The infamous leader of the Sinaloa cartel, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, was finally arrested and taken into custody last week, bringing an end to a brutal era in the Mexico's drug war. But as the cartels make their way back into the news with Guzman's arrest, a majority of Americans believe the Mexican government isn't doing enough to crack down on their violent and illegal activity. From Rasmussen:
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 65% of Likely U.S. Voters do not believe the Mexican government has been aggressive enough in its efforts to stop illegal drug traffickers in Mexico. Just 12% think the Mexicans have been aggressive enough in their anti-drug efforts.
Border analyst Sylvia Longmire predicts El Chapo's arrest will spark new violence along the southwest border with Mexico as cartel members battle to fill the Guzman power vacuum.
The question now becomes, what happens to the Federation and violence in Mexico with El Chapo gone? The biggest danger when a kingpin is killed or arrested is that there will be a power vacuum. The fighting and bloodletting starts when either members of that cartel or rivals start to compete for the position. Rival cartels see the elimination of a kingpin as a sign of weakness and an opening to move in and seize territory. Los Zetas are the Federation’s biggest rival, and will be watching the transition closely for any opportunity.
I am continually amazed how many of the very agents in charge of enforcing America's gun laws at the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms are completely reckless with guns. Further, it's incredible how good they are at losing guns as a result of irresponsible or careless behavior. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is out with a new report showing ATF agents lost dozens of their loaded government issued handguns, one of which was found by children (paging Diane Sawyer at ABC News):
ATF agents have lost track of dozens of government-issued guns, after stashing them under the front seats in their cars, in glove compartments or simply leaving them on top of their vehicles and driving away, according to internal reports from the past five years obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Agents left their guns behind in bathroom stalls, at a hospital, outside a movie theater and on a plane, according to the records, obtained Tuesday by the news organization under the federal Freedom of Information Act.
In December 2009, two 6-year-old boys spotted an agent's loaded ATF Smith & Wesson .357 on a storm sewer grate in Bettendorf, Iowa. The agent lived nearby and later said he couldn't find his gun for days but didn't bother reporting it — until it hit the local newspaper.
In Los Angeles in 2011, an agent went out to a bar drinking with other agents and friends, reportedly consuming four alcoholic beverages. The next morning he woke up and realized his ATF-issued Glock was gone. It was not found.
Unreal. A loaded handgun spotted by kids thanks to careless placement? Drinking while carrying a firearm in a restaurant establishment? That's illegal. In fact, carrying a gun into a bar is illegal in most states, including California. Oh and what's this? It wasn't just handguns that were lost or stolen but long guns too? Terrific.
Most of the lost weapons were handguns, but there also were at least two assault rifles stolen. Typically the reports do not indicate what happened to the unrecovered guns. However, in a November 2008 incident, the gun may have wound up in Mexico, according to the report.
Last year the Journal Sentinel found ATF had lost a fully-automatic machine gun on the streets of Milwaukee. In early 2011, shortly after Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed, we found out the Bureau allowed more than 2500 firearms to be trafficked from the United States and into Mexico for use by brutal Mexican cartels. How do these incidents keep happening? Because there is never any real accountability or consequences for these actions, so they continue.
At the end of 2013, the Obama administration announced new goals for legislation requiring lost or stolen guns to be reported. They should start with ATF. It is completely asinine that the very same agency responsible for enforcing gun laws is full of agents constantly breaking those laws and losing firearms.
Connecticut's US senator, Richard Blumenthal, and a congress-person, Rosa DeLauro, have been subpoenaed in a case alleging that the SEIU's pressure tactics on nursing home managements during labor disputes amounted to unlawful extortion.
Neither politician has been accused of any wrongdoing, but unless a judge grants a delay, both will be forced to produce any documents in their possession pertaining to the SEIU.
Other Connecticut politicians will be subject to depositions, including Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy, state Attorney General George Jepson, andConnecticut state senators John Fonfara and Russ Morin. All are Democrats.
Again, none of the politicians has been accused of any unlawful behavior. Even so, if the document requests and depositions go forward, Americans may learn a lot about the relationship between at least one state's politicians and a very powerful union.
