Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America applaud the Trump administration for keeping its word to aggressively roll back burdensome government regulations. They also roll their eyes as House Democrats pass a bill to end the partial government shutdown that has zero chance of becoming law. And they react to new Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib admitting, through coarse language, that she came to Washington to impeach President Trump.
Democrats now control the House of Representatives, but former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli says Republicans appear more committed than ever to funding the border wall demanded by President Trump.
A partial government shutdown has been in effect since Dec. 22 over a stalemate between Republicans and Democrats over funding the border wall. Prior to Thursday, the stagnation was due to the Senate’s inability to find 60 votes for the funding.
The House Democratic majority has no plans to even consider a bill with money for the wall, but Cuccinelli says the GOP seems much more resolute than usual.
“You don’t hear me say this very often. I was pleased to see (Senate Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell say we’re not going to pass along the House bill that doesn’t include this funding. So he has expressly sided with the president. And I think that’s a first on this issue,” said Cuccinelli.
“I think that show of unity between the new Senate Republican majority, which is bigger than the last one, and the president should be able to hold the line,” said Cuccinelli.
Cuccinelli expects Republicans to stand strong even as the post-holiday media pressure to end the partial shutdown intensifies.
“I don’t see a lot of the usual hand-wringing among Republicans, including establishment Republicans, that I’m used to seeing in circumstances like this. I think, at least for now, they’re girded for a bit of a haul and to salvage some good policy at the border out of this,” said Cuccinelli.
Listen to the full podcast to hear Cuccinelli’s advice for how the GOP’s Senate majority and House minority ought to focus their time and energy over the next two years and how the Trump administration is doing far more to roll back regulations and limit new ones than any administration in recent memory.
Listen to “Broward County Accountability, Libs Target Internet, Maduro Assassination Attempt” on Spreaker.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are pleased to see a key figure from the Florida high school shooting replaced in the Broward County Sheriff’s Office but are irritated the media has stopped covering Sheriff Scott Israel, who still has his job despite failing to perform his duties before and during the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. They also reject Democrats’ call to regulate the internet as a public utility in the wake of Facebook, Apple, and YouTube’s ban of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. And they mourn for Venezuelans as dictator Nicolas Maduro survived a botched drone assassination attempt, and they discuss regulations on drones and the potential to use them for terrorism.
Businesses and families vote with their feet and a new study of the states with the brightest economic futures suggests lower taxes and less regulation are a prescription for sustained growth, while heavy burdens from government lead to decline.
In the 2018 edition of “Rich States, Poor States,” published by the American Legislative Exchange Council, economists Jonathan Williams, Stephen Moore, and Arthur Laffer, say it’s clear which states are thriving and which ones are floundering.
For the eleventh consecutive year, Utah tops the list of states with the brightest outlooks. Idaho, Indiana, North Dakota, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Virginia round out the top ten.
New York finished dead last in the study. Vermont, Illinois, California, New Jersey, Hawaii, Minnesota, Montana, Maine, and Oregon make up the remainder of the lowest ten states.
Williams says the ranking is simply a compilation of the most important economic measuring sticks.
“We look at things that matter for economic growth,” he said. “We look at the 15 economic policy variables that Dr. Laffer, my co-author and Reagan economic adviser, came up with years ago that really do matter for economic growth.
“Also, they’re things directly controlled by state lawmakers: tax rates, regulation, labor policy. Those are really the three broad categories. In essence, what we have is an economic competitiveness ranking that predicts future growth,” said Williams vice president at the American Legislative Exchange Council..
But Williams says the factors that determine future growth are already producing results, especially for those states at the top of the list.
“It’s where people are voting with their feet and going towards. It’s where businesses are moving from high tax states to low tax states. They’re going to states like Utah. They’re going to states like Indiana, Arizona, Florida, Texas – that whole list of states that are competitive.
And of course they’re flocking to those states from states like New York, Illinois, California, New Jersey – the states that are perennially in the bottom of the index,” said Williams.
He says the number one reason people move is for economic opportunity and the same is true for businesses.
