David Stockman Shock Blog: The Real Unemployment Rate Is 42.9%

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June 30, 2015

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RUSH: Ladies and gentlemen, the unemployment rate, what is the latest reported unemployment, 5.5%, is that what it is, 5.3, 5.6?  It’s in that neighborhood, right?  I don’t know what the exact number is.  Not that this matters to anything anymore.  I mean, the truth is increasingly irrelevant.  The truth is increasingly meaningless.  In fact, there isn’t any truth in way too much of the country.  There is certainly no objective truth.

Anyway, I have had, as you know if you listen regularly, I’ve had a lot of doubt about the accuracy of an unemployment rate of 5.5% when, at the same time, we have 92, 93 million Americans not in the workforce.  It just hasn’t made sense to me.  Now, as you know, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the government releases the unemployment numbers every month, and there are different categories, and the U, letter U-3 is what gets reported.  That’s the 5.5% now, whatever it is, that’s the U-3 number.  The U-3 number — and, by the way, it’s increasingly obvious that all of this is bogus and meaningless now as well.

But the U-3 number only attempts to count people who are out of work and looking for a job.  People who have been out of work beyond the total length of time that they get unemployment benefits, which is up to, what is it now, 99 weeks?  (interruption)  It’s even longer than that?  (interruption)  Okay, 99 weeks.  So if you’re looking for a job and getting your employment benefits they count you in U-3. But if you stop looking for a job at any point, you’ve been out of work two weeks, stop looking, you don’t get counted in the U-3 number.  If you’ve been out of work for three years and stop looking, then you don’t get counted as unemployed.

I don’t know how they find out who is looking for a job and who isn’t, because this is largely guesswork.  There is a very small interview sample that they take, and then they project nationwide results from this small, relatively small sample.  The U-6 number is much closer to accurate.  The U-6, it never gets reported.  You have to look at websites dedicated to economics to find out what that number is.  The Drive-By Media never reports it.

So 99.9% of the people celebrating Supreme Court rulings last week do not know what the U-6 unemployment rate is.  That number is reported to be around 11 or 12%.  And that number includes people who are out of work and have given up trying to find a job or aren’t, for whatever reason, looking for work.  So it is said to be a more accurate number, but that has not even worked for me.  I mean, just the simple math, 92, 93 million Americans, and from there I said, “How many adult Americans are there in our country?”  To put that 93 million in proper perspective, 93 million Americans not working.  And my always added caveat, they are all eating.

I find that to be one of the most relevant aspects of that number, and it goes over people’s head as though it doesn’t matter.  But if you can eat and have a phone and a big screen or whatever and not have to work, I mean, what are you more than likely to do if you are a recent graduate or product of the American education system?  You’re gonna opt to the path of least resistance.  Particularly now you add to that what has happened to employment with Obamacare, and that is 30 hours a week is now considered full time, not 40.

I mean, folks, the bottom line here is that just observing numbers and just casually absorbing them — not even running them; not calculating, just absorbing them — it cannot be that we have an unemployment rate of 5.5% or even 12.2%.  The number of people working is way down.  The number of hours worked is way down. It’s because of Obamacare, because the economy.  You can maybe talk about trade deals if you want. Throw it all in.  I don’t care.  The bottom line is, there’s much less productivity in this economy.

And then you add to that how much of the economy has been usurped by the federal government, the economy, the private sector where everybody tries to get their piece of the pie. That’s shrinking.  My gut feeling has been that we are in a dire economic circumstance, far, far worse than anybody knows.  Well, you might be saying, “What’s this got to do with anything?” Well, that’s why I urge you to always hang in there and be tough.

Last night a friend of mine sent me a link to a blog that is hosted and written by David Stockman.  David Stockman was the former budget director for Ronaldus Magnus until for some reason he was taken to the woodshed and fired.  Oh, I know what it was.  He disavowed supply-side, which was his own creation.  Anyway, Stockman has run a bunch of numbers and has been able to put all of this in context and has concluded that the actual unemployment rate in the United States of America is not 5.5%, and it’s not 12.5% or 13%.  It is 42.9%.

Let me share with you a little bit of how he gets there.

It’s a long blog post.  I can’t… I’m not even gonna try to summarize most of it.  I’m just gonna get to the meat of it as it relates to this.  But it’s an all-out assault on Keynesian economics and the Federal Reserve and the damage that both have done and continue to do to the US economy.  But here’s the focal point on unemployment.  “In fact,” he writes, “the Census Bureau survey takers and the [Bureau of Labor Statistics] numbers crunchers have not the foggiest idea as to what the real world’s potential labor force computes to, and how much of it is deployed on any given day, month or quarter.”

