Dems’ War On The 1% Wounds The Middle Class

Our previous article used recent data from the IRS to debunk claims by Democrat party candidates that the wealthy don’t pay their “fair share” of income tax.  We also exposed some of the harm done to the middle class when Democrats encourage and nurture rage and resentment toward high income taxpayers, most of whom are small and medium sized businesses.

Several tweets and emails complained that we were ignoring the alleged benefit of increasing tax rates on the high income “one percent” – making them pay more to reduce the deficit and fund for government programs.

Well, thanks to the same IRS data we are now able to determine just how much extra tax revenue resulted from the most recent tax increase on the highest income taxpayers.top-bracket-rate-increase

Try to remember all the way back to the end of 2012.  President Obama had just won reelection. He and Congressional Democrats had manufactured a crisis they called The Fiscal Cliff.  If new legislation were not enacted immediately there would be a tax rate increase on every taxpayer, from lowest income to highest.

After weeks of negotiation in Congress, Democrats got what they wanted, increases only in top bracket tax rates as shown in the table to the right.  The top tax bracket applies to income over $465,000.

When the tax increase agreement had been negotiated in Congress and was about to become law President Obama delivered a victory speech on New Years Eve 2012.  The transcript is still here on the White House web site.

Here’s an excerpt:

Little ObamaLast year in 2011, we started reducing the deficit through $1 trillion in spending cuts. Those have already taken place. The agreement being worked on right now will further reduce the deficit by asking the wealthiest…to pay higher taxes for the first time in two decades, so that would add additional hundreds of billions of dollars to deficit reduction. (emphasis added)

A White House web page, published January 2, 2013 says the agreement “cuts the deficit by $737 billion by asking the wealthiest to begin to pay their fair share.” 

So how did this work out?  Were there “additional hundreds of billions of dollars” from the one percent? 

It turns out the over-$500,000 income earners did pay $8.4 billion more in 2013 than 2012, reducing the government’s deficit by about 1%, from what would have been $687 billion down to $679 billion.  Obviously, a tiny fraction of what the President predicted.

But, there were fewer taxpayers earning over $500,000 and the share of tax revenue they provided declined slightly, from 36% to 35%.

Democrats either conceal or never learned the historical reality that higher tax rates are a disincentive, discouraging entrepreneurs and investors from taking the risks that are inherent in starting or expanding businesses and creating jobs.  Government doesn’t cover losses but if the investments, risk taking and hard work pay off the IRS participates in any profits or gains as if it were a partner.

As the table above shows, the largest increases were to capital gains tax rates.  A capital gain is the profit from selling a capital asset for more than it cost.  Capital assets include stocks, bonds, real estate and businesses.  The tax is due and payable when an asset is sold.

How did top bracket taxpayers respond to Obama’s punishing capital gains tax hikes? Remember, the gain is not “realized” and thus is not taxed until the asset is sold.

In 2012 they sold enough assets to generate $505.7 Billion in capital gains. 

In 2013 they sold enough assets to generate $336.6 billion in capital gains, a 33% reduction. 

Thus, there was no significant tax revenue increase from top bracket taxpayers, even though there was a sharp increase in top bracket tax rates.

The bottom line:

The 2013 tax hikes on “the wealthiest” produced the same results as previous attempts to victimize high income entrepreneurs and investors: 

  • The promised benefit, a flood of free money to the government, all on the backs of “the one percent” didn’t materialize.
  • The middle class suffered from lack of economic opportunity because high tax rates discourage and reduce entrepreneurial activity that creates jobs and economic opportunities.

Democrats’ Ugly War On Small Business

For nearly a century Democrats have encouraged voters to indulge the ugly and self-destructive emotions of rage and resentment against “the rich.”  Denouncing the rich has been a core Democrat Party campaign strategy.  When they won elections Democrats harmed the economy and the non-rich by using government power to express these futile emotions through the tax code.

