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New York’s Request for Taxpayer Bailouts Said to Obscure Real Issues

New York officials who have asked Congress to provide more federal funds to alleviate the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic should make better use of existing resources and reevaluate their decisions, according to an analysis of a $500 billion “bailout” proposed by the National Governors Association.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, both Democrats, have expressed displeasure with President Donald Trump’s comments on Twitter and in media interviews when asked about the appropriateness of all U.S. taxpayers’ bailing out states that aren’t well run.

“Washington has no need to fund New York’s wasteful ways,” E.J. McMahon, research director at the Albany-based Empire Center for Public Policy, told The Daily Signal in an interview.

“If I was a governor of another state right now, I’d wish Cuomo would be quiet and go away, because the more it’s about him in New York, the less it’s about the actual issue,” McMahon said, adding:

Cuomo is sucking up all the oxygen talking about his problems. But behind his request for $500 billion–which is preposterous and just part of an old-fashioned haggle, to ask high–there is a serious issue that his bombast is masking. …read more


Free Market Group Calls for California, 4 Other States to Suspend Government Union Dues

If elected officials were to suspend the deduction of union dues from the paychecks of public-sector employees for three months, they could pump tens of millions of dollars back into the wallets of workers who are compelled to stay home, according to a free market think tank’s analysis of government records.

The savings would be particularly dramatic in California, which has more than 1.25 million public employees, the Freedom Foundation explained in a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat.

The letter notes that California’s public employees pay an average of $800 a year in dues.

A three-month moratorium on deduction of government union dues “would pump $250 million back into the pockets of workers who earned them and need them during this emergency,” Bob Wickers, California director for the Freedom Foundation, said in the letter to Newsom.

“The best part is you could boost our state’s economy by nearly $250 million without costing California taxpayers a dime,” he wrote.

The Freedom Foundation also sent letters to Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, asking them to consider the three-month moratorium on deducting union dues. DeWine …read more


6 Things to Know About Anthony Fauci as He Helps Shape Response to Coronavirus

Before his name and face became ubiquitous to Americans through news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, Anthony Fauci made his mark as a key figure working to end the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s.

Fauci, a 79-year-old Brooklyn native, also gained media attention after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when he made the case for a stronger defense against bioterrorism.

A veteran medical researcher and career immunologist, Fauci has testified before Congress multiple times. He has served as a public health adviser to six American presidents.

The son of a pharmacist and grandson of immigrants from Italy and Switzerland, Fauci has been part of the National Institutes of Health since 1968, when he was hired as a clinical associate.

In 1984, Fauci became director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, one of several smaller agencies within the National Institutes of Health, and he has held that post ever since.

A gifted academic who graduated first in his class with an M.D. from Cornell University Medical College in 1966, Fauci reportedly was an ardent New York Yankees fan in his youth despite growing up in a neighborhood dominated by Brooklyn Dodgers fans.

Fauci currently is rarely out of the public eye as a key …read more


Teacher Takes Union to Court for Ignoring Supreme Court Ruling on Dues

Pennsylvania’s largest public employee union needs to stop evading a landmark Supreme Court ruling, an art teacher argues in a lawsuit that could undo key provisions of state labor laws.

The Pennsylvania State Education Association continues to negotiate provisions to give it “fair share fees” in collective bargaining agreements, despite the fact that the highest court in the land ruled those fees unconstitutional, a lawyer who represents the art teacher told The Daily Signal in an interview.

“PSEA specifically has a history of thumbing its nose at Supreme Court precedent, and it has sometimes required litigation to make them comply with the court’s rulings,” Nathan McGrath, litigation director at the Fairness Center, said of the teachers union.

The Fairness Center, a nonprofit, public-interest law firm based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, represents art teacher Greg Hartnett and three other public school teachers who sued the Pennsylvania State Education Association, an affiliate of the National Education Association.

Hartnett and the others argue the teachers union shows “a willingness to challenge or ignore Supreme Court precedent,” and that the teachers should not be forced to pay the union’s fair share fees.

The case, Hartnett v. PSEA, is with the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which …read more


White House Talks Up Economic, Environmental Renewal to Replace Blight

Entrepreneurs have been unleashed inside blighted communities to bring economic opportunity where it is needed most, thanks to President Donald Trump’s deregulation and revitalization initiatives, administration officials said Friday.

Scott Turner, executive director of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council, discussed such progress with Andrew Wheeler, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, during a conference of conservative activists near Washington.

Turner, a former pro football player, told the audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference that opportunity zones created during the Trump administration are bringing “stakeholders” back into “stressed communities” for the first time in decades.

“Poverty has no color, poverty has no party,” Turner said. “Poverty affects all of us and when you’re in poverty, you don’t care about party.”

A total of 8,764 opportunity zones have been identified in economically depressed areas throughout the country, according to government figures. Opportunity zones, created as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that Trump signed into law in December 2017, give investors tax benefits in exchange for providing capital in such neighborhoods.

The zones have both an economic and social impact, Turner said.

