Deficits and the Tax Cut: Some Folks Just Don’t Get It

A lot of media outlets are crying over the increased deficit caused by the GOP’s tax bill. Here’s what the Texas Tribune says:

The bill is expected to deliver a tax cut to most Americans. But the majority of economists also expect it to widen the national deficit by at least $1 trillion over the next decade.

The truth though is that the level of tax revenue by itself doesn’t determine deficits; it is the combination of spending and revenue that determines the size of the deficit-or surplus.

However, it doesn’t seem to occur to the media or other liberals that we could actually spend less money over the next decade and actually have a smaller deficit!

Now I admit, we haven’t seen much willingness by Congress to control spending. But at least it’s possible.

The Deep State at War with America

As Mark Steyn points out, Roy Moore didn’t lose because of the allegations against him, he lost because he had to run against both the Democrats and Republicans.

Mitch McConnell, Chuck Schumer, and their congressional friends aren’t alone in their opposition to anything that would help President Trump and flyover America from wresting control of the government. They are joined by the deepest of the deep state in the CIA and FBI.

David Stockman lists some of the culprits:

They include John Brennan, Jim Comey, Sally Yates, Peter Strzok and a passel of deep state operatives — all of whom baldly abused their offices. After Brennan had concocted the whole Russian election meddling meme to sully the Donald’s shocking election win, the latter three holdovers — functioning as a political fifth column in the new Administration — set a perjury trap designed to snare Mike Flynn as a first step in relitigating and reversing the voters’ verdict.

The smoking gun on their guilt is so flamingly obvious that the ability of the Trump-hating media to ignore it is itself a wonder to behold.

Click here to read the rest of Stockman’s article, Why the Deep State is at War with Trump.

Fake Research Leads to Fake News

I recently saw this headline claiming that abortion rates increased after Texas defunded the abortion provider Planned Parenthood in 2011. After claiming that the new policy resulted in the closure of some “women’s health clinics,” The Huffington Post article stated, “the abortion rate among teenagers in the state rose 3 percent over what it would have been had the clinics remained open.”

That sentence set off alarm bells in my head. Note what it didn’t say; that the abortion rate actually increased. The “would have been” language is usually code talk for statistical gymnastics in order to justify a position or theory that can’t be proven by the facts.

That is certainly the case here. In this research, the obvious point being made by the researcher is that by cutting funding for Planned Parenthood, Texas conservatives actually achieved the opposite results they intended: an increase in teen abortions. That would be news; except it isn’t true. Though that didn’t stop the HuffPost’s headline writer from writing that is was.

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Markets, Not the Governing Elite, Secure Life, Liberty, and Prosperity

A recent article by the Niskanen Center tries to make the case that regulations should be considered beneficial unless proven otherwise.

The thing is is that we don’t need data to understand whether the effects caused by regulation are on balance good or bad. Liberty tells us that the cumulative effect of regulations will be harmful because they interfere with voluntary Image result for governing eliteexchange in the market. Humans act in their own perceived self-interest. Regulations seek to replace the outcomes of the billions of transactions and interactions market by millions of people with the outcomes preferred by a few hundred or thousand regulators and rent seekers.

Von Mises and Hayek both demonstrated the problem with that; in addition to the violence of forcing people to accept outcomes they do not want, regulation eliminates the vast majority of available information within a market, thus making the outcome much less efficient. That’s why socialism doesn’t work, and why the Soviet Union collapsed.

The opposite of the position of this paper is what is true: regulations should not be adopted or maintained unless it is proven there is a need for them. And determining the need for them should be based on whether they secure life and liberty. Then people–rather than a few intellectual elites–can use markets and courts can figure it out from there.

Local Government Regulation Tramples Property Rights

“Property owners do not acquire a constitutionally protected vested right in property uses …” – Texas Supreme Court; City of University Park v. Benners, 485 SW 2d 773 (1972).

To fully solve the problem of local regulations making Texas cities less and less affordable for the average Texan, delaying construction, and costing Texans jobs, the Texas Legislature must undo the damage done by Texas courts that have subjugated private property rights to the whims of local government planners.

Under the Texas Supreme Court’s 1972 University Park v. Benners decision, property owners must have permission from the government to use their property for anything. So cities can tell owners how they can and can’t use their property, tell them how much of their property they can or cannot use, and can even allow property owners to use their property for a specific use for a time then later prohibit that use. Owners must bear the full cost of these restrictions to serve the “public interest.”

Fortunately, the solution to this is simple. The Texas Legislature should subject cities to the provisions of the Texas Real Private Property Rights Preservation Act, just like every other Texas government entity, giving property owners the ability seek compensation for losses due to regulations. By removing the exemption for cities found in Sec. 2007.003 of the Texas Government Code, the Texas Legislature will provide Texans their day in court to recover the costs of local government regulations that result from outcomes like these:

  • In Harris County, media reports indicate the approval process for business permits can cause delays of up to six months while trying to comply with unnecessary provisions.
  • A 2015 study found that bureaucratic procedures can add up to 3.5 months to the already lengthy Austin permitting process.
  • A survey from the National Association of Homebuilders found that “government regulations represented 25 percent of a [residential] unit’s final sales prices.”