That’s economics-speak for they don’t have any idea how many people are working. The “world’s potential labor force,” meaning how many people in the world have an opportunity to hold a job and go to work at it.  Nobody knows.  They have no way to compute it.  And how much of that force is “deployed,” that’s just military lingo for how many people getting up and going to work every day.  “Accordingly,” he writes, “printing money and pegging interest rates in pursuit of ‘full employment’, which is the essence of the Yellen version of monetary central planning…”

Jessica Yellen is the chairman of the Fed. “[T]he essence of the Yellen version is completely nonsensical,” and it’s political, by the way, getting an unemployment rate 5.5%. You know what statistically full employment is. This is why this doesn’t make any sense.  Traditionally, statistically full employment has been 4.7%.  Everybody involved in economics from the government on down has agreed that if at any time the US unemployment rate is 4.7% then our economy is roaring.

We got people working and working overtime, and it’s as near to full employment as it’s possible to get.  Well, I’m telling you: If that’s true about 4.7%, there’s no way we’re at 5.5%.  This is just my gut reaction to all this.  This is why this is fascinating.  Now, Stockman is ripping into the money supply people and Obama because they’re pegging everything they’re doing to that. They’re printing money, giving it to the stock market, pegging interest rates at near zero in pursuit of full employment.

That is for Obama’s legacy.  They want Obama to be able to leave office claiming that his stimulus worked and that everything else he did economically, Obamacare, brought back a defunct economy that he inherited.  Key to creating that perception is the unemployment rate, and that’s why it’s been creeping down from where it is. What’d it get, as high as eight?  (interruption)  At some point.  Anyway, down to 5.5%.  Now…

“Likewise, the Fed’s current ‘soft’ target of 5.2% on the U-3 unemployment rate is downright ridiculous,” he says. “When in the year 2015 you have 93 million adults not in the labor force — of which only half are retired and receiving Social Security benefits (OASI) — and a U-3 computational method that counts as ’employed’ anyone who works only a few hour per week — then what you have in the resulting fraction is noise, pure and simple. The U-3 unemployment rate as a proxy for full employment does not even make it as primitive grade school economics.”

Here are the numbers I wondered about: “At the present time, there are 210 million adult Americans between the ages of 16 and 68…” That is the workforce.  Sixteen to 68 is the age boundaries where you find the potential American workforce.  Between 16 and 68, there are 210 million Americans, and 93 million — 40% — of them, are not working.  Now, that’s probably a much better way of expressing employment, unemployment, and the real strength, performance, or lack of, of the US economy.  But here is where they get in the weeds by computing a bunch of things that…

It’s gonna be hard to follow because you’re not reading it, but I’ll do my best.

“At the present time, there are 210 million adult Americans between the ages of 16 and 68 — to take a plausible measure of the potential work force. That amounts to 420 billion potential labor hours…”  So you have 420 billion hours that people could work in a standard 40-hour week. With all the vacations and the standard benefits thrown in, that’s the number of labor hours potential.  That’s “if we accept the convention that all adults are at least theoretically capable of holding a full-time job (2,000 hours/year),” that’s the calculation, “and pulling their share of society’s need for production and work effort.

“By contrast, during 2014 only 240 billion hours were actually supplied to the US economy, according to the BLS estimates,” actual government numbers. So the workforce is defined as ages 16 to 68, a total of 420 billion potential labor hours, which equals great productivity if that happens.  Last year, only 240 billion hours were actually supplied to the US economy, just a little over half what’s possible.  “Technically, therefore, there were 180 billion unemployed labor hours,” and that is how Stockman arrived at “the real unemployment rate was 42.9%…”

He’s actually computing the number of hours possible to be worked, at what they say is full employment, and then calculates the number of people and the number of hours actually worked, 43%.  Caveats: “Yes, we have to allow for non-working wives, students, the disabled, early retirees and coupon clippers. We also have drifters, grifters, welfare cheats, bums and people between jobs, enrolled in training programs, on sabbaticals and much else.

“But here’s the thing: There are dozens of reasons for 180 billion unemployed labor hours, but whether the Fed is monetizing $80 billion of public debt per month or not, and whether the money market interest rate is 10 bps or 35 bps doesn’t even make the top 25 reasons for unutilized adult labor. What actually drives our current 43% unemployment rate is global economic forces of cheap labor and new productive capacity throughout the EM and dozens of domestic policy and cultural factors that influence the decision to work or not.”

It’s called liberalism!  It’s called socialism!

It’s creating sloth!

It’s creating more and more people that don’t have to work, and they’re not.  And there’s all this productivity left — for lack of a better way to say it — languishing on the factory floor.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Chase in Daphne, Alabama.  I’m glad you waited, sir.  Great to have you on the big program.  Hello.

CALLER:  Rush Limbaugh, God bless you for all you do.  Mega lifelong dittos, sir.

RUSH:  Well, thank you.  I appreciate that very much.

CALLER:  Yes, sir.  My question for you is I saw on Fox and a couple other sites that the Obama administration is pushing for people making 45,000 or less a year to become eligible for overtime pay.  And as a guy whose only regret is never being able to vote for Ronald Reagan, I kind of want to know what the catch is.

