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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 – 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 – 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 – Five Christians Who Made Huge Impact in 2017

2017 was a year of change. Donald Trump became president, Russia became front page news, and the media went nuts – more so than usual. But 2017 was also a huge year for Christians and their impact on culture. Evangelicals made a real impact – perhaps more than in any year in recent memory. Here are five Christians who made the biggest difference.

1. Mike Pence

In 2017, Mike Pence went from being the governor of a mid-sized state to Vice President of the United States. For many evangelicals, Trump’s choice of Pence as his VP sealed their support for the Republican ticket. Pence made an immediate impact, breaking six ties in the Senate in his first year in office. By contrast, Joe Biden was not called upon to break a tie vote once in eight years. Pence has spoken at the March for Life and the World Summit of Persecuted Christians. He is a strong ally for the pro-life movement.

2. Steve Green

President of Hobby Lobby, Green serves as chairman of the board for the recently opened Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. Green is the holder of the world’s largest private collections of rare biblical artifacts. The 430,000-square-foot, $500 million museum has attracted worldwide acclaim and attention.

3. Paula White

The Florida televangelist has become known as Trump’s “God whisperer.” She rallied support for Trump among evangelicals and serves, essentially, as the president’s chief spiritual adviser. She was one of six faith leaders to speak at his inauguration. White’s influence has been credited for Trump’s position on recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

4. Lee Strobel

In April, a documentary was released on his life. The former atheist journalist’s quest to disprove biblical accounts of the resurrection led him to a commitment to Jesus Christ. The movie highlighted Strobel’s books, such as The Case for Christ, which have rocketed to best-sellers lists, both inside and outside faith movements.

5. Beth Moore

The #MeToo hashtag spread like a wildfire this past October with women worldwide sharing their stories of how they were sexually assaulted or harassed. Beth Moore, the 60-year-old founder of Living Proof Ministries, launched her own movement, #WeToo. Moore has called out racism, misogyny, and arrogance in the church, writing, “We’ve let evil overtake the entire reputation of evangelicalism.”

The Rushmore Report – Christian University in Texas vs. Hooters

Hooters is expanding its presence to mid-sized markets throughout the United States. While new locations have been well-received in most municipalities, that cannot be said for one city in Texas. It’s not the town that is outraged; it is one particular university. Rich in Christian heritage, this university is taking a strong stand against Hooters. Which city are we talking about?

Abilene, Texas.

Which university are we talking about?

Abilene Christian University.

The conservative Christian school is urging its students to not apply for a job at the new Hooters. The Abilene Reporter-News has reported that the university released this statement: “We have asked students to consider both what Hooters represents, and whether that is something they really want to support in terms of both their faith and the value this business model places on women.”

You probably have two questions. Let’s tackle both.

Yes, despite the fact the town is home to three religious colleges, despite the fact that you can hardly swing a cat in Abilene without hitting a stained-glass window, the grand opening of the “breastaurant” is next week.

The other two religious colleges – McMurry University and Hardin Simmons University – haven’t raised a fuss, but perhaps that’s because this Hooters is going to be just across Interstate 20 from Abilene Christian. Almost as close as the Cracker Barrel.

The university, affiliated with the Churches of Christ, is serious about its Christian values and its code of conduct. On the Dean of Students Office portion of ACU’s website, it reads right up top: “Abilene Christian University maintains a Christian discipline, promoting a way of life that is intended to uphold the teachings of Jesus Christ, calling all people to God’s truth. Therefore, community life at ACU is a disciplined life.”

This is followed by a quick and handy link for reporting violations of student conduct. And what could one report, other than, say, working or dining at Hooters? Let’s turn to the Code of Conduct in the Student Handbook . . .

Category one violations (punishable by, among other things, a $25 fine) include parking infractions, use of tobacco, profanity, dress code violations, curfew violations, and refusing to report your fellow students’ violations.

Category two violations include alcohol violations, not going to chapel, use or possession of pornography and sexual immorality. Among other punishments, you could get a $50 fine for each.

