Commentary: A Market-Driven Solution to the Student-Loan Debt Spiral

Graduation caps being thrown in the air.

It’s calculated that somewhere north of 45 million Americans have run up $1.73 trillion worth of college debt. The numbers may surprise a lot or a little, which is really not the point.

The main thing is that debt now measured in the trillions is in a sense a logical midpoint to the federal government’s unfortunate involvement in the financing of college education. “No one spends the money of others very carefully” is a truth as old as humanity (or money) is, and the trillions worth of federal student loan debt vivify this truth. We know this because the hangovers (literal and figurative) from time spent on campus continue to grow.

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Commentary: Unions Aligning with America First

After intense negotiations, the United Auto Workers secured a new agreement with Ford, General Motors, and their suppliers that effectively prohibits a vaccine mandate for employees by requiring only “voluntary” disclosure of vaccination status for union members. This hard-won validation for workers points to a larger opportunity for the America First movement and organized labor to acknowledge that they are natural allies.

On critical issues ranging from medical privacy to border security and foreign trade, the emerging populist and nationalist consensus of the New Right creates an obvious home for unionized Americans. The America First cause can, in turn, help revitalize private-sector unions and guarantee a more prosperous society for our country, with a stronger middle class through a better diffusion of economic and political power.

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Commentary: Court’s Legitimacy Depends on Overturning Roe v. Wade

When the U.S. Supreme Court takes up Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization today, it will be asked to overrule Roe v. Wade, the court’s 50-year-old precedent that created a constitutional right to abortion.  Legions of commentators are turning out to defend Roe, claiming that the Supreme Court’s legitimacy depends on reaffirming it.  They are wrong.

The majority’s opinion in Roe has undermined the court’s legitimacy for nearly a half-century. Roe relied on dubious reasoning to remove a contentious policy issue from the reach of the American people, placing all abortion policy in the hands of the unelected and unaccountable judiciary. As a result, Roe has politicized the court and poisoned the judiciary. The most legitimate thing the Supreme Court can do is overrule Roe.

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Commentary: What to Do About China

Xi Jinping

In a recent article, John J. Mearsheimer traced America’s post-Cold War policy of engagement with China and the goals the U.S. hoped to achieve:

“Washington promoted investment in China and welcomed the country into the global trading system, thinking it would become a peace-loving democracy and a responsible stakeholder in a U.S.-led international order.”[1]

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Analysis: Teacher Unions, Parents Gird for 2022 Battles

Protestor with megaphone, talking

Over the last year, school board meetings have become ground zero for the country’s culture wars as irate parents have showed up in droves to decry school COVID closures, mask mandates, and critical race theory, as well as transgender policies.

After political analysts credited a parental uprising with helping Republican political newcomer Glenn Youngkin capture the Virginia governorship this month, these fights show no sign of easing. Both major political parties are already gearing up for next year’s midterm elections with Republicans sensing an advantage and Democrats digging in to defend beleaguered school boards, teacher unions, and the progressive policies they hold dear.

This week, conservative parents and their supporters are expressing new outrage over news that the FBI is placing “threat tags” on individuals accused of harassing or trying to intimidate school board members and teachers. For months, disgruntled parents have angrily targeted school board trustees for recalls across the nation, regularly denouncing union control of the schools as the crux of the problem. Recall attempts against school board trustees have tripled in 2021, targeting at least 216 officials, according to Ballotpedia.

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Commentary: Green Technologies Have a Glaring Problem of Scale

In the context of the massive attention paid to climate change, nations around the world have committed to substantially reducing and even eliminating their carbon emissions by 2050. Achieving these goals relies on several ‘green’ technologies that would form the basis of a future energy system. As envisioned, mass deployment of these technologies will encounter fundamental physical limits that call into question their ability to function as replacements for their equivalents in the current energy system. By placing firm targets, nations around the world have committed to terminating their carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 to offer confidence that a better world is achievable if only society implements the right policies and employs the correct technologies. This assumption is inaccurate, based on a view that is at odds with nature.

Due to unavoidable physical constraints, future green technologies offer little promise for achieving economies of scale. Many of the improvements suggested to improve their performance remain marginal and frequently come with the environmental costs of additional embedded energy requirements, extensive land use and greater material complexity. The outcomes achieved under laboratory conditions are not guaranteed to be viable at the scale necessary for them to make a significant difference.

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Commentary: The Border Is a Major Problem for Biden and America

The Biden administration is drowning on issue after issue, and many of the bubbles are coming from the Rio Grande River. The problem, which dare not speak its name, is illegal immigration. The administration, its political party, and the mainstream media refuse to say the very word “illegal.” For a while, they called it “undocumented,” pretending the migrants somehow forgot their papers in the top dresser drawer in Guatemala or Haiti. Now, even that bland phrase is deemed too clear and honest. The new woke term is “irregular immigration.” Anything to minimize the problem, sway public opinion, and avoid plain talk.

The obfuscation goes much further than a few phrases. Consider Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas’ testimony to Congress last week, where he faced awkward questions about the administration’s decision to stop building the border wall, including portions that had already been contracted and paid for. Mayorkas’ reply, “We are not going to construct a border wall along the ragged and jagged cliffs along certain parts of the border.”

