Newly suppressed voters revolt and turnout in even greater numbers

According to left wing pundits and activists new rules governing voting in North Carolina have suppressed the vote among African Americans and young people in this past year’s election. Using turnout data showing that voter participation rates among these voting groups were actually up this year as compared to 2010, Pope Foundation President John Hood argues in his Daily Journal article today, that the leftist claims cannot be sustained. With all due respect, I think that Hood’s analysis is wrong, since the left, by definition, is always right. This is because progressives argue on behalf of justice. How do we know that? Their organizations often have the word justice in the title–what additional proof do we need? So, if the left is always arguing on behalf of justice, and justice cannot be wrong when those you are arguing against are unjust, then the left must be always right–if you follow my drift. So, given that there was voter suppression because the left says there was, the only explanation for the data that Hood reviews is that those who were suppressed felt so rebellious in the face of the injustice that was being foisted upon them that, in pure defiance of their suppressors, they came out in even greater numbers than usual.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

PS–You might be a progressive if you think the logic of this post is sound.

Among the worst of myths: government spending boosts the economy

It isn’t so and can’t be so, as Professor Robert Murphy explains in this Freeman piece posted today.

Dispatches from the trail, December 17, 2014

• The feelgood story of the holiday season: Well-known North Carolina political brothers Dallas Woodhouse (conservative Republican consultant, formerly of Americans for Prosperity) and Brad Woodhouse (Democratic activist and former national party communications director) appeared Tuesday on C-SPAN to discuss a new documentary about their polarized politics … and mom calls in. Joy Woodhouse’s call to the program almost broke the Internet.

• It’s never too early to conduct a presidential poll, I suppose. Public Policy Polling surveyed North Carolinians on a potential 2016 field, and found neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson leading the pack of nine with 19 percent of Republican respondents. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was second with 15 percent. The poll excluded several likely contenders, including Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. Hillary Clinton leads the Democratic field with 52 percent; Vice President Joe Biden is second with 18 percent. In a head-to-head matchup, Carson and Clinton tie at 42 percent.

• Sen.-elect Thom Tillis, R-N.C., names the key members of his Capitol Hill staff, including some familiar hands from his tenure as House speaker and a few new faces with significant experience in Washington.

• And congratulations to the family members of the ‘5’ Royales, the Winston-Salem based pioneers of R&B and jump blues who were named members of the 2015 class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The Royales have been cited as influences by such legends as James Brown, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, and Steve Cropper (Booker T. and the M.G.s, the Blues Brothers band). Cropper told the Winston-Salem Journal:

I truly hope one of [guitarist] Lowman Pauling’s family members is there to accept for him. God bless all of the ‘5’ Royales. It’s about time. They, too, helped construct rock and roll as we know it.

The last original member of the group died in 2005.

Prospects for ‘dynamic scoring’ of congressional proposals

Joseph Lawler of the Washington Examiner reports on some interesting comments from the head of the Congressional Budget Office.

Congress’ official budget scorekeeper said Monday that it was up to members of Congress, not him, to decide whether to make “dynamic scoring” the norm for budget estimates.

Douglas Elmendorf, the director of the Congressional Budget Office, weighed in on the question of estimating tax changes at an appearance at the Brookings Institution Monday.

With Republicans set to take over both chambers of Congress in January, conservative lawmakers are considering overhauling the budget process to make official scores reflect the added tax revenue from economic growth that would come from cutting tax cuts. Republicans have said that such a dynamic score, rather than a static score that assumes no macroeconomic feedback from tax cuts, should be used as the baseline.

Part of that effort could involve replacing the scorekeepers, including Elmendorf, whose term expires in January.

Elmendorf said his office already provides dynamic scores, and that it’s up to members of Congress to decide whether or not to use them for the purposes of setting budgets and appropriating funds.

“Doing those kinds of analyses — again, for legislation that would plausibly have noticeable macroeconomic effects and when there’s time in the congressional process for us to do it — that’s fine, we’re doing that now,” Elmendorf said. As examples, he pointed to recent analyses of Rep. Paul Ryan’s proposed budget, last year’s Senate bill on immigration reform, and outgoing Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp’s tax-reform proposal. …

… “The question for the members of Congress is how they want to use that information,” Elmendorf said. “And that’s really up to them to decide what role they want to give these estimated macroeconomic effects in their feedback to the budget when they consider legislation.”

Opening up corrupt, fraud-ridden programs to more abuse

Byron York explains in a column posted at Human Events why the president’s recent executive action on immigration opens the door for more abuse of programs that already face plenty of problems.

President Obama’s unilateral executive action on immigration will make hundreds of thousands, perhaps more than a million, illegal immigrants eligible for federal transfer payments. That will be done primarily through two widely used programs — the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC, and the Additional Child Tax Credit, or ACTC.

As it turns out, those two programs are already among the most corrupt and fraud-ridden in the entire federal government. A newly released report from the inspector general of the Internal Revenue Service confirms that the EITC is plagued by fraud (which was already well known) and also reveals for the first time that the ACTC is even worse.

The two programs, intended for low-income workers, provide what is known as refundable tax credits. That means they give workers a tax refund that is larger than their tax liability. So a family with a tax bill of $1,000 might receive an EITC “refund” of $5,000, meaning the family doesn’t write a check to the government but rather receives a check from the government. The ACTC works similarly for low-income workers with children.

Supported by both political parties over the years, the programs were intended to encourage work and strengthen families. Their growth has been extraordinary in recent years — payments increased 40 percent from 2007 to 2012 alone. And now both are beset by staggering levels of fraud.

