Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America welcome a new Axios/Survey Monkey poll showing five incumbent Senate Democrats losing to specific or unnamed Republicans right now and a few others barely ahead. They also rip California for brazenly impeding efforts of federal immigration officials and wonder where all the liberal love for states’ rights was when Arizona wanted to enforce federal laws when the federal government refused to do it. And they swat down a Washington Post columnist for suggesting the U.S. pursue a socialist system and dig deeper into why so many people are not satisfied with the way things are going right now.
Archives for March 2018
President Trump’s embrace of new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports is largely believed to be behind the exit of his top economic adviser, and one free market advocate is concerned that it could hurt American consumers and stunt the nation’s economic growth spurt.
Last week, during a meeting with executives from America’s leading steel and aluminum manufacturers, Trump announced his new policy.
“We’ll be imposing tariffs on steel imports and tariffs on aluminum imports. Pretty much all of you will be immediately expanding if we give you that level playing field, if we give you that help,” said Trump in announcing 25 percent tariffs on steel imports and a 10 percent surcharge on foreign aluminum.
The policy comes as little surprise, since Trump routinely condemned what he characterized as terrible trade policies with the likes of China and Japan and vowed to revive American manufacturing by addressing America’s trade posture.
However, Texas Public Policy Foundation Senior Economist Dr. Vance Ginn believes tariffs are the wrong policy for Trump to pursue.
“I think this would be bad for Americans overall and reduce our economic potential over time, which had been boosted by the tax cuts last year and the regulatory reforms that were made. I’d rather see those sorts of things boosted instead of tariffs and trade practices such as this,” said Ginn.
Ginn says the simple fact is that charging more more imports means higher prices for all of us.
“If you raise the cost of doing business, that hurts business and it hurts American consumers. Whenever you look at raising steel prices and aluminum prices, those are in the cars that we drive and the buildings where we work and in many other aspects of capital throughout our economy,” said Ginn.
He also says we were reminded just last decade in the George W. Bush administration that steel tariffs don’t necessarily get the intended results.
“Some estimates show that cost us about 200,000 jobs. I would hate to see more Americans not have a job when we’ve had an expanding economy,” said Ginn.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross estimates that the steel tariffs would result in a bump of one half of one percent to three-quarters of one percent, an average of about $700. He says the difference is “trivial.”
Ginn says that approach badly undermines the administration’s defense of the tax cuts.
“If $1,000 is just crumbs according to Nancy Pelosi but a big deal according to those in favor of the tax cuts, $700 is also a big deal. That takes away a lot of the potential from those bonuses that they had before to [add income],” said Ginn.
But with significant trade deficits and China dumping steel into this country in violation of World Trade Organization protocols, the U.S. stands at a tactical disadvantage.
Ginn says that doesn’t explain why the tariffs apply to everyone.
“The proposal so far would be a global tariff on steel and aluminum. It wouldn’t just hit China. So if there are those issues with China, let’s deal with those, not necessarily make it for everyone to pay these higher costs,” said Ginn.
Ginn also says the effort to reduce our trade deficits starts with a tough look in the mirror.
“Let’s look at what we’re doing here at home that’s also maybe raising the cost of living and raising the cost of doing business such that China and other countries are having a competitive advantage in the global market,” said Ginn.
“Let’s look at the cost of unions and what they’re doing to the cost of labor over time. Let’s look at our minimum wage and what that’s doing over time. Retirement pensions. There are a number of factors that are raising the cost here that are putting us at a disadvantage compared to other countries,” said Ginn.
Ginn believes America’s position on the global trading stage is already on the upswing thanks to the tax reform bill.
“That helps to reduce the cost of doing business. It allows us to be more competitive on a global playing field. I think we should look at more of those things, along with regulatory reforms,” said Ginn.
According to Ginn, the way to help an economy flourish is not to add more complications but to remove as many as possible. He says it’s led to a booming economy in Texas.
“The ability for us to focus on freedom and free markets has allowed us to be a powerhouse. As an independent nation, we would be the tenth largest economy in the world and continue to create a lot of jobs. In fact, over the last decade, we created 26 percent of all new jobs that were added in the United States,” said Ginn.
President Trump’s negotiating tactics often show him throwing out an idea, watching his critics set their hair on fire, and then finding common ground with a less severe approach. Ginn suspects that is Trump’s approach here, as well as an effort to put the heat on officials renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA.
“He’s even talked to the Mexicans and the Canadians and said, ‘Look, if we don’t get something done with NAFTA, then I’m definitely going through with these tariffs.’ That puts pressure on the NAFTA renegotiation process as well. I’m hopeful this is not where we’ll be at the end of the day,” said Ginn.
Ginn contends NAFTA could be much better but is not as destructive to the U.S. economy as its critics suggest. He says free trade ought to be the ultimate goal.
