Wednesday, May 30, 2012

We need more taxpayers, not more taxes

Millions of Americans continue to go without jobs. The real number is hard to pinpoint, since the official unemployment rate only counts those seeking work/collecting benefits - not those who have given up trying. As of April 2012, the official unemployment rate stood at 8.1%, comprising 12.5 million unemployed people (keeping in mind this number doesn't count those who have stopped looking for work, which means the number likely skews higher).

President Obama sees the solution to the problem as higher taxes and more spending. Our taxes are set to soar on January 1, 2013, ObamaCare is set to cost trillions, and the president is calling for further increases in our debt limit. There has even been more talk about another "stimulus" package.

We don't need more taxes or more spending. We need an economic climate that encourages jobs, not stifles them. For every new worker added to the tax roll, that is one more worker adding to revenues, paying into - and maybe even helping to replenish - Social Security, and spending money in the economy.

What is President Obama's platform for creating these jobs? He doesn't have one. Spending and taxing is the death knell for job creation, so what other ideas does he have (besides subsidizing bankrupt "green" companies like Solyndra with billions of tax dollars).

We need real solutions to fix the problem. President Obama has offered none. Instead his only tactic is to divert attention from his economic policy failures to irrelevant and inflammatory issues like the "war on women" and gay marriage. It's time to stop giving him a pass, and demand action that makes a real difference.

We need ideas and leadership that help, not hurt, the American economy and its citizens. So far, our current president has provided neither.


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Friday, May 25, 2012

Thank you to our Veterans

The kick off of Memorial Day weekend is associated with the unofficial beginning of summer. All over America the barbecues will be in full force as friends and family gather for some fun. But during this weekend - and especially on Memorial Day itself - let's remember what the day is really about: The heroes who have willingly and bravely fought for our country, especially those who gave the ultimate sacrifice of their lives.

Without those willing to die for our freedoms, it's hard to picture what America would be. The sacrifices made by these men and women - and the sacrifices their families make - deserve our respect and full gratitude. So let's send a prayer of appreciation to those throughout our history who have stood up for America in the face of grave and often fatal danger.

And if you see a veteran or an active member of the military this weekend, or anytime really, please offer them a simple thank you for their service. It's the least we can do for these American patriots who deserve so much more.

Happy Memorial Day.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Why all Americans should support Catholics' lawsuits against federal government

The Catholic Church was clear it would do everything it could to stand up to the mandate forcing religious employers to provide for coverage of contraception, including sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs. The Church's attempt to deal with this through the executive and legislative branches of government failed, so now it must go the judicial route. Hence, 43 Catholic dioceses and organizations across the country are filing lawsuits against the federal government to challenge the Obama administration’s contraception mandate. In the interest of freedoms for all, every American should be giving full support to the plaintiffs in these lawsuits.

In response to the filings, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, called it “a compelling display of the unity of the Church in defense of religious liberty.”

“We have tried negotiation with the Administration and legislation with the Congress – and we’ll keep at it – but there’s still no fix," he said. “Time is running out, and our valuable ministries and fundamental rights hang in the balance, so we have to resort to the courts now.”

As it stands, Catholic institutions are - at best - in the position of having to cease providing insurance coverage rather than provide for reproductive products that violate their deeply held religious beliefs. Of course, halting insurance coverage would subject them to potential legal consequences. At worst, they may have to stop offering services altogether for the sick and the poor.

As a result, Catholic hospitals, schools, charities, and the many other religious-based organizations that provide help to so many - Catholic and non-Catholic alike - are in danger of closing. This in itself would be disastrous for our country, especially for the vast numbers of people who depend on these services. Just economically speaking, consider how much costs alone would skyrocket if those using Catholic-run health services now had to be absorbed into government-run programs once the Catholic ones close down.