This Obamacare horror story will no doubt be summarily discarded by Harry Reid, but Hawaii's taxpayers may take notice anyway. Remember, Hawaii is one of those enlightened, down-for-the-cause states that happily agreed to fully implement Obamacare -- the sundry failures of which have been lamely and inaccurately blamed on less cooperative states. The law is "going to be smoother in places...where governors are working to implement it rather than fight it," President Obama told a cheering audience of partisans in late September. An yet, like its true-blue counterparts in Maryland, Oregon and elsewhere, the Hawaiian exchange remains a shambolic, ludicrously expensive mess. The Los Angeles Times reports:
When the federal government began parceling out billions of dollars for the new health insurance marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act, President Obama's home state was in an enviable position. Hawaii already had one of the highest insured rates in the nation as the result of a 40-year-old state law requiring employers to provide coverage. The state received more than $205 million in federal money to build a health insurance exchange to serve those still uninsured. Yet four months after enrollments began, the Hawaii Health Connector has allocated $120 million while signing up only about 4,300 people for health plans — fewer than any other state. Despite officials' initial hopes of enrolling tens of thousands of Hawaiians, only 400 employers have applied for plans for their employees.
Hawaii's taxpayers have spent approximately $28,000 per enrollee -- and that's assuming the 4,300 number isn't significantly and deliberately inflated like the rest of Obamacare's enrollment figures. That's still better than Oregon's clusterfark, in which Democrats in that state spent more than $330 million on an exchange that still hadn't enrolled a single person online as of last month. Meanwhile, things could get worse down in paradise before they get better:
Lawmakers...have struggled for months to get basic financial information or even an explanation of how the Health Connector will remain viable when federal grant money runs out this year. The rollout has also been mired in technical problems, with the website overseen by the same company that built the federal government's troubled HealthCare.gov website...The original October deadline was missed by 15 days, and contractors are still trying to correct problems that have left thousands of applications caught between the agency's system and a system built by another contractor that checks for Medicaid eligibility.
Hawaii's exchange is currently being run by its second executive director since October; the first one "quit in December without a clear explanation." There seems to be a lot of that going around. In Maryland, home to another ousted Obamacare official, things are so bad that Democrats are fighting among themselves over whether or not to abandon their nine-figure, taxpayer-funded exchange misadventure and simply join the federal program. Back to the national sign-up totals for a moment: HHS announced excitedly yesterday that they've reached the milestone of 4 million enrollees in private plans. We recently explained why these statistics don't reflect reality. First, they don't account for unpaid-for "plan selections." Factoring those in, you can knock off at least 800,000 people right off the top, based on expert estimates. Also, the administration can't or won't reveal how many of these "new" enrollees were, in fact, previously insured (and were dropped from their previous plans in contravention of a gold-plated presidential promise). In spite of Team Obamacare's misleading data and happy talk, we also noted that program enrollment appeared to be slowing down in January. Has that trend continued into February? Philip Klein pores over the data and says yes:
The Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday declared a "significant milestone" for President Obama's health care law by claiming that 4 million Americans had now signed up for coverage. But a closer examination of the numbers suggests that the pace of sign-ups is slowing In a similar blog post on Jan. 24, Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, praised the "milestone" of 3 million sign-ups. That represented a gain of 800,000 individuals since the end of December, when HHS had put the number at 2.2 million. But the Tuesday claim of 4 million sign-ups represents a smaller 700,000 gain from the 3.3 million total the administration reported as of Feb. 1. Last year, before the law's exchanges had opened, an HHS memo had projected about 200,000 more individuals would sign up in the month than in January. That memo estimated nearly 1.3 million sign-ups in February -- or nearly 600,000 more than HHS claims have signed up thus far...Before the botched rollout of the law's exchanges, the administration had defined success as 7 million total sign-ups.
Obamacare horror stories of premiums skyrocketing and cancer patients being kicked off their insurance plans are all lies being crafted and circulated by the Koch Brothers, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) claimed Wednesday.
Watch, as Reid claims the story of a Leukemia patient was one “made from whole cloth:”
“These two brothers are trying to buy America...I don’t believe America is for sale.”