“Opportunity zones are bringing long-term sustainability,” he said. “Our vision is for generational impact on our country. Conversations …read more


What to Do About Our ‘Tech Cold War’ With China

China wants to use artificial intelligence and 5G technology to “control the world” and undermine human rights, a Heritage Foundation national security analyst said Friday during an annual gathering of conservative activists.

U.S. policy makers and industry leaders “need to be honest” about the challenges posed by China and close off points of vulnerability that made it possible for the communist regime to steal American technology, James Carafano said.

Carafano, the think tank’s director of international and foreign policy studies, spoke during a panel discussion at the Conservative Political Action Conference, known as CPAC.

“The crux of the problem is there is a law in China that basically says if you are a Chinese company then any data you have, then we [the Chinese government] have free access to that data,” Carafano said. “If Chinese companies are global, then China has global access to data. … China wants to use data to control the world.”

Carafano described 5G, an abbreviation for fifth-generation, as a “transformative technology” that is just the “tip of the spear” of what should most concern U.S. leaders in and outside government who are working to safeguard intellectual property.

Carafano was joined for the discussion by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, …read more


After Years of Paying Illegal Union Fees, Government Workers Seek Refunds

After successfully leading a nationwide charge against government-sanctioned union mandates, Mark Janus could end up back before the Supreme Court.

In a continuation of his legal case, the former child support specialist for the Illinois government asked the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to rule that union officials must refund thousands of dollars in union fees taken from his paycheck.

But a three-judge panel of the appeals court ruled in November that Council 31 of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees could keep the fees it collected from Janus.

Janus asked for a refund of fees the union collected prior to the Supreme Court’s landmark June 2018 decision in his favor, the 7th Circuit panel explained, saying it was not clear whether that decision was meant to be retroactive.

In Janus v AFSCME, the Supreme Court decided that under the First Amendment government workers cannot be forced either to join a union or pay union fees as a nonunion member. The decision affects about 5 million government employees in 22 states who no longer are required to financially support the political activism of public employee unions.

Janus has petitioned the full 7th …read more


Parents Challenge ‘Radical’ LGBT Curriculum in New Jersey Schools

TRENTON, N.J.–Parents are plenty angry about a New Jersey law that
requires LGBT material to be incorporated into public school classroom

The parents say they are concerned the new law will “teach
lifestyles and life choices that stand 100% against our family values.” They
object to their tax dollars being used for what they call an “assault on
religious liberty.”

And they say a special interest group helping develop curriculum for the new requirements has a “radical agenda” that could jeopardize the health and safety of children.

One parent warned about how the “gender ideology” already prevalent
in public schools can “brainwash” a child into believing he is a girl rather
than a boy and vice-versa.

As parents found out Jan. 4
at a “parental rights” conference in Flemington, N.J., elected officials
and religious leaders share their concerns. But the effort to reverse these
laws or prevent their implementation will be an uphill battle.

At the meeting, Victoria Jakelsky, state director of a grassroots
group called Protect Your Children, or Team PYC, estimated that about 60
parental rights activists from Team PYC would be in Trenton Wednesday to
testify against the new law.

But Kathy Goldenberg, president of the New Jersey State
Board of Education,
told parents Wednesday that the board was not empowered …read more


Teachers Go to Court to Fight Union Over Choice of Charities

Teachers who object to paying union fees on religious grounds are too political, some union leaders in Pennsylvania argue in a new twist on long-standing complaints about organized labor’s involvement in elective politics.

But at least two of those teachers, who just had their day in court to put state labor laws under scrutiny, see more than a little irony at work in the union complaints.

Lawyers for Jane Ladley, who taught in public schools for 25 years before retiring in 2014 from Avon Grove School District in Chester County, argued her case Dec. 11 before the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg.

Joining Ladley in suing the Pennsylvania State Education Association, a teachers union, was Chris Meier, a history and economics teacher at Penn Manor High School in Lancaster County for the past 10 years.

Neither teacher is a member of PSEA, but the union secured contractual agreements with their respective school districts that require nonmembers such as Ladley and Meier to pay what the union calls “fair share fees.”

Pennsylvania law permits teachers such as Ladley and Meier, who object on religious grounds to paying the mandatory union fees and what they fund, to …read more


California Farmer Fights Government Claim That Dirt Is a Pollutant

No one told Jack LaPant that he could be in violation of the Clean Water Act for farming his own land.

That’s mostly because the federal law includes a clear exemption for “normal” farming activities. But it’s also because the government officials LaPant consulted didn’t view overturned dirt that has been tilled and plowed as pollution.

In 2016, the Army Corps of Engineers, which administers the Clean Water Act with the Environmental Protection Agency, began legal action against LaPant for plowing he did in 2011 to plant wheat on a ranch property he owned in Northern California.

But in March 2012, LaPant had sold the property, located in Tehama County about four miles south of the city of Red Bluff.

Before plowing his field to plant wheat, LaPant conferred in person with the Farm Service Agency in California, which is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“All of these government officials I spoke with, and they have all been deposed, they never once suggested that I should go meet with the Army Corps of Engineers,” LaPant said in a phone interview with The Daily Signal.

“I asked them if it was OK to take this piece of land and grow …read more