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Freedom Works
Friday August 17, 2018 @ 01:43:13 PM mt

Tom Cotton Is Wildly Wrong About Justice Reform

The effort to reform the federal prison system is gaining a lot of attention. President Donald Trump has expressed support for prison reform on multiple occasions, including a mention in his State of the Union address and, most recently, during a meeting with a group of African-American pastors. President Trump has also expressed a willingness to include sentencing reform in the prison reform bill.

As weve explained many times, this effort comes from the states. More than 30 states have passed criminal justice reforms that focus reducing the rates of repeat offenders, known as recidivism. The states that have led the way on criminal justice reform include Texas, Georgia, South Carolina, and Utah. Many of these states have also passed sentencing reforms for nonviolent drug offenders to focus limited resources on violent offenders.

The prison reform bill -- the FIRST STEP Act, H.R. 5682 -- is modeled on the state level successes. The bill passed the House by a vote of 360 to 59 and is awaiting action in the Senate. Most agree that in order for the bill to move to floor, some modest sentencing reform provisions will have to be included.

Although conservatives like Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) support criminal justice reform, including sentencing reform. Others have refused to acknowledge the successes of the states and are working against a key part of President Trumps domestic policy agenda.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) is among the small group of vocal opponents. On Thursday, he wrote a piece in the Wall Street Journal in which he railed against prison reform and sentencing reform. He got a lot wrong. Below we go through various parts of his screed to correct the record.

The U.S. faces a drug epidemic today, exactly the wrong time to go soft on crime. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2017 more than 72,000 Americans died of drug overdoses, a 37% increase from 2015 and a nearly 100% increase since 2008."

There is no reason to believe that harsher prison sentences would reduce drug use. In an analysis released earlier this year, the Pew Charitable Trusts found no relationship between imprisonment and drug use, arrests, or overdose deaths.

If imprisonment were an effective deterrent to drug use and crime, then, all other things being equal, the extent to which a state sends drug offenders to prison should be correlated with certain drug-related problems in that state, Pew researchers explained. The theory of deterrence would suggest, for instance, that states with higher rates of drug imprisonment would experience lower rates of drug use among their residents.

To test this, Pew compared state drug imprisonment rates with three important measures of drug problems self-reported drug use (excluding marijuana), drug arrest, and overdose deathand found no statistically significant relationship between drug imprisonment and these indicators. In other words, higher rates of drug imprisonment did not translate into lower rates of drug use, arrests, or overdose deaths, the analysis added.

The better way to address the issue is to treat the drug problem as an addiction issue. Simply warehousing people in prisons doesnt address the underlying problem. In fact, it will likely exacerbate the problem by exposing the user to prison, making it harder for him or her to find a job, get an education, or even find housing. A criminal record is often a barrier to a productive life.

"Violent crime has declined since the 1980s because mandatory minimums adopted then locked up violent criminals. But in 2015-16, the most recent years for which full data are available, violent crime increased at its fastest rate in a quarter-century

Congress passed the Comprehensive Crime Control Act in 1984. At the time, the violent crime rate was 539.2 reported crimes per 100,000 inhabitants. When Congress passed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act in 1986, the violent crime rate was 620 reported crimes per 100,000 inhabitants. Politicians hailed these laws, which included harsh penalties for drugs, as deterrents to crime. Yet, the violent crime rate continued to increase, peaking in 1991 at 758.1 reported crimes per 100,000 inhabitants. By the time Congress passed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act in 1994, the violent crime rate was already in decline.

Although the reasons for the decline in violent crime are topic of debate, the connection between the decline of violent crime rates and incarceration is specious.

William Spelman, a professor at the University of Texas-Austin, has estimated that a heavy reliance on incarceration is responsible for 25 percent of the decline in violent crime. Even if one were to accept this conclusion, Spelmans estimate means that 75 percent of the decline in violent crime is related to other factors.

Others have cast more skepticism on the impact of incarceration. The Vera Institute for Justice has noted, Increased incarceration has a marginal-to-zero impact on crime. In some cases, increased incarceration can even lead to an increase in crime.

