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These Regulations Could Incriminate Your Business Without You Knowing It. How Congress Can Bring Reform.

It’s nearly 100 days into the presidency of Donald Trump, and so far he has begun to make good on his campaign promise to curtail overregulation.

That should continue for regulations of the harshest variety: arcane rules whose violation is a federal crime.

The president’s efforts began in January, when he issued his first executive order designed to control regulatory costs and stem the seemingly endless flow of regulations being pumped out by federal bureaucrats.

A month later, he signed another executive order to create a regulatory reform task force within each agency.

The president has since taken further targeted actions to lessen the regulatory yoke borne by Americans.

In continuing this effort, the administration should be intentional in eliminating some of the most menacing rules that carry criminal penalties for regulatory infractions where civil fines or administrative remedies would be sufficient to redress harm and deter noncompliance.

Trump has already targeted two such regulations: the Waters of the United States rule (or WOTUS), and the Overtime rule.

WOTUS

The Clean Water Act, originally passed in 1972, has long determined what constitute “navigable waters”—that is, the waters subject to federal regulation.

Under President Barack Obama, the Waters of the United States rule expanded the reach of this act by redefining the scope of “navigable waters.”

According to the rule, “navigable waters” protected under federal law (33 U.S.C. § 1362) are not limited to major lakes and rivers, but include streams, ponds, and even shallow or dry ditches.

The rule represents a fundamental violation of private property rights, and is particularly menacing toward small businesses.

According to the National Federation of Independent Business, the regulation “require[s] small businesses and other property owners to spend tens of thousands of dollars to obtain federal permits before doing things as simple as landscaping or dredging soil if the land (or land near it) collects water for any significant period of time throughout the year.”

For example, after a rancher built a stock pond from a stream on his private land, the Environmental Protection Agency claimed jurisdiction over his backyard oasis and threatened his family with fines totaling $37,500 per day.

The agency also extracted a guilty plea from a building engineer who diverted sewage system overflow at a military retirement home into a storm drain because, unbeknownst to him, it led into a protected creek that eventually flowed into a river.

These penalties are not chump change. Individuals who negligently violate the Clean Water Act are subject to a maximum fine of $25,000 per day that the violation occurs and one year in prison.

The rule’s validity is currently bound up in litigation, enjoining its enforcement. Not content to wait for the courts to opine upon the constitutionality of the rule, Trump has directed the Environmental Protection Agency to review and, if warranted, revise it.

>>> What You Need to Know About Trump’s Executive Order on the Water Rule

Overtime Rule

Second, the Obama Department of Labor’s Overtime rule endeavored to double the maximum salary that an employee must receive to be exempt from overtime pay rules to $47,476 a year.

Ensuring that salaried employees receive additional compensation for working over 40 hours in a week may sound beneficial to workers on its face.

But, as Heritage Foundation scholars have written elsewhere, the rule would turn over 4 million salaried employees into hourly workers, restrict employee flexibility by forcing more workers to punch a timecard, and “cost businesses $6.9 billion in [estimated] compliance costs.”

If there were nothing more to it, this alone could be particularly devastating for small businesses.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (29 U.SC. § 216), business owners who fail to comply with overtime regulations, willfully or otherwise, face a fine of up to $10,000 and up to six month’s imprisonment.

The market should set wage rates, but civil remedies exist to make an employee whole if an employer undercompensates him in relation to regulatory or contractual requirements.

This rule too is tied up in litigation after a federal judge in Texas halted its implementation last November.

More Action Needed

On Inauguration Day, Trump issued a memorandum freezing the implementation of a host of rules, including the Obama overtime standard before it became effective. The rule is now ripe for review, and ultimately withdrawal, by the Department of Labor.

These actions are a hopeful start to the Trump administration’s regulatory reform agenda, but there is much more work to be done. Many additional rules unnecessarily use the threat of criminal penalties to compel compliance with regulatory objectives, and are in need of modification or repeal.

Take for instance the Food and Drug Administration’s food labeling provisions (79 F.R. 71155). The FDA is responsible for enforcing a myriad of food labeling regulations promulgated under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

New regulations written by the FDA under an Obamacare provision require restaurants with over 20 locations to display calorie counts for all food items sold.

Under the law, anyone who mislabels a commercial food product in violation of FDA regulatory standards could be offering a “misbranded” product, which is a federal crime (21 U.S.C. § 333) punishable by imprisonment up to one year and a fine of up to $1,000.

As executive vice president of Domino’s Pizza, Tim McIntyre, explained: “If people are heavy handed with cheese or pepperoni, and a pizza doesn’t meet standards and is outside of the range of the nutritional labeling, then that could be a store manager liable for a criminal penalty.”

The government has a role in protecting public health and safety, but reliance on criminal law to do so is often misguided. Just stop into your nearest mom and pop or Domino’s pizzeria and ask how regulatory compliance burdens affect their business.

This is just one of the over 300,000 federal regulations that make a federal crime out of acts ranging from selling “pre-war strength” malt liquor to installing a toilet that uses too much water.

It is impossible for any one person to know them all, yet they are looming over all manner of activity in the marketplace.

The Supreme Court long ago, in United States v. Grimaud (1911), provided that Congress may establish criminal penalties “for violations of regulations” made by administrative agencies.

