In today’s hyper-competitive economy, companies are always looking for ways to boost productivity and employee morale. One of the easiest solutions may just be to raise the thermostat. Ron Friedman of Fast Company points to a study by Cornell University which concludes that workplace temperature has a definite impact on job performance.
Cold employees do not turn in hot production statistics:
When temperatures were low (68 degrees, to be precise), employees committed 44% more errors and were less than half as productive as when temperatures were warm (a cozy 77 degrees). … When our body’s temperature drops, we expend energy keeping ourselves warm, making less energy available for concentration, inspiration, and insight.
Excessively cool temperatures influence people to view their coworkers as cold, reducing trust and the instinct to cooperate. We associate warmth with caring, comfort and security.
So it might make sense for companies to discard one of the common justifications for the office meat locker- “we need it for the computers.” After forty years in the workplace I can state from experience that temperature matters. However, it is not clear if anything can fix the motivational chill of the Obama economy.
According to Gallup, 54% of adults (62% of Independents) believe the government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses. 39% (29% of Independents) say the government should do more to solve the nation’s problems.
According to CBS/New York Times, only 37% of adults want a government that emphasizes self-reliance. 56% would rather have a government that emphasizes community.
According to Associated Press/GfK, 30% of adults say their family’s financial situation is better off than it was four years ago. 37% say it is the same and 31% say it is worse. According to CBS/New York Times, 26% of adults say their family’s financial situation is better than it was four years ago; 46% say it is the same; and 28% say it is worse.
According to Associated Press/GfK, 35% of adults say that national economy is better off than it was four years ago. 19% say it is the same and 46% say it is worse. According to CBS/New York Times, 35% of adults say the U.S. is better than it was four years ago; 27% say it is the same; and 37% say it is worse.
President Obama: Average approval from mid-September was 49.8% according to RealClearPolitics. Average disapproval was 47.3%. (Last week’s average, which covered early to mid-September, was 49%. Average disapproval was 47.3%)
Here are the polls released this week on Presidential job approval:
- American Research Group: 48% of adults approve, up from 41% in September 2011. 48% disapprove, down from 56% one year ago.
- Associated Press/GfK: 56% of adults approve and 40% disapprove.
- CBS/New York Times: 51% of adults approve, up from 43% in mid-September 2011. 42% disapprove, down from 50% one year ago.
- DailyKos: 48% of registered voters approve (43% of Independent registered voters) and 50% (52% of Independents) disapprove.
- Economist: 48% of adults approve and 48% disapprove.
- NBC/WSJ: 50% of registered voters approve and 48% disapprove.
Gallup tracks President Obama’s job approval on a weekly basis. Last week’s average (Aug. 27-Sept. 3-9, 2012) showed 50% approved and 44% disapproved. The latest weekly numbers available (Sept. 10-16, 2012) showed 50% approve and 44% disapprove. Last year at this time (Sept. 12-18, 2011), 40% approved and 52% disapproved.
Rasmussen conducts a daily tracking poll. One week ago (Sept. 14), 48% approved and 52% disapproved. On Sept. 21, approval was 51%; disapproval was 48%. Last year at this time, the President’s approval was 46% and his disapproval 52%.
Congress: Average approval for early August to mid-September was 13.8% according to the RealClearPolitics average. Average disapproval was 79.6%. (Last week’s average, which covered early July to late August, was 13.8%. Average disapproval was 79.2%)
Here are the polls released this week on Congressional job approval:
- CBS/New York Times: 16% of adults approve, up from 12% in mid-September 2011. 74% disapprove, down from 80% one year ago.
- Economist: 10% of adults approve and 70% disapprove.
- Gallup: 13% of adults approve of Congress.
Right Track/Wrong Track: According to the RealClearPolitics average, which covered early to mid-September, 38.5% think the country is headed in the right direction while 55.3% think it is headed in the wrong direction. (One week ago, the right track average, which covered mid-August to mid-September, was 35.2%. The wrong track average was 59.5%.)
Here are the polls released this week on the direction of the country:
- Associated Press/GfK: 42% of adults think the country is headed in the right direction and 48% think it is headed in the wrong direction.