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Commentary: Biden Using Backdoor Rule to Pass Free College Agenda

Americans by and large oppose giveaways to the affluent or privileged, which explains why they consistently oppose forgiving college student-loan debt. Eighty percent of Americans have no student loan debt, and those who carry debt are disproportionately millennials with advanced degrees – and higher earning potential. Easy loan forgiveness falls under the umbrella of the free college agenda championed by most Democrats, but strong opposition led the Biden administration to drop free college from the spending bill it proposed last month.

Not to worry: Democrats discovered a backdoor to free college through an obscure and arcane Department of Education (DOE) rule. Known as Borrower Defense to Repayment (BDR), the rule existed as little more than a formality in the annals of the Federal Register, a stopgap to finalize the Federal Direct Loan Program. Through the first twenty years of its existence, it was implemented just five times, but it has now evolved into a battering ram for Democrats to get free college through the political barricades.

In 2015, Corinthian Colleges, which enrolled over 100,000 students at its 100 subsidiary campuses, filed for bankruptcy. The school’s collapse coincided with growing momentum for the “cancel college debt” and “free college” campaigns, which had evolved out of the Occupy Wall Street movement of the early 2010s and found friendly supporters in Congress, such as Senators Elizabeth Warren and Dick Durbin.

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Commentary: Alzheimer’s Research Pipeline Is Poised to Conquer Alzheimer’s with Combination Drug Treatments

The recent approval of Aduhelm, a drug that removes amyloid plaques from the brains of people with Alzheimer’s, is a reason for cautious celebration. Not just because it is the first new treatment approved in 17 years, but because it is the first piece of a complex puzzle that researchers are hot on the trail of solving.

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Commentary: Conservatives Will Embrace Free Market Populism

It would be an understatement to say that former President Donald Trump changed the Republican Party. Whatever one’s view of Trump, most observers can agree that Trump forced a break-up between the GOP and big business. Within conservative circles, debate persists over whether this is a good thing. On one side, writers like Oren Cass urge conservatives to embrace an essentially anti-free market approach. Even some Republican politicians, like Senator Josh Hawley, have expressed support for this path. On the other side, publications like the Washington Times and The Federalist call for conservatives to continue to support the free market. Others view the GOP as only selectively anti-big business, or using the idea for rhetorical purposes only.

Populism, Conservatism, and Trump

It is important to reflect on what has fueled this “anti-business” view in some conservative circles. To sum it up in one word: populism. It’s no secret that Trump’s political identity is centered around populism – but does populism always mean being anti-free market? Trump’s conservatism has been about more than just pro-tariff and anti-immigration policies. Under Trump, both inside and outside his administration, conservatives have pursued further privatizing education. The Trump administration made it easier for big business to classify workers as independent contractors, and conservative blogs attacked California for passing a law that did the opposite. The Trump administration pursued several policies that sought to reign in the Affordable Care Act.

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Commentary: Illegal Immigrants Would Get $10.5 Billion from Reconciliation Bill

U.S. Customs and Border Protection operations following the implementation of Title 42 USC 265 at the northern and southern land borders. U.S. Border Patrol agents use personal protective equipment as they prepare to process a group of individuals encountered near Sasabe, Ariz. on March 22, 2020. CBP Photo by Jerry Glaser

The budget reconciliation package pushed by Democrats creates a new expanded child tax credit (CTC) that would pay illegal immigrants some $10.5 billion next year. All immigrants with children are eligible, regardless of how they got here and whether their children are U.S.-born. This includes the roughly 600,000 unaccompanied minors and persons in family units stopped at the border in FY2021 and released into the country pending a hearing. Cash welfare to illegal immigrants is not just costly; it also encourages more illegal immigration. 

Although it is referred to as a “refundable credit,” the new CTC, like the old additional child tax credit (ACTC) it replaces, pays cash to low-income families who do not pay any federal income tax. The new program significantly increases the maximum cash payment from $1,400 per child to $3,600 for children under 6, and to $3,000 for children ages 6 to 17. After 2022, the maximum payment would be $2,000 per child, but advocates hope the much larger payments will be extended. 

In an analysis conducted in October, my colleague Karen Zeigler and I estimated that illegal immigrants with U.S.-born children would receive $8.2 billion from the new CTC. However, we had assumed that the new program, like the old ACTC, would require children claimed as dependents to have Social Security numbers (SSNs).  But reconciliation (page 1452, line 14) would permanently repeal this requirement. 

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Commentary: Denying China’s Quest for Regional – and Global – Hegemony

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

One might quarrel with Sun Tzu’s numbers in this famous formulation from the approximately 2,500-year-old Chinese classic “The Art of War.” But Western authorities on war starting with Thucydides, Machiavelli, and Clausewitz agree with Sun Tzu that knowledge of one’s strengths and weaknesses and knowledge of the enemy’s strengths and weaknesses are essential to sound strategy.

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Commentary: An Overview of the 2022 Election Cycle

"VOTE ONE MORE TIME" sign on an electric pole in Atlanta, Georgia

It is now less than a year to the 2022 elections, with this, more stories about the midterms are developing. Below are the latest updates.

State

In California, Progressive San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin will face a recall. Conservatives have tapped into anger over his decisions not to prosecute certain cases. Meanwhile, CA Governor Gavin Newsom is facing controversy over his lack of public appearances.

