The Trump Budget: Falling by the Waste Side
One of the biggest selling points of Donald Trump’s candidacy was his business experience. Now, as head of the largest company he’s ever managed — the federal government — the longtime executive is trying to make America financially solvent again. That’s no easy task in a Congress perfectly fine with spending $725,000 of your tax dollars on the next generation of mariachi bands. It’s time to shake up more than the maracas. And President Trump’s plan is the perfect place to start.
Most people think the White House’s budgets are symbolic — and in this president’s case, that’s a shame. Donald Trump’s proposal isn’t just a bunch of pie-in-the-sky ideas like many past administrations; it’s a serious proposal to tackle waste and bloat. In his third crack at runaway spending, the president takes a sharp knife to every department’s fat. For some agencies, that’s a five-percent cut. For 10 others – Agriculture, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, State, Transportation, Corps of Engineers, and the Environmental Protection Agency – the ax falls even harder, chopping 31 percent from the climate change goose-chasers at the EPA alone.
In departments where excesses have become the norm, President Trump thinks it’s time to start running the government like regular Americans run their homes. “Hard-working families make these sorts of tough decisions every day,” Budget Director Russ Vought explained in an article published last month. “The president believes Washington should be no different.” Of course, living within Congress’s means is a popular thing to say — and a not-so-popular thing to do. The problem isn’t that the president hasn’t offered solutions. The problem is that Congress won’t act on them.
The House and Senate have been “ignoring the president’s spending reductions for the last two years,” Vought told reporters. “It’s only now in our third budget that they’re willing to have a conversation about the national debt. We’ve been trying to have it since we got to office.” Now, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in charge, that conversation just got a lot more difficult. Already, John Yarmouth (D-Ky.) has said the president’s plan has “no chance in the House” where radical Democrats are demanding free everything.
Still, the GOP would be wise to take a good long look at the president’s budget — and its $2.75 trillion in savings. The most, Vought points out, of any administration in history. But even with this greater restraint, the Trump plan still manages to keep America safer than ever. The military and Homeland Security would see a modest bump — thanks in part to the 722 miles of new border wall ($8.6 billion), a troop pay raise (3.1 percent), investments in our nuclear program and weaponry, and 10 percent boost in medical care for a population that’s been overlooked for years: our veterans.
As far as everyday families are concerned, the White House gives Americans plenty to cheer about. There are more options for paid family leave, a bigger investment in school choice, and a level playing field for abstinence education (sexual risk avoidance). Now, instead of shipping most of our tax dollars off to radically graphic programs that double as LGBT recruiting programs, both sides would take home $75 million in state block grants. That ought to please pro-lifers, who were also happy to see the president use the budget to call for stronger conscience protections in health care.
“Get rid of the fat, get rid of the waste,” Trump said at an earlier cabinet meeting. “I’m sure everybody at this table can do it.” Now, the question is: can Congress?
Originally published here.
SPLC’s New Hobby: Lobby
One of the biggest complaints about the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) over the years is how openly political the organization has been. The group that fancies itself as the “objective arbiter” of hate is anything but. And now, you don’t have to take our word for it. You can take theirs.
Morris Dees’s team at SPLC doesn’t want to just label hate — they want to regulate it. Thanks to the organization’s new political arm, the longtime radicals can put their money where their maps have been. According to the Center’s latest annual report, the SPLC made its extreme political leanings official in June of last year, quietly starting up a 501(c)(4) SPLC Action Fund to defeat the phony haters it’s been naming.
Of course, as the Wall Street Journal pointed out in its lambasting of Dees’s group, this isn’t really a surprise. The SPLC has been dabbling in liberal politics for years.
“Although the SPLC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and therefore statutorily prohibited from engaging in partisan politics, even a cursory review of its website belies its nonpartisan status. During the 2016 election, the SPLC posted ‘Margins to the Mainstream: Extremists Have Influenced the GOP 2016 Policy Platform’ and ‘Here Are the Extremist Groups Planning to Attend the RNC in Cleveland.’ The Democratic platform and convention received no such scrutiny.” Before that, SPLC posted “Electoral Extremism,” which “ostensibly profiles ‘a dozen 2014 candidates, including Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, independents and others.’ Only a single Democrat is profiled, along with five Republicans and five third-party candidates.”
Even on the other side, people are starting to concede that while incivility and hate are real issues, the SPLC may not be the group to identity them. In Politico’s skeptical column, “Has the Civil Rights Stalwart Lost Its Way?” researcher J.M. Berger agrees. “The problem partly stems from the fact that the organization wears two hats, as both an activist group and a source of information.” Even SPLC has been open about its intent. “We are focused, whether people like it or not, on the radical right,” one of its employees said.
