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Economic Freedom

Monetary and Inflationary Traps

Having adopted a more flexible policy framework in response to the low-inflation conditions that preceded the COVID-19 crisis, the US Federal Reserve now finds itself confronting an entirely different economic regime. The balance of forces is thus weighing heavily against decisive action to control today’s price increases.

By Raghuram G. RajanProject Syndicate

rajan73_JIM WATSONAFP via Getty Images_jerome powell
Jim Watson AFP via Getty Images

Price increases in the United States are spreading across goods and services, and inflation also can be seen in broad-based business inputs such as transportation, energy, and increasingly labor. How should we expect central bankers to react?

For its part, the US Federal Reserve has emphasized that it will contemplate raising interest rates only after it is done tapering its monthly asset purchases, which will be sometime in July 2022 at the current pace of unwinding. Nonetheless, some members of the Fed’s rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee worry that the central bank will have fallen behind the curve by that time, forcing it to raise rates more abruptly, to higher levels, and for longer than anticipated. Hence, Fed Vice Chair Richard Clarida recently indicated that the Fed might consider speeding up the taper (so that it can raise rates sooner) when its members meet again in December.

Notwithstanding the growing (but often unspoken) worries at the Fed, central bankers nowadays are reticent to see inflation as a problem. In the past, the current levels of inflation would have prompted them to square their shoulders, look determinedly into the TV cameras, and say, “We hate inflation, and we will kill it” – or words to that effect. But now they are more likely to make excuses for inflation, assuring the public that it will simply go away.

Clearly, the prolonged period of low inflation after the 2008 global financial crisis – when the Fed had great difficulty elevating the inflation rate to its 2% target – has had a lasting impression on central bankers’ psyches. The obvious danger now is that they could be fighting the last war. Moreover, even if they do not fall into that trap, structural changes within central banks and in the broader policymaking environment will leave central bankers more reluctant to raise interest rates than they were in the past.

To adapt to the pre-pandemic low-inflation environment, the Fed changed its inflation framework so that it would target average inflation over a (still-undefined) period. This meant that it could allow higher inflation for a while without being criticized for falling behind the curve – a potentially useful change at a time when elevating the public’s inflation expectations was thought to be the key problem. Gone was the old central-bank adage that if you are eyeball to eyeball with inflation, it is already too late. Instead, the Fed would stare at inflation for a while and act only when it was sure that inflation was here to stay.

Moreover, the new framework places a much greater emphasis on ensuring that employment gains are broad-based and inclusive. Because historically disadvantaged minorities in the US are often the last to be hired, this change implied that the Fed would potentially tolerate a tighter labor market than in the past, and that it would have more flexibility to run the economy hot, which is useful in an environment of weak demand. Yet now the Fed is facing an environment of strong demand coupled with supply-chain disruptions that look unlikely to abate quickly. Ironically, the Fed may have changed its policy framework just as the economic regime itself was changing.

But shouldn’t greater flexibility give decision-makers more options? Not necessarily. In the current scenario, Congress has just spent trillions of dollars generating the best economic recovery that money can buy. Imagine the congressional wrath that would follow if the Fed now tanked the economy by hiking interest rates without using the full flexibility of its new framework. Put differently, one of the benefits of a clear inflation-targeting framework is that the central bank has political cover to react quickly to rising inflation. With the changed framework, that is no longer true. As a result, there will almost surely be more inflation for longer; indeed, the new framework was adopted – during what now seems like a very different era – with precisely that outcome in mind.

But it is not just the new framework that limits the effectiveness of the Fed’s actions. Anticipating loose monetary-policy and financial conditions for the indefinite future, asset markets have been on a tear, supported by heavy borrowing. Market participants, rightly or wrongly, believe that the Fed has their back and will retreat from a path of rate increases if asset prices fall.

This means that when the Fed does decide to move, it may have to raise rates higher in order to normalize financial conditions, implying a higher risk of an adverse market reaction when market participants finally realize that the Fed means business. Once again, the downside risks of a path of rate hikes, both to the economy and to the Fed’s reputation, are considerable.

The original intent in making central banks independent of the government was to ensure that they could reliably combat inflation and not be pressured into either financing the government’s fiscal deficit directly or keeping government borrowing costs low by slowing the pace of rate hikes. Yet the Fed now holds $5.6 trillion of government debt, financed by an equal amount of overnight borrowing from commercial banks.

When rates move up, the Fed itself will have to start paying higher rates, reducing the dividend it pays the government and increasing the size of the fiscal deficit. Moreover, US debt is at around 125% of GDP, and a significant portion of it has a short-term maturity, which means that increases in interest rates will quickly start showing up in higher refinancing costs. An issue that the Fed did not have to pay much attention to in the past – the effects of rate hikes on the costs of financing government debt – will now be front and center.

Of course, all developed-country central banks, not just the Fed, face similar forces that push toward restraint on rate hikes. So, the first large central bank that moves may also cause its currency’s exchange rate to appreciate significantly, slowing economic growth. This is yet another reason to wait. Why not let someone else move first, and see if they invite market and political wrath?

If the post-2008 scenario repeats, or if China and other emerging markets transmit disinflationary impulses across the global economy, waiting will have been the right decision. Otherwise, the current impediments to central-bank action will mean more and sustained inflation, and a more prolonged fight to control it. Fed Chair Jerome Powell will have a lot to weigh as he begins his second term.


Regulatory Barriers to 5G Threaten to Cede Critical Ground to China

By George LandrithNewsmax

To many Americans, the widespread deployment of 5G technology means faster download speeds on their mobile device.

While that is absolutely one of the real benefits of 5G technology, it is a great deal more than that. In fact, the U.S. maintaining its high tech advantage in the 5G arena has national security implications.It also has widespread economic importance. It is also critically important that 5G technology be American, and not Chinese technology — not for reasons of national pride, but because national security matters.

For this reason, we need U.S. policymakers to remove unnecessary impediments to American innovation and deployment in the 5G arena. The truth is that China is hoping that our regulatory regimes will slow and impede American innovation and the speed of implementation of this new technology so that we leave the window open for China to dominate the world in 5G technology.One of the current impediments to 5G progress is the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which despite having no actual evidence for vaguely stated concerns, nonetheless alleges that maybe 5G technology will interfere with altimeters in older helicopters and older small private planes. Without providing any specifics or data, the FAA is throwing up roadblocks.

I am confident that we all agree that if expanding 5G technology were going to mean planes falling out of the skies, we would all want to put the breaks on. But the FAA hasn’t provided any real transparency to its vague concerns or any significant specifics and there is zero evidence that 5G technology interferes with altimeters.But it’s not just that the FAA hasn’t provided any factual support. The truth is this issue has been heavily studied by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) which regulates the usage of wireless spectrum to be sure it doesn’t create conflicts. Roughly 40 other countries have also studied this issue and they all agree that there is no harmful interference with 5G and altimeters.Why didn’t the FAA raise any concerns over American planes already flying to these countries?

On a practical level, around the globe there are a number of 5G cell towers. Some of them are near airfields and there has been no observed interference with altimeters.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency has concluded: “[E]ven though 5G has already been deployed in several States around the world, we are not aware of any reported occurrence that relates to possible interference originating from 5G base stations.”While China may be able to give American consumers a better internet connection (as American technology would also clearly do), the communist country will not promote economic growth around the globe and certainly not in America. Moreover, because 5G technology will be more than just faster connection speeds, but will also be the “internet of things” and allow for our devices to communicate with each other (to the extent we authorize that), 5G technology will open up thousands of new businesses just as smartphones did.

The sharing economy — exemplified by Uber and Lyft and Airbnb — was made possible by smartphone technology.

In the same way, but probably multiplied by a factor of one thousand, 5G technology will become the foundation of thousands of amazing ideas that will make the lives of consumers more convenient. It will create millions of new jobs and greater opportunity for more and more people.

But if we hamstring our own industries and entrepreneurs, the totalitarian regime in China will gladly fill the void. And if China deploys 5G technology, privacy and security will take a huge hit.The Chinese regime has been gathering online data on Americans for decades. Dominating and defining the technology that will be built into your phone and later into household appliances will give the totalitarian regime unprecedented access to all of our private information — perhaps even how much milk we have in the refrigerator.

But the other problem would be a very serious national security issue. Can you imagine having 5G chips in military hardware that could give the totalitarian regime access to intelligence and even the ability to turn off the hardware?

Imagine our missile defense being turned off because we ceded 5G technology to China.