According to the inspector general, the IRS paid out $63 billion in EITC benefits in 2013. Of that, 24 percent, or about $15 billion, was given improperly to people not qualified to receive it. That improper payment rate has been enough to qualify the EITC as a “high risk” program for years.

The IRS paid out $26.6 billion in ACTC credits in 2013. The inspector general reports the child credit improper payment rate for that year was somewhere between 25.2 percent and 30.5 percent — worse than the EITC.

Considering that federal law defines a program as having “significant improper payments” when such payments exceed 2.5 percent of all the money the program sends out, those are pretty terrible numbers.

Where’s the paperwork for Obamacare’s individual mandate?

Sarah Hurtubise of the Daily Caller documents a disturbing delay related to a key piece of the Affordable Care Act.

Americans have to be prepared for an increased individual mandate tax to hit in just two weeks, but the White House still hasn’t gotten around to approving the Internal Revenue Service paperwork on the requirement.

The IRS is trying to comply with federal rules that require White House approval on its new paperwork for the individual mandate. But the White House has rejected one proposal and ignored another, according to new research from the American Action Forum, a free-market think tank headed by former Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Holtz-Eakin.

The IRS’ workload was upped drastically by the individual mandate, which will require Americans to submit a tax form proving they have health insurance or pay a growing fine to the agency. It appears the Obama administration was running behind on the paperwork requirements as well as pretty much everything else.

The IRS submitted a proposal for collecting the individual mandate tax to the White House on Aug. 23, 2013, just four months before the individual mandate began to take effect. The agency requested approval by Aug. 26 — a unexpectedly quick turnaround for approval of any regulation, according to AAF.

Turns out, the White House didn’t approve the paperwork after all. AAF found that the White House rejected the proposal almost a year later — putting the three-day request to shame. It appears the White House preferred the individual mandate tax to be bundled with income tax collection, which the country goes through every spring.

But the IRS had already submitted a proposal to the White House for that purpose in April 2014, months before the White House rejected its year-old proposal. Right now, there’s no official IRS doctrine on how exactly the agency is supposed to be collecting the individual mandate penalty, or, as the administration calls it, the “shared responsibility payment.”

National Review editor ponders protesters’ targets

Rich Lowry offers National Review Online readers an interesting assessment of recent anti-police protests across the United States.

Anti-police protesters have found their enemy, and it is commuters and shoppers.

The protest movement that has sprung up in the wake of grand-jury decisions not to indict police officers in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases is the anti-police version of Occupy Wall Street. It represents the same free-floating critique of “the system,” with the same strong whiff of lawlessness.

Even when protesters aren’t burning out buildings (as they did repeatedly in Ferguson), even when they haven’t broken windows (as they have in Oakland and Berkeley), they have closed down intersections and bridges. In other words, even when they have been “peaceful,” the protests have involved coercion and illegal acts.

Given the events of the past two weeks, you could be forgiven for thinking that the reason President Barack Obama says there is an infrastructure crisis in this country is that there aren’t enough bridges and tunnels for anti-police protesters to block.

The logic of these actions is, to say the least, not obvious. Eric Garner didn’t die in the custody of commuters trying to exit New York through one of its bridges or tunnels. He wasn’t taken down during his arrest by cabdrivers trying to make a living in an already gridlocked city. All of these ordinary people, who haven’t harmed anyone, are being inconvenienced for the sin of having somewhere to go.

The Left has long posited various means of achieving social justice, from the general strike to consciousness-raising worker collectives. To these methods must now be added traffic congestion, as well as the staging of obnoxious spectacles during the Christmas shopping season. If the road to police reform goes through the Disney Store in Times Square and other retail outlets around the country, the demonstrations have truly hit home.

Hanson’s epitaph for ‘hope and change’

Victor Davis Hanson‘s latest column for National Review Online examines the decline and fall of “hope and change.”

Obama ran on his iconic status as the would-be first black president. For the most part, he hid his spread-the-wealth agenda. A plumber did better than establishment journalists at prying out a smidgen of Obama’s worldview. The media helped reduce Obama’s Chicago friends such as Bill Ayers, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and Tony Rezko to complete strangers. To evoke them was tantamount to racism.

The result was a full-fledged liberal presidential agenda of a sort not seen since the New Deal. Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy were more centrists and realists than progressive true believers. In other words, since the 1940s voters have not trusted the left wing of the Democratic party to run the country. And for good reason. Barack Obama’s signature achievements — rammed through a Democratic Congress or enacted by questionable executive orders — now lie in ruins.

A therapeutic foreign policy, adorned by apologies for and contextualization of past American conduct, has turned the Middle East into Somalia and empowered Vladimir Putin, the Chinese apparat, and soon-to-be nuclear Iran. The defense budget will reach record lows, as money still shifts from military deterrence to more social programs and entitlements.

Old allies either are ignored or put under suspicion, while new ones such as Turkey seem to resent the U.S. more deeply the more that they are courted. After Obama, the American idea of a red line, step-over line, or deadline will be comic. The war against terror has been reduced to a war against unnamed individuals who sometimes commit workplace violence or cause manmade disasters. In Obama Farm, waterboarding three confessed terrorists at Guantanamo Bay is a crime against humanity; blowing up 3,000 suspected terrorists and anyone nearby through Predator drone assassinations is the stuff of presidential joking at Washington banquets.

At home, a natural recovery after a deep recession was aborted by massive government borrowing that was wasted on abetting crony capitalists and shoring up collapsing union and pension funds. Before he is through, Obama may well have borrowed more than all previous presidents combined. In the surreal context of the present, slashing defense and raising taxes to reduce trillion-dollar-deficits to half-trillion-dollar deficits — still higher than any other before Obama — are dubbed fiscal progress.