RUSH:  I’m looking.  I’ve got a sound bite on this.  If I can find it, and we can actually hear what Obama said — it is.  Grab audio sound bite — I wonder if we’ve got two.  Hang on just a second.  I’m sorry to waste time trying to find it.  I’ve got 12.  20 and 21?  Let me see if I can find 20 and 21 very quick.  (muttering)  No.  No.  Grab number 12.  This is Chris Cuomo today talking with the White House Domestic Policy Director Cecilia Munoz about Obama’s overtime plan. He says: “You’re doing what the private sector says you shouldn’t do, don’t mess with wages.  Let business decide what the right pay scale is.”

MUNOZ:  In the seventies more than 60% of the salaried workforce was covered by overtime.  We’re going back to a point at which salaried workers can expect those kinds of protections.  Ultimately that’s good for the economy.  If the business community wants to argue that the salary threshold should be set as it is now, at a level which is below the poverty rate for a family of four, I just think it’s really hard to argue that that’s good for the country and good for workers or good for the economy.

RUSH:  I don’t know.  You start talking about trying to recreate what was happening in the seventies, and that’s Jimmy Carter, and that’s stagnation.  But, again, it’s meddling.  I don’t really know what the catch is with this other than government meddling.  Who’s talking overtime?  We’ve got an unemployment rate of 42.5 % in this country.  Anyway, look, Chase, we’ll talk about this more tomorrow ’cause I’m really out of time today, but I’m glad you called.

END TRANSCRIPT

Is it Time for Civil Disobedience?

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BY DAN BONGINO

When the government rules by illegitimate means, is it legitimate to peacefully stand in defiance and disobey? The answer to this question is a reluctant “yes.”

I have thought about this question for a long time and, as a former police officer and federal agent who pledged his life to upholding and enforcing the law, I take this call to action very seriously.

In a piece out yesterday by Becky Gerritson of the Wetumpka Tea Party, a group victimized by the IRS targeting scandal, she summarizes the despicable behavior of IRS officials since the inception of the congressional inquiry into the targeting scandal. Did you know that the IRS destroyed the backup tapes containing emails written by Lois Lerner and others, seven months AFTER the order to preserve the tapes was given? My life is political activism but, after the torrent of news emanating from the Supreme Court and from the overseas terror attacks, I nearly missed this stunning piece of information. Is this the act of a government worthy of our respect?

Combine this outrageous development in the IRS scandal with the recent Supreme Court rulings declaring that the Court has the power to unilaterally rewrite and reinterpret laws to further a destructive political agenda, and we now have a government free from any constitutional restraint, and American citizens living under the yoke of it. Although none of this happened overnight, the pace by which the liberty train is speeding away from the station is rapidly accelerating.

Fighting back strictly through the political process has proven to be effective only in delaying the day of reckoning and it is now clear that we must take from the new political aristocracy what they crave most: legitimacy and acceptance. We must pursue parallel tracks for change to restrain this out-of-control government both through the formal political process and public action.

It is time to fully embrace an Article V Convention of the States to reestablish the powers of the states and re-impose clear limits on the growing federal monolith.

If the far Left and their political overseers deem it appropriate to weaponize the IRS to assault their political opponents – to attack Christians for the sincere exercise of their religious beliefs, to use the machine of government to force free American citizens, against their will, to spend their limited financial resources to purchase government sanctioned health insurance at the expense of the health of themselves and their families, and to bankrupt the nation through a mathematically certain tax-and-spend formula for misery – then it’s time to consider open defiance to take back what has been lost.

It is time to fully embrace an Article V Convention of the States to reestablish the powers of the states and re-impose clear limits on the growing federal monolith.  Former Reagan administration official, conservative activist, and popular radio show host Mark Levin has been passionately advocating for this approach since the release of his bestselling book The Liberty Amendments.

The far Left worships at the altar of inescapable federal power because they fully understand that when states act as separate incubators of policy, that Americans will choose economic, healthcare, religious, and educational freedom. And the resulting exodus from deep blue states anchored to an anti-liberty approach will discredit their agenda and destroy the patina of a public imprimatur and their false air of legitimacy. Federal power prevents an easy escape from the far Left agenda and subjects all Americans to their destructive agenda, regardless of how much they resist. And, while I appreciate the passionate advocacy opposing a convention on the grounds that it could result in a “runaway convention,” I counter by asserting that we are already living with a government engaging in a de facto ongoing constitutional convention by ignoring the plain language of the law and the Constitution to impose an increasingly liberal agenda which is dissolving individual liberty and freedom.

History has proven, without question, that when government by discretion, rather than by law is allowed to continue unchallenged, that the result is a dangerous concentration of power in a zero sum battle for freedom.

Secondly, the likelihood of 38 states ratifying a radical amendment is low given the current political power of the Republican Party. As the Supreme Court made clear with their recent rulings on Obamacare, marriage, and housing, the country is already free from its constitutional moorings and is charting a dangerous new course towards rule by men, not law. History has proven, without question, that when government by discretion, rather than by law is allowed to continue unchallenged, that the result is a dangerous concentration of power in a zero sum battle for freedom.

In the short-run, now is the time for peaceful and responsible civil disobedience. The Obama administration has been engaging in non-civil, and constitutional disobedience for many years now through their usurpation of power and their weaponizing of the tools of government. And, with a largely feckless response from a frightened and shell-shocked Republican Congress, it is up to conservatives to blaze the trail forward. If our elected Republican leadership refuses to lead, then we will demonstrate to their timid souls what bravery and sacrifice look like.