Experts and policymakers from all sides of the political spectrum agree that 5G technology does not pose risks to altimeters. So if the FAA has some secret information that it has yet to reveal, it should provide transparency and reveal precisely what its concerns are as well as the scientific and data basis for such concerns.

Otherwise, the FAA needs to work in good faith and allow America to continue to be the world’s high tech leader and innovator. Our national economic wellbeing and our national security hang in the balance.


Thus Spake Omarova

No pivot to the center for President Biden

By Matthew ContinettiThe Washington Free Beacon

Saule Omarova in 2018 / Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs

President Biden’s chief of staff Ron Klain has a, shall we say, interesting take on last week’s election. The voters who chose Republican Glenn Youngkin as governor of Virginia and who came close to unseating incumbent Democrat Phil Murphy as governor of New Jersey want Democrats to “do more,” Klain told MSNBC. “And that’s what we’re doing,” he continued, “again, starting next Monday, signing the infrastructure bill, working with the House to pass the Build Back Better plan, which will help bring down inflation, bring down the cost of living, bring down people’s expenses.”

Leave aside the highly questionable claim that the “Build Back Better” legislation under negotiation on Capitol Hill will reduce inflation. Focus instead on Klain’s idea that the message of the off-year election wasn’t for Democrats in Washington to slam the brakes, but to hit the gas pedal. Klain is paid to put the best possible spin on the Biden administration’s depressing combination of incompetence and aloofness. Yet even he must recognize that the president and the national Democratic Party have become too closely identified in the minds of voters with the progressive left and its lack of constructive solutions to inflation, crime, the border, and education. Rather than double down on his bid for a “transformational” presidency, Biden has a chance to narrow his focus, prioritize, and address the issues of most concern to the suburban independents who next year will decide the fate of the House and Senate. It’s an opportunity he’s not taking.

Allow me to introduce, for example, Saule Omarova, the Beth and Marc Goldberg professor at Cornell Law School and senior fellow at the Berggruen Institute in Los Angeles. On the very day that voters across the country rejected the Democratic Party’s turn to the left, the White House officially nominated Professor Omarova to be comptroller of the currency. The comptroller is the nation’s chief banking regulator, supervising some 1,200 financial institutions of all shapes and sizes and, according to its website, “approximately 70 percent of banking activity in the country.” To hear the word comptroller is to picture a faceless bureaucrat, dutifully and routinely checking boxes to ensure the steady flow of capital in the economy. And yet President Biden wants to fill it with an activist intellectual who is—and I say this in the kindest way possible—a nut.

Omarova was born in Kazakhstan in 1966. She immigrated to America during her mid-20s. Senator Pat Toomey (R., Pa.), an early opponent of her nomination, has requested that she provide a copy of a thesis she wrote at Moscow State University, which she attended thanks to the Lenin Personal Academic Scholarship. The thesis is titled “Karl Marx’s Economic Analysis and the Theory of Revolution in Das Kapital.” Given the place (the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) and circumstances (Gorbachev’s glasnost and perestroika) in which Omarova attended college, it’s reasonable to conclude that she adopted a favorable, if maybe slightly qualified, attitude toward both Marx and revolution. Then again, we can’t really say. Omarova has kept the paper to herself.

Toomey’s interest in Omarova’s intellectual background has led a few of her supporters to accuse him of bigotry and xenophobia. The charge is ridiculous. Toomey isn’t worried about the professor’s ancestry or country of origin. He’s opposed to her ideas. What’s striking is that immigrants from the former Soviet Union and its satellites tend to be viscerally anti-communist and anti-socialist: Having lived under totalitarian regimes, they are especially attuned to infringements of personal and economic liberty and are mindful of human-rights abuses conducted in the name of “People’s Republics.”

Professor Omarova didn’t get the memo. “Say what you will about old USSR,” she tweeted on March 31, 2019, “there was no gender pay gap there. Market doesn’t always ‘know best.'” Well, one can say a lot about “old USSR”—how it was a force for oppression and evil, for starters. To single out the fact that “there was no gender pay gap”—an assertion Omarova never backed up, probably because the pay gap is zero in the gulag—is to recall the old fellow-traveler line that Communist tyranny isn’t so bad because Cubans have “health care.”

When another Twitter user suggested Omarova might be out of her depth, she replied:

I never claimed women and men were treated absolutely equally in every facet of Soviet life. But people’s salaries were set (by the state) in a gender-blind manner. And all women got very generous maternity benefits. Both things are still a pipe dream in our society!

This is Joe Biden’s nominee for comptroller?

Toomey is not the only senator whose eyebrow is raised. Jon Tester of Montana, a Democrat, is also concerned. It’s not hard to see why. There is a connection between Omarova’s rosy view of the Soviet economy and her far-out plans for the United States.

Consider her 2020 paper, “The People’s Ledger: How to Democratize Money and Finance the Economy.” It offers, she says, “a blueprint for a comprehensive restructuring of the central bank balance sheet as the basis for redesigning the core architecture of modern finance.” She would like to subject the Federal Reserve, which these days has enough trouble keeping inflation in check, to a “series of structural reforms that would radically redefine the role of a central bank as the ultimate public platform for generating, modulating, and allocating financial resources in a democratic economy—the People’s Ledger.”

Like utopian socialists of old, Omarova “envisions the complete migration of demand deposit accounts to the Fed’s balance sheet.” She proposes a “comprehensive qualitative restructuring of the Fed’s investment portfolio, which would maximize its capacity to channel credit to productive uses in the nation’s economy.” Guess who gets to decide which uses are productive.

The result, Omarova concludes, would be a financial system that is “less complex” than it is today. Which I suppose is true, since a government monopoly is “less complex” than market competition. It also tends to be less efficient, less productive, less innovative, and less accountable to consumer demand. But hey—maternity benefits!

Anyone not immersed in and comfortable with the recondite buzzwords of the legal academy and radical left might read “The People’s Ledger” in mounting confusion and alarm as Omarova proclaims the virtues of wage and price controls, politicized credit, and expert control and planning of the commanding heights. It doesn’t take long for the paper to get into “the seas will be made of lemonade” territory, portraying for an economy of 330 million people integrated in a global economy of 8 billion a grandiose and completely unworkable “system” that is so rationalist and reductive it only could exist in the mind of an intellectual.

Since January, America has slowly awakened to the reality that it elected Joe Biden president only to be governed by Elizabeth Warren. As voters watched academic fashions spread destruction in classrooms, on the border, and in cities, they turned against the president and Democrats in general. Isn’t it in President Biden’s political interest—much less the country’s—to pull Saule Omarova’s nomination and recommend someone else, someone boring, for the job? And if the White House persists in its support for the good professor, can’t we agree that its tone-deafness and general wackiness has put it on a direct course for an electoral shellacking? In America, thank God, Omarova doesn’t rule. The people do.


Don’t let Biden try to balance the budget on the backs of retirees

By Peter RoffCitizen Tribune

President Joe Biden’s plan to build America back better is much more costly than most everyone anticipated. The budget reconciliation bill currently stuck in the House is perhaps the most expensive single piece of legislation in history. Even a few members of his own party are uncomfortable voting for it.

According to some estimates, the new taxes, spending, and borrowing involved total out at about $10 trillion over 10 years. At one-half U.S. annual GDP pre-COVID, that’s not chump change. Biden says not to worry because it’s paid for, something only someone who’d spent 50 years in Washington could say with a straight face. He’s unfamiliar with how the private economy functions. The higher corporate taxes he touts, for example, are considered a cost of doing business that is mostly passed along to the consumer.

It’s not his fault he doesn’t get it. He’s spent almost his entire adult life in politics. Any wealth he’s amassed comes from belonging to “the aristocracy of pull,” not business acumen. The people around him, however, know better.

Raising taxes on personal incomes over $400,000 a year, raising the corporate tax rate, and establishing a global corporate minimum tax won’t raise the revenue needed to cover the cost of the plan Biden is trying to sell to the American people, not to mention holdouts in his own party like West Virginia’s Joe Manchin. The big spenders know other sources of revenue will need to be tapped, if not now then later. That makes anything not taxed currently fair game, which puts changes in the private individual retirement account system on the table.

Most IRAs are treated favorably in the tax code. Either the funds are taxed when they are invested and withdrawals are made tax-free or investments are tax-free and, after the accounts have increased in value over time because of the magic of compound interest, the funds are taxed when they’re drawn down. Changing that will have downstream impacts especially harmful to investors in the middle-class.

