DACA Defended But Still Called Unconstitutional

DACA Defended But Still Called Unconstitutional

By Chris Freind DACA Defended But Still Called Unconstitutional

There’s a good reason comprehensive immigration reform hasn’t seen the light of day for decades.

It’s not because of partisanship, since both Democrats and Republicans controlled the White House and Congress in that span, but something much more basic: A lack of common sense.

Strident hardliners on both sides want an all-or-nothing approach, from deporting 12 million illegals (impossible) to having totally open borders (also completely unfeasible). Their inability to compromise has killed any effort at meaningful reform.

Add to that the reluctance of party leaders to change the status quo, since they gain tremendous political benefit from nonaction. Special-interest groups, from big business to labor unions, line their pockets to keep things just the way they are, to the detriment of the country – and illegal immigrants.

But now that we finally had an opportunity to do something positive – keeping the successful Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program until a suitable replacement was passed by Congress – the Trump administration instead decided to end it entirely, phasing it out over six months. The result has been an uproar, since the lives of 800,000 productive young people – who had legal residency and legitimate employment – have been thrown into chaos.

Let’s look at the controversy surrounding the DACA “Dreamers.”

First, a quick background: DACA, instituted by the President Obama in 2012, deferred immigration action on children brought to America by their illegal immigrant parents. It did not grant legal status, but instead protected those who qualified from being deported. It also provided work permits for two years, which were renewable. Eligibility criteria included being under 16 upon entering the country; living continuously in the U.S. since 2007; being enrolled in high school or college (or already having a diploma or degree); have a GED certificate or be an honorably discharged U.S. military veteran; and have no felony criminal convictions.

We could do a lot worse than having productive Dreamers in our midst, living the American Dream.

Now to the issue:

1. The premise for rescinding DACA is that it’s unconstitutional. Trump administration officials stated that Obama made an end-run around Congress by instituting something that should’ve been under the purview of the legislative branch. That’s very likely true. That said, the president does, in fact, have broad discretionary powers when it comes to immigration. So, given how unpredictable judges can be in interpreting the law – with some actively legislating from the bench – the jury is still out on DACA’s constitutionality.

2. The “it’s not what you say, but how you say it” principle is still lost on Trump. While the White House has rolled out many good policies, most have been inexcusably bumbled due to incompetence and a lack of foresight, and the DACA decision was no different.

Rather than creating panic-inducing uncertainty – especially after months of promising “big heart” compassion and telling Dreamers they shouldn’t worry – the president should have worked quietly with Congress to formulate a replacement program before his announcement. That way, there would’ve already been a plan in place to ensure a smooth, less stressful transition. Doing it backwards was like discontinuing the space shuttle before having a replacement – a decision that still haunts America. After seven long months, there are still no grown-ups running the show at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

3. Give Obama credit for one thing: He led on the immigration issue when Congress would not. Maybe he overstepped his executive branch bounds, but he did what he thought was right. It certainly wasn’t the first time a president went into uncharted territory. And recent presidents, including Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, all instituted executive actions protecting segments of undocumented immigrants – though, to be fair, none were of the scope of DACA. Perhaps the lesson is if more elected officials did their jobs instead of doing nothing, then presidents would not feel the need to push the limits of their office.

4. Putting constitutional concerns aside, several questions come to mind: Why these people? Why now? And why not focus on the much more pressing immigration issues?

According to reports, 91 percent of Dreamers are employed, and most, if not all, have no criminal record. They are paying taxes and contributing to the economy, while remaining out of the shadowy and dangerous underworld – all desirable traits.

But are they taking jobs from Americans, as some claim? Maybe some, but for the most part, that is a fallacy. As much as we don’t want to hear it, fact is that far too many Americans – Millennials in particular – are highly unmotivated to seek work, let alone maintain a job. For some, anything not paying $125,000 for a 30-hour work week is beneath them. Instead, the overly coddled Entitlement Generation, which expects everything but works for nothing, is content to sip their lattes and eat avocado sandwiches – while posting social media sweet nothings every 30 seconds and binge-watching Netflix on their latest-model iPhones.

Sorry, but you can’t take a job away from someone who doesn’t want to work. The market seeks productive people with strong work ethics, and if legal Dreamers fill that bill, then good for them. What could be more capitalistic – indeed more American – than that?

