Thursday Daily Digest – The Federalist

“We are firmly convinced, and we act on that conviction, that with nations as with individuals our interests soundly calculated will ever be found inseparable from our moral duties, and history bears witness to the fact that a just nation is trusted on its word when recourse is had to armaments and wars to bridle others.”

Thomas Jefferson, Second Inaugural Address, 1805

TOP 5 RIGHT HOOKS

Vetoing Arizona

Arizona Republican Gov. Jan Brewer on Thursday vetoed the controversial Senate Bill 1062, which was intended to protect religious liberty for business owners who chose not to provide services on religious grounds. Brewer said she worried the bill was too “broadly worded” and that it “could result in unintended and negative consequences.” Worse, she added, it could “create more problems than it purports to solve,” since “I have not heard of one example in Arizona where a business owner’s religious liberty has been violated.” Past history is no guarantee of future results, however. Rest assured, the homosexual agenda will continue to be advanced at the cost of religious liberty everywhere unless it is stopped.

ObamaCare Horror Stories ‘Untrue’

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was up to his Jedi mind tricks again, telling us that ObamaCare is completely functional and generally awesome. “There’s plenty of horror stories being told [about ObamaCare],” Reid said. “All of them are untrue.” Now that’s a categorical BIG Lie. Chuck Schumer soon followed suit, saying, “[T]he parade of horrible stories trotted out by the haters of this bill have proved not to be true.” Obviously, neither senator even reads the Leftmedia anymore, or they’d be more apt to at least shade the lie. But while we’re on the subject of things that are untrue, Reid went on to blame “oil magnates” Charles and David Koch. Last we checked, they don’t own an oil company.

Stimulus Repeat

On Wednesday, Barack Obama called for spending an additional $302 billion over four years on “competitive grants” for infrastructure projects — in other words, graft for his government union loyalists. He claims these fund were “created as part of the National Recovery Act also known as the stimulus, which actually worked, despite what everybody claimed.” But we’ve seen this movie before, and, actually, it didn’t work. The “stimulus,” which just turned five last week, supposedly emphasized infrastructure but did little to nothing to stimulate economic growth, leaving tens of millions of Americans worse off than before it. Infrastructure is certainly important, and maintenance and improvements cost money. But Obama’s “play it again, Sam” proposal isn’t going to yield different results this time.

New Evidence of Clinton’s Dereliction

According to recent testimony, it turns out that the FBI had deep cover high-level sources in al-Qaida four years prior to the 9/11 attack. This information was not disclosed to the 9/11 Commission for reasons yet to be explained. Recall if you will that Bill Clinton had not one but two opportunities to kill Osama bin Laden before 9/11. Yet with Osama literally in the sights of SpecOps teams, Clinton passed on both of these kills. Consequently, OBL’s 9/11 jihadis were able to settle into our suburbs under Clinton’s watch. The new information about FBI intel on OBL’s intent to attack the U.S. raises new questions about why Clinton failed to act.

Moore on Global Warming Hoax

Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore testified before a Senate committee this week, admitting that any link between human emissions and global warming is dubious at best: “There is no scientific proof that human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are the dominant cause of the minor warming of the Earth’s atmosphere over the past 100 years.” He added, “Today, we live in an unusually cold period in the history of life on earth and there is no reason to believe that a warmer climate would be anything but beneficial for humans and the majority of other species. There is ample reason to believe that a sharp cooling of the climate would bring disastrous results for human civilization.” Moore’s remarks are exactly right, and his final point is especially important: The implications of a cooler climate are much more severe than the symptoms that would result from a warmer one. The global warming hoax is being destroyed from a growing number of unlikely sources.

RIGHT ANALYSIS

Puzzle Palace Polemics

2014-02-27-a0dd1b6c.jpgExecutive Branch court jesters struggled with the difficult problem of answering Barack Obama’s directive to find a way to revise the controversial National Security Agency (NSA) phone-surveillance program in a way that would “take it out of the NSA’s hands.” As a general rule, remember that whenever his lips are moving, bad things for the nation are about to happen. Not to disappoint, the crack team quickly put together four perfect non-starter options for the program.

Why “non-starter”? Well, each option substantially degrades (or outright abandons) national security imperatives or else fails to address privacy concerns. The first option, for example, is the most obvious: Abolish the program. The problem with this option is that this is the classic baby-out-with-the-bathwater solution. The program, for all its faults, has a great deal of merit. To end it is to give America’s enemies carte-blanche reign over a large segment of the intelligence battlefield, setting the stage for another 9/11 … or much worse with Iranian nukes.