“What would be a perfect trade agreement? It would be no trade barriers between the countries that are involved. Instead, we have a 1,700-page trade agreement with NAFTA.
“So what does that do? That picks winners and losers throughout the whole economy. There’s a lot of ways to renegotiate to make this more of a free trade agreement. I’m just a little concerned that’s not where we’re going to go if we start picking out even more winners and losers in the process,” said Ginn.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are fully aware that Democrats may have a good year in the midterms but Tuesday’s primary results suggest the Democrats still have a long way to go in Texas. However, they don’t like the departure of chief Trump economic adviser Gary Cohn and they really don’t like that Trump’s surprise announcement on new tariffs is the reason for it. And they confront a growing trend on the left demonizing people for driving or even having cars. Jim points out it’s because urban liberals cannot fathom that anyone lives a different way than they do and Greg suggests that when lefties decide they don’t want something then no one else is allowed to have it either.
Gun control activists and a growing number of Republicans insist something must be done to address gun violence but one of the leading researchers on guns says the data prove the gun control proposals getting discussed will not stop future atrocities but ideas getting shouted down by Democrats and the media would make a difference.
More and more Republicans are urging action by Congress, from universal background checks to denying people on the No Fly List from purchasing guns. Some aren’t even sure what they want but insist something needs to get passed and President Trump needs to lead on the issue.
“You have an obligation to give us a package to consider, regarding school safety and guns. You did a good job talking in front of the country about the problem,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday.
“Propose something, Mr. President, and I think Republicans have an obligation to work with Democrats to make it law if we can,” added Graham.
Crime Prevention Research Center President Dr. John Lott has studied gun and crime data for decades. He is not impressed by the generic demand for action.
“I’m very frustrated by this whole debate myself. What makes me even more frustrated is the fact that the types of solutions that are being offered have really nothing to do with stopping these types of mass public shootings,” said Lott.
Lott then took aim at ideas like expanded background checks and banning so-called assault weapons, explaining why he thinks they would’t work.
“The number one solution that Democrats go to all the time are the background checks on private transfers of guns. If that type of law had been in effect, it wouldn’t have stopped any mass public shooting this century or even years before that. And yet they keep pushing it,” said Lott.
He says the statistics on “assault weapons” are also unconvincing.
“To go and ban guns based on how they look really never made much sense to me and there’s a lot of academic research that shows that it had no impact on these types of crimes,” said Lott.
Many conservatives recoiled last week when President Trump seemed warm to ideas ranging from raising the minimum age for purchasing rifles to expanded background checks and possibly even portions of an “assault weapons” ban.
Lott says people need to remember how Trump approaches policy and adds he will not judge Trump until he sees concrete proposals.
“I don’t put too much weight on any one part of the conversation. I want to see what comes out in the end, but Trump is a very practical person. You can’t go and argue with him, I don’t believe, just saying this is a right.
“I don’t think that’s the way he thinks about things. He wants to know what will work, what will stop these types of things,” said Lott.
Lott is very pleased Trump seems to be on board with allowing teachers and staff voluntarily conceal carry on school property. He also applauds Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., for introducing legislation to repeal the federal gun-free zones.
He says the research shows those zones are magnets for deranged killers.
“I don’t know how somebody can get around it. You read the diaries, you read the other statements these killers leave, they’re very explicit on why they picked the targets that they do. Over 98 percent of the mass public shootings since 1950 have occurred in places where guns are banned,” said Lott.
Politicians in both parties recoil at the idea of teachers and school staff voluntarily carrying guns, with some preferring armed security instead. Lott says that’s not nearly as effective.
“Putting somebody in uniform is like putting someone there with a neon sign that says ‘Shoot me first,'” said Lott. “If it’s concealed (on staff or teachers), the attackers won’t even know who they have to worry about. It takes away the strategic advantage that these killers have.”
But is there any evidence that arming faculty and staff will work?
“It varies a lot across states but there are 25 states that allow staff and teachers to carry to varying degrees. There’s never been an attack at one of those schools,” said Lott.
Of course, mass shootings don’t only happen in schools, and Lott says concealed carry is also the best defense of those settings as well.
“We have 17 million Americans in this country who have a concealed carry permit. They’re at the malls. They’re at the restaurants, at the movie theaters, at the grocery stores. You have no clue whether somebody next to you has a concealed carry permit or not.