- CBS/New York Times: 40% of adults think the country is headed in the right direction, up from 23% in mid-September 2011. 54% think it is headed in the wrong direction, down from 72% one year ago.
- Economist: 34% of adults think the country is headed in the right direction and 54% think it is headed in the wrong direction.
- NBC/WSJ: 39% of registered voters think the country is headed in the right direction and 55% think it is headed in the wrong direction.
- Rasmussen: 35% of likely voters think the country is headed in the right direction and 58% think it is headed in the wrong direction.
According to CBS/New York Times, 32% of adults think the next generation will be better off than the current only. 42% think it will be worse off and 18% think it will be in the same situation.
Budget Deficit & Spending:
According to Rasmussen, 64% of adults think there are too many Americans dependent on the government for financial aid. Just 10% think not enough Americans are dependent on the government, while 16% say the level of dependency is about right.
According to the Economist, 10% of adults believe the budget deficit is the top issue facing the country – the economy (39%) and health care (11%) received a higher percentage. Still, 59% of adults say the issue is a “very” important one to them. According to Pew, 27% of adults say the budget deficit is the most important economic issue facing the country.
President Obama approval on the issue:
- Economist: 40% of adults approve and 51% disapprove.
Economy & Jobs:
According to American Research Group, 46% of adults say the U.S. is in a recession and 36% say it is not in a recession.
According to Gallup, its “Economic Confidence Index, Americans’ outlook for the economy has showed the most improvement in September, thus far. Americans’ net economic optimism — that is, the percentage saying the economy is getting better minus the percentage saying it is getting worse — remained at -12 last week, after rising to that level in the week spanning the Democratic convention, which in turn was up from -28 the week prior.”
According to Rasmussen, 44% of likely voters are more worried that the federal government will try to do too much in reacting to the nation’s current economic problems. 44% fear the government will not do enough in response to those problems. 12% are undecided.
According to the Economist, 30% of adults think the economy is getting better; 39% say it is getting worse; and 26% say it is staying the same. According to Associated Press/GfK, 49% of adults think the economy will be better in one year, 15% think it will be worse; and 24% think it will be the same. According to American Research Group, 37% of adults think the economy is getting better, 16% say it is staying the same and 44% think it is getting worse. According to NBC/WSJ, 42% of registered voters think the economy is getting better, 18% think it is getting worse and 32% think it is staying the same. According to CBS/New York Times, 32% of adults think the economy will be better off in one year, 28% think it will be worse off and 39% think it will be the same.
According to Pew, 25% of adults think the economy is recovering; 30% say it isn’t recovering yet, but will soon and 43% say it will be a long time before it recovers. According to NBC/WSJ, 51% of registered voters think the economy is improving and 45% think it is not improving.
According to Associated Press/GfK, 22% of adults would rate the economy as good; 59% would rate it as poor; and 18% are unsure. According to American Research Group, 5% of adults would rate the economy as excellent; 8% would say it is very good; 21% would say it is good; 29% would say it is bad; 16% would say it is very bad; and 20% would say it is terrible. According to CBS/New York Times, 2% of adults would rate the economy as very good; 29% would say it is fairly good; 38% would say it is fairly bad; and 30% would say it is very bad.
According to the Economist, 39% of adults believe the economy is the top issue facing the country. 83% of adults say the issue is a “very” important one to them. According to Pew, 40% of adults say the job situation is the most important economic issue facing the country.
President Obama approval on the issue:
- American Research Group: 46% of adults approve, up from 37% in September 2011. 51% disapprove, down from 60% one year ago.
- Associated Press/GfK: 49% of adults approve and 48% disapprove.
- CBS/New York Times: 45% of adults approve, up from 34% in mid-September 2011. 47% disapprove, down from 57% one year ago.
- Economist: 43% of adults approve and 50% disapprove.
- NBC/WSJ: 47% of registered voters approve and 51% disapprove.
According to CBS/New York Times, 40% of adults say Medicare needs major changes to stay sound. 36% say it needs minor changes and 14% say it needs no changes at all.
According to CBS/New York Times, 78% of adults want to keep Medicare as it is. 14% would change it to a voucher system.
According to Rasmussen, 53% of adults favor repeal of the 2010 health care law; 43% oppose.