It goes on from there, but the message is clear: Abilene Christian and Hooters aren’t likely to get along.

Some graduates of ACU include theologian Edward Fudge (called “one of the foremost scholars on hell” by The Christian Post) and Christian pastor and author Max Lucado.

About the Author

Dave Thomas writes for the American-Statesman, the leading newspaper in Austin, Texas.

The Rushmore Report – Chip and Joanna Slammed for Having a Baby

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, the sharks are back. The other day, my wife told me the happy news. Her Twitter buddy, Joanna Gaines, posted the news that she and husband Chip Gaines are expecting their fifth child. But it didn’t take long for the “I have nothing better to do with my time” critics to go nuts. How dare them have another child!

Their “sin,” apparently, is that they are helping to overpopulate the earth. At least when the earth burns up, we’ll know who to blame. It’s those crazy Christians who live on a ranch, teaching their children the truths of God’s Word while living wholesome and entertaining lives in front of millions of Americans on the most popular show on HGTV.

One critic posted, “Thank you for contributing to the over population of the planet. I hope this one [baby] will be your last and you will use wiser judgment.”

Another idiot posted, “I like them ok, but enough with the kids already!”

To their credit, Chip and Joanna are being wise and harmless in their response. They have not responded.

I love Fixer Upper. Beth and I have visited the famous silos twice. I once spent $45 in Joanna’s bakery, on a boatload of cupcakes. (I recommend the strawberry cupcakes.) We have things around our house that we bought at their shop. So I guess, in a way, we have become enablers – encouraging them to keep up their wholesome, Christian, uplifting ways.

And for that I am proud. Call me silly, but I think we could use more wholesomeness, not less; more Christianity, not less; and more encouragement, not less.

The Bible says, “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them” (Psalm 127:3-5).

My advice to Chip and Joanna is this: keep doing what you’re doing, ignore the critics, and please, please, please – change your mind and return for one more season of Fixer Upper! 

The Rushmore Report: What God Would Say to Matt Lauer

For twenty years, Matt Lauer was perhaps the most popular and trusted news host in America, bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars to NBC every year, from advertising on the Today Show. More than that, he was a champion of women’s rights, beloved by feminists since the 1990s. But this week, that all came crashing down, with the revelation of a far-reaching sex scandal and Lauer’s resulting firing by NBC. You can read the sordid details on other outlets. But only here will you read what matters most. We answer the question, in light of recent events, What would God say to Matt Lauer?

I think that if God were to sit down with Matt Lauer, he would say six things.

1. I love you as much today as I did before the scandal broke.

God would go even further. He’d tell Mr. Lauer, “I love you just as much today as before the scandal broke, and just as much as I did before you committed your first indiscretion.” We don’t know when it all began for Lauer, though that will likely be exposed soon. To God it has no bearing on his love for Matt Lauer. God’s love for him today is just as complete as it was on the day before his first sin. I think God would say it like this – “There is nothing you can ever do that will make me love you more, and  there is nothing you can ever do that will make me love you less.” Upon learning the news, Lauer’s co-host, Cathy Lee Gifford, texted him, “I adore you.” She said, “No person is perfect. No one is sinless. We need God’s mercy.” God’ love for Matt Lauer – and for you – is not diminished by the magnitude of any sin.

2. What you do in secret will always be exposed.

The accusations against Mr. Lauer are growing by the day. Like so many before him, his actions of sexual misconduct have been repetitive. Lauer’s activities seem to have crossed the line into addiction. And as with all addictions, secrecy is the incubator of the compulsive lifestyle. It’s not that men like Lauer, Weinstein, Conyers, and Franken want to battle such ferocious demons. It’s just too hard to overcome in secret.  Sins of darkness cannot be solved in darkness. Jesus said, “There is nothing done in darkness that will not be revealed in the light” (Luke 8:17). For the perpetrator, his exposure is both his worst fear and his very best friend. The reason our sins “find us out” (Numbers 32:23) is not one of judgment, but mercy. God knows that we can only get well in the light. Patrick Carnes, perhaps the foremost expert on sex addiction, says it like this: “The addictive system uses secrecy as a shield. Addiction thrives on secrecy.” God would tell Matt Lauer, “What you have done behind closed doors, I will expose in the light of day – not so you can lose your reputation – but so you can find it.” If he opens himself to God’s grace, Lauer will look back one day and see the day of his exposure as the best day of his life.