One reason Catholic institutions are in this position is because the contraception mandate gives the government the power to determine which Catholic institutions get exemptions to the mandate. In line with this, the mandate also gives the government the power to determine what constitutes a Catholic institution. As such, an institution cannot be considered truly Catholic, and therefore cannot get an exemption, if it serves people who are not Catholic.

This means, of course, that a private business owner who is Catholic, but employs non-Catholic people, will be forced to offer contraception coverage in company healthcare plans. It also means that any Catholic charity, hospital, school or other service-oriented Catholic institution that helps someone not Catholic is considered a non-Catholic institution.  The government does not care how many poor people will be hurt when these Catholic institutions are forced to close their doors rather than go against their faith.

From an administration that claims to be so pro-choice, the choice they're giving Catholics is volatile: the choice to violate their conscience or violate the law. Does anyone think that's a fair choice reflective of a free country?

Still, some ask what's the harm if contraception is forced on religious institutions and employers? Well, beyond the threat of closing down these institutions, religious liberty is a basic, fundamental human right - and it is under attack. It is the first freedom mentioned in our Bill of Rights. If this freedom can be so easily put asunder by a politician's whim, then there is essentially no limit on the government's power to impose its own values at the expense of all religious freedom.

Suddenly, it is no longer just a Catholic issue. It is an issue for all religious people as this mandate sets a precedent that allows the government to insert itself into whatever corners of religion it chooses. It is also an issue for all Americans in general, because, if we don't stand up to the government on this one issue, what's to prevent it from going after any or all of our freedoms? Women will shout for the government to "keep its hands off our bodies", but then want the government to force us to participate in the private decisions they make for their bodies at the expense of our own freedoms. How is that right?

Everyone should stand behind the Catholic Church in these lawsuits because the freedoms of all Americans - not just Catholics - are being threatened by this extremist administration.


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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Scheduled end of Bush tax cuts means higher taxes for everyone, not just "the rich"

The Bush tax cuts are set to expire at the end of this year unless Congress acts to extend them and the president agrees to it. If they're allowed to expire, we'll all be paying more in income and other taxes - whether you're "rich" or not.

Here's the breakdown according to a report from Americans for Tax Reform:

Income taxes on the rise for every tax bracket: 
  • The current 10% bracket will be replaced with a 15% bracket
  • The existing 25% bracket will be replaced with a 28% bracket
  • The existing 28% bracket will be replaced with a 31% bracket
  • The existing 33% bracket will be replaced by the 36% bracket
  • The existing 35% bracket will be replaced by the 39.6% bracket

Capital gains and dividends taxes on the rise, too, for everyone who invests:

In the last few decades there has been an incredible influx to the markets by average citizens looking for ways to pay for their kids' college funds, save for retirement and the like. In other words, it's not just the Wall Street wheelers and dealers who play the market.
  • The current maximum federal rate on long-term capital gains and dividends is 15%. If the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire, that rate will increase to 20% (or 18% on gains from assets acquired after Dec. 31, 2000, and held for over five years), and the maximum rate on dividends will rise to 39.6%.
  • Currently investors in the two lowest brackets don't pay any taxes on long-term gains and dividends. If the Bush tax cuts expire, these people will be paying 10% on long-term gains (or 8% on gains from assets acquired after Dec. 31, 2000, and held for over five years) and 15% and 28% on dividends (compared to zero percent now).

Other areas targeted for increased taxes include married couples whose tax burden was eased under the Bush tax cuts which made their standard deduction double that of single filers. But once the tax cuts expire, married couples' standard reduction rate through joint-files will be less than singles. In other words, married couples will be penalized through taxation simply for being married. That's hardly a way to encourage marriage in our society. The higher taxes will impact lower and middle income couples particularly harshly.