In the 2016 Presidential race Democrats are plowing the same old ground.  There has been almost no media exposure of the Democrats’ most recent debate, but resentment and loathing of men and women who are and always have been the heroes of the American economy, was a prominent theme.

Hillary Clinton assured the audience:little-hillary-flipflop

You know, the American president has to both keep our families safe and make the economy grow in a way that helps everyone, not just those at the top…Look, I have said I want to be the president for the struggling, the striving and the successful. I want to make sure the wealthy pay their fair share, which they have not been doing.

Senator Sanders bellowed:little-sanders-cnn

First statement is, we tell the billionaire class, “they cannot have it all.” For a start, they’re going to start to pay their fair share of taxes.

Later on, when the debate topic was jobs and middle class angst, Mrs. Clinton contradicted herself:Dem 2016 Debate

I also want to create jobs and I want to be a partner with the private sector. I’m particularly keen on creating jobs in small business…I want to do more to help incentivize and create more small businesses.

After a look at the relevant numbers we’ll show how Mrs. Clinton’s promised tax increase contradicts her promise to create more jobs and more small businesses and why punishing the rich with tax hikes is more harmful to the non-rich, middle class than to the despised wealthy.

2013-fair-shareEach year the IRS publishes exhaustive tables of statistical data.  While most economic headlines are about estimates that are  usually called “studies” extrapolated from indirect sources of data, the IRS publishes accurate, precise data drawn directly from tax returns.  The most recent IRS data, just published, is from the 147 million 2013 tax returns, that were submitted in the spring of 2014.

Democrat candidates always tell us the top one percent don’t pay their “fair share.”  So let’s go to the IRS data and look at what those candidates never disclose: what share of total tax revenue the highest income taxpayers actually do pay.

The pie charts show that in 2013 a tiny fraction of taxpayers, a little less than one percent, earned over $500,000. Yet their share of taxes paid was 35%. 

Put another way, ONE out of every 136 taxpayers pays $350 of every $1,000 the IRS collects. 

The national media, captivated by Donald Trump’s campaign of childish insults and loony, impossible to implement schemes hasn’t bothered to ask Mrs. Clinton or Senator Sanders what share of taxes paid would be “fair.”  But whenever Democrat candidates have been asked their answer has always been the same:  MORE!

What do we know about these highest income earners and how do they earn their wealth?  As the chart below shows, most of them – 89% – are business owners.

These businesses are organized – in IRS speak – as “pass through entities.”  They are sole proprietorships, S-Corporations, LLCs and partnerships and do not submit business tax returns like large corporations.  Instead all business revenue, expenses and profits “pass through” to the owners’ personal tax returns.  According to census data 55% of all business employment is in pass-through companies.business-owners

Typically, these owners keep a portion of profits for personal/family consumption and leave a portion in the business to reinvest in improvements, upgrades and expansions or to pay down debt. But both portions are combined and reported on a single tax return which does not differentiate.

Most of these 951,000 high income taxpayers are the owners of of the “middle market” businesses that create nearly all the new jobs in America.

Middle market is generally defined as a business with annual gross sales in the millions.  They’re bigger than “small businesses” with less than $1 million in sales and – typically – a dozen or fewer employees, but smaller than “big business,” the huge corporations with annual sales of tens or hundreds of billions and thousands of employees. One survey found that middle market businesses  average 367 employees.

Should the rest of us, the 99% who earn less than $500,000, be for or against taxing away more of the profits of these businesses?  Is there a downside that Democrats’ emotionally charged campaign slogans don’t disclose as they encourage us to resent these business owner taxpayers? 

Yes.

These high income business builders don’t react to tax hikes by moving their families into smaller homes or buying cheaper cuts of beef.  When government shrinks their after-tax income they react with shrinking investments in start-ups and expansions that generate new jobs and raise the demand for employees which results in higher wages.    This is why Mrs. Clinton’s call for targeting these specific business owners for higher taxes directly contradicts her promise to help business create jobs.