It won’t punish the rich. It will hit the new investor class, especially the millennials entering the workforce, hard. What’s on the table limits investment options while subjecting the income they set aside for retirement to retroactive taxation. “It’s like a fisherman’s net,” IRA expert Ed Slott said. “The net picks up a lot of small fish that are unintended targets.”

This proposal to eliminate Roth 401K Conversions for IRAs and employer-sponsored plans for single filers making $400,000 or more and joint filers making $450,000 or more is bad policy and bad politics. What the Bidenites are proposing would be devastating to retirement incomes and should be anathema to senators from states with large retirement populations like Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema in Arizona and Nevada’s Catherine Cortez Masto. These ideas and the proposed ban on the conversion of after-tax contributions to Roth account regardless of income would likely wreck the retirement plans of millions of average Americans.

Moreover, the ideas are absurd from a revenue perspective. According to early estimates, the changes under consideration would only raise $4 billion over the next 10 years. That’s not even a drop in the bucket of what’s needed to pay for the Biden plan. Does that mean future changes that are even more radical? Probably. Once we’re down that road it will be hard to stop even if it hurts Baby Boomers and Millennials alike.

Attempting to limit the amount people can put into Roth IRAs will reduce the national savings rate, complicate retirement planning for millions of Americans, and constitute another broken promise by the politicians in Washington. Some folks have indeed used these accounts as a tax dodge, setting up as many as they need to reduce their annual tax burden, but you don’t use a howitzer to kill a housefly.

For most Americans, IRAs are a pathway to a comfortable, secure, perhaps even prosperous retirement. The proposals currently under consideration to eliminate the Mega Roth and other independent retirement account options are an attack on the middle class that Congress should reject.

If it doesn’t, the voters will remember.


The Top Ten Ways to Get Yourself Surveilled by the IRS

By Geraldshields11 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28960642

The Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee took another whack Thursday at a Biden Administration proposal to force banks to report to the IRS on their account holders’ private annual aggregate financial activity.

The administration has repeatedly pushed back against its critics who claim the initiative will lead to banks reporting individual transactions to the IRS. Opponents of the initiative say that no matter where the threshold for reporting is $600 as originally put forward or $10,000 as it is now, the reporting of aggregate data will still act as a trigger for more audits.

Experts in tax policy say that even at the $10,000 level, most Americans could still expect to have their private information turned over to the IRS. What the Biden Administration wants targets people who are not payroll wage earners, meaning tradesmen and women, independent contractors, farmers, and others who do not get paid a set wage every two weeks.

“Democrats’ IRS surveillance scheme is not about going after high earners and wealthy corporations, but instead is about going after working Americans and Main Street job creators — who Democrats assume are tax cheats,” the committee said in a release that also identified the top ten ways to get yourself surveilled by the IRS:

  1. Sending your child to college. You worked hard, you saved, and now that investment in your child’s future pulls you into the IRS dragnet.
  2. Working as a blue-collar worker. If you’re a local contractor, plumber, or hairdresser — or simply don’t get paid on a W2 — you will have your bank accounts monitored.
  3. Taking out a loan to buy equipment. Want to start a new business or invest in your current one? That’ll cost you your privacy. 
  4. Sending money or loan money to family members. Have you ever helped a loved one financially who has fallen on tough times? Biden wants the IRS to know.
  5. Providing financial support to elderly parents. Do you help pay household expenses for your elderly parent or grandparent? If so, their account will be swooped up in the IRS surveillance scheme.
  6. Receiving Democrats’ “cash-for-kids” welfare. If you receive the Child Tax Credit payments by paper check — you’ll have your bank account monitored. 
  7. Receiving dependent care flexible savings account reimbursements. If you pay for childcare using the Democrat’s beefed-up dependent care flexible spending account (FSA), your account will be reported to the IRS.
  8. Taking up a part-time gig as an Uber driver. Do you work hard and make $200 or more on nights and weekends driving for Uber? Gas is expensive but it’s nothing compared to that IRS audit that will be triggered as part of the Biden bank surveillance scheme.
  9. Selling goods at a farmer’s market or Etsy shop. Do you create something or grow something and sell it directly to a consumer? If you did and deposited those dollars into a bank account, you’ll be reported.
  10. Saving for and making a large purchase. Want to buy a new car? Or do some home renovations? Or take your family on a trip to Disney World? Your bank accounts will wind up in a dragnet.

BONUS:

  1. Purchasing groceries for a family of four. With the cost of groceries skyrocketing under Bidenflation – your account will be reported to the IRS even sooner.
  2. Going on Democrats’ expanded unemployment benefits. Ironically enough, if you’ve been receiving Democrats’ overly generous unemployment benefits that have paid you more to stay home than to reconnect to work, you’ll also qualify to have the IRS monitor your account.

Despite the apparent levity of Thursday’s release, the issue remains serious. The government’s increasing desire to surveil private activity using the new technologies made available by Big Tech is worrisome. Privacy, as we have known it for most of our lives, may become outmoded yet there’s a practical side to this too. 

The revenues needed to pay for Biden’s big government Socialist agenda aren’t there and the higher taxes included in the Bernie Biden budget resolution won’t generate them. under the current tax code. Remember, the latest analysis says the new spending and benefits included in their proposal is nearly twice as big as the $3.5 trillion over ten years is advertised as being. That’s a lot of money — and thinking you can find it by upping the number of audits is like saying it can be found between the couch cushions. The increased reporting to the IRS to trigger more audits exists primarily so the politicians who want to spend more money enlarging the welfare state can say it’s paid for. If instead, we fined politicians for telling lies, the budget would soon be balanced with plenty of money left over. 


Fall Guys

Now is the autumn of Democratic discontent

By Matthew ContinettiThe Washington Free Beacon

Images via Getty

President Joe Biden practically begged a group of moderate Democrats visiting him in the Oval Office Wednesday to say how much money they are willing to spend on the massive “Build Back Better” reconciliation bill making its way through Congress. According to Politico‘s Playbook, he didn’t get an answer.

The 11 moderates, including Senator Joe Manchin and congresswoman Stephanie Murphy, insisted that Democrats agree first on how much revenue they will raise in taxes before settling on a price tag on a bill that would transform energy, health care, higher education, pre-K, and paid leave. A disappointed Biden assigned the moderates homework: Come up with something that will stop Progressive House members from killing the separate, $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package that already has passed the Senate and is scheduled for a September 27 House vote.

Best of luck. In another meeting Wednesday, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, who heads the Congressional Progressive Caucus, pulled a Wendy Sherman and broke into tears while pleading that the reconciliation bill include an immigration amnesty (the Senate parliamentarian has said it can’t). Jayapal urged Biden to delay Monday’s vote or be prepared for Progressives to nix the infrastructure deal. Biden didn’t give in, but he did leave open the possibility that the vote won’t take place on September 27 as planned.

Yet any postponement would create new problems for the White House. House moderates have pledged to sink the reconciliation bill if they don’t get to vote for infrastructure first. And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi can afford to lose only three votes. And the Senate is tied, with Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema still cagey about what they want to do. And oh, by the way, Congress needs to fund the government before September 30 and raise the debt ceiling before mid-October. Is your head hurting yet?

Democrats have run smack into political reality, and it isn’t pretty. They spent months convincing themselves that a presidential election decided by 42,000 votes in three states, a tied Senate, and a 220-212 House (with 3 vacancies) is the same as FDR’s and LBJ’s supermajorities. Now they are just figuring out that the coalition that put them into office doesn’t agree on much of anything besides the idea that Donald Trump shouldn’t be in the White House.

Now the autumn of 2021 is turning into a reckoning for a Democratic Party that wanted to leverage a squeaker election into fundamental change. Like their predecessors in 1993 and in 2009, frontline House Democrats have to decide whether supporting a liberal agenda is worse for their careers than denying a president of their own party a legislative win. Either way, they lose.

Chance, guile, and missteps put the Democrats in this position. They hardly could believe their luck when Trump’s sour grapes cost the GOP two winnable seats in Georgia and handed Vice President Harris the tie-breaking vote in the Senate. What they forgot was that full control of government is a mixed blessing: Your partisans expect the sun, moon, and stars, while independents have no one else to blame when things go wrong. A Republican Senate might have given Biden a foil, and a reason to govern as the centrist he pretended to be during the campaign. Instead, he has no wiggle room. Thanks, Trump.

