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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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.

Remember: 9-11

9-11-01
Today marks the 16th anniversary of the September 11th terror attacks.

Those who witnessed it live or on TV will never forget that day.  It’s one of those events of such magnitude you remember where you were, who you were with, and what you were doing at the time.  Some memories fade over time, this is one we should hope won’t, lest we forget what it is we never want to go through again.

Again, political violence from the Left.

Progressive HateOn Wednesday occurred a tragic shooting of Steve Scalise (R) LA, and three others by progressive activist and Bernie Sanders supporter, James T. Hodgkinson, who opened fire on a group of Republican lawmakers practicing for a baseball game to be played today.  It was yet another violent incident perpetrated by a member of the far-left.

In the name of their cause, which has apparently degenerated into blind hatred of President Trump and by extension all Republicans, they have committed many acts of violence from hitting a Trump supporter on the head with a bike lock, to politically motivated riots on college campuses intended to shut down the free speech of conservatives, most notably an incident at UC Berkeley that prevented outspoken Milo Yiannopoulos from a scheduled speech at that campus.

Trump was not particularly beloved at first even among Republicans, who fought bitter primary campaigns against him during last year’s presidential election season.  Conservatives for their part have long since made peace with the fact that he is our President and have showed support where they agree, but have also pointed out where they disagree on many occasions.  For the most part, they are prepared to coexist with Trump nation.

This hasn’t been the case of the anti-Trump legions on the left. Far from coexisting with him and his fellow Republicans, they have deemed themselves a sort of resistance, fighting, all to often violently, against anything Trump has attempted.  They have called for his opposition, his impeachment, his imprisonment, and his death and the death of other Republicans, both implicitly and at times explicitly. The anti-Trump movement on the left has a particularly vicious streak.  So called “comedian” Kathy Griffin recently released a photo of her holding up a bloody, fake severed head of the President.  Even William Shakespeare has been co opted by the the malevolent Left, with a recent live performance casting a Trump doppelganger in the role of a modern-day Julius Caesar, who at the climax of the play is brutally murdered by former supporters to the cheers of the NYC crowd.  If you’re at all in touch with conservative politics, you know the list goes on and on.  That’s just the problem.

While yes, there have been isolated incidents of violence committed by those on the right, but those sorry displays of misguided fervor pale in comparison both in scope and intensity to those committed by the alt-left.  While those acts of violence are both uncommon and roundly condemned by vast majority of conservatives, violent rhetoric and actions have the tacit and not so tacit support of progressives. Malice towards Republicans, especially Trump, is widely and actively expressed by the left, among them was James T. Hodgkinson, who attempted the mass assassination of Republican lawmakers.  It was the evil act of an evil man who pursued to the end an evil, malevolent path of hate.  It’s a path shared by all too many progressives.  While they might not travel it to the farthest destination that Hodgkinson did, they are firmly on it.  If they have a shred of decency and civility, they should abandon that path. They can still protest, advocate, speak all they want against Trump or any politician, but if they want to call themselves civilized human beings they will let go of their hate.  In short, they need to decide what kind of movement they want progressivism to become; one of malevolence, intolerance and hatred, or one of peace, real progress, and coexistence with those who might disagree with them politically.

President Trump, Day One

Congratulations to Donald Trump, our 45th president.

trump-1st-100-daysJust after noon Friday, Donald J. Trump was sworn in as our 45th president.  An improbable run for the White House that began over a year ago culminated in President Trump taking the oath of office in front of the Capitol building.  Inside the Mall, tens of thousands cheered.  Outside the Mall, thousands protested, at times violently, while others showed support.  Immediately after being sworn in, he gave his inaugural address that focused on how he would put America first in every decision as president saying, “We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital, and in every hall of power. From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first, America first.”

Rebels Without Causes

President Trump’s inauguration was marred by violence as anti-Trump protesters lashed out on the nation’s capital.  While much of the protesting was done peacefully, there were many protesters determined to disrupt the proceedings, showing little respect for their fellow citizens attempting to show support and maybe catch a glimpse of our newly minted 45th president.   Part of the problem is that for many, protesting has become a sport, a diversion devoid of any real meaning. It no longer seems to matter what the subject is, or even if the problem is real or imagined. These rebels without causes have taken to protesting like others do skiing or rock climbing. It’s just another outdoor sport except it’s borne from societal decay, done not for any real purpose than the adrenaline rush. Perhaps the worst part is that it dilutes the message who peacefully protest for sincere, heartfelt causes that deserve our attention.

Year in Review: Early 2016

2016-yirEarly 2016 saw the presidential race go into full swing.  It seems like a lifetime ago, but the year started with Presidential debates, the most interesting being those on the Republican side.  16 men and one woman began their campaigns in earnest. The stage literally was not big enough for all of them, so was created the undercard debate.  One candidate, Carly Fiorina, emerged as the only candidate to earn a spot on the big stage with the true contenders. Meanwhile on the Democrat side, Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-avowed Socialist caught fire with connecting with of all groups, the far-left leaning youth.  Iran became a campaign issue when the extremely dubious nuclear agreement went into effect, coincidently, four American hostages that were held in Iran were freed.  Later it would become apparent that their freedom had been purchased in the dark of night with unmarked bills.

