Puerto Rico to vote on Statehood on Sunday

Puerto Rico was a Spanish colony up until the Spanish-American War in 1898, when it was ceded to the United States.  

The island has been an unincorporated organized territory with commonwealth constitution since 1952, when the United States gave Puerto Ricans more political autonomy.  

Notably, Puerto Rican citizens are also United States citizens because of a law passed before World War I that would require them to be in the draft.

Now, the Puerto Ricans will once again go the polls to vote on statehood, and here are the facts of this situation:

Past Votes on Statehood have all resulted in a “no,” except the most recent.

There have been four separate votes in the past; the last of which being in November of 2012.  In this vote, 54.44% of those who voted wanted to change its current political status of a Commonwealth.  And 61.11% of those people voted to become a state.  So, in December of 2012, the legilative assembly of Puerto Rico requested the President and Congress to act quickly and begin the process of statehood.  Then, in 2014 legislation was introduced in United States Congress to make it a state, but that failed early in the committee stage.

The Governor of Puerto Rico supports Statehood.

Ricky Rosselló, Governor of Puerto Rico, has been a leader in the statehood movement since 2010 when he founded the political advocacy group Boricua ¡Ahora Es!.  This is a group that is attempting to bring Puerto Rico into statehood.  Currently, he is the leader of the New Progressive Party of Puerto Rico that ran on making the island a state.  He and his wife have given dozens of speeches in recent months advocating for the statehood of Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico is currently in a major Financial Crisis.

The Governor of Puerto Rico wants to become a state, probably because the unincorporated island territory has $120 billion in debt and the unemployment is now at a staggering 12.5% compared to 4.7% in the mainland U.S.  When the Great Recession of 2008 hit the United States, it his Puerto Rico as well.  While the U.S. is recovering, Puerto Rico is not.  Earlier this year, Puerto Rico became the first U.S. state of territory to file for bankruptcy.  Many of the financial aspects of the island were taken over last year by a fiscal control board created by the U.S. Congress.  It was recommended that there should be major cuts to education and public services on the island, which caused riots and protests.  So, there would be largely negative economic impacts for the United States as a whole if Puerto Rico became a state.

The U.S. Congress might not even recognize the Vote.

As previously mentioned, Puerto Rico voted for statehood in 2014, but Congress failed to pass any legislation.  The goal for Puerto Rico is to have such a resounding vote that Congress cannot ignore the 3.4 million citizens of the island.  In addition, the negative economic impacts of adding Puerto Rico as a state would surely get in the way of Donald Trump’s agenda of “Making America Great Again”.

Politically, It would be bad For Republicans to make Puerto Rico a State.

If Puerto Rico becomes a state, it would vote Democrat in every election.  For the last 30 years, the island has been dominated by liberal parties that are now defined by the desire for statehood.  Of the last 12 governors of Puerto Rico, 9 have been considered Democrats.  The last Republican governor was Luis Fortuño from 2009 to 2013.  During this time, Puerto Rico had its deficit cut by nearly 80% and experienced the only period of economic growth in recent history.  Oddly, since that time Puerto Ricans have wanted nothing but Democratic governors who haven’t improved the economy at all.

The Definitive Guide: President Donald Trump’s Border Wall

President Donald Trump wants to build a Wall to Keep Illegal Immigrants – and the Problems associated with them – out

During his campaign, President Donald Trump promised to build a wall along the American-Mexican border to keep illegal immigrants out of the country.

However, included in his plan to halt the flow of people is to also stop many of the problems associated with the illegals, many of which are negative for the United States.

Some facts on illegal immigration and illegal immigrants.

  1. Illegal Immigrants cost a collective $113 Billion per year
  2. Illegal Immigrants Cost Each Native, Tax-Paying Household About $1,117
  3. Illegal Immigrants are 3X More Likely to Commit a Crime
  4. Illegal Immigrants Reduces Wages in a Field in an Area
  5. ¾ of people on ‘Most Wanted List’ are Illegal Immigrants

A main argument against the wall is that it will not actually deter illegal immigrants from entering the country. However, the President has attempted to assure everyone that it will: “Walls work. Just ask Israel.”

