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Other View: The Senate chooses fiscal irresponsibility

This appeared in Saturday’s Washington Post.

The Senate late Thursday narrowly approved a budget plan that could cost the nation dearly. The goal is a massive tax cut with uncertain benefits for most Americans, in an economy that does not require the sort of short-term jolt that deficit-financed tax cuts are good for. The price tag is $1.5 trillion in new debt over 10 years.

The bad news is that several Republicans who previously expressed deep concern about the country’s shaky finances voted for the budget outline, clearing the way for this foolish plan. The good news is that they still have a chance to show that they are not irresponsible hypocrites. Thursday’s vote was just the first step in a long process of hashing out exactly what the tax cut would look like—and, therefore, how damaging it would be.

This policy push began with a much better idea: real tax reform. Congress would cut tax rates—particularly for corporations, which face a relatively high nominal rate—but would recoup the revenue by closing tax loopholes and ending big tax breaks. Both sides of this plan would help the economy. Lowering corporate rates would make the United States a more attractive place to do business. Ending tax breaks would fight tax gaming by the wealthy and cut unneeded government interference in private decisions about where to invest money. The result would be a fairer and more efficient tax code, without adding a penny to the debt. Republicans and Democrats should be able to agree on such a policy.

But as the plan has developed, Republicans have balked at doing the hard stuff—that is, raising revenue. Instead of clipping their ambitions to reduce tax rates so that it continued to line up with their willingness to offset them, Republicans have steadily gravitated toward simply not paying for them. The Senate on Thursday put a number on its fiscal recklessness, giving itself permission to leave $1.5 trillion in tax cuts unpaid-for.

Republicans respond that the way these numbers have to be officially counted makes them look worse than reality. The reasoning is complex, but the bottom line is simple: They want to use a budgeting gimmick that previous congresses have properly declined to exploit. The tax plan’s backers also argue that the cut will spur economic growth, which will eventually return more money to the Treasury than traditional budget calculations would suggest. The myth that tax cuts pay for themselves has been debunked by both economic theory and practical experience. While some “dynamic” effects are possible, they are hard to predict and certainly not as large as tax-cut enthusiasts claim.

There is still time for reason to prevail. Before the Senate voted for fiscal irresponsibility, the House passed a budget plan calling for revenue-neutral tax reform. This concept must be revived as the action turns to congressional committees, which will fill in the crucial details—which taxes will be cut, by how much, with which offsets. At the end of this process, the chambers must vote again on the whole package. The senators who surrendered to fiscal cowardice on Thursday will have one last chance to prove themselves responsible.

Letter: A UN-EPA conspiracy

I've just returned from Sonoma County, Calif., and Santa Rosa, where I once lived. I visited friends who lost their helicopter business to this fire. Two nieces and families were evacuated, and their whereabouts are unknown. If the winds shift, my son's home, my grandson' s home, and my brother' s ranch and eleven houses will be threatened.

The dozens of lives lost, thousands of destroyed homes, families, and businesses, can thank Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and the EPA for their suffering. Under the "Clinton Legacy Road-Less Initiative," all fire trails, access roads and fire breaks were destroyed, preventing firetrucks from reaching fires before they burn out of control. California prevents the removal of trees and combustible fuel around houses and lots.

When I lived in the Stanislaus National Forest, Lookout Towers were manned to detect fires early and dispatch fire crews immediately. Local loggers assisted Forest Service firefighters, preventing fires from becoming conflagrations. Logging companies thinned the forest and disposed of the slash so it would not become excess fuel. Prisoners cleared brush and gooseberry bushes to prevent bark-beetle infestation, making trees susceptible to fire. Citizens were allowed to have picnics and gather wood in the forests.

Dumping buckets of water on fires from helicopters is as useless as bucket-brigades from watering-troughs, and imported fire-fighters, are extremely expensive. Why would our government (especially Democrats) want to destroy this nation? The answer: "U.N. Agenda-21." It seeks to eliminate half the world's population and reduce productive nations to third-world status, in order to have a one-world dictatorship. Creating the EPA and a "catastrophic climate change" fantasy is the most effective method to undermine this nation. Earth had an ice age and a warming period, which melted the ice, when there was no fossil fuel used at all. Regardless of his use of superlatives, President Trump's agenda of restoration is the last hope for survival of this nation. Stand with him now, or we will end on the ash-heap of history.

