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Thursday
Dec042014

Senators Cruz and Coburn Vow to Stop Scheme to Include Massive Pork in Defense Authorization Bill

Should controversial legislation that has not been debated and which is completely irrelevant to our national defense be included in the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA?

The office of Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) says no, and Senator Cruz and Senator Tom Coburn (R-TX) have vowed to stop it -- the "it" being a huge federal land grab that has nothing to do with national defense.

Senator Ted CruzSenator Ted Cruz (Flickr: Gage Skidmore)

Besides, the federal government already "owns" nearly a third of America's land!

National Center Senior Fellow R.J. Smith does not mince words in his agreement with Senators Cruz and Coburn:

In still another bald-faced action, both the Democratic and Republican establishments in the U.S. Congress have demonstrated their contempt for a free society and a strict Constitutional government. The leaders of both parties have cut a dark-of-night deal to slip a public lands lock-up package into the murky depths of the nearly 2,000 page National Defense Authorization Act.

The federal lands package will take still more of the so-called public lands -- lands supposedly owned by all the people and available for multiple use -- and lock them up for the benefit of elite minorities and pressure groups in mainly limited-use or non-use categories, preventing their use by or benefit to the vast majority of the American people. Hundreds of thousands of acres of land all across the West will be permanently locked up. Still more un-inventoried land will be locked up as Wilderness Areas, set aside and left completely unmanaged to serve as source of forest disease, insect infestation, degradation, death and catastrophic wildfires. America already has over 107 MILLION acres of its lands permanently locked up as Wilderness, which is an area larger than the state of California plus Massachusetts. There is hardly a pressing need for any additional Wilderness.

Senator Tom CoburnSenator Tom Coburn (Flickr: Talk Radio News Service)

The "lands package" also will lead to the creation of still more national parks, expansions of existing parks, and studies for new parks, as well as the creation of new Wild and Scenic Rivers. This again extends federal hegemony across the American land.

But perhaps the most disturbing part of the land lock-up package is that hundreds of thousands of acres of multiple-use lands will be withdrawn from any exploration or development or production of energy resources, oil and natural gas, strategic minerals and forest products. How does preventing America from even discovering its oil and gas and strategic minerals possibly enhance out national defense and security? Perhaps our Congressional leaders should rename the act "the National Anti-Defense Act."

RJ SmithNational Center Senior Fellow R.J. Smith

America is already facing a looming crisis produced by unthinking or uncaring Members of Congress, as year after year they continue to expand the federal estate, giving government an ever-growing ownership of the nation's land and natural resources, and locking up and mismanaging the lands they already hold. The American people can only live free and prosperous lives if they own the land and natural resources. This is a large part of why the colonists broke away from Great Britain with its long traditions of the King and the ruling classes owning all the land and resources and wildlife. Sadly, we appear to be traveling back down the Road to Serfdom, paved with the green bricks laid by uncaring and unscrupulous congressmen.

Thankfully, two Constitutional heroes in the Senate have promised to stand up and halt this never-ending journey to government land tyranny. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX).

Instead of attempting to acquire still more private land and lock-up still more federal land, it is way past time for the Congress to begin to take a serious look at the entire issue of the vast over-reaching ownership and control of the American land by all levels of government. Congress should begin to look at ways to permanently halt this avaricious land-grabbing and return to the free society envisioned by the Founding Fathers.

Learn more about this atrocious policymaking by reading a quick summary by Robert Gordon and Nicolas Loris at the Daily Signal; a story by Sarah Hurtubise in the Daily Caller, a story by Edwin Mora on Breitbart.com, and/or a press release by the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

An article in The Hill about Senator Ted Cruz's opposition to the land grab is available here and a Roll Call article about a letter Senator Coburn sent to incoming Majority Leader Mitch McConnell protesting this atrocity is available here.

Or you could just Google "pork in 2015 defense authorization bill."

Wednesday
Dec032014

What Michael Savage Said About Project 21 Members Speaking Out on Immigration

That's what top talk show host Michael Savage (#6 nationally, according to Talkers magazine, with 5 million-plus listeners) had to say about Project 21 members speaking out about President Obama's immigration action:

If you'd like to read the unabridged comments of Project 21 members Joe Hicks, Demetrius Minor, Stacy Washington, Charles Butler, Christopher Arps and Shelby Emmett on the President's immigration order, please go here.

Saturday
Nov292014

Horace Cooper on Sean Hannity: Media, Eric Holder Partly Responsible for Destruction in Ferguson

Attorneys Horace Cooper (Co-Chairman of Project 21), Kisha Hebbon and Tamara Holder discussed the grand jury process that led to no charges being filed against officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri on The Sean Hannity Show.

Some excerpts:

Horace Cooper: Mainstream media reports were contradicted by forensic evidence, yet were a cause of the protests.