Congress has had a heavy hand in contributing to the problem of overcriminalization by liberally taking advantage of this delegation authority.

Now, Congress can help fix it by working with the Trump administration to rein in administrative rule-making that has run amok for too long. This is the most significant opportunity America has had for meaningful regulatory rollback in years. (For more from the author of “These Regulations Could Incriminate Your Business Without You Knowing It. How Congress Can Bring Reform.” please click HERE)

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Promises Kept, and Not yet Kept, in Trump’s First 100 Days

President Donald Trump has scoffed at the measurement even as the White House heralded the successes of his first 100 days in office.

In the final week before this key presidential marker, Trump made progress on several promises such as unveiling a tax reform proposal and talking with leaders of Canada and Mexico about renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Trump’s budget proposal addressed a slew of the promises from his first 100-day plan.

Trump is also the first president since 1881 to gain a Supreme Court confirmation in the first 100 days, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus boasted during an NBC News interview.

A new president’s first 100 days became a barometer for success beginning with Franklin D. Roosevelt, who aggressively signed numerous bills and executive actions after taking office.

Trump issued more than 30 executive orders, the most in five decades during a president’s first 100 days, according to the White House. Among these orders: authorizing construction of a border wall, requiring that for every new regulation that two others be undone, and imposing a federal hiring freeze.

He also signed executive orders approving the Keystone XL and Dakota oil pipelines and lifting restrictions on energy production, including reversing Obama administration regulations on coal.

“Increasing American energy independence is important to national security and it is something the president has done, with deregulation,” White House spokesman Michael Short told The Daily Signal. “Approving the Keystone and Dakota pipelines will help us toward the goal of getting off Middle East oil.”

Courts have stalled some of Trump’s agenda on immigration reform, regarding “extreme vetting” of certain would-be travelers to America and the administration’s effort to withhold federal funds from sanctuary cities.

Though his legislative achievements seem thin on the surface, Trump has signed 28 pieces of legislation into law, technically more than any president since Harry Truman, the White House says.

The bulk of that legislation has come from the use of the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to roll back regulations promulgated by the Obama administration. Under that law, Congress has 60 legislative days to disapprove a rule and get the president’s signature on that joint resolution.

Notably, the administration had a significant legislative setback when conservatives and centrists of Trump’s own party in the House didn’t support the Trump-backed health care bill pushed by the chamber’s Republican leadership to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Trump’s two predecessors, Barack Obama and George W. Bush, both managed major legislative accomplishments in their first 100 days.

Bush signed a tax cut bill, while Obama signed a massive economic stimulus bill, said Martha Kumar, director of the White House Transition Project, an organization that provides information to new White House staffers to help streamline the change from one administration to the next.

“In both cases, there were a substantial number of bills these presidents pushed in Congress,” Kumar told The Daily Signal. “In Trump’s case, the 28 bills he signed were mostly reversing what Obama had done.”

Jenny Beth Martin, president of Tea Party Patriots, said she would give Trump an A grade for his first 100 days for keeping most of his promises.

“He has worked to secure the border and has done as much as he can through executive action,” Martin told The Daily Signal. “One of the reasons he hasn’t been able to get as many major legislative items has been Senate Democrats. The Obamacare replacement from House Republican leadership was also disappointing.”

Perhaps the biggest Trump initiatives of the first 100 days weren’t expected.

These came on the national security front: The U.S. struck a Syrian air base used to carry out dictator Bashar Assad’s chemical weapons attack on his own civilians. A week later, the U.S. dropped the so-called “mother of all bombs” on an Islamic State hideout in Afghanistan.

As a candidate, Trump made a series of promises during a campaign speech in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where he laid out his plan for the first 100 days. Here’s a look at promises kept and not kept:

‘Clean Up the Corruption and Special Interest Collusion’

Part of Trump’s plan to “drain the swamp” was taking on both lobbyists and Capitol Hill, and he had a six-point plan.

The first item was to “propose a constitutional amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress.” As president, Trump hasn’t advocated this yet, nor has he thrown the weight of his office behind an existing term limits proposal in Congress.

He did immediately keep the second promise, however, with a hiring freeze on all federal employees to reduce the federal workforce through attrition. He exempted military, public safety, and public health employees.

Trump promptly kept his promise to sign an executive order requiring two regulations to be eliminated for every new one created.

He imposed a five-year ban on White House officials becoming lobbyists after they leave government service. He put in place a lifetime ban on White House officials’ lobbying on behalf of a foreign government.

However, the president didn’t impose a complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections, or on congressional staff from becoming lobbyists—both measures requiring an act of Congress.

‘Protect American Workers’

The first action listed under this category was Trump’s plan to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, the trade deal among the United States, Mexico, and Canada.

After reports the Trump White House drafted an order to pull out of NAFTA, Trump talked to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau by phone on Wednesday.

“I decided rather than terminating NAFTA, which would be a pretty big, you know, shock to the system, we will renegotiate,” Trump told reporters Thursday. “If I’m unable to make a fair deal for the United States, meaning a fair deal for our workers and our companies, I will terminate NAFTA. But we’re going to give renegotiation a good, strong shot.”

