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There’s a Not-So-Small Problem With the President’s Claim That the US is Seeing a ‘Jobs Recovery’

by Frank Camp     •     IJReview

According to a new study by Pew Charitable Trusts, using data from 2000-2013, the middle class population in America has “shrunk” in all 50 states:

The states that have suffered the most recently are:

Wisconsin:
2000: 54.6% middle-class
2013: 48.9% middle-class
Total loss: 5.7%

Ohio:
2000: 50.9% middle-class
2013: 45.7%% middle-class
Total loss: 5.2%

North Dakota:
2000: 52.6% middle-class
2013: 47.5% middle-class
Total loss: 5.1%

States that have fared the best recently are:

Wyoming:
2000: 51.5% middle-class
2013: 51.2% middle-class
Total loss: 0.3%

Idaho:
2000: 52.7% middle-class
2013: 51.9% middle-class
Total loss: 0.8%

Hawaii:
2000: 49.9% middle-class
2013: 48.6% middle-class
Total loss: 1.3%

The “shrinking” middle class can possibly be attributed to a decrease in employment. Despite the national unemployment rate dropping to 5.7% in January 2015, the Civilian Employment Population Ratio (CEPR) has reported an all-time low number of eligible Americans in the workforce:

The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis reported in January of 2005 the CEPR stood at 62.4%. Ten years later, it has dropped to 59.3%. However, unemployment rates in January 2005 were reported to be 5.3% and in January of 2015 it is a reported 5.7%. These numbers do not reflect those who have left the workforce entirely.

According to The Huffington Post, many jobs gained after the recession have been in a lower income bracket. Even if middle class families have found work, it’s often been with jobs that pay less.

Upon further inspection of the recent numbers concerning job recovery, they seem to indicate a discrepancy between the purported “boom” in the economy and a “disappearing” middle class.

Cutting Healthcare Costs Without Harming Patients

by Peter Roff     •     The Hill

obamacare pay less for healthcareA debate has raged for more than 20 years now over the best way to bend the U.S. healthcare cost curve downward. So far, no one is winning – least of all patients and healthcare providers. And no one will as long as “bending the curve” (which is just a fancy way of saying we need to find ways to make the delivery of healthcare cheaper) remains the primary objective regardless of the impact on patient care.

Up to now the debate has focused largely on what government can proactively do to ease costs. This led to the passage by the narrowest of margins of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – which is really nothing more than a complex series of new regulations and taxes, fines and fees that have forced insurance companies, doctors, hospitals, and patients all to make changes in the way they provide and receive care as well as coverage.

People don’t like the new system very much but they weren’t exactly fans of the old one either. And no matter what the United States Supreme Court determines in the pending King vs. Burwell suit over the questionable use of tax dollars to subsidize health insurance bought through the federal exchange by people living in states that do not have exchanges of their own, things can probably only get worse. [Read more...]

At the White House, There’s Nobody Home

By Victor Davis Hanson     •     RealClearPolitics

Obama Corruption IntimidationWhat has gone wrong with the U.S. government in the past month? Just about everything, from the fundamental to the ridiculous.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the United States to warn Congress about the dangers of a nuclear Iran. He spoke without the invitation of an irritated President Obama, who claimed that he did not even watch the address on television.

Obama declined to even meet with the Israeli prime minister, announcing that it would have been improper for him to have such a meeting so close to Netanyahu’s re-election bid.

But if Obama was so concerned about not influencing the Israeli elections, why, according to some news accounts, is a Senate panel launching an investigation into whether Obama’s State Department gave grant money to a nonprofit organization, the OneVoice Movement, that sought to unseat Netanyahu with the help of several former Obama campaign operatives?

Then, 47 Republican senators signed an unusual letter to the Iranian theocracy, reminding it that any agreement on Iran’s nuclear program negotiated with the Obama administration would have to first clear Congress. [Read more...]

5 times Democrats undermined Republican presidents with foreign governments

by Philip Klein     •     The Washington Examiner

Obama Foreign Policy FailedOn Monday, 47 Republican senators led by Tom Cotton, R-Ark., released an “open letter” to Iran’s leaders noting that any deal the regime signs with President Obama without the approval of Congress could be revoked by a future president or changed by Congress. The White House went into a tizzy trying to portray the move as somehow “unprecedented” — a view that has found a friendly audience with the media.

Vice President Joe Biden claimed the letter “ignores two centuries of precedent and threatens to undermine the ability of any future American president, whether democrat or republican, to negotiate with other nations on behalf of the United States.” The New York Daily News featured an editorial blasting the letter on its front page, with photos of the senators and the bold-faced headline “TRAITORS.” A more muted NBC roundup called the move “extraordinary — if not unprecedented.” In reality, whatever one’s view of the letter, to call it “unprecedented” is to ignore history. The reality is that on many occasions, Democrats have reached out to foreign leaders to undermine the foreign policy of a sitting Republican president.