"Here's the problem. When the mainstream media reported, unchallenged, false narratives from people who said they were eyewitnesses -- and it turned out they actually weren't eyewitnesses -- from people who described what they said they saw, then the forensic evidence showed it was almost impossible for that to occur. You get his fingerprints, and you get his blood on a firearm only by close contact. It just isn't plausible to now want to say a man grabs for a police officer's gun, threatens him, gets out of the car, jumps down on his knees, puts his hands in the air, and then the police officer shoots him point-blank. At least one of the witnesses I saw on MSNBC said Michael Brown was laying on the ground and a kill shot was administered by Darren Wilson. The forensic evidence showed none of that. For the mainstream media to report these things as facts... obscured the truth about the forensic evidence..."

Kisha Hebbon: "When do we as African-Americans look at ourselves and say 'why is there a heightened level of fear when it comes to African-American males?'"

"I'm an African-American female who grew up in the inter city, and I'm tired of people saying, 'why is this happening, why is this happening.' When do we as African-Americans look at ourselves and say 'why is there a heightened level of fear when it comes to African-American males?' What are these males doing wrong? What about the innocent people who are killed by gang violence? Blavk-on-black crime. We need to look at that. Michael Brown's life is not any more important than any other innocent child who was shot down the other day in Newark on Chancellor Avenue. We need to look at those issues."

HoraceCooperTVFoxHeadshotW

Horace Cooper: Eric Holder "chose to act more like Bull Connor in inflaming racial tensions than someone like Martin Luther King, who tried to diminish those, and bring this country together."

"Eric Holder had access to the forensic information. He had to know that there were eyewitnesses, black ones, who were prepared to report exactly as Darren Wilson had indicated when he first gave his report to his officers. They were giving similar, almost identical accounts. He had to know that, and yet he chose to act more like Bull Connor in inflaming racial tensions than someone like Martin Luther King, who tried to diminish those, and bring this country together."

Kisha Hebbon: "There are a lot of good police officers who are out there to protect and serve, and I feel bad for all of them..."

A lot of people on social media are saying things like, 'oh, you can't trust any of the police; they're all bad; I'm teaching my children not to like police officers,' and I think that's the most ignorant, senseless thing to do. There are a lot of good police officers who are out there to protect and serve, and I feel bad for all of them, with this crisis going on right now."

Horace Cooper: Darren Wilson is to be commended for being willing to testify before the grand jury, even though he was required to do so without his attorney present.

"A quick fact. Every single accused person has a constitutional and legal right in all fifty states to voluntarily go and testify before the grand jury. The statements can be used against them, but it is not unprecedented, it is not true that it doesn't happen. And so, Mr. Wilson chose to exercise that option; he appeared without his attorney. I commend him for having chosen to do that."

Wednesday
Nov262014

Project 21's Joe Hicks on Fox's The Kelly File: Some Protesters are "Just Flat-Out Rejecting Facts and Evidence"

Project 21's Joe Hicks and Rev. Rafael Green of the Metropolitan Christian Worship Center join Shannon Bream on the November 26 edition of Fox's "The Kelly File" to discuss the violence in Ferguson, who is responsible for it and how communities can reduce violence in the future.

Among other comments, Joe Hicks said the willingness of some protesters to ignore facts makes communication difficult. He noted that some protesters appear to be "just flat-out rejecting facts and evidence; eyewitness testimony from black witnesses who came and corroborated the police officer's version of events. People are saying 'we won't believe it; we refuse to accept it,' and are continuing to argue for pushing forward, saying, in essence, the nation -- people who are not black in this case -- don't understand where they're coming from. I'm not always sure we need to understand that... we have to somehow find a way to engage... but there has to be some common basis for us having that discussion."

Tuesday
Nov252014

Media, Mob among Those Condemned by Project 21 Members for Ferguson Furor

More members of the National Center’s Project 21 black leadership network are commenting on the rioting in Ferguson and the culpability of the mob, politicians, the media and other culpable parties.

Project 21 member Christopher Arps, who lives in the Ferguson area and was witness to both the initial riots in August and the ones that began after the grand jury decision:

You had two types of protestors in Ferguson last night, and neither were peaceful.

You had those hell-bent on destruction, looting and rioting.  And you had those out there who were not doing those activities but who were encouraging the looters and urging them on.

I was there.  To me, they are both guilty of the lawlessness we witnessed last night.

Day Gardner, a Project 21 member and media host, said about the looting:

Those rioters in Ferguson really don’t seem to care about Michael Brown’s death.  They refuse to hear all the facts.  They appear to just consider this a license to steal and act out.  They have burned a Public Storage, Little Caesars, liquor store and more.  They are laughing while they destroy their own community – burning businesses and stealing liquor and cell phones.  It’s ridiculous and so sad!