SwampCare 101 – Surprise, Surprise, Surprise

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Even Gomer Pyle might be surprised by the GOP’s tactics on SwampCare

Few things in politics surprise me anymore; I expect to see the unexpected, the absurd, the mind blowing, etc. Still, the fact that the Republicans can’t see that with SwampCare (or RyanCare, or ObamaCare Light, etc.) they are doing the exact same thing that the Democrats did—“we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it”—is almost enough to take one’s breath away. And, of course, they are doing it for the exact same reason the Democrats did it–they don’t want the people to know what is in the bill.

See the press release below from the Texas Public Policy Foundation to see the latest on the mess going on in D.C. today. In the meantime, the good news is that the House Republican leadership still doesn’t have the votes to pass this bill, “I’m confident that we have still enough concerns that a vote of 216 votes in the House would not happen today,” House Freedom Caucus Charmain Mark Meadows said yesterday.

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What People Think about Texas Legislature’s Special Session

Look’s like some folks aren’t happy:

 

The Blessings of Inefficient Government

Below is a table that shows (on line 2) the numbers of bills and joint resolutions, i.e., bills that can become law, that were sent by the Texas Legislature to the governor for his signature by April 24 of the session in question. One thing that obviously stands out is that the Texas Legislature has reached a new low in 2017 with zero bills being sent to the governor at this point. The likely explanation for this is the fight for control between the House and the Senate which appears to be increasing each session.

Session Results 2001 2003 2005 2007 2009 2011 2013 2015 2017
Bills sent to governor by 04/24 44 11 9 30 8 22 10 2 0
Bills that became law 1538 1626 1576 1702 1688 1508 1610 1388

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Restoring Liberty through the States—and the People

Liberty has afforded all Americans the opportunity to live prosperous lives through hard work and civic cooperation. Unfortunately, the immense growth of the federal government has, in the words of Milton Friedman, made it more likely “that its actions will reflect special interests rather than the general interest.” Instead of government being the means for the preservation of Americans’ “Life, Liberty and … pursuit of Happiness,” it has become the instrument through which others seek to appropriate their liberty and wealth.

The American people have made it clear that they are fed up with this federal assault on liberty. Restoring Liberty through the States—and the People is a road map for America rooted in the U.S. Constitution that re-centers federal governance on only constitutionally enumerated powers which very intentionally maximize liberty and prosperity by leaving all other governing authority with the states, or the people.

See the full agenda here.

Why I am Not Voting for Trump

I am not going to vote for Donald Trump for president of the United States. This has caused consternation among some of my friends stuck in the binary choice paradigm that voting for anyone besides Mr. Trump or not voting at all is essentially a vote for Hillary Clinton.

I am comfortable with the decision to support and vote for Trump by those who believe that there is at least the possibility that our country will be better off with Donald as president because with Hillary we know what we will get—and it won’t be good. However, this is not a position we should attempt to impose on the consciences of others; the deliberation of both conservatives and Christians over who to vote for should be informed by a broader perspective than the “Clinton or Trump” paradigm the political and religious moderate elite want to trap us in.

America’s contributions to liberty and prosperity are unparalleled in human history. Today, however, we are best described as the “greatest failure in self-government.” We murder over 1 million of our children every year, trailing only China, Russia, and Vietnam—countries that have made every effort to eradicate God from the culture. Not to be outpaced by the communists, America is rapidly moving toward replacing God with government as the supreme authority in the land. Along with this has come the inevitable anathematizing of the gospel of Jesus Christ in the public square and denial of the existence of inalienable, i.e., God-given, rights such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Amid this decline, many Republican and Evangelical moderates tell us that if we don’t vote for Trump we will be throwing our vote away, increasing Clinton’s chances of being elected, and contributing to the decay of our nation.

Does any of this sound familiar?

It should, because this is essentially what conservatives and Christians have been told every four years since 1984 when we last voted for Ronald Reagan. The bottom line has always been: “Vote Republican because Republican X is better than Democrat Y.”

Unfortunately, the difference has often been marginal at best; one must look closely at times to discern that there have been any Republicans in Washington during the last 28 years. Our votes for moderate Republicans within the binary choice paradigm have led us to a choice for president between two life-long supporters of liberal Democratic politicians and policies. Yet the moderate elite tell us if we follow their advice this time the outcome will be different.