Pastors and spiritual leaders need to stand in defiance of the ongoing attacks on people of faith and speak boldly and proudly.

It is now incumbent upon conservatives to take every opportunity to respectfully and peacefully protest the attacks on our liberty and freedom. When told to sit down at town hall meetings, refuse to do so until your questions are answered. Continue to boldly question the politicians supporting this new post-constitutional path forward even as you are dragged out in protest.

As a Secret Service agent I witnessed firsthand the power of a small group, unafraid of the legal consequences, to influence and change policy by refusing to be silenced. Pastors and spiritual leaders need to stand in defiance of the ongoing attacks on people of faith and speak boldly and proudly. Let the government further discredit itself by asking an already discredited IRS to silence the millions of American voices of faith crying out to be left alone by the power-hungry, Washington DC cocktail party crowd.

When I walked away from a position I loved as a special agent with the United States Secret Service I left behind a lifetime of financial security to fight back by running for office. I didn’t prevail but I never gave up that fight and when my wife and I, as a result of our decision to walk away, came across difficult financial times we knew the sacrifice was worth it.

Faith teaches us that sacrifice is the only ticket to the second creation and we are all going to have to sacrifice something. Small acts of disobedience in the face of the existential threats we face to our constitutional republic are a small price to pay to defend the most blessed and prosperous country in mankind’s history. We were gifted this country by prior generations who sacrificed their lives, limbs and treasures to ensure we remain that shining light on the hill. It’s up to us to ensure that the light never dims.

– See more at: https://www.conservativereview.com/Commentary/2015/06/Is-it-Time-for-Civil-Disobedience#sthash.KNeb2ANV.dpuf

Top Democrat: Monitor U.S. citizens, not Muslim ‘refugees’

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The only thing more dangerous than the jihadists in our midst are their patrons and benefactors.

The Obama administration has been and is importing hundreds of thousands of Muslims from jihad nations. No vetting for jihad is being done. The real victims of the global jihad are the Christians and religious minorities, they are not being offered refuge or asylum here in the US.

Top Dem: Monitor U.S. citizens, not Muslim ‘refugees’

Urges focus on those with ‘no ancestry from majority-Muslim countries’

Leo Hohmann, WND, June 22, 2015

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The top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee has a history of making controversial statements.

He did it again Wednesday.

U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., led off a hearing on the security risks of incoming Syrian refugees by saying the committee would be better served if it looked within at U.S.-born citizens for potential terrorists.

Thompson said the mass shooting at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, last week illustrated America’s more pressing problems with “violent extremism.” He suggested that the threats posed by “domestic terrorism” were more acute than those posed by Muslim refugees being sent to the U.S. from Syria.

“Time and time again, I have urged this committee not to have a narrow view of violent extremism, which ignores violent extremist activity of domestic groups,” Thompson said.

“Regrettably, last week’s attacks at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston brought this issue into stark focus,” he continued. “Congress, the president, and the Department of Homeland Security need to come together with state and local governments to honestly acknowledge that domestic terrorism is a threat to the safety and security of the American homeland, including the refugees who resettle within our borders. We must move beyond the perceived fears of the unknown and focus on credible threat information and allow the security vetting systems we have in place (for refugees) to work.”

After Wednesday’s hearing on the security risks posed by Syrian refugees, Thompson sent a letter to Homeland Security Committee Chair Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, asking that he convene hearings on domestic terrorism in the United States.

Thompson criticized his colleagues on the committee who seemed more concerned about terrorists slipping into the ranks of Islamic refugees from war-torn Syria.

He urged them to focus more attention on Americans as the primary threat of launching terrorist attacks. The 70,000 United Nations-certified refugees coming to the U.S. each year should be welcomed, he said. He added that it was mostly U.S. citizens who were leaving the country to fight for ISIL, also called ISIS or the Islamic State. Syrians, he said, were fleeing ISIS and needed a safe haven in America.

“They are the most vulnerable to the violence and know first-hand the cruelty of ISIL and other groups that have brought harm upon their communities,” Thompson said. “These refugees, like most others that arrive in the U.S., are fleeing difficult, even life-threatening, situations. The idea that they would be met with suspicion and hate upon arrival in the United States is an affront to the values we uphold and promote.”

“In fact,” Thompson added, “the leading demographic of those seeking or joining ISIL in the U.S are U.S.-born citizens, including citizens with no ancestry from majority-Muslim countries.”

Congressman’s past rants stirred controversy

Thompson made news last year when he appeared on a New Nation of Islam radio show and said Clarence Thomas is an “Uncle Tom,” Mitch McConnell is a “racist,” and Republicans are only anti-big government and anti-Obamacare because President Obama is black.

In 2011, after a congressional hearing on Islamic radicalization, Thompson said the hearing could be used to inspire a new generation of suicide bombers, the Associated Press reported. He said Congress has a responsibility to make sure its words do not make the problems of Islamic terrorism worse.