In a 2014 study, the National Research Council of the National Academies noted, [T]hree reports of panels convened by the National Research Council have reviewed the research literature on the deterrent effect of such laws and have concluded that the evidence is insufficient to justify the conclusion that these harsher punishments yield measurable public safety benefits.

According to the available research, Cotton is either wildly overstating the impact of incarceration on crime rates or hes completely wrong.

...preliminary data suggest violent crime might have leveled off in 2017.

Well, its good that Cotton acknowledges that violent crime might have leveled off in 2017. Only two years ago, he suggested that we may be living through the leading edge of a new crime wave.

Of course, Cotton was doing what politicians do, which is utilizing the politics of fear. Even during the midst of the violent crime decline, there were two years, 2005 and 2006, in which violent crime rates increased before leveling off and declining once again. The lesson is that no conclusions should be drawn from a limited dataset.

For what its worth, the violent crime rate is lower now than it was in 1971.

The homicide rate is lower than it was in 1967.

The property crime rate is roughly where it was in 1966.

Congress and the U.S. Sentencing Commission cut prison terms for drug traffickers, gang members and other violent felons in recent yearsputting more criminals on the streets. The average federal prison sentence for drug traffickers declined 19% between 2009 and 2016. As a result, the federal inmate population has declined 16% since 2013 and now sits at the lowest level since 2004.

Cotton believes that this reduction in the federal prison population somehow correlates to the two-year increase in violent crime. As John Pfaff, a professor at Fordham Law School, rhetorically asked, That 16% decline comes to about 30,000 people. We have about 1.5 million in prison. Thats 2%. Do you really think a 2% decline moves the crime needle?

No, it doesnt move the needle because the federal prison population is relatively small when compared to the states. In 2016, the federal prison population represented roughly 13 percent of all people in prison in the country. State prisons are where the vast majority of prisoners are held because, naturally, the vast majority of crimes are prosecuted at the state level.

The federal prison population reached its year-end peak in 2012 when 217,815 people were incarcerated in federal facilities. By comparison, 1.361 million people were incarcerated at the state level. At the end of 2016, there were 189,192 people incarcerated in federal facilities. As of yesterday, 183,160 people are in federal prisons.

Five out of six prisoners end up rearrested within nine years, according to a recent Justice Department study.

Weve touched on this study before. The study Cotton is referring to was produced by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), which is housed under the Department of Justice. The study analyzed recidivism of prisoners released in 2005 from 30 states. Recidivism was defined by rearrest, which isnt a good measure. A better measure of recidivism is reconviction or reincarceration.

In 2007, Texas became the first state to pass and implement significant reforms to reduce recidivism. Since then, other states have passed similar reforms. Some examples are South Carolina, which passed reforms in 2010, and Georgia, which began a series of reforms in 2012.

Obviously, prisoners released from state correctional facilities in 2005 wouldnt have been subject to the evidence-based recidivism reduction programs in these states. What we know, though, is that Texas has a three-year recidivism rate of 21 percent measured by reincarceration. Georgias recidivism rate as measured by reconviction is around 27 percent. South Carolinas recidivism rate as measured by reincarnation is 23.1 percent.

Because the group that BJS tracked is limited to prisoners released in 2005, it masks a continued decline in recidivism in later years. The Pew Charitable Trusts recently released data from the 23 states in recent days showing that the recidivism rate among prisoners released in 2012 declined by 23 percent.

In January 2016 a former drug dealer named Wendell Callahan brutally murdered his ex-girlfriend, Erveena Hammonds, and her two young daughters. But it shouldnt have happened. Initially sentenced to prison until 2018, he was released in 2014 because of a law that retroactively reduced his sentence.

Everyone agrees that this is a tragedy that shouldnt have happened. Callahan had a particularly troublesome past and lengthy criminal history that prosecutors chose to ignore when signing off on his release. The fact is that Callahan shouldnt have been released.

Derek Cohen of Right on Crime wrote about Callahan and his heinous crime. This decision was made in regards to risk-agnostic release policies and, since the abolition of federal parole in 1987, the government had no mechanism by which to monitor Callahan to ensure he was complying with release terms, Cohen explained. The counter to such policies would not be to eliminate release in all respects, but to ensure that release is responsive to offender risk and that such offenders are able to be monitored.