3. What you took a lifetime to build can be lost in a moment.

Will Rogers famously said, “It takes a lifetime to build your reputation, but you can lose it in a minute.” Case #1 – David (adultery with Bathsheba). Case #2 – Noah (drunk and naked before his children). Case #3 – Peter (denied Christ three times). Case #4 – Matt Lauer. What is built for 30-40 years can be lost in a moment. But God would tell Lauer – and you and me – that this is not all bad. He would tell Lauer, “You no longer have the ability to write the start of your personal story, but you can still write the ending.”

4. Pride precedes fall.

God would tell Matt Lauer what he has already said in his Word. “Pride comes before fall” (Proverbs 11:2). One of the things all the men who have recently been disgraced in the nightly news have shared in common is power. Matt Lauer is – or was – a powerful man. His mere presence on The Today Show made NBC hundreds of millions of dollars every year. And in turn, they made him the highest paid newsman on television. But power is more often our enemy than our friend. What Abraham Lincoln said over 150 years ago still resonates today: “Nearly all men can stand adversity; but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” NBC gave Matt Lauer power – lots of power. But the higher the pedestal, the greater the fall.

5. The Mike Pence Rule is a good idea.

When Vice President Mike Pence shared the boundary he has erected to protect his integrity, the media scoffed. His rule is simple – never be alone with a woman other than your wife and never be in a room where alcohol is served without your wife there also. Billy Graham lived by this standard, and so did his entire team. It was called the Modesto Manifesto. And now in his 100th year, Graham has never had a hint of personal sexual scandal. Graham once said, “It’s not that I don’t trust the women; I don’t trust myself.” If Matt Lauer, John Conyers, and the rest had followed the “Pence Rule,” their stories would have played out much differently. The same is true of each of us.

6. Get help!

God would tell Matt Lauer it is never too late to seek help. The Bible says, “They cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of distress” (Psalm 107:28). The First Step of recovery is to admit one’s powerlessness over his struggles. Yes, Matt Lauer crossed some clear lines. Yes, he has lost his job and his reputation. And yes, of all the paths he may take in the future, the road of recovery will be the road less traveled. There are too many bumps along the road, not to mention exit ramps, for the road to be easy. But there is hope for Matt Lauer if he wants it. But he must really want it. Since their sexual indiscretions were made public, rumors have resurfaced that suggest Bill Clinton and Tiger Woods have not taken their recovery seriously. It is hard to begin the journey, still harder to stay on it. Matt Lauer has apologized. He has admitted personal failings and faults. But will he really seek help for his problems? Will he make amends? Will he put his recovery before anything else? We will know soon. God would say to Matt Lauer, “Seeking help is a good thing, not a bad thing.” To quote Les Brown, “We ask for help, not because we are weak, but because we are strong.” Whether or not Matt Lauer is strong enough to know he is weak, smart enough to know he is not so smart, and helpless enough to know he needs help – will determine how his story ends.

Yes, God has something to say to Matt Lauer. But is he ready to listen? He needs help – help he probably would have never sought until God gave him the gift of exposing his sins. I pray he gets help. He suddenly has a three-hour hole in his daily schedule, Monday through Friday. If he uses his time to get well, he may never return to the fame he once enjoyed. But what God has before him is so much better than what lies behind him. What would God say to Matt Lauer? “Matt, the rest of your life can be the best of your life. But you’ve got to want it – more than you’ve ever wanted anything before.”