Trump already acted on his second promise in this category, withdrawing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal with 11 countries that the Obama administration signed but Congress never ratified.

Trump the candidate also vowed that he would direct his Treasury secretary to label China a currency manipulator. However, after meeting recently with Chinese President Xi Jinping at his Mar-a-Lago resort, Trump put a hold on this idea because, he said, he believes China will help pressure North Korea to scale back its nuclear ambitions.

Trump also vowed that he would direct the Commerce Department and the U.S. trade representative “to identify all foreign trading abuses that unfairly impact American workers and direct them to use every tool under American and international law to end those abuses immediately.”

In March, he followed through with an executive order directing a country-by-country and product-by-product review. Just last week, Trump announced the administration was launching an investigation into steel dumping.

Dumping is a form of price manipulation in which a manufacturer of a product—in this case, steel—floods a country with the product, pricing it below market value and sometimes below the cost of production to increase market share and harm competition in a foreign market.

Trump rolled out an energy plan almost identical to his campaign proposal to “lift the restrictions on the production of $50 trillion worth of job-producing American energy reserves, including shale, oil, natural gas, and clean coal.”

Trump has moved, both by signing legislation and taking executive actions, to roll back Obama-era energy regulations.

Trump also signed an executive order to remove barriers to the Keystone and Dakota pipelines. The Keystone pipeline was specifically part of the 100-day plan.

The final vow in this category was to “cancel billions in payments to U.N. climate change programs and use the money to fix America’s water and environmental infrastructure.”

The White House’s fiscal year 2018 budget proposal would “cease payments to the United Nations’ climate change programs.”

‘Restore Security and the Constitutional Rule of Law’

Trump said he would “cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum, and order issued by President Obama.” He has reversed some, but others are still in place, such as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which shields children of illegal immigrants from deportation.

The second pledge in this category was to nominate a Supreme Court justice to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who died last February. The Senate confirmed Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court last month in perhaps the biggest victory for Trump so far.

Trump also followed through on his pledge to cancel unspecified federal funding to sanctuary cities. This matter was recently blocked by a court, but the administration will appeal.

With increased enforcement for the border and the interior, the administration has already begun to deport criminal illegal immigrants. Trump pledged to remove 2 million illegal immigrants in his 100-day pledge, which is in progress.

He signed an executive order that prioritized removal of criminal illegal immigrants. Illegal immigration is down 61 percent since Trump came into office, according to the White House, and at a 17-year low.

In perhaps the most controversial move, the Trump administration followed through on a promise to “suspend immigration from terror-prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur.”

Trump also called this “extreme vetting.” However, this matter is also stuck in litigation and under a judge’s temporary restraining order. Critics of the policy call it a “Muslim ban.”

Legislative Agenda

Trump announced a tax reform proposal Wednesday, the first legislative item listed on his 100-day plan. Trump’s plan would cut the corporate tax rate to 15 percent from 35 percent, and reduce the number of individual tax brackets from seven to three: 10 percent, 25 percent, and 35 percent.

Trump’s legislative list also included the “Repeal and Replace Obamacare Act.” This turned out to be the House Republican leadership’s American Health Care Act.

While the initial bill failed, Republicans in Congress are putting forward a new proposal that has the support of most members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus as well as centrist Republicans who balked at the earlier version. A slim chance exists of a vote before the end of the week.

Trump the candidate promoted a “School Choice and Education Opportunity Act.” His budget addressed the issue by advocating a $1.4 billion boost to cover charter schools, permitting public dollars to follow children to other public schools, and a federal voucher system for parents to pay for private schools.

However, the administration hasn’t directly addressed other legislative proposals that were part of the 100-day plan, such as a major infrastructure initiative, tariffs, new ethics laws, and a child and elder care tax credit.

Candidate Trump promoted an “End Illegal Immigration Act,” which included funding construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. An initial payment for the wall of $1.5 billion was part of the Trump budget proposal.

However, the administration reportedly isn’t willing to risk a government shutdown over the issue, which Senate Democrats have threatened to do, to achieve the funding in a short-term spending bill to keep the government operating through Sept. 30.

Trump did establish a law enforcement task force to help local police combat violent crime and determine how federal law enforcement agencies and federal prosecutors can dismantle criminal gangs. However, he did this through an executive order rather than through the proposed “Restoring Community Safety Act.”

The 100-day plan also included proposing a “Restoring National Security Act.” The provisions have been spread across several proposals and presidential actions.

Trump’s budget proposal would increase the military budget by $54 billion to $603 billion, offset by cuts to foreign aid.

This same campaign proposal would provide veterans more choices of private health care providers paid for by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Last week, Trump signed a bill extending the health care voucher system for veterans.

The measure improves on a 2014 system that was about to expire, which was put in place as a response to the veterans’ waiting list scandal exposed in 2013. (For more from the author of “Promises Kept, and Not yet Kept, in Trump’s First 100 Days” please click HERE)

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Bringing Accountability to ‘Zombie’ Appropriations, a Key Driver of Federal Waste

A key driver of wasteful spending in Washington is what some call “zombie” appropriations.

This refers to spending on programs that either have never been authorized, or are operating under an expired authorization. According to the Congressional Budget Office, these programs accounted for nearly one-third of all discretionary spending in fiscal year 2016, receiving more than $310 billion.