Virtually no one goes to federal prison for low-level, nonviolent drug offenses, especially mere drug use or possession. In 2015, there were 247 inmates in federal prison for drug possession. In these rare cases, the inmates usually pleaded down from a more serious offense. In the extreme case of a manifestly unjust sentence, the pardon power is a better instrument of justice than broad sentencing reductions. President Trump has shown himself more than willing to intervene to redress such cases.

Actually, the report Cotton cites isnt doesnt reference 2015 statistics. The report was released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics in October 2015, but the numbers are from the end of FY 2012. The table in which the 247 figure is found literally says in bold letters: Federally sentenced offenders in the Federal Bureau of Prisons with linked U.S. Sentencing Commission records, by primary offense category, fiscal yearend 2012.

Freedom Partners has already noted this, but its worth repeating. Data from the U.S. Sentencing Commission shows that nearly 2,300 people were sentenced for simple drug possession at the federal level in FY 2015. For FY 2012, the U.S. Sentencing Commission reports that 1,450 people were sentenced for simple possession.

Some fiscal conservatives believe that America spends too much on the prison system. Yet the Bureau of Prisons costs taxpayers less than $8 billion a year, or about 0.2% of the entire federal budget.

The federal government spends too much in general, not only on prisons. Keep in mind that the federal government will, according to projections from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), run a budget deficit of $804 billion this year, $981 billion next year, and more than $1 trillion in 2020.

Because of the ability of Congress to cut spending, the United States faces serious fiscal problems. Cotton has contributed to these problems. In February, he voted for a budget that busted the spending caps by nearly $300 billion over two years. Because Congress is unlikely to rollback these spending increases, Cottons vote for the budget paves the way for even higher budget deficits than the CBO has projected in 2020 and later years.

Direct to the Cottons comment about funding for the Bureau of Prisons (BOP). Yes, BOPs budget was less than $8 billion in FY 2017. That represents about 26 percent of the Department of Justices overall budget. BOPs budget has grown dramatically over the past few decades, in large part due to an overreliance on incarceration. This growth has crowded out funding for law enforcement and other necessary programs.

Congress should be looking for ways to reduce spending. Recidivism reduction programs are one way to do that. The criminal justice reforms in Texas are responsible for $3 billion in savings. Between 2008 and 2016, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts, Texas saw a 16 percent decline in imprisonment and a 29 percent drop in crime. Obviously, modest front-end sentencing reforms would also save money. But the Texas model shows that we can reduce the prison population and increased public safety.

Congress should improve access to faith-based and other antirecidivism programs in federal prisons. American families deserve safe communities and protection from drugs and crime. Criminals, especially first-time offenders who grew up in rough environments, deserve second chancesonce they have done their time.

We agree. But Cotton is only paying lip service to recidivism reduction. Serious discussion of adding sentencing reform to the FIRST STEP Act is rather recent. This bill is, first and foremost, focused on recidivism reduction. When it passed the House, sentencing reform wasnt in the bill. Still, Cottons staff was working behind the scenes to try to kill the bill.

A Politico story from May 18 explained that Cotton approached law enforcement groups in an effort to affect the outcome of the vote on FIRST STEP Act in the House. According to the story, two leading law enforcement groups discuss[ed] a call by Cottons office this week for letters of opposition on prison reform ahead of a White House summit...on the issue.

If Cotton truly cares about recidivism reduction, he has a strange way of showing it.

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Freedom Works
Friday August 17, 2018 @ 11:10:43 AM mt

The Weekly Fix: It Pays to Waste Taxpayer Money

The fix is in. Did you know, the four richest counties in the United States (and nine of the top 20) are all suburbs of Washington, D.C.? Loudoun County, Virginia takes the #1 spot with a median household income of $125,900. That is more than double the median household income for the entire country.

While small businesses are struggling to make ends meet, Washington, D.C. is a boomtown for the politically connected. Every year, hundreds of Capitol Hill staffers and members of Congress leave their jobs to make a fortune selling influence on K Street.