What happened to political neutrality, the Washington Post asks? “The SPLC’s stated goal is to create an unbiased hate list, but forays into political activism by other parts of the organization could certainly hurt the list’s reputation. For the first time, the SPLC recently took a stand on a Supreme Court nomination, urging Alabama’s senators to vote against Brett M. Kavanaugh. It also just formed a political arm called the SPLC Action Fund that can lobby and support ballot measures.” Surely, the reporter goes on, that will only “threaten to erode the SPLC’s credibility as a nonpartisan arbiter of hate.”
To the IRS, SPLC claims the lobbying venture is a “social welfare” group — an interesting category for an organization with so little concern for the personal welfare of its targets, a handful of whom have been the victims of radical gunmen. An Action Fund, they insist, gives SPLC “greater flexibility” to engage in “legislative battles at every level of government” and to support “critical ballot initiatives.”
And based on their overflowing bank accounts, they’ll have plenty of cash to do it. Reporters at the Washington Free Beacon did some digging and found that the SPLC (which has already raised plenty of suspicion with its $121 million in offshore accounts) has more than a half-billion dollars in assets. That’s $41 million more than 2017, despite a $15 million dip in revenue.
Originally published here.
Looting, Blackouts, Starvation: A Case Study in Socialism
At the muddy drains, the lines are hundreds deep. Venezuelans, desperate for something to drink as the power blackout stretches on, hold buckets under the dirty pipes. Lilibeth Tejedor, one of the women holding a plastic container under a line that usually holds sewage, waits for any kind of water to spill out. We have no choice, she says. “I’ve never even seen this before. It’s horrible, horrible.”
People have been warned not to drink what comes out of the pipes. “[It] should only be used to flush toilets or scrub floors,” the authorities told them. But, as Lilibeth said, “How do you tell a child that there’s no water?” Without electricity, state-run reservoirs are running low, there’s no way to pump water, and whatever the people cart back to their houses runs the risk of disease. “They’re killing us with hunger and thirst,” Gladys Martinez nearly cried.
The conditions are so dire that the U.S. is pulling its embassy staff out the country. With no end to the crisis in sight, most of Latin American is worried about a full-scale social implosion. “We’re going to arrive at a moment when we’re going to eat each other,” Zuly González told the New York Times. World leaders, led by President Trump, are doing everything they can to get humanitarian relief to the families trapped inside Venezuela — but President Nicolás Maduro still refuses to let the trucks of aid across the border. On Monday’s “Washington Watch,” Rep. Ted Yoho (D-Fla.) put the blame squarely on the corrupt president’s shoulders. “This is all orchestrated — all manmade — by Maduro and his cronies. He can blame the United States all he wants, but he’s the one that’s been at the helm, following in the steps of Hugo Chavez.”
Now, with the economy in shambles, “It’s real desperate. It’s been desperate,” Yoho explained. “There was a documentary a few months ago, where parents were dropping off their children at the hospital because they were so malnourished… The average Venezuelan, I think, has lost 15-25 percent of their body mass. It’s not a national exercise program, it’s a lack of resources.” When I was in Dallas last week, I had a dinner with a pastor from Venezuela, who told me inflation is so out of control that families are trying to live on the equivalent of a $5 a month salary (in a country where a single loaf of bread costs $1).
Unfortunately for Democrats, Venezuela’s collapse isn’t exactly winning more Americans over to socialism. “This whole attack on capitalism,” Yoho told me, “and how it’s an evil word, I think the American people are smarter than that… The [world] has been marching a socialist — I’d almost call that a communist — manifesto since 1887. And then you get the radical liberals in there today — the three that have just come into this Congress — saying how bad capitalism is. They need to wake-up. Take it away, and you’ll have Venezuela.”
Half of Generation Z says it wants to live in a socialist country, but try convincing them to live without food, clean water, electricity, medicine, freedom, or money. Suddenly, it’s not such a romantic idea. “Socialism is easy to campaign on but tough to govern [by],” the president warned, “because the country goes down the tubes… They think, free healthcare isn’t that wonderful? But the truth is when you’re up on the debate stage, and they say we’re giving you free education, we’re giving you free healthcare, we’re giving you everything you want and a Rolls-Royce in everyone’s pocket, it’s not an easy situation. But what happens is ten years later the country is gone… whether it’s this country or any other country.”
Originally published here.
This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.