Mike Pence Talks Taxes and Other Issues in Philadelphia

Mike Pence
Vice President Mike Pence (R)

PHILADELPHIA– On Monday, Vice President Mike Pence made a stop to speak at an event sponsored by America First Policies, a non-profit organization to promote President Trump’s agenda. The main topic was the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and its positive effects on the economy, but it was also an opportunity for the Vice President to stump for Republican Candidate for U.S. Senate, Congressman Lou Barletta of PA.

The event began with a panel discussion on taxes which featured several political and business leaders from the greater Philadelphia area, to include Representatives Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), and Lloyd Smucker (R-PA) At several points during the discussion, the figure of 1.9% GDP growth during the Obama presidency was contrasted with the current GDP under Trump of 2.9%. Though there was no question and answer segment, an audience member nonetheless shouted out a question about how the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) predicted a revenue shortfall and increase of our national debt under the tax cut plan. Though the moderator attempted to move on, the panel did address the question. It was noted that the current GDP growth was outperforming the CBO estimates, and that sustained economic growth, according to Congressman MacArthur, was “our best shot” at reducing the debt. The panel also noted the many pay increases, bonuses, and expansion of benefits enjoyed by many working Americans due to the tax cuts, Vice President Pence would later provide examples of this in his own speech.

After a discussion panel on the positive effects of the tax cuts on local business and workers, and a speech from Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs, Karen Dunn Kelly, the Vice President was introduced by Congressman Lou Barletta, whom Pence was in town to campaign and raise money for in an effort to unseat Democrat incumbent, Bob Casey from his position in the U.S Senate. Though Casey was advertised as a “moderate Democrat” Pence maintained that on the issues of Obamacare, taxes, and abortion, the Senator voted more like socialist Democrat Bernie Sanders. The Vice President spoke highly of Barletta, noting how he built a small line painting business in Hazleton, PA into the sixth largest of its kind in the country. Pence also mentioned how President Trump also strongly endorsed his candidacy saying, “The President and I love you,” referring to Barletta, later saying about him, “I am gratified for his service in the past, and the president, and the future.”

After thanking Rep. Barletta for a warm introduction and acknowledging his accomplishments, the Vice President started the main body of his speech by asking all of the veterans in the room to stand up and be recognized, the audience applauded and cheered as the men and women stood. He then extended is thanks to all who put on the uniform to serve their fellow citizens, especially those in law enforcement. He used that to segue into the topic of border enforcement. One of the big applause lines of the speech came when he reaffirmed his and the President’s unwavering commitment to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency better known as ICE, stating emphatically, “ We will never abolish ICE we will stand by them and give them the support they deserve.” This was in response to what he characterized as “irresponsible rhetoric by many of leading liberal Democrats,” calling for the abolition of ICE. He went on to tout several of the agency’s accomplishments, including 127,000 criminal illegal aliens arrested in the last year, nearly five thousand gang members off the streets, and one thousand children saved from child exploitation and human traffickers. He also mentioned that the administration had secured greater funding for border security to include funding for “the wall”.

The recent retirement announcement by Justice Anthony Kennedy gave Pence a reason to talk about the Trump Administration’s accomplishments getting federal court vacancies filled. He cited a record number of appointments by a presidential administration in their first year as a major achievement for Trump. When he mentioned his boss’ appointment of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, the mostly partisan room erupted into applause, applause that continued when he mentioned the name of Brett Kavanaugh, the judge President Trump recently nominated to fill the upcoming vacancy by Justice Kennedy. The Vice President reiterated the President’s wish to appoint strict constitutionalist judges to the Supreme Court, a stance strongly opposed by liberal Democrats who prefer SCOTUS justices with a more flexible view of the Constitution. He suggested that if Senator Bob Casey would not support the appointment of Kavanaugh, the people of Pennsylvania should replace him in November with someone who would.

The Vice President went on to speak of several other hot political topics that the President has addressed during his first year and a half in office, including the imminent destruction of ISIS, the dismantling of the regulatory state, and our allies’ greater monetary commitment to NATO. Pence also mentioned other promises Trump has kept such as pulling out of the Paris Climate agreement and his efforts to renegotiate international trade deals that he feels are not in the country’s best interest. He also responded to Iran’s recent saber-rattling saying, “We will not tolerate threats against the United States of America.”