GOP leader Mitch McConnell made two decisions that complicated things further. First, he okayed Republican involvement in Senate infrastructure negotiations. Yuval Levin of the American Enterprise Institute (where I work) writes that GOP participation began “as an effort to turn down the temperature on the filibuster, then after a while it seemed like it might actually have enough votes to pass, and at that point it became clear that it could also further divide the Democrats.” Senate passage of the deal heightened the contradictions within the House Democratic caucus and guaranteed unified Republican opposition to the reconciliation bill.

Second, McConnell got his conference to agree that any increase in the debt ceiling should come from Democratic votes alone. Democrats from swing districts and purple states have to own their party’s spending binge. It’s a subtle and somewhat cynical move (Republicans add to the debt, too). But it’s also politically shrewd. Nor is the economy really in jeopardy. This isn’t 2011. In the end, Democrats can and will raise the debt ceiling themselves.

President Biden’s degraded political standing is behind the Democrats’ troubles. Biden’s mixed messaging and missteps in the pandemic, the crisis on the border, the rise in crime and inflation, and the debacle in Afghanistan have caused his approval rating to plummet. He’s at 46 percent approval in the FiveThirtyEight polling average. Gallup has him at 43 percent approval—and at just 37 percent among independents. In bellwether Iowa, he’s at 31 percent. Progressives in ultraviolet districts can ignore these numbers. Moderate Democrats cannot.

Still, a weak president and disunited Congress may not be enough to guarantee the collapse of the Build Back Better program. Democrats recognize the need for a win, no matter how small. They assume it’s the only way for Biden to make up lost ground and prevent a Republican takeover of the House, and possibly the Senate, in 2022. But presidential priorities have fallen apart before. Trump didn’t get Obamacare repeal, Obama didn’t get cap and trade, and George W. Bush didn’t get Social Security reform. Biden already got the $2 trillion American Rescue Plan. That might be it.

What’s worse—abject failure or unpopular success? Trick question: Both options are horrible. If Democrats think this fall is bad, just wait until they have to live through the next one.


Group Demands Answers From McAuliffe On “Corrupt Political Bargain” With Left-Wing Extremists—Especially On Suburbs

By Seamus BrennanAMAC

Conservative group Frontiers of Freedom Foundation this week launched a hard-hitting television advertisement characterizing Virginia Democrat gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe as “the chosen candidate of the media and tech giants” who are “helping him hide from the people of Virginia.” The ad launched on Fox affiliate WTTG’s 10 PM news program and is set to run throughout this week both on WTTG and other Washington- and Northern Virginia-based channels. The spot concentrates on McAuliffe’s mostly unreported plan to override local zoning laws and construct high-density, low-income apartment units in suburban single-family neighborhoods—an endeavor that could prevent middle- and working-class families from achieving the American Dream of living in a house of their own.

Frontiers of Freedom President George Landrith stated in a press release that the group purchased a two-minute television ad in the Washington, D.C. broadcast market—which would reach residents in heavily-populated Arlington and Fairfax Counties on local news channels in order to “make Terry McAuliffe come out from cover and face the crucial questions the media is protecting him from having him to answer.”

The ad’s release comes just weeks before the long-awaited Virginia gubernatorial election between McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin on November 2, for which polls have remained razor-thin. “By making McAuliffe answer these questions, Virginians will be sending a strong message,” said Landrith. “They will be telling the radical liberals and their big business allies and the Wall Street barons that the people of Virginia won’t stand for it. And Terry McAuliffe and the liberal extremists and their billionaire allies will discover they can’t have America. They can’t have Virginia.”

As Landrith described, unlike other political ad campaigns, his group’s spot relies on providing voters with ample information rather than quick ads with little substance. “These are not 30 second attack ads that try to manipulate people,” he said, “but heavily informative narrative ads that ask Terry McAuliffe when he will reject extremist liberal views and plans.”

“The spot’s major focus is on McAuliffe’s plan to destroy single-family zoning by empowering the federal government to dictate local zoning decisions,” Landrith said. “In showing pictures of Black and Hispanic families [as] well as young people seeking a first home, the spot says such a plan would destroy the aspirations of many Americans who now have a chance to live in safe, family-friendly neighborhoods.”

“We also highlight the fact that ‘the woke’ management of Wall Street firms are buying suburban properties because they think they can make money eventually off this Washington land-grab,” Landrith continued, likely referring to recent reports that Wall Street banks and investment firms have joined in on the Democrats’ already longstanding war on suburban America.

Moreover, the ad calls attention to the circumstances under which McAuliffe received the Democratic nomination earlier this year. McAuliffe, Landrith notes, prevented younger black progressive talent like Carroll Foy and Justin Fairfax, his former primary opponents, from making names for themselves, while simultaneously allying himself with his party’s most extreme voices. “Terry McAuliffe got the Democratic nomination for governor,” he said, “by pushing aside promising young leadership in his own party and making a corrupt political bargain with the left-wing extremists to support their radical agenda.”

The ad also highlights McAuliffe’s complicity in other parts of the extremist progressive agenda, declaring that McAuliffe has allied himself with those who support causes like Critical Race Theory, defunding the police, and open borders. “Terry McAuliffe needs to be asked if he will disavow the support of his other liberal allies who support a radical agenda,” Landrith said. “Our spot shows these issues and provides back-up about them, including Critical Race Theory teaching ugly anti-American falsehoods to school children, defund[ing] the police… the illegal immigration crisis and influx of MS-13 gangs in Northern Virginia, the persecution of Catholic religious orders, and ACLU anti-religious extremism and attacks on Church tax deductions.”

Frontiers of Freedom and other like-minded groups insist the ad campaign will expose the radical leftist agenda embraced by Democrats such as McAuliffe, which has remained unacknowledged by much of the mainstream media. By underscoring McAuliffe’s support for largely unknown progressive initiatives like the eradication of single-family home zoning and attacks on religious liberty—both of which are relatively new fronts for Democrats—Frontiers of Freedom believes the ad could cause anxiety and collapse in the opposition.

McAuliffe’s largely unreported ambition to weed out America’s suburbs comes in the wake of a handful of blue state legislative measures that have effectively abolished single-family zoning (most recently in California). Like President Joe Biden and many in his party, McAuliffe’s plan relies on the nebulous and deceitful language of “systemic racism” as grounds for his sweeping anti-suburbia plans: by “spearheading zoning reform,” his campaign website underhandedly states, McAuliffe will “fight systemic racism and promote Black and Brown homeownership”—even though, as the ad states, the plan is opposed by “the majority of blacks and Hispanics—once shut out of single-family neighborhoods—who now want the right to live in one.”

In addition, the ad campaign is noticeably aimed at African American voters’ discontent with the far-left policy platform being pushed by Democrats: in addition to presenting images of African American families who could be disenfranchised by McAuliffe’s zoning plan, it features a clip of an August 2020 Wall Street Journal op-ed co-authored by former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson and former President Donald Trump warning of the Democrats’ anti-suburban initiatives.

“Virginians need to ask McAuliffe why he endorses the Biden-Schumer-Pelosi plan that has already been enacted in some places like California and Minnesota that would permit federal bureaucrats to dictate to local towns and cities and destroy the American dream of single-family neighborhoods,” said Landrith.

As Election Day nears and polls continue to tighten, the ad has the potential to bolster turnout for Youngkin by surfacing broadly unheard-of issues being pushed by McAuliffe and others in the Democrat camp.

Should it succeed, Landrith’s strategy could prove instrumental in helping a Republican get elected statewide in Virginia for the first time since 2009.


Conservative Group Takes Aim at Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s Housing Plan: ‘Clinton-Era Grifter’ Who Will Destroy Suburbs

A conservative nonprofit is targeting former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s (D) housing proposals in a lengthy television ad, warning the former governor will “destroy the American dream of a single-family home” should he be elected again.

By Ashley OliverBreitbart

Frontiers of Freedom purchased the two-minute ad to run on local news stations in the densely blue D.C.-Northern Virginia region Sunday night through the end of the week as the competitive race between McAuliffe and Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin comes down to its final few weeks.

“Under the McAuliffe plan, federal bureaucrats would dictate to local towns and cities, cramming apartment complexes into single-family neighborhoods,” the ad’s narrator states.

“Terry McAuliffe’s threat to the suburbs is no exaggeration. The Biden-Pelosi-Schumer-McAuliffe plan is already underway,” the narrator adds, citing California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) recent initiative to make building multifamily housing in single-family zones easier.