4. Dreamers should be last on the immigration reform checklist, for two reasons: A) It was not their choice to enter America illegally, and B) The vast majority are productive, law-abiding people who have been in the United States longer than their home country, with many only speaking English. Where is the compassion in throwing them back into unknown lands that are often dangerous Central American hellholes?

The solution is two-fold: First, Trump must work with Congress to pass legislation that effectively continues the DACA program, despite the inevitable howls that will come from his hardcore base.

Second, while remembering that America grants permanent resident status to over one million legal immigrants per year – more than all other countries – we should enact the following:

• Build a border wall utilizing nonviolent prisoners and illegal immigrants, which would solve prison overcrowding and save billions. Funding could also be derived from drug seizures and diverted foreign aid to Mexico. The wall would also curtail drug traffickers, human smugglers and terrorists.

• Institute self-deportation policies by employing stringent law enforcement measures on businesses, and eliminate lavish public benefits, ending much of the free ride enjoyed by illegals.

• Mandate every business utilize the free E-Verify system. Any company in noncompliance should face stiff penalties and potential criminal prosecution.

• Illegal immigrants convicted of crimes should serve their time and be deported. And pass a law eliminating U.S. aid to any country refusing its citizens – and deport their citizens anyway.

• Document illegals by issuing long-term or lifetime work visas; permanently deny them citizenship and the right to vote; require them to pass a criminal background check; mandate they pay taxes; and levy fines (deducted directly from paychecks).

Done. Immigration crisis solved with common sense and compassion – leaving plenty of time for America to deport Kim Jong-un to another planet.


DACA Defended But Still Called Unconstitutional


Best Budget Choice Ignored In Pennsylvania

Best Budget Choice Ignored In Pennsylvania

By Leo Knepper

Often times the news media, Gov. Wolf, and the allies of Big Government in both parties present Pennsylvania’s budget choices as raising taxes or shutting down “vital services.” Two weeks ago, we presented several corporate welfare programs and earmarks that were driving up spending. This week we wanted to let you know about legislation that would save taxpayers $370 million by targeting government overhead.

Most people are unaware that overhead, known as General Government Operations in budget parlance, will cost taxpayers roughly $3.7 billion this year. In the private sector, businesses have focused on cutting overhead for years if not decades. Our state government has not been as vigilant in cutting costs as it would have you believe. Most of the cost savings programs that have been implemented merely nibble around the edges. New legislation introduced by Rep. Frank Ryan, a CAP member, would take a bigger bite out of the problem.

HB 1691 would cut the overhead budget line items by 10 percent across the board. Opponents of the measure would present this an unreasonable cut. However, a ten percent cut would still give the Executive Branch, Attorney General’s office, and legislature over $3.4 billion to spend on overhead for the year; that is hardly a paltry sum.

Before Gov. Wolf and the General Assembly try to raise taxes, they should first look at ways to reduce costs. Please, take a moment to let your Representative know that there are options other than higher taxes to get the Commonwealth’s fiscal house in order.

Mr. Knepper is executive director of Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania.

Best Budget Choice Ignored In Pennsylvania

Violence Sought By Left Looms

Violence Sought By Left Looms

By John Haenn

This new Civil War has been declared.

It began unrecognized for the beast that it is inside of the inner cities, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Baltimore, etc; Where murder rates surge. It’s a war being waged against an unsuspecting population, because of politically correct branding. This is a war between thuggery and civilized peoples. Takers and producers. Arsonists, marxists, terrorists, and liberty loving people. It began at a time of their choosing, and will end on our terms, and when we decide. We will have order. We will have justice. Government will be allowed to function, whether it’s headed by our guy or theirs, because that’s how America works. It’s something that will need to be strived for, probably over many years, and blood will be likely shed on both sides.

I am not a peace loving person. I think peace is largely a delusion, as history proves every day of the year, every year. If you do have peace, it’s temporary at best, and you have to work for it, and we haven’t worked. When the time comes to defend liberty, defend your family, and to ensure your basic needs, know this. Be ready for the day. Because the other side will not hesitate to kill you if you’re better off than them. Equally poor, equally oppressed and equally uneducated, or dead.

Those will be your choices. Create your own new choice. Join your local Tea Party. Join the resistance. Join with the freedom loving peoples who will stand on the right side of history and die on that sword, should the day come when blood is needed to water the tree of liberty.