All the stores and businesses that have been looted and burned to the ground mean that, as we enter the Christmas season, families are forced out of work.  How many residents will be out of work because of the destruction?  They will be unable to pay bills or provide for their families.

Al Sharpton incited tensions in Ferguson before all the facts were known.  He should have waited for the grand jury documents.  He is such an embarrassment to the black community.

Author and motivational speaker Demetrius Minor, a Project 21 member living near Atlanta, said churches need to step up:

There was no indictment in ‎Ferguson for Officer Wilson, but there was an indictment of the conscience of many.  Riots and violence proves our nation still needs healing.

It’s shameful that the same people who are inciting – directly or indirectly – the protests and mob violence in ‎Ferguson will be quoting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and praising his message just two months from now.

Something needs to be done.

Dear 21st century churches: This is your moment.  Stand up for morality, but also advocate peace.  Speak healing, but also be sensitive.  Ferguson needs you.  The world needs you.

Project 21 member Wayne Dupree, a talk radio host who visited Ferguson after the initial riots to try to help the community heal, had sharp words about the word choices of the media:

Words have meaning.  It seems people are too willing to fall into the media’s portrayal of the victim and the media’s own version of the truth.  Allowing the media to use words that indicate one’s innocence or guilt is a very slippery slope.

There is no innocence or guilt unless proven by law.  And Officer Wilson has the law on his side.  His life is now destroyed at the hands of a thug who died.  Wilson didn’t force the fight.  Wilson did what he needed to do to save his own life, but he will never seem to have the same sympathy that have been afforded to the deceased by the media and the mob.

Many people saluted Obama for stepping in and asking for peace, but that executive action should have been done earlier.  He was too late – the looting was just beginning.  The mob looted a beauty store, burned down a bakery and destroyed Advanced Auto Parts among other businesses.  What the Hell!

Agitators were angry and they wanted “justice” for Mike Brown, but instead they destroyed innocent business owners’ livelihoods.  Where is the justice in that?

Additionally, Project 21 member Kevin Martin appeared in Danish television to talk about the situation in Ferguson and the need for more community policing in which law enforcement has more ties to the communities they serve (as well as more respect from the community for the police):

Tuesday
Nov252014

Project 21's Joe Hicks Talks Ferguson Live with Fox's Megyn Kelly

Amid live scenes of rioting on the screen, Project 21's Joe Hicks joins Fox's Megyn Kelly to discuss the grand jury's decision not to charge Police Officer Darren Wilson in the Michael Brown shooting case. Joe was harshly critical of the rioters, calling them "thugs," "punks" and "hoodlums." He also addressed comments by President Obama about events in Ferguson and expressed disgust that some people have compared Michael Brown to civil rights leaders in the past who were heroic figures.

Said Joe, in part:
You heard somebody behind the camera saying, 'this is justice.' Somewhere Dr. King is probably... spinning in his grave, if that's what 'justice' looks like. That tramples on the graves of all the old martyrs of the civil rights movement that really did struggle for real things, [against] real racism, real issues they were trying to overcome. And you've got thugs, and punks, and hoodlums in the street, and you've got somebody saying, 'this is justice.'

Joe and host Megyn Kelly also were joined by Ron Hosko, president at Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, in this Fox News Channel special late edition of "The KellyFile" broadcast after midnight ET on November 25, 2014.

Addendum, 11/26/14: Fox has posted a transcript of the interview, available here.
Tuesday
Nov252014

Project 21 Member Captures Michael Brown's Mother's Initial Comments

Soon after the news broke about the grand jury’s decision, Project 21 member Lawrence B. Jones III was at a gathering in which Michael Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, was present.  He caught some of her angry response to the news that she shared with the crowd.

Originally published by Rebelpundit.  WARNING: This video contains explicit language.

Sunday
Nov232014

Black Conservative Leader Defends Giuliani’s Raw Truth, Policing Strategy

Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani squared off against Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dyson in a heated exchange over the legitimacy of claims that police officers pose a major threat to the lives of blacks in the United States.

On the 11/23/14 edition of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Giuliani explained that black youths commit a disproportionate amount of the murders of other blacks, and they commit them and other crimes primarily in the communities where they reside.

A transcript and video of the exchange can be found by clicking here.

Project 21 co-chairman Horace Cooper, a legal commentator who both taught constitutional law at George Mason University in Virginia and served as a leadership staff member for the U.S. House of Representatives, had comments of his own about the Giuliani-Dyson exchange – coming to Giuliani’s defense:

Most prominent leaders in America are afraid to address the root causes and identify the real problem of crime in the inner city.  Mayor Giuliani has a demonstrated record of creating safe streets and safe neighborhoods.

Instead of pretending that police officers are the problem as Dyson seems to do – he recognized that crime skyrockets when law enforcement shirks.

Giuliani was also willing to send the police into any and all areas to aggressively tackle the criminal element.  And it worked.

