The economy needs a jolt to keep growing. President Trump and Democrats should put aside differences to boost infrastructure investment and modernize cities and rural technology.
The economy is adding jobs at a slowing pace, and cutting interest rates won’t do much to accelerate investment, because businesses are pixilated about the outcome of the trade war — new opportunities in China vs. stalemate and diversion of supply-chains to Mexico and Asia.
More tax cuts to encourage consumer spending would add to the deficit, imports and foreign borrowing but do little to build a more competitive America. Roads, bridges and ports are straining to handle commuters and move goods, and the U.S. Internet is in danger of falling behind the Chinese.
Democrats and Mr. Trump can argue the causes of climate change, but no one looking at the recent severity of storms can doubt our coastal metropolises need hardening. Rural telecom carriers need assistance to wean from Huawei and ZTE equipment and build out 5G.
Federal and state governments spend about $450 billion a year or roads, bridges, mass transit, waterways and the like. That should be increased by at least $200 billion to catch decaying and crowded facilities and address climate change abatement and 5G.
Inadequate facilities are imposing economic losses of at least $400 billion a year and more than 1 million jobs — more than what is needed in additional spending on repairs and upgrades.
U.S. fatalities per mile driven are about 40 percent greater than those in Canada and double those in Sweden, which is viewed as having the safest roads in the world.
Federal agencies like the Army Corps of Engineers, and state and local governments have backlogs of projects. The trick is not to tie them up with federal approvals or let environmental groups impede progress through the courts.
Washington is inclined to micromanage by allocating money to specific purposes, playing into the hands of bureaucrats, empire builders and activists — who universally delay worthy investments to justify their existence.
To give the economy a quick boost and do good for the long run, it would be better to simply appropriate an additional $200 billion annually in proportion to present allocations among states and agencies. Don’t earmark projects but instead require that the funds be spent within the year received — and audit projects for integrity in bidding and the like. Then, funds for projects held up by the courts would be diverted to other worthy purposes.
All of this boils down to how to pay.
Last raised in 1993, the gas tax is 18.3 cents per gallon and is supplemented by a 24.3 cents diesel tax — those provide about $40 billion of the nearly $60 billon the Federal Highway Trust Fund spends, with Congress providing supplemental money from other sources. About 28 percent of the fuel taxes are diverted to mass transit, bike paths and other noble purposes.
After years of inflation and with oil prices so low, doubling those taxes, requiring higher transit fees and excise taxes on bicycles, tires and recreational equipment could add another $50 billion to what can be spent.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, whose will the president cannot ignore, won’t consider higher gas taxes without repealing some of the 2017 tax reductions for high-income households. Like it or not, that’s where another $50 billion has to be found.
The other $100 billion can be borrowed because the boost to GDP from $200 billion in spending on cement, bulldozers and Internet routers should be about $250 billion. That would generate a lot of taxes, so in the end the increase in the deficit would be much less than $100 billion.
Last spring, congressional Democrats endorsed a $2 trillion, multiyear package — roughly in line with the amount proposed here. President Trump initially agreed to look for a way forward but then said he would not negotiate on these issues while the congressional investigation into Russian influence continues.
The economy is at a genuine risk of recession — and that poses more of a threat to the president’s re-election than the machinations of Russia conspiracy zealots like Rep. Adam Schiff.
Mr. Trump would be well advised to advocate an immediate infrastructure package as necessary to avoid an economic downturn and unemployment, challenge Sen. Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to cooperate and put the onus on them if the package is not passed and the economy tanks.
• Peter Morici is an economist and business professor at the University of Maryland, and a national columnist.
Health care remains a top issue for voters, and Washington remains polarized over controversial reform ideas like “Trumpcare” and “Medicare for All.”
But there’s one new idea that should appeal to politicians of all stripes: The Health Savings for Seniors Act (H.R.3796), a House bill authored by Ami Bera, a California Democrat, and Jason Smith, a Missouri Republican, would give America’s seniors a powerful new way to save for health care in retirement.
Specifically, the bill would make Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) available to everyone enrolled in Medicare. Overnight, an additional 60 million Americans would be able to save for their own out-of-pocket health costs, tax-free.
And — a nice plus — it wouldn’t bust the budget. Indeed, it would tend to reduce deficits.
Under current law, if you’re on Medicare, you basically cannot have an HSA. The new bill would end that discrimination.
HSAs are popular because they give patients additional resources to pay for health care, resources you own and control. It’s your property. Whether you lose your job or change jobs, your account is there for you, growing tax-free.
In 2003, there were no HSAs. Today, there are more than 25 million nationwide, with total account balances approaching $60 billion.