In a rational world the government would set lower, not higher tax rates on these entrepreneurs and investors.

How about a zero or near-zero tax rate on small and middle market business owners? Nothing the government could do would juice the economy and increase the demand for employees more rapidly.  But no politician would dare suggest it because most voters have been indoctrinated in the economics of envy and resentment.

So, instead of freeing entrepreneurs and investors to do what only they can do, government tries to run the economy via subsidies of politically favored companies and restrictive regulations of out-of-favor sectors like oil and natural gas production.  For many decades Democrats have won elections by attacking entrepreneurs and investors for “greed” and promising to punish them with even higher taxes.

In our next post we’ll look at the actual results of the most recent tax hikes on “the one percent.”

 

Stupid Media Endlessly Promotes Trump

One of Donald Trump’s favorite applause lines is “Our leaders are very very stupid.”

trump-cartoonBut few of our current leaders have made more headlines with stupid or unworkable ideas than Mr. Trump.  Yet the national media, even in hysterical opposition, treat Trump’s bar stool grunts as if they were feasible strategies that could actually be implemented.

As of this writing his most recent ananity was a crude eruption, contrived to turn the December 2 terror attack in San Bernardino, California into a Trump campaign advantage.

For four days TV news was a Donald free zone,  breathlessly presenting speculation, rumors, and a few facts from San Bernardino.  We saw live coverage of police and FBI press briefings that revealed almost no news.  The sanctimonious talking heads chattered endlessly, attacking gun ownership and scolding us for imaginary retaliation against innocent Muslims.

Finally, Trump decided he’d been ignored long enough and threw a grenade into the debate with another of his shock-and-jaw announcements, this time issued in writing, as a press release:

(New York, NY) December 7th, 2015, — Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.

Trump’s campaign manager was asked if the ban applied to Muslim-Americans, including US troops, returning from overseas business, vacations or deployments.  It applies to “everyone” was the imprecise answer.   Predictably, the media herd actually took this vapid nonsense seriously and, as if Trump had cracked a whip only they could hear, they stampeded, en masse to their cameras and keyboards to denounce him for bigotry, trashing “our values” and – most absurd of all – “handing ISIS a recruiting tool.”

Almost none of the shrieking heads asked how this wacky idea could be implemented when passports do not document religion.  The few who did ask heard the usual, stream of consciousness deflections, from the celebrity candidate who obviously had given the matter no thought, and wasn’t about to.

MSNBC host Willie Geist tried to pry some substance out of the recalcetrant, blowhard. Would airline representatives, customs agents or border guards ask a person’s religion?

“They would say: ‘Are you Muslim?'” Trump replied.

“And if they said, ‘yes,’ they would not be allowed in the country?” Geist asked.

“That’s correct,” Trump said.

So there is!  We’ll keep Islamic fanatics bent on mass murder from entering the country simply by asking them if they’re Muslim!  And Trump expects us to believe they’d admit to their religion, even though doing so would keep them out of the US and derail their mission!

Typically, Mr. Trump revised his response several times without clarifying it.  For example, this was the exchange with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday.

WALLACE:  Let’s talk practically about how your plan would work.  Someone wants to come to the U.S.  How do you find out if they’re Muslim?  Do you ask them?

TRUMP:  No, you do more than that.  You have a surveillance system and you check things, you have papers, and you have documents, and you go through a process, which we don’t do well right now.

Surveillance system? Trump’s administration will surveil billions of people all over the world and identify all the Muslims in case one of them applies for permission to visit America?  Since passports do not indicate religion the obvious follow-up question was, what are these “papers” and “documents” that expose Islam’s believers?  Probably because he knew the response would be hundreds of meaningless words ending with “we have to do it! We have to make America great again,” Wallace gave up and didn’t bother.