Furthermore, Mayor Giuliani is just the kind of leader that the Justice Department should be consulting with on dealing with urban crime across the country.  Instead of ignoring or rationalizing thousands of black on black killings in our country, we should be discussing techniques that will end this problem and save the lives of the innocent.

Friday
Nov212014

Black Activists Speak Out against Obama Amnesty Agenda

As the potential harm of the President Obama’s amnesty bid for possibly more than 5 million illegal aliens residing in the United States becomes clearer, members of the Project 21 black leadership network are continuing to speak out against his unilateral action to try to remake America.


Joe R. Hicks, former executive director of the Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference:

President Obama strode into the White House promising to give the American people the audacity of hope.  What we are witnessing instead, with his immigration agenda, is an audacious grab for power and an evisceration of the Constitution.

Having kicked the can down the road, obviously refusing to ruin his own chances for re-election in 2012, and tap-dancing on the issue until after the 2014 mid-term elections, Obama now disdainfully punches the amnesty card for upwards of five million illegal residents with the knowledge that almost half of all Americans polled oppose his maneuver.

With the stroke of a pen, Obama rewards those who arrogantly mock our border laws while simultaneously telling those hopeful immigrants still waiting patiently to lawfully come to America that they are chumps.

After these five million or so, what then?  The magnet that draws illegal immigrants across the border just got stronger.  They will come expecting, — no, demanding — to get “Obama’s amnesty.”

In 2010, defending his inaction on immigration issues, Obama said, “I’m president, I’m not king.  I can’t do these things just by myself.”  That’s all changed, and the Constitution lies in tatters as a result.


Demetrius Minor, youth minister and motivational speaker:

Barack Obama really had the potential to be an iconic president.  It’s a shame he’s now relegated to someone who will be remembered most for not only dividing a nation, but for circumventing Congress in order to push his personal agenda.


Stacy Washington, talk radio host:

Well, black liberals, sorry — but I have to put you on blast.

Every time this country has pardoned illegal immigrants, crime and black unemployment have gone through the roof.  Don’t believe me?  Check the statistics from Reagan’s congressionally-approved amnesty package.  Not only did three times as many illegal immigrants as were promised become legal through the undiscovered intricacies of chain immigration, but the crime rate soared and black unemployment went through the roof.

Sorry again, black liberals.  You just got dumped!

 

Charles Butler, talk radio host:

The fact is President Obama will do with the stroke of a pen what 300 years of slavery, Jim Crow and legal segregation could not: destroy the hopes and dreams of millions of black Americans.  His position on illegal immigration and reform is not tenable given the numerous sources of information that warn of the negative impact of immigration reform on black Americans and low-income Americans.

 

Christopher Arps, founder of the black social networking web site Move-On-Up.org:

Mr. President, how do these people “get right with the law” when you have to break the law to allegedly get them right with the law?

Ronald Reagan and George Bush used executive orders to tweak immigration law, but it was within the framework of the 1986 Simpson/Mazzoli amnesty law that was passed by Congress.

As a student of politics and history, I’ll unfortunately be able to tell my grandchildren that I lived through America’s early 21 century experiment with a lawlessness extremely left-wing president.  This man — a self-professed constitutional scholar — is so brazen that he’s openly violating the Constitution he swore to protect.  And he’s doing so just a few years after he said he didn’t have the authority to do what he just did on immigration.

Unbelievable!

 

Shelby Emmett, lawyer and former congressional staff member:

I wish Obama would focus just ten percent of his time on Americans and not illegals.

Since this all about rewarding people who chose to put their kids in a position where they’d be “ripped” from their arms, why hasn’t Obama suspended the family law system as well?

Plenty of American parents lose their kids on a daily basis over silly things like breaking the law.

 

Earlier this year, Project 21 issued six “DataReleases” on immigration in recent weeks, covering the major issue areas of jobs, fairness, health, public schools, refugees and history.

Project 21 released statements from members opposing the Obama amnesty plan immediately after the President’s remarks on 11/20/14.

Thursday
Nov202014

Obama's Amnesty Plan Incremental, True to Leftist Strategy 

Bottom line: Project 21 member Derryck Green said, “I don’t believe the President” when it comes to Obama’s assurances that his executive action on immigration is not amnesty.

In an interview with Blaze TV host Dana Loesch on her eponymously named “Dana” program on 11/20/14 – just hours before the Obama’s address to the nation – Derryck laid out how he saw the President’s strategy and how he thinks the President’s critics should respond.

Derryck took the President at his word, but did so while revealing the doublespeak:

Obviously, it’s not amnesty – but it’s the first step toward amnesty.  The President knows specifically what he’s doing, and that’s why he’s doing it now [after the election]… Obviously, if this was going to benefit the American people, he would have been out there talking about it.  People would have been campaigning on it.  But no one said a word until now…

It’s a cynical ploy by the President to do it and not wait for the incoming Congress because the President has a particular ideological vision for the country and he wants to implement that.

