The Rushmore Report – Let’s Limit Spending Already

Some people have called for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution as a means of reining in a big-spending Congress. That’s a misguided vision, for the simple reason that in any real economic sense, as opposed to an accounting sense, the federal budget is always balanced. The value of what we produced in 2017 – our gross domestic product – totaled about $19 trillion. If the Congress spent $4 trillion of the $19 trillion that we produced, unless you believe in Santa Clause, you know that Congress must force us to spend $4 trillion less privately.

Taxing is one way that Congress can do that. But federal revenue estimates for 2017 are about $3.5 trillion, leaving an accounting deficit of about $500 billion. So taxes are not enough to cover Congress’ spending. Another way Congress can get us to spend less privately is to enter the bond market. It can borrow. Borrowing forces up interest rates and crowds our private investment. Finally, the most dishonest way to get us to spend less is to inflate our currency. Higher prices for goods and services reduce our real spending.

The bottom line is the federal budget is always balanced in any real economic sense. For those enamored with a balanced budget amendment, think about the following. Would we have greater personal liberty under a balanced federal budget with Congress spending $4 trillion and taxing us $4 trillion, or would we be freer under an unbalanced federal budget with Congress spending $2 trillion and taxing us $1 trillion? I’d prefer the unbalanced budget. The true measure of government’s impact on our lives is government spending, not government taxing.

Tax revenue is not our problem. The federal government has collected nearly 20 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product almost every year since 1960. Federal spending has exceeded 20 percent of the GDP for most of that period. Because federal spending is the problem, that’s where our focus should be. Cutting spending is politically challenging. Every spending constituency sees what it gets from government as vital, whether it be Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid recipients or farmers, poor people, educators or the military. It’s easy for members of Congress to say yes to these spending constituencies, because whether it’s Democrats or Republicans in control, they don’t face a hard and fast bottom line.

The nation needs a constitutional amendment that limits congressional spending to a fixed fraction, say 20 percent, of the GDP. It might stipulate that the limit could be exceeded only if the president declared a state of emergency and two-thirds of both houses of Congress voted to approve the spending. By the way, the Founding Fathers would be horrified by today’s congressional spending. From 1788 to the 1920s, except in wartime, federal government spending never exceeded 4 percent of our GDP.

During the early ’80s, I was a member of the National Tax Limitation Committee. Our distinguished blue-ribbon drafting committee included its founder, Lew Uhler, plus notables such as Milton Friedman, James Buchanan, Paul McCracken, Bill Niskanen, Craig Stubblebine, Robert Bork, Aaron Wildavsky, Robert Nisbet, and Robert Carleson. The U.S. Senate passed our proposed balanced budget/spending limitation amendment to the U.S. Constitution on August 4, 1982, by a bipartisan vote of 69-31, surpassing the two-thirds requirement by two votes. In the House of Representatives, the amendment was approved by a bipartisan majority (236-187), but it did not meet the two-thirds vote required by Article 5 of the Constitution. The amendment can be found in Milton and Rose Friedman’s “Tyranny of the Status Quo” or the appendix of their “Free to Choose.”

During an interview about the proposed amendment, a reporter asked why I disagreed with the committee and called for a limit of 10 percent of GDP on federal spending. I told him that if 10 percent is good enough for the Baptist Church, it ought to be good enough for the U.S. Congress.

About the Author

Walter Williams is an American economist, commentator, and academic. He is the John M. Olin distinguished Professor of Economics at George Mason University, as well as a syndicated columnist and author, known for his libertarian views. He is published by hundreds of newspapers throughout the United States.

The Rushmore Report – Can You Be Both Democrat and Pro-Life?

In Illinois a Democratic Representative is running for reelection. Normally, that would mean he would receive the full support of the Democratic Party. But there’s just one problem. Rep. Dan Lipinski is generally opposed to abortion. That raises the question – Can you be both a Democrat and pro-life?

Apparently, the answer is “no.”

A pro-abortion Democrat – Marie Newman – is running against Lipinski in a primary. The Democratic Party isn’t picking sides – officially. Chairman Tom Perez said, “One thing I’ve learned from primaries in the past, is that when the DNC gets involved in those races, then we sometimes get accused of trying to put the thumb on the scale.”