Here are just five examples. [Read more...]

Elephants Can Remember

by Peter Roff     •     The Washington Examiner

elephants_endangered species_PETAAn era of show business is about to come to an end.

At the conclusion of the 2018 season, Feld Entertainment — parent company of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus — has announced that the 13 Asian elephants that are part of its touring units would retire, living out their lives in comfort and ease at the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida alongside more than 40 others of their kind.

Activists who have long complained that the elephants, indeed that almost all performing animals held in confinement are subjected to mistreatment, were quick to claim victory. One of them, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal’s Ingrid Newkirk, took credit for the decision on behalf of her organization while continuing to heap criticism on the circus. [Read more...]

Does Hillary email flap mean trouble ahead for White House?

by Byron York     •     The Washington Examiner

Hillary ClintonTwo statements out of the White House in recent days have added to our knowledge of the Hillary Clinton email affair. First, President Obama told CBS that he learned about Clinton’s secret email account “the same time everybody else learned it, through news reports.” Second, White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters a few days ago, “I know that the secretary of state did trade emails with some White House officials.”

So: Obama didn’t know, even though White House officials exchanged emails with Clinton. Is that possible?

The answer is maybe. The first question to ask is whether the president — an active emailer — never exchanged an email message with his secretary of state. Even though email has been around since the early 1990s, neither Bill Clinton nor George W. Bush used it during their years in office. Obama changed that practice, but his email use is still reportedly limited by security concerns and a desire to keep presidential communications out of the hands of investigators. In his admiring account of Obama’s start in office, The Promise: President Obama, Year One, journalist Jonathan Alter reported how Obama became the first president to use email regularly: [Read more...]

Intellectual Property Rights are Important to Everyone

Intellectual Property - BrainOr, at least, they SHOULD be! 

Frontiers of Freedom has long been a leader in protecting property rights. Our Constitution provided for property rights for physical property and for intellectual property.  And with good reason. America became the world’s most innovative and economically powerful nation because our Founders grasped the importance of property rights and created a system that incentivized creativity, innovation and the productive use of such property.

Sadly, some foolishly think that property rights are old fashioned or that everything should be free. But these folks miss the point that if new innovations were free, we would see far fewer innovations. That would mean fewer new life sustaining medications, fewer new movies, less new music, and fewer new electronic devices and gadgets.  Imagine if someone argued that food is so important that everyone should be able to get it free and simply walk into grocery stores and restaurants and grab whatever food they want. How long would food be available? How long before grocers and restaurants close down? That’s the point. We need to incentivize the production of the things we want and need and we need to encourage innovation.

For this reason, Frontiers of Freedom was part of a group that sent the following letter to Capitol Hill hoping to highlight the importance of intellectual property rights. [Read more...]

Most Members of Congress Share Netanyahu’s View

by Michael Barone     •     The Washington Examiner

netanyahu_israelIf anyone had any doubts that most members of Congress oppose the Obama administration’s proposed nuclear deal with Iran, they can put them aside after viewing the response to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech before Congress Tuesday.

Fifty-some Democratic members chose not to attend. Joe Biden arranged to be out of town, and Barack Obama let it be known that he didn’t even have time to watch on television. But the House chamber was packed, the galleries were filled and Netanyahu was interrupted multiple times not only with applause but boisterous cheers.

In negotiations with Iran, continued beyond two previously proclaimed deadlines, Obama has dropped demands that Iran disassemble centrifuges needed to produce nuclear weapons material. And he has proposed a 10-year time limit on the deal. [Read more...]

Rein in the IRS

by George F. Will      •     The Washington Post

IRS scandal_lost emails_lois lernerRep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) is now chairman of the Ways and Means subcommittee whose jurisdiction includes oversight of the Internal Revenue Service, and hence of Lois G. Lerner’s legacy. He knows how interesting her career was before she, as head of the IRS tax-exempt organizations division, directed the suppression of conservative advocacy groups by delaying and denying them the exempt status that was swiftly given to comparable liberal groups.

In 2013, Roskam, in a televised committee hearing, told the story of Al Salvi, who in 1996 was the Republican Senate candidate against the then-congressman, now senator, Dick Durbin. Democrats filed charges with the Federal Election Commission against Salvi’s campaign, charges that threatened to dominate the campaign’s final weeks. Salvi telephoned the head of the FEC’s Enforcement Division, who he says told him: “Promise me you will never run for office again, and we’ll drop this case.” That official was Lois Lerner. After Salvi lost, FBI agents visited his elderly mother, demanding to know, concerning her $2,000 contribution to her son’s campaign, where she got “that kind of money.” When a federal court held that the charges against Salvi were spurious, the FEC’s losing lawyer was Lois Lerner. [Read more...]