The Border Wall will be a Costly Venture

During the campaign trail, President Donald Trump estimated the border wall would cost about $12 billion to build. Republicans Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell put the figure a little higher at $15 billion.

Democrats, on the contrary, have been saying the cost would be much higher than what the Republicans estimated, putting the number at $70 billion and above.

However, a Department of Homeland Security report seen by Reuters put the cost at about $21.6 billion, a figure higher than the Republicans estimated and much lower than the Dems hypothesized.

In addition, the same report also showed that the wall would take up to 3.5 years to be fully constructed.

Sources: Reuters – “Exclusive – Trump border ‘wall’ to cost $21.6 billion, take 3.5 years to build: internal report,” NBC – “Donald Trump’s Border Wall: A ‘Progress’ Report”

The Source of Funding is Unknown at this point

During his campaign, now-President Donald Trump promised to make Mexico pay for the wall. As expected, Mexican President Enrique Nieto forcefully told Trump that his country would not.

Of course, Mr. Nieto was mistakenly thinking that he would have to send a check to Capitol Hill, but there are varieties of other options:

  1. The Border Wall Funding Act of 2017: Proposed by Mike Rogers (R-Ala), the bill puts a 2% tax on the approximately 24.3 billion sent to Mexico in remittances each year. Source: NPR – “A Proposed New Tax, Mainly On Latinos, To Pay For Trump’s Border Wall”
  2. Taxing Imports from Mexico: By levying taxes on imports from Mexico, the United States would gain a large portion of new tax revenue that would eventually pay off the full price of the wall. Source: Washington Post – “Yes, Trump can make Mexico pay for the border wall. Here’s how.”

The current plan is to have taxpayer dollars cover some of the early costs, and enact a later plan to cover the costs. However, most believe that taxpayers will end up footing the bill for the entire project.

Other Pertinent Information on the Wall

  1. The Mexican-American Border is approximately 2,000 miles in length, with about 694 miles of that length already blocked off by a fence or a wall.
  2. One of the biggest challenges of building the wall is acquiring the land along the border, much of which is owned by private businesses or private citizens.
  3. President Trump wants the wall to be physically imposing, proposing a plan to build the wall up to 30 feet in some areas.
  4. Construction for the wall has not started yet, and a start date is unknown at this point.
  5. Contrary to what the President has said before, much of the border will be guarded by a fence as opposed to a full-fledged wall.

President Trump wants to make the Wall environmentally friendly

In addition to attempting to keep illegal immigrants from entering the United States, President Donald Trump proposed a plan that would help the environment, too.

In a meeting with congressional leaders, the President proposed covering his border wall with solar panels, a move that he believes would help pay for the wall.

This proposal came shortly after President Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate deal, a pact between hundreds of nations in an effort to reduce pollution and reverse global warming.

The President stated that he would like Congress to discuss the matter, but only if the credit was given to him for concocting the idea.

In response to the news (which was first reported on Axios), that there are already at least two proposals to help with this plan.

Thomas Gleason, founder of solar energy company Gleason Partners LLC, submitted a formal proposal in April, long before the President proposed the idea. He said the project would pay itself back in about five years.

Sources: AOL – “Trump floats idea of a ‘solar’ border wall — and proposals are already on the table,” CNN – “Trump suggests border wall with solar panels”

Dodd-Frank was signed under False Reasoning, and now hurts Small Businesses. Here’s why.

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was passed in response to the 2008 Recession

In 2010, then-President Barack Obama passed the 800-page Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act into law.

The bill branched off the belief that unregulated financial markets caused the Recession of 2008.

Proposed by Senator Christopher J. Dodd (D-CT) and Representative Barney Frank (D-MA) (hence the Dodd-Frank name), the bill attempts to avoid future recessions by regulating the “big” banks.

However, research from multiple institutions indicates that the 2008 Recession did not stem from an unregulated market, but instead from the government’s faulty housing policies.