Elected officials need to be effective partners of the people, not necessarily ‘leaders’ as the word is often used.

If ever inclined, and elected, I would be your partner. I would restore Constitutional Government back to a lawful, basic, and moral path. We’d work inside of the confines that are defined by the founders. They did the heavy lifting. We just need to carry it through and maintain the vision of this promised land.

I would surely hit the same kind of resistance that other Tea Party candidates have been stalled by. But as your partner, we’d work through it. We’d have many town halls; I would be so accessible; like family. I would call out by name those who oppose me in my efforts to push forth your will, to do what you’ve elected me to do. In this way, and in others, we can continue our work towards our common goals. Surely I would need your help, my constituents, to have any hope; our shared hope; of being effective to your satisfaction.

John Haenn is a resident of Delaware County and a member of the Delaware County Patriots.


First Amendment Protects Unpopular Speech

First Amendment Protects Unpopular Speech

By Chris Freind First Amendment Protects Unpopular Speech

Confederate statue removal. Protests. Government attempts to steamroll the First Amendment. Counter protests. Violence. Casting blame where it doesn’t belong. Political correctness reigning supreme.

Welcome to the debacle of Charlottesville, Va., where intolerance and double-standards were on full display, resulting in the most cherished American right – freedom of expression – being trampled upon to satisfy those who worship at the altar of political correctness.

Primer: The continued whitewashing of American history, in which all-things-Confederate are being dumped in the garbage, came to Charlottesville when officials decided to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee. That prompted a protest, which in turn led to counter-protests. Clashes ensued. A lone wolf schizophrenic then allegedly drove his car into the crowd, killing one and injuring dozens, prompting all hell to break loose when President Trump had the “gall” to condemn violence on all sides, instead of just those whom the politically correct disliked. It escalated to where elected officials stated that American citizens with differing viewpoints didn’t belong in Virginia, or even America.

Glad to see how much “tolerance” was exercised.

This situation has gone off the rails because too many are melding unrelated issues. Here’s an objective look:

1. Last month, the KKK organized a peaceful protest in Charlottesville. Yet the counter-protesters were a different story. They battled police by hurling objects and shooting pepper spray, and became so unlawful that police used tear gas, arresting 23. Anyone see that in the papers? Didn’t think so.

Were they condemned by the Charlottesville mayor and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe? Nope. In fact, the only condemnation was from groups criticizing the police for patrolling in riot gear (no wonder, given the “welcome” they received).

Why no condemnation? What’s worse: A peaceful protest by a group with repugnant views, or counter protesters, many also with bigoted views, inciting a riot and committing violence against police?

And what of the “emergency protest” that occurred Monday in Durham, N.C., where protesters stormed the grounds of the courthouse and obliterated a statue honoring fallen Confederate soldiers? Have their blatant crimes been prosecuted? Or even condemned? No.

The police literally stood by and watched as protesters “got a small taste of justice,” without even making an arrest. Can you believe that? How can some crimes be openly committed without any consequence, yet if it were another group desecrating a statue of a different kind, the repercussions would surely be swift and severe?

The law should be blind and universally applied. But that’s not happening. Instead, a mockery is being made of the rule of law, giving tacit approval to PC forces to continue their behavior. That selectivity must end.

2. Virginia officials did everything in their power to stop the protest before it began, despite organizers fulfilling all requirements. First, the Charlottesville mayor repeatedly criticized the groups that would be protesting, displaying a bias from the outset. Then the city denied the permit for holding the protest at Emancipation Park, the site of the statue, because counter-protesters would also be there. A federal judge overruled that decision, allowing the protest to proceed. Yet it never did, as Gov. McAuliffe declared a state of emergency, and the city declared an “unlawful assembly,” before the start time, canceling the protest and flagrantly ignoring the federal judge’s order. Mind you, this was considerably before a fringe character drove his car into the crowd.

The protesters had the right to be at Emancipation Park. If there wasn’t space for counter-protesters, then they, not the organizers, should have been moved to alternate locations. That would have been a win-win: Protecting the freedom of assembly, and mitigating violence. But that didn’t happen. Instead, elected officials, who are supposed to protect the rights of all Americans (not just those with whom they agree), blatantly disregarded the Constitution by canceling the rally outright. Ironically, when officials stifle free speech, it often leads to violence because citizens, feeling that their rights have been stripped away, take action. In no way is that condoning violence, but rights must apply to all.