Watch: https://youtu.be/Z3mbjKRgKMw 

McAuliffe’s housing plan includes increasing government-subsidized housing and “zoning reforms” and notes McAuliffe will “work to fight systemic racism and promote Black and Brown homeownership.”

Frontiers of Freedom’s ad states that a majority of black and Hispanic Americans — “once shut out of single-family neighborhoods who now want the right to live in one” — oppose reducing single-family zoning in the wake of leftist charges that single-family zoning is “highly segregated” and ought to be corrected with government intervention.

The ad also features an image of former Virginia Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy (D), one of two black women who were vying for the Democrat gubernatorial nomination this year but were shut out upon McAuliffe entering the Democrat primary as McAuliffe became an immediate frontrunner and ultimately won the nomination by a landslide.

The narrator describes McAuliffe, who has long been a prolific Democrat fundraiser and close ally of the Clinton family, as a “Clinton-era grifter, Wall Street money mover, pushing aside young leadership [features image of Foy] in his own party to help extremist climate liberals who hate the suburbs.”

In this April 6, 2021, file photo, Democrat gubernatorial candidate Virginia Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy prepares for a debate at Virginia Sate University in Petersburg, Virginia. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

In this April 6, 2021, file photo, Democrat gubernatorial candidate Virginia Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy prepares for a debate at Virginia Sate University in Petersburg, Virginia. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

The ad premiered on Fox affiliate WTTG’s 10 p.m. newscast on Sunday. Frontiers of Freedom President George Landrith noted of the ad length, “These are not 30 second attack ads that try to manipulate people, but heavily informative narrative ads that tell the story of Terry McAuliffe’s extremist views and plans.”

Landrith added the “TV spot asserts that McAuliffe is ‘the chosen candidate of the media and tech giants’ and that Virginians must ask him the questions the liberal media will not.”


Frontiers of Freedom Makes Major TV Buy in DC-Northern Virginia Market with 2-Minute Spot Saying Candidate McAuliffe Made “Corrupt Political Bargain” with Extreme Left and Asking that He Disavow Radical Agenda — Especially His Plan To Destroy Single-Family Neighborhoods and Suburbs

Terry McCauliffe’s Horrible Vision for Virginia

Long format, story-telling TV SPOT IN  DC-Northern Virginia market SAYMCAULIFFE IS CHOSEN CANDIDATE OF MEDIA AND TECH GIANTS WHO ARE PROTECTING HIM. SO VIRGINIANS MUST QUESTION MCAULIFFE ABOUT:

“CORRUPT POLITICAL BARGAIN” WITH LEFT WING OF HIS PARTY TO DESTROY SINGLE FAMILY NEIGHBORHOODS

MCAULIFFE PLAN WOULD END SINGLE-FAMILY NEIGHBORHOODS AND CRAM HIGH DENSITY HOUSING INTO SUBURBS

Ties McAuliffe to liberal extremists and says he would also support:

    •  Critical Race theory teaching ugly Anti-American falsehoods to school children

    •  Defund the Police

    •  Continuing illegal immigration crisis ….influx of MS-13 gangs in Northern Virginia

    •  Persecution of Catholic religious orders

    •  ACLU anti-religious extremism and attacks on Church tax-deductions

CONSERVATIVE GROUP ASKS WHY MCAULIFFE WON’T DISAVOW HIS EXTREMIST ALLIES – THE RADICAL LIBERALS AND THEIR BIG BUSINESS ALLIES AND THE WALL ST. BARONS

The people of Virginia won’t stand for it..”

Ask Terry McAuliffe and the liberal extremists and their billionaire allies why they don’t know  …. THEY CAN’T HAVE AMERICA.  THEY CAN’T HAVE VIRGINIA.”

….

****                                               ***                                       ****

………

STATEMENT GEORGE LANDRITH, PRESIDENT, FRONTIERS OF FREEDOM FOUNDATION

………

For further information — George Landrith at 703-246-0110, ext. 1302 

………

Washington D.C.  —  George Landrith, President of  the Frontiers of Freedom Foundation, announced today his group is running long format, 120 second (2 minute) spots on TV news shows in the DC Northern Virginia media market to “make Terry McAuliffe come out from cover and face the crucial questions the media is protecting him from having him to answer.”

The tv spot was shown for the first time Sunday night on Fox affiliate  WTTG’shighly-rated 10 pm news and will run through the week on that channel and other local DC-Northern Virginia channels. 

DESTROYING THE SUBURBS — The spot’s major focus is on McAuliffe’s plan to destroy single family zoning by empowering the federal government to dictate local zoning decisions.

In showing  pictures of Black and Hispanic families well as young people seeking a first home, the spot says such a plan would destroy the aspirations of many Americans who now have a chance to live in safe, family-friendly neighborhoods. 

WALL ST.  GREED  — We also highlight the fact that ‘the woke’ management of Wall St firms are buying suburban properties because they think they can make money eventually off this Washington land-grab.”

MCAULIFFE CORRUPT POLITICAL BARGAIN — Terry McAuliffe got the Democratic nomination for governor by pushing aside promising young leadership in his own party and making a corrupt political bargain with the Left wing extremists to support their radical agenda.”

THE REST OF THE EXTREME LEFT AGENDA — “Terry McAuliffe needs to be asked if he will disavow the support of his other liberal allies who support a radical agenda.”

Our spot shows these issues and provides back up about them including Critical Race theory teaching ugly Anti-American falsehoods to school children, defund the police, continue the illegal immigration crisis and influx of MS-13 gangs in Northern Virginia, the persecution of Catholic religious orders, and ACLU anti-religious extremism and attacks on Church tax-deductions. 

NOT ATTACK ADS — “These are not 30 second attack ads that try to manipulate people, but heavily informative narrative ads that tell the story of Terry McAuliffe’s extremist views and plans.” Landrith said. 

Landrith notes his group’s TV spot asserts that McAuliffe is “the chosen candidate of the media and tech giants” and that Virginians must ask him the questions the liberal media will not.

BACKUP TO ALL ALLEGATIONS —  The spots shows newspaper articles about the controversy and argues that McAuliffe’s plan is essential that of President Biden and features a large picture of former HUD Secretary Ben Carson who wrote a Wall St op-ed saying the Biden plan would destroy suburban neighborhoods.

Virginians need to ask McAuliffe why he endorses the Biden-Schumer – Pelosi plan that has already been enacted in some places like California and Minnesota that would permit federal bureaucrats to dictate to local towns and cities and destroy the American dream of single-family neighborhoods.”

WHAT ASKING MCAULIFFE THE TOUGH QUESTIONS WILL DO — “By making McAuliffe answer these questions, Virginians will be sending a strong message.  They will be telling the radical liberals and their big business allies, and the Wall St. barons that the people of Virginia won’t stand for it.  And Terry McAuliffe and the liberal extremists and their billionaire allies will discover theycan’t have America. They can’t have Virginia.”

HERE IS THE SCRIPT OF THE TWO-MINUTE TV SPOT

Terry McAuliffe… chosen candidate of the media and tech giants…helping him hide from the people of Virginia

McAuliffe’s plan? override local zoning and force the construction of high-density, low income housing projects in residential neighborhoods.

Under the McAuliffe plan, federal bureaucrats would dictate to local towns and cities…cramming apartment complexes into single- family neighborhoods. 

This plan is opposed by:

— The majority of Blacks and Hispanics — once shut out of single family neighborhoods – who now want the right to live in one.

— Young Americans who aspire to the American dream of a single-family home in a family-friendly neighborhood.

— People now fleeing the crime and disorder of Democrat run cities.

Terry McAuliffe’s threat to the suburbs is no exaggeration.  

The Biden-Pelosi-Schumer-McAuliffe plan is already underway. Newsom in California recently moved to abolish zoning.

Former HUD Secretary Ben Carson warned against this ugly liberal power-grab.  

A Clinton-era grifter…Wall St money mover… pushing aside young leadership in his own party to help extremist climate liberals who hate the suburbs 

the McAuliffe plan helps Wall St barons gobble up suburban property and profit off of high-density housing    

Terry McAuliffe made a corrupt political bargain with the extremist left wing of the Democratic Party giving him the party nomination

He has allied himself with those who support:

Destroying Virginia’s suburbs…

Critical Race theory – teaching ugly Anti-American falsehoods to school children

Defund the Police

Continuing the illegal immigration crisis and influx of MS-13 gangs in Northern Virginia

The persecution of Catholic religious orders

ACLU anti-religious extremism and attacks on Church tax-deductions

Terry McAuliffe will never face these questions from the media who favor him

So ask Terry McAuliffe why he wants to use Virginia to pay off his extremist allies… destroy suburban neighborhoods…and Destroy the American dream of a single family home.