The Act Regulates the Financial Market

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act’s main purpose is to place major regulations on the financial sector.

The Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) was created by this act, and “provides comprehensive monitoring of the stability of our nation’s financial system. The Council is charged with identifying risks to the financial stability of the United States; promoting market discipline; and responding to emerging risks to the stability of the United States’ financial system,” according to their website.

The council represents the “too big to fail” concept, as they identify the troubled big banks and bail them out with taxpayer dollars.

In addition, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created as part of the bill to “aim to make consumer financial markets work for consumers, responsible providers, and the economy as a whole,” “protect consumers from unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices and take action against companies that break the law,” according to their website.

The CFPB aims to protect consumers against unruly transactions, but it instead offers fewer choices for consumers and higher prices for credit.

The Act has helped “Big” banks – but hurts the small ones

By embodying the “too big to fail” concept, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act has protected the big banks that support big businesses.

However, the bill has negatively affected the smaller businesses. The small banks – which mainly supply loans to smaller businesses – do not enjoy the same projections, and have therefore experienced very small growth since the Recession.

Since small businesses are a large part of the foundation of the United States’ economy, the growth of the US economy since the Recession has been the lowest since the 1960’s.

President Trump has been rolling back the Regulations

On Friday, February 3, 2017, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to roll back Obama-era regulations on banks.

This comes as no surprise considering President Trump’s opinion on the bill (he has called it a “disaster”).

However, his moves do not align with his anti-Wall Street sentiments during his campaign.

Instead of fighting against the big banks, the President worked with JP Morgan CEO Jaime Dimon and other big bank officials to roll back the regulations that have put more restrictions on the companies.

The Republican-led Congress is looking to end the majority of Regulations

On June 8, 2017, the GOP-led Congress will vote on a new bill that would roll back many of the regulations of the Dodd-Frank Act.

Called the Financial Choice Act, the Republican bill allows the President to fire members of the CFPB and allows Congress to completely defund the CFPB if they so wish.

The bill needs at least 218 votes to pass through the House, and many of the Republican leaders are counting on it passing.

It would then move onto the Senate, where Republicans would need to sway eight Democrats to pass the law. Democrats have been highly critical of the GOP’s bill.

Sources

CNBC – “Dodd-Frank Act: CNBC Explains”

Heritage Foundation – “The Dodd-Frank Act”

The Atlantic – “Trump Begins to Chip Away at Banking Regulations”

CNN Money – “House to vote on killing Dodd-Frank today”

AG Sessions shuts down Obama’s Illegal Slush Fund Scheme

What is a “Slush Fund?”

According to the Dictionary, a slush fund is “a reserve of money used for illicit purposes, especially political bribery.”

The Obama Administration Created an illegal fund

Multiple reports show that the Obama administration created a slush fund and directed billions of dollars to leftist activist groups through a Department of Justice scheme.

As head of the DOJ, former Attorney General Eric Holder was at the forefront of the illegal scheme.

Evidence shows that the illegal practice was used by the Obama administration to siphon billions of dollars from companies and funnel the money to leftist activist groups.

The Fund took Money from wrongdoing Companies and gave it to Leftist groups

Fox News explains it this way: “When big banks are sued by the government for discrimination or mortgage abuse, they can settle the cases by donating to third-party non-victims.”

Some say that these banks are urged, or even incentivized, to give the money away to these non-profits. The only other option is to give the money to consumers, a route few, if any, banks take.

For example, Bank of America was forced to pay $17 billion to non-profit third parties to quell an investigation into their selling of mortgage-backed securities in the days leading up to the 2008 Recession.

Volkswagen provides a prominent non-bank example, as the company invested $1.2 billion into companies researching zero emission technologies. It should be noted that the Republican-majority Congress denied this action twice, and Volkswagen ended up paying 4x what the Obama administration originally requested.

Investigators have already accounted for $3 billion in this illegal fund

Thus far, into the probe of the slush fund, investigators have accounted for $3 billion paid to “non-victim entities.”

