This last year has been a year in which the term #FakeNews gained prominence in America. It seems that everywhere you turn, false reports are regularly popping up as fact. Amazingly, Wikipedia even defines #FakeNews as this:
Fake News is a type of hoax or deliberate spread of misinformation, be it via the traditional news media or social media, with the intent to mislead in order to gain financially or politically. It often employs eye-catching headlines or entirely fabricated news-stories. They have no basis in fact, but are presented as and believed to be factually accurate…
Pathetically though, Republican politicians are now getting in on the #FakeNews trend in Tennessee and here’s the background.
Republican Governor Bill Haslam proffered a bill he entitled the IMPROVE act (Improving Manufacturing, Public Roads and Opportunities for a Vibrant Economy). The bill, as modified, would increase gas taxes in Tennessee over $300 million per year to fund road repairs across the state. However, in order to “offset” the tax increase that Tennesseans will see at the pump and feel in their wallets, the bill would also reduce taxes on groceries, but not by an equivalent amount. In fact, less than half of the increase is offset by the grocery tax decrease.
To make up the difference, Haslam, bolstered by Republican “yes-men” legislators, cobbled together a tax decrease via two other taxes. The first decrease is in the Franchise & Excise Tax, exclusively a business tax. The second decrease is in the Hall Income Tax, a tax on certain investment income, that only a very small percentage of individuals in Tennessee pay. Furthermore, legislation was passed last year, before Haslam’s 2017 Gas Tax proposal, that agreed to phase out the Hall Tax over several years, with a full repeal by 2022.
So, if you consider the details of Haslam’s proposal, it’s clear that the vast majority of hard-working Tennesseans will never benefit from the F&E Tax decrease or the Hall Income tax phase out. And the marginal decrease in their grocery tax will not even come close to offsetting the increase they will see when they fill-up each week at the pump. So the truth is most Tennesseans will see a drop in their disposable income if Governor Haslam’s IMPROVE “Gas Tax” bill is passed by the Tennessee legislature.
As a backdrop to the whole debate over Governor Haslam’s Gas Tax is the fact that Tennessee has enjoyed a record $2 billion budget surplus this last year. Additionally, the surpluses are projected to continue for the next several years. Consider though that the source of government receipts is predominantly from taxes.
So, in simple terms, Tennessee overtaxed its citizens $2 billion last year, and it projects to continue overtaxing them for the foreseeable future, upwards of at least another billion dollars. But worse, rather than use those surpluses, Governor Haslam and many Republican legislators want to raise taxes even further via Haslam’s Gas Tax bill.
As a result of these surpluses, a number of alternate proposals have been offered to simply divert for road repairs a portion of the surpluses in a similar amount to what Governor Haslam is requesting. This would not only replace Governor Haslam’s proposal but it would also eliminate any need for a tax increase.
But here’s where things cross the line from just a bad policy decision to a purposeful act of deception. Governor Haslam’s “yes-men” in the legislature have been pulling out all the stops to push the Governor’s IMPROVE bill through, by hook or crook. But because of the constant efforts by grassroots activists to expose the truth that the flawed bill will raise taxes on most Tennesseans, according to the Tennessee Star, Transportation Committee Chairman Rep. Barry Doss (R-Leoma) and Rep. Gerald McCormick (R-Chattanooga) led the effort to rename the IMPROVE act to the “Tax Cut Act of 2017.”
Yes, you read that correctly. By falsely applying tax cuts that 1) apply solely to businesses (F&E Tax), and 2) were agreed to in a prior year and do not apply to the majority of Tennesseans (Hall Income Tax), Rep. Doss, Rep. McCormick and a host of other Republican Representatives are deceptively pronouncing that a bill that increases taxes on hard-working Tennesseans, will actually cut taxes on them.
Can someone say #FakeTaxCut?
So is this #FakeTaxCut a foregone conclusion? Not hardly. If there is a lesson in Trump’s victory in November, it is that the People can still determine the outcome of their government. But Trump only won because people showed up and let their voices be heard. And that’s the only way that Haslam’s #FakeTaxCut will be defeated — if Tennessee voters pick up their cell phones, and take 60 seconds to let their voices be heard. If you’re willing to do so, then the price of gas at the pump may not go up. But if you won’t invest a minute of your time, then you can count on Republicans, the party of “lower taxes,” to raise your taxes.
The choice is YOURS.
Click here to contact your Tennessee State Representative and Senator
As a people, Americans are accustomed to solving most any problem that confronts us. Whether it was leading a world coalition to defeat the Nazis or responding to Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, as a nation we have consistently risen to the occasion when we were faced with an existential threat. And, by the grace of God, over our 240+ year history, our nation has weathered even the worst of those threats.