“When the Hertz Corporation leaves New Jersey and relocates and opens in Florida, or when Toyota USA leaves California and goes to Texas, or you see these massive movements of job creators going from high tax states with limited economic opportunity and high cost of doing business to states that value competition and free market environments, you absolutely see the natural connection when people then vote with their feet and go towards those job opportunities,” said Williams.
Williams suspects all states will see their economies improve in the near term, thanks to the federal tax cuts.
“The untold story of the success of federal tax reform is what it’s meant for state budgets. When states come back and are analyzing what tax reform means for their state budget, they’re seeing, in many cases, hundreds of millions of dollars – if not billions of dollars – in unexpected revenue – coming in at the state level. That’s because state tax codes link to the federal tax code,” said Williams.
He says two states rocketed up the list this year for taking steps to make the benefits of the federal tax cuts even sweeter.
“Idaho and Georgia were two of the states that utilized that the best this year by cutting their own state tax rates with that unexpected revenue. Instead of allowing it to be a tax increase at the state level, they’re using it to reduce their tax rates and become more competitive,” said Williams.
Idaho shot up from number ten to number two as a result of those moves. Georgia jumped from seventeenth to eleventh. And Williams says many other states are moving up the list because they are embracing freedom.
“Rewind the clock a few years ago and states like North Carolina and Indiana were in the middle of the pack. Both of those states are in the top ten this year for economic outlook because of great fiscal policy and reforms, tax cuts, pension reform, Indiana of course going right to work.
“States like Wisconsin have made huge movements over the years. My home state of Michigan (has as well). New Hampshire, the ‘Live Free or Die” state, moved up to it’s all-time best of number seventeen this year.
“While the states in the bottom of the index have basically been stuck for most of the ten or eleven years (of doing the survey), we’ve seen some great upward mobility of states getting it right and being able to crack through to that upper echelon of rankings,” said Williams.
While some might quibble with the methodology, Williams says you can’t argue with what is actually happening in the states.
“The proof is in the pudding. The data is very clear that there’s a big growth premium associated with being a competitive state economy,” said Williams.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America applaud President Trump for making good on his efforts to eliminate and postpone costly and burdensome federal regulations. They also tense up as five different Senate GOP votes could be in jeopardy as vote nears on tax reform. They shake their heads as liberals lose their minds and predict an internet wasteland after the Federal Communications Commission votes to return internet regulations to where they were two years ago. And Jim offers a spoiler-free look at the new Star Wars movie.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America look through a rough and often disturbing 2017 to find three things they’re each thankful for in politics and beyond this year. From some important accomplishments to the arrival of an important new figure in Washington to the bravery of people in different walks of life, Jim and Greg find some silver linings in our toxic political culture. Happy Thanksgiving! There will be no podcast on Thursday. Please join us again on Friday.
Limited government advocates and property rights champions are cheering Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt for publicly announcing he will scrap the tactic known as “sue and settle” for as long as he is in office.
“We will no longer go behind closed doors and use consent decrees and settlement agreements to resolve lawsuits filed against the Agency by special interest groups where doing so would circumvent the regulatory process set forth by Congress,” Pruitt said in a statement.
So what is “sue and settle?” In short, it’s a way that politicians and bureaucrats shift policy by pretending to be in a legal fight with a political ally and altering a specific rule in order to supposedly avoid a lawsuit.
Patrick Hedger, manager of the Regulatory Action Center at the FreedomWorks Foundation, offers a more detailed description of how this political and legal charade plays out.
“(Government) agencies will sometimes collude with private actors, such as third party non-governmental organizations, non-profits, and other activist organizations in order to facilitate an expedited rule-making process that goes outside the normal rule-making,” said Hedger.
“There will be a faux lawsuit and instead of taking that suit to court, they will settle it out of court, generally behind closed doors, in a process known as a consent decree. That consent decree will force the agency to act in a way that’s normally a lot faster and more aggressive than a normal federal rule-making process,” said Hedger.