Ask him about his ties to THE EXTREMIST LIBERALS, HIS BIG BUSINESS ALLIES AND WALL ST. BARONS

Ask Terry McAuliffe if he understands the people of Virginia won’t stand for it

That the extremists and their billionaire allies

… CAN’T HAVE AMERICA

 THEY CAN’T HAVE VIRGINIA.

……..

……..


More Audits Don’t Mean More Money, Just More Intrusion By The IRS

By Peter RoffTownhall Finance

Source: AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File

The Biden plan for building America back better has a pretty hefty price tag attached to it. It includes $3 trillion in new and higher taxes, more government regulation, and creates a framework through which Washington bureaucrats will be making essential decisions about which industries survive and which ones die as we move further into the new century.

All that’s bad, but that – as Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders has said about the $3.5 trillion in new programs and spending that will constitute the biggest growth in government since the Great Society under Lyndon Johnson – is only the beginning. The era of big government is back only this time it’s coming as big government socialism and, instead of embracing the free enterprise economy that made America great, Biden and company are taking their cues from the British Labour Party circa 1960.

Now, this is not the first time Biden has “borrowed” something from the Brits and it probably won’t be the last. What people fail to understand is how much more intrusive the government will have to be as we “build back better” to fund all these new programs and to make the American public go along whether they want to or not.

One proposal that stands out in this regard is the constant effort by the Biden Administration and congressional Democrats to secure more funding for the United States Internal Revenue Service. At one point, before it was stopped, a serious proposal was moving through Congress to add $80 billion to its budget so it could hire an additional 80,000 agents. This provision was scored as a revenue raiser, meaning those who were proposing it did so with the idea that more agents mean more audits and more audits mean more money because the IRS will catch more people cheating on their taxes

For the moment the increase in funding for the IRS looks dead, so the Biden Administration is pushing to catch so-called tax cheats in other ways. Another idea still very much under consideration would require banks and other financial institutions to report business and personal transactions they conduct on your behalf to the IRS if they involved an amount greater than $600.

If that sounds like a gross, possibly unconstitutional invasion of privacy, you may be right – but you also may not be able to do anything about it. The government is routinely notified about transactions above $10,000 – a provision put in place during the so-called hot years of the war on drugs – setting a precedent that has been affirmed by the courts.

There’s something inherently sinister about the idea of your local banker being forced to report your account data to the IRS any time you write a check or send money by wire or over the Internet to bail a kid on spring break out of trouble or pay your mortgage or health insurance premium. Some things are none of the federal government’s business.

Under the initial Biden-backed proposal, the IRS would receive annual reports of account inflows and outflows of $600 or more, which may be less intrusive than a play-by-play, day-by-day account of how you spend your money but it’s no less disturbing. White House’s estimates have the policy when implemented generating about $463 billion in additional revenue over the next decade but, to some, that’s not the point of the exercise. Consider the letter sent to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richie Neal, D-Mass., by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig asking for support for the plan “to help the agency increase enforcement and recover more in uncollected taxes.” It’s language like that that signals there’s an increase in audits coming even if they don’t lead to an increase anything like the projected growth in federal revenue from them – as will likely be the case.

If it all sounds pernicious, it’s because it is. The policy is predicated on the presumption that most Americans – the working class and the small businessmen and women especially – are cheating on their taxes. That’s insulting, never mind that it ignores the presumption of innocence around which our judicial system (but not the federal tax courts) is organized. Making Tax Day an even bigger nightmare than it already is is not the way to, as the president puts it, “build back better.”


To save America’s cities, it is time to be bold

By Peter RoffSCNOW

When it comes down to it, many of the significant problems associated with the COVID pandemic resulted from a failure of imagination. Many of the nation’s best thinkers, having been surprised by the outbreak and the extent and speed of its spread, seemed to fear certain potential outcomes so much they froze.

The proper response is not timidity or inaction. Success tends to favor the bold, which suggests that the nation’s business and political and scientific leadership should have been exploring and experimenting with ways to keep the economy open, rather than shut it down.

The lockdowns that far too many embraced as the way to stop the disease from spreading produced adverse consequences that will be with us for some time. They did not stop COVID from spreading – indeed, it is still with us, continuing to mutate as most viruses do.

Health concerns aside, the lockdowns were economically and socially harmful. They put people out of work, enforced isolation, hampered the learning experience vital to our children’s future, and decimated many of the nation’s vital urban centers. Even though the U.S. economy is generally in recovery, our commercial centers, which had perhaps been hit harder than the rest of the nation because of their population density, do not seem to be coming back as quickly as other parts of the country.

There are ways to deal with this, both good and bad. What’s called for now are imaginative solutions to help urban areas rebuild quickly, that promote greater flexibility in the way space is used, and develop communities of which people want to be a part.

To put our cities back to work means changing the way we think about them. We cannot allow the urban rot that began in the late 1960s in so many major American cities to take root once again, displacing decades of progress that has been made in bringing our metropolises back from the brink. For that reason, rather than looking at downtowns and seeing them as they are, with 70 to 80 percent of real estate dedicated to office space, we need to be thinking of what they can become, even if the changes in the workforce and work habits become permanent.

The Revitalizing Downtowns Act, proposed by a handful of Democrats in Washington, would provide a tax credit equal to 20 percent of conversion expenses for developers seeking to repurpose vacant or obsolete office space into something new.

This is the right approach to transform declining business districts heavily devoted to office space. Repurposed urban towers renovated for mixed-use could become vibrant communities of their own, with people living and working and shopping and engaging in entertainment pursuits side by side without having to cross the sidewalk.

Conversion can be expensive and difficult. Incentivizing them in the tax code will make them more frequent. The Revitalizing Downtowns Act would provide a credit equal to the qualified expenses when converting vacant office buildings into small businesses or new apartments, including affordable housing — thus opening downtown and small businesses to more people and varying income levels.

The incentive approach works. The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act again proved it, with the reduction in corporate tax rates fueling a hiring boom that reduced unemployment — especially among women, black teens, and other minorities — to some of the lowest levels ever recorded. People who have money don’t like to hide it in their mattresses, they like to put it to work. That’s, at least in part, how economic growth happens.

America’s cities are in crisis. The lockdowns, the recent riots, and the way Americans are changing in the age of the internet have come together in a way that forces us to make a choice. Do we want them to fall? Or do we want them to rise to become greater than they already are while restoring the vitality that once made them places people wanted to be?


Pending Bi-Partisan Infrastructure Bill Loaded with Goodies for Progressives

By Peter RoffAmerican Action News

Speaker Office of Nancy Pelosi via Wikimedia Commons

America has an infrastructure problem. Too many roads are impassible, traffic congestion is clogging the suburban arteries, and bridges are falling apart. The legislation currently pending in Congress, which the latest polls say has the support of two-thirds of likely voters, won’t fix it.

It’s been sold as an infrastructure bill but in the bizarro world that is Joe Biden’s Washington, it does more to get people and goods off the roads than on them. It’s full of so many goodies that progressives want it might fairly be called a down payment of sorts on the Green New Deal we were all led to believe during the last campaign the current president didn’t support.

One of the problems with the bill is how few people have taken the time to look at what’s in it. Ironically, that’s why it’s so popular. It’s “bi-partisan,” as though that makes it worthy of passage. Never forget that Democrats and Republicans can come together on bad ideas every more easily than they can on good ones. It’s a big-spending monstrosity that will give the American people more of what they don’t want and, more importantly, don’t need. 

Consider the provisions dealing with local water systems in places like Flint, Michigan. Sure, it’s a problem and sure, it needs a major overhaul. But why is that Washington’s concern? It’s not as though their pipes move water to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, or Tuscaloosa, Alabama. it’s a local problem that local leaders are responsible for fixing but didn’t. Even after people started getting sick – and then they did a better job trying to pass the buck than they did addressing the problem. 

The money for major cities like Flint is there so one part of the Democratic Party, the part in Washington, can bail out local Democrats and their political machines. It’s cash to help keep them in power so they can deliver the vote when the next election rolls around. And the one after that. 