The parade of horrible stories trotted out by the haters of this bill have proved not to be true….
Democrats are proud that they voted for it, there are many that are going to offer and suggest changes, but our effort is trying to make clear that now, four years into implementation, we’re really starting to see in real terms the benefits.
This seems like a very desperate move by Democrats. It is also extremely daring to claim that ALL of the Obamacare horror stories are untrue. These are not stories being fed by one news organization. They are in the New York Times, Forbes, Los Angeles Times, The Huffington Post, Daily Caller, and even King 5 (the point being small news organization that are not widely known).
There are countless tales of how Obamacare is hurting Americans. So where is all the “good news” Sen. Reid? To pull off a lie of this size would be quite the feat, don’t you think?
Vice President Joe Biden called on Congress to restore the Voting Rights Act at a Black History Month event Tuesday and said that voter ID laws in some southern states are evidence of lingering “zealotry” and “hatred.”
"These guys never go away. Hatred never, never goes away," Biden said, singling out laws in Alabama, North Carolina, and Texas. "The zealotry of those who wish to limit the franchise cannot be smothered by reason."
Biden was hopeful that Congress would address the parts of the Voting Rights Act overturned by the Supreme Court in June.
“This fight has been too long, this fight has been too hard, to do anything other than win — not on the margins, but flat-out win.”
There is no "hatred" behind these laws, however--only a desire to prevent voter and election fraud, which threaten the integrity of America’s electoral system. And it has widespread support—74 percent of Americans support voter ID laws.
Nevertheless, the Justice Department is challenging North Carolina and Texas’ voter ID laws.
North Carolina's Lt. Governor Dan Forest is not a fan of the new Common Core curriculum. Citing concerns about academic rigor, the ability to effectively teach gifted students, and preparedness for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) careers, Forest delivered an epic takedown of the curriculum at the NCGA's LRC Study Committee for Common Core State Standards.
Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, is out today with a comprehensive tax reform plan. It's a 979-page plan that, among other things, lowers marginal income tax rates, lowers the corporate tax rate, increases the standard deduction for individual and married couples, phases out certain tax breaks, consolidates other tax breaks, and reforms retirement savings plans. The estimated impact of all of these reforms, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, will be more jobs, more economic growth, and a more progressive tax code.
The long-rumored simplification of the tax code is the central plank of the Camp plan. Rather than seven tax brackets, we'll now have three: 10%, 25%, and 35% - with the 35% rate kicking in on individuals who make more than $400,000 or couples who make over $450,000:
The plan also drastically ups the standard deduction that taxpayers take on their tax returns, to $11,000 for individuals and $22,000 for couples. This is functionally a tax cut for a lot of individuals - fewer people will have to itemize their deductions to save on their tax returns. The Joint Committee on Taxation's analysis estimates that fewer than 5% of Americans will have to itemize under this system. The Alternative Minimum tax is also eliminated under Camp's proposal.
When it comes to corporations, Camp proposes to cut the corporate income tax rate from 35% to 25% and eliminate certain corporate tax breaks, including the global taxation of corporate dividends. This would bring the American statutory corporate tax rate more in line with the rest of the developed world (it's currently the highest) and more in line with how other countries tax global income. All in all, the provisions of lowering the rate and broadening the base, the JCT finds, would increase corporate tax receipts by over $500 billion over ten years.
When it comes to investment taxes, the Camp proposal would tax capital gains and dividends at ordinary rates rather than a lower rate. This combined with the lowering of ordinary rates would result in a small hike in capital gains tax rates.
The JCT finds that tax reform on the whole would actually make the tax code mildly more progressive. Once all of the tax provisions are phased in, middle-class families would face the largest tax cut as a percentage of their income, while taxpayers at the upper end of the income distribution would see either a small tax hike or a small tax cut depending on the composition of their income. Here's how the JCT looks at the distributional impact of Camp's tax reform plan:
And, according to the JCT, Rep. Camp has largely kept his promise to keep tax reform revenue-neutral. The effect of every provision of his tax reform would be to raise federal revenues by $3 billion over the next ten years.