“If you take out California and New York, over eight percent of the adult population in the rest of the country has a concealed carry permit. It’s very likely when you’re just going around that there are people there who have a gun. You’d only know if something bad happened,” said Lott.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America very warily approach the reports of North Korea supposedly being willing to scrap its nuclear program in exchange for security guarantees. While fully aware that Kim Jong-Un may only be looking to bait us or stall for time, they are hopeful that the tougher approach from the Trump administration is starting to pay off. They also wince as Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri emerges in a new video urging jihadists to stop fighting with each other and focus on a common enemy. And they react with bemusement and concern as former Trump campaign official Sam Nunberg appears on several cable news shows to announce he is defying the subpoena from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, only to later admit he will probably cooperate.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America applaud Virginia Del. Nick Freitas, who is also running for U.S. Senate, for his powerful arguments in defense of the second amendment, pointing out the hypocrisy and real goals of the left, and doing so in a calm and measured manner. They also roll their eyes as the Academy Awards telecast only addresses the sexual assault and harassment crises with vague euphemisms, as Hollywood pats itself on the back for changing without ever explaining what’s changed. And they shudder yet again at revelations that all Broward deputies at the site of the Florida school shooting were ordered to stand down.
The Republican tax cuts are already boosting local economies and more help may be on the way, but GOP House member says lawmakers must get serious about cutting spending and taming the debt.
Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Pennsylvania, is a member of the House Financial Services Committee. He says the benefits of the tax legislation, passed solely on Republican votes in December, are already clear in his district east of Pittsburgh.
“We’re seeing a lot of positive feedback. We’re seeing a lot of folks who are getting more money in their weekly or bi-weekly paychecks. We’re hearing from people who have gotten bonuses.
“We’ve talked to small businesses that are going to be able to make new investments in their businesses to grow their businesses, hire workers, buy equipment, which means the person who supplies the equipment is going to have a job. We have gotten a lot of great feedback and this is just the thing that this economy needed,” said Rothfus.
Rothfus says the tax cuts, along with the GOP rollback of regulations, is triggering the kind of economic recovery we should have seen years ago.
“The Obama administration had a different model of recovery, one of more regulation, more control from Washington, higher taxes, more spending. We saw the slowest growth rate in a recovery since the Great Depression,” said Rothfus.
So what do Rothfus and other Republicans have in mind for stoke economic growth some more?
“It’s all about getting capital flowing again. We are losing a community bank or a credit union a day in this country because of all the over-regulation in the financial sector. We need to find right regulation. I talk about this all the time. We want regulation that is smart, prudent, responsible. That’s the focus we’re going to have on the Financial Services Committee,” said Rothfus.
But while Republicans made good on their promises to cut taxes for most Americans, Congress has not managed to restrain spending. In addition to maintaining Obama-era spending levels for over a year, lawmakers forged a budget agreement in February that will crank up both military and domestic spending and create trillion-dollar deficits for years to come.
Rothfus voted against that deal. He says it is unacceptable for lawmakers to look the other way on debt and deficits.
“That means we are borrowing two million dollars every minute, every day of the year. That’s what a trillion dollars is,” said Rothfus.
“We have to get serious about this spending problem that we have. We are collecting more tax revenue than ever. We have to get back to healthy economic growth, because that’s actually going to help generate revenues to pay for programs that people expect,” said Rothfus.
He says a double-digit growth in domestic spending is irresponsible given other pressing priorities.
“When you’re growing the defense budget the way we did, when you’re going to offer $89 billion to help people effected by disasters in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, this was not the year to raise domestic, non-defense spending by 12 percent.
“A family that is going through issues in their budget at the kitchen table, if they had a fire there they know they’re going to have to put more money there and not buy other things,” said Rothfus.
When asked how to control spending, Rothfus pointed to two ideas, one of which Congress recently scrapped.
“The smart way is to have left in place the caps that we had under the prior budget agreement, except to make sure that we’re taking care of defense and our veterans,” said Rothfus.
He also wants to see much closer scrutiny of existing government programs, as Congress is now doing with funding for opioid addiction treatment.
“That means you have to take a hard look at other programs across the government and see what’s effective and what’s not. We passed a bill a couple years ago called the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act, a necessary piece of legislation to address the opioid epidemic. One of the provisions for that is for the first time we are going to measure the effectiveness of some of the treatment plans.
“Imagine that. We should be measuring the effectiveness of every government program. These are the hard-working taxpayers’ dollars that we want to be good stewards of,” said Rothfus.
Addressing the opioid crisis is a major priority for Rothfus, who believes government needs to play a key role in helping people end their addictions.
“The response has to come from everywhere. This is an all hands on deck situation. We have to have local partnership,” he said.
In addition to providing the money for programs proven to help addicts recover, Rothfus says the crisis makes real border security an even greater priority.
‘We have to be taking a hard look at our border. Most of the heroin that we have in our country is coming from the cartels in Mexico. If that’s not a reason to secure our border, I don’t know what is.
