Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Open for Business, not Phony Free Trade

by John and Andy Schlafly

A few days before delivering his report to Congress on the State of the Union, President Trump took a victory lap at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. That’s the annual gathering of CEOs, celebrities, and liberal politicians who think they run the global economy.

Trump was not on the initial guest list for Davos, and few in the audience were pleased when he decided to crash their party. After all, Trump had won the presidency partly by campaigning against the global elites who dominate the goings-on in Davos.

“The world is witnessing the resurgence of a strong and prosperous America,” Trump told the world’s movers and shakers. “There has never been a better time to hire, to build, to invest and to grow in the United States. America is open for business, and we’re competitive once again.”

Trump flattered his reluctant audience of “business titans, industry giants and many of the brightest minds in many fields.” But he warned them that they owe “a duty of loyalty to the people, workers, customers, who made you who you are.”

In an obvious reference to China, Trump said: “The U.S. will no longer turn a blind eye to unfair economic practices including massive intellectual property theft, industrial subsidies and pervasive state-led economic planning. These and other predatory behaviors are distorting the global markets and harming businesses and workers, not just in the U.S. but around the globe.”

President Trump sent a high-powered advance team to Davos including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. At a press conference the day before Trump arrived, the cabinet secretaries pushed back against the media’s disdain for the American president.

When a reporter asked the inevitable, tiresome question of whether Trump’s America First policy would start a trade war, Wilbur Ross was ready with a crisp answer. “There have always been trade wars,” he said. “The difference now is U.S. troops are now coming to the ramparts.”

“Trade wars are fought every single day,” Secretary Ross continued. “Unfortunately, every single day there are various parties violating the rules and taking advantage.”

Ross’s comments echoed what the president told CEOs at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference in November. “We are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of anymore,” he said. “From this day forward, we will compete on a fair and equal basis.”

The day before Secretary Ross spoke in Davos, President Trump signed off on a recommendation to impose tariffs of up to 30% on Chinese-made solar panels and up to 50% on large residential washing machines from South Korea. These remedies for unfair trade practices are authorized by Section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974 and were recommended by the independent U.S. International Trade Commission.

The decision was announced by Robert Lighthizer, who works at the White House as U.S. Trade Representative. As Lighthizer declared, “The president’s action makes clear again that the Trump administration will always defend American workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses.”

The trade action was welcomed by employees of Whirlpool, the Michigan-based appliance manufacturer that employs 10,000 Americans at five plants in Ohio. Whirlpool announced it would immediately hire 200 more manufacturing workers at its plant in Clyde, Ohio.

“This is a victory for American workers and consumers alike,” said Whirlpool’s Chairman Jeff Fettig, who wasn’t invited to Davos. “By enforcing our existing trade laws, President Trump has ensured American workers will compete on a level playing field with their foreign counterparts, enabled new manufacturing jobs here in America and will usher in a new era of innovation for consumers everywhere.”

In a rare act of bipartisanship, Trump’s decision was praised by both of Ohio’s U.S. Senators, including Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown, who’s up for reelection this year, and Republican Senator Rob Portman, who had Lighthizer’s job during the free-trading George W. Bush administration. “After moving their production from overseas back to Clyde, Ohio,” Portman said, “Whirlpool has had to fight a series of cases against companies who would rather cheat than compete.”

Trump was predictably criticized by the hard core of never-Trumpers such as Nebraska’s Republican U.S. Senator Ben Sasse and the columnist George Will, who called it protectionism. But the broad public support for a policy of putting Americans first shows why Trump won the states of Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Iowa in 2016 and can do so again in 2020.

Back in Washington, Trump told reporters that his State of the Union address would be “a very important speech on trade. The world has taken advantage of us on trade for many years and, as you probably noticed, we’re stopping that. We’re stopping it cold.”

“We have to have reciprocal trade,” Trump declared. “It’s not a one-way deal anymore.”