So why can’t seniors have HSAs? Because under current law, to be able to contribute to an HSA you must have “qualified coverage,” which is defined as a specific kind of health insurance policy with a high deductible. Legally, Medicare does not fit the definition. So simply by enrolling in Medicare, you end your ability to save for health care tax-free.
The Bera-Smith bill would fix that oversight by simply declaring Medicare to be HSA-qualified coverage. Elegant.
If anyone deserves access to these accounts, it’s seniors. Health care costs typically rise with age, and Medicare doesn’t cover everything (routine dental, vision, and hearing items, for example).
Even seniors with supplemental “medigap” coverage can never completely shield themselves from unexpected medical bills. The average elderly couple needs $280,000 to cover health care costs in retirement. And the typical enrollee in original, fee-for-service Medicare spends 19 percent of his or her income on out-of-pocket health costs.
HSAs can help fill these gaps.
How much would the bill cost? According to Adams Auld LLC, a public policy consultancy of which I’m a partner, H.R.3796 as introduced would reduce federal outlays by an estimated $12.8 billion over 10 years (2020-29).
Yes, reduce. While more income would escape taxation, thanks to an estimated 2.6 million new HSAs created, which would dampen federal tax receipts by around $1.2 billion, this revenue loss would be offset by an estimated $14 billion in outlay reductions.
Roughly $2.2 billion of that savings would come from two places: Medicaid (the joint federal-state health program for the poor), because seniors with new and growing HSA balances have more assets; and Social Security, because working seniors with employer-funded HSAs tend to file for their benefits a bit later than those without.
But the bulk of the projected savings, roughly $10.6 billion, would occur within Medicare, thanks to the HSA effect.
The HSA effect is the tendency of HSA account owners to be more frugal in their health care spending without harming their health. This effect is well-attested. Numerous studies, including those reviewed by RAND Corporation and the American Academy of Actuaries, have found that simply having an HSA tends to diminish personal health spending by somewhere in the range of 1 percent to 20 percent. (Adams Auld assumes 10 percent.) And happily, HSA owners tend to increase their use of preventive-care services.
In short, HSAs help bend the health care cost curve by eliminating waste. And it stands to reason: People make more careful choices when spending their own money.
But suppose the HSA effect is a myth? In that case, the Bera-Smith bill would still save about $2.2 billion.
In sum, this elegant proposal has something for everyone: A tax cut for Republicans; a stronger Medicare for Democrats; lower long-term health costs for patients; and, for 60 million elderly and disabled Americans, greater peace of mind.
And — a nice plus — it wouldn’t bust the budget.
• Dean Clancy, a former senior White House budget official, is president and founder of HSAs for All.
President Trump has confirmed that next year he will be running for re-election on another tax cut, which Larry Kudlow, the president’s top economic adviser, has termed “Tax Reform 2.0.” Details yet to be finalized, but the 2020 Tax Reform 2.0 tax cuts will expand Tax Reform 1.0’s benefits for average Americans and the middle class.
Democrats have had a lot of trouble understanding the first tax reform passed in 2017. But those tax reform/tax cuts were focused on job creation for middle class workers and raising wages. Where do the progressives now running the Democratic Party think the millions of jobs created since the passage of the 2017 tax cuts came from?
Six to seven million jobs have been created since Election Day 2016, with the stock market boom creating $12 trillion in increased wealth for America. Markets anticipated Mr. Trump’s Blue-Collar boom generated by the 2017 tax reform/tax cuts and Mr. Trump’s deregulation, particularly in energy.
Those policies are why America now has the lowest unemployment in 50 years, and the lowest unemployment in American history for blacks, Hispanics, Asians and youth. Wages are now rising faster for lower-income workers than for those at higher-income levels.
But Democrats still don’t seem to understand how that happened. Nor do they seem to understand how jobs are created in a capitalist economy. They demonstrated that the last time they were in power. Unemployment remained over 9 percent for most of President Obama’s first term, and economic growth never recovered, even in Mr. Obama’s second term. Wages and middle-class incomes remained flat throughout Mr. Obama’s entire two terms in office.
Mr. Obama was re-elected in 2012 only because he was articulate enough to double talk his way out of any responsibility for his terrible recovery. It helped that Democrats control most of the major media, which claimed that Mr. Obama’s terrible recovery, averaging less than 2 percent economic growth, was the “new normal.” America could no longer do any better they said.
But voters got their chance to take their country back in 2016. Mr. Trump and American voters never got the message that America could no longer recover and grow. That is why voters surprised the Democrats in 2016. Democrats apparently had no idea voters were so unhappy over Mr. Obama’s economics. They were misled by their own media.