3. James Alex Fields was arrested for plowing his car into counter-protesters. He reportedly harbored racist tendencies, was schizophrenic, and had no connection with protest organizers. If convicted, he should serve a lengthy prison sentence as a criminal. But that’s not what the feds want. Instead, they are labeling Fields a terrorist and want to charge him with domestic terrorism. That’s insane. He’s not a terrorist. He’s a nut job. Big difference. Labeling him a terrorist accomplishes two negative things: At first, it scares people, contributing to our all-encompassing culture of fear. But then it causes people to tune out, desensitizing them to the term “terrorist.” Like the boy who cried wolf, when a warning about true terrorists is issued, it will largely be ignored. To our peril.

4. President Trump was hammered by many, including some Republicans, for condemning violence on all sides. What was wrong with that? Truth is, the president’s critics want to give a free pass to those committing violence against white nationalists, the Klan, and police. Wrong. Violence is violence, no matter who commits it. Unfortunately, Mr. Trump, being indecisive yet again, bowed to PC pressure by effectively retracting his earlier statement, then focusing solely on white nationalists.

Instead, he should have held an off-the-cuff press conference, as only President Trump can, stating that everyone has a right to express themselves, no matter how repulsive their views. He should have then explained that it is not the job of the president to stick his nose where it doesn’t belong, issuing statements every time a crime or protest occurs, which unfortunately has become the expectation. Now, if a condemnation isn’t immediately produced, the PC trolls and some media outlets spin it as the president empathizing with the perpetrators. The problem of going down that road is obvious, but the president has yet to address it.

And are we all in second grade? Is it really necessary to officially “condemn” things that we all know are wrong? Racism and bigotry and violence are bad. Thanks. Like 99 percent of America didn’t already know that. Meaningless rhetoric solves nothing. Action and leadership does.

The role of elected officials is not to condemn individual groups, which, ironically, gives them credibility. The objective should be articulating how equality for all and special treatment for none mitigates resentment and becomes the rising tide that lifts all boats. But picking and choosing which organizations to condemn, rather than broadly criticizing their polarizing messages, denigrates politicians and sets a dangerous precedent.

5. Most disconcerting are the messages about who does, and does not, “belong” in America. Gov. McAuliffe stated that white nationalist protesters “need to leave America,” a sentiment echoed by many others.

That’s what it’s come to? Elected officials promoting a litmus test to decide who is “American,” based on a set of beliefs? It’s not without irony that many saying such things are the same ones who want to allow unvetted refugees to enter America.

If these leaders read the Constitution, they’d realize that America’s greatness stems from unfettered freedoms of speech, expression and assembly. You don’t stomp on those rights just because an organization espouses hate. You don’t flush 250 years of hard-fought gains down the toilet because small minorities on both sides hold positions that divide. And you don’t selectively enforce the law because you think you’ll score political points.

Instead, the high road should be taken by protecting the rights of everyone, allowing all voices to be heard. The United States became the freest nation on Earth not by shutting down dissent, but tolerating it. Americans aren’t dumb. They instinctively know that hearts and minds change not by usurping rights, but by putting faith in people to make the best decisions regarding their fellow man.

It’s time to stop being scared of fringe viewpoints and focus on the areas that can bring us together. Only then can we continue our path forward, with liberty and justice. For all.


First Amendment Protects Unpopular Speech

Bipartisanship Means Working Against Citizens

Bipartisanship Means Working Against Citizens

By, Lowman Henry

There is a lot of wailing and rending of garments these days over the hyper partisan atmosphere in both Harrisburg and in Washington, D.C.   Conventional wisdom holds that if Republicans and Democrats would just work together we could solve the problems confronting our state and nation.

But there is ample evidence that when Republicans and Democrats do work together the outcome is worse than no action at all.  The recent collusion between the parties in the Pennsylvania Senate to pass a revenue plan to fund the 2017-18 state budget is a prime example.

So, let’s pull back the curtain and take a look at how elected officials from both parties work together to preserve their own political careers at the expense of taxpayers.

