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Views on the News

Views on the News*

  May 7, 2016

 

There are two kinds of Republicans now: those who get that and those who don’t.  Now I have a job to do as an American, to resist any urge to walk off in a huff, allowing my wounded feelings to permit a Hillary Clinton Presidency.  No matter the reason, to everyone whose head slumped as Donald Trump delivered his Indiana victory speech, which might as well have been his nomination acceptance speech, a wake-up call is due.  It is time to wake up from the twisted revenge fantasy of the geniuses who preach that some punishment must be meted out for the sin of elevating Trump.  The punishment they offer is a Hillary Clinton Presidency, and no conservative should be willing to pay that price.  Any conservatives stewing in the juices of resentment need to recognize that we have an economy to save and a Constitution to protect.  Donald Trump will not approach either task with the clarity of a Cruz, but he will be a better steward of both than the absolutely guaranteed disaster of Obama’s third term.  A Hillary Presidency will bring certain ruin to the Supreme Court.  Illegal immigration will be ignored if not encouraged.  Crushing government expansion will suffocate businesses and taxpayers.  Global jihad will be soft-pedaled.  The Second Amendment will be attacked without end.  The political correctness that suppresses rights and poisons discourse will have a continued home in the Presidency.  People deep in despair today will come to realize that at worst; Donald Trump is a candidate who does not bring a complete package of conservatism.  At best, he may actually do the conservative things he says he will do, and the rest will be a mixed bag no worse than “big-government conservative” George W. Bush offered, and surely no worse than his brother Jeb would have tried to sell us.  Trump himself may be of value in this healing process.  His primary competition is gone, and with it the engrossing but jarring persona he put on to gain this victory.  We should pray that even they will decide to fight the battle every conservative must now take up: the fight to save America from Hillary Clinton.  Conservatism is not harmed in the least by a Trump nomination.  It is what it is, and its adherents will remain strong and vocal.  If a President Trump needs some pushback from conservatives, he will get it.  What he needs from conservatives from here on out is support, not because he was everyone’s first or even second choice, but because now he is the only choice.  Now everybody grow up, armor up, and let’s kick the Democrat Party out of the White House. 

(“As Trump Outlasts the Field, Everybody Off the Ledge” by Mark Davis dated May 4, 2016 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/markdavis/2016/05/04/as-trump-outlasts-the-field-everybody-off-the-ledge-n2157904 )

Republicans, I'm told, were elected to Congress by the people, and yet they've done absolutely nothing. Republicans have been dreadful on plenty of fronts: the quality of their advocacy, the spine they show making arguments and the lack of innovation and malleability in the focus of their policies, but resistance to Obama's legislative agenda was definitely not one of them.  Some of this anger is propelled by false expectations and wishful thinking about how government works, which is to say, when voters don't get what they want they assume the system has failed.  As far as expectations go, Republicans deserve blame for making promises they couldn't possibly fulfill including the notion that they could repeal ObamaCare. If you're a conservative who opposes immigration reform, conservatives put an end to it in 2008, when Republicans controlled the White House and Democrats controlled Congress.  They stopped it when Obama was in the White House and Democrats controlled both legislative branches.  Republicans then filibustered the DREAM Act of 2010 and voted to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and then many joined the suit against DACA.  The GOP was too late to stop ObamaCare, but they did send a repeal bill to the President’s desk.  Republicans also stopped cap-and-trade, which would have created a fabricated "market" for energy in the same way ObamaCare fabricates "markets" for health insurance.  Stopping it helped undermine Democrats' efforts to make fossil fuels prohibitively.  Conservatives in Congress also put an end to bipartisan gun-control legislation.  They stopped the so-called Paycheck Fairness Act, twice, and the Paying a Fair Share Act of 2012, which would have raised taxes.  They stopped the American Jobs Act bailout and the authoritarian card-check stuff.  They stopped the DISCLOSE Act; and the sequestration replacement; and the Keep Student Loans Affordable Act of 2013; and the across-the-board federal minimum wage efforts.  Republicans sued and won when Obama abused his power by naming recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board.  One of the persistent complaints about the GOP is that it was too cowardly facing the prospect of a government shutdown.  Unlike prevailing wisdom, I doubt shutting down government is always a loser for the GOP.  Republicans have done just as well after shutdowns, historically, but the idea of utilizing shutdowns regularly as means of shaping policy is unrealistic.  Change takes a long-term commitment with smart policy and good arguments; Republicans don't have them.  The fact is: Democrats got some of the things they wanted, but not all, or we'd be dealing with single-payer health care, carbon-trading energy markets, more union bailouts and about a dozen reforms that you didn't even know existed. 