Read Rep. Thompson’s entire statement before the House Homeland Security Committee Wednesday.

Thompson’s latest comments echoed the sentiments of Democrats in the Senate who have called for a more laissez-faire policy on refugees.

Last month 14 U.S. senators, all Democrats led by Richard Durbin of Illinois, Diane Feinstein of California and Al Franken of Minnesota, sent a letter to President Obama urging him to “dramatically increase” the number of Syrian refugees coming into the U.S. citing the brutal conditions from which they are fleeing and America’s proud tradition of offering itself as a beacon for the world’s poor and oppressed.

The same type of language was used last summer when tens of thousands of unaccompanied alien children, along with many families, surged at the U.S. southern border from Central America.

Children of immigrants at risk of radicalization

Security experts testified Wednesday that the children of Islamic refugees and immigrants tend to have a worse record for being radicalized than the refugees themselves. Such was the case with Hoda Muthana, the 20-year-old daughter of immigrants from Yemen who decided to leave the country late last year, to the surprise of her parents, and become an ISIS bride. Her parents emigrated from Yemen more than 20 years ago and lived peacefully in an upscale subdivision near Birmingham, Alabama. She became radicalized over the Internet, left for Syria via Turkey, and publicly renounced her parents on Twitter.

The Republicans on the committee took issue with Thompson’s open-doors approach to refugees, as did the expert witnesses called to testify before the committee.

“Refugees will continue to play a pivotal role in expanding the rich cultural diversity of America, but the risks may be higher due to the high number of fighters and more operatives heading to the West, and the potential for ISIS to use them to gain refugee status,” said Seth Jones, director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the Rand Corp. “I do think it’s worse in terms of data management for refugees, rescreening procedures, DNA checks and a few other issues. The U.S. does have a longstanding tradition of offering refuge to people fleeing persecution, but an integral factor is that we have a responsibility to assure they do not present a risk to the West. I think we’re after a balance here.”

The Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, the attacks in Garland, Texas, Brussels, Belgium, Ottawa, Canada, at the Boston Marathon, and the 9/11 attacks were all cited by Jones as being committed by Islamic terrorists, as were the recent slaughter of 147 Christians in Kenya and 21 Coptic Christians in Libya. Many foiled operations have been connected to Middle Eastern or African terror groups, such as the arrests in April of four young Somali men from Minnesota who tried repeatedly to leave the country and join ISIS.

The U.S. has imported more than 100,000 Somalis as refugees since the early 1990s. Since 2005 dozens of the Somali refugees brought to the U.S. and children of the refugees have been arrested on charges of providing material support to overseas terrorist organizations.

No records to vet

Syria, like Somalia, has become a failed state where chaos reigns. The U.S. has no access to reliable data on the backgrounds of potential refugees, FBI counter-terrorism experts warned at a previous congressional hearing in February.

“Our human sources (in Syria) are minimal and we don’t have a government we can partner with (to vet the refugees) and that’s the key thing,” said Tom Fuentes, former FBI assistant director, at the June 24 hearing. “If these individuals were not on a database, that’s why they’re refugees. The children become a problem as well, as we saw in the Somali case, as in the Tsarnaev (Boston bombing) case, children grew up and became radicalized even as their parents were unaware. I know the FBI does not have the ability to really do an adequate vetting on this.”

Help refugees ‘where they are’

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Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., asked the panel of experts to put aside for a moment any moral obligations the U.S. may have to take in foreign refugees fleeing violence. Strictly from a security standpoint, Katko asked “does anyone believe we should let the refugees in if we can’t vet them?”

No one on the panel – Fuentes, Jones, and Daveed Gartenstein, a senior fellow at Foundation for the Defense of Democracies – said that would be a good idea.

“We do have a moral imperative to help the refugees but we also have a moral imperative to protect U.S. citizens, and therein lies the rub,” Katko said. “So my next question is, can we help them somehow without bringing them here?”

Gartenstein said “actually addressing the situation over there is arguably getting more bank for our buck.”

There are nearly 4 million Syrian refugees displaced by the civil war. The U.S. is being asked to take in 65,000 over two years. Of the 1,019 Syrians sent to the U.S. since the outbreak of the civil war, 89 percent have been Muslims and 4.5 percent have been Christians with the remainder claiming a hodgepodge of other faiths. Christians have been brutally killed and forced to flee their homes by ISIS, al-Nusra Front and other Sunni rebel groups whereas they and other religious minorities had been protected by the government of President Bashar al-Assad before the war started.

“So that is a drop in the bucket,” Gartenstein said. “Jobs here are scarce, they miss a year or more of schooling (as they learn language).”

He said more could be done to help the refugees where they are, particularly in Jordan because most of the refugees there are not in camps.

“Anything you can do over there is advantageous and may actually be, from a humanitarian perspective, the best use of our money,” Gartenstein said.

Fuentes agreed. “If you made the camps more livable, the length of time you would be doing those services would also provide an incentive against them becoming terrorists, if we did more for the refugees before they come here, they may be more loyal to the U.S.”