Hedger says this bureaucratic maneuver then provides political cover for an administration that wanted to change the rule all along.
“This is a way for agencies to avoid political accountability for controversial decisions. Usually, we’ve seen very expensive and aggressive regulations being passed, particularly environmental regulations. This is a way for agencies like the EPA, in the past, to say, ‘We had our hands tied by this lawsuit,’ even though this was their ultimate political goal,” said Hedger.
Hedger is quick to add that no party is innocent when it comes to using “sue and settle” but some administrations have utilized it much more than others.
“This has basically been a bipartisan practice but it accelerated greatly during the Obama administration,” said Hedger.
He also offered some examples of the more onerous rules established through “sue and settle,” including the Utility Maximum Achievable Control Technology rule.
“It basically forces power plants to put in expensive new infrastructure to achieve extremely stringent emissions standards. That’s estimated to cost almost $10 billion annually. There were Clean Water Act rules that applied to the Chesapeake Bay. Those are estimated to cost anywhere from $18-20 billion per year. All of these were achieved through ‘sue and settle’ litigation,” said Hedger.
Hedger is thrilled that Pruitt declared an end to a practice that subverts the normal rule-making process.
“This is a process that has been used by both Republican and Democratic administrations. This just shows that the Trump administration is very much still committed to getting back to regular order and the proper way of doing things.
“Instead of using this political end around to achieve its own goals, the Trump administration is just trying to bring the government back in line with the Constitution and the Administrative Procedures Act, which is supposed to govern regulations,” said Hedger.
Scrapping “sue and settle” is just one of several moves from Pruitt’s EPA that is drawing high praise from limit government activists. Earlier this month, Pruitt announced what many see as the beginning of the end of President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which required substantial decreases in carbon emissions and was considered the death blow to the coal industry.
Earlier this year, Pruitt also started the rollback of the Waters of the United States rule, or WOTUS. That update changed the definition of navigable waterway from one you could actually navigate with a boat and was usually connected to a larger body of water to virtually and standing water in a drainage ditch or even a puddle.
Hedger likes Pruitt’s policies but likes his fidelity to his oath even more.
“I think Administrator Pruitt is doing a phenomenal job of, first and foremost, putting the Constitution first,” said Hedger. “There is a way to achieve a clean environment while also adhering to the rule of law and I think that’s the structure that we’re seeing from Pruitt’s EPA.”
But while Pruitt is making a lot of big moves, Hedger says the next EPA boss could easily reverse it all. He says lawmakers need to get involved.
“This does, at some level, have to fall back on Congress to stop passing these vague laws. Particularly in the case of ‘sue and settle,’ there are parts of the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act that encourage that encourage this type of practice. So Congress should go in and clarify that they never intended for this ‘sue and settle’ and consent decree practice to happen,” said Hedger.
Hedger says Pruitt’s moves on process and on existing rules are a breath of fresh air to property and business owners. However, he says much more can be done to relieve the regulatory burden on American families and businesses.
“Right now, there’s so much focus on tax reform, which is good, but if you look at the estimates of the economic burden of federal regulation versus the economic burden of taxes, they estimate that the regulatory burden in this country approaches two trillion dollars per year, which is more than is collected in individual and corporate income taxes,” said Hedger.
Five Senate Democrats are now publicly endorsing a government-run, single-payer health care system in a sign the party is quickly rallying to that goal, however the idea promises to be a financial and regulatory nightmare that should compel Republicans to revisit the issue and get it right before the 2018 elections.
On Tuesday, Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, announced he would support the “Medicare for All” legislation sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont.
“It’s time to simplify health care and lower patients’ costs, and embrace Medicare for All,” said Merkley, who is now the fifth Senate Democrat to join the cause publicly. In addition to Sanders, Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., are all co-sponsoring the bill.
In addition, roughly half the House Democrats are on board with the idea.
Heritage Foundation Senior Fellow Robert Moffit says the Democrats are making their moves now because Republicans failed to get their health care reforms passed in the Senate.