In Wisconsin, Republicans are continuing their 2020 election audit, even amidst criticism that the audit is too partisan and unruly. Republican Senator Ron Johnson is set to decide in the next few weeks over whether he will seek re-election

In New Jersey, Powerful Democratic State Senate President Stephen Sweeney has conceded in his race for re-election. Sweeney’s race caused national headlines because it was so shocking.

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Ric Grenell and Gloria Romero Commentary: A Plan to Deliver Equal Opportunity to Every Student in California

Group of young students working in classroom

When students are armed with a world class education, they can break down barriers and achieve their deepest dreams. However, in America today, big government and big unions are preventing students from receiving a quality education by forcing American kids to attend the school closest to them, even when it is totally failing. There is no school competition for kids who can’t afford to opt-out of the shoddy school they are forced to attend. This policy and practice especially impacts poor and minority children. But in our home state of California, we’ve had enough of failing government monopolies. We are launching a ballot initiative that will deliver educational freedom to every child in the state, regardless of where they live or how much income their parents earn.

We have all seen government schools that transition from safe havens for learning and hope into depressing institutions that fall short of educating tomorrow’s leaders. Parents are mad, taxpayers are frustrated, and our teachers are not supported by their union bosses. Nowhere is that reality truer than in states where big unions—like the California Teachers Association—control political decision makers with massive campaign war chests seized from their members’ obligatory dues. That’s why Fix California has launched a project to put a ballot initiative in front of voters in 2022—to emancipate students from the government monopoly on education.

Currently, in California, residents are taxed exorbitantly at every turn, with the ruling party’s promise that those dollars will ostensibly be spent on improving the state. That’s a lie on many fronts, but it’s especially untrue in education where failing government schools continue to be rewarded by more tax dollars and virtually no accountability. Tax dollars are siphoned off in the form of required union dues and are funneled straight into the coffers of corrupt unions financing campaigns of politicians who ensure the gravy train keeps flowing. It is a crooked cycle that has destroyed government education across the country.

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Commentary: I Am Challenging the Vaccine Mandate to Protect My Workers’ Jobs

Blue Collar Worker

The Biden administration has finally published its anticipated ultimatum threatening companies like mine with severe fines and penalties for not firing any employee who declines to be vaccinated against or submit to invasive weekly testing for COVID-19. The new rule promulgated by the U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) under the guise of workplace safety may well bankrupt the business my father founded. So, as the CEO of the Phillips Manufacturing & Tower Company, I am joining with The Buckeye Institute to challenge OSHA’s vaccine mandate in court. Here’s why.

Phillips is a 54-year-old company based in Shelby, Ohio, that manufactures specialty welded steel tubing for automotive, appliance, and construction industries. OSHA’s emergency rule applies to companies with 100 or more employees — at our Shelby Welded Tube facility, we employ 104 people. As a family-owned business I take the health of my workers seriously — they are my neighbors and my friends. When I heard of the mandate, we conducted a survey of our workers to see what the impacts would be. It revealed that 28 Phillips employees are fully vaccinated, while antibody testing conducted at company expense found that another 16 employees have tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies and likely possess natural immunity. At least 47 employees have indicated that they have not and will not be vaccinated. Seventeen of those 47 unvaccinated workers said that they would quit or be fired before complying with the vaccine or testing mandate. Those are 17 skilled workers that Phillips cannot afford to lose.

Perhaps the Biden administration remains unaware of the labor shortage currently plaguing the U.S. labor market generally and industrial manufacturing especially. Like many companies, Phillips is already understaffed, with seven job openings we have been unable to fill. Employees already work overtime to keep pace with customer demand, working 10-hour shifts, six days a week on average. Firing 17 veteran members of the Phillips team certainly won’t help.

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Commentary: Medical Journals Pour Forth Hundreds of Articles on Race and Racism

Black Lives Matter protest

The prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association and its JAMA network of other periodicals have published about 950 articles on race, racism, and racial and ethnic disparities and inequities in the past five years – about a third appearing in just the past year.

A search for “health disparities” on the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed.gov search page shows an exponential “hockey stick” trend in recent years, with articles through October already surpassing last year’s total of 10,719. By comparison, “ovarian cancer” yields 7,134 search results last year, while “aortic aneurysm” yields fewer than 4,000.

These numbers attest to the fact that the academic study of racial justice, power and privilege is no longer the sole domain of non-scientific university departments, such as sociology, literature and education. The trendy topic has migrated to peer-reviewed medical journals, where editors now view systemic racism as a leading cause of disproportionate illness and premature mortality among black people.

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Commentary: Dr. Fauci Warned About Coronaviruses in 2003 – But Didn’t Act on It

Dr. Anthony Fauci

Few would argue the United States, or any country for that matter, was prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic, even though, starting in 2003, the U.S. devoted $5.6 billion to fund Project Bioshield, running through 2013, and another $2.8 billion of funding through 2018. Project Bioshield was designed to prepare the United States against a bio attack, including provisions for the stockpiling and distribution of vaccines.

Though Covid-19 was a new virus, congressional testimony from 2003 paints a concerning picture about what we knew – and when – about the family of viruses from which it originated.