“So we’ve got to be doing a much better job and, where appropriate, have barriers along the border. We have to increase capacity at ports of entry so that we can be inspecting the vehicles that are smuggling this poison in,” said Rothfus.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are glad to see the inspector general at the Justice Department taking his job seriously as reports surface that his forthcoming report will be highly critical of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. While they sympathize with President Trump’s desire to fix trade imbalances, they fear new steel and aluminum tariffs will have a negative impact on American consumers and the economy. And they slam Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for announcing his opposition to a judicial nominee because the nominee is white and President Obama’s previous nominees were black.
Pennsylvania’s 2018 congressional primary season is now in limbo after the left-leaning state supreme court ordered a new congressional map far more favorable to Democrats and Republicans take the issue to court, arguing the decision is in clear violation of the U.S. Constitution.
Earlier this year, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled the congressional district map was excessively partisan and, therefore, unconstitutional. The court gave the GOP-led legislature just days to present a new map. If Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf rejected the map, the court said it would draw the new map, which is exactly what happened.
Republicans are now taking the issue to court. Time is of the essence, with the 2018 primaries scheduled for May 15.
Under the previous map, Republicans won 13 of 18 House seats. With the new district lines, experts believe Democrats to have a good chance of winning 11 or 12 seats this year.
In 2016, GOP Rep. Keith Rothfus won re-election with 62 percent of the vote in Pennsylvania’s 12th congressional district. He is now being assigned to a district that would have been carried by Hillary Clinton two years ago.
Rothfus says the state supreme court vastly overstepped its bounds.
“The Pennsylvania Supreme Court took a part of the federal U.S. Constitution and put it in the shredding machine. The Constitution is clear. The federal Constitution says state legislatures are responsible for setting the time, place, and manner of elections for senators and representatives.
“This is not the job of a state supreme court. It is not the job of a state. It expressly says that’s the job of the state legislature. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court took an unprecedented move and demanded that the state legislature, frankly in two days, come up with a new map. They did not issue their official opinion until two days before their deadline,” said Rothfus.
Article I, Section 4 of the Constitution states, “The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of choosing Senators.”
In addition, Rothfus says the Pennsylvania already addressed this issue last decade.
“These issues with respect to congressional districts were litigated 15 years ago, almost the identical case. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court at that time did not think that this was a cause of action,” said Rothfus.
He also says Democrats did not have a problem with the map the GOP-led legislature drew up for the 2012 cycle and beyond.
“My Democrat predecessor, Jason Altmire, actually was on record in 2012, saying that the seat that I was in was fair and contiguous. You had a bipartisan majority of the state legislature, back in 2012, approve this map,” said Rothfus
Rothfus and other GOP critics of the decision are also furious that the court did not actually draw the new map.
“You had four people (out of seven) on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decide that they should go with a new map, drawn not by a person from Pennsylvania but from a Stanford University law professor thousands of miles away, trying to project his will on the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as opposed to the will of the legislature,” said Rothfus.
It is common to accuse judges of partisanship or judicial activism when legal decisions on political cases do not go one’s way, but the political bent of the court is an open fact.
“We have elections in Pennsylvania for our state supreme court. A couple years ago, the Democrats had a sweep,” said Rothfus, who thinks this verdict ought to trigger a closer look at those judicial campaigns.
“We need to take a hard look at what was going on in that election. Were some of these candidates making statements about redistricting, about gerrymandering. There is a suggestion that at least one of them did, in which case that person should have been recused from this case to begin with,” said Rothfus.
With primary elections scheduled for just over 10 weeks from now, Republicans are headed to federal court to have the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision reversed.
“We have sought relief from the federal courts to protect the prerogatives of the state legislature as defined in the U.S. Constitution,” said Rothfus.
Rothfus says the GOP map allowed for Democrats to be competitive in a number of districts.
“These districts can be competitive with the right kind of candidates. Western Pennsylvania tends to be more conservative. They look for Democrats who are conservative. But when the national party has gone so far to the left, so extreme, that’s what makes their candidates unacceptable.
“They only way they can win elections is if they themselves do gerrymandering, and that’s what’s happened in this case,” said Rothfus.
Regardless of how the fight over the map turns out, Rothfus will be running for re-election this year. He says he’s got a record he’s proud to take before the voters.
“We have to be very aggressive with our message. We have a very positive message to talk about with the tax cuts and how that’s bringing the economy back to life, about (killing) Washington regulations that have been crushing jobs, crushing wages. This is a district we are going to be very competitive in,” said Rothfus.
“The way you win elections is to campaign on ideas. That’s what we did. That’s how I won in 2012 and that’s how we’re going to continue to win in the future,” said Rothfus.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America unload on President Trump for even saying he wants to see most aspects of the Democrats’ gun control agenda in a comprehensive bill and for apparently having little regard for due process rights. They also discuss the resignation of White House Communications Director Hope Hicks and how the West Wing seems to be in a constant state of turnover. And they close with good economic news, as new reports show wages rising – especially for low-income workers – and that the number of jobless claims filed last week were the fewest since 1969.