Fifty special interest groups spent more than $716 million to lobby the federal government in 2016. American taxpayers paid $3.27 trillion to fund the federal government, while top lobbyists got paid $2.6 billion telling Congress how to spend it.

Without a doubt, the biggest transfer of wealth in our country is from American families to the pockets of special interest groups. The American people arent being heard by their government because the game is rigged. Washington isnt broken. Its fixed.

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Freedom Works
Thursday August 16, 2018 @ 02:46:16 PM mt

Senator Nelson Highlights Democratic Irony at FCC Hearings

Today, Federal Communications Commission Chairman (FCC) Ajit Pai testified before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation. Chairman Pai unsurprisingly faced questioning from Senate Democrats over the Restoring Internet Freedom Order, Pais flagship rulemaking which rolled-back onerous public utility-style regulations of internet service providers imposed by the previous administration.

Democrats said that the Restoring Internet Freedom Order is an attack on so-called net neutrality, which is the idea that the government should regulate the internet like a public utility to prevent things such as companies blocking or censoring certain traffic or sitesdespite the fact no such systemic issue of this sort existed in the two decades of internet history prior to the imposition of net neutrality rules. Yet, this questioning comes in the same month that Senate Democrats have pressured social media sites and other web giants to act as thought police and go so far as censor content on their sites. This is in addition to reports that Senate Democrats are also circulating a plan to impose massive new regulations on web service providers, including multiple forms of mandatory data disclosures that will undoubtedly have a major chilling effect on online speech.

In short, Democrats grilled Chairman Pai about the purely hypothetical online censorship committed by private companies while they are simultaneously pressuring companies to police speech and are drafting plans to impose their own forms of web regulation and censorship.

In addition, Democratic Senators questioned Chairman Pai about reports of an online attack on the FCCs website during the comment period on the Restoring Internet Freedom Order. It turns out, while Chairman Pai had reported to Congress that such an attack had likely occurred, an FCC Inspector General report found that an attack had not occurred and that FCCs systems were simply overwhelmed with traffic. Yet what the Inspector General report also found is that Chairman Pais office was provided with inaccurate information by the agencys Chief Information Officer, who was a holdover from the previous administration and is no longer with the agency.

While its patently clear Chairman Pai was himself mislead and not providing information he knew to be incorrect, he faced questions about the incident designed to undermine his credibility. Whats astounding is that these questions came from Senate Democrats whose ranking member on the Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee is Florida Senator Bill Nelson.

Senator Nelson has recently made completely unfounded claims that Russian operatives successfully hacked into Floridas election systems. This claim was rebutted by state officials who report having zero information to support such an allegation. Last week, Senator Nelsons election opponent, current Governor Rick Scott, demanded Senator Nelson provide an explanation which Senator Nelson has yet to provide.

The irony of Senator Nelson leading any charge to get to the bottom of matters of cybersecurity is painfully obvious. Yet, while the Inspector General report clearly absolves Chairman Pai of wrongdoing, this didnt stop Democrats from trying to pin blame to Chairman Pai for the misleading reports, all while their Ranking Member, Senator Nelson, faces heat for blatantly crying wolf about Russians hacking Floridas elections.

Americans should be concerned about powerful forces in government trying to censor online speech and misleading them about cybersecurity. However, the true culprits are Senate Democrats who spent several hours today attempting to scapegoat the FCC and Chairman Pai.

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Freedom Works
Wednesday August 15, 2018 @ 11:16:28 AM mt

Support the Merit Systems Protection Board Reauthorization Act H.R. 6391

On behalf of FreedomWorks activist community, I urge you to contact your representative and ask him or her to support the Merit Systems Protection Board Reauthorization Act, H.R. 6391, introduced by Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.). This legislation would appropriate funds to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) and make it easier to fire government employees for poor performance or misconduct while maintaining a fair review process.

The MSPB is an independent federal agency designed to ensure the federal civil service is governed by merit and to adjudicate appeals of certain personnel actions taken by the government. H.R. 6391 strives to streamline the agencies activities and to change evidentiary standards to prevent the board from reinstating underperforming employees.

By lowering the evidentiary standard, this gives agencies more broad discretion to take actions based on poor performance. MSPB had also previously been granted the authority to undo such adverse actions against underperforming employees. H.R. 6391 limits that authority by allowing the board to take such action only if they determine the firing to be wholly without evidence.