The problem with that argument is that Perez and party leadership have made it a tradition to always “put the thumb on the scale” in Democratic primaries – in support of the incumbent. The difference here, of course, is that the incumbent supports the right of the unborn – to be born.

Perez is attempting to sound inclusive, to keep the few pro-life Democrats that exist, in the fold. His past remarks make that difficult, of course. Last year, he stated that “every Democrat, like every American, should support a woman’s right to make her own choices about her body and her health. That is not negotiable.”

So the answer is no, you can no longer be a Democrat and pro-life at the same time.

The Rushmore Report – Trump Tweets the Real Reason He Refused to Release Democratic Memo

The mainstream media got all fired up to see the 10-page Democratic rebuttal to the Republican memo that was released two weeks ago. The GOP memo showed that President Obama’s Justice Department abused its surveillance program to spy on Republicans. The Democrats tried to get their memo out. Trump blocked it. Why?

The president tweeted: “The Democrats sent a very political and long response memo which they knew, because of sources and methods, would have to be heavily redacted, whereupon they would blame the White House for lack of transparency. Told them to re-do and send back in proper form!”

Right on cue, the Democrats played their already-exposed card.

“Mr. President, what you call ‘political’ are actually called facts, and your concern for sources and methods would be more convincing if you hadn’t decided to release the GOP memo before even reading it and over the objections of the FBI,” Rep. Adam Schiff said.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer blasted Trump for his “hypocrisy.”

There’s just one problem with Schiff’s and Schumer’s argument. Of the 11 Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, all 11 voted to release the Democratic memo – after the FBI redacts sensitive material that would endanger national security.

Meanwhile, of the nine Democrats on the committee, not a single one voted to release the Republican memo.

Let’s review. How many Republicans voted to release the Democratic memo? All of them.

How many Democrats voted to release the Republican memo? None of them.

For Rep. Schiff and Sen. Schumer, the issue is obviously not one of transparency. It’s all a game – called politics. And it’s getting old.

The Rushmore Report – Mass Exodus from Blue States to Red States

While Democrats continue to claim that their policies are superior to those of Republicans, they have one overwhelming piece of evidence working against them. By unprecedented numbers, Americans are moving from Democrat-controlled states to those run by Republicans and conservative ideals.

The delineation is clear. Democrats offer higher taxes, more regulations, and resulting higher costs of living. What do Americans think about this? It’s obvious. Don’t measure their opinions by unreliable surveys – but by moving vans.

According to United Van Lines, the top ten states people are leaving include the following states, whose state legislatures are dominated by Democrats: Wisconsin, Ohio, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Illinois. The only red states to make the list are Kentucky, Utah, and Kansas.

And the top ten states people are moving to include the red states of Idaho, South Dakota, South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama, Nevada, and Colorado. The only solidly blue states that are receiving significant migration are Vermont, Oregon, and Washington.

Last week, CBS in San Francisco reported that the number of people leaving the ultra-liberal Bay Area has reached its highest level in more than a decade. Topping the list of reasons: high taxes, stifling regulations, and high cost of living.

Further, the cities people are leaving more than any other are all in blue states: San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Detroit, Dayton, and Milwaukee. And the cities people are moving to are mostly in red states: Phoenix, Atlanta, Dallas, Nashville, Tampa, and Miami.

The American Legislative Exchange Council ranks states according to their economic performance. Eight of the top ten states are conservative, while only two are liberal.

Perhaps the most telling data that compares red states to blue states pits the nation’s two largest states against each other: reliably blue California and reliably red Texas. The Chief Executive Magazine’s annual Best and Worst States for Business surveys hundreds of CEOs each year. And for 12 years in a row, they found California to rank dead last in terms of states that are friendly to business. Texas, on the other hand, ranked first each of the past 12 years.

So which is the better place to live – red states or blue states? Based on any fair criteria, the answer is ruby-red clear.

The Rushmore Report – Which Sports League Is the Most Christian?

When the Philadelphia Eagles upset the New England Patriots to win the Super Bowl two weeks ago, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson was quick to give God the glory. “I can only give the praise to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” he said. His quarterback, Nick Foles, plans to become a pastor. As chaplain for the Houston Rockets, I was amazed that entire teams – the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder – attend chapel. But which of the four major sports – football, baseball, basketball, or hockey – is the most Christian? The answer may surprise you.