Tax Reform 2.0 should include making the middle-class tax cuts permanent. Otherwise, they are set to expire after Mr. Trump’s second term. Those tax cuts could not be made permanent in 2017 because Republicans could not get a single Democratic vote for the tax reform/tax cuts. Republicans only had enough votes on their own, under the budget rules, to pass the reforms with the tax cuts most responsible for creating all the jobs, rising wages and booming economic growth.
Tax Reform 2.0 should also include abolishing the hated “death tax,” which is very unpopular among the grassroots of both parties. This tax, which was imposed more than 100 years ago ostensibly to fight World War I, raises less than 1 percent of federal revenue and is very costly to our economy. Most people agree that “death should not be a taxable event.”
And 2.0 should include indexing capital gains for inflation, which Mr. Trump can do on his own by regulation. That would be very effective in further increasing jobs, wages and growth.
Democrats, completely out of touch with reality, are running on reversing exactly the policies that created Mr. Trump’s Blue-Collar boom. They are running on repealing the 2017 tax reform/tax cuts, with even more tax increases that would throw America and its workers back into recession.
And Democrats are running on reversing Mr. Trump’s deregulation, especially in energy, with the Green New Deal that would eliminate fossil fuels and America’s energy independence, increasing the cost of electricity three-fold. That would condemn most of today’s cars and trucks to the ash-heap and put an end to air travel.
Global climate change is the villain cited as a major threat to our planet, justifying Democratic far-left anti-fossil fuel policies, and their criticism of President Trump for leaving the Paris Accord.
The fact is global warming stopped years ago, the planet has recently been cooling, and America’s coastal cities are not going underwater. Otherwise, why would the Obamas spend millions of dollars to buy an estate in Martha’s Vineyard that is only a football’s throw to the ocean.
Tax Reform 2.0 will not affect nature or sea levels. But it will assure continuing, robust economic growth, and the rising tide of jobs and wages for 99 percent of America’s workers.
• Lewis K. Uhler is founder and chairman of the National Tax Limitation Committee and Foundation. Peter J. Ferrara is a senior policy adviser for the Foundation and teaches economics at Kings College in New York.
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry posed an interesting hypothetical that sums up why 51 attorneys general launched an antitrust investigation into the business practices of tech-giant Google earlier this month.
Mr. Landry asked us to think back before the invention of radio or television, when the single source of content was print media, particularly newspapers. Then, he asked if we would have allowed one person or one company to own all the printing presses, printing ink, and the printing paper in the country. I agree with my colleague — the answer to that is a resounding “no.”
It was an excellent analogy, but it doesn’t fully reflect Google’s current position of dominance. For a more complete picture, we would need to add (at the very least) that the company also owns most of the stores where you can buy the most widely-read newspapers and is effectively the only company that can sell you an ad in any newspaper throughout the country.
Moreover, that same company is effectively the only source for businesses to find out what newspapers their potential customers read. When you add those facts, you begin to get a good picture of just how much influence Google can wield over our lives every day.
Antitrust law must continue to focus on promoting competition and protecting consumers from unfair business practices that lead to less choice, lower quality or higher prices. Much of the public perceives that Google provides online tools — including search, email, access to videos via YouTube, and other services — completely free of charge.
However, it is important to remember what Milton Friedman taught us: There really is no such thing as a free lunch. Nothing on the Internet is truly free. Consumers generally pay for the use of Google’s “free” online tools by sharing their personal data with Google, which then uses that data to develop and sell services to companies seeking to buy and sell advertising online.
Google dominates this very lucrative online space. It connects advertisers who want to place online ads with publishers who want to sell advertising space on their websites. And it targets those ads to specific consumers using data collected from those consumers when they were using “free” services like Google search, Gmail, Chrome and other Google services.
Even more than that, Google uses that data to target ads to consumers as they are hunting for news, searching for driving directions, looking up restaurant recommendations or browsing for medical advice. This is a rough sketch of what the markets for digital advertising looks like today, and they all revolve around Google.
Given the markets we just described, we want to know whether Google gained and maintained control over those markets by merit or by unfair, anticompetitive practices. More specifically, we want to know whether it has engaged in any unfair practices that have raised prices, harmed publishers and content creators, prevented new tech companies from offering new products to consumers, and locked those same consumers into a marketplace where they have little or no choice whether to share their personal information with Google.
If we are still imagining ourselves in a world before radio, television and the Internet, we would have to say that much ink has been spilled opining whether Google is too big or has too much power, but that is not the focus of this investigation. We are simply focused on whether Google’s business practices have been fair to the guy at the news stand trying to buy the morning paper.