The bill would also require MSPB to institute a small filing fee for its proceedings. This would cut down on the amount of frivolous cases brought before the board, saving them both time and money. The fee can be waived if it would cause undue economic hardship on the filer and will be refunded in the event of a successful appeal.

The federal government routinely protects its employees who fail to perform their duties, and American citizens are paying for it with their tax dollars. It is for these reason that I urge you to contact your representative and ask him or her to support the Merit Systems Protection Board Reauthorization Act, H.R. 6391.

Sincerely, Adam Brandon, President, FreedomWorks

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Freedom Works
Monday August 13, 2018 @ 01:45:40 PM mt

Capitol Hill Update: August 13 2018


The Senate is in session part of the week. The House is in recess.


The Senate returns on Wednesday. The chamber will begin its short work week with the nomination of Marvin Quattlebaum to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. A vote to invoke cloture will happen around 5:30 pm.

The Senate Judiciary Committee announced that confirmation hearings for Judge Brett Kavanaugh will begin on Tuesday, September 4 when members of the committee will be allowed to make opening statements. On Wednesday, September 5, the committee will hear testimony from those who know Judge Kavanaugh and other interested parties. The hearings are expected to last three or four days. The hearings will begin 57 days after Judge Kavanaughs nomination to the Supreme Court.

Two weeks ago, President Trump met with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and other key Senate Republicans to hear their pitch on potential sentencing reforms to add to the prison reform bill, the FIRST STEP Act. Those pitched, and given the thumbs up by the president, are reforms to 924(c) stacking, a fix to 841/851 enhancements, expansion of a federal safety valve, and retroactivity of the Fair Sentencing Act addressing the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine.

The committee has received more than 184,000 documents related to Judge Kavanaughs work in the White House under President George W. Bush and the Office of the Independent Counsel under Ken Starr. The committee has released nearly 88,000 pages of documents related to Judge Brett Kavanaugh work.

Two weeks ago, President Trump met with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and other key Senate Republicans to hear their pitch on potential sentencing reforms to add to the prison reform bill, the FIRST STEP Act. Those pitched, and given the thumbs up by the president, are reforms to 924(c) stacking, a fix to 841/851 enhancements, expansion of a federal safety valve, and retroactivity of the Fair Sentencing Act addressing the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine.

Last week, President Trump brought a bipartisan group of governors supportive of justice reform in their states to discuss and advance his federal justice reform agenda. A transcript of some of the meeting is available here. Notable among these governors was Gov. John Bel Edwards (D-La.), whose reforms have drawn severe criticism from Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) for political reasons. The presidents actions put direct pressure on Kennedy and other less-than-enthusiastic Senate Republicans to get behind the effort to substantially reform the federal prison and larger justice system overall.

The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee will hold an oversight hearing of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Thursday at 10:00 am. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioners Michael ORielly, Brendan Carr, and Jessica Rosenworcel are slated to testify. We expect the Restoring Internet Freedom Order, which rolled back the 2015 Open Internet Order, to be a big part of the hearing.

The Senate committee schedule for the week can be found here.


The House met in pro forma session on Friday and will do so again this week. We dont have the pro forma calendar, but we assume the days this week are Tuesday and Friday.

Before the recess, House Republican leadership and the Ways and Means Committee rolled out the framework for tax reform 2.0. The centerpiece of the plan is making the individual tax rates and reforms, including the pass-through business deduction, permanent. The framework includes expansion of 529 education savings accounts, as well as a new universal savings account and a baby account. The committee hasn't announced a date for markup, but the bill could come to the floor as early as mid-September.

Unlike the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, this bill wont be done through reconciliation. That means the 60-vote cloture threshold would apply in the Senate. Its unlikely that there are enough votes in either chamber to pass a budget resolution with reconciliation instructions. Theres no indication that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will bring the bill if it passes the House.