John and Andy Schlafly are sons of Phyllis Schlafly (1924-2016) whose 27th book, The Conservative Case for Trump, was published posthumously in 2016. These columns are also posted on pseagles.com.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Trump’s Breakthrough Win Against Shutdown

The Phyllis Schlafly Report
by John and Andy Schlafly

President Trump proved the pundits to be wrong, once again, with his breakthrough victory against the shutdown. Nearly all political experts pompously declared that Republicans cannot win in a shutdown, and yet Trump did exactly that.

Margaret Thatcher, the late British Prime Minister who was Ronald Reagan’s ally throughout Reagan’s two terms as our president, explained how she achieved her improbable success as Britain’s longest-serving prime minister. Her pithy reply: “First you win the argument, then you win the vote.”

Thatcher’s motto explains how President Trump was able to win the shutdown showdown with Democrats: first, he won the argument. Democrats, led by Chuck Schumer, turned the lights back on when they realized they were losing the argument with the American people.

In order to win the debate, though, Trump first had to frame the debate, which he did brilliantly on Twitter: “Democrats are far more concerned with Illegal Immigrants than they are with our great Military or Safety at our dangerous Southern Border.”

U.S. citizens should not lose access to our own government in order to protect people who have no right to be here in the first place. By forcing the shutdown, as Trump said on Twitter, “The Democrats are turning down services and security for citizens in favor of services and security for non-citizens. Not good!”

Meanwhile, the New York Times reported that Senator Schumer’s decision to end the government shutdown “enraged liberals, who accused the lawmakers of betrayal and threatened to mount primaries against some of the Democrats who voted yes. They accused Schumer of capitulating to protect senators up for re-election in November in Republican-leaning states.”

“It’s hard to overstate how disgusted many progressive leaders are,” a Times columnist observed. Trump thus not only emerged victorious, he cut off the Democratic leadership from their own base which they will need for the upcoming midterm elections.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s promise to hold a future vote on DACA was merely a fig leaf for Democrats, since a promise to vote on something unspecified is as meaningless as a promise to merely consider agreeing to something unknown.

Representative Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL), one of the Democrats’ chief advocates of amnesty for illegal immigrants, bitterly observed: “It’s the one word they know in Spanish: mañana.” That word literally translates as “tomorrow,” but it really means “some day, maybe never.”

President Trump has already properly rejected the so-called bipartisan bill floated by never-Trumpers Jeff Flake and Lindsey Graham, because it utterly fails to include three essential conditions of any immigration compromise: ending chain migration, eliminating the visa lottery, and building a border wall. That bill not only snuck in millions of additional Dreamers, it even protected their parents who brought them in illegally.

President Trump had been willing to extend DACA in exchange for new border controls, but USA Today reported that “There are 3.6M ‘DREAMers’ — a number far greater than commonly known” (and far greater than the 690,000 DACA recipients). “A number so large raises the stakes for both sides.”

Not only did Trump win the first-ever clear victory for Republicans on a shutdown, he won it with the equivalent of a first-round knockout. Democrats are bewildered by the drumming they just received, and how they had to capitulate to avert a disaster for their party.

Trump defined the issue and stuck with it, astutely declining to discuss DACA with Democrats until the government is reopened. In so doing, he taught his fellow Republicans a great deal about how to negotiate with the Democrats in the future.

Trump showed how he is not a Republican like the first President George Bush, who declared “Read My Lips” in promising not to raise taxes, and then famously broke his pledge as soon as Democrats pressured him on the issue. Trump is not like Republicans leaders in Congress, either, many of whom have been trying to appease liberals on DACA and other issues.

The benefits of President Trump's forceful leadership on the shutdown extend far beyond immigration. President Trump has finally ended the stranglehold that liberals have had over Republicans, by holding the government hostage to a shutdown unless the GOP caves in.

Instead, it was the Democrats who completely caved in by ending the shutdown, and even the liberal media are admitting their ignominious defeat. Reasons are being floated as to why the Democrats lost this time when they are perceived to have always won on the shutdown issue in the past, but much of the post-game analysis misses the point.

The real cause of this massive political blunder by the Democrats can be summed up in merely four words: they underestimated Donald Trump. By now, this is not a mistake that political experts should still be making.