The main focus of the afternoon’s event was to talk about the benefits of the recent tax cuts that went into effect on January 1st. Pence went over the highlights of the tax plan, stating that the average working family in Philadelphia will save around $2500/year in taxes under the new plan. He mentioned how the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act eliminated a major component of the Affordable Care Act. “We cut out the core of Obamacare, the individual mandate is gone,” Pence said, his statement garnering approving applause. He noted that within a few weeks after the bill’s passage, companies began to offer their employees thousand dollar bonuses and that in his own family when his kids were little, there was a word for such a year-end windfall, “Christmas”. He was quick to point out that former Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, (D-CA) infamously suggested the bonuses were mere “crumbs”, left over by greedy corporations. The mere mention of her name brought boos from many in the audience. About Pelosi’s remark, he said: “Any leader who says that a $1000 in the pockets of working Americans is nothing but ‘crumbs’ is out of touch with the American People and should never lead the American Congress again.”

Keeping on taxes, and the broader issue of the economy, Pence also listed some of the benefits he attributed to the tax cuts, the promise of better trade deals and the lessening of the regulatory burden on companies. Some of the things he gave Trump credit for were: 3.7 million new jobs since the election, including 340,000 in the manufacturing sector, record low unemployment rates among American blacks and Hispanics, and he also stated that, “more than six million people have received pay raises, bonuses, or bigger benefits,” since the signing of the tax cut bill. Another benefit he mentioned was how local corporations such as Comcast and Alamo gave $1000 bonuses and promised to upgrade their facilities. Pennsylvania based Peco Energy passed much of its tax saving onto its customers.

Vice President Pence closed his remarks with a few requests for the like-minded people in the audience. He asked that they share what they have heard there with their friends and neighbors. He suggested they tell them, “…that under President Donald Trump, the forgotten men and women are forgotten no more.” Pence also reflected upon the currently divided nature of our country and asked that they pray for America, not for an agenda or a campaign, but for all of America. “Pray for all the American people, because prayer matters,” he asked the crowd. Finally, he ended with the familiar refrain of the President, “We will make America safe again, we will make American prosperous again, and to borrow a phrase, we will make America great again.”

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So, you want to compare Trump and his followers to Hitler and the Nazis?

Politics of Division

“If you vote for Trump, then you, the voter, you, not Donald Trump, are standing at the border, like Nazis.” – Donny Deutsch.

So, you want to compare Trump to Hitler and his supporters Nazi’s because he wants to arrest and deport illegal aliens? First, former president Obama deported more illegals than any president before him, earning him the nickname: “Deporter in Chief”. So where was your outrage then? Second, but most importantly, when ICE deports illegal aliens they send them back to their country of origin. They arrive there safe and probably in better condition than when they entered the U.S. If not wanted by the authorities in their own country, they are free. Many of them as we know will return to the U.S., a funny thing to do if you believe Trump’s America is the Third Reich revisited.

Compare that to the actual Hitler and real Nazi’s When they rounded up Six million Jews, Slavs, and others they were sent not home, but to concentration camps where most of them died or lived as slaves. The religious and ethnic minorities that were rounded up were not allowed due process, they were offered neither hearings nor trials, there was no pleading their case, no requests for asylum. There was no “catch and release, ” there was no recidivism rate for Holocaust victims. When a member of Himmler’s Totenkopf SS found you, that was it, you were a slave of the Reich until death or the Allies freed you.

If you want to compare Trump to Hitler based on deportations of illegal immigrants, then what you are saying is that being sent back to a country like Mexico or Honduras is like being sent to Treblinka or Auschwitz. The problem with that is that aliens returned to Mexico or some other country find themselves free and alive at the end of their experience with ICE or the Border Patrol. Not so much in the case of Nazi death camps. Anyone unlucky enough to have an encounter with the German Totenkopf SS was looking at guaranteed slavery and/or death. Our immigration laws actually prevent human beings from being made into slaves by human traffickers and the like.

Attempts to liken Trump to Hitler due to his stance on immigration are not just historically wrong but are hurtful to the memories of all who suffered at the hands of the Nazis. The Holocaust victims were never allowed to plead their cases, never given a hearing, never allowed any due process. Illegal immigrants are. The Jews and Slavs captured were used for slave labor, our immigration policy is an impediment to those who wish tho traffic in human beings. An encounter on the part of illegal aliens with ICE or the Border Patrol will usually result in that person being returned healthy and alive to their home country. Capture by the Nazi SS always resulted in the enslavement and usually the eventual death of those captured. To compare Trump and his supporters to Hitler and his is not just historically inaccurate, it is divisive and dishonest. Moreover, the hatred and distrust this causes prevent rational discussion of the very real problem of illegal immigration.