Where the analysis gets interesting is its economic effects. For all of the tax provisions and distributional effects, the JCT finds that this revenue-neutral tax reform will add jobs, stimulate activity and grow the economy. Private sector employment will increase between 0.4-0.7% - which sounds small, but when taking the entire economy into account, means an increase of up to 1.8 million jobs. At the optimistic end of the spectrum, Camp estimates that the tax reform will add $3.4 trillion to American GDP over the course of ten years. That's not small change.
The tax reform plan isn't all good. Equalizing the tax treatment of investment and labor income might be troubling, and the lowered caps on mortgage interest deduction will trouble a lot of people (such as Salem Radio's Hugh Hewitt). Charitable deductions will play a much smaller role in the tax code as well. On the whole, though, the long-sought Camp tax reform will do exactly as many Republicans promised: broaden the base, lower income tax rates, remain budget-neutral, increase economic growth, and reform the corporate tax code.
This could all be for naught, as John Boehner refused to announce if there will actually be a vote on Camp's legislation. But for now, tax reformers have a lot to be excited about.
According to an audit released yesterday, it appears the Obama administration has regularly given breaks to businesses that hire illegal immigrants. I guess President Obama missed the whole illegal part.
The Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general found that the Obama administration has been reducing these businesses’ fines by an average of 40 percent. In one case in particular, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement cut one business’s fine from $4.9 million to slightly more than $1 million. This was a 78 percent cut.
The report explains that these reductions are legal, but that they may be undercutting the administration’s goal of being tougher on businesses that hire illegal immigrants.
“The knowledge that fines can be significantly reduced may diminish the effectiveness of fines as a deterrent to hiring unauthorized workers,” the inspector general said.
May be? Well yeah, that’s exactly what those actions do!
According to analysts, the illegal immigration problem would be reduced if businesses would abide by employment laws. The focus should not only be on the illegal immigrants, but also their employers.
The inspector general’s report said ICE submitted notices totaling fines of more than $52.7 million from 2009 through 2012, but ended up charging only $31.2 million — for a 40 percent break for businesses.
Basically ICE has shown little consistency in how it applies sanctions on these businesses. Some field offices give out more warnings and fewer fines than other offices. ICE didn’t address the issue of reduced fines in their reply to the report. Instead the agency claims it tries to be consistent with how they go after employers, but various factors can change the outcome.
Clearly we need to remember that it is not only the illegal immigrants that we need to address in immigration reform, but it’s the businesses that hire them too. With this new report, we have found more money that should have been used to fund the government, but instead is going to waste. It seems there is money out there to be collected, but instead the Obama administration is taking the side of businesses over the taxpayers.
Thanks to a bit of public pressure, Democratic West Virginia legislators have voted to ban abortions after 20 weeks, the point at which unborn babies can feel pain.
Here’s how the interesting vote played out:
The legislation, which passed 79 to 17 with the support of 33 Democrats, was originally defeated by Democrats by a vote of 48 to 48 on February 11 when Minority Leader Tim Armstead (R-Kanawha) made the motion to Discharge the Committee and bring the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to the floor. Democrats then introduced their own bill following uproar from pro-life activists across the state and a contentious Democratic caucus meeting which, according to local media reports included “yelling and screaming, and even delegates concerned that fisticuffs might break out.
Some of the shouting likely came from Delegate Nancy Guthrie, D-Kanawha, who said the Legislature does not have the right to tell her or any other woman what rights she has with her body:
"All of you should be ashamed of yourselves for bringing this bill to the floor of the House," she said.
Other delegates called the bill unconstitutional and politically motivated.
But, despite the emotional debate, the Democratic representatives voted in favor of the pro-life legislation, which makes it a felony to perform an abortion after 20 weeks. The sentence for a doctor caught performing the procedure is one to five years in prison.
Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser is grateful to the Democratic representatives who changed their votes:
“We are especially thankful to the five Democratic women representatives who, bucking pressure from the abortion lobby, voted for this compassionate, pro-woman legislation.”
If the other side is going to cave in on anything, abortion has to be the best issue in which to do so. A bit of healthy pro-life pressure and maybe even a few sincerely changed hearts in the state house allowed West Virginia to take one step closer to protecting unborn babies from these painful and deadly procedures.