These “non-victim entities” are third parties not involved in the respective case, and they are believed to have been leftist activist groups with ties to members in the Obama administration.

No receiving companies have been identified yet.

However, there are two problems with this amount of money: the cash is unrecoverable and there is no way to know how any companies spent it.

At least some of the money came straight from taxpayers, said Ted Frank, director of The Competitive Enterprise Institute Center for Class Action Fairness, in a statement to Fox News. Mr. Frank also calls these actions an “abuse of power.”

The Attorney General ended the practice on 6/7/2017

On June 7, 2017, Jeff Sessions sent out a memo to all United States attorney’s offices stating that he would “end the process that allowed companies to meet settlement burdens by giving money to groups that were neither victims nor parties to the case.”
The official statement from Mr. Sessions: “When the federal government settles a case against a corporate wrongdoer, any settlement funds should go first to the victims and then to the American people – not the bankroll third-party special interest groups or the political friends of the whoever is in power.”

Conservatives in Congress have been pushing for this move for months now, and are delighted that the funnel has been sealed off.

Sources

Fox News – “GOP wants to eliminate shadowy DOJ slush fund bankrolling leftist groups”

Fox News – “DOJ ends Holder-era “slush fund” payouts to outside groups”

Former FBI Director expected to speak in front of Senate Intelligence Committee

Mr. Comey will testify on June 8, 2017, and is expected to speak about Various Topics

On Thursday, June 8, 2017, former FBI director James Comey will speak in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

It will be his first public statements since his firing, discounting the fake “Comey Memo” that multiple news agencies reported on yet never saw.

Mr. Comey is expected to speak on a variety of topics relating to the Trump administration, specifically if President Trump asked him to end the FBI investigation into Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security advisor.

However, Mr. Comey is expected to avoid talking about the FBI investigation into any Trump/Russia collusion.

Trump Allies are setting up a “War Room” to counter Mr. Comey

Allies of the President are preparing to take shots at the former FBI director, including peppering him with questions about his handling of the Hillary Clinton e-mail scandal.

The Republican National Convention already has a few points to make going into the hearing, including why Mr. Comey, if he was so concerned, did not notify Congress about his conversations with the President.

The Trump-supporting Great American Alliance will run an advertisement on both CNN and Fox News in the next few days that labels the former FBI director as a “showboat” who was “consumed with election meddling.”

President Trump: “I wish him luck”

One reporter asked the President about the upcoming hearing, and the reporter received a vague response: “I wish him luck.”

It is unclear what the meaning of the statement is at this point, but it is no secret that the President is no fan of James Comey.

Shortly after firing the former FBI director, Mr. Trump tweeted out threatening tweets aimed at Mr. Comey, including that he had tapes about their conversations.

AP and NYT sources said Mr. Comey does not want to be alone with Mr. Trump

Two highly credible news agency, the Associated Press and the New York Times, received Intel from their sources that James Comey asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to assure him that he would not have to be with the President alone.

The New York Times reported on the issue first, and noted that the request came soon after President Trump allegedly asked Mr. Comey to end the FBI investigation into Michael Flynn.

In addition, the former FBI director stated that the conversations were “inappropriate,” but cited no specific information about the talks.

Mr. Sessions responded that he could not guarantee that Mr. Comey would not be alone with Mr. Trump.

The former FBI Director was fired, but there is still a debate why

On May 9, James Comey was fired from his role of FBI director for failure to settle any major cases, at least by the Trump administration’s standards.

Soon after the firing, Democrats were quick to quip that the President fired Mr. Comey as part of a large cover-up of any Trump/Russia collusion. However, this collusion is a far-left conspiracy theory at best, as believers in this theory have presented zero proof for their argument.

As noted earlier, Mr. Comey is not expected to speak about any links between the Trump administration and Russia.