And part of that is a step toward amnesty.

Why doesn’t Derryck think that Obama wants to seem “all in” right away?  “Everything left does is incremental,” Derryck warned.

As for the future, Derryck also warned Obama’s immigration strategy is likely just the beginning:

[It’s] a clear indication on what the last two years of this presidency is going to look like.  And I think that Republicans and conservatives have to take that into consideration and start crafting messages – not falling into these political provocations that the President is trying to set for them.

Derryck suggested conservatives in control of Congress make Obama put his money where his mouth is by sending him a reform bill as soon as possible.  Give Obama a bill that truly helps fix the problems with America’s immigration system and make the President seriously consider the issue rather than just waging political warfare.

But Derryck said this will take a lot of political gumption from some members of Congress.  To stand up to Obama, timid lawmakers need to find a “fire in the gut” and eschew the “go along to get along” mentality that grips too many professional politicians.

Not only will this help rein in a president who seems to believe he’s akin to an emperor, but it will also help to end the chronic contempt that the public has toward Congress.

Thursday
Nov202014

Project 21's Cooper Dispels Liberal "Mischaracterization" of Reagan, Bush Amnesty Plans 

Liberals are engaging in a “mischaracterization” of how Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush dealt with illegal immigration during their presidencies.  Project 21 co-chairman Horace Cooper noted those presidents worked with Congress on a plan that made Congress a partner as well as crafted a policy (one that Reagan, by the way, deeply regretted) that brought the political parties together.

But, in the case of President Obama’s executive amnesty agenda: “We do not have that in this case.  We have the exact opposite.”

In discussing the illegal immigration-inspired constitutional crisis on the 11/19/14 edition of “The Big Picture” on the Russia Today network, Horace said explained that a likely rebuke of Obama’s executive amnesty will come in budgetary language denying funding the implementation of the President’s agenda.  When host Thom Hartmann tried to bring up impeachment, Horace explained that, with the exception of a few outliers who are not influential to the expected process, “no one is calling for impeachment.” 

Thursday
Nov202014

Ferguson Mayhem Presents Dilemma for Parents Teaching Kids Right and Wrong

With a grand jury decision on the fate of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson believed to be just days away, and the implications that there will be violence if Wilson is not indicted in the shooting death of Michael Brown, Project 21 co-chairman Cherylyn Harley LeBon said the situation sets a bad example of children.

Appearing as part of the “Grassroots Citizens Panel” of “The Rick Amato Show” on the One America News Network on 11/19/14, Cherylyn — the mother of two young children — pointed out the actions of protestors in Ferguson thus far and the potential for renewed violence there creates a problem for parents trying to teach questioning children about right and wrong.  In talking about the threats to violence if charges are not filed, she asked, “What is the message that the community is sending to young people?”

Commenting on a threat made by some protestors to allegedly disrupt the area’s electrical grid, Cherylyn said such violence constitutes an act of terrorism and that committing such blatantly illegal acts is no way to advance justice for Brown or should be representive of those in the community legitimately grieving his death.

Responding to the other news that gun sales in the St. Louis area have risen sharply as the grand jury’s announcement near, Cherylyn said that residents “absolutely have to arm themselves” as potential mayhem may overwhelm the ability of law enforcement to protect everyone in the area who may be at risk. 

Monday
Nov172014

Cruz Continues Fight for Internet Freedom

TedCruzOfficialPortrait2014WSenator Ted Cruz (R-TX) is continuing his fight to limit government interference into (and taxation of) the Internet, today releasing a compilation of comments he has received since his Washington Post op-ed and short video were released last week (you can watch the video here).

Here's a few of many (emphases were added by me):

"Sen. Ted Cruz got it right last week when he tweeted that Title II would be ObamaCare for the Internet."

-- L. Gordon Crovitz, former Wall Street Journal publisher and author of the Wall Street Journal's Information Age column

"Private Internet providers already compete with each other to provide broadband access to millions of Americans, and limiting their ability to sell their products how they see fit will stifle innovation and competition, not encourage it. Sen. Cruz is right that imposing new government controls on the Internet will lead to fewer choices, fewer opportunities, and higher prices."

-- Chris Chocola, President, Club for Growth

"The greatest threat to the Internet is the slow encroachment of government power. Public utility regulations lead to monopolies and slower service. Imposing Title II on the Internet would open a Pandora's box of larger broader government control worldwide. Senator Cruz's position was the bipartisan consensus in the 90's: Title II is unwise and unnecessary. Congress, not the FCC, should decide how to address hypothetical concerns about free speech and anticompetitive conduct -- while maintaining the regulatory light-touch that began under President Clinton and continued under Republicans. That 'Hands off the Net' approach has driven over $1.3 trillion in private broadband investment and allowed the Internet to flourish."