• Ken Paxton is attorney general of Texas.
Last week, media outlets reported the existence of a whistleblower complaint filed with the inspector general of the intelligence community against President Donald Trump. The IC encompasses all civilian and military employees and contractors who work for the federal government gathering domestic and foreign intelligence.
The inspector general — a position appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate — exists in all parts of the executive branch of the government, except for the White House, to examine and determine if officials are following the law.
A whistleblower refers to a person who works for the government and who believes that her or his colleagues and bosses are engaged in unconstitutional or unlawful or dangerous behavior. A federal statute expressly provides procedures for federal employees to follow in order to make known to an inspector general the potentially unlawful or dangerous behavior.
In the case of the IC, since the subject of a whistleblower complaint can be so serious — often involving classified materials that affect national security — the rules provide for an immediate review of the complaint.
The complaint against Mr. Trump alleged that he offered a “promise” to a foreign head of state that was unlawful or threatening to national security. The IC inspector general — a Trump appointee — evaluated the complaint, interviewed the whistleblower, examined documents that the whistleblower provided and concluded that the complaint was “urgent and credible.”
The complaint related that Mr. Trump held up the sale of $250 million worth of military equipment and the delivery of $140 million in congressionally mandated foreign aid until the government of Ukraine opened a criminal investigation against the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, the leading Democratic contender to oppose Mr. Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
Can the president of the United States legally ask a foreign government to provide assistance to his reelection? In a word: No.
Here is the backstory.
After special counsel Robert Mueller delivered his report of the relationship between the Trump campaign and Russian agents to the Department of Justice, and then testified about what he discovered, Mr. Trump claimed exoneration. Mr. Mueller’s report found some evidence of a conspiracy — 127 telephone calls and numerous meetings — between Mr. Trump’s campaign and Russian agents, but not enough to charge the crime of conspiracy to solicit foreign assistance in a domestic political campaign.
Mr. Mueller also found 10 instances in which Mr. Trump had committed the criminal offense of obstruction of justice by his personal efforts to derail the Mueller investigation. Mr. Mueller did not seek an indictment of Mr. Trump for behavior that would have gotten any other person in America indicted because Mr. Mueller knew that his boss, Attorney General William Barr, who needed to sign off on such an indictment, would not do so.
Mr. Trump felt exonerated and emboldened. At the same time that the country was debating publicly what the Mueller report revealed about his behavior, the president instructed the Treasury Department to hold off on the licenses it had provisionally granted to American arms manufacturers to sell a quarter of a billion dollars in arms to Ukraine. He also instructed the State Department to hold off on the delivery of $140 million in direct aid to Ukraine that Congress told him to deliver.
Also at the same time, he began his conversations with his Ukrainian counterpart, during which he urged a criminal investigation of the younger Biden, even though Mr. Biden’s commercial activities in Ukraine while his father was vice president have produced no credible evidence of criminal behavior.
Yet, as if to flaunt the Mueller findings, Mr. Trump apparently personally and directly committed the crime for which he claimed Mr. Mueller exonerated him.
What was that crime? It was the attempt to solicit foreign assistance for his campaign. It was the manipulation of American foreign and military policy for a corrupt purpose. A corrupt purpose puts the president personally above the needs of the nation.
In short, the whistleblower alleges that Mr. Trump offered a bribe to his Ukrainian counterpart: Go after my likely opponent’s son and you will get the $390 million in goods and cash that we are holding up.
If demonstrable, this behavior is far worse than anything alleged or uncovered by Mr. Mueller. The acts of obstruction that Mr. Mueller found arguably constitute impeachable offenses. That’s because the constitutional language of “high crimes and misdemeanors” as one of the three bases for impeachment has been found by the House of Representatives, in three different generations, to include obstruction. Yet there is still wiggle room as to how much personal presidential obstruction and underlying criminality is needed to constitute an impeachable offense.
There is no such wiggle room for bribery. The Constitution is quite clear that “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors” shall constitute a basis for impeachment.
Was Mr. Trump offering to bribe the Ukrainian president? The circumstantial evidence is: Yes. The transcript of Mr. Trump’s critical conversation with the Ukrainian president shows he asked his counterpart to coordinate with American authorities to prosecute the son of his likely political opponent in 2020. That is the solicitation of something of value from a foreign government — a felony.
Within a week of that conversation, Mr. Trump put his hold on the $390 million in aid. That’s when the Ukrainian president got the message.
Where does this leave us? We are at the precipice of a constitutional crisis. We have a president whose apparent corruption is palpable. We have a Constitution that prescribes a remedy. We have an attorney general who acts as if he were the president’s personal lawyer. We have Republicans in Congress who see and hear no evil from this president. And we have congressional Democrats hesitant to do their constitutional duty.