Of course, we cannot really say one sport is “Christian” or “non-Christian.” But Ryan P. Burge of Eastern Illinois University has analyzed each sport by an interesting matrix. Burge has looked over the Twitter profiles of each athlete in each major league – Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League, and the National Hockey League.

Specifically, Burge analyzed each Twitter account in search of Scripture references. And based on that analysis, it’s not even close. The most Christian sport is baseball.

Burge found that MLB players are the most likely to have Bible verses cited in their bios, with eight percent of the 1,265 accounts having at least one verse.

Next comes the NFL, where about four percent of the players cite Scripture. Coming in third is the NBA, at three percent. And the least Christian league is the NHL, where not a single player cites Scripture in his Twitter account.

Burge speculated as to the reasons for his findings. He attributes the relative strong Christian presence in baseball to demographics. MLB players tend to come from more rural areas and Latino countries, where Christianity is strong.

On the other extreme is hockey, where many players come from non-religious countries in Europe.

What is the most-cited Bible verse? That would be Philippians 4:13, which reads, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Of course, Christians are found in every league, and probably on every team. I suspect this is especially true of the Houston Astros, Houston Texans, and Houston Rockets. And yes, I am from Houston.

The Rushmore Report – Kellyanne Conway Defies White House, Says ‘No Reason to Not Believe’ Rob Porter’s Accusers

One of the president’s closest advisers, Kellyanne Conway, broke with President Trump on Sunday morning, telling CNN “State of the Union” host Jake Tapper that there is no reason to not believe Rob Porter’s ex-wives, who claim the former White House aide violently abused them.

“In this case, you have contemporaneous police reports, you have women speaking to the FBI under threat of perjury. You have photographs, and when you look at all of that pulled together, Rob Porter did the right thing by resigning,” Conway told Tapper. “I have no reason to not believe the women,” she added.

This marks a clear departure for Conway from the president’s thoughts on the issue. On Friday, Trump suggested that Porter had not been given a fair shake, and that he was an asset to the White House, rather than addressing the allegations directly. On Saturday, Trump tweeted that men accused of sexual harassment and abuse should be given “due process.”

Conway did assure Tapper that the president is “very disturbed” by the allegations against Porter.

The interview marks yet another strange turn in the story of a high-placed White House aide – Porter – apparently forced to resign after his ex-wives brought evidence of abuse, including photographs and police reports, to the Daily Mail last week. As the story drew national attention, reporters questioned how much Trump administration officials, including Chief of Staff John Kelly, knew about Porter’s past. By Friday, it became clear that Kelly, at least, knew that Porter was having difficulty obtaining a security clearance necessary to work in or near the Oval Office because of the accusations of abuse. Rumors also began to swirl that Hope Hicks, Trump’s communications director, had run interference with Trump for Porter, with whom she has a romantic relationship.

Kelly has since said that he would gladly resign if asked to by Trump. Conway told Tapper on Sunday that the president still has “faith” in Kelly and has not asked his Chief of Staff to resign.

About the Author

Emily Zanotti writes for The Daily Wire.

The Rushmore Report – Five Devout Christians on the U.S. Olympic Team

The 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea are well underway, bringing together athletes from across the world to compete in various sports. As the Games begin, the United States has brought a diverse team of competitors to the global event that features many devout Christians.

Here, in no particular order, are five openly Christian athletes who are competing at the Olympic Games under the red, white, and blue banner.

1. Kelly Clark

Professional snowboarder Kelly Clark is a veteran of the Olympic Games, going into this year’s event having already won Gold and Bronze medals.

On her Twitter profile, Clark identifies herself as a “lover of coffee, God, and good times,” with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes noting in a January feature on her that she gave her life to Christ in 2004.

“My ministry, and what God is doing in my life, is really found in my career in the marketplace,” she told FCA earlier this year.

2. Elana Meyers Taylor

World champion bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor won a Silver medal at the 2014 Sochi Games and a Bronze at the 2010 Vancouver Games.