Under both House and Senate rules, a program that does not have an up-to-date authorization is not supposed to be able to receive an appropriation. Unfortunately, these rules are almost always ignored, and “zombie” programs continue to receive funding.

Some may wonder, why does it matter if zombie programs continue to receive funding?

One of Congress’ core constitutional authorities is to maintain the power of the purse. Authorization legislation, budget resolutions, and appropriations bills (collectively known as regular order) are key components of Congress’ oversight function.

By authorizing agencies and programs on a regular basis, Congress is able to examine the activities that receive taxpayer dollars. This also allows Congress to consider the usefulness of government programs and make sometimes tough decisions about what the nation’s spending priorities should be. With the gross federal debt now approaching $20 trillion, it is clear that Congress has a spending problem.

Lack of oversight has at least in part contributed to this problem. Congress should be working toward reducing wasteful spending and finding ways to put spending and debt on a sustainable path.

Yet at the very least, it should perform its oversight function and fully account for exactly how scarce taxpayer resources are being spent.

This week, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., introduced the Unauthorized Spending Accountability (USA) Act of 2017.

Rodgers’ bill makes a strong push to begin the return to regular order, forcing Congress to do its job and regularly authorize agencies and programs. Under her USA Act, programs would be put on a three-year track to being sunset if they are not reauthorized.

The first year after their expiration, appropriations would be reduced by 10 percent of the total value of their unauthorized spending. In the remaining two years, this cut would deepen to 15 percent.

The Heritage Foundation’s “Blueprint for Balance” calls for a similar penalty to be applied to unauthorized accounts, but would withhold any funding until after reauthorization.

Spending reductions would be enforced by an automatic sequester each year, and the only way for Congress to avoid these reductions for unauthorized activities would be to enact offsetting reductions in mandatory spending.

Enforcement through sequestration gives Congress a strong incentive to either authorize programs or make targeted cuts to other parts of the budget and avoid arbitrary across-the-board cuts.

The USA Act would also create a commission to establish a three-year schedule by which all discretionary programs would be authorized. This commission would also review all mandatory spending programs and identify mandatory offsets that could be used to restore budget authority to unauthorized accounts.

Hopefully, the bill would also bolster Congress’ oversight ability and provide an opportunity to identify programs and activities that could be consolidated or eliminated entirely, saving taxpayers billions of dollars.

Zombie appropriations continue to be a major problem and threaten the nation’s fiscal health. It is going to require backbone and decisive action from Congress to stop this practice and return accountability to the budget process.

This bill is a first step in the right direction. (For more from the author of “Bringing Accountability to ‘Zombie’ Appropriations, a Key Driver of Federal Waste” please click HERE)

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Texas House Passes Sanctuary City Ban With Stiff Penalty for Public Officials

The Texas House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday that places a statewide ban on sanctuary cities and allows state officials to jail police chiefs and sheriffs who refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

The measure also lets police officers inquire about the immigration status of anyone they detain or arrest, including the subjects of traffic stops.

The Republican-controlled House approved the bill in a 3 a.m. vote, 81-64, after almost 15 hours of debate. Democrats and some Republicans had objected to the provision allowing police to ask about legal status, but the bill eventually passed with the support of the House tea party faction.

Other Republican-led states have considered similar laws, but Texas would be the first in which local police officials could face criminal charges and be removed from office for not assisting federal immigration enforcement efforts, the Associated Press reported.

The bill’s supporters argue the provisions are necessary to combat immigrant crime such as drug and human trafficking. GOP Rep. Charlie Geren of Fort Worth, who sponsored the bill, said the measure will “keep the public safe and remove bad people from the street” if enacted. (Read more from “Texas House Passes Sanctuary City Ban With Stiff Penalty for Public Officials” HERE)

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What Chuck Schumer Is Revealing out in the Open

Senator Chuck Schumer on MSNBC: “We’re no longer fact-based. The founding fathers created a country based on fact. We don’t have a fact base. If Breitbart News and the New York Times are regarded with equal credibility, you worry about this democracy.”

First of all, in Schumer’s opening sentence, who is this “we”? There is an implication that the “we” is somehow monolithic and centralized. But people have been in disagreement about facts and what they mean since the dawn of time. People have rejected centralized sources of facts, from kings and queens and priests, to newspapers and television news.

In the same way that 99% of economists assume society must be planned and centralized, Schumer and “the people in power” assume media must operate as a centralized force—as if it’s a natural law.

They just assume it, because until recently, it was the case, it was cozy and easy. But not now. And they’re angry and shocked. They see their foundation of propaganda and mind control slipping away.

You must appreciate how secure they used to feel. It was a cake walk, a picnic in the park. The definition of “fact” was: whatever centralized media said it was. What could be simpler? And to them, that was “democracy.”

Feed the people lies, hide deeper truth, slam dunk.

Then along came independent media.

Boom.

t turned out millions of people were interested.
The cat jumped out of the bag.

I know about this. I’ve been letting cats out of bags since 1982.

That’s longer than some of my readers have been alive.

I also know about censorship, because almost from the beginning of my work as a reporter, I had stories turned down by major media outlets and even alternative outlets. I saw the handwriting on the wall.