Maybe we could live with the political aspect of these projects (which might just as easily be called payoffs) if it weren’t for other things in the bill intended to fuel the efforts to get cars off the road. Efforts like the per vehicle per miles driven tax that some in Congress have in mind as an add-on to the federal excise tax on gasoline. Revenues are off, largely because of the number of people who’ve shifted to hybrid and all-electric vehicles. Something has to happen to get it back and make it grow. The best idea so far, and the most intrusive, is for the feds to mandate the installation of a device in your car or truck, or SUV to track how many miles you drive so the U.S. Department of Transportation can send you a quarterly bill. Or something like that. The whole idea is still in the pilot project stage, but you get the idea. 

The invaluable David Ditch over at The Heritage Foundation, who deconstructed the bill down to its rocker panels, says among the lurking dangers hidden in the bill are measures that would “make a variety of progressive causes part of federal policy, such as an obsession with “equity,” providing special treatment for “disadvantaged” groups, establishing a new bureaucracy to increase the number of female truck drivers, and the hyper-woke Digital Equity Act, which includes expanding internet access for prisoners.” What any of that has to do with road construction and bridge building, which is what the American people think they are getting any time they hear the word “infrastructure,” is beyond me.

The bill also proposes expenditures in the tens of billions to subsidize the installation of electric vehicle charging stations needed by the people buying electric cars. That sounds progressive, in every sense of the word but, as most will likely be put in gated communities, yacht clubs, the parking garages of high-end urban condo and apartment complexes, and other places only the people who can afford to spend $100,000 on a single car can go, it’s really welfare for the people who don’t need it. 

Worst of all, the so-called bi-partisan infrastructure bill is anti-car. Credit again to Ditch for doing the research and raising the alarm about the federal funding of local projects the progressive call “traffic calming” but you and I know as putting in speed bumps, reducing the number of lanes on a heavily trafficked thoroughfare from four to two and other steps being taken by municipalities to making commutes tougher and longer.

If you ask why they’d do that, consider the incentive that creates for commuters to use mass transit, which gets a healthy injection of funds in the bill. The politicians and the community associations control what goes where and how often. Unlike your car, which takes the trips you want to take on your schedule. 

The bill should be opposed because of what it does, not because of how much it costs. The right vote is “No” and the right move is to start again. Or to wait for a new administration to come on board to drive the infrastructure train where it needs to go.


The Myth of the Moderate Democrats

By Peter RoffNewsweek

The back-and-forth over the so-called infrastructure bill working its way through the U.S. House of Representatives is helping perpetuate a myth that is distorting the people’s perception of where we as a country are. That perception is that there is, somehow, within the House and Senate and sprinkled throughout the Biden administration, a substantial cadre of moderate Democrats who are doing all they can to block a leftward lurch toward big-government socialism pushed by one wing of the party.

It makes for nice reading and it’s an easy story to write. Unfortunately, it’s inaccurate. As far as national politics is concerned, the Democratic Party has been running the moderates out for years. As former House Speaker Newt Gingrich pointed out in a recent policy document that’s making the rounds, virtually every Democrat in the U.S. House and Senate voted for the budget outline produced by Senator Bernie Sanders—a self-identified socialist.

The Sanders document, which includes $3.5 trillion in new and higher spending, $3 trillion in new and higher taxes, and a host of radical regulatory proposals intended to roll back 40 years of deregulatory reform that started with Ronald Reagan, is a left-winger’s pipe dream. The only objections to it Democrats have had—Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema excepted—have centered on the cost, not on what the proposed legislation would do.

The division among Democrats is real, but it’s not based on ideology. All but one Democrat recently voted for a bill that would eliminate state restrictions on late-term abortions and codify the Supreme Court‘s decision in Roe v. Wade. Democrats are united on policy but opposed (or at least some of them are) to doing things that will cost them their seats the next time they run.

It’s not principle that’s keeping the Democrats apart—it’s politics. Why were Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer insisting on Republican votes to pass an increase in the debt ceiling? Because some members of their party who are up for re-election in 2022 need to be able to vote “no” on that issue—and they can only do that if a few GOP lawmakers can be persuaded to vote “yes.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks to a
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks to a reporter outside of the U.S. Capitol on September 28, 2021 in Washington, D.C.KEVIN DIETSCH/GETTY IMAGES

The “moderate” myth is useful for those Democrats who want to go home and pretend they fought against the largest expansion of government since LBJ gave us the Great Society. They’ll promise their voters they’ll continue to fight for pro-business policies and might even again earn the endorsement of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. But it will all be a fallacy. The Democratic Party has been taken over by people who take their cues from the British Labour Party circa 1960—not the free-enterprise entrepreneurs who built this great nation.

The polling, the Gingrich document said, “is clear and devastating” for those who think the federal government needs to be bigger and do more. “Americans in general favor Free Market Capitalism over Big Government Socialism by a huge margin (59 percent to 16 percent),” Gingrich wrote while, among so-called independent or “swing” voters, the advantage for those who oppose the Sanders/Biden agenda grows to 82 percent to 18 percent.

The infrastructure bill was held up because too many Democrats refused to risk their seats by voting for it. It’s not a “moderate” piece of legislation even if it was written with Republican support. It includes such intrusive measures as the establishment of a pilot program that is supposed to come up with the best way to tax cars and trucks by the number of miles driven.

The reconciliation package? Even worse.

As Gingrich and others have observed, the Democrats in Congress were all-in at the beginning when it counted—when the process of getting these bills through began. The framework for each mostly survives, whether or not any given bill emerges from the legislative process intact. What cannot be accomplished in a day will be pushed by Democrats for weeks, months and years. President Joe Biden has said he has it in mind to correct 40 years of policy mistakes that, in his view, hobbled this formerly great nation. Biden’s objective: Roll back the Reaganite revolution that brought America back from the brink. What a foolish objective—and certainly not a moderate one.


Hungary – The Land of The Unscrupulous Dimwits

By Dr. Miklos K. RadvanyiFrontiers of Freedom

When a nation historically has an inglorious past, a frightful present and an illusory future, its people develop a dogged determination of indefinite hatred against entire categories of strangers and also toward themselves.  Distressingly, in its present moral as well as material condition, Hungary, like Afghanistan, resembles a state without any redeeming aspiration to overcome its hopeless despondency.  Ubiquitously praised by the United States of America and Western Europe throughout the 1980s as “the happiest barrack in the Soviet Empire,” today’s Hungary mirrors more Stalin’s one-party dictatorship than a Westernized free and democratic state.  The once hyper-liberal bunch of young anti-Communist-turned Communist rebels of the late 1980s, who called themselves the Alliance of Young Democrats (Hungarian acronyms:  FIDESZ), have morphed into the authoritarian and kleptocratic gang of “Illiberal Democrats” of the 21st century.  Clearly, Hungary,  a member state of NATO as well as the European Union, has lost its way between 1990 and 2021 on the road to the accepted norms of prevailing democracy.

As the turbulent past of Hungary as well as the very recent failure of nation-building in Afghanistan have proved, almost all of the most terrific catastrophes of history have been the consequence of erroneous decision making that has always been based on a set of incompetently concocted realities.  These incompetently concocted realities, having been mostly or completely devoid of truthful facts, have had with predictable regularity produced untold tragedies in the form of wars, genocides, and even civilizational destruction.  And as in the case of Afghanistan, the entire federal bureaucracy in the United States of America, including all the intelligence agencies, the Departments of State and Defense, have been engaged with respect to the newly independent countries of Central and Eastern Europe in reporting to the White House as well as Congress ideologically tainted pseudo-realities.  Deplorably, the American media too has been guilty of contributing to the general intellectual schizophrenia in the United States of America.  These deliberately fallacious transmissions of realities to the decision makers, have long prevented all the knowledgeable individuals from asserting the truths over the politically motivated and maliciously disseminated cult-like lies.

A case in point that the American media, regardless of its political leanings, is trapped by the tainted ideologies of false realities, has been Fox News Channel’s host of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” reporting from Budapest, Hungary during the first week of August 2021.  Having been totally silent about his father’s widely reported lobbying activities on behalf of the Viktor Orban-led government in Washington, D.C., Tucker Carlson sanctimoniously and hypocritically justified his long sojourn to the ivory tower of “Illiberal Democracy” thus:  “If you care about Western civilization and democracy and families, and the ferocious assault on all three of those things by the leaders of our global institutions, you should know what is happening here right now.”  Thus, Tucker Carlson the incorruptible champion of truth seeking, proceeded to uncritically sink into the poisonous swamp of ideological unrealities devised by Viktor Orban to fool his country’s friends and foes alike.  In this manner, Tucker Carlson successfully recreated Franz Kafka’s world of fusing elements of pseudo-realism and outright lies about the extremely retrograd political regime of Viktor Orban the Hungarian autocrat.                      