-- Berin Szoka, President, TechFreedom

"Senator Cruz has been a vocal opponent of the Marketplace Fairness Act, which passed the U.S. Senate in May of 2013. The legislation, if passed, would create a dizzying maze of new sales tax mandates for hundreds of thousands of tech-enabled small businesses across the country. In addition, it would give unprecedented authority to state tax enforcement agents and allow them to cross borders and enforce their laws on businesses located in other states. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has announced his intention to try and move the Marketplace Fairness Act in the final weeks of Congress. However, Senator Cruz, along with a number of his colleagues in the House and Senate, have expressed their concern and opposition."

-- eBay

"Senator Cruz is right on target in warning that the Internet regulations President Obama seeks would destroy innovation and harm consumers. The FCC should officially foreclose the draconian option of reclassifying the Internet under Depression-era monopoly telephone rules by closing the Title II docket once and for all. Senator Cruz recognizes the dangers of turning back the clock on Internet freedom; it's time for the Administration to do the same."

-- Pete Sepp, President, National Taxpayers Union

"The Internet we've all grown to rely on, and it has been especially helpful to working moms like me, has come about in the absence of excessive government regulation. Sen. Cruz is right to be wary of the Internet power grab the White House has proposed, especially in the wake of the IRS and NSA scandals."

-- Sabrina Schaffer, Executive Director, Independent Women's Forum

There are more comments here. Don't take our free Internet for granted. Share this, Facebook it, Tweet it or just tell your Senators what you think before the Internet as we know it today is gone.

Monday
Nov172014

Gruber's Wrong: Hogberg Says Americans "Not That Stupid" about ObamaCare

Commenting on shock videos released last week that show ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber disparaging the American people and admitting that the effort to sell the health care takeover was rife with lies and the bill was intentionally confusing, National Center policy analyst Dr. David Hogberg said it’s “not surprising” that liberal intellectuals think the American people are stupid.  But David disagreed with Gruber, saying that Americans are “not that stupid” — a sizable portion of the public, in fact, has always been skeptical of ObamaCare and are smart enough to see through assurances of Gruber and his ilk.

On the 11/14/14 edition of “The Rick Amato Show” on the One America News Network, David said the American people are engaged in the public policy process and do want to see those who tampered with our nation’s respected and envied health care system to be held accountable for the damage that has been done to it.  They also want to see actual free-market reforms instituted that can improve upon it.

Monday
Nov172014

Markets Are Not the Problem. ObamaCare's Subsidy Mechanism Is the Problem

After NCPPR sent out a Data Release on the ObamaCare exchanges last Thursday, I received this email about my criticism of the drop in subsidies from one of our readers:

You […] note (correctly) that… “Many of them may see their subsidy amount drop because of the way the subsidy is calculated. It is based on the second-lowest cost silver plan, and that plan will likely be cheaper on most exchanges this year. That could mean hefty premium hikes for people who don’t change their plans.

I don’t understand the leap you’ve made here.  First and foremost, you are a proponent of markets, and you presumably like it when markets work well.  Second, this particular market is producing lower prices for comparable benefits.  Third, you are bemoaning the fact that the subsidy is predicated on that lower price. Fourth, you put a negative spin on things like this:

An analysis by the Colorado state government found that lower-cost silver plans could reduce subsidies to the point that exchange consumers could see their premiums rise by an average of 77 percent if they keep their current plans.

I believe in markets too.  And your facts are consistent with a successful market, not a failing one. 

Unfortunately, the Data Release could be read as though I’m criticizing markets. I’m not. What I’m attacking is the subsidy mechanism.  I think that’s clear in the piece “14 Ways ObamaCare Is Still a Big Mess.” I’ve posted the relevant section from that below.  Unforunately, it wasn’t as clear in the Data Release, so let me address that now.

In short, the subsidies on the exchanges drop whenever the price of the second-lowest cost silver plan drops. People who have subsidies but don’t change plans will likely see their premiums increase.  They can try switching to a cheaper plan, but that entails the difficulty of finding a plan that is accepted by one’s doctor and so forth.

The subsidy mechanism is something of a Catch-22.  When premiums increase, subsidies will also increase. That’s great if you’ve got a subsidy, but if you are one of the 17 percent of people on the exchanges who don’t qualify for one, it’s not so good.  And for the taxpayers, it’s not so good either.

The reader is correct that new companies joining the exchanges and offering lower-cost plans is how markets work.  Indeed, the exchanges will need more of that if they are to have any chance of succeeding.  Frankly, I think the fact that relatively few new companies entered the exchanges this year (on average, less than two per state) is an indication this is a market that, in the long-run, won’t work.  But that is an argument for another day (stay tuned).

In sum, I’m ciriticizing the subsidy mechanism, not markets.