So much for the argument that the "evil" Bush tax cuts only benefit the wealthy. By the way, the above-mentioned increase in taxes are in addition to the ones currently in effect or phasing in courtesy of ObamaCare:

  • The Tanning Tax imposes a new, 10 percent excise tax on getting a tan at a tanning salon. “There is no exemption for tanners making less than $250,000 per year,” says ATR.
  • The “Medicine Cabinet Tax.” Thanks to Obamacare, Americans will no longer be able to use health savings account (HSA), flexible spending account (FSA), or health reimbursement (HRA) pre-tax dollars to purchase non-prescription, over-the-counter medicines (except insulin).
  • The HSA Withdrawal Tax Hike. This provision of Obamacare increases the additional tax on non-medical early withdrawals from an HSA from 10 to 20 percent, disadvantaging them relative to IRAs and other tax-advantaged accounts, which remain at 10 percent.
  • Brand Name Drug Tax. Starting next year, there will be a multi-billion dollar tax imposed on name-brand drug manufacturers. This tax, like all excise taxes, will raise the price of medicine, hurting everyone.
  • Economic Substance Doctrine. The IRS is now empowered to disallow perfectly-legal tax deductions and maneuvers merely because it judges that the deduction or action lacks “economic substance,” an obviously arbitrary empowerment of IRS agents, says ATR.
Unfortunately it's everyone who will be paying more if the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire and ObamaCare is not repealed.


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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

President warns Americans to keep religious beliefs hidden

In President Obama's flip-flop on same-sex marriage, he made a very revealing proclamation when asked how instituting this would impact religious institutions and faith-based citizens in general. "I respect the beliefs of others and the rights of religious institutions to act in accordance with their own doctrines," he said, "but I believe that, in the eyes of the law, all Americans should be treated equally."

In other words, just like with the HHS mandate, religious people watch out. Once again, you're being told by the government that you're welcome to believe what you want, as long as you keep it to yourself. Once you're in the public square in "the eyes of the law", you'll conform to the government's dictates, or else. Freedom of worship in a private dwelling is fine, but forget freedom of actually living your religion. Other people's rights matter more than yours do.

In fact, it's already happening everywhere we look. A private church group that had a gazebo on a beach was taken to court when it refused to allow a same-sex ceremony to take place there. A Christian wedding photographer in the southwest who declined a request to photograph a same-sex ceremony, even though she found another photographer to do the job, was sued. A Christian T-shirt maker in Lexington, KY, bid on a festival project to provide shirts for the event, but then withdrew when he learned the event was actually a gay-pride festival. Like the photographer, he found another vendor to do the job at the same rate, but was hauled off to the local human rights commission nonetheless. A private bed & breakfast owner in Hawaii was sued for refusing lodging to same-sex couples, even though there were plenty of other B&B's nearby the couple could have rented.

For the record, the issue is not about opposing 'civil unions', and it is in no way anything remotely hateful toward homosexual people. To say so is a gross and unfair misrepresentation of the issue. What this is about is the danger of a government so committed to advancing one group, that it does so at the expense of another group's freedoms. This is what "in the eyes of the law" means. You're free to do what you want in your own church or home, but when in public, check your beliefs at the door. 

It's bad enough that the president admitted that his young daughters were instrumental in getting him to change his mind on the marriage issue because "they have friends whose parents are gay." It's downright frightening to think that the President of the United States of America is throwing centuries of traditional marriage out the window - and along with it traditional marriage's profound role in society - based on his own personal feelings and the opinions of inexperienced children who have no idea why the issue is of such paramount importance and significance in the first place. 

It's also bad that the president is, once again, completely ignoring public will on the issue. Of the 32 states that have presented voters with the opportunity to uphold traditional marriage, all 32 states voted to do so. But like the vast numbers of Americans who opposed ObamaCare, Obama simply took what he feels is the most politically expedient route to achieving his own agenda -- namely reelection and trashing the Constitution while he's at it.

The foremost concern here - besides the potential consequences of nullifying the definition of marriage (which requires its own discussion) - is that the president has already sounded the warning bell that people of certain religious beliefs will be forced to accept same-sex marriage, despite their deeply held doctrines, just like religious groups and individual employers are now being forced to provide contraception and abortifacients.