Obvious to anyone outside of cable news and liberal publications a “complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” is impossible to implement even if a President Trump could overcome enormous resistance from Congress and the courts.  And there most certainly would be resistance. While the Constitution’s First Amendment, including the right to free exercise of religion, doesn’t protect people in other nations it does protect anyone who is present in the US, including non-citizens and even illegal immigrants.  The perfectly reasonable and valid Constitutional argument would be made that if one had to renounce his religion in order to enter the country he would not be free to practice that religion, while here.

Trump’s Muslim shut-down is in the same fantasy category as his constantly repeated promise, to deport all of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants currently residing in the US.  Trump never acknowledges, perhaps because he doesn’t even know, that the President doesn’t have the authority to round up and haul millions of people to the border without first proving that each one is a non-citizen, without permission to live here.  Each individual must have a court hearing, wherein he is defended by a qualified immigration attorney, who has spent several hours preparing his case, which must be heard by a qualified immigration judge.  Only after the court rules can he or she be put on a bus or a plane back to Mexico or wherever.  If the court rules against him he is entitled to an appeal.

The existing system of fifty seven federal immigration courts handled approximately 171,000 deportation hearings in 2014.  We did the math.  Trump’s deportation hearings would take about 70 years.  If they all exercised their rights to appeal the time would more than double. Most would die of natural causes before the this government could ramp up the infrastructure to deport them.

And, what if Mexico or another nation refused to accept deportees?  Does Trump have a contingency plan?  Of course not!

Some of our leaders are indeed very, very stupid.  But not as stupid as the national media that awards Trump and his absurd schemes undeserved credibility and more ink and air time than all the other candidates combined.

The Christmas Miracle

From “The Message” Bible, a translation from the original Greek and Hebrew Manuscripts to contemporary American English.

dsc00392

Luke 1:

26-28 God sent the angel Gabriel to the Galilean village of Nazareth to a virgin engaged to be married to a man descended from David. His name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name, Mary. Upon entering, Gabriel greeted her:

“Good morning!
You’re beautiful with God’s beauty,
Beautiful inside and out!
God be with you.”

29-33She was thoroughly shaken, wondering what was behind a greeting like that. But the angel assured her, “Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus.

He will be great,
be called ‘Son of the Highest.’
The Lord God will give him
the throne of his father David;
He will rule Jacob’s house forever—
no end, ever, to his kingdom.”

34Mary said to the angel, “But how? I’ve never slept with a man.”

35The angel answered,

The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
the power of the Highest hover over you;
Therefore, the child you bring to birth
will be called Holy, Son of God.

Luke 2:

1-5: About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken  throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant.

6-7: While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.

8-12: There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”

13-14: At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:

Glory to God in the heavenly heights,

Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.

15-18: As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.

19-20: Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told!

Obama’s Deceptive Jobs Numbers

UPDATE: The jobs report for October shows the labor force participation rate unchanged at 62.4%.

The Labor Department’s September jobs report shows that private sector employers added 118,000 jobs in September.  Government added 24,000 for a total of 142,000.  The unemployment rate, at 5.1% was unchanged from August.

President Obama immediately claimed victory during his hastily called press conference that day:

little-obama-prayer-bkfstWe learned today that our businesses created another 118 new jobs in September which means we now have had 67 straight months of job creation, 13.2 million jobs in all. And an unemployment rate that has fallen from a high of 10% down to 5.1%.

The President hopes 13.2 million (private sector) jobs sounds like a big number to busy people who don’t have the time to verify the data behind everything he says.  But is it?

67-months-tableAs the table to the right shows, the past 67 months  have not been at all remarkable.  In fact, despite Obama’s attempt to regale us with statistics, it turns out we’re living through a period of sub-par job creation.  The record of the past 67 months ranks 33 out of all 67 month periods since the end of World War II.