“The immediate reason is the abject failure of Senate Republicans – and it’s the Senate’s fault here – to enact a health care reform bill to repeal and at least partially replace Obamacare,” said Moffit.
“It has created a major health policy vacuum, so the liberals in Congress and elsewhere are ready to fill it, and they’re preparing now for a total government takeover of health care, which is a single-payer system,” said Moffit.
But while touting “Medicare for All” and health care as a right, Moffit says Americans should not miss what is really at stake here.
“What they are proposing is nothing short of a government monopoly over the financing and the delivery of health care,” said Moffit. “Ultimately what this means is that politicians will be in direct charge of health policy.”
He says Democrats in 2017 are making the exact opposite promise that President Obama made in 2009 and 2010, only this time they would actually keep it.
“When Obama promised he would not take away your plan, that turned out to be false, especially if you were in the individual market. Here the Democrats in the Senate – Warren, Sanders, Sen. Merkley, John Conyers in the House – they are telling you they are going to take away your health plan,” said Moffit.
With Medicare already in deep debt and staring at $33-44 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities, Moffit says adding the rest of the nation to the program would require a major wallop to the wallets of taxpayers.
He says California is an important test case. The state senate there has approved a single-payer plan that would result in a a spending hike of anywhere from 53-110 percent.
“Frankly, it’s whack job economics. The Senate legislative analysts themselves say that this will require a 15 percent payroll tax,” said Moffit.
Moffit also took aim at Merkley’s assertion that having Medicare for everyone would somehow simplify the health care system. He says the story of Medicare shows exactly the opposite.
“I think that Merkley is living in an alternative universe. Anyone who has had to deal with Medicare, members of the medical profession are very familiar with it. Medicare today is governed by tens of thousands of pages of rules, regulations, and guidelines and medical paperwork is eating up more and more of the time and energy and effort of physicians,” said Moffit.
“If you think that Medicare is a model of administrative efficiency or that Medicare is somehow simple, you’ve got to have rocks in your head. you’re living on another planet. Medicare is the Godzilla of government regulation,” said Moffit.
“It imposes enormous administrative costs on doctors, hospitals, clinics, and home health agencies, who have to bear the real costs of complying with Medicare’s regulatory systems,” said Moffit.
Moffit says this is also another clear signal of how far Democrats have moved to the left.
“They’re consumed by identity politics. They’re eager to impose political correctness as part of an aggressive, counter-cultural agenda. Now their economic agenda boils down to heavier taxation, higher spending, larger government programs, and even greater government control over our personal lives. Frankly, if they want to have that debate, I’m ready to go,” said Moffit.
He says the key to foiling a complete government takeover of health care is for Republicans to roll up their sleeves and do health care legislation right this time. He says failure is not an option.
“This is not an optional matter. The individual market in the United States is in crisis. They have no options here. It’s not a question of what the hell they want to do, pardon me. They have got to do their job. If they don’t do their job, millions of Americans get hurt, especially the millions of middle class Americans who today do not get any subsidies whatsoever,” said Moffit.
“Congress has got to get its act together. They have no choice,” he added.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America have good news from Wall Street: stocks are soaring, regardless of the chaos in Washington. Transcripts of President Trump’s January phone calls to the leaders of Mexico and Australia were leaked to the press this week, and Jim and Greg react both to Trump’s comments and the blatant leaking and publishing of classified information. And they have little sympathy for health insurance companies who are forced to bail on the Obamacare exchanges after losing huge amounts of money, but the vanishing coverage is leaving many Americans in a terrible position while Congress accomplishes nothing.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America start with an appetizer by cheering the U.S. Navy’s use of a new laser weapon meant to target small watercraft and drones. They also praise the Trump administration for its success in halting hundreds of regulations that would stifle job growth and business expansion. They also address the tragic news that Arizona Sen. John McCain is diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, and they express disgust at the tasteless and nasty reactions from both sides of the political spectrum. And they sigh over President Trump griping to the media about his frustrations over Attorney General Jeff Sessions recusing himself from the Russia investigation.