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Mid-Day Digest

Jul. 24, 2017


  • Behind the CBO’s phony “uninsured” numbers and why Republicans should ignore them.
  • Louisiana Democrats are busy purging history again — their own.
  • Civil asset forfeiture violates constitutional rights. Jeff Sessions shouldn’t expand it.
  • Daily Features: Top Headlines, Cartoons, Columnists and Short Cuts.


“If, then, the control of the people over the organs of their government be the measure of its republicanism, and I confess I know no other measure, it must be agreed that our governments have much less of republicanism than ought to have been expected; in other words, that the people have less regular control over their agents, than their rights and their interests require.” —Thomas Jefferson (1816)


Behind the CBO’s Dubious Estimates on GOP Health Reform

Upwards of 22 million fewer Americans will have health insurance under either of the GOP’s House or Senate ObamaCare replacement plans, says the Congressional Budget Office. Arguably the largest hurdle Republicans have faced in their attempt to repeal and replace the onerous law has been concerns over significantly increasing the number of uninsured. And it has been the CBO’s projections that have scared moderate Republicans away from approving of a repeal and replacement plan. But the CBO is getting it wrong.

Why are the CBO’s projections so dire? The short answer is the ObamaCare mandate. As Forbes reports, “The CBO’s model is designed to treat any mandate-repealing GOP bill as covering fewer people than Obamacare.” Remove the mandate from the equation and 73% of the CBO’s projected number of those who would lose insurance under either of the GOP’s plans evaporates. In other words, the vast majority of those who would “lose” insurance under either of the Republican plans would do so because of individual choice, not a lack of availability.

The CBO’s dirty little secret is that it has conveniently glossed over this profoundly significant detail when producing its projections. Furthermore, the CBO has continued to use its own inflated projection estimates on the number of those insured under ObamaCare when it calculates the numbers who would not be insured under the GOP plans. The resulting bottom line is this: Without the mandate, ObamaCare would have insured no more Americans than would either of the Republicans’ plans.

Forbes hits the nail on the head: “So, the choice for Republicans is this. Do you support repealing Obamacare’s individual mandate, or preserving it? If you support repealing it — whatever other policy details you prefer — the CBO is going to generate misleading headlines about 16 million people being ‘kicked off’ their insurance.” The CBO is committed to the mandate, and that is the problem.

Republicans need to be preaching Liberty from government control and freedom of the individual to decide what works best. And they have an excellent opportunity to show just how oppressive and expensive life gets when the government dictates for Americans what they must buy, and how much of it they must purchase. Instead, they’re succumbing to the skewed statistics of the pencil-pushers at the CBO.

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Democrats Purging History

Long gone are the days when the Democrats could honestly claim to be a party housing a broad spectrum of mainstream political and social perspectives. The party’s last few holdout moderate “Blue Dog” Democrats were weeded out during Barack Obama’s two terms as the party increasingly embraced a hard-leftist ideology. This leftism has corrupted Democrats to the point where their own pride in party motivates the rejection of their own storied history.

The Louisiana Democrat Party recently announced that it will be changing the name of its annual party dinner from the “Jefferson-Jackson” dinner to the “True Blue Gala.” Thomas Jefferson, the founder of the party, writer of the Declaration of Independence and third president of the U.S., is too controversial a figure to honor? Andrew Jackson, a war hero who helped end the British threat in the War of 1812 at the Battle of New Orleans and later became one of America’s most influential presidents, must be purged from the Democrat lexicon?

Such is the psychosis that has infected today’s Democrats. The problem for Democrats is that both Jefferson and Jackson were slave owners, an unforgivable sin in today’s world of grievance politics. Lost to the modern leftist mind is any argument based on a rationally nuanced approach to understanding the values, attitudes and cultural practices from the past. Democrats are content to engage in a condemn-and-purge crusade because people cry “offense.” They have hitched themselves to the social justice warrior crowd, who seek only to condemn America’s great history of achieving the freest society the world has ever known, albeit with terrible struggles along the way. These are Eeyore Democrats who only see the negatives of past history.