From “14 Ways ObamaCare Is Still a Big Mess”:

Exchange Subsidy Roller Coaster: While the left hailed the new insurance companies entering the exchanges and the lower premium costs that would result, they forgot to mention that exchange subsidies could also decline. Since 83 percent of exchange consumers have subsidies, a lot of people could be in for hefty premium increases as their subsidies begin to decrease.

The subsidy is a formula based on the second lowest-cost silver plan on an exchange minus the amount of money the individual is required by law to put toward the insurance premiums, known as the “applicable percentage.” Let’s say that the second lowest-cost silver plan last year was $200 per month while an enrollee’s applicable percentage was $150 per month. The enrollee’s subsidy was $200 - $150 = $50 per month. This year, however, if a new company enters the exchange offering lower cost insurance, and the second lowest-cost silver plan becomes $175 per month. The enrollee’s subsidy is now $175 - $150 = $25 a month. If the enrollee keeps the same plan (ObamaCare automatically re-enrolls individuals in the plans they had in 2014), he would pay $300 more per year for it.

This is far from hypothetical. A preliminary analysis by the state of Colorado found that the new lower-cost silver plans could cause exchange consumers to see the premiums rise by an average of 77 percent next year if they keep their current plans.

Saturday
Nov152014

If You Don't Visit the National Center's Facebook Page...

...you're missing all the fun.

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Visit the National Center for Public Policy Research Facebook page here and find out what makes the left so mad!

Friday
Nov142014

Senator Cruz: Internet Tax Would Force Small Internet Retailers to Deal with 9,600+ Tax Jurisdictions

Looks like the Senate may make a run at imposing Internet taxes on us during the lame duck session. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) explains in this quick 45 second video:

Senator Cruz has an op-ed with more details in the Washington Post.

P.S. The Internet tax is not the only government threat to the Internet we face right now. President Obama just called for passage of Net Neutrality. Check out our video here to see what happened when we asked liberals who support Net Neutrality if they can tell us what it is.

Thursday
Nov132014

Ridenour Op-Ed against U.S. Troops in Ebola Hot Zone Published in 56 Papers and Counting

Despite the fact that Ebola no longer dominates the news as it once did, the National Center’s David Ridenour has a new commentary out there meant to make sure people don’t forget the United States still has a lot to lose.

Obama ordered our brave troops into the “hot zone” in Africa.  It’s a dubious mission that could ultimately cause more harm than good — a mission David said “has a ready-shoot-aim quality to it.”

President Barack Obama is using American troops to combat Ebola to show the world he cares enough to send our very best.  But our soldiers aren’t Hallmark greeting cards.

David's argument against sending American military forces to Africa was distributed by McClatchy, one of the nation’s premier news services.  So far, David’s work is known to have appeared in at least 56 different newspapers across the country and even around the world — including the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Omaha World-Herald, Salt Lake City Deseret News, Fresno Bee, Gulf Today (United Arab Emirates) and Canada Free Press.

It’s even been published in Stars and Stripes, the newspaper of the American military!

In his commentary, David listed four reasons why the American military should not be deployed to Africa to fight Ebola:

  • “Our military is already overextended.”  Pentagon estimates suggest American forces are already strained while facing still more planned reductions.
  • “Military intervention in West Africa risks a quagmire.”  Things are likely to get worse in Ebola-afflicted Africa, and that would likely mean an escalation in the American presence there.
  • “The Centers for Disease Control isn’t ready.”  Health care workers were found to be unprepared for the few cases of Ebola that already hit American soil, and the problem could soon be amplified by thousands of troops cycling in and out of the infected region.
  • “Militarization of humanitarian aid risks involvement in internal disputes.”  Ebola-afflicted African countries already had unstable leadership before the outbreak, and an American presence could be seen as taking sides with those governments in their internal disputes.

Even though David was supposed to be part of a debate, it seemed that James Jay Carafano of The Heritage Foundation — meant to provide an opposing viewpoint — was more in agreement that David with concerns about the mission and the safety of American forces than not.

For example, Carafano wrote that “[h]elping West Africa deal with Ebola is a humanitarian mission — not a national security deployment.”  He also wondered, “[I]s the president simply throwing some troops at the problem so he can say he’s done something?”

And both specifically agreed that a travel ban placed on infected areas, something Obama has opposed, would be a better step to take before sending in the troops.

As David pointed out:

Our soldiers are being placed at enormous risk all because the president is unwilling — to borrow his own words from another crisis — to “plug the damn hole.”

Wednesday
Nov122014

You Silly Conservatives! You Just Don't Know How Good ObamaCare Really Is!

A few weeks ago the usually over-confident Ezra Klein wrote, ““In conservative media, ObamaCare is a disaster. In the real world, it’s working.”  He complained that most conservatives probably don’t know this, since right-leaning websites “run multiple articles every day on the problems and nothing on the broader trends.”