President Obama said he "personally" feels the need to now embrace same-sex marriage because it's a matter of equality. What is really happening is the government is creating a preferred class of people whose freedoms trump the rest of the citizens' freedoms in this country. Sadly, there is nothing equal about that.


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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Focus on "fake issues" a sign of administration's failure

President Obama's determination to grab onto any topic that will detract attention from his own miserable record in the White House is a sign of desperation. Rather than talk about the real issues like unemployment, unsustainable spending, crushing debt, national security - he wants us to focus on non-issues. From the Arab Spring, Sandra Fluke and the non-existent Republican war on women, to gay marriage and blaming George Bush, it's clear Obama has zero idea of how to fix the nation's real problems - so he must invent fake ones to make it look like he's doing at least something.

The liberal mainstream media (MSM) is more than happy to oblige a President who wants to pit Americans against one another through divisive tactics like class warfare, "occupy" protests, and envy of the successful. They don't call Obama out when he flip-flops on an issue, even one as huge as his recent reversal on gay marriage. They don't castigate him for his blatant lies, such as when he said he would never rest until unemployment falls drastically - when instead he has played countless rounds of golf in his first couple of years and jet-setted his family all over the world for lavish vacations on the taxpayer dime - while millions go without jobs. The MSM won't report Obama's recent confession that he "sometimes forgets the magnitude of the recession." Nor will they point out the hypocrisy of a President who wants us to despise the "1%", but who will gladly take their money, such as he did at the nauseating praise-fest lavished on him by George Clooney and his starry-eyed leftist Hollywood followers.

What the MSM is busy reporting on instead of these things is an alleged incident that took place almost 50 years ago when Mitt Romney was in high school. The media are determined to portray Romney as a bully, even one who may have targeted his prey because he might have been homosexual. Even the alleged victim's family is outraged by the media's actions as they say the man in question, who died a few years ago, would have been completely opposed to this type of reporting.

People are seriously suffering right here in America as countless people have simply given up looking for work and hunger is increasing rapidly right in our own neighborhoods, but the media have to go back almost half a century to find one small detail in hopes of derailing a presidential candidate. That is beyond the pale.

Perhaps this wouldn't be so disgusting if the media would at least be honest and do a similar expose on Obama for his own confession - in his own words from his book, "Dreams from My Father," where he talks about intentionally shoving a girl out of malice. Can you imagine if Mitt Romney had confessed to that? Can you imagine if Romney confessed to "drinking beer heavily, taking drugs enthusiastically" and "smoking reefer" with different peers? You'd never hear the end of it. But listen to the audio version of Obama's book - he confesses to those things with his own voice. You don't hear a thing about this from the media.

If President Obama had one accomplishment since occupying the White House, he'd be focusing on it. But for an overall administration failure of this magnitude, his only hope is to fan flames of fires he himself is creating as a way of distracting the nation from the truth. Let's hope the voters will see through it when they go to the polls in November. Enough is enough.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Another Executive Order, another dent in American sovereignty

At a White House strategy meeting last fall, President Obama interrupted the meeting to declare that the administration needed to use the power of the executive order more aggressively to govern in the face of "Congressional obstructionism." Well, he sure is putting his money where his mouth is when he says he'll find ways to go around Congress to get things his way.

He recently had his team draft a new executive order called “Promoting International Regulatory Cooperation”, ostensibly to allow US companies that do business overseas to grow their operations with fewer obstacles. In essence, the order, which was issued on May 1, establishes a policy panel to increase international regulatory cooperation. In other words, the policy panel is charged with the task of reviewing any US trade regulations it doesn't like and changing them to be more in line with the laws in foreign countries.

International regulatory actions - such as trade agreements - usually go through negotiation with trading partners at the diplomatic level, which is then presented in a treaty to Congress for review and passage.