What about the President’s boast that the unemployment rate has declined from a high of 10% to 5.1%?  It turns out that under the policies of the Obama era – for the first time ever – a falling unemployment rate is a symptom of economic deterioration.  How can this be?  This chart tells the story.ark-of-participation-oct-15

The labor force participation rate is the percentage of the working age population that is “in the labor force” either by holding a job or qualifying to be classified as “unemployed” by actively seeking a job every week.  As the chart above shows the participation rate has fallen precipitously since the end of the recession.

The official unemployment rate is the percentage of the labor force that is unemployed.  When people are unemployed for a long time they tend to become discouraged and don’t look for work often enough to be counted as “unemployed.”  They are then reclassified from “unemployed” to “out of the labor force.”  The unemployment rate peaked at 10% in October 2009. 

  • If today’s labor force participation rate were the same as October 2009 the current unemployment rate would be 8.9%.
  • If today’s labor force participation rate were the same as June 2009, the last month of the recession, the current unemployment rate would be 9.9%.
  • If today’s labor force participation rate were the same as January 2009, President Obama’s first month, the current unemployment rate would be 9.9%.
  • If today’s labor force participation rate were the same as in January 2008, the month before the recession began, the current unemployment rate would be 10.6%

Obama’s declining unemployment rate is due ENTIRELY to reclassifying jobless people from “unemployed” to “not in the labor force.”

This decline in labor force participation, due to workers becoming discouraged after long term unemployment, is unprecedented.  Nothing like this has ever happened since 1939 when the government began reporting these monthly statistics.

Why is this happening now? The short answer is big government:

  • Explosive growth in regulations,
  • the highest taxes on businesses in the developed world, and,
  • the Obamacare mandates that impose new costs on employers, punishing them financially for hiring more people.

The quadrennial Presidential election campaign is a season when people who usually ignore politics pay at least some attention.  It is imperative that our fellow voting citizens understand this jobs crisis and it’s causes.  Republicans must nominate a candidate who is NOT comfortable with the big government status quo, who is driven to scale back government intervention in the economy, and who can explain, in soaring Churchillian speeches why America is in decline and what it will take to turn our situation around.

 

President Reagan’s Inspiring Veterans Day Message

To Honor Heroes on Veterans Day

The Captivating Mrs. BoomerJeff created this oil painting called “A Hero’s Prayer,” from a DoD photo of World War II Vets who had received the Medal of Honor.   They were assembled on the dais for the opening prayer at the dedication of the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. April 29, 2004.

 

 

Hillary Gave Obama an A for This Economy?

In a interview last week Hillary Clinton said she would give President Obama’s economic record an A. Three days later the Commerce Department issued an economic report deserving of a D at best.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew a feeble 1.5% in the third quarter, ending September 30th. This is below average, even for the anemic Obama era and not nearly strong enough to restore the job market and normal American prosperity.

The Obama Administration insists that his economic record be measured not from the beginning of his first term but six months later when the recession ended and economic recovery began.  So, the first chart below compares the twenty five quarters of the Obama era post-recession recovery with the first twenty five quarters of every previous recovery since the government began issuing quarterly GDP reports.  In each case measurement begins with the first quarter of positive GDP growth after a recession.GDP-through-2015-Q3-era-addedObviously, our current “recovery” ranks tenth out of ten. 

The next chart shows the same post-recession economic growth data (green bars) plus the increase or decrease in government spending during the first two years of the preceding recession (blue bars.)

GDP-&-spending-through-2015-Q3

We included the second chart because the President and the Democrats promised us back in 2009 that their massive spike in government spending would buy a “robust recovery” and put America back to work.  The President promised that just one element of his borrowing and spending binge, the so-called stimulus, would, in his words, “immediately jumpstart job creation and long term growth.”   To cheers of approval from the political-media establishment the stimulus package was enacted on the 23d day of his Presidency.  We’re still waiting for that jumpstart.