A few days ago, Donald Trump held a press conference in which he described what he inherited from Barack Obama as a “mess.” Specifically, he had this to say:
“As you know, our administration inherited many problems across government and across the economy. To be honest, I inherited a mess! It’s a mess! At home and abroad. A mess!”
He went on to describe some of that mess in his comments. And he spoke of these problems frequently during his campaign:
Loss of jobs
A weakening military
A broken healthcare system
Spiraling, unsustainable debt
A broken immigration & refugee system
President Trump is right that our nation is in an absolute mess. Many have been saying this for a long time. But with the election of Trump, and Republican majorities in both the House and Senate, the power to address the “mess” has shifted to the GOP. They now possess the authority and ability to implement whatever solutions they deem appropriate to deal with the many crises America faces.
Granted, it’s possible and likely that Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress will implement some sound political approaches and pass worthy legislation that will attempt to address these problems. If this battle was being played out on a football field, Republican efforts might advance the ball a few yards towards the goal line of greater prosperity, security, efficiency, lower taxes and more.
But lest we get too excited, the root of our nation’s problems does not stem from a dysfunctional Congress, an activist judicial branch, or even an unorthodox or confrontational President. Their behavior is merely a symptom of a much deeper struggle in our nation.
There is an old adage that goes: “Never bring a knife to a gun fight.” Fighting spiritual battles with political weapons will never offer a permanent solution. If fans attend a football game and they grow excited by their team moving the ball a few yards, but that team doesn’t possess the plays to score a touchdown, then those fans will be continuously frustrated, despite the brief exhilaration if a first down is achieved.
Likewise, using a knife to carve out a political strategy simply offers the exhilaration of a few short term victories. And while I would not diminish the importance of such wins, from a grander perspective of the battle our nation is embroiled in, these “wins” will be akin to a solitary first down, only to see the ball fumbled to the other team.
The fight our nation is embroiled in is a much deeper fight; one that has spiritual and eternal implications. The Bible speaks of this battle in Ephesians 6:12 — “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
While I acknowledge it is not the role of government to solve spiritual problems, it is possible for rulers or elected officials to compound those problems. And we have seen this occurring for many decades now, through legislation, regulation and policy.
In years past, there was a list of transgressions known as the “7 Deadly Sins” which originated shortly after the time of Christ. That ancient list, drawn from the Bible itself, is a modern day indictment of our own nation:
Think through this list and see how they perfectly describe many of the ills our nation is facing.
Lust is front and center nearly everywhere you look: TV, movies, magazines, billboards, internet. It’s nearly impossible to escape.
Gluttony is epidemic in America with more than 1/3 of our citizens obese. And by 2020, it’s estimated that nearly 3/4 of Americans will be either overweight or obese.
Greed is typically associated with Wall Street, business owners, and multi-millionaires. But truthfully, greed is rampant at all socio-economic levels. The entire American culture has been organized around our insatiable desire to accumulate more and more.
Sloth or laziness is synonymous with millions of Americans. While certainly there are many who are unemployed who desire to work, there are literally tens of millions who would prefer to live off the welfare state.
Wrath is seen from DC to small town America. There is no shortage of anger in our nation today. While Donald Trump tapped into a lot of anger, we are seeing different types of anger displayed now that he is our President, and some of that anger is turning violent.
Envy is what drives many in our nation. We lack contentment because we desire what others have. And that desire is not limited to material things but can include status, abilities, and even desiring the characteristics of others.
Pride is seen by some as the worst of the seven deadly sins. By reciting such phrases as “if you believe it, you can achieve it” and other similar concepts, we remove God from the equation, exalting self to the position that only God should occupy.
If you’re like me, I can look through the list above and feel like I’m looking in the mirror for many of these. Sure, none of us are perfect. But how many of us can honestly acknowledge our shortcomings and say we are actively engaged in addressing those shortcomings, through God’s help, on a routine basis?
You see, our nation is a composite of its 330 million citizens. It only reflects what is in the hearts of its people. While we may bemoan the actions of our elected officials, if we’re honest, we’ll admit that they merely reflect what is in our hearts. Nothing more. Nothing less.
So, if we want to solve the many political solutions America is facing, it starts at the most fundamental level — looking in the mirror and beginning to address the spiritual problems in our own individual lives. As we do that, and only when we do that, can we ever hope to solve the seemingly insurmountable political problems facing our nation.
So what say you? Are you ready to start? If so, then get up, walk to the nearest mirror, and join me in saying: “Let’s change America… starting with me!”
“Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart” is a verse from Proverbs that is often repeated in Christian circles.
The fact is, most of my life I have subscribed to the hope this verse offers in raising one’s children. Of course, I have considered the truth of this verse from the vantage point of the values that I believe to be true and worthy of living. But it dawned on me recently, as I was meditating on this passage, that this truth applies equally to those who do not share a conservative ideology or values.
So a child, trained up in values that are the antithesis of conservative, Judeo-Christian values, which I will refer to as liberal progressive values, will also generally not depart from those values when he or she moves into adulthood.
In a factory, assembly lines are used to create a product. At the start of the assembly line, what commences as a heap of parts with little recognizable form, begins to take shape the further they travel down the conveyor belt. Along the way, various assemblers interact with the parts as they pass through their stations. Each encounter leaves an indelible mark on the product being formed. Ultimately, when the parts reaches the end of the assembly line, the predetermined process yields the desired result and the finished product has the marks of its assemblers, as programmed by the designer, embedded into its “DNA.”
Progressives understand the concept of an assembly line and they’ve mastered it to perfection, beginning many decades ago, as it relates to the education system in America.
Our government-run educational institutions in America, more aptly referred to as “government schools,” is one of the greatest outward manifestations in our nation of the truth of the verse, “train up a child…” For years now, a liberal progressive mindset that opposes traditional Judeo-Christian ethics, has dominated not only K-12 but also higher education as well. The most obvious instance of the demarcation of this anti-biblical philosophy came when both the Bible and prayer were removed from our public schools in the early 1960’s.
According to a study by David Barton entitled America: To Pray or Not to Pray, the removal of an absolute moral standard by which our children were educated for the first 150+ years of our nation, has led to a deterioration in a host of categories including the number of single parent households, divorce rates, violent crime, SAT scores, premarital sex, pregnancies for unwed girls, STD’s, and more.
The statistics are a damning indictment of the liberal progressive philosophy that has permeated our educational system. And the extensive degeneration of our culture, morals, family, respect for one another, and more, is largely attributable to the relativistic, amoral philosophy that has been ingrained into the minds and hearts of multiple generations. As the saying goes, “garbage in, garbage out” and there is no doubt that the liberal progressive philosophy that removes God from the equation, can only be described as garbage, or better yet, poison.
The Loss of our Republic
Our Founding Fathers understood the importance of a proper education in the maintaining of our Republic and Liberty itself. But their views were at odds with not only an errant 1960’s Supreme Court that banned prayer and Bible reading in government schools, but also with liberal progressives who have been intent on undermining the foundational values upon which our nation was built. Our Founding Fathers spoke extensively about the impact religion and morals have on the individual and the ultimate survival of our Republic, but here are just three examples:
“The only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be aid in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments. Without religion, I believe that learning does real mischief to the morals and principles of mankind.” Benjamin Rush (signer of the Declaration of Independence)
“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” John Adams (signer of Declaration of Independence and 2nd President)
“The Christian religion, in its purity, is the basis, or rather the source of all genuine freedom in government, and I am persuaded that no civil government of a republican form can exist and be durable in which the principles of that religion have not a controlling influence.” Noah Webster (author of first Dictionary and American Speller, a book that taught children on subjects of morality and American government)
Celebrating Donald Trump
While half of America is hopeful and celebrating the election of Donald Trump, the other half is hopeless, frustrated, angry and in some instances even revolting against Trump’s Presidency. But regardless of your view of Trump, there is a larger truth hanging in the balance. Unless there is a change in the philosophy driving the conveyor belt that continues to churn out a secular humanist product, year after year, from our government schools, our Republic faces little hope. Remember, the liberal progressive ideology is controlling the young fertile minds of our future voters for a minimum of twelve years. And as our verse reminds us, “train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart.”
Control the children, control the future. So unless those controlling the assembly line and the ideology training our children are changed, there is little hope for our Republic and Liberty itself.
Our nation has been deeply divided for some time and that division is growing even deeper. Much of this division has occurred because our political leaders have untethered our laws, policies and regulations from the law of the land, our Constitution.
But as bad as this rejection of our Constitution has been by Congress and the President, We the People have still possessed the ability to hold our politicians accountable to our founding document and principles, every two or four years.
But there remain two threats to the rule of law beyond the Executive and Congressional branches. One obvious. Another not so.
In many banana republics around the globe, cruel and unjust dictators are oftentimes deposed via a military coup d’etat — an armed overthrow of a government. It’s interesting to look at the meaning of this French word. According to Wikipedia, coup d’etat is sometimes translated as “blow of the state” or “hit of state” but the literal translation is “stroke of the state” — as in the wiping or stroke of a sword.