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Freedom Works
Monday August 13, 2018 @ 01:45:25 PM mt

The Fiscal Disaster Facing the United States Is Much Worse Than It Appears

Back in April, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released regular budget outlook for the current year and 2019 through 2028 budget window. The report was concerning because it showed that the share of the debt held by the public as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) would increase from 78 percent in 2018 to 96.2 percent in 2028.

Separately, in June, the CBO released its long-term budget outlook, which offers a look at the budget over 30 years, from FY 2019 through FY 2048, and it's even more alarming. Over this time period, debt would increase from 78 percent in 2018 to 118 percent by 2038. By the end of the 30-year window, in 2048, the debt-to-GDP ratio would be 152 percent. The growth of the debt over this period is largely driven by the federal entitlement programs and service on the national debt.

The CBO makes its projections based on current law, and under current law, the individual tax cuts that were passed in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will expire at the end of 2025 and the spending increase passed by Congress in February will fall to 2015 budget levels at the beginning of FY 2020. Although the future of the individual tax cuts after 2025 is up in the air, although the House will try to make those permanent this year, few believed that the spending increase would be temporary.

As a refresher, in February, Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act, H.R. 1892. The bill increased discretionary spending by $296 billion over two years, bringing the discretionary spending levels to $1.291 trillion for FY 2018 and $1.321 trillion in FY 2019. Republicans tend to focus on the $165 billion increase in defense discretionary spending, but the budget also increased nondefense discretionary spending by $131 billion.

Now, if the spending levels were to go back down in FY 2020, the CBOs projections in the April budget outlook report would accurate, assuming no other changes were made to law and the economy didnt experience a recession. The baseline scenario reflects the April budget outlook, meaning that current law is maintained and the debt-to-GDP ratio would be 98 percent at the end of 2028 and 118 percent in 2038.

But the CBO has put out a new report that looks at alternative scenarios. The CBOs alternative scenarios tend to be more realistic because it assumes that Congress will maintain current fiscal policies. The report gives three different alternative scenarios.

The first alternative scenario assumes that Congress will maintain current spending levels, extend the individual tax cuts, and continue to delay certain ObamaCare taxes. Some other assumptions are also made. In this scenario, the debt-to-GDP ratio would be 105 percent in 2028 and 148 in 2038.

Like the first alternative scenario, the second scenario assumes that Congress opt to maintain current tax and spending policies past their expiration dates and continue to delay ObamaCare taxes. The difference is that it projects that tax revenue will grow, reaching nearly 18 percent of GDP by 2038, slightly higher than the 50-year historical average of 17.4 percent. The debt-to-GDP ratio would be 105 percent in 2028 and 151 percent by 2038. The third scenario differs from the second because the CBO assumes revenues will stay flat at 16.6 percent of GDP and the debt-to-GDP ratio would be 109 percent in 2028 and 165 percent in 2038.

As noted, under current law and absent any significant changes, the CBO projects the debt-to-GDP ratio to be 96 percent in 2028, 118 percent in 2038, and 152 percent in 2048. The three alternative scenarios show that the debt-to-GDP ratio would either be close to 150 percent or over that threshold ten years earlier than projected should current policies be extended. Of course, this level of debt isn't sustainable. What's called a "debt drag" -- which begins when the debt-to-GDP ratio reaches the 77 percent to 90 percent range -- would mean slower economic growth. Decreasing confidence in the United States' ability to pay back its debt would also lead to higher interest rates.

Now, none of this is to say that Congress shouldn't extend the individual tax cuts that were passed under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act by passing "tax reform 2.0." In fact, Congress should extend the tax cuts. But there has to be a concerted effort to reduce spending, and those spending reductions have to be more than discretionary spending.

There are other options such as a Swiss-style debt break, which would cap spending as a percentage of potential GDP. But every member of Congress who continues to vote in a manner that ignores the fiscal dangers the United States faces is quite literally robbing the next generation of Americans of opportunity and prosperity.

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Freedom Works
Monday August 13, 2018 @ 01:45:17 PM mt

Support the Making DI Work For All Americans Act H.R. 6532

On behalf of FreedomWorks activist community, I urge you to contact your representative and ask him or her to support the Making DI Work For All Americans Act, H.R. 6532, introduced by Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.). This legislation would reform Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) by making it more fiscally responsible and ensuring it caters to those who truly need it.