The President, the media, and progressive economists were unanimous: A monster program of government borrowing and spending would bring about prosperity.  But, as the second chart shows, the historical data does not support this progressive article of faith.  There is no historical example of the government borrowing and spending the nation into prosperity. 

Obama’s reckless, seven year experiment has generated an alarming $6.2 trillion in deficits and increased government debt held by the public by 112%.

And, as the charts show we’re still suffering through the weakest post-recession recovery since the government began issuing quarterly GDP reports 66 years ago.  Yet Hillary Clinton and the Democrats insist the problem is government still hasn’t spent nearly enough!  They call for huge new spending programs, so many we can’t keep up.

A year ago the Administration spiked the football on news of two quarters in a row exceeding 4% growth.  We were told the President’s policies were working and prosperity was growing. But the four quarterly reports since then average an unacceptable 2%.  So there was no celebratory boasting from the White House this week.

The American economy, while the most resilient in human history, struggles under the weight of decades of accumulated government intervention in the form of excessive regulation, taxation, and bureaucratic mandates, the most recent being Obamacare and the massive, Dodd-Frank financial regulation law.  These government intrusions into the private sector, and the generally anti-business, anti-investment attitude of the Obama Administration discourages and deters entrepreneurs and investors, resulting in dramatically fewer of the business start-ups and expansions that create jobs and grow the economy.

Polls show that because Candidate Obama promised so much more than President Obama has delivered voters are restive and dissatisfied.  Yet Hillary Clinton, gives him an A and promises more of the same!

The clear, easily understood failure of Obama’s textbook, big government ideas presents an historic opportunity for a Republican Presidential candidate, not only to win the election but to do so with a genuine mandate for reduction of federal taxes, regulation and intervention in the economy.

Ben Carson, Constitutional Scholar Vs Unhinged Critics

The political-media establishment was enraged by Dr. Ben Carson’s answer to a question on Meet The Press regarding a hypothetical Muslim Presidential Candidate.

The context of the questionCarson-meet-the-press was a chorus of media and political indignation against Donald Trump for his failure to reprimand or correct a man who, at Trump’s town-hall style event had stepped to the microphone and claimed that President Obama was a Muslim and “not even an American.”

To conform with media priorities, Meet The Press host Chuck Todd needed Dr. Carson react to Trump’s conduct, as if that were more important to voters than Carson’s policy ideas.  Todd’s preamble included the phrase “finally dealing with” as if Carson had somehow dodged an obligation to address Trump’s behavior.  Both the questions and Carson’s answers have been widely misquoted and misrepresented.  So here’s a word for word transcript:

Chuck Todd: Let me wrap this up by finally dealing with what’s been going on, Donald Trump, and a deal with a questioner that claimed that the President was Muslim. Let me ask you the question this way: Should a President’s faith matter? Should your faith matter to voters?

Dr. Ben Carson: Well, I guess it depends on what that faith is.  If it’s inconsistent with the values and principles of America, then of course it should matter.  But if it fits within the realm of America and consistent with the Constitution, no problem.

Chuck Todd: So do you believe that Islam is consistent with the Constitution?

Dr. Ben Carson: No, I don’t, I do not.  I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.

The sanctimonious fury from liberals was immediate and intense.  Typical was a seething column titled Unfit for the Oval Office” by Washington post’s Jonathan Capehart, who opened by daring to go where pundits of the left almost never tread, the US Constitution.  Said Capehart:

The last phrase of Article VI, paragraph 3 of the Constitution could not be clearer: “… no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

By quoting only the last phrase, Caphart omitted relevant context.  Here is Article VI, paragraph 3 in its entirety. (We’ve underlined the portion Caphart quoted):
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

President-oath

The Constitution certainly does forbid a religious test, meaning that Congress may not enact a law making adherence to certain religion(s) a requirement for holding office.