To date our nation has never faced a military coup d’etat. This first threat, while a potential, has never been considered a likely one in our Constitutional Republic.
A Judicial Coup d’etat
The second threat though, is not only a real one, but this week it was realized. No shots were fired. No swords were drawn. But as the definition of coup d’etat makes clear, a “blow to the state” took place when unelected citizens in black robes thumbed their nose at the Constitution and law and figuratively arrested America’s duly elected President, placing legal handcuffs on the authority he clearly possesses.
The Ninth Circuit Federal Appeals Court circumvented well established law and precedent that affirmed the authority of President Trump, in his position as Commander in Chief, to administer the immigration laws of our land. One such law, the Immigration and Nationality Act, states in Section 1182(f):
“Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate”
The net effect of the courts decision was that these three unelected judges wrestled the authority for the safety of our citizens from Trump with the stroke of a pen. Sixty-three million citizens elected Donald Trump to protect our nation from a clear and present danger stemming from the loose and dangerous refugee immigration policies of the Obama Administration. The danger posed by radical Islam has been unleashed time and time again in Europe and America over the last couple years. But the court’s decision undermined a duly elected President and left him powerless, for all practical purposes. At least for the time being.
With the stakes growing ever higher, and the willingness by the left to embrace whatever tactic they can devise to block Republicans from governing, rest assured that nothing will be left off the table. Whether it’s the riots and violence in the streets as I wrote about earlier this week, the abuse of long established rules in Congress, or the seizing of authority by the judicial branch that it does not possess, there will be no end to the intimidation, abuses, and other nefarious activities by Democrats and their allies.
And it will only grow worse as unelected and unaccountable men in black establish their superior rule… from the bench.
For the last several years I have watched in utter disgust as a steady stream of liberal groups have acted out violently in cities across our nation. Whether it was the Occupy Movement, Black Lives Matter, or most recently the anti-Trump “protesters,” there is a common thread to all these anarchist-type leftists. While some of their grievances may have merit, what might begin as organized protests soon turns to threats, rioting, vandalizing, destruction, and assaults. Common to many of these violent events are clashes with police, tear gas, arrests, and injuries. Sadly, some of these criminal leftists have even killed those we entrust our safety to — our men and women in blue.
The media is quick to cover for these radical extremists, often comparing them to protests by the tea party movement on the right, as if there is some moral equivalence. But this comparison could not be more distorted, and intentionally fraudulent, by a media that is hell-bent on uplifting the radical leftist groups and marginalizing and misrepresenting peaceful conservative protests.
I founded the Chattanooga Tea Party in early 2009, and was present at the inception of the modern tea party movement. I’ve been engaged in this worthy and impactful conservative movement every step of the way. Our group in Chattanooga, just one of thousands across our nation, began as a protest rally on April 15, 2009 with patriotic songs, prayers, inspiring speakers, and more than 2,500 local citizens. The family-friendly protest was peaceful and consisted of mothers, fathers, children, grandparents, professionals, blue-collar, white, black, hispanic, elected officials, clergy and more. As was the case in all of our rallies, we consistently left the locations we rented, as clean or cleaner than when we arrived. And not once did we have any clashes with authorities.
In the fall of that same year, more than a million tea party members and conservative groups traveled to Washington DC to protest the policies of our government. The protest was peaceful, patriotic, respectful and not one violent clash with authorities or citizens. In 2013, I had the opportunity to speak at the Audit the IRS Rally on the grounds of our Capitol in Washington DC. Many tens of thousands of tea party patriots attended and again there were no clashes, violence or destruction.
Most of us who led in the founding of the tea party movement had never participated in a grassroots political effort, particularly one that was focused on expressing the frustration and anger that had been simmering for many years. But while tea party members had little experience in leading protests, there was a common thread of love of country, respect for the law, and regard for our fellow citizens, even when we disagreed. Furthermore, our strategy was to use the power of citizen lobbying, persuasion and ultimately the ballot box, to affect change; not intimidation, violence and rioting.
To be clear, the tea party is not a perfect movement. We have had our share of struggles and some of our members have not represented us well. But those are the rare exceptions. And even in those instances, they do not include rioting, violence or worse.
But not so with many of our fellow citizens on the left side of the aisle. The record is one of consistent and regular rioting and violence over the last several years. Here are just a few examples of their detestable criminal activity, but there are literally dozens and dozens:
Black Lives Matter
While certainly there are millions of Democrats and liberals who would never protest by picking up stones, bottles or even guns to vent their anger, the truth is there are millions who would and tens of thousands who have. There is a quote that states,
“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. Not to speak is to speak.”