We have a mess.
• Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is a regular contributor to The Washington Times. He is the author of nine books on the U.S. Constitution.
My ancestors were brought to America in chains more than 150 years ago, robbed of human dignity. Now I stand here in the greatest nation — my nation — the world has ever known, where I have pursued my own American dream.
Our country has a long and complicated relationship with race, but we have now come an extraordinary distance. My story could not be told in any other country, because it’s only here in America that I have been gifted the blessings of liberty endowed by the U.S. Constitution.
That’s why I find myself shaking my head at people like Ezra Levin, co-director of a progressive activist group called “Indivisible.” His organization spent Constitution Day denouncing the document as racist and attacking the people who love it. He used social media to reopen old wounds and pit Americans against each other based on our differences.
Kind of ironic for a group called “Indivisible,” don’t you think?
Mr. Levin is missing the point. Americans fought a long and bloody war to make sure the rights outlined in the Constitution would apply to everyone. They did not fight a war to abolish the Constitution – they fought a war to broaden its reach to all people. A century later, the Civil Rights Movement continued the march toward equal treatment under the law.
During that time, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. never gave up on the Constitution. In the historic 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech, King told the crowd, “When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned … But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt.”
King knew the framework of the Constitution was sound, even if its application was flawed. Like our Founders, he wanted to use the document to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority — whether it be a political party, race, ethnicity or just a single individual. He knew the document was more than a framework. It was a promise that could be used to inspire and encourage America to live up to its own ideals.
Perhaps it was a lesson learned from the writings of abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who had famously changed his view of the Constitution throughout his lifetime. After escaping slavery, Douglass was a loud critic of the document. It was through his continued education he realized the Constitution was a powerful tool to promote equality for all.
The road to equality has been a long one. But I challenge you to find a single nation anywhere in the world that has gone farther than the United States to protect the rights of all individuals.
The promises made in our Constitution are the reason the United States endures as a beacon of hope and freedom for those around the world. We are the greatest success story the world has ever known. We are constantly aspiring to be a better nation today than we were the day before. Though we may disagree over policies and politics, we must always stand united around this promise.
• The Rev. C.L. Bryant is a senior fellow at FreedomWorks and a radio host.
As we lead into the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the climate change extremists were out in force. There were student walkouts, demonstrations blocking traffic in Washington, D.C., and the adolescent child of Swedish theater performers lecturing and threatening attendees at the U.N.’s Climate Action Summit in Gotham.
Greta Thunberg, a teen climate activist, was the media’s darling as she chastised world leaders with rage and threats over the lack of “climate” action: “You all come to us young people for hope. How dare you! You’ve stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.”
Climate activism is a new power-play by the left, taking on a fanatical religious facade making manipulation of its followers even more assured. But this week made clear that it has nothing to do with saving people’s lives or the planet itself; it’s just another manipulative gambit by the worldwide left for political power.
From the start, the issue of “climate change” is perfect for the fear-mongering left. It is as malleable as Play-Doh, presenting a never-ending, always-changing existential crisis. It is something you can use to manipulate and terrify people for generations to come.
If those manipulating young people into a terrifying belief in impending doom were serious about wanting to save the planet and the people on it, they wouldn’t have to look very far for actual existential threats threatening humanity on a daily basis. Threats that have solutions.
Just a few days ago BuzzFeed News reported that NASA internal emails revealed their scientists completely missed a football field-sized asteroid that barely missed Earth on July 25.
The website reported, “In late July, a record-setting asteroid hurtled just 40,400 miles over [E]arth, the largest space rock to come so close in a century. But perhaps more alarming than the flyby itself is how much it caught NASA by surprise. … Spotted just 24 hours before a relatively narrow miss with Earth, the incident reveals holes in NASA’s surveillance network to observe incoming space rocks. …”
The report indicated that the asteroid was flying at 55,000 mph and was detected first by an observatory in Brazil.
“The flyby came five times closer to Earth than the distance of the moon,” BuzzFeed reported.
In one of the emails, obtained by the website through a FOIA request, a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory wrote to his colleagues, “This object slipped through a whole series of our capture nets,” adding, “I wonder how many times the situation has happened without the asteroid been discovered at all.”
On NASA’s Planetary Defense frequently asked questions page, they tell us that we have discovered more than 19,000 “near Earth asteroids.” Those, of course, are just the ones we know of.