According to CBS/New York Times, 42% of adults approve of the the 2010 health care law. 46% disapprove.
According to the Economist, 45% of adults think there is too much government regulation, 25% think there is too little and 20% think there is about the right amount.
According to CBS/New York Times, 30% of adults would extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for everyone; 47% would extend them only for families earning less than $250,000 and 14% would let them expire for everyone.
Public Notice is an independent non-profit dedicated to providing facts and insight on the economy and how government policy affects Americans’ financial well-being.
We’ve now passed 38 jobs bills that still sit in the Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate. House Republicans have shown leadership in working to grow our economy and provide an environment for job creation. It’s time for Democrats in the Senate and the White House to do the same.
Empower Small Business Owners
Small business owners are being bogged down by burdensome regulations from Washington that prevent job creation and hinder economic growth. We must remove onerous regulations that are redundant, harm small businesses, and impede private sector investment and job creation.
Review of Federal Regulations
H. Res. 72 – Passed by the House (391-28) on February 11, 2011
Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act
H.R. 872 – Senate has taken no action to date
Energy Tax Prevention Act
H.R. 910 – Senate has taken no action to date
Disapproval of FCC’s Net Neutrality Regulations
H.J. Res. 37 – Senate has blocked a companion measure by a vote of 46-52
Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act
H.R. 2018 – Senate has taken no action to date
Consumer Financial Protection & Soundness Improvement Act
H.R. 1315 – Senate has taken no action to date
Protecting Jobs from Government Interference Act
H.R. 2587 – Senate has taken no action to date
Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation Act
H.R. 2401 – Senate has taken no action to date
Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act
H.R. 2681 – Senate has taken no action to date
EPA Regulatory Relief Act
H.R. 2250 – Senate has taken no action to date
Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act
H.R. 2273 – Senate has taken no action to date
Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act
H.R. 3094 – Senate has taken no action to date
Regulatory Accountability Act
H.R. 3010 – Senate has taken no action to date
Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act
H.R. 527 – Senate has taken no action to date
H.R. 10 – Senate has taken no action to date
Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act
H.R. 1633 – Senate has taken no action to date
Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Water Reliabilty Act
H.R. 1837 – Senate has taken no action to date
Land in Accomack County, Virginia
H.R. 2087 – Senate has taken no action to date
Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act
H.R. 4078 – Senate has taken no action to date
Minnesota Education Investment and Employment Act
H.R. 5544 – Senate has taken no action to date
Fix The Tax Code To Help Job Creators
America’s tax code has grown too complicated and cumbersome. We need a tax code that is flatter, fairer, and simpler to ensure that everyone pays their fair share, lessen the burden on families, generate economic expansion, and create jobs by making America more competitive.
Small Business Tax Cut Act
H.R. 9 – Senate has taken no action to date
Small Business Paperwork Mandate Elimination Act
H.R. 4 – Signed into law by the President on April 14, 2011
Health Care Cost Reduction Act
H.R. 436 – Senate has taken no action to date
3% Withholding Rule Repeal
H.R. 674 – Signed into law by the President on November 21, 2011
Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012
H.R. 3630 – Signed into law by the President on February 22, 2012
Job Protection and Recession Prevention Act
H.R. 8 – Senate has taken no action to date
Pathway to Job Creation through a Simpler, Fairer Tax Code Act
H.R. 6169 – Senate has taken no action to date
Increase Competitiveness for U.S. Manufacturers
The more that American businesses export, the more they produce. The more businesses produce, the more workers they need. This means job creation. Expanding market access for U.S. made products will be a shot in the arm for businesses small and large and will create jobs.
US-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act
H.R. 3078 – Signed by the President on October 21, 2011
US-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act
H.R. 3079 – Signed by the President on October 21, 2011
US-Korea Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
H.R. 3080 – Signed by the President on October 21, 2011
Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act
H.R. 1904 – Senate has taken no action to date
FAA Modernization and Reform Act
H.R. 658 – Signed by the President on February 14, 2012
Apply Countervailing Duty to Nonmarket Economy Countries
H.R. 4105 – Signed into law by the President on March 13, 2012
National Stategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2012
H.R. 4402 – Senate has taken no action to date
Encourage Entrepreneurship and Growth
America has historically been on the cutting edge of innovation and technological development, but we are increasingly falling behind our global competitors. We must make it easier for existing businesses to grow and allow more start-up companies to flourish.