But,the portion Capehart omitted requires every elected official, especially the President, to be bound by oath to uphold The Constitution.  This, as Dr. Carson understands, is the problem.  Islam, unlike other faiths, is both a religion and a political system.  Under Islam, government and religion are one.  Islamic law, or Sharia, is a complete system, not designed to coexist with or be subordinate to another authority, such as our Constitution.

Islamic law includes several provisions that directly contradict the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  Women are subordinated to less than equal status with men in almost every aspect of life.  In some matters, such as divorce women are treated as property.   Sharia forbids Muslims from choosing a different faith, with death being the penalty for violation.  Homosexuality is illegal and the penalty is death.  These are just a few examples of Islam’s draconian governance that Americans would find intolerable.

Dr. Carson was absolutely justified to answer the question as he did.  He could not advocate a Muslim President because the act of taking the Presidential oath of office, would constitute a repudiation of a Muslim’s faith.  Upholding the Constitution, to the exclusion of Sharia, would put this hypothetical President in direct conflict with his beliefs.  How could Carson, or anyone else, possibly advocate electing such a person to the Presidency?

Carson’s position is perfectly reasonable and makes perfect sense. His detractors have lost their minds in a swamp of irrational, political correctness.

Birthright Citizenship: Trump Sabotages the GOP

Donald Trump stirred up another ugly controversy and invited unnecessary resentment of Republicans over what would be impossible for a President to change and isn’t even worth fighting about.Trump-birthright

Predictably, Mr. Trump’s first written policy document was a package of immigration reform proposals including an end to birthright citizenship.

Trump’s roaring pronouncements regarding this idea kicked off heated debate over so-called “anchor babies” who, because they were born in the US are American citizens even though their parents are citizens of other countries who entered the US illegally. Unfortunately, the debate has been heavy on emotion and fury but light on reason.

More on why they’re called anchor babies and why the nickname is misleading in a bit.  First, the Constitution’s 14th Amendment.  The first sentence is:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.

This language was enacted in 1868, three years after the Civil War, primarily to protect black people, many of whom were recently freed slaves, from malicious schemes to deny their basic rights based on assertions they were not genuine citizens.  This first sentence of the 14th Amendment was intended to make clear that they were citizens and thus entitled to all the rights and privileges of citizenship.  In 1868 there were no “illegal immigrants” as we understand this term today, so the 14th Amendment’s authors may not have anticipated the concept of “anchor babies.”

We’ll discuss the qualifying clause “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof”  below.

Why are they called “anchor babies”?  A lot of people, perhaps including Mr. Trump, believe that the birth of a baby in the US is an immediate grant of immunity from deportation for the illegal immigrant parents and other family members.  But this isn’t true.  Under laws enacted decades ago a citizen must be at least 21 years old before he or she can apply for permission for parents or other family members to reside in the US legally.  The process takes several years, the outcome isn’t guaranteed, and there’s an additional three year waiting penalty for family members who have previously lived here illegally.

Thus, reality completely debunks Trump’s assertion that the opportunity to give birth to an American citizen baby is “the biggest magnet for illegal immigration” drawing millions of people who otherwise would not have come across the border illegally.  Most illegal immigrants are desperately poor, under-educated people, looking for immediate job opportunities and/or immediate government funded benefits.  They do not see themselves as taking step one in an elaborate, high-risk, anchor baby scheme that won’t pay off for 25-35 years, if ever.

Now let’s look at the Supreme Court’s thin record of precedents regarding the first sentence of the 14th Amendment.  On his Fox News program Bill O’Reilly thundered triumphantly at various guests that in a 1985 case, Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) vs Rios-Pineda the Supreme Court had decreed that a child of an illegal immigrant born in the United States was a citizen.

However, Mr. O’Reilly vastly overstated his point.  INS Vs Rios-Pineda was about an entirely different matter.  Mr. Rios-Pineda and his wife were illegal immigrants who had applied for permission to remain in the US.  Their application was denied and they had gone through several appeals over a period of six years, during which time they had had two children in the US.