Chuck Schumer is echoing what many of his colleagues—and far more powerful people—are worrying about. Their vaunted mouthpieces, the NY Times, the Washington Post, etc., are failing. They can’t carry the same old freight with impunity.

So Schumer “worries about the future of democracy.” What he’s actually worried about has nothing to do with democracy, and it certainly has nothing to do with a Republic, which was the form of this nation from the beginning.

Schumer is worried about decentralization.

He’s worried that people are defecting from the authoritarian arrogant Castle of Truth.

And, given his position, he should be worried.

We are at a tipping point. Needless to say—but I will say it—independent media need your support. Your choice about where you obtain your news makes a difference.

Until a few years ago, I never considered that I was relentless. I was just doing my work. But as I saw the counter-efforts of major media, social media, government, Globalists, and other players, as they tried to reassert their primacy, I found a deeper level of commitment. A person can find many reasons to stop what he is doing. Every person eventually realizes that. But will he give in? Or will he decide to keep going? My choice is reflected on these pages, where I write every day.

Many of my colleagues have made the same choice. As for myself, I take the long, long view. Whatever befalls this civilization, the individual survives. He cannot be erased. I know that as surely as I know I am sitting here.

People like Chuck Schumer are living on a foundation of sand. Their power depends on obfuscation and deception and exchanging favors. When they feel the ground shifting under their feet, they growl and accuse and declaim and resort to fake ideals. If they see their con isn’t working and isn’t selling, then they panic.

Which is a good sign.

Many, many years ago, I had a good relationship with a media outlet. Then one day, the man in charge told me I was “positioning myself” outside the scope of his audience. I was speaking to “different people,” and therefore I should “go my own way.” I could tell he wasn’t happy about saying this, because he thought of himself as an independent, but there it was. He was bending to the demands of “his people.” So we parted company.

I was now further “out there” than I had been before. I was “independent of an ‘independent’ media outlet.” It took me about five minutes to see the joke. A good and useful joke.

As the years rolled on, I kept finding myself in a more independent position, which meant I was writing what I wanted to write, and in the process I was discovering deeper levels of what I wanted to write.

Understanding this changed my political view. If I didn’t stand for the free and independent individual, what did I stand for? If I didn’t keep coming back to THAT, what could I come back to?

It made sense to me then, and it makes sense to me now.

This is why I keep writing about collective, the group, the mass, and the generality, those fake representations of life.

The individual is always free, whether he knows it or not. And therefore, he can choose.

This is what the Chuck Schumers of this world vaguely apprehend on the horizon. They can’t believe what they’re seeing; it’s too horrible a prospect. They reject it as a fantasy. A random nightmare.

But it isn’t a random nightmare.

It’s the potential for an open future.

Decentralized.

Alive.

Back from obscurity.

Back from the late 18th century, when the ideas embedded in the Constitution reflected the desire to unleash the free and independent individual and afford him protection from the powers-that-be. (For more from the author of “What Chuck Schumer Is Revealing out in the Open” please click HERE)

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Hillary Aides Threatened Prime Minister’s Son With IRS Audit

Hillary Clinton’s Department of State aides threatened a South Asian prime minister’s son with an IRS audit in an attempt to stop a Bangladesh government investigation of a close friend and donor of Clinton’s, The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group learned.

A Bangladesh government commission was investigating multiple charges of financial mismanagement at Grameen Bank, beginning in May 2012. Muhammad Yunus, a major Clinton Foundation donor, served as managing director of the bank.

Sajeeb Wazed Joy, son of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and permanent U.S. resident, recalled the account of the threatened IRS audit to TheDCNF. The allegations mark the first known instance in the U.S. that Clinton’s Department of State used IRS power to intimidate a close relative of a friendly nation’s head of state on behalf of a Clinton Foundation donor.

Joy told TheDCNF it was “astounding and mind boggling” that senior State Department officials between 2010 and 2012 repeatedly pressured him to influence his mother to drop the commission investigation.

The commission report was released in early 2013. (Read more from “Hillary Aides Threatened Prime Minister’s Son With IRS Audit” HERE)

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Federal Land Grabs Have Gotten out of Control. Why Trump’s Executive Order Is a Positive Sign.

Draining the swamp doesn’t just mean shrinking the size of federal bureaucracies. It means reducing the role of government throughout our society—including its ability to seize land.

A good place to start is President Donald Trump’s executive order, which calls for a review of national monument designations—a tool long used by presidents to unilaterally restrict land use.

The tradition of presidents designating national monuments began in 1906 when President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act.

That law was intended to prevent the looting of archaeological and Native American structures and objects, and it gave the federal government an expeditious path to do so.

Unsurprisingly, its use has evolved into a federal power tool for making land grabs that cater to special interests, rather than welcoming input from local affected parties, such as the outdoor tourist industry, Native American tribes, or simply the people living in the community.

Such land grabs date way back before President Barack Obama. Before his last-minute monument designations, 16 presidents designated more than 140 monuments covering over 285 million acres of land and marine areas.

Like every other environmental decision ordered by a new administration, the left responded to Trump’s executive order by predicting that it will reduce America the Beautiful to a dumpster fire.