John and Andy Schlafly are sons of Phyllis Schlafly (1924-2016) whose 27th book, The Conservative Case for Trump, was published posthumously in 2016. These columns are also posted on pseagles.com.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Trump Should Stand His Ground on Immigration

The Phyllis Schlafly Report
by John and Andy Schlafly

The mainstream media have had a field day reporting on President Trump’s alleged use of coarse language in a closed-door meeting at the White House last week. According to one tally, CNN repeated the offensive word 195 times in a single day last week, including 22 times in a single hour, not including its display on the chyron at the bottom of the screen.

The initial report was denied by President, and his denial was corroborated by two U.S. Senators and a cabinet secretary who (unlike the media) were present in the meeting. But all the fuss over coarse language has reinforced the point that Trump was making, that we should be much more selective about the immigrants and others we allow to enter the United States.

Whether or not Trump used a bad word to describe impoverished countries, which have been plagued by political systems that do not reward hard work, Trump is right that most of the people living there are not prepared to immigrate here without imposing a burden on Americans. Most of the people in the rest of the world just don’t have the skills to support themselves in our high-tech society.

Too many Americans have been misled by the sentimental myth that our immigration policy is (or should be) based on a poem that includes the lines “give me your tired, your poor, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.” In fact, that poem does not reflect the purpose of the Statue of Liberty and it was only hung in the visitor’s lounge many years after the statue was erected and dedicated.

In 1883, when Emma Lazarus wrote her famous poem, America could accommodate millions of poor immigrants willing and able to work at low wages, but that’s not true anymore. Such jobs are disappearing fast in our economy, and we’ve built a vast safety net so that our own low-skilled citizens can live in dignity without working.

On the day Donald Trump announced he was running for president, he vowed to change the way our immigrants are selected and screened. “When Mexico sends its people,” he said about the country that has sent about 50% of our immigrants, both legal and illegal, “they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us.”

As Trump himself conceded in that June 16, 2015 speech, there are of course some “good people” coming from Mexico and other poor countries. His point, then and now, is that we’re not selecting the best candidates for immigration from among the much larger number of people who do not share our values.

More than three-quarters of the 1.2 million people who legally settle in the United States each year never pass any qualifying test for their fitness to live and work here. Their average level of education is well below that of American citizens, which means those immigrants are doomed to a life of near-poverty supplemented by food stamps and other taxpayer-funded benefits.

Numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau tell the story. Immigrants from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador have the least education (many never attended high school), the least command of English (most are “functionally illiterate” in our language), and live in households that depend on at least one major welfare program.

This is what happens under a system of chain migration under which immigrants are allowed to sponsor their unscreened, unvetted distant relatives for a green card. In effect, this year’s immigrants are selected by last year’s immigrants instead of by the American people as a whole.

President Trump said that any deal for DACA must include an end to chain migration, tweeting over the weekend: “I, as President, want people coming into our Country who are going to help us become strong and great again, people coming in through a system based on MERIT. No more Lotteries! #AMERICA FIRST.”

A group of leading House Republicans has just unveiled a bill to do just that. Called the Securing America’s Future Act (H.R. 4760), the bill has support from all factions of the conference including two committee chairmen (Goodlatte and McCaul), the Puerto Rican-born Raul Labrador and the moderate Martha McSally, who’s running to succeed Jeff Flake in the Senate.

The House bill extends DACA benefits while meeting the president’s proper demand to end chain migration and the diversity visa lottery. It requires employers to use E-Verify, and it cracks down on sanctuary cities and those who overstay their visas or reenter after being previously deported.

In an effort to attract support from rural states, the bill unwisely allows more low-skilled agricultural guest workers, and the bill’s definition of high-skilled work may not be high enough to protect our own engineering graduates from foreign competition. But Securing America’s Future Act would help Make America Great Again.

John and Andy Schlafly are sons of Phyllis Schlafly (1924-2016) whose 27th book, The Conservative Case for Trump, was published posthumously in 2016. These columns are also posted on pseagles.com.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Marijuana Lights Up the Wrong Way

The Phyllis Schlafly Report
by John and Andy Schlafly

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is being attacked on both sides of the aisle for rescinding the Obama policy that opened the floodgates to marijuana addiction. Funded by libertarian billionaires such as the Koch brothers, pro-pot senators like Cory Gardner are demanding that AG Sessions stand down and continue Obama’s misguided policy.