The State of the Union Drinking Game

SOTU Drinking GameThe State of the Union speeches can sometimes be tedious and predictable. There will be the long list of achievements that the President wants to highlight, coupled by an even longer laundry list of things he wants to Congress to act on. They’re full of soaring rhetoric, with each president making an obvious effort to get in that one, memorable line that will be quoted ad nauseam later that night and the next day. This year however, with President Trump, things promise to be a little more entertaining. When Trump speaks, you can never be quite sure what you’re going to get. Still, there will be the usual SOTU trope: The long introduction with the President working the reception line, the call outs by the President to guests in the chamber who he thinks personify a certain virtue, or a the need for a certain pet program. The camera will inevitably cut to shots of some general or admiral when the talk turns to defense, the Supreme Court when a decision of theirs is mentioned, or the relevant cabinet secretary, whenever the speech refers to something they’ve or their department have done or might do.

Whether boring or not, make the address even more interesting by playing the State of the Union Drinking Game:

The rules are simple: Every time during the address the President utters one of the designated words or phrases, or anytime one of a few select events happen, you take a drink of your favorite adult beverage.  You must of course, be of legal drinking age to play, unless your favorite adult beverage is non-alcoholic, in that case…you’ll probably make yourself sick either way!

Take a sip anytime any President Trump says one of the magic words or phrases:

  • Fake News
  • Obstruction, obstructionism
  • Unqualified
  • Leading from behind
  • America First

…Or each time any of the following happen:

  • Protester disruption

  • A member of the audience is recognized by the President.

  • The camera cuts to the Supreme Court Justices (take an extra sip if any of them are asleep)

  • The camera cuts to Chuck Schumer or Nancy Pelosi for a reaction shot.

  • Chants of “USA! USA!” breaks out.

Seven Things That Won’t Happen in 2018.

Happy New YearEveryone likes to make New Year’s predictions. Just to be a little different, here is a list of things that are exceedingly unlikely to happen in 2018. Although there are scores of pundits, celebrities and other talking heads who will try and convince you otherwise, here are seven things that logic and clear thinking suggest won’t occur in calendar year 2018…

  1. Global Warming. Have you been outside lately? The polar bears will be quite safe in 2018.

  2. Nuclear War. No, WWIII won’t start over a tweet, despite what the pundits from MSNBC and CNN want you to believe. (Gotta hedge a little because we’re talking about Kim Jong Un here after all. ) If it does happen it will be because N. Korea does something tragically stupid, and God-forbid maybe even gets in a single blow before they cease to exist. It won’t happen however, because President Trump calls Kim Jong Un fat or “Rocket Man”.

  3. The Taxpocolypse. Lower Taxes won’t destroy the country. On the contrary, expect more economic growth.  The promise of lower taxes has already helped the economy and should continue to do so in FY18.

  4. Immigration Stormtroopers. Democrat scare tactics are just that, scare tactics. There will be no squadrons of ICE rounding up foreigners and people of color for mass deportation. There will be no liquidation of East L.A., or South central Chicago.  Yes, plenty of illegal immigrants will be deported, after due process and according to existing law, but if you seriously believe they’re coming for you, and you’re a legal alien- well, you’re a just a little bit gullible.

  5. Venezuela: “A socialist success story”. There’s an outside chance of them becoming a capitalist success story some time in the future, but will take some doing and would probably take years. On a related note, the Che Guevara-T-shirt wearing-die-hard-leftists in this country (still) won’t acknowledge that socialism destroyed that country.

  6. A “wave election” for the Democrats. Conventional wisdom says the party that holds the White House loses Congress during the mid-terms. The Democrats have little to offer except anti-Trump sentiment. If the stock market continues to go up, and GDP growth stays where it is or increases, the public won’t have much incentive to change course. Only if the economy goes south or a major crisis arises and is bungled by the White House will the Democrats have any chance of retaking either branch of Congress. That having been said, Capitol Hill is the Republicans’ to lose.

  7. Impeachment proceedings. Since the Republicans hold Congress and probably will after 2018, Trump would have to have committed an actual high-crime or misdemeanor, not an imagined one to get himself impeached. Sorry left-leaning news media– not gonna happen, not in 2018 and probably not ever.