The second option is to let the remainder of the inmates guard the asylum. That is, let the phone companies — AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, etc. — store the “metadata” and require the NSA to ask for searches of call records it believes to be related to terrorism. This, of course, also puts phone companies in the unenviable position of being lackeys for the intelligence community, something at which the Founders would have undoubtedly blanched. Phone companies, of course, would also demand indemnity and liability protection, opening a Pandora’s Box of potential consumer-service issues and other third-party “demands” for data (think divorce claims, private investigations, etc.). The Law of Unintended Consequences seems apropos.

Meanwhile, a third option involves the use of a government agency other than the NSA — for instance, the FBI — to store the phone data. We’re not sure why the FBI or any other agency is any more trustworthy than the one that regularly polygraphs its members to ensure loyalty to the U.S. as well as compliance with its solemn duty. For us, this option represents a lessening of assurance, not the converse, and does nothing to address root privacy concerns.

The final option establishes a new entity outside both the phone companies and the government to store phone data. But adding a brand-new permanent government agency to the mix is unappealing as well.

We in our humble shop would like to offer another option: Involve all three branches of the federal government, as a check upon each. Currently, the Judicial (via the FISA courts) and the Executive (under which the NSA operates) branches have full insight into NSA goings-on. However, as much as it pains us to imagine Congress involved in anything — much less an oxymoron such as congressional “intelligence” — the oversight afforded by a select group of appropriately authorized and publicly accountable House and Senate elected officials could act as a much-needed check on any potential abuse of authority from an over-zealous Executive Branch agency or eyes-wide-shut FISA court. For execution of so sacred a trust, the inconvenience of such an oversight is far eclipsed by the assurance to the American people that such a trust will not be violated again.

Setting Up Camp for Tax Reform

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Simplifying taxes

“There have been so many changes to the tax code over the past decade that it is now 10 times the size of the Bible, but with none of the Good News,” jokes House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) in a Wall Street Journal op-ed laying out his new tax plan. Camp has been working for three years on a proposal to overhaul the tax code, which hasn’t been done since 1986. As The Heritage Foundation’s Stephen Moore notes, “Since then, year after year, the tax code gets engrafted with more special interest loopholes, credits, and carve-outs. Not only is this unfair to those without lobbyists, it makes the tax code mindlessly complex — a job security program for tax lawyers and accountants.”

There are currently seven individual tax brackets with a top individual rate of 39.6%, while the corporate rate is 35%, the highest in the industrialized world. Camp proposes just two individual tax rates — 10% and 25%, though there would be a 10% surtax on some annual income above $450,000 for joint filers, making an effective third rate — as well as a corporate rate of 25%. Capital gains and dividends, excluding the first 40% earned, would be taxed like ordinary income at the individual rates. Camp’s surtax makes the top rate far too high and is an ill-advised sop to the Left, but, overall, the plan is an improvement.

In exchange for lower rates, many deductions and credits are reduced or eliminated. But the standard deduction is raised so that an estimated 95% of filers will claim it. Camp explains, “The guiding principle is that everyone should play by the same rules — your tax rate should be determined by what’s fair, not by who you know in Washington.”

The trouble is that Democrats — and a great many Republicans — prefer to use the tax code to reward constituency groups with tax deductions and credits. And every such item in the tax code has its very own lobbying group. For example, Camp’s plan keeps the popular and lobbied-for mortgage interest and charitable giving deductions. Democrats also view the tax code as the best way to “level the playing field” by taking wealth from the haves and redistributing it to the have-nots.

One of the virtues of Camp’s plan is that more people would have “skin in the game” — they would pay taxes to fund the big government they so love. Many of them wouldn’t love it nearly so much if they got the bill. But that feature is also its greatest handicap, because Democrats will campaign against “Republican tax cuts for the rich on the backs of the poor.” History, however, shows that lower rates yield higher revenue and a greater share paid by the “rich.”

While Democrats want to raise taxes on the “rich” so they can steal more income (at least in the short term), Camp says under a static analysis his changes would be revenue neutral. Lower rates will result in economic growth, accompanied by nearly two million more jobs and rising wages. According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, the plan would increase GDP by 1.5% — or about $3.4 trillion — over the next decade. All of which means it could raise as much as $700 billion in extra revenue over 10 years.

Despite the fact that Camp’s plan has no chance of passage with the present makeup of Washington, we sure could use some economic growth after five years of the anemic Obama “recovery.” A positive agenda like this should be welcome this election year.