Monday, June 04, 2018

Record Wage Increases, Record-Low Unemployment

A good economy is bad for Democrats, and today brings more good economic news.

As we noted last month, a good economy is bad for Democrats. And we got another load of good economic news this morning, regardless of Leftmedia spin.

First up, The Wall Street Journal’s James Freeman writes, “The number of small companies raising wages hit a record high in the U.S. this month. That’s according to the latest National Federation of Independent Business employment survey. … A full 35% of owners of small firms report increasing labor compensation, the highest percentage since NFIB started asking about it in 1986.” That trend could get even better, as Freeman notes that “businesses are ramping up spending on the tools that make their workers more productive and therefore able to command higher wages.”

Much of the wage increases are due to a tighter labor market. Employers added 223,000 jobs in May, which was higher than media expectations but not quite as surprising for those of us not blinded by Trump Derangement Syndrome. Headline unemployment dropped to 3.8%, the lowest since 2000. Black unemployment dropped to a new record low of 5.9%. And The Washington Post reports, “Many economists predict it will fall even further this year, potentially dropping to 3.5 percent, which would be the lowest rate since 1969.” It might have physically hurt that poor Post reporter to note such good news under Donald Trump.

Nancy Pelosi called Republican tax cuts “Armageddon” before dismissing them as “crumbs.” Back here in reality, the American economy is enjoying the fruit of good policy, brought to you without a single Democrat vote.



BOOM: Black Unemployment Hits All-Time Low Just Like President Trump Promised

The American people as a whole were in for a treat on Friday with the latest economic numbers. According to The Daily Caller:

The numbers reveal that the U.S. economy is booming and many key indicators of economic health are trending in the right direction. According to the Labor Department, the unemployment rate is 3.8 percent, the lowest in nearly two decades.

223,000 jobs were created and the May increase in payroll was bullish, surprising economists, according to NPR.  However, the most historic data points seem to be centered around black unemployment. The unemployment rate for African-Americans plunged to 5.9 percent in May. That is a record low. Interestingly, the gap between white ad black unemployment has shrunk to the smallest since these numbers have been recorded. The white unemployment (3.5%) and black unemployment (5.9%) is the smallest gap since the release of these numbers, beginning in the early 1970s.



Trump Puts an End to Taxpayer Subsidies for Unions

Government employee unions have enjoyed an absolute boondoggle in recent years, receiving hundreds of millions in taxpayer funds. But the boon could soon be over thanks to a new executive order from President Donald Trump.

Last Friday, the president signed an executive order requiring that federal government employees who work full-time for the public employee unions at taxpayer expense spend at least 75 percent of their paid time on the government’s business. The administration estimates this will save taxpayers $100 million.

This measure is one of three executive orders the president signed on Friday. Those orders do not eliminate taxpayer subsidies for public employee unions altogether—that is Congress’ job—but they do end the taxpayer subsidy of travel for union business; mandate that unions be charged fair market value for rents of government office space; streamline the public employee appeals process so that bad apples can be fired more rapidly; and force taxpayer-funded union workers to spend at least three-quarters of their time doing the people’s business.

Most people are shocked to learn that taxpayers have been footing the bill for public employee union salaries, but they become incensed when they learn that in 2016, union employees were paid $177 million by the federal government, not counting office space and travel expenses.

A 2013 Freedom of Information Act request by Americans for Limited Government discovered that the Department of Veterans Affairs alone had over 250 employees working full time for unions in 2011. The Transportation Department had 35 employees on full-time “official time,” many of whom had salaries in excess of $170,000 per year.

And in 2012, when the IRS was busy playing politics by delaying and denying tea party group applications for nonprofit status, The Washington Times reported that more than 200 full-time IRS employees were engaged in nothing but union activity. The same report added that taxpayers picked up the bill for another $687,400 in union travel at the IRS alone.

It’s bad enough that the federal government spent between $150 and $200 million a year on union salaries and travel, but what’s worse is that this indirectly subsidized unions’ political activity. Because money is fungible, the money that public employee unions didn’t have to spend on personnel could then be turned around and spent on politics.

Public employee unions are among the biggest donors in politics, with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees ranked the 15th-largest contributor so far in 2018, according to OpenSecrets. And this group, in particular, has overwhelmingly favored Democrats over Republicans.