In an interview with Christian Sports Journal published in November 2016, Taylor spoke about how when she competes internationally, she sees herself as representing not just herself or her country, but also “Christ and what He’s done through me.”

3. Nic Taylor

Professional bobsledder and husband to Elana Meyers Taylor, whom he met at a Bible study, Nic Taylor has accrued his share of medals in various competitions over the past several years.

According to an interview with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes published last month, Nic came to faith in 2005 when he survived three separate car accidents.

“It shouldn’t have taken three, but it took three for me to realize I’m not in control of my life,” he said.

4. David Wise

David Wise made history in 2014 as the first-ever Olympic champion in Men’s Skiing Halfpipe at the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

Calling himself a “truth follower” on his Twitter profile, wise explained in a 2014 interview that faith plays a “huge role” in his confidence.

“I don’t have to worry about what’s happening or the outside influences as much because I feel like I can trust God, and He’s going to see me through,” Wise said, as reported by CBN.

5. Maame Biney

American short track speed skater Maame Biney started skating when she was six and qualified for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics before she turned 18.

On her Instagram account, Biney explained that the “smile on my face doesn’t mean my life is perfect. It means I appreciate what I have and what God has blessed me with.”

In response to her qualifying win in Utah last December, Biney took to social media to “start off by thanking God.”

About the Author

Michael Gryboski writes for The Christian Post.

Bess Truman Is Born – 1885

Elizabeth Virginia “Bess” Wallace was born in Independence, Missouri, on this day in 1885. An unassuming woman who died in 1982, Bess was best known as the wife of Harry S. Truman, the 33rd president of the United States. From the time her husband entered politics in 1922, she was active in her role as his wife and future first lady, while raising Margaret, the couple’s only child.

Harry Truman, who was Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s fourth vice president, became president in 1945, following FDR’s death, and then was elected to another term in 1948. It was the said around the White House that the Trumans were the most tight-knit family ever to live there – although for three of their presidential years, they lived in the Blair House while the interior of the White House was gutted and repaired. Bess had insisted that the historic residence be carefully renovated, instead of being replaced.

The Bible promises a new home for us in heaven. And unlike the White House, it is in no need of renovation.

The Rushmore Report – Let’s Limit Spending Already Copy

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About the Author

Walter Williams is an American economist, commentator, and academic. He is the John M. Olin distinguished Professor of Economics at George Mason University, as well as a syndicated columnist and author, known for his libertarian views. He is published by hundreds of newspapers throughout the United States.

The Rushmore Report – Romney Already Being Considered for GOP Leadership?

The Atlantic reports that former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney is already being considered for a spot in Republican leadership, despite not even announcing yet if he will run for Utah’s open Senate seat, according to a GOP source. This source says that Republican leaders are pushing this idea, despite possible White House opposition.

“According to a Republican donor with direct knowledge, Senate GOP leaders have expressed an early interest in having Romney succeed Colorado Senator Cory Gardner as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. The role involves leading the Senate GOP’s fundraising arm and helping recruit and vet prospective GOP candidates for the upper chamber. A Republican source close to Romney confirmed that the idea of the Utah Republican taking over the NRSC has generated chatter in recent weeks,” reports Elaina Plott and McKay Coppins.

The article goes on to say that Gardner called the GOP donor and told him that he “liked Romney” as his replacement. The Atlantic’s source concurred with that assessment, saying, “Romney’s got the stature and a virtually unmatched fundraising base to draw upon. And he’s running because he wants a national platform to help the party anyway.”

The Republican source also noted that it would elevate Romney’s stature as an anti-Trump colleague within the party. “Mitt becoming Senator Mitt Romney and chairman of the NRSC elevates Trump’s biggest intra-party foe,” the Republican donor said. “This is not the outcome Trump wanted when he encouraged Orrin Hatch to run again.”

Earlier this week, Romney announced that he will be making a special announcement regarding Utah’s senate seat on February 15. It is speculated that he will announce he is indeed running. Recent polling suggests that Mitt Romney would absolutely trounce any Democratic opponent in the 2018 election. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Romney would have “64 percent of the vote in Utah, compared to 19 percent for Democrat Jenny Wilson.”

About the Author

Timothy Meads writes for Townhall.