Perhaps a more credible perspective would be, as Doug Wilson puts it, that this is “the least important election in our lifetime.” Where will electing Trump over Clinton make a difference? Not with abortion. Despite his proffered list of Supreme Court nominees, as a longtime pro-abortion supporter Trump is unlikely to appoint someone who will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. And even if he does, our previous votes for president guarantee that Trump’s appointee will not be able to find four allies on the bench to join him. Can you imagine Roberts or Kennedy voting to overturn Roe v. Wade? Neither can I. The same will be true whenever Trump is persuaded to overcome his liberal beliefs to do something conservative; it will all be around the margins.

Taking a different tack, other Republican and Evangelical elites have exposed their ideological and theological weaknesses by announcing they are going to vote for Hillary, or by insinuating that their constituencies or congregations should be comfortable voting for her—much like they did with Barak Obama in 2008.

Before taking their advice, though, remember that both factions disliked Trump in the Republican primary and had a chance to derail Trump when it became obvious that Ted Cruz was the only candidate with a chance to beat Trump. Yet they refused to rally around Cruz. They decided that it was better to turn the Republican Party over to Trump—or the United States of America over to Clinton, than it was to let a conservative win the Republican nomination.

Both the pro-Trump and the anti-Trump moderate elite are stuck in a secular binary trap. Though they may have different political and theological beliefs, when confronted with the problems of the world today they too often turn to government for a solution. When dealing with the economy, the culture, or the poor, they can’t cope with what they see as the chaos of voluntary association outside the control of government. This is true even for many Evangelical leaders who still hold to Christian orthodoxy but have been enticed into supporting the progressive social gospel.

Much of this is born out of a lack of toleration of pain and suffering. None of us like pain and suffering and we want to relieve it in ourselves and in others, whatever the cost—for many even if the cost is more oppressive government. Yet while Scripture tells us time and again that we must suffer, it also informs us that suffering isn’t the end: “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” Instead, there is a purpose in our suffering. We suffer for Christ’s name’s sake because it is “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” and “reign with Him” in eternity. Sometimes, despite our objections, suffering is the pathway to prosperity and hope.

It certainly was in the case of Israel. God’s chosen people found themselves in a long-term cycle of sin, misery, repentance, and deliverance that spiraled down to the point of no return. God finally brought his judgment upon Israel on the day of the Lord in 70 A.D. by destroying it and its system of worship though the Roman devastation of Jerusalem and the temple.

Yet the hope of all of us grew out of this suffering. Through the destruction of the nation of Israel and the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the people of God have been reborn as the New Israel, the church, citizens of God’s kingdom in heaven and on earth with Christ enthroned as our King. God used the sin and suffering of Israel to advance His kingdom and ease the suffering of His children. And the Father calls to everyone to come join Him in His kingdom.

We don’t know what path God has chosen for America. It might be marginal improvement in our civic institutions or it might be the total collapse of liberty. Because of this uncertainty, and the failure of both candidates to meet biblical or moral standards of leadership, it is wrong to press others to vote for either candidate. It should be a matter of individual conscience.

We do know one thing, however; God calls us to repentance and to trusting in Jesus as our Lord and Savior. What we can do together, then, is issue a call to repentance. Americans as individuals must repent. America as a nation must repent. We must repent of idolatry. We must repent of abortion. We must repent of fornication and adultery. We must repent of theft through government taxation and regulation. We must repent of despising our neighbors—particularly our black and poor neighbors—through welfare and various “consumer protection” laws.

It is unclear to me how electing Donald Trump is going to move this country toward repentance. In fact, there might be a clearer path toward repentance with Hillary Clinton as president. Perhaps the suffering she and her administration impose on Americans will be enough for us to stop pretending there is no King in the land so that we can do what is right in our own eyes. Perhaps it will be enough that we will stop whoring after other gods and bowing down to them. Perhaps it will finally be enough that we will cry out to the Lord.

Of course, we don’t know this either. That is why I am fine with anyone campaigning, supporting, or voting for Donald Trump because the alternative is Hillary Clinton. But we are not restricted to a binary choice between the two; we can choose based on our understanding of a future that is not determined by the outcome of this election.

So vote for The Donald. Vote for a third-party candidate. Vote for a write in. Or, for president, don’t vote at all. However, please don’t vote for Hillary, especially out of the belief that she is somehow better than Donald or that she will serve as an adequate placeholder until we can replace her with the latest crop of moderate Republicans; in this you would be sorely mistaken and misguided.

This is not a call to disengage from the political process. Just the opposite. It is a call to engage the culture and the political process by refusing to operate within the parameters of the elite. While the presidency, Congress, and the federal courts have violated biblical precepts, natural law, and the United States Constitution, these standards are still available for the states, local governments, and people to make use of. Our hope for the future doesn’t have to be constrained by the lawless elite.

What we are constrained by is the call of God on our hearts. So, please, join me in praying that God would work in my heart and your heart and the hearts of all Americans a revival that would spread throughout our country “so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow … and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

In the end, we all have only one binary choice: we will either worship God the Creator or we won’t. May He move our hearts and minds so that we all make the right choice. Amen.