The America Invents Act
H.R. 1249 – Signed into law by the President on September 16, 2011
Veterans Opportunity to Work Act
H.R. 2433 – Senate has taken no action to date
Jumpstart Our Business Startups “JOBS” Act
H.R. 3606 – Signed into law by the President on March 3, 2012
Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act
H.R. 3012 – Senate has taken no action to date
FDA Safety and Innovation Act
S. 3187 – Signed into law by the President on July 9, 2012
Maximize Domestic Energy Production
The energy sector is crucial to our economic growth, and high energy costs have a major impact on job creation. We need policies that allow us to harness our abundant supply of natural resources in America, develop new sources of energy, and create jobs here at home.
Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act
H.R. 1230 – Senate has taken no action to date
Putting the Gulf of Mexico Back to Work Act
H.R. 1229 – Senate has taken no action to date
Reversing President Obama’a Offshore Moratorium Act
H.R. 1231 – Senate has taken no action to date
Jobs and Energy Permitting Act
H.R. 2021 – Senate has taken no action to date
North American-Made Energy Security Act
H.R. 1938 – Senate has taken no action to date
Protecting Next Generation Energy Security (PIONEERS) Act
H.R. 3408 – Passed by the House (237-187) on February 16, 2012
Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act
H.R. 2842 – Senate has taken no action to date
Conservation and Economic Growth Act
H.R. 2578 – Senate has taken no action to date
Domestic Energy and Jobs Act
H.R. 4480 – Senate has taken no action to date
Congressional Replacement of President Obama’s Energy-Restricting and Job-Limiting Offshore Drilling Plan
H.R. 6082 – Senate has taken no action to date
Pay Down America’s Unsustainable Debt Burden
The federal government is spending and borrowing so much that the United States will soon go broke. Washington’s spending binge has put our nation in debt, eroded economic confidence, and caused massive uncertainty for private sector job creators. It’s time to live within our means.
Budget for Fiscal Year 2013
H. Con. Res. 112 – Senate has not yet considered a budget of its own
Budget for Fiscal Year 2012
H.Con. Res. 34 – Senate has not yet considered a budget of its own
Cut, Cap, and Balance
H.R. 2560 – Senator Reid tabled the bill by a vote of 51-46
Earlier this year, ACT! for America led the grassroots effort that generated 30,000 emails and phone calls to Kansas state legislators, in support of ALAC.
ALAC (American Laws for American Courts) prohibits state courts from applying foreign law if doing so conflicts with state or federal constitutions.
|We are delighted to report that a court in Kansas recently issued a ruling that applied ALAC in a case involving sharia law! (See the article below from the American Freedom Law Center, highlights added).|
This is just the latest concrete example of how the efforts of every member, chapter leader and donor on behalf of ACT! for America are making a difference!
Help us increase our ability to win victories like these!
• Forward this email to others.
• Encourage people to sign up for these email alerts.
• Start or get involved with a local chapter.
• Make a contribution.
A Kansas district court is the first to recognize the possible application of the American Laws for American Courts (ALAC) law in a case where a party sought to enforce a sharia-law based contract. ALAC was adopted in Kansas earlier this year and it is based upon the model legislation drafted by AFLC Co-Founder and Senior Counsel David Yerushalmi. The case at hand, Soleimani v. Soleimani, involves an Iranian-American couple who had been married according to both sharia and later by state law. At some point the woman divorced her husband (for cruelty and abuse) and sought to enforce a sharia-based prenuptial agreement called a mahr. The mahr required the man upon a divorce that was no fault of the woman’s to pay 1,354 gold quare, which are coins valued at $500 apiece or the equivalent of $677,000.
In this case, the court held that the mahr was unenforceable for many reasons so the woman was not able to extract $677,000 from her otherwise bankrupt husband (obviously even if the woman had won, it would have been a victory on paper only).