(“The GOP Has Been Bad, But Not as Bad as You Think” by David Harsanyi dated April 30, 2016 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/davidharsanyi/2016/04/30/the-gop-has-been-bad-but-not-as-bad-as-you-think-n2155603 )

Those are two reasons why, other than the first years of the Civil War, when the survival of the United States as one country was in jeopardy, there has never been a darker time in American history.  At no other time has there been as much pessimism about America's future as there is today.  Among the reasons are:  Every distinctive value on which America was founded is in jeopardy.  According to a Pew Research Center study, more and more young Americans do not believe in freedom of speech for what they deem hate speech.  According to a series of Harvard University polls, about 47% of Americans ages 18 to 29 believe that food, shelter and health care "are a right that government should provide to those unable to afford them."  More than half of 18- to 29-year-old Americans do not support capitalism, the source of the prosperity they enjoy, and the only economic system that has ever lifted mass numbers of people out of poverty.  The belief that certain fundamental rights are God-based is reviled outside of conservative religious circles and held by fewer and fewer Americans today.  The view that male and female are distinctive identities is being obliterated.  The ideas that America should be a melting pot, or that all Americans should identify as American, are now unutterable in educated company.  Virtually every major institution is in decay or disarray.  Religious institutions, which, for most of American history, have been the most important institutions in everyday American life, are being rendered irrelevant.  The traditional family has become nothing more than one of many options open to Americans.  In recent years, data showed just 20% of Americans ages 18 to 29 are wedded, compared to nearly 60% in 1960.  Additionally, more than 40% of American births are to unmarried women.  Universities (outside the natural sciences and mathematics), are intellectual frauds.  National, state and city governments have no doubt largely engaged in Ponzi-scheme-like practices, racking up levels of debt that will crush the economy of the country sooner or later.  The size of the federal government, and its far-reaching meddling in and control over Americans' lives, is the very thing America was founded to avoid.  The arts are as fraudulent as academia.  Artistic standards have been destroyed.  Now there's Clinton and Trump.  Nothing more clearly exemplifies the dark time in which we are living than this political version of Sophie's choice.  One doesn't fight only when one is optimistic; one fights because it is the right thing to do, and because America remains, as Lincoln said, "the last best hope of earth." 

(“A Dark Time in America” by Dennis Prager dated May 3, 2016 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/dennisprager/2016/05/03/a-dark-time-in-america-n2157172 )

 

The dynamics of urban politics, which are characterized by high levels of inequality and racial tensions, may be pushing Democrats ever further to the left and Republicans toward the inchoate resentment of Donald Trump.  Yet if politics are now being dominated by big cities along the coasts, the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data suggests that when it comes to their own lives, Americans are moving increasingly elsewhere, largely to generally Republican-leaning suburbs and Sunbelt states.  In other words, politics and power are headed one way, demographics the other.  Perhaps no American president has been less sympathetic to suburbs than Barack Obama.  Shaun Donovan, Obama’s first secretary of Housing and Urban Development, proclaimed the suburbs’ were “over” as people were “voting with their feet” and moving to dense, transit-oriented urban centers.  More recently, Donovan’s successor, Julian Castro, has targeted suburbs by proposing to force them to densify and take more poor people into their communities.  This divergence between politics and how people choose to live has never been greater.  The perceived “historic” shift back to the inner city has turned out to be a relatively brief phenomena.  Since 2012, suburbs and exurbs, which have seven times as many people, again are growing faster than core cities.  An aging population tends to make the country more suburban.  The overwhelming trend among seniors is not to move “back to the city” but to stay in or move out to suburban or exurban areas.  Between 2000 and 2012, 99.6% of the senior population increase in major metropolitan areas was in the suburbs, a gain of 4.3 million compared to the gain of 17,000 in the urban core.  There is also the well-demonstrated tendency for people entering their 30s, prime child-bearing age, to move to suburban locations for safety, space and better schools.  Here’s the basic score: Core counties last year lost a net 185,000 domestic migrants, while the suburban counties gained 187,000.  Rather than a reversal of suburbanizing trends, we see something of an acceleration.  Primarily Republican-leaning areas may be losing their political power for now, but their demographic growth is relentless.  Like the suburbs, the sprawling Sunbelt metros were widely predicted by urban pundits to be heading toward an inevitable extinction.  Yet the 2015 census data shows something quite different: Virtually every fast-growing metro region in the country is located far from the Eastern Seaboard, and increasingly outside of California.  Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Atlanta and Phoenix each gained more people last year than either New York or Los Angeles, which are three to four times larger.  Among America’s 53 largest metropolitan areas, nine of the 10 fastest-growing ones are in the Sunbelt: Austin, Orlando, Raleigh, Houston, Las Vegas, San Antonio, Dallas-Fort Worth, Nashville and Tampa-St. Petersburg.  Perhaps even more revealing are the trends in domestic migration.  The leaders in total domestic net migration parallel almost precisely those that have experienced the strongest total population growth, led by Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth and Phoenix; together these metro areas added 150,000 net domestic residents.  In percentage terms the big winners are Austin, Tampa-St. Petersburg, Raleigh, and Orlando.  The biggest loser is the home of our likely next president.  New York experienced a net out-migration of 160,000 between 2014 and 2015.  Over the past five years its metropolitan area has lost 701,000 net domestic migrants after suffering a population loss of nearly 2 million in the first decade of the new millennium.  Chicago and Los Angeles also have experienced net out-migration as have some cities, such as San Jose and Washington, D.C., even as they experienced impressive economic booms.  Latest numbers confirm the likelihood that highly suburbanized areas, particularly in the Sunbelt, will continue to represent our demographic future.  For all the hype and hysteria surrounding the urban revival, dense cities are not irresistible lures to most people.  For the most part, they are experiencing sub-normal, and even declining, growth.  Inner city gentrification, particularly close to the urban core, has accompanied strong income growth and remains attractive to relatively small parts of the population: the highly educated, the affluent childless, single as well as the uber-rich.  These places loom large also because that’s where the media is increasingly concentrated.  This divergence between power and population sets the stage for future political conflicts.  It could well be, as some progressives have forecast for over a decade, that the movement of New Yorkers and Californians, combined with the growth of minorities, in places like Texas and Arizona will paint these places Democratic blue.  The new Texans and Arizonans may well be more socially liberal than the current denizens, but one has to wonder if they would like to see the prospect of better professional opportunities and affordable homes squelched by Washington’s urban-centric elite.  This could turn out to be a bad election for those middle American aspirations, but over time progressive triumphalism could engender a grassroots rebellion capable of overturning the 2016 election results in shockingly fast fashion. 