Of the $4,843,291 that this group has poured into politics this year, exactly $6,000 of it went to groups, causes, or politicians considered to be Republican or conservative. In 2016, it spent almost $16 million on politics with under $8,000 going to Republican or conservative groups. In that same election cycle, its political action committee could not find a single Republican to support, giving 100 percent of its money to Democrats.

This is just one case out of many. For years, taxpayers have subsidized public unions that pursue political activities and overwhelmingly donate to Democrats. Their donations are designed to grow government, and consequently, their own membership.

Public employee unions don’t even pretend to be anything but big government advocates. The president’s executive order forcing taxpayer-funded union employees to spend 75 percent of their time doing their federal job is a good first step in reigning in this far-left government funding stream.

Trump deserves kudos for recognizing the absurdity of taxpayer funding of the left, and in particular, he deserves credit for hiring people like Russ Vought and James Sherk for the Office of Management and Budget and White House staff, respectively, and Nathan Mehrens for the Labor Department.

By hiring people who have studied and understand how the current federal civil service system perpetuates the administrative state, Trump set himself up for success when it comes to dealing with the wash, rinse, repeat swamp cycle that the public employee unions perpetuate.

Recently, much of the discussion about public employee unions in politics has been focused upon the upcoming Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court decision, which could allow public employees at all levels of government to opt out of paying dues as a First Amendment right. But these new executive orders will have a much greater impact on the federal bureaucracy, since federal employees already have the right to not join the union.

This executive order will shift about $100 million in union employee costs back onto the unions. This will force them to prioritize which cases should be fought and which ones should be settled, injecting some rationality and perhaps greater speed into the federal government firing process.

Now, the president needs to take the next step: force the public employee unions to compete for their members through an opt-in process, where the employee would have to actively decide to be a member of the union rather than being assumed to be a member unless he or she fills out the proper paperwork.

If the president takes this next bold step, the public employee union stranglehold on the federal government will be broken, giving Congress a chance to pass full-blown civil service reform.

You can almost hear the swamp draining.



Fake News: Blaming Trump for Obama's Policy

In an apparent response to President Donald Trump's call to pressure Democrats into getting serious on securing the border — specifically conceding on funding for a border wall — leftists spread an image across social media of illegal alien children sleeping in an ICE detention cell. In a bit of poetic irony, Barack Obama's former speechwriter Jon Favreau also shared the image, declaring, "Look at these pictures. This is happening right now, and the only debate that matters is how we force our government to get these kids back to their families as fast as humanly possible." The glaring problem: The photograph was from an article published by The Arizona Republic in 2014. And who was president then?

Trump responded to the fake news, writing, "Democrats mistakenly tweet 2014 pictures from Obama's term showing children from the Border in steel cages. They thought it was recent pictures in order to make us look bad, but backfires. Dems must agree to Wall and new Border Protection for good of country... Bipartisan Bill!" The whole episode sounds a lot like the recent BIG Lie about Trump supposedly calling immigrants "animals," when he was specifically referring to the violent MS-13 gang.

Aside from this latest fake news episode, the controversy over separating illegal alien children from their parents is a result of current immigration law — law that Trump is calling on Congress to change. And while the law clearly isn't an ideal means of dealing with the often confusing situations that can arise, the responsibility must ultimately lie with those illegal alien parents who are knowingly breaking U.S. immigration law. Furthermore, fault also lies with Obama and his unconstitutional implementation of DACA, which only served to encourage more illegals to bring children with them, sometimes as cover.

In an effort to dissuade families from illegally immigrating, Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently warned, "If you cross the border unlawfully ... then we will prosecute you... If you smuggle an illegal alien across the border, then we'll prosecute you. ... If you're smuggling a child, then we're going to prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you, probably, as required by law. If you don't want your child separated, then don't bring them across the border illegally. It's not our fault that somebody does that."

The truth is Trump has called for strong enforcement of the U.S. border, in part via building a wall, and has declared his desire to seek a legislative solution on DACA, both of which Democrats have resisted because they'd rather have a political wedge issue. Democrats are the ones most responsible for creating and exacerbating this problem by their continued campaign to intentionally undermine U.S. immigration law. So they can spare us their phony outrage.