Now, in most cases, sharia is used to abuse the woman. Thus, as the court pointed out in Soleimani, sharia allows the husband to unilaterally divorce his wife with but an utterance of “I divorce you” three times–a fiat divorce not granted to the wife. Also, the woman loses custody of her children automatically under sharia when the children are still quite young irrespective of the best interests of the children (the latter “best interests” being the U.S. and international standard). Finally, even the mahr is often used against the woman because the negotiated amount is typically a pittance and far less than she might receive under state law marital dissolution distributions, especially if the couple had amassed even modest means.
In Soleimani, it just so happens that this case was about the woman trying to enforce a sharia agreement against the man. The court in Soleimani produced a well-considered and solid analysis of the problems associated with applying foreign contracts based upon foreign religious laws like sharia. First, the court noted that the woman’s lawyer had failed to provide a properly authenticated translation of the Farsi-language document so there was no way he could actually ascertain the meaning or the legality of the document.
Second, the court noted that even if he accepts the basic points of the mahr as agreed to between the parties, the court as an institution of government, could not possibly allow its enforcement. The court explained that one possible reason for this agreement’s invalidity, and this is key for our purposes, is that Kansas lawmakers passed a law–the Kansas version of ALAC–which would “preclude the courts from applying foreign law, legal codes or systems that violate the public policy of our state or federal constitutions.” Kan. Sess. Laws, Chap. 136, p. 1089-90 (2012). And, as the court noted, the law of the land under which the mahr was created–sharia–is so inimical to our basic constitutional principles (bedrock principles of liberty such as Due Process and Equal Protection) that to attempt to apply those laws to rule on the mahr’s validity might very likely violate Kansas’ ALAC.
Third, and this was really the constitutional underpinning to the court’s ruling, no state court judge could even begin to ascertain the meaning of the mahr without first penetrating the Iranian law under which the mahr was created and by which the mahr must be interpreted to make any sense–since it was the sharia legal system in Iran which created the context for the “meeting of the minds” of the formerly married couple. But, to even begin to apply sharia–whether it is the law of the land of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Gaza, Pakistan (regarding family matters), or any other sharia jurisdiction, a judge must apply sharia jurisprudence, or what is called usul al fiqh.
Fiqh is the term of art for the underlying legal analysis used by Islamic jurists in reaching decisions about the principles used to apply Islamic law. But, the process of fiqh, or even the more particularized legal rulings about an individual case by an Islamic judge (called a qadi), requires the jurist to look at the Quran, the Hadith (canonized narratives about the life of Mohammed and how he applied Islamic law in his day), and the earlier fiqh in order to understand what Allah would desire in a given situation. In other words, for a secular state court judge to utilize sharia in any decision he might make, he must play like Allah or at least play like a disciple of Allah. This means he is deciding upon “divine” or theological matters. And this is especially the case because Islamic jurisprudence does not allow for precedent. Each qadi must examine the relevant law (Quran, Hadith, fiqh) and then decide the law anew. There is never the case where a party can come to the judge and say, “The high sharia court yesterday held that in cases like this I win.” Thus, a secular U.S. judge who acts like a qadi, is in effect attempting to discern Islamic law by penetrating the will of Allah. And, if the U.S. judge is not trying to ascertain the will of Allah, his decision has no standing in sharia and he has failed what he thought his task was in the first place.
This, our Supreme Court has properly said, is an unconstitutional violation of the Establishment Clause. A U.S. judge cannot be in the business of deciding theological disputes and any dispute based upon sharia–i.e., the state law in places like Iran and Saudi Arabia–is entering into theological disputations about what Allah wants.
As we noted, the court in Soleimani refused to enforce the mahr–and properly so. The court’s decision was a great victory for ALAC, which was applied in this case just as it should.
And, to those who might argue that in this case the application of ALAC and the Establishment Clause worked to “hurt” the women, what these people miss entirely is that the woman was not “hurt.” Rather, she was told by the court to play on the even and quite civil and secular playing field governed by the laws of the state of Kansas. And, the reason that is the right result for the right reason, one need only consider the typical case where the man is seeking to use sharia to divorce his wife unilaterally, take the property and the children, and even to accuse her of blasphemy or adultery and subject her to the death penalty. As the Kansas court pointed out:
|In disregarding the mahr agreement in the case at bar, the parties are not denied justice or a remedy. Rather, the protection of Kansas law, applicable to the parties here, requires an equitable division of property in a secular system that is not controlled by the dictates of religious authorities or even a society dominated by men who place values on women in medieval terms.|
That is to say, when sharia doctrines/contracts are voided under ALAC or ignored via the abstention doctrine per the Establishment Clause, the parties are provided justice under existing state law. On the other hand, as in the case of Hosain v. Malik improperly and cruelly decided by a Maryland appellate court, when sharia is upheld, the losing party, typically the woman, has no recourse but to travel to the sharia jurisdiction (in Hosain it was Pakistan) to contest the matter.