There’s a deafening silence from many Democrats/liberals as the behavior of many in their party can only be characterized as criminal. Most agree that our nation is deeply divided. But there is no doubt that the continued silence of the left when their own engage in violent acts, will only worsen the deep divide. So I call on my fellow Americans who may not identify with a conservative ideology, or even the unorthodox style of our new President, to reject the path of violence and anarchy. Protest if you feel the need, but do so in a peaceful and respectful manner. Convince your fellow Americans of the soundness of your views and values via your ideological arguments, not your violent acts. Only then can we hope “to form a more perfect union.”
This week, with the talk of many in our nation focusing on Trump’s latest Executive Order, which temporarily halts refugee resettlement, liberals and their funded activists are up in arms and taking to the streets. Even some Republicans are raising concerns over both the content of the EO’s and the way in which they were implemented.
However, lost in all the turmoil is one aspect of our nation’s refugee program that is seldom discussed but should be of great concern to anyone who has ever worked through a budget, whether in your family or business. Here’s one thing we can all agree on. If your budget doesn’t have a surplus or at least balance, then you look closely at the line items of your spending, with an eye towards either reducing your expenses and/or increasing your revenue.
So I thought it might be helpful to understand the fiscal impact of our refugee resettlement program on our nation’s budget. As we look at that cost, we should remember the points made in my previous article about The National Debt. Specifically, our nation’s spending is creating over a half-trillion dollar deficit every year. Additionally, in another of my articles, $10 Trillion New Debt, we are projected to average nearly a trillion dollars in deficits every year over the next decade.
Given these alarming multi-trillion dollar deficits, it’s safe to say that America has no excess funds to allocate. PERIOD. This fact should be weighing heavy on the minds of our political leaders. But the truth is that you never, ever, hear them speaking of the fiscal impact of the 85,000 refugees that were brought into our country last year; or the 50,000 that Trump’s policies would continue to bring in annually.
The Fiscal Impact
There are several reports that I’ve studied about the cost of the refugee program. But the report from Center for Immigration Studies is in my view the most complete, and the excerpted facts below reveal the disturbing fiscal impact of our nation’s refugee program:
America has a long tradition of caring about those beyond our own shores. Whether it’s sacrificing our own young men and women to bring freedoms to some distant land, or offering aid and relief to those less fortunate than us in remote areas of the world, our actions reveal our heart. And ours is a generous one.
But there is a fundamental principle of charity or generosity, and it is that one can only give from what one has. In order to give, one must possess. And to possess, one must be fiscally wise, if not conservative. For too long America has not only been fiscally liberal, but worse, we have been irresponsible and foolish. We have feigned generosity to those less fortunate, both here and abroad. But that “generosity” has come at the expense of enslaving our children, grandchildren and future generations with an indebtedness beyond a level ever known to any prior society throughout history.
Consider for just a moment the example of a family of great wealth. The resources the parents own and manage are significant. But despite their assets and current income, their outflow far exceeds their inflow. But to subsidize their obsessive spending, they begin to mortgage their assets, rather than scrutinizing their spending. This continues over the course of many years. Soon, the amount of indebtedness surpasses their own income, future income and even the value of their assets themselves. What was once presented as a tremendous opportunity to pass on a legacy of wealth and good to their children has become a matter of horror and great indebtedness. And why? Because the leaders of this family were unwilling to face the reality that their spending spree over the course of many years completely depleted their resources and enslaved those they loved the most.
America is like the family above. And those “parents” are our political leaders as well as those of us who continue to give those same leaders the reins of our nation, election cycle after election cycle. On this one issue, refugee resettlement, what is meant for good by many, is in fact contributing to a reckless cycle, year after year, of mounting more and more debt, to the point that someday it will all come crumbling down. And those refugees that we intended to help will be enslaved along with our own children, to an indebtedness that will burden their lives in such a drastic and oppressive manner.
Were Americans of all political persuasion thinking through this matter logically and without their political biases, these numbers would cause our populace to take to the streets to demand our political leaders put our fiscal house back in order. But I don’t expect such sanity to prevail, given the highly fractured and partisan age we live in along with the apathetic attitude of citizens.
But at least now YOU know that there is another aspect to the refugee crisis that no one is mentioning. And it’s greater than the humanitarian aspect, or at least it should be, given our own fiscal crisis that few are willing to confront.
The only question now is will you care? Will you demand of your elected officials that they rein in our spending, both in the refugee resettlement program and across all areas of our government? And will you share these facts with others?