In addressing whether or not we would be able to shoot down an asteroid that is about to hit Earth, they noted, “An asteroid on a trajectory to impact [E]arth could not be shot down in the last few minutes or even hours before impact. No known weapon system could stop the mass because of the velocity at which it travels, an average of 12 miles a second.”
Okey-dokey. But we’ve known this. There have been some theoretical discussions about the possibility of using a nuclear warhead on an incoming asteroid to destroy it before it gets near Earth’s atmosphere. And as the July debacle showed us, we have to work on finding the asteroids in the first place.
In the meantime, last December a tsunami in Indonesia killed more than 280 people. There was no warning or earthquake. It shocked the world as more than 1,000 people were injured, hundreds of buildings were destroyed, and as The New York Times reported, it was the second deadly tsunami in Indonesia last year.
An Indonesian official told reporters that they were unable to detect the tsunami and provide a warning because “we do not have a tsunami early warning system that’s triggered by underwater landslides and volcanic eruptions. What we have is early warning based on earthquake as a trigger,” The Times reported.
None of us will forget the horrific Dec. 26, 2004, tsunami that hit 14 countries, killing about 225,000 people. Most of us presumed that in the last 14 years there would’ve been tsunami early warning systems in place covering all potential tsunami events.
While the asteroid and tsunami threats are complicated, they are scientifically known events, and with the right focus and investment, solutions can be found that will save lives. There is also the imperative of focusing on early warning systems for earthquakes, which would save untold number of lives when the “big one” hits.
Then there’s climate change fanaticism. The rhetoric introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York reveals the desperation of the left to manipulate us into a panic as she insists, without evidence or scientific facts, that we only have 12 years to live if we don’t do as leftist ideologues demand.
Climate change fanaticism is a cynical and dangerous distraction, frightening children and adults alike, into believing that those who are opposed to the leftist agenda want the planet to die. The real crimes of asteroids, tsunamis and earthquakes are that they aren’t the fault of humans, and their solutions rely on science, not politics.
Magically, “climate change” somehow can only be solved if we implement a leftist agenda, casting us back into the stone age. Ending the use of fossil fuels won’t stop an asteroid. Banning the eating of meat won’t make a difference with tsunamis. Banning plastic straws isn’t going to stop the football field-sized asteroid from slamming into Earth. And keeping you from being able to travel on an airplane isn’t going to alert citizens of an impending earthquake.
The reason the existential threat can only be climate change is because, as designed by its apostles, it’s our fault and requires political action aimed at controlling your entire life. In the meantime, we must decide to stop allowing Hollywood, misled adolescents and political charlatans from distracting us to death with nonsensical political theater.
• Tammy Bruce, president of Independent Women’s Voice, author and Fox News contributor, is a radio talk-show host.
There can be no better rallying cry for President Trump’s model of national governance than the words he delivered to world leaders on Tuesday.
“If you want freedom, take pride in your country,” Mr. Trump said. “If you want democracy, hold on to your sovereignty. If you want peace, love your nation.”
Then came an assertion so bold that it’s hard to imagine any previous president uttering anything like it to such an assemblage of the self-important.
“The future does not belong to globalists — the future belongs to patriots,” the president told the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
It’s a bit early for the president or anyone else to know to whom the future actually will belong. But not too early to know to whom it should belong.
At least it’s not too early for people who want the ethnic-religious-racial cohesion that nationalism/patriotism promotes.
Once upon a time, most Democrats and plenty of liberals loved individualism and looked down on politically correct groupthink.
Such liberals cherished the uniqueness of every nation’s culture and subcultures.
Libs and Democratic presidential fantasizers now give such cultural uniqueness a cold shoulder at best or more often their most condescending sneer.
The Dems and libs sneered at Mr. Trump telling his U.N. audience this:
“The future belongs to sovereign and independent nations who protect their citizens, respect their neighbors, and honor the differences that make each country special and unique.”
They sneered not because of what he said but because it was Donald Trump who said it. They’ve labeled him a demagogue. No self-respecting demagogue means what he says. So it’s OK to sneer at him and what he says.
If you’re not following this sneer rationale, you’re probably not a Democrat and certainly not a perfect model of a modern liberal.
Actually, the president’s words stirred the hearts of regular people everywhere.
Well, at least of regular people who fear that authoritarianism is inevitable any time you create a culturally puréed amalgam of what were independent nations.
The globalist wants you and the rest of the 7.7 billion people in the world to live in a fanciful, one-world, kumbaya utopia.
Conservatives and some classical liberals fear that globalist arcadia would, in reality, be a Big Brother, Newspeak, surveillance state.
The more nations that globalists are able to entice into their common culture with its common dictatorship, the harder it will be for democracy seekers to overthrow the dictatorship.