As one publication put it, the order is a “sop to right-wing radicals who are hostile to public lands—and really hate Obama.” (They forgot to mention the hatred for puppies and rainbows, too).

Contrary to the media spin, the issue at hand is not about environmental stewardship, but taking decisions away from states, private citizens, and local interests.

For more than a century, the president of the United States has had the power to unilaterally designate land as a national monument, without input from Congress or the affected states.

Such action from the president either prohibits or restricts economic opportunity in the area, and often does more environmental harm than good.

Reading The Washington Post article on Trump’s order, one could easily assume that there is no local opposition to the controversial 1.35 million acre monument designation at Bears Ears declared by Obama in the final days of his presidency—one of the presumed targets of Trump’s executive order.

The Post gives the false impression that only elected Republican members of Congress opposed Obama’s designation.

The article highlights that a coalition of tribes, environmentalists, archaeologists, and outdoor industry groups all lobbied Obama for the protection at Bears Ears. Yet the author conveniently fails to include opposition from, you know, the local tribes and people that actually live in San Juan County.

For instance, members of the Navajo of San Juan County tribe—the county where Bears Ears resides—rescinded their support for the monument designation. Chester Johnson, of the Aneth Navajo chapter said,

At that time when they switched to national monument they didn’t share it back with the community what their intent was. Aneth is the only one chapter that had the backbone to stand up and say, ‘Look central government, you don’t do that. You share it with us what the intent is for our region, the land that we use for centuries.’

Another Aneth chapter member, Susie Philemon, fought back tears as she urged opposition to the designation, underscoring the fact that they have strong incentives, both economic and spiritual, to protect and preserve the land.

She stressed that “[t]here are people that still graze there, they reside there, and they make that place their livelihood and you cannot just take that away.”

San Juan County leaders staunchly opposed Obama’s designation.

Native American Rebecca Benally, the first woman elected to the San Juan County Commission, voiced opposition to the centralized decision, saying, “My constituents do not want a national monument in San Juan County because it’s just another federal overreach with empty promises.”

As loudly as the local community, the Navajo of San Juan County tribe, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, and members of Congress and state officials voiced their concerns, they all fell on deaf ears.

The problem of unilateral land designation dates much further back than Obama and Bears Ears.

Although Obama designated the contentious Bears Ears monument in Utah as he walked out the White House door, the use of the Antiquities Act is a bipartisan problem. Presidents from both parties have abused the power to restrict land use.

A review of the use of the Antiquities Act designations is a welcome and necessary first step, but ultimately Congress needs to intervene.

Congress should recognize that states, local governments, and private citizens are the best arbiters of how to manage land and should repeal the Antiquities Act or limit the president’s power by requiring congressional, state, and local approval for any national monument designation.

Whether the issue is logging, recreation, conservation, or energy extraction, such decisions are most effectively made at the state and local levels. An antiquated law more than 110 years old shouldn’t ruin the lives of communities. (For more from the author of “Federal Land Grabs Have Gotten out of Control. Why Trump’s Executive Order Is a Positive Sign.” please click HERE)

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How Trump’s Tax Plan Would Affect High-Tax States Like California, New York

High-income earners in high-tax states would see a federal tax rate cut, but may pay more in the end if they’re unable to deduct state and local taxes under President Donald Trump’s tax reform proposal announced Wednesday.

The White House released the contours of his tax reform proposal that would lower tax rates and reduce the number of tax brackets. However, the plan would also reduce the number of tax deductions.

When a reporter asked if deducting taxes on state and local income taxes would also be eliminated, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin answered, “Yes.”

“We are going to eliminate on the personal side all tax deductions other than mortgage interests and charitable deductions,” Mnuchin said at a White House press conference Wednesday.

House Republicans were already reportedly considering eliminating the deduction on state and local taxes, which could disproportionately affect wealthy people in high-tax blue states such as New York and California.

This federal deduction basically encouraged states to hike taxes, said Jonathan Williams, the chief economist for the American Legislative Exchange Commission, a state-centric public policy organization.

“The current policy subsidizes high-tax states,” Williams told The Daily Signal in a phone interview. “Using that revenue to pay for cutting rates across the board is a step in the right direction.”

The Trump tax plan would reduce the number of tax brackets from seven to three brackets of 10 percent, 25 percent, and 35 percent. The plan would not tax the first $24,000 in income for a couple, which is double the current standard deduction.

The Trump plan would repeal the alternative minimum tax, phaseout the death tax, and repeal the 3.8 percent surtax on investment income used to fund Obamacare.

On the business side, the corporate tax rate will be cut to 15 percent, from 35 percent. Also, the government would only tax a business’s income from inside the United States, not income from abroad. This is common in other countries and is known as a “territorial tax system.”

Gary Cohn, director of the National Economic Council and Trump’s chief economic adviser, told reporters tax reform is a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to do something really big.”

The last sweeping reform came in 1986.

“This isn’t going to be easy. Doing big things never is. We’ll be attacked from the left. We’ll be attacked from the right,” Cohn said. “But one thing is certain. I would never, ever bet against this president.”

Cohn added:

In 2017, we are still stuck with a 1988 corporate tax system. That’s why we are one of the least competitive countries in the developed world when it comes to taxes. So tax reform is long overdue.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the plan is the “same trickle-down economics that undermined the middle class,” and said the president should work on a fiscally responsible bipartisan plan with Democrats.