Trump pardons Dinesh D'Souza — and might do the same for Rod Blagojevich and Martha Stewart

D'Souza's "offence" was to give $20,000 to a conservative politician's campaign fund

 In granting the fifth pardon of his presidency Thursday, President Trump showed that he's not afraid of political consequences of using his clemency power to correct what he perceives as unjust, politically motivated prosecutions.

On an Air Force One flight to Houston, Trump pardoned conservative commentator Dinesh D'Souza for making illegal campaign contributions — and then said he is also considering presidential clemency for others, including former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich and lifestyle guru Martha Stewart.

He told reporters that Blagojevich's attempt to sell Barack Obama's former Senate seat after Obama became president was "a stupid thing to say" but not worth 18 years in prison. Blagojevich, a Democrat, appeared on Trump's reality television show Celebrity Apprentice in 2010.

Trump said a pardon of Stewart also crossed his mind. Stewart, the head of a publishing and television empire who hosted a spinoff of The Apprentice, was convicted of obstructing justice in an investigation into insider trading in 2004.

"I think to a certain extent, Martha Stewart was harshly and unfairly treated. And she used to be my biggest fan in the world — before I became a politician," Trump said. "But that’s OK. I don’t view it that way."

Trump said he called D'Souza, who is serving five years' probation for making illegal campaign contributions, to give him the news Wednesday night. "I’ve always felt he was very unfairly treated. And a lot of people did," he said. "What they did to him was horrible.”

Trump said no one asked him to pardon D'Souza, but D'Souza himself credited a social media campaign and the intervention of Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas — a family friend — in bringing the case to Trump's attention

And although D'Souza's lawyers argued that he was selectively prosecuted because of his attacks on Obama, D'Souza himself backed off the claim at his sentencing.

"I'm sorry for what I did. I have never said otherwise," he said then. "I have never even said I am being selectively prosecuted. I feared that I was being."

D'Souza pleaded guilty of making "straw donations" in the names of others to support the candidacy of Republican New York Senate candidate Wendy Long, who lost to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in 2012. Those straw donations allowed him to give $20,000 in illegal contributions to the campaign, exceeding the $5,000 legal limit.

Those facts provide a parallel to the federal investigation into Trump's attorney, who may also face federal charges of exceeding campaign contribution limits and failing to disclose a $130,000 payoff to Stormy Daniels, a porn star who claims she had an extramarital relationship with Trump in 2006.

Rick Hasen, a University of California-Irvine law professor who specializes in election law, said the pardon sends "yet another signal to Michael Cohen and others about the possibility of a Trump pardon."

Sixteen months into his presidency, Trump has pardoned more people than any president since George H.W. Bush in 1989.

His pardons include former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, pardoned for contempt of court and former Bush White House aide Scooter Libby for lying to the FBI in a leak investigation.

Trump also pardoned Kristian Saucier, a former Navy submariner whose conviction for mishandling classified information became a conservative cause because of its comparisons to Democratic Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server.

And last week, Trump gave a rare posthumous pardon to Jack Johnson, the former heavyweight boxing champion convicted in 1913 of racially motivated charges related to his relationship with a white woman.

Like all of those cases, D'Souza did not apply for a pardon with the Office of the Pardon Attorney, the Justice Department unit that conducts investigations of pardon cases and sends recommendations to the president. Under Justice Department rules, D'Souza would be ineligible through that process because he's on probation.

Likewise, neither Blagojevich nor Stewart has applied for clemency.

The president's constitutional authority to pardon is not bound by those rules, so Trump has granted politically charged pardons though he denied 180 applications from people who applied through the Justice Department.

D'Souza, 57, is an Indian-born author and documentary filmmaker whose work has assailed Obama, Islam and multiculturalism. His most recent book is The Big Lie: Exposing the Nazi Roots of the American Left.

Though he was spared prison time in the campaign-finance case, D'Souza's conviction put him under court supervision. He was required to undergo weekly counseling sessions and complete an eight-hour day of community service during every week of his five-year probation. That community service: teaching English to Spanish-speaking immigrants at Catholic parishes.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Trump determined D'Souza was "fully worthy of this pardon." "Mr. D’Souza was, in the president’s opinion, a victim of selective prosecution for violations of campaign-finance laws," she said. "Mr. D’Souza accepted responsibility for his actions and also completed community service by teaching English to citizens and immigrants seeking citizenship."



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