In theory Republicans stand for smaller, less intrusive government and for fiscal responsibility.  Were that actually true the debate in Harrisburg over how to balance the budget would be focused on cost-savings and spending reductions.  Instead, leaders of both parties in the state Senate have focused solely on what taxes to increase and on an even more irresponsible course of action – borrowing from future revenues to cover current expenses.

The GOP holds 34 of 50 seats in the Pennsylvania Senate.  That is a veto-proof majority that again – in theory – should be able to pass a fiscally responsible state budget.  The sordid truth is that Harrisburg is not divided by political party, but rather is governed by an incumbent party dedicated first and foremost to political self-preservation putting up a united front against taxpayers and job creators.

Thus that 34-seat Republican majority was rendered irrelevant when leaders of both parties went behind closed doors to craft a revenue package.  What emerged was a toxic cocktail of tax hikes that would harm businesses such as gas drillers by implementing a severance tax; and add to the burden of homeowners by hiking taxes on gas and electric bills.  Oh, and that wasn’t enough to sate the appetites of the big spenders – they approved borrowing hundreds of millions from future tobacco settlement revenue meaning our children and grand-children will get to share in the pain.

When the final vote was held the revenue package passed 26-24.  How the Senate got to that number is the truly disgusting part of the story.  There is an old saying that you should never watch sausage or legislation being made.  But we will.  If all Democrats had voted for the revenue package it would only have taken ten Republicans to craft a majority.  But fourteen Republicans went astray.


The goal was to provide political cover to four Democrats in competitive districts.    It is all about incumbent protection.  Party leaders conspired to determine who would vote for and who would vote against the bill.  Those Republicans and Democrats voting for higher taxes and massive borrowing all represent “safe” seats because they are relatively immune to serious electoral competition.

A few Republican Senators who actually favored the bill, but who would face conservative primary challenges if they voted for higher taxes were given a “pass” to vote against the plan. Those Republicans representing more moderate districts and less likely to face a serious primary challenge voted for the tax plan.  Likewise Democrats deemed vulnerable to a tax vote were also given a “pass.”

So everyone wins – except We the Taxpayer.

And, of course, “leadership” of both parties all voted for the revenue package on the mistaken belief that they have to be “responsible” and provide revenue to fund a state government beset by out-of-control spending.   Real leadership and a truly responsible course of action would have been to craft a budget that spends within our means rather than go looking for every way possible to wring more tax dollars from Pennsylvania’s working families, senior citizens and small businesses.

The bottom line: the Senate’s revenue plan vote was nothing more than business-as-usual backroom Harrisburg politics of the type that cynically preserves incumbents at taxpayer expense.

Remember that the next time you hear someone crying out for “bi-partisan cooperation.”

Mr. Henry is chairman and CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal

Bipartisanship Means Working Against Citizens


Bipartisanship Means Working Against Citizens


Technology Robs Us Of Humanity

Technology Robs Us Of Humanity


By Chris Freind Technology Robs Us Of Humanity

This columnist certainly has his detractors.

Some disagree with the viewpoint. Others dissent when they “read” things that were not written, thereby drawing incorrect conclusions. Still others criticize the column for being “too negative.”

To the first point, the goal is to attempt to change hearts and minds through fact-based, common-sense arguments, but there will always be those opposed. C’est la vie. To the second, what can you say about people who only read half a column before unloading with both barrels, or prefer to inject their own words rather than read what is there? Ignorance may be bliss, but it’s not becoming. Lastly, stating facts objectively, no matter how hard they are to hear, isn’t negative. That’s the beauty of the truth; it isn’t positive or negative. It is what it is.

But it should be noted that on every one of over a thousand columns, this author, no matter how fiercely he criticized someone or something, ALWAYS offered a solution. From health care to immigration, race relations to advocating steroid use in professional sports, solutions have always been presented.

Until now.

Truth is, the biggest threat facing America, and all of humanity, seems to have no viable remedy. That’s not to say there aren’t solutions. There are, but they’ll never be employed.

And what is this gravest of threats? Terrorism? Nuclear war? Pandemic?


It’s the skyrocketing addiction to technology at the expense of human empathy.