According to recent data released by the Social Security Board of Trustees, Social Security will be paying out more than it takes in revenue by 2022. The Board also projects that the SSDI fund will be completely exhausted by as soon as 2032. The status quo is clearly unsustainable, and Congress must take action now to prevent the insolvency of this program.

The Making DI Work for All Americans Act starts by instituting a review of all potential recipients of the program who may not actually meet the eligibility requirements. Judges who issue the most approvals will have their caseloads reviewed, and determinations will be made about whether those recipients actually qualify. This will lighten the burden of recipients who collect benefits based solely on having been rubber stamped by administrative judges.

The legislation also eliminates the requirement that the Social Security Administration compensate disability attorneys. This is not the role of the government, and payment should be worked out between a client and an attorney. H.R. 6532 makes that the case.

The legislation also updates medical-vocational guidelines so it will be easier for recipients to return to work if they wish. It also helps them to be better matched with employers when they do begin seeking work again. There is dignity in work, and the policy should be to push for greater independence for all citizens who are capable of it.

Lastly, the bill increases transparency and accountability. At the outset, it sets a flat monthly benefit for all who first apply to the program. It also allows social media activity to be taken into account when determining eligibility. This is a common sense provision that brings the process into the modern era. There is no reason we shouldnt use all tools at our disposal to root out any potential waste, fraud, and abuse in our system.

If Social Security is to survive, changes need to be made, and SSDI reform is a key part of any workable solution. It is for these reason that I urge you to contact your representative and ask him or her to support the making DI Work For All Americans Act, H.R. 6532.

Sincerely, Adam Brandon, President, FreedomWorks

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Freedom Works
Monday August 13, 2018 @ 10:18:35 AM mt

FreedomWorks Statement on Firing of Peter Strzok

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In the wake of the FBIs decision this morning to fire former Agent Peter Strzok, who was at one time a key member of Special Counsel Robert Muellers team, FreedomWorks Vice-President of Advocacy Noah Wall commented:

Strzoks text conversations while a member of Muellers team made clear his bias against the Trump administration. It was a waste of taxpayer dollars for him to continue to collect a federal paycheck even after his removal from the Mueller team.

Peter Strzoks firing is a step in the right direction towards draining the swamp and reforming the FBI.

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Freedom Works
Saturday August 11, 2018 @ 08:27:09 AM mt

Op-ed: Time for bipartisan deal-making on criminal justice reform

Jason Pye, FreedomWorks Vice President of Legislative Affairs, and Sarah Anderson, Policy Analyst, in The Washington Examiner:

"Competing visions for criminal justice reform may prevent the Senate from taking any action on one of President Trumps domestic policy initiatives. The lack of movement isnt out of any significant opposition to the effort. Instead, the gridlock comes from whether to include modest sentencing reforms backed by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

"Politics are playing a role in the discussion. Democrats with their eyes on the partys presidential nomination view criminal justice reform as a campaign issue. Selfishly killing the FIRST STEP Act for little more than political gain risks infecting criminal justice reform with the same toxicity that has plagued immigration reform proponents, not to mention that it also denies much-needed relief to communities, families, and individuals who have been severely affected by crime."

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Freedom Works
Saturday August 11, 2018 @ 08:27:04 AM mt

FreedomWorks Opposes Rep. Curbelos Bill to Impose Carbon Tax

WASHINGTON, D.C.- FreedomWorks opposes Rep. Carlos Curbelos (R- Fla.) bill that would impose a disastrous carbon tax upon the U.S. economy.

Adam Brandon, FreedomWorks President, commented:

America is already leading the industrialized world in terms of reducing carbon emissions and is doing so in spite of government. While environmentalists and the Obama administration were busy doing everything they could to stifle it, the shale revolution made clean-burning natural gas abundant and affordable, dramatically reducing US carbon emissions. Free markets create wealth and technological progress, passively solving the world's problems while politicians are busy cooking up the next Solyndra.

Let's also not forget that the federal government is by far the largest polluter in the country. Can Americans expect a monthly check for their share of the government's carbon tax penalties under Rep. Curbelo's bill, and if so, who will the money be borrowed from?"

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