouldn’t like.  Or should their recent hyperventilating over income inequality not be taken seriously?  Here’s Cohn from last July:

One reason so many Americans tolerate inequality is their belief that it’s not a permanent condition. Yes, you might start out life without a lot of money. But if you work hard and play by the rules, then you’ll get ahead. You might never become a millionaire, but you’ll still find your way into the middle class. And then your kids will have a shot to do even better. Experts call this income mobility. The rest of us call it “the American dream.”

But for too many of us, it really is a dream—and nothing more. The comparison to other developed nations is striking. In Europe and in Asia, the countries most similar to the U.S. have both more equality and more mobility. In other words, they have fewer rungs on the income ladder to climb, and they have an easier time making each step.

Will giving lower-income workers incentives to work less make it easier for them to get ahead?  The question is rhetorical.  Perhaps that’s why Cohn ignored that part of the CBO report.

As for Gruber, he’s absolutely right!  Slavery of must end!  We as a society must stop our practice of sending cruel overseers to ensure that workers in their 50s stay chained to their desks!  I mean, the floggings those poor codgers endure when they merely ask to use the bathroom at the wrong time!

On a more serious note, I wonder what the 28-year-old living in Omaha, Nebraska making $32,000 annually thinks about his 58-year-old neighbor who has $40,000 annually in retirement income.  As the Kaiser Family Foundation subsidy calculator shows, the 28-year-old receives no subsidy on the ObamaCare exchange.  He will, though, pay over $2,800 in federal income taxes according to the Tax Calculator.  Presumably those taxes help pay for the annual subsidy of $2,684 the 58-year-old retiree receives on the exchange.  I wonder, does the 28-year-old agree with Gruber that this “is what we want in a fair society”?

UPDATE: Via Twitter, Cohn said that he did address the issue of low-income workers when he wrote “some able-bodied.”  I think using that term is too vague, but I’ve always known Cohn as a straight shooter, so if he says that phrase was meant to address it, I take him at his word.

Tuesday
Feb042014

Sorry NAACP, Project 21 Members are Not Simply Conservative Mouthpieces

Less than a month after demeaning a black conservative lawmaker by comparing him to a ventriloquist’s dummy, an NAACP leader upped the ante by attacking black conservatives and other minorities who favor smaller government and more liberty – calling them “mouthpieces” for an apparently white political conspiracy.

The Washington Post reported that the Reverend William Barber – the head of the NAACP in the state of North Carolina – made his latest claim during an unspecified conference call.  During that call, he implied that white conservatives seek out minorities who share their values to be their “mouthpieces.”  Barber said:

They frantically seek out people of color to become mouthpieces for their particular agenda.

Barber insists his comments – now and when he compared Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) to the ventriloquist’s dummy – are not, according to the Post, “meant to be racial.”  Barber additionally said, “The issue is: Who are you a mouthpiece for when you fight the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.”

Project 21, a volunteer-driven entity, has helped to promote black conservatives for over 20 years.  The National Center, which sponsors Project 21, has never sought to use black conservatives as a “mouthpiece” for any racial agenda – black, white or otherwise.  Members of Project 21 have sought out the organization after they already chose to embrace conservative values and principles of their own volition (and sometimes they were referred by a like-minded friend).

Project 21 members spoke out against Barber when he attacked Senator Scott.

And they certainly don’t agree with the latest musing of this high-ranking NAACP official.

Rebutting Reverend Barber and critics like him that he must deal with on a regular basis due to his outspoken conservative beliefs, Project 21 member Kevin Martin said:

It would seem that William Barber is at it again.  This time, he seeks to attack conservatives of color such as myself as “mouthpieces.”

Barber needs to look in the mirror before he calls out others.  The fact of the matter is that personal experiences and the overall condition of my community shaped my conservative thoughts and ideas.  It has become all too apparent to me that people such as Reverend Barber are opposed to the free will and thought that I want for the black community.  I’m sure that if the modern NAACP had its way, the black community would be nothing more than mouthpieces for liberal causes.

I am fully aware that I will come under attack from people such as Reverend Barber because I am willing to stand up to their failed ideas and their hypocrisy.  Their attacks also show me that I am winning the unspoken debate of ideas with each passing day.