The problem in Hosain was that the woman was left with a choice that either removed her child from the U.S. and from under her custody or created the default that her husband would gain custody because she might very well be put to death in Pakistan under the sharia. That is, she could stay in Maryland and allow the Maryland courts to take her child away from her based upon sharia’s “the Muslim man knows best” rule, or contest the custody ruling in a sharia court in Pakistan where she would put her life in jeopardy for having remarried outside of the laws of sharia. In Hosain, the Maryland appellate court used the authority of state law to impose sharia on this woman and deprive her of her most basic constitutional liberty embodied in the right to Due Process and Equal Protection of the Laws.
The last stand against tyranny can take place in the jury box. The legislative branch may pass unconstitutional laws and the judiciary branch may uphold them. However, the individual citizen has the last say in the jury box. Learn your rights as a juror. Most likely, you will not be told about them in the courtroom. http://www.LibertyPen.com
Daniel Griswold is the former director of the Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C, and the author of the new Cato book, Mad about Trade: Why Main Street America Should Embrace Globalization. Since joining Cato in 1997, Mr. Griswold has authored major studies on globalization, trade, and immigration. He’s written articles for major newspapers, appeared on CNBC, C-SPAN, CNN, PBS, and Fox News, and testified before House and Senate committees. Earlier in his career, Mr. Griswold was editorial page editor of a daily newspaper, the Colorado Springs Gazette, and a congressional press secretary. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and a diploma in economics and a master’s degree in the Politics of the World Economy from the London School of Economics. Since 2012 Griswold has been president of the National Association of Foreign Trade Zones.
Obama To Univision: ‘My Biggest Failure… Immigration’
PRESIDENT OBAMA: “My biggest failure so far is … immigration.” UNIVISION QUESTION: “What is your biggest failure?” OBAMA: “Well, Jorge as you remind me, my biggest failure so far is we haven’t gotten comprehensive immigration reform done, so we’re going to be continuing to work on that. But it’s not for lack of trying or desire.” (President Barack Obama, Univision Town Hall, Miami, FL, 9/20/12)
Labor Dept.: ‘Unemployment Rates Rose’ In 26 States
- “Unemployment rates rose in more than half of U.S. states last month, the latest evidence that hiring remains tepid across the country. The Labor Department says rates increased in 26 states… and were unchanged in the other 12.” (“Unemployment Rates Rise In Half Of Us States,” AP, 9/21/12)
Census Data: ‘Household Income Decreased’
- “The income of the typical U.S. family fell or was flat in almost every state last year, with the drop particularly steep in places where the economy has been hit hard by the housing bust.” (“Incomes Fell Or Stagnated In Most States Last Year,” Wall Street Journal, 9/20/12)
- “Real median household income decreased between the 2010 and 2011 ACS in 18 states. These decreases range from 1.1 percent (Ohio) to 6.0 percent (Nevada).” (“Household Income For States: 2010 And 2011,” U.S. Census, P.1, 9/12)
- “The sharpest drop occurred in Nevada, where median income fell by 6%. The median fell by 3.8% in California and by 2.9% in Arizona and Florida.” (“Incomes Fell Or Stagnated In Most States Last Year,” Wall Street Journal, 9/20/12)
‘Number Of Poor … At Record Highs,’ $5.39 Trillion Added To Debt
New York Times: “Obama administration officials said on Wednesday that the fact that the poverty rate stayed flat was an achievement in tough economic times.” (“Poverty Leveled Off Last Year, Even As Incomes Dropped,” The New York Times, 9/12/12)
- AP: “The Census Bureau reports the number of Americans in poverty stood at 15 percent in 2011. About 46.2 million people, or nearly 1 in 6, were in poverty. … In all, the number of poor remained at record highs.” (“US Poverty Rate Unchanged; Record Numbers Persist,” AP, 9/12/12)
- The Hill: “The number of people in the United States living in poverty remains at its highest level since 1993… The poverty rate effectively leveled off in 2011 following three straight years of increases, the bureau said.” (“Census: Poverty Rate Remains Stuck At Its Highest Level Since 1993,” The Hill’s ‘On The Money’ Blog, 9/12/12)
The U.S. federal debt is over $16 trillion. (“The Debt To The Penny And Who Holds It,” U.S. Treasury Department, Accessed 9/6/11)
- $5.39 trillion added to debt since January ’09. (“The Debt To The Penny And Who Holds It,” U.S. Treasury Department, Accessed 9/6/11)
LEESBURG, VA – Americans for Prosperity, the nation’s leading grassroots advocate for economic freedom and limited government, will host a “National Prosperity Action Day” on Saturday, September 22. This nationwide event will harness the combined strength of AFP field staff, volunteers, activists, and coalition partners to make hundreds of thousands of phone calls for economic freedom. The phone banks will be hosted at over 80 AFP field offices around the country, each using the advanced “Freedom Phones” technology.