Sessions rescinded Obama’s command that the Department of Justice ignore federal law against marijuana production and sales, and instead Sessions instructed U.S. Attorneys to begin enforcing well-established federal statutes against large-scale cultivation and distribution of marijuana. These federal laws preempt state law, particularly in Colorado and California where a culture of pot addiction has virtually taken over.

Sessions wrote on January 4th that “today’s memo on federal marijuana enforcement simply directs all U.S. Attorneys to use previously established prosecutorial principles that provide them all the necessary tools to disrupt criminal organizations, tackle the growing drug crisis, and thwart violent crime across our country.”

That hardly seems controversial, but money talks and politicians beholden to mega-donors went ballistic in response. Senator Cory Gardner, who heads the misguided fundraising arm of Republican senators, even took to the Senate floor to rant against Sessions for wanting to enforce the law.

Sen. Gardner is the same guy who is pushing the agenda of the same mega-donors to enact amnesty for certain illegal aliens, wanted for their cheap labor. Yet every time Gardner opens his mouth he makes it more difficult for Republicans in Congress to hold onto their majority in the upcoming midterm elections, because American voters reject Republican candidates who support either amnesty or legalized pot.

New Year’s Day rang in the sale of pot in retail stores in California, which expands the hazards it poses to the public there. In addition, anyone over the age of 21 may smoke pot on private property now in California, simply to get high over and over again.

This push for pot is not really coming from the freedom-loving culture of rock music. Instead, like gambling, legalizing pot is driven by a multi-decade campaign of investors seeking to profit from cannabis, as it’s now being advertised for marketing purposes.

First it was sold to the American people under the guise of “medical marijuana,” and predictably anyone with a little back or joint pain was obtaining prescriptions to get high. The strategy was to open the door to the inevitable recreational use by anyone, which is occurring now in eight states.

This is too much even for rock fans, as California's popular Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival recently responded to the legalization of marijuana by banning it at its concerts: “Sorry bro. Marijuana and marijuana products aren’t allowed inside the … Festival. Even in 2018 and beyond.”

If concerts won’t allow smoking pot, why do the rest of us have to put up with its pungent odor and harmful consequences? Costly emergency room visits by “potheads” and deadly car accidents are just two of the burdens that rampant marijuana addiction brings to our society.

Among traffic fatalities in Colorado when operators were tested for marijuana, 25% of those crashes had an operator who tested positive for the drug. This is a sharp increase since marijuana was legalized there, and the real number may be higher because unlike alcohol there is no close correlation between impairment and tissue levels.

Although supposedly limited to adults, marijuana use by youths between 12 and 17 years old, and college-age adults between 18 and 25, has risen sharply in Colorado since pot was legalized there four years ago. Now Colorado has the highest rate of marijuana use by youths in the country, according to the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.

Meanwhile, the town of Pueblo, Colorado, is buckling under the expense of “marijuana migrants,” attracted to the town’s pro-marijuana publicity. Instead of finding real work, however, these marijuana migrants live mostly in boxes, resorting to buckets as toilets.

Billionaire George Soros has been behind the push to legalize marijuana around the country, but the problem now is that he has been joined by a few billionaires associated with the right side of the political spectrum. They are misleading GOP politicians to make the colossal mistake of embracing this leftist agenda item.

Starved for money to finance their campaigns for office in 2018, hopeful Republican candidates will feel the pressure to cave in to pro-pot demands of mega-donors. But while Democrats can get away with that, Republican candidates surely cannot.

The vast majority of our country, and particularly working-class Republicans, reject the legalization of marijuana with all of its harmful consequences. Republican candidates for office who go along with the demands of billionaire donors to endorse their pro-pot agenda will see their own candidacies go up in smoke among voters.