Nowhere was that more on display than the video showing teenagers laughing at a handicapped man drowning in a Florida pond, a video that the teenagers themselves shot. Jamel Dunn was begging for nearby people to help as he struggled to keep his head above water. But rather than flagging down assistance, calling 911, or, imagine this, helping the man, the boys found it much more entertaining to taunt the victim, shout obscenities, and joke about how he was going to drown. They even mocked him after he finally slipped beneath the surface, with one sneering, “Oh, he just died.”

Many comfort themselves by naively believing that this was just an isolated event, and that such occurrences, while tragic, are rare.

One problem: it’s not true. In fact, such behavior is becoming the norm at an exponential pace. And given that the generation that has been raised on technology from childbirth is coming of age, there is nothing that can stop this race toward human oblivion.


1. Many are outraged that the teenagers won’t be charged with a serious crime, since, in Florida, rendering aid isn’t legally required. (Authorities finally found an obscure misdemeanor – failure to report a death – with which to charge them).

But whether or not they were charged isn’t the point. The infinitely more important question is how we’ve gone so far off track that our teenagers, indeed our children, didn’t just stand by and watch someone die without lifting a finger, but took pleasure in it. They had enough self-awareness to video a man’s death and laugh about it, but possessed none of the once-natural human inclination to help a person in need. This wasn’t a “survival of the fittest, it’s him or me” situation, but sadism taken to a whole new level, where remorse and moral conscience never entered their minds.

To the teenagers, the man’s demise was surely on par with video game “deaths” and TV “casualties.” And that is the crux of the issue. The unbreakable addiction to smartphones, video games, reality TV, and a skyrocketing amount of “content” on-demand – which society not just accepts but encourages – has led to a huge chuink of an entire generation becoming grossly warped, unable to tell the difference between true reality and virtual reality. To them, it’s one and the same: A person drowning right in front of them has the same “effect” on their conscience as a character dying in “Clash of Clans.” In other words, no effect at all.

In the world where human beings exist, there is, or at least used to be, a value called empathy. It’s when people in civilized societies attempt to understand what someone else is feeling, and be sensitive to their experiences – a form of altruism rooted in the Golden Rule: Treat others as you would have them treat you.

So if you were drowning, you would hope a passerby had empathy for your plight, and would do everything possible to help.

But our empathy is quickly waning, and with it, our humanity – the very essence of who and what we are – replaced by acute indifference.

2. Lack of empathy is increasingly commonplace. Sure, we know about the widely publicized stories: The Penn State student who needlessly died at a party because not a single person had the courage – or motivation – to call 911; the California girl who live-streamed herself driving and crashing, and who continued to stream, instead of calling 911 and rendering aid, while her 14-year-old sister lay dying next to her; the adult daughter who live-streamed her father being shot by police, rather than trying to help him, or, at the very least, say a last goodbye.

But they aren’t isolated cases. Similar situations are occurring every day that, while not headline-inducing, are equally troubling, where the desire to post dramatic or perverted video on social media (or to do nothing at all) supersedes any inclination to help someone in distress: A woman falls, and many just stand around and stare. A few may call 911, but often leave, failing to lend a hand since “it’s not my concern; I did my part;” a car accident occurs, but instead of checking to see if the occupants are OK, or helping them out if the car is about to catch fire (if they stop at all), many are far more concerned about getting it on video – from a safe vantage point while sipping a latte – rather than possibly saving a life. Even a mother trying to get a baby stroller up the stairs when the elevator is broken is often ignored.

Helping others used to be the norm. But now, people are celebrated for assisting others because of how rare that act has become.

3. In large part, person-to-person interaction has become “passé,” because we no longer know how to communicate. Ask a Millennial to call a pizza shop? Good luck. Most can’t, as they’re wholly incapable of engaging with anything other than their damn device. Walk into a coffee house and almost no one is talking, even those on dates. Instead, all eyes are downward, consumed with all-things-smartphone. Tell an employee to make an in-person presentation (aka talking to other human beings), with slides written in proper English, and without a computer to hide behind, and it’s sheer panic.

Make no mistake: Today’s technology has incredible uses that just a decade ago were unthinkable. But the negatives have come to significantly outweigh the advancements because we have become lazy, relying far more on technology than our brains – and each other. And it’s only getting worse, as millions of mothers and fathers instantly throw a device in front of their children as soon as they’re born, ostensibly because they don’t feel like parenting.

That’s not “educational” – it’s appalling.