Project 21 member Christopher Arps, a founder of Move-on-up.org, a social network for black conservatives, added about Barber’s assertion:

To the contrary, the only ventriloquist trick being performed here is by liberal puppet masters having their African-American surrogates advocate for policies that have been detrimental to the future prosperity and vitality of African-Americans.

Darryn “Dutch” Martin – a Project 21 member, former American diplomatic official and business consultant – said:

The fact that the NAACP, through Reverend Barber, chooses to take cheap shots at black conservatives plainly shows the declining relevance of that group.  Since their liberal big-government platform is crumbling in the age of Obama, and since their race card has long since expired, they are resorting to the only card they have left to play: ad hominem attacks.

Tuesday
Feb042014

Science for Senators

Real Clear Science published my piece today challenging absurd claims by environmental activists claiming that chemicals such as BPA are responsible for surging medical costs. The assertions were touted in an article by Huffington Post’s Environment columnist, Lynne Peeples. I’m proud that the influential and widely read Real Clear Science published my article debuking the claims. But I’ll admit, I submitted the piece somewhere else first. The Huffington Post, which has published many of my columns, declined to publish this one. I don’t know why.

I do know that anti-chemical activists want the government to step in and protect the public from obesity they say is caused by BPA. Their champion is California Senator Dianne Feinstein who tweeted yesterday about the phony evidence that BPA is an obesogen.

In the Senator’s defense, she probably reads Huffington Post and doesn’t have time for Real Clear Science. In retrospect, maybe I should have titled the article, “Science for Senators.” Especially if you live in California, please help Senator Feinstein understand some pretty basic scientific principles, such as the difference between association and causation. You can begin by sending her my piece. Who knows, maybe she’ll become a fan of Real Clear Science

Monday
Feb032014

Project 21’s Kevin Martin Slams Obama O’Reilly Interview “Filibuster”

Before Denver and Seattle took to the gridiron, President Obama and Fox News Channel host Bill O’Reilly scrapped it up during a pre-game interview that the President has traditionally offered to the network airing the big game.  That game was on the Fox network this year — the sister network of the Fox News Channel.

O’Reilly brought up issues largely ignored by the mainstream media: alleged IRS abuses, the Benghazi debacle and an apparent lack of accountability over the botched rollout of ObamaCare.

Obviously not accustomed to such blunt questioning, Obama pushed back — essentially blaming the Fox News Channel for hyping the stories O’Reilly asked about during the segment.

Even the New York Times reported that Obama’s responses “shed little if any new light on some of the most controversial moments of Mr. Obama’s presidency.”

On Benghazi, in defending his then-U.S. Ambassador and now National Security Advisors Susan Rice over her characterization of the attack on the American diplomatic compound as anger over a video rather than a coordinated terrorist attack, Obama said people “believe [the latter] because folks like you are telling them.”  He denied any “mass corruption” involving the suspected targeting of conservative organization by the IRS, and insisted there is “not even a smidgen of corruption” at the agency and that “these kinds of things will keep on surfacing in part because you and your TV station will promote them.”

Pressed on ObamaCare and how few appear to have been held responsible for mismanagement of his federal health care takeover, Obama said, “I try to focus not on the fumbles, but on the next play.”

Project 21 member Kevin Martin, who watched the Obama-O’Reilly interview as part of his pre-game entertainment, thought President Obama’s uncomfortable and unrevealing performance was a precursor to the big game’s disappointment for so many people:

President Obama’s attempts to essentially blame the Fox News Channel for the scandals plaguing his administration is a tactic that has become a typical tactic, albeit an unbecoming one, for his administration.

By blaming his detractors, it’s obvious to me that President Obama believes that an American public he thinks adores him will simply accept what he says and excuse his lack of leadership on a whole host of issues from ObamaCare to the alleged IRS targeting of conservatives.

But the President went further, blaming the American public for believing what they may see on the Fox News Channel.  The truth of the matter, however — and something that the President clearly missed, in my opinion — was that the majority of people have come to feel his administration has not been truthful on a whole range of issues.  Things brought up by Bill O’Reilly, such as the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and the poor rollout of ObamaCare, just scratched the surface.

It seems that, in agreeing to do this traditional interview — but with O’Reilly as the interviewer, Obama wasn’t ready to answer tough questions.  In the end, he instead chose to filibuster the conversation and express emotional disdain for an interview that was not full of softball questions.