John and Andy Schlafly are sons of Phyllis Schlafly (1924-2016) whose 27th book, The Conservative Case for Trump, was published posthumously in 2016. These columns are also posted on pseagles.com.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

How Trump Changed the Debate

by John and Andy Schlafly

When President Trump announced his decision to wind down DACA, which protects illegal aliens who came to America before their 18th birthday, Democratic leaders were secretly pleased. They thought DACA gave them a way to defeat the President, and compel him to cave in on the issue in order to avert a government shutdown just before Christmas.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was created by a stroke of President Barack Obama’s pen in 2012, even after Obama said 22 times that he lacked the power to do that. DACA provided a two-year work permit with a valid Social Security number to around 800,000 illegal aliens, a number that has since dropped through attrition to about 690,000.

No one denies that Trump has the power to rescind an executive order by his predecessor, but many were misled by polls showing that DACA is a popular program. Depending on how the question is asked, polls show many Americans sympathize with the plight of young people who were supposedly brought here through no fault of their own.

But the real poll is on Election Day, and Donald Trump was elected president primarily because of his commitment to control our borders and reduce immigration. If Trump could be rolled by the media on his signature issue, it would undermine his presidency and make it that much easier for Democrats to defeat the rest of the Trump agenda.

Thinking they had Trump on the defensive, Democrats laid plans to expand DACA from a two-year work permit for 700,000 people all the way to permanent residency for some 4 million illegal residents. Democrats felt so confident that they would win on the DACA issue that they started posturing already for how to expand its amnesty to include many millions.

Now Democrats are making similar threats about extending DACA as a condition for the next budget deadline on January 19, but the terms of the debate have changed. Instead of DACA and the Dream Act, Trump has forced public attention on chain migration.

Between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, Trump served notice via Twitter about the new deal that Democrats would face in the new year: “There can be no DACA without the desperately needed WALL at the Southern Border,” he warned, “and an END to the horrible Chain Migration & ridiculous Lottery System of Immigration etc. We must protect our country at all cost!”

A helpful web page was created by the White House to elaborate on the president’s tweet. According to this page at whitehouse.gov, chain migration is “the process by which foreign nationals permanently resettle in the U.S. and subsequently bring over their foreign relatives, and so on, until entire extended families are resettled within the country.”

The numbers are huge. On average, according to the White House, “every 2 new immigrants bring 7 additional foreign relatives to permanently resettle in the U.S.”

In just the last ten years, some 9.3 million people have been allowed to settle permanently in the United States solely because of their familial ties to another immigrant. That’s more than the total population of Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, and Cleveland – combined.

“This system of chain migration – whereby one immigrant can bring in their entire extended families, who can bring in their families and so on – de-skills the labor force, puts downward pressure on wages, and increases the deficit,” explains the White House website. The Trump administration is absolutely correct that low-skill immigrants increase the fiscal deficit by consuming more in benefits than they pay in taxes.

Chain migration “de-skills the labor force” because those immigrants, on average, have lower or fewer skills than the Americans who are already here and struggling to find adequate employment. While the vast majority of immigrant green cards were based on family ties, only 6 percent were issued on the basis of skills.

Despite low unemployment figures being reported, as President Obama’s chief economic adviser Jason Furman recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “some 9 million men of prime age – that is, between 25 and 54 – still are not working.” Furman ignored immigration, but it’s not just a coincidence that 9 million men exited the labor force during the same period that 9.3 million low-skill immigrants settled in the United States.

“The bulk of the decline in employment,” Jason Furman continued, “has been for men with a high-school diploma or less, who have seen their employment rates fall from 97% in 1964 to 83% today.” That’s the same group that is most harmed by the policy of allowing low-skill immigrants to come here and fight for the same jobs.

For more than 50 years, America’s immigration policy has been set by an unholy alliance between liberal Republicans, who seek to please their donors with access to cheap labor, and Democrats in search of more votes for their progressive agenda. Under the Trump administration, that corrupt bargain is finally coming to an end.

John and Andy Schlafly are sons of Phyllis Schlafly (1924-2016) whose 27th book, The Conservative Case for Trump, was published posthumously in 2016. These columns are also posted on pseagles.com.