Jones said a long-term strategy for Syria is lacking and resettling a small percentage of the refugees falls far short of the humanitarian mark.

“We need to be finding, in addition to taking refugees, ways to wind down the war. Whatever administration comes next, as well as this one, I would encourage them to get a long-term strategy,” Jones said. “I would also note that this issue of vetting is significant in Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan and other places, not just Syria.”

Katko said the U.S. can’t have “people coming into this country who we’re not able to vet. And if there’s something we can do over there to help them maybe that’s the way forward and I hope we will look at that in the future.”

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Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said there were “no easy answers” to the Syrian refugee situation.

“You can try to minimize the risks but there are still going to be considerable risks there.”

Yet, King said, he felt something needed to be done to relieve the refugee pressure building in Jordan, one of the America’s best allies in the region.

“I think we’ve raised issues today that there are no clear answers to. But it is in our national interests that something be done to alleviate pressure on Jordan. Now we have to find ways to do it,” he said, and that involves finding better ways of vetting the refugees.

King asked the panelists if the refugees could be “tailed” by the FBI once they arrive in the U.S. “Would that violate FBI procedures and are there resources for that?”

Fuentes said no such policy exists at the FBI. “There has to be some sort of criminal activity,” before that type of monitoring can be activated. “Right now they have active investigations in every single state,” he added. “You could be looking at tens of thousands of potential subjects that there’s a reason to follow them, so you have to prioritize, and so the practicality of that in a refugee vetting process I think just doesn’t exist.”

Rep. Louis Barletta, R-Pa., asked, “Does the U.S. accept risk by accepting refugees from a country that admittedly is an enemy?”

Fuentes said al-Qaida had a different strategy than ISIS. “They wanted the giant attack, but other groups like Hezbollah believe in a different philosophy, death by a thousand cuts, so they were willing to kill four or five at a time in Israel, but they were happy with that because they were able to kill four or five as they were doing everything things. So the average citizen hears about the attack on a bus stop or a café and says ‘wait a minute, I go to a café, I ride a bus.’ It generates fear. You can’t carry out a large one by courier or by remote control. Syrians are not going to be able to come in and launch a major attack but can they come in and do death by a smaller cut? I think we are much more likely to see that type of attack.”

The U.S. traditionally accepts the vast majority of the world’s displaced persons for permanent resettlement. But in the case of Syria, the U.S. has been slow to jump on board with the United Nations plan for resettlement. Of the more than 130,000 Syrians the U.N. wants to permanently resettle in outside countries, Germany has agreed to take the most at 30,000 followed by Canada with 11,000. The U.N. wants the U.S. to take 65,000 over the next two years but so far the U.S. State Department hasn’t committed to any specific number, saying only that it would take 2,000 this year and “many more” in following years.

The biggest question has been how to screen the Syrians for ties to the many terrorist organizations operating in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. There is not only ISIS but al-Nusra Front, Free Syrian Army, and Hezbollah.

Gartenstein said the U.S. system of vetting is “antiquated.”

“The risk is greater with al-Nusra than ISIS because it’s not as overtly brutal. They’re brutal but they’re not tweeting out pictures of their beheadings and people they’ve burned alive. I would also point out that our vetting system is very antiquated,” he said. “One of the things that’s disturbing about our asylum process is it’s really difficult to tell if someone is lying. Someone can say ‘My family was massacred by al-Shabab.’ Well did that really happen? Does it actually match what was actually going on there on the ground at that particular time at a granular level? We need to use data that way. That’s something we should think about for the future because this will not be the last refugee crisis that we face and getting that on-the-ground level data will actually make us safer as a country.”

Watch Homeland Security Chair Rep. Michael McCaul’s response to the planned importation of 2,000 Syrians into U.S. cities and towns over the next year:

McCaul, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, said the U.S. “must not be naïve” when it comes to Syrian refugees. He said Congress may be forced to “consider additional steps” if the Obama administration doesn’t address the problem of vetting.

McCaul’s entire statement is transcribed below:

“We’ve been sounding the alarm for months on this issue and for good reason. America has a proud tradition of welcoming refugees and immigrants but we need to make sure the extremists don’t exploit this pathway to our country, especially from terrorist safe havens. Last year the administration announced plans to surge the admission of Syrian refugees into the United States, including plans to resettle 2,000 of them this year and thousands more next year. This is concerning for two reasons. First, terrorists have made it known they want to manipulate refugee programs to sneak operatives into the West. Second, top national security officials have admitted that intelligence gaps in Syria will make it hard to weed them out of refugee pools. Testifying before our committee in February, the director of the National Counter Terrorism Center called these refuges a ‘population of concern’ given the expansive presence of ISIS and al-Qaida in Syria. Testifying at the same hearing, the FBI’s assistant director, Michael Steinbach from counter-terrorism, argued that identifying potential operatives will be difficult because ‘our databases won’t have the information we need.’ Simply put, We cannot screen applicants confidently if we don’t have good intelligence on the ground. We can’t vet them properly if we don’t have the proper databases. In light of these concerns I sent a series of letters to the administration this year, highlighting the risk of accelerating Syrian refugee admissions and requesting greater assurances regarding the screening process. The responses were inadequate and the administration was vague in explaining how the screening process would overcome the intelligence gaps. I just wrote the president two weeks ago, again asking for answers in a classified briefing for members of this committee. We are still waiting for a serious response. I do not take this issue lightly. Terrorists are constantly probing our defenses and would not hesitate to exploit a program meant to save innocent people fleeing from violence for the purpose of attacking our homeland.