Even as the bureaucracy as well as the media in general and Tucker Carlson in particular try to manipulate the decision makers and the people on their uninformed prejudices, they also turn otherwise ordinary persons into spiritual and emotional zombies, who would be incapable of distinguishing between obvious truths and deliberately mismanufactured lies.  In addition to being driven by their aggressive careerism and boundless lust for power and money, these brothers-in-arms are blocking real talents from public life and the media, while supporting an army of counterfeit intellectuals with identical views.  

Deliberately confusing good and evil, these unscrupulous demagogues also turn morality on its head by profaning the principle of reductio ad absurdum, or the law of non-contradiction.  In these and countlessly similar manners, participatory politics as well as its pillars – political, economic, cultural and moral freedoms – are corrupted to a degree that will only produce a hellish dictatorship of crooked dunces.  These crooked dunces, in turn, want to create an intellectual vacuum, in which they intend to pour nonsense to be sold to the unsuspecting people as the ultimate wisdom.  The best examples of such an orgy of the incompetent opinion makers are the Soviet Communists’ creation of the category of “useful idiots” and the hate-based shauvinistic ideologies of Mussolini’s Fascism and Hitler’s National Socialism in the first half of the twentieth century Europe.  In these worlds, political, ideological or moral neutrality are nonexistent.  Either a person conforms willingly or opportunistically, or in case of resisting, will be eliminated mercilessly. 

Thus, as in the case of Afghanistan for many decades, American politicians and the media are as clueless as they have been when it comes to the global political and cultural climate in today’s Hungary.  Even if it were possible to leave aside the blind indifference displayed over the years by so-called American liberals and progressives toward hard realities outside the United States of America in general and underdeveloped and developing countries in particular, the notion that a magic wand of lies and deliberate distortions by politicians and the media could make human evil sudenly become nonexistent is idiotic.  Yet, what the American bureaucracy in general and the opinion makers in particular, try to hide is that the civil wars in those countries, including Afghanistan and Hungary, is not just about the future political direction of those countries, but it is also about the destructively dangerous centrally organized cultural loathing of all those who dare to think differently.  

Moreover, as in the case of Afghanistan, top American bureaucrats and media personalities appear to trade the stability of Hungary, and by extension, the security of the United States of America, NATO and the European Union, to promote unfounded scenarios about alternative political and cultural utopianism in faraway nations.  Again, this is the defeatist fallacy that has been in full display in Afghanistan too.  It turns reality into unscrupulous unreality, in order to hide evil to feel good and paint those who try to do good by unmasking this fraud as despicable inhuman beings.

Finally, top politicians and media personalities like Tucker Carlson employ fraudulent linguistic magic to transfer authority to ideologically tainted talking heads from the people who constitutionally must be in control of the elected politicians and the appointed bureaucracy.  The juxtaposition of this repressive and authoritarian pseudo-reality, however, demonstrates how preposterous and dangerous this undignified and misleading fixation of this so-called establishment is with keeping the vast majority of the people in the state of slave purity and sick psychopathy.

Comparing the Stalinist-like “Illiberal Democracy” of Viktor Orban to the American constitutional democracy and doubly recommending the former to be emulated by the United States of America is evil par excellence.  Even more precisely, it is outrightly idiotic.  Particularly, in light of Viktor Orban’s reported speech at Kotcse, Hungary, on September 4, 2021.  This scantily educated dimwit attempted to provide his followers with a political tour d’horizon laced with “philosophical” wisdoms about Hungary’s place and role in the world.  Claiming that he represents “the call of the Hungarian people,” which he fails to define, he called on all Hungarians to adjust to his view of the new realities in world politics.  Stating that the People’s Republic of China already defeated the United States of America globally, he mused about whether Europe or the United States of America would become the number two power behind the triumphant expansionist as well as authoritarian China.  As far as the domestic situation of Hungary is concerned, he remained suspiciously silent.  Yet, Hungary’s domestic state of affairs are in complete disarray.  Instead of political, economic and financial stability, Hungary faces ubiquitous ruin.  Brussels’ financial contribution as well as the taxpayers’ monies have been plundered and have been spent generously on building soccer stadiums that are empty, stuffing almost 1 trillion HUF into the coffers of soccer clubs that have become the joke of Europe and the world, enriching the Orban family and his coterie, and fueling hatred, lawlessness and shameless corruption across the nation.  To wit, Viktor Orban has already lined up behind China’s global ambitions and all encompassing corruption – thus becoming the international pariah of his own stupidity.

Tucker Carlson’s kiss-up interview and comments about Hungary are misleading and destructive.  Instead of being honest about the Stalinist nature of the Hungarian political regime, he falsely praised what he unambiguously rejects in the United States of America.  Adding insult to injury, he even warmly recommends for the United States of America to follow Hungary’s political lunacy.  However, Hungary today can be likened to a volcano that is about to erupt.  Such an eruption would surely damage NATO and the European Union when unity is the most important imperative.  Plainly, the United States of America does not need another Afghanistan.  The Biden Administration must grow up to the challenge, appoint competent ambassadors and not political hacks to Budapest and the other Central and East European capitals.  Concomitantly, the media will have to start reporting on Hungary in an unbiased and objective manner.  Only this way, could Washington, D.C. avoid another catastrophe with worldwide repercussions.    


Retirement Fund Balances Hit All Time High – Creating a Target for the Tax Hikers

By Peter RoffAmerican Action News

Photo by Gage Skidmore

he economic rebound that began as the pandemic-related lockdowns started to end in the states is producing strong results throughout the United States despite the considerable rise in inflation. While higher prices are wiping out the income gains workers made during the pre-COVID boom, the surging stock market helped the amount of money held in private retirement accounts reach some of the highest levels on record. 

The number of 401(k) and IRA millionaires have hit all-time records, CNBC’s Jessica Dickler reported Thursday, suggesting good times may still be ahead even though the perception is growing that President Joe Biden and his economic team are mismanaging the economy. In the most recent IPSOS poll, 55 percent of those surveyed said they were “pessimistic” about the direction of the country, an increase of 20 points over late April when the question was last posed.  Pessimism, the polling firm said, was rising across all age groups and income levels and was even down among Democrats. 

The Biden economic plan includes higher taxes and increased spending despite the recurrence of notable inflation. If it passes, it would likely cause a contraction in an economy that has appeared to be growing again since people started going back to work after many of the nation’s governors – mostly from the so-called “Red States” – stopped the pandemic-induced unemployment emergency bonus payments that more than one prominent economist identified as a significant disincentive for people to get back on the job. 

For retirees and investors, meanwhile, the surging stock market and the steady increase in retirement account balances is welcome news considering how badly these holdings fared during the government-imposed lockdowns, losing considerable value in many cases. According to data provided by Fidelity Investments, the nation’s largest manager of 401(k) savings plans, their overall average balance was up 24 percent from a year ago and hit $129,300 at June’s end. Individual retirement account balances were also higher, CNBC said, reaching $134,900, on average in the second quarter, up 21 percent from where they were a year ago.

American workers across the economy are participating in the wealth creation, not just the so-called “ultra-rich.” According to Fidelity, nearly 12 percent of workers increased the contributions they made to their plans over the period while a record 37 percent of employers also automatically enrolled new workers in their 401(k) plans.

This growth in the number of workers joining the investor class is a political problem for Biden and the progressive Democrats who control Congress. The tax, borrow, and spend plan they are trying to pass over an apparently unified Republican opposition includes, for the first time in decades, serious proposals to increase the tax on capital and returns on investment.

This step back towards the economic policies of the 1970s that produced high unemployment and high inflation – something the economic theories dominant in government and academia at the time said was an impossibility – would be a job killer. Yet, even above that, some Democrats are talking up the institution of a “wealth tax” assessed annually on total holdings rather than income as a “pay for” for policies progressives say they wish to enact like tuition-free community college, free pre-K childcare, and the transition of the U.S. to an economy based entirely on renewable energy. With Fidelity reporting the number of its plans “with a balance of $1 million or more” jumping to a record 412,000 in the second quarter of 2021 and the number of IRA millionaires also at an all-time high, the savings amassed in these accounts may prove an irresistible target for the wealth taxers if their proposals begin to gain momentum in Congress. 


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