Farewell Antonio ScaliaThe Executive branch was not the only branch to undergo far-reaching change. In February, the country lost one of its greatest jurists, Antonin Scalia, a conservative justice on a split Supreme Court.  Before the end of March, three different Republicans had won primaries, including several won by Donald Trump, establishing him as a serious contender for the nomination.  Bernie Sanders became the hot ticket on the Democratic side, stringing together early primary victories, showing that there would be no early coronation for Hillary.  Meanwhile, terrorism was set to rear its ugly head again in Europe.  The attack in Brussels, the capital of the European Union exposed the dangers of letting in millions of lightly vetted migrants and refugees from countries with serious terrorism problems.  Further attacks were to come, peaking in the middle months of the year.

2016 in Review: Syrian Christians in the Crossfire

It can be difficult sometimes finding a favorite, or best article of the past year.  This year one post came immediately to mind. The following is a reblog of an article I wrote back in October.  Most of the time I’m writing about broad, abstract ideas like liberty  and conservatism.  This one was a little different, it was about an ongoing specific problem being faced by a specific group of people.    -JP Mac

EGG HARBOR TWP, NJ

Candle for Homs, Syria
Candle for one of the many Syrian cities ravaged by the civil war.

During war civilians always suffer, but what happens when neither side has their well-being in mind?  In Syria, the Assad government aided by their Russian allies fight a host of rebel factions with little regard to collateral damage done to non-combatants. On the other side are hardline Islamists such as ISIS who have even less compunction against killing civilians and in fact, actively target them.  Christians and other religious minorities have been singled out by the Islamic fighters for genocide.  This prompted the formation of Christians United for Peace:  Syria, a non-profit group dedicated to helping the Syrian Christians and other minorities caught in the crossfire.  Recently, the organization held an event to raise awareness of the desperate situation of Syrian Christians in Egg Harbor Township, NJ.  Atlantic City Councilman and member of the Pastoral Council at the Parish of Saint Monica Catholic Church. Jesse O. Kurtz was asked to help put the event together.

Jesse O. Kurtz
The Honorable Jesse Kurtz (R), Atlantic City, NJ

Jesse O. Kurtz explains why he got involved with the effort and what he believes the event he organized accomplished:

“The genocide in the Middle East of Christians is surreal.   I think that is one of the reasons that more people are not speaking out about it.   The key of this event was to bring awareness to the reality of Christian genocide in the Middle East.   The speakers did an excellent job of sharing personal testimonies, as well as offering top quality talks on the history of Christians in the Middle East, the case for why the current violence is indeed genocide, and what life is like for the Church in Syria and Iraq.”

And indeed, the Syrian people have suffered greatly due to the civil war.  According to the IOCC:

  • Since 2011, Syria’s violent civil war has claimed the lives of more than 250,000 people and displaced more than 7.6 million.
  • More than half of Syria’s population has been displaced from their homes, often multiple times, creating mass instability and uncertainty for its people.

Secretary of State John Kerry:

“We know that in areas under its control, Daesh (ISIS) has made a systematic effort to destroy the cultural heritage of ancient communities – destroying Armenian, Syrian Orthodox, and Roman Catholic churches; blowing up monasteries and the tombs of prophets; desecrating cemeteries; and in Palmyra, even beheading the 83-year-old scholar who had spent a lifetime preserving antiquities there.”

The event held at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox was attended by approximately 400 persons, including clergy from the Syriac Orthodox Church, Greek Orthodox Church, and Roman Catholic Church.  Each of these Christian communities has suffered at the hands of ISIS.  Other guest speakers ranged from history professors to witnesses to the strife in Syria who gave firsthand accounts of the human tragedy.  It is one thing to watch brief glimpses of the war on TV, but it is quite another to hear accounts of people who have seen firsthand the devastation.  As an outside observer, one cannot completely understand the experience of the Christians now in Syria, but one can certainly feel for them and understand that this is more than something that we see unfolding on our TV screens each night, but a real catastrophe affecting millions of real people.

The event of course was more than just about raising awareness; it was about raising contributions to the four key Christian charities Christians United for Peace: Syria.  Those aid organizations are:

  • International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC)
  • The Knights of Columbus Christian Refugee Relief Fund
  • Middle East Council of Churches
  • International Christians Outreach

These organizations provide the following critical and essential supplies:

  • Basic food supplies
  • Clean water
  • Cooking equipment
  • Baby supplies, including diapers
  • Dignity kits for women
  • Clothing and shoes
  • Mattresses and bedding

When we think of genocide, often think of the holocaust and the mass killing of Jews during WWII, or we think of Rwanda, or the ethnic cleansing inside the former Yugoslavia.  As with the liquidation of the ghettos in WWII by the NAZI’s part of genocide against the Christians and Yezidis involves the mass theft of anything of value.  Not just valuables, but life’s essentials were taken, like medications and even shoes.  The victims of the ISIS genocide in Iraq and Syria that were “lucky” enough to be allowed to escape to Kurdish territories were done so in such a way as to cause maximum hardship if not outright death by sickness and starvation.  Imagine the liquidation of the Jewish ghettos combined with the Trail of Tears forced upon the American Indians, and you get some sense of the torment ISIS put Christians and Yezidis through.

This was one comparatively small event, held in a small New Jersey shore town, but Councilman Kurtz thinks that with help, some relief can be brought to this ancient Christian community:

“There is now a group of hundreds of people locally aware and looking to bring relief and hope to our persecuted brethren.   We shall see what next steps are directed through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost.”

Amen.