“I am particularly interested in learning how Project BioShield would assist in addressing the current public health emergency created by the epidemic known as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome [SARS],” said Tom Davis, chairman of the Committee on Government Reform. “More than 2,000 suspected cases of this mysterious disease have been reported in 17 nations, including the United States, with 78 fatalities. So far, there is no effective treatment or vaccine to combat this deadly syndrome.”

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Commentary: Six Ways the CDC Failed During the Coronavirus Pandemic

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is the national public health agency of the United States, so it made sense that during a once-in-a-century pandemic the agency would be given a leading role. With that leadership, however, came limelight. And in so many ways during the COVID-19 pandemic, the CDC, under the spotlight, undeniably flopped.

In his recently published book, Uncontrolled Spread: Why COVID-19 Crushed Us and How We Can Defeat the Next Pandemic, former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb critiqued numerous aspects of the worldwide response to COVID-19. Many CDC actions garnered forceful rebukes. While Gottlieb recognizes that a lot of talented, smart, and dedicated individuals work within the CDC, he says it’s hard to deny that the respected governmental agency failed in a lot of vital respects. Here are six of them:

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Commentary: Parents Are Students’ First Teachers and Greatest Advocates

It is not a novel concept that family engagement is one of the strongest predictors of children’s school success. Studies over the past 50 years demonstrate a positive relationship between family engagement and student achievement for students of all backgrounds. Children are most successful when supported by families and schools working together collaboratively. As a parent, I understand the unique needs and learning behaviors of my children more than anyone. Through my respective roles as an educator and a federal K-12 policy professional, I also understand the nuances of balancing parental input with a safe and effective education for all students.

For years, parental involvement in education has been supported by Republican and Democratic leaders as integral to student success and as a guiding principle for federal and state education policy. The Every Student Succeeds ‎Act (ESSA), the bipartisan K-12 federal education law, explicitly requires that parents be meaningfully involved and consulted in the ‎development of state and school district education plans. These plans provide the ‎framework for how states and school districts will deliver education to elementary and high ‎school students. Additionally, the law requires that parents be involved in the creation of “state ‎report cards,” providing information on how schools in each state are performing – including ‎student achievement levels. The report cards ‎must be written and in an accessible way so that parents can take action to engage with their child’s school.

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Commentary: Medical Research Rapidly Adopts ‘Systemic Racism’ as Undisputed Truth, Risking Scientific Credibility

Rejection used to be common for medical sociologist Thomas LaVeist when he tried to get his research published on the effects of racism on the health of black people. “Now,” said the 60-year-old dean of Tulane University’s School of Public Health & Tropical Medicine, “I have those same journals asking me to write articles for them.”

LaVeist’s experience illustrates the dramatic transformation in medical research, accelerating in the past few years. While few would dispute that black Americans are more prone to chronic health problems and have shorter life expectancies than whites, the medical community generally sought answers in biology, genetics and lifestyle. Research, like LaVeist’s, that focused on racism was frowned upon as lacking rigor or relevance, an amateurish detour from serious intellectual inquiry.

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Commentary: New Twists in Durham Probe Reveal FBI Danchenko Recordings and Suspicions of Fiona Hill Lies

The indictment of Igor Danchenko, the “primary sub-source” of Christopher Steele’s infamous dossier, reveals that the FBI electronically recorded several previously undisclosed interviews with the Brookings Institution researcher. Separately, it raises suspicions, according to congressional sources, that his Brookings superior Fiona Hill may have committed perjury when testifying about Steele during President Trump’s first impeachment.

The existence of electronic records of Danchenko speaking to the FBI far more extensively than previously known creates the possibility that much more will come out about the origins of the Steele dossier and the way the opposition research was weaponized. And those under scrutiny in Special Counsel John Durham’s investigation of the origins of the Trump-Russia affair will have to wonder whether information to which they previously attested jibes with the Danchenko recordings.

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Commentary: Dear Policymakers, Homeschooling Is Here to Stay

Homeschooling is here to stay and the time has come for policymakers to acknowledge that fact. After years of increasing at a rate of about 3 percent a year, the number of parents choosing to homeschool their children has spiked, triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the portion of children being homeschooled doubled from 5.4 percent during the 2019-20 school year to 11 percent in 2020-21. Among Black families, homeschooling jumped nearly five-fold during that time, from 3.3 percent to 16.1 percent.

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Commentary: Using the Financial System to Become ‘Net Zero’ Will Threaten Global Financial Stability

So far, the big message from the Glasgow climate conference is the role of finance in decarbonizing the global economy. It’s a dangerous development. In his speech to the twenty-sixth Conference of the Parties (COP26) last week, Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, pledged action to “rewire the entire financial system for Net Zero.” Finance has taken center stage in large part because of inadequate government policies. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, around two-thirds of global emissions are linked to private household activity. Reducing them requires major changes in people’s lifestyles, UNEP says.

Rather than imposing carbon taxes that really hurt – the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates a minimum of $135 a ton, rising up to $14,300 a ton in order to hit net zero in 2050 – governments prefer to outsource the heavy lifting to the world of finance in the hope that it will provide a pain-free path to the net zero goal. Up until now, central banks and financial regulators – particularly the Fed and the SEC in the U.S. – have been maintaining the pretence that their involvement in climate policy is motivated by concern about climate financial risk. As I show in my new report for the RealClearFoundation, “Climate-Risk Disclosure: A Flimsy Pretext for a Green Power Grab,” climate financial risk is a smoke screen for a green power grab. Now, Sunak has done the world a favor and exposed it for what it is.