Sources

Fox News – “Comey reportedly told Sessions: Don’t leave me alone with Trump”

Reuters – “Cautious Comey expected in U.S. hearing on Trump-Russia probes”

NYT – “Comey Told Sessions: Don’t Leave Me Alone With Trump”

AP – “Trump wishes Comey luck, allies aim at lawman’s credibility”

The Numbers Behind the Paris Climate Accord and Reactions

President Donald Trump announced yesterday that the United States would leave the Paris Climate Accord, making it one of three countries not to sign the agreement.  The United States joins Nicaragua and Syria as the only countries not to sign the accord.  Nicaragua will not sign the accord because it does not punish countries who cannot meet their voluntary contributions to developing countries.  Syria, on the other hand, it facing major sanctions from the West and the state of their government makes it very difficult to take part in the arguments in Paris.

The Climate Deal is Costly in both Dollars and Jobs

Wealthy nations agreed to provide $100 billion a year to help developing countries move away from fossil fuels and use more renewable power supplies.  It was predicted by a UN official that those payments would increase to nearly $450 billion a year by the United States in 2020.  This money would be going to less developed countries in the Green Climate Fund to help them develop clean and renewable sources of energy so that they too can lower their carbon emissions.  But, as seen numerous times before, corrupt government officials in developing countries have a tendency of losing track of much of that money.

Besides costing the United States a massive amount of money, it requires certain American industries to greatly reduce in size. In total, 2.7 million jobs will be lost by 2025 according to the National Economic Research Associates.  The President stated in his announcement, “paper down 12 percent; cement down 23 percent; iron and steel down 38 percent; coal — and I happen to love the coal miners — down 86 percent; natural gas down 31 percent.  The cost to the economy at this time would be close to $3 trillion in lost GDP and 6.5 million industrial jobs, while households would have $7,000 less income and, in many cases, much worse than that.”

The Proposed Environmental Effects are Negligible

While the environmental effects of pulling out of the Paris accord did not influence the President’s decision all that much, he emphasized that China and India will get a much better deal than the U.S.  For Many Washington Republicans, this rejection of an accord is a big “déjà vu” to them.  In 2001, George W. Bush said that the U.S. would not be taking part in the Kyoto Protocol on global warming because of similar reasons.  Since that time, CO2 emissions have been reduced in the U.S. by nearly 18%, mainly due to new innovations and advances in clean energy not mandated by the government.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt stated yesterday that this was at a much quicker rate than most of the European countries who have led the way with the Paris Accord, but this is commonly disputed. A side note: there have already been 30 cities, 3 states, and over 100 companies who will submit a plan committed to the Paris Climate Accord, according to the New York Times.

The Reaction has been mostly Negative

This decision by Trump has many on the left beginning to talk about the apocalypse.  Paris Climate Accord leaders and European leaders have said that the agreement will still live on and that it cannot be renegotiated.  Leaders from every country in the world have expressed disappointment that the United States will leave the accord, which President Trump says is because they want to gain a huge economic advantage over the United States.  He also called the agreement a huge wealth redistribution scheme from the United States to other countries.

Reality Leigh Winner, Former NSA Security Contractor, arrested for Leaking Classified Intel

According to a new report, the FBI arrested a confirmed leaker of classified NSA Intel to a press source. Here are the facts of the case.

The Leaker leaked a classified NSA Document

The leaker leaked a classified National Security Agency document regarding a Russian military intelligence operation that took place last year.

The document details how Russian intelligence sent phishing emails to over 100 local and employees officials just a few days before the election, which in turn gave the Russians access to some U.S. voting software.

Of the over 100 targeted officials, only one is reported to have been compromised by the cyber attack.

The classified document also notes that the operation was ongoing for months before the 2016 election and culminated with the phishing attack on a large amount of Democrat officials.

The leaker: Reality Leigh Winner, an Air Force Veteran and Private Security Contractor

The leaker has been identified as Reality Leigh Winner, a former Air Force linguist (she knows Pashto, Farsi, and Dari, according to her mother) and private security contractor for the NSA.

Winner, who worked for Pluribus International Corporation, worked at a National Security Agency government facility in Georgia and held a top-level government security clearance.