Well, my latest National Policy Analysis examines 14 “broader trends” that show ObamaCare is a still a disaster. (It’s cross-posted at The Federalist. It’s worth visiting there just for the picture!)  Here’s a sampling:

Premium Increases: Although President Obama promised that a family of four would save $2,500 in premium costs thanks to Obamacare, almost the exact opposite has proven true. The Kaiser Family Foundation shows that the average employer-based family policy that cost $13,770 in 2010 cost $16,834 in 2014, an increase of more than $3,000….

Medical Device Tax: Investment in the medical device industry tanked in 2012 after the medical device tax took effect. It has only recently begun to recover. Medical device makers such as Medtronic, Boston Scientific, Stryker, Abbott Laboratories, Johnson & Johnson, and Smith & Nephew all announced layoffs during the last two years. Perhaps that’s why revenues from the medical device tax have come in under estimates. The tax was supposed to yield about $1.2 billion in revenue in the first six months of 2013, according to the Internal Revenue Service. A report from the Treasury inspector general for tax administration, however, found that it had taken in about $913 million.

Interestingly, most of the 14 ways ObamaCare is still a mess do not appear on Klein’s website Vox.  Apparently, a person can get an even more biased view of ObamaCare if he pays attention only to liberal websites.

Tuesday
Nov112014

We Are Sending E-Cigs to President Obama. The Washington Times Reports. 

The Washington Times’ Cheryl K. Chumley reported today,

President Obama at the Asia-Pacific Economic Corporation summit in China raised some eyebrows Tuesday morning, at least among members of the attending press pool and an observant Chinese blogger — for chewing gum at inappropriate times.

Mentioned in the middle of the press pool report, right after the reference that Mr. Obama “took his seat” and chatted with Marvin Nicholson — who “made him smile” — was this line: “[He] leaned back in his chair for the opening remarks. He was chewing his Nicorette, it seemed, but mostly hiding it.”

Before the president’s trip, I had been preparing a cover letter to send along with a sample of e-cigarettes that the Risk Analysis Division of the National Center for Public Policy Research will send to President Obama. As a longtime smoker, and while his Food and Drug Administration is preparing rules to regulate e-cigarettes, also known as electronic nicotine delivery systems, or ENDS, as well as cigars, and other tobacco products, we think it is essential that the president, who appears to still use nicotine, understands the range of less harmful products available to him and countless smokers in the U.S., China, and around the world.

As the director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products, Mitch Zeller told the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation,   

Right now the overwhelming majority of people seeking nicotine are getting it from the deadliest and most toxic delivery system, and that’s the conventional cigarette. But if there is a continuum of risk and there are less harmful ways to get nicotine, and FDA is in the business of regulating virtually all of those products, then I think there’s an extraordinary public health opportunity for the agency to embrace some of these principles and to figure out how to incorporate it into regulatory policies.

So I shared or plan with the Ms. Chumley of The Washington Times, who promptly reported on our plan, 

 Who says politics is boring? A D.C. conservative think tank with a stake in the feds’ push to regulate e-cigarettes has stumbled on a creative way to get its message out, thanks to President Obama’s gum-chewing gaffe in China.

“We’re getting together a variety of e-cigarettes to send Obama, to give him some choices,” said Jeff Stiersenior fellow with the National Center for Public Policy Research, in a brief telephone call.

His announcement comes on the heels of Mr. Obama’s widely reported gum-chewing incidents at the Asia-Pacific Economic Corporation summit in China, which drew fire from several native observers who found his actions uncouth. One, for example, wrote of seeing Obama “stepping out of his carchewing gum like an idler,” USA Today reported.

But Mr. Stier’s group thinks it’s found a way to defuse the public relations tensions — with a humorous mailing that nonetheless carries a message.

Had Obama taken along a couple of e-cigs with him, he wouldn’t have felt the need to chomp on nicotine gum, thus he wouldn’t have offended his Chinese hosts in the process.

“Had he been vaping, he could have satisfied his nicotine craving … without offending,” he said. “The NCPPR is sending a variety or e-cigarettes to the president, when he returns from China.”

The organization has been pushing for the Food and Drug Administration to back off regulations of e-cigarettes, saying an over-regulated approach will actually prevent tobacco smokers from quitting and using the vapor product as a substitute.

Gregory Conley, research fellow at the Heartland Institute applauded both President Obama and our gift to him, noting,

President Obama is a great example of harm reduction in action. Once a daily smoker, he is now living a smoke-free life thanks to long-term nicotine use. We are hopeful that the National Center’s care package will cause President Obama and his staff to carefully examine the negative impact that the FDA’s proposed regulation of e-cigarettes would have on public health.

We are going to send a select variety of products including flavors, open systems, closed systems, cigalikes, products from independent companies, from “Big Tobacco”, made in the USA, and even products from… well, China. 

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