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Commentary: McAuliffe’s Defeat Shows Abortion Extremism Doesn’t Win

Terry McAuliffe

I woke up Wednesday morning so grateful that my state, Virginia, had voted out abortion extremism. Abortion activists were supposed to sweep Terry McAuliffe back to the governor’s mansion. McAuliffe spent millions of dollars on ads blasting Glenn Youngkin for being pro-life and brought in outside speakers, including former President Obama, to campaign on the issue of abortion. Instead of keeping Virginia blue, these efforts may have propelled Youngkin to victory. The 5% of voters who said abortion was their top issue in the 2021 election backed Youngkin by a 12-percentage-point margin. 

Some policy analysts seem shocked by how abortion radicalism blew up in McAuliffe’s face, but they shouldn’t be. More than three quarters of the American people support significant restrictions on abortion and are making their voices heard at the polls. Instead of listening to them, McAuliffe pandered to an extreme base that makes up a tiny portion of the electorate. 

Protecting the most vulnerable is a winning issue, it should be a bipartisan issue, and Youngkin’s success paves the way for a wave of pro-life candidates in 2022 to win in purple and blue states by calling out the extreme pro-abortion views of their opponents. 

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Commentary: Our Vaccine Status Is None of Their Business

Vaccination card

I stand with all my fellow Americans—both vaccinated and unvaccinated. And because I do, I recently refused to disclose my vaccination status. And you should, too.

I was invited to speak at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth School of Law about the many public and private mandates enacted, supposedly, to address COVID-19—all of which I oppose. I view vaccine mandates, for example, as the most totalitarian commands we have seen in this country since the days of eugenics-based forced sterilization—leading science, at the time.

Ironically, one week before my scheduled speech, I was told that school bureaucrats mandated off-campus visitors like me confirm they are vaccinated. Many will say that sharing this private health information is a minor intrusion with little downside. I think that’s a mistake.

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Commentary: Archimedes’ ‘Death Ray’ Is Possible but Impractical

Archimedes of Syracuse is generally regarded as one of the greatest mathematicians who ever lived. So revered was his wisdom and celebrated his legacy that legendary scholars who lived nearly two millennia after Archimedes’ death in 212 BC hailed him across the ages. Galileo called him “superhuman”. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz remarked that he spoiled genius itself. Christiaan Huygens said that Archimedes was “comparable to no one”.

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Commentary: The Migrant Surge at the Southern Border Fuels Massive American Fentanyl Overdoses

On a September afternoon, Allyssia Solorio wondered why her energetic young brother hadn’t emerged from his bedroom in their Sacramento, Calif., home. When she opened his door, she saw 23-year-old Mikael leaning back on his bed with his legs dangling over the side. She rushed to her brother and shook him, but to no avail. He was dead. A counterfeit pharmaceutical pill laced with illicit fentanyl had killed him.

Mikael Tirado was one of an estimated 93,331 overdose fatalities in the United States last year – an all-time high. Nearly five times the murder rate, the deadly overdose toll was primarily caused by fentanyl, a highly lethal synthetic opioid. It’s manufactured mostly by Mexican cartels with ingredients imported from China, and then smuggled over the southwestern U.S. border. Fentanyl has been arriving in larger quantities each year since at least 2016.

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Commentary: Taking the Infrastructure Bill Hostage Didn’t Work

Nancy Pelosi, AOC's mother and her all together

Back in August, New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait blessed the strategy of the Congressional Progressive Caucus to withhold their votes for the Senate’s bipartisan physical infrastructure plan until that bill was effectively linked to a bigger, broader, and surely partisan, measure investing in a range of items from climate protection to universal preschool. He argued that “ransoming the infrastructure bill” would turn the tables on the party’s moderates:

Historically, most partisan bills are shaped by the preferences of the members of Congress closest to the middle, and their colleagues on the political extreme simply have to go along with it. … This time, the left has real power. Progressives can credibly threaten to sink a priority that moderates care about more than they do.

Twice in the past two months, most recently last Thursday, the House progressives successfully executed this strategy, blocking attempts by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to pass the bipartisan infrastructure legislation before an agreement is reached on the larger “Build Back Better” bill.

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Commentary: Conservatives File Suit to ‘Derail Biden Climate Railroad’

Michael Regan

Michael Regan began his tenure as President Biden’s Environmental Protection Agency administrator by dismissing dozens of outside scientific advisers appointed during the previous administration — part of an effort to “ensure the agency receives the best possible scientific insight to support our work.”

At the time, Regan (pictured) called it a “reset.” Opponents grumbled that it looked more like “a purge.” Now, one of those advisers, Stanley Young, has filed a lawsuit in federal court accusing the agency of violating U.S. law; the suit also seeks an injunction to halt the work of his former committee.

The legal dustup is the latest rearguard action from the right on environmental issues. Conservatives see the case as their best chance to thwart the Biden administration’s multi-agency approach to combating climate change, seen as hostile to the fossil fuel industry.

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Commentary: Biden’s Banking Nominee Would Pursue Soviet Economics

Saule Omarova

Magicians try to distract the audience from looking at one hand by dangling something shiny in the other. So do politicians.