The Rushmore Report: 60 Percent Disapprove of NFL Handling of National Anthem Protests

The National Football League has been a public relations nightmare this season. The national anthem protests have turned off fans, and the league’s management has twisted itself into a pretzel trying to toe a middle line. It’s only made them look worse. It all began when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to stand and then kneel during the Star-Spangled Banner last year.

This year, more players have taken a knee after President Trump slammed the NFL at a political rally in September; the president views this as disrespectful. He’s not alone. The vast majority of Americans viewed Kaepernick’s antics as unpatriotic. The ratings are down for the league. NFL merchandise sales have plummeted almost 20 percent.

Now, a new Harris poll shows that 60 percent of voters do not approve of how NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has handled the matter, with another 77 percent saying that players should stand for the anthem; 59 percent felt that standing for the anthem should be compulsory.

The survey comes at a sensitive time for Goodell, who is in the process of renegotiating a new contract. That process has become complicated by reports that Goodell is seeking $50 million a year and lifetime use of a private jet, although the NFL has disputed those reports. Goodell makes about $30 million a year presently.

On Veteran’s Day weekend, the slate of games had NFL members wearing camouflaged gear to honor our troops, though they have spat in their faces all year – at least that is how 60 percent of viewers have been seeing it. The Left thought that Trump had picked a culture battle he couldn’t win. It turns out that Trump won before even a shot was fired.

About the Author

Matt Vespa writes for Townhall.

The Rushmore Report: Attacks on Religious Liberty in U.S. Up 133% in Five Years

A new report by a prominent religious liberty advocacy organization claims that there has been a 133 percent increase in domestic “attacks on religious liberty” in the past five years and about a 15 percent increase in attacks on religious liberty in the last year. The First Liberty Institute, a conservative legal group, released its annual report, Undeniable: The Survey of Hostility to Religion in America.

The report highlights cases reported in the last few years in which Americans have had their religious liberty rights infringed or “attacked” in one way or another – either in the public arena, military, schools, or even within church walls.

The report highlighted a number of cases, such as one involving a woman who was ordered to stop praying in her home by police officers, another involving a high school football coach punished for praying at midfield, and that of a military veteran who was ejected from a military retirement ceremony for referring to “God” in his speech.

The First Liberty report comes after the social conservative advocacy group Family Research Council released a report in June that stated that there has been a 76 percent increase in religious freedom violations and a 114 percent surge in documented hostility toward Christian views on marriage and sexuality over the last three years.

About the Author

Samuel Smith writes for The Christian Post. He can be followed on Twitter: @lamSamSmith.

The Rushmore Report: Open the Floodgates – CA Becomes Sanctuary State

Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown has decided to make the entire state of California one giant safe space for illegal aliens. The Democratic-controlled state legislation just passed the California Value Act, which will bar state and local law enforcement from working with federal authorities on enforcing immigration laws. So California is now officially opposed to carrying out laws passed by regular and constitutional process.

In a move meant to counter the Trump Administration’s tough approach to immigration enforcement, the California legislation approved the so-called “sanctuary state” bill that would establish new protections for people living in the country illegally.

The California Values Act would forbid state and local law enforcement agencies from providing information to or acting as the deputies for federal immigration authorities. The bill also prohibits police and sheriff officers from inquiring about a person’s immigration status.

The fight over sanctuary status concerning immigration law is yet another legal battle facing the Trump Administration. A federal judge has ruled that Attorney General Jeff Sessions cannot withhold grant money from cities that have adopted sanctuary policies. The rationale behind the decision is to make illegals feel safe in providing information about crimes, without fear of deportation.

California is clearly degrading citizenship, our borders, and our laws. Of course, it’s what you’d expect from a liberal cesspool.

Gov. Brown and his legislation have decided the wise thing to do is to set an example for all citizens that we need only obey those laws with which we agree. And they have found wisdom in granting illegals the very objective (legal residency) they broke the law to attain.

About the Author

Matt Vespa writes for TownHall.