If you don’t want to parent, then don’t have kids. But it’s extremely unfair to children when their parents aren’t willing to put the time in to teach and interact with them – which, by the way, are the most fundamental things parents should be doing. Sure, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse has its place, but it should never become a substitute for parenting. Yet that’s exactly what has happened.

Enter the hopelessness.

We can talk about breaking our children’s dependence on technology so that they can learn the paramount importance of empathy. But since parents are just as addicted, willfully allowing Netflix and Instagram to usurp parenting and non-tech family time, the race toward human depravity and an all-about-me society will only accelerate.

They say that sometimes life imitates art. If that’s true, then there’s no doubt what movie we are living.

“Terminator: Rise of the Machines.”

Anyone remember how that worked out for humanity?



Technology Robs Us Of Humanity

Jerry Oleksiak Ghost Teacher

Jerry Oleksiak Ghost Teacher — Last week, Governor Wolf once again put his ideology ahead of what is best for Pennsylvania when He nominated Jerry Oleksiak to be the new Labor Secretary. Mr. Oleksiak is the President of the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA), the largest teachers’ union in the Commonwealth. Making matters worse, Oleksiak also took part in one of the most tax-payer abusive practices available to union officials: he was a ghost teacher.

As a ghost teacher, Oleksiak worked full time for the PSEA, but he collected a paycheck, accumulated seniority, and pension benefits from the Upper Merion School District. Although the district was reimbursed for his salary and health benefits, Oleksiak and the PSEA still rely on the generosity of taxpayers to cover his lifetime pension benefits.

Mr. Oleksiak penned an editorial questioning the fitness of President Trump’s selection for Education Secretary because of her lack of experience in the classroom. Using experience as a measuring stick, how does Oleksiak stack up?

Has he ever dealt with the unemployment system as an employer? Has he ever had to appeal a workers’ compensation assessment? We can continue this line of inquiry for some time, and the answer would continue to show a dearth of experience on the part of Mr. Oleksiak.

In our conversations with business owners and employers, no one has ever complained to us that Pennsylvania wasn’t pro-organized labor enough. According to most recent studies, Pennsylvania ranks at the bottom of places to do business; our labor regulations are a significant reason why. A Labor Secretary with no experience in the private sector and a decade’s worth of experience advocating for policies hostile to the best interest of taxpayers would make the Commonwealth even less appealing to job creators.

Oleksiak’s nomination will go to the Senate where there is an opportunity to stop it. Republicans have a supermajority in the Senate, but so far they have not been willing to use it to benefit taxpayers. Here is a chance for Senators to remedy that mistake.

— By Leo Knepper

Mr. Knepper is executive director of Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania.

Jerry Oleksiak Ghost Teacher


Jerry Oleksiak Ghost Teacher

Low Ranked Pennsylvania Won’t Be Helped With More Taxes

Low Ranked Pennsylvania Won’t Be Helped With More Taxes

By Leo Knepper

Pennsylvania has a lot of problems. In many rankings of the states, Pennsylvania is in the bottom ten. 24/7 Wall St, a business focused website, ranked Pennsylvania 42nd on its list of Best and Worst Run States. Being that close to the bottom places the Commonwealth squarely among the worst run states in the country. As if to prove that point, the General Assembly and Governor allowed a spending plan to become law without any clear way to make up $1.5 billion in revenue.

It is starting to become clear that the Governor, Senate Republican and Democratic leadership, and House Democratic leadership want to close the gap with higher taxes. The latest plan would have instituted a gross receipts tax on natural gas. House Republicans rightly walked away from this as a solution because it would have resulted in higher heating bills for Pennsylvanians next winter, and every winter going forward. House Republican leadership is not completely on the right track in closing the budget gap. Leadership in that chamber is content to engage in borrowing against future revenues to meet the shortfall.

As we noted in our blog last week, cutting spending has received far less attention than it should have for the sake of taxpayers. One of the more ambitious exceptions to that general rule is HB 1354, which would add work requirements to the welfare code as it relates to receiving medical assistance. It would also require medical assistance recipients who make over $250,000 to make copayments and engage in other cost sharing measures. (If you’re wondering why someone who is making over $250,000 is getting medical assistance, it has to do with automatic qualification for certain medical conditions.)