It’s why 52 percent of the U.K. vote in 2016 went to citizens who want to leave the European Union.
The leavers can’t abide by the bureaucrats in Brussels or the high court in Luxembourg telling the England, France, Italy, Spain, the Czech Republic, Poland and the rest what they can make and sell, how much they can tax, who can enter their respective countries at will and who’s guilty of what.
Mr. Trump’s point is that there is built into the centralization of power an authoritarianism that the left either ignores or welcomes and that conservatives abhor.
“Wise leaders always put the good of their own people and their own country first,” he said in what should be the motto of the movement Mr. Trump’s presidency represents in the U.S. and elsewhere.
We can only imagine how many of the foreign leaders whose chins remained motionless were nodding “yes” in their hearts to Mr. Trump’s exegesis on nationalism.
“Like my beloved country, each nation represented in this hall has a cherished history, culture and heritage that is worth defending and celebrating, and which gives us our singular potential and strength,” he said. “The free world must embrace its national foundations. It must not attempt to erase them or replace them.”
It’s divinely perfect, figuratively speaking, that he delivered this exceptional speech to a body that aspires to global governance.
Fifty-one nations founded the U.N. just after World War II. They included Iran (not remotely resembling today’s iteration) and the Republic of China (now a province of the People’s Republic of China).
They wrestled with concerns about nationalism’s perceived warlike hegemonic tendencies. They came up with a global confederacy of unintentional dystopians.
Imagine, an American president telling a gathering of the U.N. that it’s actually a good thing for any nation’s people and leaders to strive to uphold their national interest.
Mr. Trump did that and added that globalism had “exerted a religious pull over past leaders causing them to ignore their own national interests.”
He didn’t say it, but that religious pull was like the one that caused free-market purists to ignore generational damage that unfair trade did to American workers.
America’s politicians and intentional corporate chieftains inflicted the damage by their self-serving insistence that free trade is the same thing as fair trade, no matter how unfair it is to real people in the country.
“But as far as America is concerned,” Mr. Trump told the U.N., “those days are over.”
That’s the rhetorical clenched-fist firmness so many Americans have waited so long to hear from a president.
Internationalists think nationalism makes inevitable adversarial collisions with other nations. Too often true, but not inevitably.
There’s plenty of evidence to the contrary and to which globalists are intentionally blind. And Mr. Trump does not shrink from prying open their eyes on the subject.
“Many of America’s greatest friends today were once its greatest foes,” Mr. Trump said. “We want partners, not adversaries. … America knows that while anyone can make war, only the most courageous can choose peace.”
Mr. Trump didn’t say it in his U.N. speech, but the Declaration of Independence itself is a call to civic nationalism. As Abraham Lincoln said before becoming president, the Declaration unites people of different ethnic heritages in the incredibly diverse USA.
Citing the lines “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,” Mr. Lincoln said what Mr. Trump knows:
“That is the electric cord in that Declaration that links the hearts of patriotic and liberty-loving men together — that will link those patriotic hearts as long as the love of freedom exists in the minds of men throughout the world.”
How much credibility should we give to a 16-year-old when considering her qualifications to lecture adults about science and an end-of-the-world scenario?
Greta Thunberg has been dubbed by the media as a “climate change activist” and a teen “eco-warrior.” She was at the United Nations in New York on Monday to appear before diplomats and others at a “climate action summit.” Only the U.N. has less credibility than a teenager.
Greta is on a world tour promoting the latest end-of-the-planet scenario. By the way, shouldn’t she be in school? Reporters won’t ask because most appear to buy into her secular doctrine that the apocalypse is just around the corner.
Greta claims “people are dying” because the Earth is getting hotter. She warns that adults had better wake up or they will burn in ecological hell or perhaps even the real thing. Her theological qualifications have yet to be examined.
Think back to when you were 16 and believed you knew it all. At 18, an adult called me “precocious” (he didn’t mean it as a compliment). I had to look up the meaning in a dictionary. It was a humbling experience.
As their adolescent brains continue to develop, most teenagers know only what their teachers and textbooks tell them and maybe their parents, if they still listen to them. Science textbooks mostly embrace the climate change scenario, so why wouldn’t kids believe what they read and what they’re taught?
Greta was preparing to speak to the assembled adults at the U.N. when President Trump walked in ahead of her. The man knows showmanship. The expression on Greta’s face was priceless. If spitting fire contributed to “global warming,” we’d have been in real trouble.
It appears the girl is being held in intellectual captivity. She might benefit from consulting a list of “50 Years of Failed Eco-pocalytpic Predictions” compiled by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI.org), the nonprofit libertarian think tank based in Washington, D.C.