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Top Headlines

  • $2 million government program gets 17 people jobs. (The Daily Signal)

  • Senate may vote this week on health care bill, but which one? (CNS News)

  • U.S. immigration raids to target teenaged suspected gang members. (Reuters)

  • Nine die in sweltering truck in illegal immigrant-smuggling attempt. (The Washington Times)

  • Congress reaches deal on Russia sanctions bill to punish Moscow. (Associated Press)

  • Jared Kushner releases details on previously undisclosed contact with Russian ambassador. (Paywall — The Wall Street Journal)

  • Intercepts suggest Jeff Sessions discussed Trump campaign matters with Russia envoy. (The Hill)

  • Anti-capitalist Museum of Capitalism opens in Oakland. (The Daily Californian)

  • Hungary’s PM: EU is “in alliance” with Soros to flood Europe with refugees. (CNS News)

  • Trump cuts wildly ineffective teen pregnancy program, media flip out. (The Federalist)

  • Policy: Reading is fundamental to American Liberty. (The Heritage Foundation)

  • Policy: Is Trump’s goal of 3% growth realistic? You bet it is. (Investor’s Business Daily)

For more, visit Patriot Headline Report.

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Reining in Civil Asset Forfeiture Abuse

By Arnold Ahlert

On Jan. 20, 2015, the federal government dropped its case against the Hirsch family and returned $446,000 in assets and cash seized by the IRS. The agreement required the Hirschs to pay their own legal fees and cleared the feds of any wrongdoing. The problem? The Hirschs, who own a distribution company on Long Island, were never even charged with a crime, much less convicted. They were victims of civil asset forfeiture, a process whereby government can seize property and cash they suspect is related to the commission of a crime.

Last Wednesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered the expansion of civil asset forfeiture laws, insisting they are a “key tool” for enforcement.

A constitutionally dubious money spigot for government is more like it. And while CBS News painted Sessions’ decision as a “reversal” of former AG Eric Holder’s policies, the numbers tell a different story. During Holder’s tenure from 2009 through early 2015, the yearly dollar value of assets seized by the DOJ went from less than $2 billion to more than $5 billion.

Holder did indeed receive praise for ending the program. Yet as The Washington Post reported on March 28, 2016, the Obama administration’s DOJ — then headed by Loretta Lynch — was “resuming a controversial practice that allows local police departments to funnel a large portion of assets seized from citizens into their own coffers under federal law.”

It was a practice Lynch pursued with vigor during her tenure as U.S. attorney for the eastern district of New York. Her office collected more than $113 million in civil forfeiture actions between 2011 and 2013 — including the $446,000 from the Hirschs.

“Our country’s proud history of opposing government seizures of property goes back to the founding: American colonists protested broad warrants, called ‘writs of assistance,’ that British customs officers used to hunt for contraband,” writes Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT).

Colonial America was viewed by King George as a financial investment. British lawmakers abided that viewpoint, passing a number of revenue collection bills aimed at extracting as much money as they could from the colonies. When colonists resisted and engaged in smuggling to do so, writs of assistance were issued. They allowed authorities to search a person’s property with no notice or reason, and force people to cooperate.

This egregious overreach was one of the factors precipitating the American Revolution, and the creation of the Fourth Amendment. When it became part of the Constitution, it only applied to the federal government. The Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment expanded its application to the states. Regardless, the Supreme Court has “traditionally affirmed expansive civil forfeiture rules by reference to colonial practices rooted in admiralty, piracy, and customs law,” attorney David French explains.

And Sessions, using the never-ending war on drugs as his rationale, has re-instituted practices known as equitable sharing and adoption. “Those practices permit the federal government to process civil forfeitures on behalf of local officials,” Lee explains. “After the forfeiture has been processed and litigated under federal rules, the feds sell the property and give some of the cash back to the local officials. That allows local officials to bypass local laws, which often provide more procedural protections than federal rules. Both the local and federal officials benefit from the racket.”

The move seemingly undermines the 24 states and the District of Columbia that have passed civil forfeiture reform laws since 2014, including three — North Carolina, New Mexico and Nebraska — that have abolished civil forfeiture entirely. At best, Sessions’ efforts elicit substantial questions about federalism.

At worst, they completely mock due process. “In civil forfeiture, authorities don’t have to prove guilt, file charges or obtain a conviction before seizing private property,” Fox News explains.

Toward what end? An extensive 2010 report by the Institute for Justice reveals civil forfeiture is really about “policing for profit, as agencies pursue forfeitures to boost their budgets at the expense of other policing priorities.”

That’s a bit of an understatement. A report released last April by the DOJ’s Office of the Inspector General reveals its forfeiture programs brought in approximately $28 billion over the last decade. Appallingly, the report was based solely on a 100-case sample — because the feds don’t keep overall data for further study.