Examining her social media accounts shows that she was a critic of President Donald Trump, posting several complaints about Mr. Trump during his campaign and after his election as President of the United States.

Even before she got her hands on the documents on Russian influence, she invoked the far-left conspiracy theory that the Trump administration colluded with Russian officials.

She printed out the document, and delivered it to the Press

Winner stole the documents from both her company and the government by printing out the classified documents and sending them to the press.

The Department of Justice released a statement on the issue, stating that:

“On or about May 9, Winner printed and improperly removed classified intelligence reporting, which contained classified national defense information from an intelligence community agency, and unlawfully retained it.”

The statement details the event further:

“Approximately a few days later, Winner unlawfully transmitted by mail the intelligence reporting to an online news outlet.”

Due to her actions, she is being charged with “with removing and mailing classified materials to a news outlet,” according to the same DOJ report, which carries a possible 10-year sentence.

She leaked the Document to the Intercept, an online news agency

The online news outlet in question in this case is the Intercept, a website launched in 2014 to report on documents released by former NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

Despite receiving the classified Intel at the beginning of May, the Intercept did not report on the documents until Monday (read their report here).

The Intercept and Winner both deny knowing that the documents were classified.

This follows President Trump’s promise to crack down on Leakers

After several highly critical tidbits of information were leaked from the White House to the press, President Donald Trump has promised to crackdown on leakers.

This issue will surely be a primal focus of the President, as it details as an issue that has been plaguing his administration for months – Russian influence in the election.

However, this document does not detail any collusion between the Russians, a far-left conspiracy theory and a claim that the President has vehemently denied.

Sources

Axios – “FBI arrests contractor over leak of classified Russia hack report”

NY Post – “Federal worker busted for leaking top-secret NSA docs on Russian hacking”

Daily Caller – “NSA Leaker Is A Bernie Supporter Who ‘Resists’ Trump”

DOJ – “Federal Government Contractor in Georgia Charged With Removing and Mailing Classified Materials to a News Outlet”

Guardian – “NSA contractor Reality Winner accused of leaking file on Russia election hacking”

VA Secretary David Shulkin Announces Update of the VA’s 30-year-old Computer System

During the daily press briefing, VA Secretary David Shulkin announced the update of the VA’s 30-year-old computer system. Here are the facts of this case:

The Secretary of Veteran Affairs announced the V.A. is updating it is updating its system

During today’s joint press briefing with Principal Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Secretary of Veteran Affairs David Shulkin announced that the V.A. would be updating and upgrading their in-house Electronic Health Record system.

In the press briefing, Secretary Shulkin said that the new system will “follow a veteran during the course of his health and treatment” to “ensure the safety and the health and wellbeing of a veteran.”

The outgoing IT system is over 30 years old

The Department of Veteran Affairs’ current backend, called the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VISTA) was developed over thirty years ago.

When just looking at how much technology has progressed during that same time period, there is a reason the V.A. has been under heavy scrutiny for organizing the care of veterans.

The Department of Veterans Affairs was urged to upgrade the system – for the last 17 years! Congress has constantly been pushing for a revamp of the V.A.’s system for almost two decades, but the Department of Veteran affairs has ignored the calls until now.

The new System is identical to the program the Department of Defense uses

The “new” system the Department of Veteran Affairs is aiming to implement is the exact same program the Department of Defense is currently using, called the Military Health System Genesis.

Mr. Shulkin’s take on this commonality between the two government departments: “The adoption of the same system between VA and DOD is going to allow all patient data to reside in a common system so you will have this seamless link between the departments without the manual or electronic exchange of information.”

As most government implementations are, the installation of this new program will be expensive – the DOD spent $4.3 billion on the same exact system. However, the V.A. is an even larger organization than the Department of Defense, meaning the system will cost even more to install onto V.A. servers.

The President has already praised the Move

Shortly after Mr. Shulkin announced the move, President Donald Trump was quick to point out how this new program is “one of the biggest wins for Veterans in decades.”