The left’s latest magician: Saule Omarova, President Biden’s nominee to head the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. OCC is an important agency — it has power to regulate all national banks and federal savings associations. OCC’s wrong moves negatively affect millions of Americans, making banking and other services more expensive and inaccessible, particularly for vulnerable, unbanked Americans.

Rather than answer serious congressional inquiries about whether she is the right fit for OCC, Omarova has attacked duly-elected members of Congress whose voters empower them to serve their interests. By refusing to answer basic questions about her work and worldview, Omarova has obstructed the constitutionally prescribed legislative process.

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Commentary: Clinton Campaign Spread Alfa Bank Ruse Throughout Obama Admin to Press Trump-Russia Probe

A Hillary Clinton campaign operation to plant a false rumor about Donald Trump setting up a “secret hotline” to Moscow through a Russian bank was much broader than known and involved multiple U.S. agencies, according to declassified documents and sources briefed on an ongoing criminal investigation of the scheme.

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Commentary: America Should Put More Resources into Nuclear Power

Nuclear and solar power energy

Recent news in the energy world has not been encouraging. Prices are rising rapidly due to a supply crunch coupled with blistering, post-pandemic demand. Renewables like wind and solar are faltering in an unprepared electrical grid. Coal burning is set to spike to make up for energy supply shortfalls at a time when the world needs to aggressively decarbonize.

Some of this hardship might have been avoided if, over the past couple of decades, policy makers had the guts to support the safest, most reliable form of energy, which also happens to be carbon-free: nuclear. Instead, Germany is taking its nuclear fleet offline and replacing it with fossil fuels, as the country’s already exorbitant electricity prices soar. California is shutting down its last nuclear plant, further imperiling its notoriously fragile grid. All the while, Americans remain divided on nuclear power.

Again, the data is clear: despite nuclear’s damaged reputation, clouded by a few high-profile accidents, nuclear power kills fewer people per electricity produced than any other energy source. It is also the most reliable. Nuclear’s capacity factor, a measure of how often a power plant is producing energy at full capacity over a certain period of time, is the highest by far – almost double that of coal and more than triple that of solar. And nuclear is clean, producing no carbon emissions. Though its radioactive waste often attracts negative press, coal plants actually create more. Moreover, all of the waste that America’s nuclear power plants have collectively produced in a half-century could fit on one football field. This is because nuclear is incredibly efficient. In the U.S., just 55 nuclear power plants produce 20% of the country’s electricity! It takes nearly 2,000 natural gas plants to produce 40 percent.

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Commentary: If Demography Is Destiny, So Are Suburbs and Small Towns

cars parked in front of red brick building

Policy and politics often collide at the intersection of geography and demographics. The non-urban, non-college-educated white voter causing concern among Democrats these days, the suburban voter of 2018, and the heartland voter of 2016 are all profiles built on the common interests of certain people in certain types of places.

After 18 months of domestic migration prompted by a pandemic, another interest in addition to where people live has emerged in this equation: where people wish they lived.

Americans of all stripes, including young people, have long preferred suburban to urban living despite the prevailing (mis)conception in the media, but the twin crises of Covid and urban unrest in 2020 have clearly accentuated Americans’ desire to leave denser places. Not only have Americans continued apace in their usual migration from cities to suburbs, they also now aspire to live in towns and hinterlands more than one might expect.

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Commentary: The War on Thomas Jefferson

Portrait of Jefferson in his late 50s with a full head of hair

The final decision, after years of debate, was made on Oct. 8 to remove from the New York City Council chambers the statue of the man we all know to have been a dreaded slaveholder—to the tune of 600 over his lifetime—Thomas Jefferson.

Despite that, writing at Bari Weiss’s Substack, political science professor Samuel Goldman, with whom I concur, is less than happy.

“The removal is disgraceful. Unlike monuments to Confederate leaders that display them in full military glory, Jefferson is depicted as a writer. Holding a quill pen in one hand and the Declaration of Independence in the other, he is clearly being honored for composing an immortal argument for liberty and equality.”

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Commentary: The Unemployment Rate Does Not Offer Guidance Now

The Labor Department’s official unemployment rate—the most well-known gauge of the labor market’s health—counts as unemployed only those who aren’t working but are actively seeking a job.

Yet there is very little that we can infer from the jobless rate about the health of the economy.  The unavoidable conclusion is that the only reason investors follow the calculation is because both Washington’s politicians and the Federal Reserve are expected to react to it.

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Commentary: America’s Students Deserve a History and Civics Education Free of Political Agendas

Across the political spectrum, Americans are recognizing the importance not just of school choice but of what students actually learn in schools. Elected representatives have finally taken notice as well. In Michigan, the state legislature has proposed two bills that seek to address how American history and civics are taught.

Unfortunately, some want teachers to tell students that they should understand American history primarily by looking for racism, injustice, and oppression. The phrase “critical race theory” (CRT) has been used mainly in academia to describe this filter on history and civic instruction.

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Commentary: Hillary’s Secretive, Russiagate-Flogging Pair of Super-Lawyers

The indictment of Hillary Clinton lawyer Michael Sussmann for allegedly lying to the FBI sheds new light on the pivotal role of Democratic operatives in the Russiagate affair. The emerging picture shows Sussmann and his Perkins Coie colleague Marc Elias, the chief counsel for Clinton’s 2016 campaign, proceeding on parallel, coordinated tracks to solicit and spread disinformation tying Donald Trump to the Kremlin.