I remind you that members of al-Qaida in Iraq, the predecessor to ISIS, have already managed to sneak into our country through refugee resettlement programs. Two of these terrorists arrested in 2009 were responsible for killing four Pennsylvania National Guard soldiers in Iraq and yet they gained entry and were resettled in Bowling Green, Kentucky. And that was when we had far better intelligence on the ground in Iraq to vet refugees whereas in Syria we are dark. The situation today in Syria is even more chaotic, making it difficult to get the biometric, biographic and other information needed to ensure individuals being admitted into our country do not intend to do our people harm.

Since its founding America has welcomed refugees from conflict zones in the darkest corners of the globe. We will not abandon that tradition. It embodies the compassion of our people and represents our deepest values. But we must also not abandon our vigilance and we cannot be naïve. In Syrian we are witnessing largest convergence of Islamist terrorists in world history, and some of these fanatics want to turn our refugee programs into a Trojan horse to carry out attacks here at home. We cannot allow that to happen. And I hope the White House will do more to convince Congress and the American people that it is moving forward cautiously, appropriately, but most importantly with the security of the American people as the priority. If it does not we may need to consider taking additional steps here on Capitol Hill.

– See more at: http://pamelageller.com/2015/06/top-democrat-monitor-u-s-citizens-not-muslim-refugees.html/#sthash.QTQWH0AC.dpuf

BREAKING: The Obama Administration Just Lost A BIG One At The Supreme Court

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BY NORVELL ROSE

After handing President Obama a couple of huge wins last week with respect to Obamacare and same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court has just delivered a big blow to the administration’s environmental agenda that threatened to cripple the energy industry.

In a 5-4 decision, the high court has ruled against Obama’s EPA in its effort to impose wildly expensive new rules on power plants. The Washington Examiner explains what the newly enacted rules by the Environmental Protection Agency were intended to do:

The EPA rules in question regulate hazardous air pollutants and mercury from coal- and oil-fired power plants, known as the MATS regulations. The regulations went into effect April 16. The utility industry argues that the rules cost them billions of dollars to comply and that EPA ignored the cost issue in putting the regulations into effect.

As the Examiner article goes on to explain, the impact of the EPA’s new rules on power plant emissions has already been felt in certain parts of the country, as facilities have either been upgraded at great expense — passed along to consumers — or have been shut down by their cash-strapped operators:

Many of the companies have either made the investments or closed power plants to comply. If the investments necessary to upgrade a plant to comply with the regulation aren’t justified when considering the operational costs, revenues earned and other factors, then the decision is made to retire it.

In its coverage of the Supreme Court’s rejection of the EPA’s onerous new pollution rules, which had been challenged by industry groups as well as by some 20 states, The New York Times reports on the major setback to one of Obama’s “most ambitious environmental initiatives”:

The Clean Air Act required the regulations to be “appropriate and necessary.” The challengers said the agency had run afoul of that law by deciding to regulate the emissions without first undertaking a cost-benefit analysis.

CNN notes of the court’s decision that the EPA acted “unreasonably” that the issue of cost vs. benefit was central to the justices’ ruling that the agency overstepped its bounds.

At issue in this case was whether the EPA violated the Clean Air Act when it declined to consider costs in determining whether it was appropriate to regulate hazardous air pollutants.

TX Republican Babin Introduces ‘SCOTUSCare Act’

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BY STEPHEN KRUISER

A Texas Republican is taking aim at the Supreme Court after its 6-3 decision upholding Obamacare subsidies with a new bill requiring the justices and their aides to purchase coverage on the law’s exchanges.

Rep. Brian Babin is seeking co-sponsors for the bill, titled the “SCOTUScare Act of 2015” — which refers to a quip from Justice Antonin Scalia’s scathing dissent.

“As the Supreme Court continues to ignore the letter of the law, it’s important that these nine individuals understand the full impact of their decisions on the American people,” the freshman Republican said in a statement. “By eliminating their exemption from Obamacare, they will see firsthand what the American people are forced to live with!”

Sure, it’s political theater, but so is most of what goes on in Washington. At least this is grandstanding that makes a little point.

It also identifies at least one Republican who gets it.

Side note: as John Roberts uses Obamacare to flush America down history’s toilet, Antonin Scalia may be the last great conservative folk hero.

Love Her or Hate Her, Ann Coulter Warned Us About John Roberts 10 Years Ago

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BY STEPHEN KRUISER

After conservatives took another gut punch from black-robed Obamacare cheerleader Chief Justice John Roberts, many of us were left wondering just what in the heck is wrong with this guy. After all, these Republican appointees to the Supreme Court are supposed to be on our side, right? They can’t all be David Souter.