The V.A. has had tons of Trouble taking care of Veterans

Over the past few years, the Department of Veteran Affairs has seen its patient list go up, it number of workers stay the same, and its coverage decrease.

Wait times are through the roof (sometimes up to two weeks for a simple evaluation), and veterans are even dying waiting for care that the V.A. cannot provide for them.

While a portion of the number of deaths (a CNN report said as many as 300,000) cannot be attributed to the outdated computer system, updating this 30-year-old platform can only help get our nation’s heroes the care they deserve.

Video Footage of the Press Briefing

Sources

RT – “Veterans Affairs to finally modernize 30yo medical records system”

WH.gov – “Press Briefing by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders and VA Secretary David Shulkin, 6/5/2017”

NPR – “VA Struggles To Provide Vets With Mental Health Care”

5 Facts: President Donald Trump’s Travel Ban

After the terror threats that have occurred in first-world countries in the past few years, mainly due to the spreading influence of radical Islam and a large flow of migrants, have caused President Donald Trump to concoct a deal that prevents future terror attacks on American Soil. Here are the facts of the so-called Travel Ban:

The Travel Ban affects Residents of Six Majority Muslim Countries

President Donald Trump’s so-called Travel Ban bars residents of Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen from entering the country without a valid visa.

These six countries, which are populated mostly by Muslims, were specifically chosen due to the residents’ exposure to terrorism from the many terror groups operating in those regions.

Iran, Syria, and Sudan were chosen because “designated by the Secretary of State as a state sponsor of terrorism,” according to the official Executive order.

Iraq, which was present on the “banned list” on the first Travel Ban, was taken off in order to further a diplomatic relationship between the two nations.

Decreases the Number of Refugees significantly for FY 2017

The executive order includes a section that lowers the number of refugees allowed to enter into the United States at 50,000 for the fiscal year 2017.

The reason, from the official Executive Order: “would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and thus suspend any entries in excess of that number until such time as I determine that additional entries would be in the national interest.”

This contrasts to the approximately 85,000 refugees admitted to the country in fiscal year 2016, a number that includes about 40,000 Muslim refugees and approximately the same number of Christians, according to Pew Research.

Despite various reports, this is not a Muslim Ban

Multiple news sites and channels have called President Trump’s Travel Ban a Muslim ban, but in reality, it is not in any shape a ban on Muslims.

The Executive Order officially states that the Travel Ban does “not provide a basis for discriminating for or against members of any particular religion.”

Yes, the countries targeted in the Ban are majority Muslim, but a Christian looking to enter the U.S. from those areas would also be barred from entering the United States.

Various Courts have shot down the Travel Ban thus far

When President Donald Trump signed the first Travel Ban into law, the Ninth Circuit Court, a historically left-leaning panel of judges, quickly shot it down.

The court claimed that the Ban discriminated against Syrian refugees, as the Immigration and Nationality Act claims that discrimination based on nationality is illegal. This court also claimed that there was no evidence that any former residents of the countries on the list had actually committed a terrorist attack.

On the second go-around, President Trump’s Travel ban was once again blocked, but this time by a judge in Hawaii who claimed that the Ban discriminated on religion.

In addition, various officials in the states of Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, New York, Massachusetts, and California have shot down the order due to reasons ranging from that it’s a hidden Muslim ban to it hurts the local economy.

The President has used Recent Terror Attacks to promote his Ban

After recent attacks across European cities, President Donald Trump has taken to his Twitter account to promote his Travel Ban as the solution to the terror problem.

For these actions, he has drawn much criticism both from Twitter trolls and from major news networks for using recent deaths as a reasoning for his “xenophobic” Travel ban.

However, all of the recent European terrorist attacks have been carried out in the name of Allah (the god of Islam) and all of the perpetrators are of Middle Eastern origin.

In addition, to add more fuel to the fire, many of the terrorists in those attacks had recently traveled to the nations outlined in the Ban and returned to either Britain, Germany, or other European nations plagued by the new terror threats.