In a detailed charging document last month, Special Counsel John Durham accused Sussmann of concealing his work for the Clinton campaign while trying to sell the FBI on the false claim of a secret Trump backchannel to Russia’s Alfa Bank. But Sussmann’s alleged false statement to the FBI in September 2016 wasn’t all. Just months before, he helped generate an even more consequential Russia allegation that he also brought to the FBI. In April of that year, Sussmann hired CrowdStrike, the cybersecurity firm that publicly triggered the Russiagate saga by lodging the still unproven claim that Russia was behind the hack of Democratic National Committee emails released by WikiLeaks.

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Commentary: Biden’s Possible Abandonment of Taiwan

Joe Biden

“Goodbye, great power competition and hello, strategic competition,” this is what the Biden Administration’s Pentagon spokesperson recently told Daniel Lipmann of Politico. According to analysts, these comments signal a shift toward a more cooperative, even conciliatory, American posture toward the Chinese Communist Party. Further, President Joe Biden told the media on October 6 that he had “spoken with [Chinese President Xi Jinping] about Taiwan. We agree that we will abide by the Taiwan Agreement.” 

The agreement that Mr. Biden was referring to was the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, an ambiguous agreement forged between China and the United States in which Taiwan would be treated by the United States as a foreign country without being formally recognized as such. While the 1979 agreement does allow for the provision of American military aid to Taiwan such that Taiwan can “maintain a sufficient self-defense capability,” the terms of this agreement allow for the Americans to shirk away from Taiwan whenever it is convenient for Washington do so.  

The Biden-Xi call came on the heels of China’s brazen violation of Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) during the week of October 1. At that time, China deployed more than 50 warplanes to violate Taiwan’s ADIZ, testing Taiwan’s overworked air defense network and pushing the island’s military to the point of exasperation. At some point, a grave miscalculation will occur between China and Taiwan—a mistake that could spark another world war that Washington is not prepared or willing to fight.

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Commentary: Educating Students About the Victims of Communism

Olbram Zoubek Communism Victims Memorial

Many Americans today assume that the threat of Communism subsided with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. But “We continue to see Communist and socialist regimes pop up and spread not only in Latin America – for example, in Venezuela and Nicaragua – but around the world,” says Ambassador Andrew Bremberg, president and CEO of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC). “These regimes regularly kill their own citizens and have a devastating effect on human rights and their national economies.” In fact, over 1.5 billion people – including those living in Laos, North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, and, of course, China – currently live under oppressive Communist and socialist governments.

Founded in 1993 by a bipartisan, unanimous Act of Congress, VOC is “devoted to commemorating the more than 100 million victims of communism around the world and to pursuing the freedom of those still living under totalitarian regimes.”

Before coming to VOC, Bremberg served as the Trump administration’s Representative of the United States to the Office of the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva. During his time there, which he describes as a “profound and life changing experience,” he “became aware of the challenge of China,” which was “far worse” than he had realized. He notes that the U.N. International Human Rights Council made investigating the United States’ record on racism during the summer of 2020 its highest priority – putting it above China’s appalling human rights violations against Uyghurs, among other ethnic groups within its borders.

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Commentary: Ten Ways the Chinese Government Lied, Misled, and Messed Up Early on in the Pandemic

A plethora of politicians and government officials across the globe screwed up in their handling of the COVID-19 Pandemic. The Chinese government, however, was acutely damaging with its ineptitude, because it, more than any other entity, had a chance to limit the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus when it first emerged in late 2019. Instead of trying to contain the virus with the help of the international community, however, the Chinese government lied, misled, and stalled. All of humanity has experienced the disastrous result of this negligence.

In his new book, Uncontrolled Spread, physician, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb focused his considerable expertise on pointing out the ways in which the world’s response to COVID-19 fell short, and how we can better prepare for the next inevitable pandemic. Early on in the book, he chronicled numerous examples of the Chinese government’s inept, corrupt handling of what was then an emerging outbreak. Here are ten of them:

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Commentary: A Call to Amend Section 230 for Social Media Transparency

Smart phone opened on home screen

Amid growing bipartisan agreement that increased regulation of social media platforms and their content moderation policies is needed, the path forward remains murky. Should Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act be discarded or strengthened? Should companies be broken up using antitrust laws? Should government set speech rules for the web? Should users decide them? Or should there be no rules at all?

There is no shortage of solutions being put forth to solve the challenge of social media censorship. The problem is that without a better understanding of how social platforms invisibly shape the public square of democracy today, we don’t know which of these possible solutions might have the greatest impact. In short, to fix social media, we first need a better understanding of its ills: Section 230 must be amended to legislate social platform transparency.

A new RealClearFoundation report, “Transparency Is the First Step Toward Addressing Social Media Censorship,” outlines the public data sets we need to usher in transparency and better understand the challenges we face.

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Commentary: I’m Leaving My California Teachers’ Union

I have been a middle school special education teacher for 18 years. Every day I spend in the classroom is a joy – the work is hard, but so rewarding – and with almost two decades of experience, I know how my students learn best.

Imagine my surprise when the California Teachers Association – which spends zero days per year with students – tries to tell teachers how to run their classrooms.