Monday
Feb032014

On DOJ's Investigation of the IRS: The Fix is In, and Here's How We Know

080

Attorney General Eric Holder says that the Department of Justice's investigation into alleged wrongdoing at the IRS isn't over and that the leaks that no charges will be brought are false, because the investigation is on-going.

Now we have the President of the United States, in a February 2 interview with Bill O'Reilly, repeating what the leak said. Namely, that there was just a lot of confusion over at the IRS and no lawbreaking... not a smidgeon of corruption.

How can both these things be right?

Either Holder lied before the Senate Judiciary Committee or Obama lied in his interview with O'Reilly.

Furthermore, I think it is absolutely stunning that in the middle of a DOJ investigation into the IRS, the President of the United States announces what the conclusion of the investigation is.

There can be no better indication than this that the fix is in.

Monday
Feb032014

Should Ecig Ads Be Banned?

Activist groups want the government to ban advertisements for E-cigarettes. A spot for e-cigarette brand NJOY, which aired in some markets during the Super Bowl, has sparked controversy.

In an op-ed in today’s New York Post, the Heartland Institute’s Greg Conley joins me in writing, 

One of Sunday’s most controversial Super Bowl ads came with the message “Friends don’t let friends smoke.” Bizarrely, it’s organized anti-smokers in the public-health establishment who want the commercial banned.

The line comes in an ad for the NJOY King, an electronic cigarette produced by Scottsdale, Ariz.-based NJOY. The commercial shows people helping each other in situations like moving a couch up a flight of stairs or helping a friend in a bar fight. Then one man starts to light up a cigarette, only for his friend to offer him an NJOY King.

For most people, the message is clear: If someone close to you smokes cigarettes, try recommending they switch to a smoke-free alternative.

Those who care about public health should be rejoicing that the private sector is not only placing anti-smoking ads on the country’s largest stage, but that the ad actually offers smokers an appealing alternative to smoking.

Many smokers complain that nicotine gum and patches, which are promoted by government-funded anti-smoking campaigns, aren’t satisfying; e-cigs give those trying to quit an experience closer to smoking. Many ex-smokers who’d failed to quit smoking with the government-endorsed solutions are now succeeding with e-cigarettes.

Yet the response from many of America’s most prominent anti-smoking groups is a call for a ban on all TV and radio advertising of e-cigs. Last year’s NJOY Super Bowl ad made activists furious. That ad, which also ran in select markets, focused on distinguishing between smoking and vaping (for the vapor emitted from e-cigs). Yet Bill Pfeifer, president and CEO of the American Lung Association’s Southwest chapter, fumed that the NJOY ads were “slick misinformation” that should be banned by the Food and Drug Administration, and that both CBS and the NFL should have benched the ads.

Why would the American Lung Association, whose purpose is to reduce lung disease, oppose letting smokers learn about smoke-free e-cigarettes, which even opponents acknowledge are dramatically less harmful than smoking? Because, they argue, some e-cigs look like the real thing.

No, really. E-cigarette opponents say the products should be demonized because they look like cigarettes, or as the World Health Organization claims, they “normalize” smoking.

That’s nonsense.

That some e-cigs look, feel and taste somewhat like cigarettes is actually what makes them so appealing to people trying to quit smoking. Yet if it were up to activist groups, alternatives to cigarette smoking would be entirely unappealing — and therefore ineffective.

As Clive Bates, the former head of Action on Smoking and Health, the largest anti-smoking group in the United Kingdom, recently stated at an e-cig investors conference held in New York City, “If you’ve got a very, very low risk product that no one wants to use, you don’t get much harm reduction.”

Instead, Bates encourages a pragmatic view of harm reduction that recognizes that so long as a product is far less hazardous than smoking, it should be free to compete with deadly combustible tobacco cigarettes.

And public-health advocates should favor giving them competitive edges over cigarettes, such as the opportunity to advertise to adults on TV.

Saturday
Feb012014

The Faces of ObamaCare: Watch as Employees at a Pennsylvania Company Learn about Their New Health Plan Under ObamaCare

Pittsburgh's WTAE-TV went inside a car repair business in McKeesport, PA to watch and record as employees learned the details of their new health plan under ObamaCare.

It's really very affecting; it seemed to me that some of the employees were having a hard time not breaking down.