Trump’s first 100 days evaluation: Good, with some improvement needed.

trump-1st-100-daysAs past presidents have shown, a president’s term can’t be judged by their first one hundred days, Kennedy had a terrible first hundred days, Carter was highly successful at doing the wrong things during that period.  That having been said, it is a good mile marker, an opportunity for course evaluation and correction.  I give President Trump a “B” for his first 100 days. He’s done as well as can be expected for someone with no previous political experience. He’s maxed-out on what a President alone can do in that period. He’s started to dismantle the regulatory state, and has exceeded expectations in the area of foreign policy.  American is back in the business of leading. His administration stumbled a bit on the initial travel ban rollout. He has yet to make any major economic policy.  He (luckily) has not had to deal with any world crisis of the 9/11 or Cuban Missile Crisis magnitude so those remain ungraded.

He has definite room for improvement though. He’s learned the hard way that the Courts are against him, but that is a fixable problem over the long-term. He’d have done better if certain Federal courts actually followed the Constitution. He made a good start with the appointment of Gorsuch to SCOTUS. Where he’s fallen short is when he’s needed the cooperation of Congress. Not getting the healthcare bill on the first try has exposed a need to add dealing with Capitol Hill to his skill set. Like it or not, he’s a politician now and needs to learn how to herd cats. There are also those things that one can only learn by being President, so far at least he’s shown an openness to growing with the job, which is good because the job’s only going to get tougher from here.

Trump has met expectations in some areas, and exceeded them in others, but he’s gone as far as his business skills alone will take him.  He needs to learn how Washington works– not how it should work, but how it really works. He has considerable negotiation skills as we all knew, but now he’s going to have to apply them to a whole new realm of problems and situations that just never occur in the boardroom.  The seeds he sows now with regards to economic policy will take some time to bear fruit, if at all.  It’s too early to judge on that front.  Thankfully, he’s not had to deal with a world-class crisis, although ISIS and North Korea are working hard to provide him with one.  He’s done okay so far but his hardest days are ahead of him.  He’s going to have to continue to grow as a President and he’s not likely to be afforded much time to learn on the job.  On top of that he has many adversaries within the beltway and the media looking to trip him up at every turn, not for the sake of America, but for the sake of damaging his presidency.  That’s not fair, but that’s the reality he faces.  He can and needs to do better despite all that is against him.

The Freedom Caucus won the battle but still could lose the war.

trump-1st-100-daysIf President Trump is correct, Obamacare will implode and the Democrats will have little choice but to join the effort to fix healthcare. Don’t count on them to bring conservative solutions to the table though. The problem for the Freedom Caucus if this happens will be to hold onto the concessions they gained during the last few days. The more Democrats elect to take part in the effort the less chance any further conservative initiatives will make it into any new healthcare legislation. The Freedom Caucus having won this most recent battle, may well lose the war.  The best hope for the Freedom Caucus going forward is to continue to explain to the American people at every opportunity the virtues of their positions on healthcare and build public awareness of them to the point that by the second go-round they seem common sense.  They will need to expand their sphere of influence beyond conservative diehards to the more moderate Republican constituencies and Trump supporters if they are to have any hope keeping their gains in tact much less building upon them in the event that Democrats decide they want a hand in fixing the mess they made with Obamacare when next attempt at healthcare reform is made.

A Bad Call by the U.S. Courts

With the memory of the big football game still fresh in the minds of many, here is an allusion to that sport that explains the recent rulings against President Trump’s travel ban…

Imagine that during an NFL game,  one team’s coach calls a new play.  The play works and the team seemingly scores a touchdown, but the referee throws a flag, calling a penalty.  The coach of the offence team politely beckons the ref to the sideline for a chat.  The coach cites the rulebook to the official saying every element of the play was legal, from the players on the field, to their movements, to their contact with opposing players etc.  The referee says the penalty will stand because he felt the other team wasn’t prepared for such a play, and therefore the play wasn’t fair. The play goes up to the review booth and the call on the field stands and there was no touchdown.

That’s basically what happened this week with the U.S. District Court and 9th Circuit Court reversing the president’s perfectly legal travel ban.  Like the referees in the example, the judges made a call based not upon what the “rulebook” says, but what they thought was equitable.  That is not their job, their job is to know the rules and make sure the government sticks to those rules when enacting policy.  It’s not for them to judge if a policy is good, only that it is legal per statute and the Constitution. It’s for us, the voters to decide if the president’s policy was a good one.  The courts need to stick to their jobs and not assume the responsibilities delegated to others under our system of government.