Just a few examples:
In 1967, the Los Angeles Times carried a story headlined “Dire Famine Forecast by 1975.” The story said it might “already be too late.”
On Aug. 10, 1969, The New York Times quoted a 37-year-old scientist predicting a new ice age and that “everyone will disappear in a cloud of blue steam by 1989.”
An April 16, 1970, story in the Boston Globe quoted Paul R. Erlich of the University of California, Riverside, predicting America will be “subject to water rationing by 1974 and food rationing by 1980.” Mr. Erlich said the oceans would be as dead as Lake Erie in less than a decade.
On July 9, 1971, The Washington Post, which, like most other media, now claims climate change and a warming planet is “settled science,” thought differently then. It quoted S.I. Rasool of NASA and Columbia University. Mr. Rasool predicted a coming “new ice age.” He was described as a “leading atmospheric scientist,” so he should be believed, right? He predicted we had only about “50 or 60 years” to save ourselves from freezing to death.
On her way back to Sweden, Greta should take along a copy of the CEI summary. She just may discover that some older people might know more than she does about most things and that those who preceded her in these “Chicken Little” hysterics were as wrong then as she is now.
• Cal Thomas, a nationally syndicated columnist, is the author of “America’s Expiration Date: The Fall of Empires, Superpowers and the United States” (HarperCollins/Zondervan, January 2020).
The latest attack on Justice Brett Kavanaugh isn’t just another scurrilous piece of yellow journalism, but part of a larger effort to weaken the legitimacy of the U.S. Supreme Court itself.
For evidence look no further than the opinion pages of The New York Times, which ran the now widely-ridiculed story attacking Justice Kavanaugh, and where the proposed answer to the “problem” of Justice Kavanaugh and fellow Justice Neil Gorsuch is court packing.
Here, The New York Times seems to be following the lead of Senate Democrats. Recently, a small group of U.S. senators made a thinly veiled political threat to the Supreme Court of the United States.
Democratic Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Richard Durbin of Ilinois and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York filed a “friend of the court” brief in a case related to gun laws in New York City. The brief was anything but friendly stating,
“The Supreme Court is not well. And the people know it … Perhaps the Court can heal itself before the public demands it be ‘restructured in order to reduce the influence of politics.’”
One of the signatories of the amicus brief, Ms. Gillibrand was, until recently, seeking to become president. Her willingness to entertain notions of court packing should serve as a reminder that those who seek such power should never be trusted with it.
Further, Ms. Hirono and Mr. Durbin have repeatedly displayed during judicial confirmation hearings a willingness to ignore the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on a religious test for office. Whether their overtly partisan abuse is symptomatic ignorance of, or antagonism to, our nation’s founding document is debatable.
What cannot be debated is the necessity of an independent judiciary to act as a check and balance to the power of the executive and legislative branches and thus the fleeting political whims of the majority.
But because the Supreme Court has become the epicenter of cultural battles over issues like religious liberty, those who believe in judicial activism will continue to push their own notions of justice. Under President Trump, however, the court has shifted toward constitutional textualism, much to the ire of fans of judicial activism. As a result, those feeling their judicial activism power slipping away have caused the nomination process to become even more fraught with politics than ever. In the wake of recent court decisions moving back to our constitutional foundations, such as its religious liberty decision earlier this year in the American Legion v. American Humanist Association, we can expect activists to continue their efforts to undermine and change the court.
Packing the court would simply change the court from a legal body to a political one. The last time a court packing plan was given serious consideration it was overwhelmingly rejected. President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the height of his popularity and hubris proposed packing the Supreme Court after much of his New Deal legislation was initially struck down by the court. FDR wisely abandoned the plan.
A contemporary of FDR, satirist H.L. Mencken once noted “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” Those who supported the New Deal got it good and hard, but not at the expense of packing the court.
If the Supreme Court or lower courts were to become political, character assassination of the type we are seeing today in the press and intimidation via legal brief is more likely to exacerbate the problem than alleviate it. If the problem is one of politics, the solution can’t be more politics, especially not the politics of personal destruction having been waged against Justice Kavanaugh since the moment he was nominated.
We need elected officials in the executive and legislative branch to appoint and confirm judges who are committed to leaving policy to policymakers. We need executive and legislative officials who respect the role of the judiciary enough to refrain from undue political pressure. We need judges who apply the original meaning of the U.S. Constitution. And we need an electorate wise enough to elect people more committed to preserving the long-term health of our republic for the future than to their political appetites for the present.
• Kelly Shackelford is president, CEO, and chief counsel for First Liberty Institute.