We must repeal ObamaCare. We simply must.

Friday
Jan312014

The ObamaCare 'Risk Corridors' Are STILL An Insurance Company Bailout

Two more noted writers, both in Forbes and both conservatives, have argued that the “risk corridors” in ObamaCare are not an insurance company “bailout.”  (If you don’t know what a risk corridor is, go here and scroll to the end.)

Dr. Scott Gottlieb writesIn Obamacare, these schemes [including the risk corridors] are an unlimited taxpayer lifeline, designed to reimburse complicit insurers for the many laws of economics and common sense that Obamacare deliberately violates. The three R’s [including the risk corridors] aren’t a bailout. They’re an inevitable form of financial aid..”

Yevgeniy Feyman writes:

The main reason the program exists is because insurers generally have less experience in how to accurately price policies in the individual market than the group market, and have virtually no experience pricing policies for the new demographics under Obamacare. Risk corridors serve as a “bridge over troubled waters….[A]ny conservative reform plan for universal coverage will have to use similar methods of risk adjustment. The point here is simple – if you want insurers to participate more broadly in the individual market, you’ll need to offer a carrot to offset the unavoidable uncertainties. And railing against risk corridors now will make them a hard sell further down the road. Risk adjustment mechanisms get you the buy-in of insurers, but they also helps keep premiums at manageable levels while insurers develop enough experience to properly price plans on their own.

The problem with both of these analyses is they fail to define the term “bailout.”  If you want to show that a particular policy is not a bailout, you need to provide a definition of the term and then explain why the policy doesn’t fit the criteria of the definition.  Neither Gottlieb or Feyman do that.  Jonathan Cohn of the New Republic did provide a definition in his attempt at arguing that the risk corridors were not a bailout.  The problem was that the risk corridors actually do fit his definition of bailout.

Running the terms “bailout” and “definition” through Google returns “an act of giving financial assistance to a failing business or economy to save it from collapse.”  If one accepts that as a definition, then the risk corridors are a bailout.  They are financial assistance given to insurance companies on the exchanges.  Few insurers will probably collapse without the risk corridors.  But the business they do on exchanges could very go under with that financial assistance.  As history shows, health insurers leave markets that are regulated the way the ObamaCare exchanges are.

Thursday
Jan302014

Minimum Wage Could Cause Maximum Pain for America’s Most At-Risk

A minimum wage increase, a earning rate that affects just 1.1 percent of Americans workers over the age of 25, is one of the key 2014 policy priorities for President Barack Obama and his supporters.

It’s a small goal that could have a devastating effect on the American workforce over the long term.  A 2006 report by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that the minimum wage increases disproportionate harm among low-skilled workers.  Milton Friedman, the famed Nobel laureate in economics, said: “I have often said that the most anti-black law on the books of this land is the minimum wage law.”

This view of minimum wage politics causing more harm than good is shared by members of the National Center’s Project 21 black leadership network.

Project 21 member Christopher Arps, a founder of the Move-on-up.org social networking web site for black conservative, said:

It should really make one evaluate their priorities if they see stalwart political allies run around in limousines, patting themselves on the back for alleged compassion while advocating for a minimum wage increase.  A few workers get a few extra pennies in their paychecks, but what’s really in it for them — especially if mandated wage increases force bosses to cut back, eliminating jobs and worsening things?

And how can we believe the President really wants “to make sure our economy honors the dignity of work, and hard work pays off” when his administration effectively eliminated work requirements to receive welfare benefits?  Unbelievable!

But one can apparently get away with that when so many people get their news from the three networks and Jon Stewart.

Additionally, Project 21 member Kevin Martin, the owner of a small environmental abatement business, said:

President Obama’s call for an increase in the minimum wage is another attempt at keeping his populist rhetoric going.  The truth of the matter, however, is that many small business owners pay their workers well above the minimum wage each and every day because they want to remain viable and prosper in this economy.

When the jobs are difficult and workers must be skilled, employers would never dream of paying only the minimum wage because there is competition and a desire to see the job is done well.  It’s as simple as that.

There is a disconnect here because President Obama refuses to look at the real reasons why small businesses in particular are not hiring new employees.  It is because new federal regulations and increasing fees and taxes at every level are crushing small business owners.  Many small business owners, in this economic climate, are often forced to repair and rent equipment than buy new things.  Likewise, small business owners would rather maintain and reduce their workforce to the functional minimum to offset the costs of operating in the Obama era.