“Instead of focusing on hardworking families as he promised, President Trump’s tax outline is a wish list for billionaires,” Pelosi said in a public statement. “What few details are here overwhelmingly cut taxes for the richest and do little for middle-class Americans and those trying to get there. Besides which, nowhere does President Trump indicate how his deficit-exploding tax plan will actually be paid for.”

Adam Michel, a tax policy analyst with The Heritage Foundation, said he believes the proposal shows Trump is serious about reform:

For too long, America’s out-of-date and overbearing tax system has put a damper on economic growth while punishing savings and investment. The president’s plan is a great starting point. Now, the president and Congress must work together to finally update our broken tax system. True reform should apply the most efficient and least economically destructive forms of taxation, have low rates on a broad base, and be as transparent, predictable, and simple as possible.

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, praised Trump’s proposal.

“President Trump has re-energized the drive for fundamental tax reform that creates growth and jobs,” Norquist said in a public statement. “The plan cuts taxes for businesses and individuals and simplifies the code so Americans can file on a postcard. Reducing taxes on all businesses down to 15 percent will turbocharge the economy.”

Mnuchin called the current 35 percent corporate rate “perhaps the most complicated and uncompetitive business rate in the world.”

He said he anticipates the proposal would return the U.S. to greater than 3 percent growth without an adverse impact on the debt or revenue. Throughout most of the Obama administration, economic growth didn’t surpass 3 percent in a single year.

“This plan will lower the ratio of debt to [gross domestic product]. The economic plan under Trump would grow the economy, will create massive amounts of revenues,” Mnuchin said.

The plan is a net tax reduction, Williams said, and fundamental reform takes cronyism out of the tax code, which could help Trump keep another promise.

“Draining the tax code swamp is a good way to go about getting rid of all those special interest loopholes,” Williams said. (For more from the author of “How Trump’s Tax Plan Would Affect High-Tax States Like California, New York” please click HERE)

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With Support From Conservatives, House Republicans Move Closer to Obamacare Repeal Deal

Republican leaders in the House received a boost to their attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare on Wednesday as the Freedom Caucus, an influential bloc of conservatives, announced its support for a revised plan.

The group of more than 30 lawmakers said it would support a new version of the bill, called the American Health Care Act. The revision includes an amendment crafted by Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., and Tuesday Group Co-chairman Tom MacArthur, R-N.J.

“The MacArthur amendment will grant states the ability to repeal cost-driving aspects of Obamacare left in place under the original [American Health Care Act],” the Freedom Caucus said in a statement. “While the revised version still does not fully repeal Obamacare, we are prepared to support it to keep our promise to the American people to lower health care costs.”

For the Freedom Caucus to take an official position on legislation, its rules call for 80 percent of members to agree.

The culmination of weeks of negotiations between Meadows and MacArthur, the compromise amendment aims to unite the House’s centrist and conservative Republican wings behind the health care bill.

With their legislation, GOP lawmakers and President Donald Trump are working to fulfill a major campaign promise—to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Trump initially promised to dismantle the health care law his first day in office, but disagreement among Republican lawmakers has delayed efforts in Congress to do so.

Lawmakers received the text of the amendment last night, but a rough outline of the plan was leaked to the press last week.

The deal takes aim at regulations implemented under what President Barack Obama considered one of his major domestic achievements, the Affordable Care Act, which conservatives said caused premiums to rise dramatically.

Under the amendment, states can apply for federal waivers to opt out of Obamacare’s essential health benefits requirement, a list of 10 services that insurance plans are required to cover.

The measure leaves in place a provision of Obamacare that prohibits insurers from denying coverage to patients with pre-existing conditions, but allows states to waive its community ratings rules, which ban insurers from charging sick patients more than healthy ones.

States could opt out of the community ratings rules only if they implement a program designed to minimize costs for patients with pre-existing conditions, such as a high-risk pool.

High-risk pools, subsidized by the government, are insurance pools for patients with pre-existing conditions.

Additionally, only patients who fail to maintain continuous coverage could be charged more by insurers.

The amendment from MacArthur and Meadows attempts to assuage the concerns of House conservatives who, along with a bloc of centrist Republicans, opposed GOP leadership’s original health care bill.

Though Republican leaders now have the support of the Freedom Caucus, it’s unclear if the revised plan will have the backing of centrist Republicans.

Members of the centrist Tuesday Group told reporters Wednesday they needed more time to look over the amendment.

The revised bill has swayed influential conservative groups, however.

Club for Growth and FreedomWorks, which both opposed the original bill, announced their support for the amendment and said they would back the bill with its addition.

“While we’re still short of full repeal, this latest agreement would give states the chance to opt out of some of Obamacare’s costliest regulations, opening the way to greater choice and lower insurance premiums,” Club for Growth President David McIntosh said in a prepared statement. “It’s a solution we’ve supported for weeks, and the time to move forward is now.”

Heritage Action for America, the lobbying affiliate of The Heritage Foundation, backed away from its key vote against the health care bill.