(“Politics Move Left, Americans Move Right” by Joel Kotkin dated May 3, 2016 published by Real Clear Politics at http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2016/05/03/politics_move_left_americans_move_right_130455.html )

GDP for the first quarter of 2016 came in at a paltry 0.5%, following growth of 1.4% and 2% in the previous two quarters.  If such a thing is possible, the already anemic economy is actually getting worse.  Even worse than that, the latest GDP numbers reveal a collapse in business investment, the real driver of the economy.  When businesses don’t spend and invest, they don’t hire and cannot offer better-paying jobs.  Business investment and wages are two sides of the same mirror.  Business investment hasn’t grown for two years.  Over the past two quarters, total business fixed investment has fallen by an annualized average of 4%.  Business equipment and software has dropped by more than 5%.  Non-residential structures, like commercial office space, shopping malls, factories, and hotels, have dropped by nearly 8%.  For the entire 32-quarter economic recovery, business fixed investment has averaged just 1.1% at an annual rate.  Since 1960, however, business fixed investment has averaged 4.4% at an annual rate, so the present expansion in business investment is roughly one-quarter of the 55-year average.  Why?  One key factor is tax policy, especially business tax policy.  At 40% for combined federal and state business tax rates, the U.S. has the largest corporate tax burden in the developed world.  We double-tax corporate profits earned overseas, as virtually no other country does.  Our depreciation rates for investment tax expensing are among the worst in the world.  The Obama administration has raised tax rates on capital gains, dividends, and income (paid by small-business pass-through), so, as the tax cost of capital has gone up, business investment has come down.  Arthur Laffer has taught us that “if you tax something, you get less of it,” which is why firms are moving offshore in droves; it’s not about being unpatriotic.  A second key reason for the business-investment slump is monetary policy.  While this may not be the right time for rate hikes, ultra-low interest rates have led to financial engineering rather than the deployment of excess corporate cash for productivity-enhancing investment.  Rather than invest in job-creation and higher wages, firms are buying back stocks to boost price-earnings ratios.  In many cases, they are even borrowing money they don’t need to buy back stocks.  A third key reason for the business-investment collapse is over-regulation.  ObamaCare rules and mandates are job-killers.  Dodd-Frank red-tape costs have held back lending to such an extent that business start-ups have practically come to a halt.  Community banks have drastically pulled back loans to existing small businesses.  Then we have the Obama EPA’s new rules, which amount to a war on fossil fuel.  The President pushes for climate-change regulations instead of a massive build-out of energy infrastructure, including pipelines, liquid-natural-gas terminals, and new refineries.  Want more manufacturing? The energy business, and the potential for North American energy independence, is the key.  Hillary Clinton, and her promise to end oil and gas fracking, will pull us further in the wrong direction.  Many people do not to understand that business investment is a critical prosperity-booster, leading to more jobs, higher wages, and stronger family income.  Put another way, rising tax and regulatory burdens that penalize investors and businesses also punish middle-income wage earners.  Study after study shows that corporate tax reform is a middle-class tax cut, not a tax cut for the rich.  Corporations don’t really pay taxes; they simply collect them and pass the cost along in the form of lower wages and benefits, higher consumer prices, and reduced shareholder value.  The overarching theme of this election is an angry revolt by the middle class over the fact that jobs and wages have barely increased in the past decade.  They blame Washington, China, immigration, power elites, and almost everything else.  There is a lot of work to be done on all these fronts, but without radical tax, regulatory, and currency reform, business investment will never fully recover, and neither will the economy.  

(“Growth Anemia: Blame a Collapse In Business Investment” by Larry Kudlow dated April 29. 2016 published by The Daily Caller at http://dailycaller.com/2016/04/29/growth-anemia-blame-a-collapse-in-business-investment/ )

 

There is so much published each week that unless you search for it, you will miss important breaking news.  I try to package the best of this information into my “Views on the News” each Saturday morning.  Updates have been made this week to the following sections:

·    Civil Rights at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/Culture/civilrights.php

·    Welfare at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/Culture/welfare.php

 

David Coughlin

Hawthorne, NY

http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/