The “Promoting International Regulatory Cooperation” executive order completely rejects the normal process we customarily engage in for passing international regulations - and does so without thorough review as to what its implications may be for our country. Instead foreign laws are given more weight. And once again Congress is left out of a decision that affects our country while the public gets no chance to voice its support or opposition.

While Obama is certainly not the only US president to use the Executive Order, when such a directive allows American law to take a backseat to foreign laws, it becomes a matter of sovereignty. Regardless of which president allows such things, it's not good for America.


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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Group seeks to ban use of the word "illegal" to spare feelings

Just when it seemed that political correctness couldn't get any more absurd, there is a movement out now to ban the word "illegal" when describing immigrants who are in this country, well, illegally.

The movement, officially known as the "Drop the I-Word" campaign, is spearheaded by ColorLines.com, a group that claims using the word "illegal" to describe immigrants here illegally is disrespectful, prejudiced and unfair.

Here's how their website describes it:

"The i-word in any form ('illegals', 'illegal alien' and 'illegal immigrant') is packed with ideas about who immigrants are and what their role is in society and in this nation. Whether used by a reader in a newspaper’s comment section, or in the Supreme Court as it was...in Arizona v. the United States, the i-word is the furthest from neutral language and communicates anti-immigrant animus that has over time become deeply embedded and accepted throughout media and government institutions."

However, the website leaves out one key fact: The immigrants in question are those in America illegally. There is zero "anti-immigrant animus" toward immigrants here legally. It's precisely this diversity that makes America the Great Melting Pot that she is. To add a protective status to those here illegally insults those immigrants who followed the rules, often waiting years for their turn to come to America legitimately. But the politically correct have taken nonsense to a new level by trying to turn a basic factual description into a slur, as if doing so will make the problem of illegal immigration go away.

ColorLines.com goes on to say, "Drop the I-Word is a public education campaign powered by immigrants and diverse communities across the country that value human dignity and are working to eradicate the dehumanizing slur 'illegals' from everyday use and public discourse. The i-word opens the door to racial profiling and violence and prevents truthful, respectful debate on immigration. No human being is 'illegal.'"

To this date, there is no precedent of anyone ever being considered illegal on the grounds of being human. Of course it can never be illegal to be a human, but it is illegal to be in this country without the proper authorization. But leftist p.c. groups don't want us to hurt the illegals' feelings by calling them what they are - which is a comment on their actions, it is not name-calling.

As for human dignity, illegal immigrants are shown incredible dignity every time an American taxpayer pays for their education, healthcare and groceries. But as thanks for that generosity, those who protest crackdowns on illegal immigration have shown a terrible disregard for America, such as those who recently protested Arizona's immigration bill by spray-painting the American Flag with graffiti, laying it on the ground and standing on it.

Also from the website is the following: "The i-word is biased because people conflate 'illegal' with criminal. So if a journalist or anyone uses the term 'illegal', they are taking one side of the issue by labeling the person whom they are describing as a 'criminal'...and it promotes bias against Latinos and people with brown skin regardless of migratory status."

The bottom line is, something is considered illegal when a crime is committed, no matter how big or small the crime is. If someone doesn't want the illegal moniker attached to them, then the solution is quite simple: Don't come to this country illegally. As for the Latino reference, illegal immigrants are not only Latino. There are people here illegally from all over - such as Ireland, Russia, the Middle East, even Canada. Calling them "illegals" is a comment on their behavior, not a comment on their inherent dignity as human beings.

Once again, the liberal socialist mindset doesn't want us to take a rational, reasonable look at a real problem and therefore must attempt to control the way we talk about it. But trying to manipulate reality so those breaking the law will feel better about themselves is political correctness gone mad. Try as they might to direct our speech, the p.c. crowd can't change the fact that words mean something for a reason, and attempting to ban a word does not erase the crime. And yes, being in this country illegally is against the law. That's why they call it illegal.