Lois Lerner’s Missing Emails Are Now Subject of Criminal Probe

By Stephen Dinan     •     The Washington Post

Lois Lerner IRSThe IRS’s inspector general confirmed Thursday it is conducting a criminal investigation into how Lois G. Lerner’s emails disappeared, saying it took only two weeks for investigators to find hundreds of tapes the agency’s chief had told Congress were irretrievably destroyed.

Investigators have already scoured 744 backup tapes and gleaned 32,774 unique emails, but just two weeks ago they found an additional 424 tapes that could contain even more Lerner emails, Deputy Inspector General Timothy P. Camus told the House Oversight Committee in a rare late-night hearing meant to look into the status of the investigation.

“There is potential criminal activity,” Mr. Camus said. [Read more...]

Acute Flaccid Myelitis in Children

by Peter Bernad, MD, MPH, FACP

sick-child-vaccines-medicineRecently there have been reports of a “new” condition as reported in various journals and recent publications regarding an outbreak nationwide of acute flaccid myelitis in children.

In the past, this syndrome was invariably caused by an infection of 1 of the 3 types of polio virus. The mere mention of polio virus raises concerns among the American population, as well as physicians who are used to practicing in the 1950s into the 1960s. There are illnesses that clinically resemble polio virus infection that is polio, which may be caused by other Enteroviruses. These include Coxsackie viruses groups A and B, Japanese Encephalitis Virus, West Nile Virus, and now the cases of acute flaccid myelitis seen in children. There have been a number of deaths reported nationwide. This particular illness is thought to be related to an Enterovirus 68. That link is still being confirmed. [Read more...]

The Budget Caps and America’s Security Needs

by Peter Huessy

Income inequality cash moneyThe President’s Fiscal Year 2016 Budget makes a defense spending request that exceeds the Budget Control Act (BCA) spending cap for FY16 by $35 billion with a “base” defense spending request of $534 billion, while also asking Congress for an additional $51 billion for what is known as Overseas Contingency Operations(OCO) that are, under law, not subject to the spending caps.

Of the amount requested by the President, for what is known as the “base” defense budget, $209.8 billion is for operations and maintenance (O&M), $107.7 billion is for procurement, and $69.8 billion for research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E).The remaining costs (largely personnel) are exempt from any cuts.

For the OCO accounts, $40.2 billion is for O&M, and $7.3 billion is requested for procurement with half of that for the US Army. [Read more...]

Coalition Letter Opposing Blocking Parental Access to Critical Vaccinations

Coalition

To: Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CC: CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices

Dear Dr. Frieden and CDC Advisory Committee of Immunization Practices Members,

We write to you today in support of a family’s right to access to safe, effective vaccines for their children. Vaccines have saved millions of lives since their invention and near universal vaccination rates have eradicated a number of horrible diseases from small pox to polio. Unfortunately certain diseases like Meningitis B, the cause of 40% of all meningitis cases in 2012, could persist because the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) may opt to block access to life-­‐saving vaccinations.

In late February, your Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) will meet to determine the accessibility of two vaccines the Food and Drug administration recently approved to prevent Meningitis B. ACIP, and therefore CDC, appears poised to recommend its usage only for “high-­‐risk group/outbreaks,” meaning private health insurance will cover the cost of vaccination only after an outbreak of this deadly disease has occurred. [Read more...]

Barack Obama, Corporate Liberal

And secret friend of the one percent.

by Jay Cost     •     The Weekly Standard

Obama-smugIn last week’s State of the Union address, President Barack Obama came across as the ultimate class warrior. His domestic agenda consists of more spending on roads and infrastructure, new entitlement programs for community college and preschool, and tax preferences targeted to low- and middle-income earners. All of this he would pay for with new inheritance taxes on the wealthy, a hike in the capital gains tax, and a special levy on the biggest financial institutions.

But don’t be fooled. Obama may seem like the newest member of Occupy Wall Street—chanting “We are the 99 percent!”—but his record shows him to be a corporate liberal, and a closer look at last week’s proposals confirms it. [Read more...]

Here Comes the Next Obamacare Showdown

by Philip Klein     •     Washington Examiner

obamacare logoIf the U.S. Supreme Court rules in June that health insurance subsidies for millions of Americans are illegal, Republicans better not be caught flat-footed, because President Obama will be ready to pounce, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., told the Washington Examiner in an interview.

“As the president said to me in the White House [earlier this month], he said, ‘There are five million people [who receive subsidies through the federal exchange] — and I know who they are.’ He spoke like a community organizer who was going to try to use those people that he has actually caused significant damage to by not applying the law,” Barrasso said from his senate office.

The Wyoming senator has of late been something of a Paul Revere of the Republican Senate majority, shouting, “King vs. Burwell is coming! King vs. Burwell is coming!” [Read more...]