US Army

Don’t Let Defense Wreck the Budget

Now that President Donald Trump is in office, the temptation to pass legislation to either raise or remove the spending caps established by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) is enormous, and Senator John McCain recently released a proposal that would do just that.

McCain’s proposal comes in response to claims that the American military has been neutered by the Obama administration’s inattention to proper funding. These claims have been a central part of the narrative employed not only by Trump during his campaign but also by rank-and-file legislators eager to demonstrate their commitment to a renewal of American strength and vitality.

The premise that underlies this crusade is deeply flawed. American military spending is already sizeable, and though the military’s footprint has declined, it remains strong. Repealing the BCA would unnecessarily boost military spending while leaving less funding available for other increasingly costly areas of the budget like healthcare, education, and infrastructure spending.

In 2011, a deeply divided Congress, in an effort to produce a legislative mechanism so grim that both parties would have no choice but to engage in bipartisan deficit reduction, passed the BCA. The bill was designed to trim a projected $984 billion from the budget over the next decade.

Read the rest at RealClearDefense…

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Obama’s foreign policy legacy undermines his C-SPAN ranking as 12th best president

C-SPAN recently released the 2017 Presidential Historian Survey, in which a group of presidential historians rank all previous presidents from best to worst. President Obama did extremely well, coming in as the 12th best president of all time. Obama was commended for his handling of the economy, public persuasion, and (the most unsettling reason) his moral authority. Survey respondents seemed to have overlooked a simple fact, though, which should shatter any image of moral authority from the Obama tenure in office: his destructive and inhumane foreign policy.

Obama’s record on warfare is, frankly, abysmal. It’s particularly galling considering that he was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 2009. In 2016 alone, the Obama administration dropped over 26,000 bombs on seven different countries; that’s three bombs every hour. The campaign in Libya destabilized the country in a vein similar to the US invasion of Iraq. He killed a 16 year-old American citizen living in Yemen, and recently increased US involvement in the Yemeni civil war — a war that is starving the country’s citizens. And there is significant skepticism that his administration came even close to telling the truth about the amount of civilians killed in drone strikes over the last eight years.

This does not sound, at all, like a president that retained any semblance of moral authority. To the group’s credit, they gave him “below-average” marks in international relations. It seems like a generous standard, though, for an administration that had a secret “kill list” and caused foreign teenagers to dream about their own deaths by drone strikes.

Continue reading at The Libertarian Institute.

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Can School Choice Save A Stagnating Economy?

In the Huffington Post, Dale Hansen sums up many liberals’ views when he claims, “The recent appointment of Betsy DeVos has proved one thing – conservatives are far more concerned about politics than they are about educating children.” But the competitive education reforms that Devos champions are essential to giving kids the skills to thrive in a global economy.

Median wages in the US have stagnated, but liberals who decry this fact ignore a root cause: a mismatch between the skills that students acquire in school, and the skills that they need to thrive in the workplace. Jobs in many sectors keep commanding higher salaries: IT wages rose 18.4 percent from 2011 to 2015. The problem, as renowned economist Tyler Cowen notes in Average Is Over, is that our economy leaves behind people who lack the skills to compete in these sectors. And traditional public schools are still focused on outdated classes like cursive writing, in lieu of preparing students for the economy of the future.

The U.S. needs an education system that’s as dynamic as the market our kids will enter, where new technologies can spring up overnight and render old ones obsolete. The warehouse model of one teacher lecturing to 20-30 students, which has remained almost unchanged since its importation from Prussia in the 19th century, is no longer working.

Continue reading at Townhall.

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The Gulag Aperture: Hollywood Becomes Handmaiden To China’s Communist Party

On New Year’s Day, China Central Television (CCTV) unveiled its newest “soft power” entertainment media venture, whose purpose is to extend China’s global media influence. Chinese President Xi Jinping said that the overriding directive of this new collection of television stations and news agencies will be to “follow the party line and promote ‘positive propaganda as the main theme.’”

The CCTV announcement compounds the growing risk that increased Chinese investment will entice Hollywood into volunteering itself as a propaganda division of the Communist Party of China (CPC). And if these trends continue, the Western world’s outlet for Chinese dissenters will be closed.

China’s film industry has in recent years grown approximately 34% annually and generated $6.8 billion in 2015. While many applaud the very modest political reforms that sometimes complement China’s market liberalization, one should be wary of the country’s iron grip on its entertainment industry.

China’s industry players are inextricably bound to the CPC, as evidenced by the ascent of Wang Jianlin, China’s richest man. Jianlin’s successes are a product of quid pro quo arrangements between himself and the CPC’s top officials. Further, Jianlin is a delegate to the CPC congress and was a high-level advisor in China’s faux legislature from 2008 to 2013. Today, CPC delegate Jianlin can count several American awards shows, including the Golden Globes, the Billboard and American Music Awards, and even AMC Theaters as part of his recently accrued collection.

Continue reading at Forbes.

 

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What DeVos can do to calm her critics

Early in his campaign, Donald Trump pledged, “As president, I will establish the national goal of providing school choice to every American child living in poverty. If we can put a man on the moon, dig out the Panama Canal, and win two world wars, then I have no doubt that we as a nation can provide school choice to every disadvantaged child in America.”

Now that Betsy DeVos is confirmed, America could be closer to achieving this goal, but the path will not be easy due to strong partisan opinions in both the House and the Senate.  Already pegged as the “most polarizing education secretary ever,” it is clear that DeVos has a tough job ahead of her.

In order to lead America’s education policy and quell the legitimate concerns raised by her opponents, DeVos should explain to worried Americans that school choice can still include an effective public school system.  Further, DeVos should repeal federal regulations that disincentivize states from adopting personalized education programs that could benefit their students.

While some criticism of DeVos has been political theatre, a few of DeVos’s colleagues have legitimate worries about her policies.  Two of them, Republicans Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, even broke rank to make the confirmation vote close.  DeVos is a strong advocate of school choice policies and the reallocation of public school funds to voucher programs and private schools, which can be a scary prospect for senators from rural areas like Alaska and Maine.

Continue reading at American Thinker.