President Obama can use Costco as a prop in his cheerleading for that minimum wage increase, but Costco is a big, multinational corporation able pay well above the current federal minimum wage.  For small businessman in communities across the nation such as myself, we must face tough choices that often require doing more with less.  And an increase in the minimum wage is going to make that process even harder.

A lot of small businesses may no longer be able to survive.  Obama’s State of the Union address showed that he refuses to change course.  This is also the reason why we have 92 million Americans no longer in our workforce and a jobless recovery.

Thursday
Jan302014

Success Stories Of ObamaCare Exchange Show Why It Will Fail

The Health Care Blog at the Health and Human Services website routinely recounts the experiences of people signing up for health insurance on the ObamaCare exchanges. But what HHS often considers a “success story” is in fact an example of why the exchanges are likely to fail.  For example:

One of the most important benefits of the Affordable Care Act is that insurance companies will no longer be able to turn you down or charge you more because you have a pre-existing condition.

This is good news for Americans like Diane, an attorney from Michigan. Recently, Diane enrolled for coverage using HealthCare.gov after going without insurance for over six years. Her pre-existing condition made  finding a quality, affordable health insurance plan nearly impossible

As many critics have warned, the rules governing the ObamaCare exchanges like community rating and guaranteed issue would make the exchanges more attractive to folks who were older and sicker and less attractive to the young and healthy.  The leads to a “death spiral” or, as the case may be with ObamaCare exchanges, a bailout for the insurance companies and then a death spiral.  The story of Diane suggests that this process is in the beginning stages.

The HHS blog has quite a few similar examples.  There’s Jacob:

Before the passage of the Affordable Care Act Jacob, a father of three from Arkansas, was forced to shop around for a high-risk insurance plan.

Jacob’s pre-existing condition also forced his three children and wife to be on a separate health insurance. When the family included Jacob in his plan, they were denied coverage. That’s not all, says Jacob:

“Even with my wife and kids on a separate plan, one of my sons is charged extra because he had trouble gaining weight after he was born.”

There’s Noelle:

When soccer is your passion, not being able to hold down food because of an esophagus condition called Esophagitis is a roadblock.

“I struggled a lot with the condition these last 5 years, living without health insurance. Solids and liquids don’t go down easily, and throwing up a lot makes it very hard to get the nutrition I need as an athlete.

My employer doesn’t offer health insurance, and I’ve tried to get coverage through the individual market and couldn’t because I was either denied coverage or would have to pay 4 or $500 a month, way out of my price range.”

And James

For James, a 29 year old in Pensacola, FL, a normal week involves hunting, welding, fishing, and before January 1st, worrying about his lack of health insurance.

“I’ve always been able to afford health insurance—they just wouldn’t cover me, because I’m a diagnosed diabetic. Being without health insurance was terrifying because you could be bankrupted by someone else not paying attention on the road. Or what if something bad happened in the shop?”

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, James was able to enroll in coverage without worrying about his pre-existing condition.

People who are costly to insure and some getting premiums well below what they’d get on a less regulated market—in the long run, there is only one way this ends.

Of course, that depends on whether these examples are representative of many of the people signing up on the exchanges.  Surely, a few anecdotes do not add up to data.

For that, let’s turn to the most recent enrollment report.  Or, rather, let’s turn to Spencer Cowan’s recent analysis of the enrollment report.   At the Weekly Standard, Cowan explains why the choice of plans that exchange enrollees are making is indicative of trouble to come.  He notes that the silver-level plans

which represent 60 percent of all plans sold to date through the Obamacare exchanges.  In fact, the silver-level plans are three times more popular than the cheaper bronze-level plans and sixty times more popular than the cheapest catastrophic-level plans, which are available only to enrollees under 30 years old.

Why would someone opt for a silver-level plan over a cheaper bronze or catastrophic-level plan? The most plausible explanation is that the enrollee anticipates incurring significant medical expenses over the coming year, which is to say that he’s not healthy.

Cowan goes on to explain why they would choose silver over the even more generous gold- and platinum-level plans.  In short, though, the evidence suggests the exchanges are creating exactly the type of insurance pool that is headed for a death spiral.

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