In a formal statement, Mike Needham, CEO of Heritage Action, said:

To be clear, this is not full repeal and it is not what Republicans campaigned on or outlined in the Better Way agenda. The amendment does, however, represent important progress in what has been a disastrous process. Given the extreme divides in the Republican Party, allowing Texas and South Carolina to make different decisions on health insurance regulations than New York and New Jersey may be the only way forward.

Discussions over the health care bill began early last month after Republican leaders revealed their plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, a yearslong promise to voters.

Lawmakers were supposed to vote on the original legislation twice late last month. But House Speaker Paul Ryan delayed one vote and then abruptly pulled the bill the next day after it became clear not enough Republicans supported it.

Conservatives, led by Meadows, continued discussions with MacArthur, Republican leaders, and the Trump administration.

GOP leaders and the White House are discussing a potential vote on the revised bill Friday, according to Axios, and the House whip team is counting votes.

Ryan, R-Wis., told reporters at a press conference earlier Wednesday that the lower chamber would vote “when we’ve got the votes.”

Still, the speaker said the MacArthur amendment “helps get us to consensus.”

“We think it’s very constructive,” Ryan said, adding:

We think the MacArthur amendment is a great way to lower premiums, give states more flexibility while protecting people with pre-existing conditions. Those are the three things we want to achieve.

(For more the author of “With Support From Conservatives, House Republicans Move Closer to Obamacare Repeal Deal” please click HERE)

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Promise Not Kept: Trump’s Illegal Executive Amnesty

It takes some time for a successor to clean up the mess of his predecessor. But when a new president continues a patently illegal immigration program from his predecessor, at some point he must own that unconstitutional policy. For Obama’s illegal executive amnesty, Trump is rapidly approaching that moment.

Yesterday, White House spokesman Sean Spicer used all of the typical straw-man arguments to explain why the president has decided to keep Obama’s executive amnesty in place:

I think he’s been consistent about two things. One, that he has a heart. He wants to make sure that he does what’s in the interest of children in particular. But secondly, I think the President’s priorities since he took office have been very clear that the focus would be on folks who presented a danger to public safety. And that’s what it’s been, and that’s where it continues to be. And I think he is someone who understands the issue and the priorities that need to get laid out by this country. And so everything that he has done has been consistent with what he said from the get-go.

What about the legality – the fact that it is illegal to issue work permits and Social Security cards contrary to the most foundational sovereignty statutes?

I think that his comments that he made last week, that he understands that in a lot of cases this involves families and small children who have been here, and he has a heart…

And how does that address the legality, again?

Besides, it is wholly inconsistent with the policies and the talking points Trump harnessed during the campaign.

When Trump was campaigning in Phoenix last August, he spoke with true moral clarity on the issue of immigration in a way that shows “heart” first and foremost to the American people and, by extension, to those who make the dangerous trek across the southern border:

We will immediately terminate President Obama’s two illegal executive amnesties in which he defied federal law and the Constitution to give amnesty to approximately five million illegal immigrants, five million.

The president actually revealed what was in his “heart” when he said in the speech that Arizona held a special place in his heart. Arizona has been beleaguered by these very myopic policies that place the emotional arguments of foreign nationals in a vacuum ahead of the broad needs and concerns of Americans. Trump lambasted the media and Hillary at the time for focusing on “one thing and only one thing, the needs of people living here illegally.” He then spoke with moral clarity of how “the central issue is not the needs of the 11 million illegal immigrants” and that “anyone who tells you that the core issue is the needs of those living here illegally has simply spent too much time in Washington…. There is only one core issue in the immigration debate, and that issue is the well-being of the American people.”

As I’ve noted before, and demonstrated from the Rockville rape case, it is this very promise of amnesty for “families with children” that is solely responsible for the recent surge in migration from Central America that has cost taxpayers untold sums of funding, burdened schools, crushed hospitals, and, yes, has resulted in violent crime against Americans. And as we saw with a slew of violent incidents perpetrated by young illegal aliens, they usually have clean records … until they offend. The “vetting” of the Obama administration was a joke, because 96 percent of applicants were granted legal status.

Yet the Trump administration is likely issuing roughly 760 illegal cards to illegal aliens every day. Even Marco Rubio said he’d only honor those cards already handed out. For this administration to renew a flagrantly illegal policy demonstrates that the campaign rhetoric of the entire Republican Party when in opposition is an utter joke. It’s one thing to show recalcitrance to ending a legal, albeit odious, policy. But to continue an illegal policy, especially when illegal aliens are the sole beneficiaries of that policy, is a mockery of the rule of law. Trump could end this tomorrow with a simple display of inaction – refusing to renew any work permits.

As a man who always likes to project power and the image of a winner, there is a further need for Trump to eliminate Obama’s executive amnesty in light of the courts nullifying his own immigration orders. For this administration to sit idly as Trump’s completely legal immigration order is struck down (while refusing to negotiate it as part of the budget bill) and at the same time continue the illegal immigration order of an ex-president is the ultimate humiliation of the The Donald. Moreover, courts are treating Obama’s order as a legitimate “law” through which to force states to issue driver’s licenses for illegals.

Trump is clearly a man who desires to check off his list of promises. Getting rid of Obama’s executive amnesty must make its way back onto that list. (For more from the author of “Promise Not Kept: Trump’s Illegal Executive Amnesty” please click HERE)

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