Christine Riker


Larson: Your sacred cow won’t fit into my safe space

Disclaimer: I’m having a bit of a bad day.

No doubt I’m not alone in scanning the news of late with the inevitable emotional reaction. And sometimes it’s hard to describe, because it’s not just one emotion. It’s anger. It’s fear. It’s uncertainty and an anxiousness over the future. Underlying all of it, however, is the itchy sadness of epic tragedy attached to civilizational collapse. Told you I was having a bad day.

Everywhere we look, we see divisions deepening and hearts failing. The president said such and such in a phone call or tweet. Athletes are taking knees to immense economic detriment to their own industry. Hollywood executives are ousted over sexual misconduct that a multitude of actors, over decades, stayed mostly silent about. Dozens are killed in a mass shooting, spawning hatred between those on both sides concerned with stopping it. And we have hurricanes and earthquakes to boot, and we can’t even not politicize those. Oh, and everything — and I mean every thing — has been genderfied and sexualized.

It’s usually the first half of my fight-or-flight impulse I turn to. I’m an unapologetic conservative, a radio talk show host and writer. I champion myself as a defender of healthy culture, and I use words to do it. We might disagree what that healthy culture is. But I think we can all agree that what we have right now, isn’t. But today, the fight in my fight-or-flight has the flu.

I guess it’s my super wordy way of saying I’m being triggered. And I need a safe space. But there isn’t one. There’s not even a teddy bear or a box of crayons potent enough to alleviate the malaise of someone who cares deeply about the world my children inhabit.

I interviewed Boise State University poli-sci professor Scott Yenor today on my radio show. Fortunately tenured, Yenor is the target of multiple petitions demanding his ouster from his professorship. He’s being shredded because he recently asserted that radical feminists are attempting to revolutionize society by eliminating the different manner boys and girls are socialized, seeking to cultivate financial and emotional independence of women and children from the family, and erasing sexual taboos in order to create new ways for achieving sexual satisfaction outside the traditional institution of monogamous, procreative marriage. Yenor also discussed similar efforts to separate gender identity from one’s physical anatomy. Pretty thorny stuff in today’s environment.

He articulated these assertions in much greater detail. And his views, though not compliant with radical progressive dogma, are at the very least thought-provoking and well-articulated. And to most conservatives ... deserving of three cheers. Despite the attempt by the hostile voices on social media to marginalize Yenor to the status of a lone unemployed societal ogre, they have some work to do. Plenty of Americans, not ready just yet to discard the traditional family to the historical rubbish pile, agree with him. The problem isn’t that he has detractors. It’s that they don’t want to surgically dismantle his arguments on their merits, but rather demolish them indiscriminately.

We have knives to the throats of each other’s sacred cows, but in this standoff there are things I can’t let go of.

I deeply — and I mean deeply — believe that God created us and that we exist in an eternal framework in which our gender is simply a part of who we are. No level of ridicule or condemnation, and there’s been plenty, has diminished that deep-seated belief. I’ve been married to the same wonderful woman for nearly 24 years, and we’ve produced five children together, boys and girls. I’ve experienced how gender beneficially affects the way children grow and how parents parent. I can’t deny what I’ve observed and experienced first-hand, so you tell me what to do with that. Just toss it away? Deny what I know?

I don‘t know how it’s not hypocritical for liberals to be so shocked by Harvey Weinstein and their suspicions of Donald Trump, yet still silent to the similar decades-long abuses perpetrated on women by Bill Clinton. That’s not an angry accusation. It’s just an honest observation. You tell me what to do with that. Toss it away? Deny what I see?

I could run through the radioactive list, but I don’t need to. The point is that it’s too big of an ask. Accusations of bigotry, or hatred, or racism, or homophobia, or whatever — don’t cut nearly deep enough to remove what I know and observe.

So I apologize if your sacred cow won’t fit into my safe space. If I had a safe space, that is.