AFP President Tim Phillips and special guest Kate Obenshain will greet volunteers and give remarks at the AFP field office in Leesburg, VA.
“Our National Prosperity Action Day will give concerned Americans the opportunity to do something about President Obama’s failing agenda,” explained Tim Phillips, President of Americans for Prosperity. “Americans are tired of sitting on the sidelines while Washington spends away our future and drives us deeper into debt. This Saturday, they will get to respond.”
AFP’s newly-opened field office in Leesburg, VA will serve as the hub of the day’s activity, where AFP president Tim Phillips and other national staff will take part in the action, and track progress of offices around the country. AFP activists have already made nearly 3.8 million issue advocacy calls using Freedom Phones. The National Prosperity Action Day builds on the field program effort and will demonstrate the capacity of the technology for reaching and mobilizing concerned citizens.
“We look forward to greatly boosting already robust grassroots advocacy efforts, and sending a clear message to Obama that Americans are tired of his big-government agenda that has led to more spending, more debt, and fewer jobs,” Phillips continued.
The National Prosperity Action Day is a coalition effort supported by multiple fiscally conservative organizations including 60 Plus, Concerned Woman for America, and the National Rifle Association.
The Department of Justice’s inspector general released a long-awaited report on the Operation Fast and Furious gunwalking scandal this week. It marked the culmination of a 19-month investigation into the operation, which allowed as many as 2,000 firearms to “walk” into Mexico, where they were handed off to drug cartels.
The operation, overseen by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, rocketed into the public eye when some of those guns were found near the body of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, killed in the line of duty near the Mexican border in Arizona.
Both congressional Republicans, who have doggedly pursued allegations of wrongdoing at the top echelons of the Justice Department, and administration officials have claimed it vindicates their varying accounts of the scandal.
While Attorney General Eric Holder is mostly exonerated of responsibility for the scandal — the report backs up his claim that he did not know about the operation until after it ceased — his apparent lack of knowledge is troubling in itself, as Heritage’s John Malcolm, a former official in DOJ’s criminal division, notes in a new report:
It is shocking to conceive that the Attorney General of the United States was not made aware of the tactics used in an operation that lasted for months and resulted in the deaths of a federal agent and … approximately 300 Mexicans. At the very least, assuming this is true, the Attorney General was ill-served by some of his most trusted advisers, as well as by some career prosecutors in Phoenix. The report … urges Holder to “determine whether discipline or other administrative action … is appropriate.” Some of these individuals should now be disciplined, if not fired.
The inspector general’s report is nearly 500 pages long, so we’ve pulled out the top five revelations that you need to know:
1. The report singles out top Department of Justice officials for wrongdoing.
“We concluded that the Attorney General’s Deputy Chief of Staff, the Acting Deputy Attorney General, and the leadership of the Criminal Division failed to alert the Attorney General to significant information about or flaws in those investigations,” the report states.
The report faults 14 officials with various offenses, most for failing to adequately investigate the possibility that inappropriate tactics were being used. Since the report’s release, acting ATF director Kenneth Melson and Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein have resigned.