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Roger Simon Commentary: Time to Stop ‘Communism, American-Style’

Some will remember that comedy classic from 1961, “Divorce, Italian Style,” starring Marcello Mastroianni. Unfortunately, 60 years later, we seem to be moving toward, even living through, a far less funny, real-life “Communism, American Style.”

What is “Communism, American Style”? As yet one would think it bears little resemblance to the Soviet kind with its gulags and so forth.

Or does it?

On Oct. 6, the Los Angeles City Council proclaimed, nearly unanimously (11–2), COVID-19 mandates that require proof of vaccination to enter indoor restaurants, movie theaters, salons, shopping centers, and just about every other public indoor space you could think of in the entertainment capital.

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Commentary: A Closer Look at a Supreme Court Case That Could Help Decide the Legality of Biden’s Vaccine Mandate

Every now and again, an otherwise arcane legal topic suddenly becomes relevant to contemporary political debate. At that point, general commentary suddenly becomes filled with newly minted experts with strong positions on what is typically a nuanced issue. Thus, at various points during the past decade, Twitter saw a flood of hitherto undisclosed connoisseurs on the intricacies of the Logan Act, a constitutionally problematic piece of legislation that emerged from the same 18th century administration that brought us the infamous Alien and Sedition Acts. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, some observers suddenly expressed deep-seated opinions on the Jones Act, a complex piece of maritime law most people had probably never heard of prior to 2017.

So it seems to be with Jacobson v. Massachusetts, the previously obscure 116-year-old precedent – it barely warrants a footnote in most constitutional law treatises – that people have taken to citing whenever anyone questions the legality or constitutionality of vaccine mandates in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. But Jacobson is not some sort of argumentative checkmate. If the decision were actually taken to the lengths that some of its proponents suggest, it would be a truly terrifying ruling.

Although I drafted most of this article before encountering Josh Blackman’s excellent law review article on Jacobson (available here), I did rely on it for some of the procedural history of the case, as well as some of the cases from the pandemic that relied upon Jacobson. It is well worth a read for anyone else interested in learning more about the case.

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Commentary: The First Step to Rightsizing Education Spending Is Reforming Teacher Pensions

In the past year, Congress has rushed more than $204 billion in federal emergency funds to states to support K-12 schools. 

But 23 states had fewer incoming students this fall. This declining enrollment is likely in part due to pandemic-related trends but is also a symptom of changing birth rates and families geographically relocating.

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Commentary: The Problems with Censoring Doctors over Their COVID-19 Stances

Everyone has a right to their opinion. The question is: does everyone have a right to voice their opinion? Increasingly, in these strange times, it seems that we physicians have the right to voice only certain opinions, when it comes to discussing Covid-19.

Wanting to hit the mute button on physicians who choose to challenge the public health narrative, especially in regard to vaccination for Covid-19, is understandably tempting. We carry a bit more authority than lawyers or statisticians when we share our thoughts about medical matters; and quite a few physicians seem to have little interest in toeing the party line. However, appealing as it might be to silence these voices, succumbing to the temptation of censorship might end up costing our society more than it gains.

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Commentary: If Polls Are Right, Democrats Are Doomed But If They’re Wrong, It’s Worse

In less than three months, President Biden’s approval rating has tumbled from a remarkable position in a polarized nation to the lowest of all but two presidents since 1945. Democrats are panicked though refusing to course-correct, hoping the pandemic will retreat, the economy will rebound, and their agenda will pass through Congress and turn out to be popular down the line.

The standing of the party with voters, at this time, isn’t in doubt. It’s awful. Biden’s average job approval rating on July 20 was 52.4% in the RealClearPolitics average before tanking precipitously and taking the party’s fortunes with him as the delta variant surged and American troops withdrew from Afghanistan in a deadly and tragic exit. RCP currently has him at 43.3%. His approval in Gallup has dropped 13 points since June, six points in this last month. The latest Quinnipiac University poll had Biden’s approval/disapproval at 38/53, down four points in three weeks. Specific findings on leadership questions were dreadful, with Biden’s numbers falling since April by nine points on the question of whether he cares about average Americans, seven points on whether he is honest, and nine points on whether he has good leadership skills.

The latest Morning Consult/Politico findings from last week showed Biden’s approval underwater across the board, at 45% approval overall, at 40% on the economy, 44% on health care, 40% on national security, 33% on immigration and 36% on foreign policy. The only number not underwater was Biden’s COVID approval of 49%-46%, 30 points lower than it was last spring. Across all polling Biden’s approval on the questions of competence and accomplishment have suffered. And that Morning Consult/Politico survey stated, “The shares of independent and Democratic voters who say Biden has underperformed expectations have doubled over the past three months.”

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Commentary: America’s Universities Are Learning the Legal Costs of Wokeness

As they reel from revenue losses connected to the pandemic, many colleges and universities are racking up other costs not likely to turn up in their glossy brochures or as line items on staggering tuition bills: untold millions of dollars in legal fees and settlements for allegedly violating the rights of students, professors, and applicants on free speech, admissions and other matters as the schools pursue social justice causes.

Harvard University’s legal costs fighting a continuing 2017 challenge to its racial admissions practices have surpassed $25 million, the cap of its primary insurer, and it is now suing a secondary legal insurer, the Zurich American Insurance Company, over its refusal to pick up the tab going forward.

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