But the Supreme Court case was not about the children.  The question resolved by the Courts’ ruling was whether or not the US Attorney General had the authority to deny them yet another appeal.  The Court’s opinion mentions the children in language called “dicta” because it’s incidental to the ruling and doesn’t become a precedent binding on lower courts in the future.

In fact, the court’s “holding” or it’s actual ruling, was that the Attorney General did have the authority to deny another appeal, resulting in immediate deportation of the family including the two citizen children.  So the fact noted by the court that the children were citizens was irrelevant to the family’s fate.  It didn’t help them at all.

Citizen children are routinely deported with their parents.  They can stay here, separated from their parents, only if family members who live here legally are willing and financially able to take responsibility for them as guardians.

Another Supreme Court case fueling the TV shouting matches is United States Vs Wong Kim Ark, decided in 1898.  But Wong, who contested actions taken against him by immigration authorities and won his case, was the son of LEGAL Chinese immigrants.  Thus this case is not relevant to the anchor baby question.

Finally, more furious arguments in favor of Mr. Trump’s position come from commentators citing the qualifying clause  mentioned above, “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.”  This language was intended to exclude a very small number of babies born to visiting foreign diplomats and a much larger number born to Indians who were considered citizens of their tribal nations, not the United States.  But, since Indians were made full, unqualified, United States citizens by an act of Congress in 1924 this clause would seem to be moot today.

However, Mr. Trump’s supporters while admitting that illegal immigrants are “subject to” or must obey the laws of the United states, still claim they are still not “subject to the jurisdiction” because they don’t “owe allegiance” to the United States.  This “owe allegiance” concept comes from Common Law, rooted in a past eras.  Do American citizens “owe allegiance” in the same way as citizens of Kingdoms?  Since we’re free to leave, free to renounce citizenship, free to become citizens of another nation it would seem that we don’t “owe allegiance.”  Very few Americans abandon their citizenship, not because we “owe” something,  but because we want to stay here.

In fact, the Supreme Court has never issued a ruling to directly answer the question, does the 14th Amendment make the children of illegal immigrants citizens?  Certainly the four liberal Justices now on the court who nearly always vote as a partisan block for whatever Democrats want would not vote for anything that might curtail immigration.  Conservative Justices are different from liberals in their aversion to rulings contrived to secure desired results rather than honest enforcement of Constitutional language.  So, they too would likely hold that “anchor babies” are citizens, based on the plain language of the 14th Amendment.

A Constitutional Amendment is theoretically possible.  But that would require two-thirds majority of both houses of Congress followed by three-quarters of state legislatures.  Also, attempting to deny citizenship to certain babies would be a much more complex administrative challenge than the bombastic Mr. Trump has bothered to discuss.  Birth records are generated by cities and counties on certificates that do not include immigration status.  Do we really want to shift this function to the already bloated federal government?   Would Mr. Trump hire federal officials to monitor maternity wards, verifying parental citizenship?  What about illegal immigrants who are temporarily “legal” because they are exempt from deportation pending review, like the Rios-Pineda family mentioned above?  Would their children be citizens?

In order to convert the legitimate anger and dismay of millions of us feel over uncontrolled immigration into votes for him,  Mr. Trump invites negative reactions from Hispanic people toward all Republicans by focusing on something a President can’t change and, given the state of the law isn’t even worth fighting about.  Indeed, if the border were secure, the relatively small number of births to illegal immigrants would fall nearly to zero leaving birthright citizenship a non-issue.

One of the reasons Republicans suffer election defeats is they get blamed for alleged harm done by their polices, when those policies were never implemented.  For example, we’re told that Republican inspired “deregulation” caused the financial crisis of 2008 when no regulations were repealed and the real cause was federal regulatory interference in the mortgage lending business.

Let’s hope some of the other GOP candidates have the spine to challenge Mr. Trump’s reckless ideas before the GOP once again snatches defeat from the jaws of victory.

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