2. The report appears to contradict sworn testimony by Attorney General Eric Holder.
“I’ve looked at these affidavits,” Holder told Rep. Ben Quayle (R-AZ) in June, referring to documents detailing ATF wiretap applications. “There’s nothing in those affidavits as I’ve reviewed them that indicates gunwalking was allowed.”
Citing the inspector general’s report, Quayle claims Holder “lied … to my face” with that statement. The report claims those affidavits “described specific incidents that would suggest to a prosecutor who was focused on the question of investigative tactics that ATF was employing a strategy of not interdicting weapons or arresting known straw purchasers.”
While the report does not claim that Holder misled Congress, it does say that those affidavits suggested gunwalking took place. Holder says he read those affidavits, and that they suggested no such thing. If the inspector general is correct, both claims cannot be true — either Holder did not review the affidavits, or he was not truthful about their contents.
3. The report faults top Justice Department leadership with failing to adequately respond to the murder of an American border patrol agent.
On December 14, 2010, U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was killed in a firefight with cartel operatives near the Mexican border in Arizona. Fast and Furious firearms were found at the scene.
Top Justice Department officials, including Holder’s chief of staff, Gary Grindler, failed to take proper action upon realizing the connection between the incident and ATF’s gunwalking operation, the inspector general states.
Neither the [Office of the Attorney General] or [Office of the Deputy Attorney General] took appropriate action after learning that firearms found at the scene [of the Terry murder] were connected to the Operation. We believe that an aggressive response to the information was required, including prompt notification of the Attorney General and appropriate inquiry of ATF and the US Attorney’s Office. However, we found that senior officials who were aware of this information, including Grindler, took no action whatsoever.
4. The White House refused to disclose any internal communications to the inspector general.
“The White House did not produce to us any internal White House communications,” the report states, “noting that ‘the White House is beyond the purview of the Inspector General’s Office, which has jurisdiction over Department of Justice programs and personnel.’”
Inspector General Michael Horowitz was not able to investigative White House communications with ATF regarding Fast and Furious. He told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that his office “did not get internal communications from the White House, and [then-White House National Security official Kevin] O’Reilly’s unwillingness to speak to us made it impossible for us to pursue that angle of the case and the question that had been raised.”
5. The report fails to consider evidence that a top DOJ official knew the department misled Congress.
Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), who has led the Senate side of the Fast and Furious investigation, claims that the inspector general made a “factual error” in concluding that Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, who heads the department’s criminal division, was for the most part uninvolved in the crafting of a February 4, 2011, letter to Congress denying any knowledge of gunwalking tactics. DOJ later withdrew that letter when internal documents showed that officials had misled Congress about their knowledge of those tactics.
“We found that Breuer had no direct involvement in drafting, editing, or approving the Department’s inaccurate February 4 letter to Sen. Grassley,” the inspector general found. But internal DOJ emails reveal that Breuer did see the February letter before it was sent to Congress, and in fact personally signed off on a draft. “Great work, as usual,” he wrote to one of the letter’s authors.
Why this matters
Operation Fast and Furious is by far the most serious scandal to rock the Justice Department. But there are other troubling developments that have happened on Holder’s watch. They include the misguided lawsuits against Texas and South Carolina over voter ID laws, an ongoing investigation of Pennsylvania’s statute, and legal campaigns mounted against states attempting to secure their borders from illegal immigration.
Heritage’s Hans von Spakovsky, who worked at the Justice Department as counsel to the assistant attorney general for civil rights, last year documented in an 11-part series the politicized hiring at the Department of Justice – a liberal litmus test for all new career attorneys. It exposed the crass political agenda of Holder and his deputies. Now, the Fast and Furious report raises even more concerns about Holder’s leadership and judgment.
“For veterans of the department, it is another illustration of how low the professionalism and competence of a once-great law-enforcement agency has fallen,” von Spakovsky writes for National Review Online. “And it shows just how dangerous DOJ can be when its power is misused and abused.
>> Today at noon ET, Heritage’s Hans von Spakovsky and author John Fund will speak about their new book, “Who’s Counting? How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk.” It debunks the liberal myths about voter fraud. Watch it live on Heritage.org.