Those cases revealed that only 44 of the 100 seizures were connected to ongoing investigations, led to additional investigations, or precipitated arrests and/or prosecutions. “When seizure and administrative forfeitures do not ultimately advance an investigation or prosecution, law enforcement creates the appearance, and risks the reality, that it is more interested in seizing and forfeiting cash than advancing an investigation or prosecution,” the report stated.

In an age where government at every level spends more than it takes in, is there any doubt this contemptible method of budget-padding resonates in far too many locales?

And not just in violation of the Fourth Amendment’s “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” The Fifth Amendment states Americans cannot be “deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” How that squares with law enforcement officials’ ability to seize assets prior to any process of law other than an unsubstantiated allegation is anyone’s guess.

Sessions is at loggerheads with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, whose track record on the subject reveals he is distinctly at odds with the practice. In 1993’s U.S. v. James Daniel Good Real Property, Thomas stated that he was “disturbed by the breadth of new civil-forfeiture statutes.” Three years later, despite deferring to the majority about the seizure of a wife’s car after her husband had sex with a prostitute in it, Thomas wrote a separate concurrence, stating those unaware of history and legal precedents “might well assume that such a scheme is lawless — a violation of due process.” And despite its ineligibility for Supreme Court review, Thomas nonetheless offered his opinion in Leonard v. Texas, where police again seized assets absent a criminal procedure. “This system — where police can seize property with limited judicial oversight and retain it for their own use — has led to egregious and well-chronicled abuses,” he wrote.

These abuses have prompted Congress to act. In March, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced the Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration Act. A companion bill was introduced by Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) in the House. Paul’s bill eliminates equitable sharing; reinstates the principle of innocent until proven guilty; requires clear and convincing evidence; protects the right of counsel; removes the profit incentive; reforms IRS seizures; and requires the DOJ to compile and publish data on seizures.

The effort appears to have bipartisan support. “There are over 200 editorials arguing to do away with civil forfeitures. It was part of both the Democratic and Republican platforms at last summer’s conventions,” Institute for Justice senior attorney Darpana Sheth told Fox News. “I can’t think of any other issue that enjoys such cross-aisle support.”

One hopes. And one hopes that, given President Donald Trump’s oft-stated commitment to law and order, he and Sessions recognize civil asset forfeiture laws are the epitome of an unconstitutional “ends justify the means” approach to law enforcement.

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For more, visit Right Opinion.


Burt Prelutsky: “I had hoped that with Donald Trump in the White House and James Mattis heading up the Defense Department, social engineering would no longer be mandated by the Pentagon. But, apparently, I was mistaken. It seems the generals are still basing their decisions on political correction, military preparedness be damned! Why else would they be rolling out the red carpet for transgenders? What can that lead to but chaos and madness? The argument that the military should be welcoming to anyone who wishes to help defend the nation sounds good, but, in reality, it means that male soldiers will have the right to infiltrate female barracks, showers and latrines, and that anyone who complains of the insanity will face military discipline. It’s awfully hard for me to imagine that people who are that bewildered by basic biology are well-suited to complete basic training.”


The Gipper: “How can we not do what is right and needed to preserve this last best hope of man on Earth? After all our struggles to restore America, to revive confidence in our country, hope for our future — after all our hard-won victories earned though the patience and courage of every citizen — we cannot, must not and will not turn back. We will finish our job. How could we do less? We’re Americans.”

For the record: “When you lose to somebody who has 40% popularity, you don’t blame other things — Comey, Russia — you blame yourself. So what did we do wrong? People didn’t know what we stood for, just that we were against Trump.” —Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Hillary Clinton

Non Compos Mentis: “Gas prices are sticky — you know, when the domestic price … for oil goes up on the markets, it goes right up but it never goes down.” —Chuck Schumer (Only the “experts” believed gas prices would remain permanently high.)

Belly laugh of the week: “Maybe I’ve been too aggressive at times? I know some of the candidates that I’ve covered might think I’ve been too aggressive. I know that Hillary Clinton didn’t like being asked a lot of the questions she got asked on rope lines, but if she had had more news conferences and been more accessible, maybe we wouldn’t have to chase her down at rope lines.” —NBC’s Andrea Mitchell

Braying Jackass: “The great deal maker failed to make a [health care] deal. And so now he’s just saying I am going to imperil 30 million Americans. … That’s just not a cynical way that’s violating his promises, that’s sinister. It’s evil to plot against Americans like that.” —Sen. Cory Booker

And last… “Sessions is doing exactly the wrong thing by doubling down on asset seizure. The message it sends is that the feds see the rest of us as prey, not as citizens. The attorney general should be ashamed to take that position.” —Glenn Reynolds

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