It turns out that Ann Coulter sniffed another Souter-esque betrayal in the offing ten years ago:

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After pretending to consider various women and minorities for the Supreme Court these past few weeks, President Bush decided to disappoint all the groups he had just ginned up and nominate a white male.

So all we know about him for sure is that he can’t dance and he probably doesn’t know who Jay-Z is. Other than that, he is a blank slate. Tabula rasa. Big zippo. Nada. Oh, yeah … We also know he’s argued cases before the Supreme Court. Big deal; so has Larry Flynt’s attorney.

But unfortunately, other than that that, we don’t know much about John Roberts. Stealth nominees have never turned out to be a pleasant surprise for conservatives. Never. Not ever.

I know it is all the rage in this era of hypersensitive feelings for some conservatives, and almost all moderate Republicans, to bristle at everything Coulter says and be dismissive of her because she has a knack for tossing out an outrageous headline-grabbing comment. Here’s the thing about her: she’s right a lot of the time.

Sure, I’ve got to deduct a lot of points for her flip-flop to become a Romney champion in 2012 but a lot of people were drunk on wishful thinking then (present company excluded). Other than that, she makes a lot of sense.

So maybe pay just a little more attention to her from now on.

And pray that Antonin Scalia lives to be 148.

SCOTUS grants Obama another gift, ignores the English language to uphold ObamaCare subsidies

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A big win for people who hate the fact that words have meanings.

And that’s that. Obama, as usual, gets his way. It was predictable, really. Having abandoned the meaning of words within the English language, the Supreme Court is now free to ignore the actual text of laws and pretend things were written that never were.

As the AP reports:

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the nationwide tax subsidies under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, in a ruling that preserves health insurance for millions of Americans.

The justices said in a 6-3 ruling that the subsidies that 8.7 million people currently receive to make insurance affordable do not depend on where they live, under the 2010 health care law.

The outcome is the second major victory for Obama in politically charged Supreme Court tests of his most significant domestic achievement. It came the same day the court gave the administration an unexpected victory by preserving a key tool the administration uses to fight housing bias.

John Roberts wrote the majority opinion, which stated that the law was upheld because:

Here, the statutory scheme compels the Court to reject petitioners’ interpretation because it would destabilize the individual insurance market in any State with a Federal Exchange, and likely create the very “death spirals” that Congress designed the Act to avoid. Under petitioners’ reading, the Act would not work in a State with a Federal Exchange. As they see it, one of the Act’s three major reforms—the tax credits—would not apply. And a second major reform—the coverage requirement—would not apply in a meaningful way, because so many individuals would be exempt from the requirement without the tax credits. If petitioners are right, therefore, only one of the Act’s three major reforms would apply in States with a Federal Exchange.

So far, he has a pretty good handle on things. This is precisely what the law was written to do. As we know, the withholding of federal subsidies was explicitly designed to pressure states into setting up exchanges. It’s a shame he doesn’t stop there, because he completely blows it in the next sentence by inventing an “intent” that never existed.

The combination of no tax credits and an ineffective coverage requirement could well push a State’s individual insurance market into a death spiral. It is implausible that Congress meant the Act to operate in this manner.

So forget about what the law was designed to do. None of that matters, since the court isn’t concerned with pesky things like, say, “the actual text of the law.”

Roberts admits that the ACA “contains more than a few examples of “inartful drafting,” which we assume is now a synonym for “words you can ignore if you want to grant the federal government unending expansive power.”

In the dissenting opinion, Justice Antonin Scalia railed against the court’s now long-standing habit of re-writing the law to keep it in effect:

Having transformed two major parts of the law, the Court today has turned its attention to a third. The Act that Congress passed makes tax credits available only on an “Exchange established by the State.” This Court, however, concludes that this limitation would prevent the rest of the Act from working as well as hoped. So it rewrites the law to make tax credits available everywhere. We should start calling this law SCOTUScare.

Democrats are, obviously, celebrating the fact that the country’s pre-eminent piece of crony-capitalist legislation will remain intact. Sadly, I suspect they’re not the only ones. I believe that the majority of the GOP is just as happy as their alleged opposition.

There are now three types of Republicans in Congress.

Group one is the smallest, and is comprised of the select few who actually care about the Constitution.
Group two is somewhat bigger. These people don’t really care about anything as long as they continue to get the perks of their office and don’t have to take any tough political stands.
Group three is the largest. It’s controlled by the party elites and boasts the current Congressional leadership among its members. They’re big-government expansionists who are every bit as guilty as Democrats when it comes to growing the size, scope, and debt of the federal government.
Groups two and three love this ruling. Even if the decision had gone the other way, they were probably going to implement an administration-friendly workaround. This saves them time and effort by removing a difficult PR battle from their plates, while simultaneously maintaining an unsustainable law which – someday soon – will need to be propped up by expanded taxation and increased federal power.

Since that’s what seems to pass for win-win in the modern Republican party, we can only assume they’re breathing a sigh of relief after today’s ruling.