Sources

Pew Research – “U.S. admits record number of Muslim refugees in 2016”

WH.gov – “Executive Order Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States”

BBC – “Trump travel ban: Five questions about the revised executive order”

RWB Politics = “Trump’s New and Revised Travel Ban 2.0”

5 Facts: President Trump’s Proposed Budget Requires Work for Food Stamps

In his newly proposed budget for the fiscal year 2018, President Donald Trump is forcing able-bodied Food Stamps recipients to work for their benefits. Here are the facts of this move:

President Trump’s new Budget requires one to Work to Get Welfare

To receive a SNAP check (Food Stamps), which amounts to an average of $125.50 per enrollee, an able-bodied person must either currently work or receive job counseling.

Included in the job counseling is “supervised job searching, training, and community service,” according to the Daily Signal, which will either put the person in the workforce or force them to do a sort of community service.

Despite some calls that this plan is unfair to the poor, there is widespread, bipartisan support for this measure. According to the Daily Signal, 90% of the general public support this measure, with about 87% of Democrats and 94% of Republicans agreeing with this work-for-benefits idea.

Some of the Funding Responsibility is shifted to the States

It is a fact that the federal government pays for the majority of welfare programs.

The states, however, are not paying nearly enough of their share of many social welfare programs, including the Food Stamps program. In fact, the Food Stamps program is 92% funded by the national government.

In most cases, the state governments are paying anywhere from 10%-25% of the true cost of social programs, while the rest of the burden is heaped on the federal government. The only program that many states pay the majority of the bill on is Medicaid.

With the President’s new budget, some more of the funding responsibility is shifted to the states, but any exact number is unavailable at this point.

The Welfare System has been growing, despite the dropping Unemployment rate and Robust Economy

When the recession, the worst financial crisis in the 21st century, first started, there were approximately 26 million enrollees in the Food Stamp program, costing a collective $33 billion.

However, from 2013 to 2016, when the Recession was far over and the economy was picking up once again, there were more enrollees in the program: about 47 million people in 2013 and 44 million people in 2016, and respective costs of $80 billion and $71 billion.

During the 2013-2016 era, the economy was as robust as it had ever been in the 21st century and the unemployment rate was at the lowest it had been in a decade, yet the number of enrollees was higher than during the Recession.

These astonishing figures point to one conclusion: the current Food Stamps program is not functioning as well as it should be. This is where President Trump’s new Food Stamps plan comes into play, requiring beneficiaries to work in some way to pay off the graciousness of the government.

The President’s Plan has been proven to work – and in the United States

A common case against the President’s plan is that getting people to work for their benefits will simply not cut a portion of those who rely on Food Stamps.

However, a similar program in Maine proves that President Trump’s plan will be effective in slashing the number of Food Stamps recipients.

In 2014, Maine implemented a more rigorous “Food Supplemental Employment and Training Program” that would require able-bodied people to meet a set hourly employment requirement. If working was not an option (because they did not have a job), one would have to perform community service for about 6 hours a week.

The result: the caseload dropped a significant amount (from approximately 12,000 to 2,000, according to the Heritage Foundation), mostly due to a wide majority of prior beneficiaries refusing to comply with the work requirements.

Although the drop-off may not be as significant as seen in Maine, a federal implementation of the program used in that state (which is very similar to President Trump’s plan) may result in a large amount of saved money and more people in the workforce.

The Goal: Cut $3.6 Trillion from the National Debt

All in all, President Trump is looking to cut about $193 billion from the SNAP program in a ten-year period and get more people off welfare and into the workforce.

These cuts to the SNAP program (the official name for the Food Stamps program) funding is part of an overall goal to slash approximately $3.6 trillion from the national debt and balance the budget in ten years.

Sources

The Daily Signal – “Trump’s Food Stamp Reform Would Close the Trap of Dependency”

New York Post – “Trump wants to impose work requirement for food stamp users”

Heritage Foundation – “Maine Food Stamp Work Requirement Cuts Non-Parent Caseload by 80 Percent”