In our research, we found that nearly 60 percent of Pennsylvania families who were required to engage in job search activities or training for the federal “Temporary Assistance for Needy Families”(TANF) program participated in ZERO hours of qualified activities (see page 17). Although the qualifications for TANF are different than for medical assistance, the similarities of the populations made it a reasonable comparison. If a greater percentage of medical assistance recipients specifically, and welfare recipients in general, were required to engage in work search activities it could have a remarkable effect reducing the number of families needing assistance and a positive impact on Pennsylvania’s finances in the medium to long term.

In 2014, Maine required “able-bodied childless adults” (ABCAs) to work, train, or volunteer on a part-time basis to continue to qualify for food stamps. In two years the number of ABCAs receiving food stamps dropped by 90 percent. First, imagine the saving that taxpayers in Pennsylvania would reap if we instituted the same requirements. Second, imagine how that would benefit the states revenue collection. If all of those people who were currently receiving assistance that could work but weren’t, returned to the workforce it would be a long-term boon for Pennsylvania.

Senator Jake Corman (R-Centre) and other members of Senate Republican leadership have so far not publicly expressed any interest in enacting work requirements for medical assistance. If their position changes, we will let you know.

Mr. Knepper is executive director of Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania.


Low Ranked Pennsylvania Won’t Be Helped With More Taxes


Low Ranked Pennsylvania Won't Be Helped With More Taxes

Budget Approaches Fail Taxpayer

Budget Approaches Fail Taxpayer

By Leo Knepper

On Monday, (July 10) Gov. Wolf allowed the state budget to become law without his signature despite the fact that the budget didn’t balance. The budget passed by the House and Senate spends more than the Treasury is likely to collect. The House and Senate shouldn’t have passed the budget without a clear plan to fund the expenditures. The Governor should have either vetoed or line-item vetoed the budget. As it stands, credit rating agencies may downgrade the Commonwealth again. A downgrade won’t solve our problems, and the two “solutions” under consideration won’t be good for taxpayers.

On one side: a Democrat governor who wants to raise taxes and leave a legacy of suffocating costs. On the other side: a Republican House and Senate looking to borrow their way out of trouble and leave a legacy of crushing debt. The solution nobody in Harrisburg wants to discuss? Spending reduction, which would leave a legacy of budget corrections that would eventually pay off for taxpayers.

There are ways that the General Assembly could cut costs. First, they could dissolve the Race Horse Development Fund. The Fund subsidizes “purses” for horse racing. In 2015, some of that money went to a billionaire from the United Arab Emirates.  Considering Pennsylvania’s financial needs, this doesn’t sound like the best use of resources. A second option, would be to reform the welfare code to add work requirements. In 2014, Maine added a work requirement for able-bodied childless adults. In two years the number of able-bodied childless adults receiving food stamps dropped by over 90 percent. This change not only saved taxpayers money, but it also added people to the tax rolls.

There are a number of other ways that the General Assembly could put taxpayers first. It’s up to “leadership” in the General Assembly to step up to plate to make that happen. And, based on their track record that doesn’t seem likely.

Mr. Knepper is executive director of Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania.

Budget Approaches Fail Taxpayer

Budget Approaches Fail Taxpayer  By Leo Knepper  On Monday, Governor Wolf allowed the state budget to become law without his signature despite the fact

Pennsylvania Budget 2017 Explained

Pennsylvania Budget 2017 Explained

By Nathan Benefield

If Gov. Wolf is looking to leave a legacy of unusual—and unconstitutional—budget happenings, he remains on track.

Here’s a quick run-down of what’s going on with the state budget:

As you know, last Friday the House and Senate sent the governor a $32 billion budget (a spending increase of $500 million) with no plan to pay for it.

Gov. Wolf had 10 days to sign, veto, or line-item veto the budget. The state constitution requires a balanced budget and the state Administrative Code mandates that the governor line-item veto any spending above existing revenue. The deadline was Monday. Gov. Wolf took no action and the budget became law. Gov. Wolf has yet to sign a Pennsylvania budget in his tenure.

Now, the focus remains on a revenue package. GOP leaders have expressed frustration with Gov. Wolf’s rejection of their revenue plans that included borrowing and no tax hikes. According to reports, Gov. Wolf wants more tax hikes.

Multiple tax hikes have been rumored:

  • A drink tax on bar and restaurant patrons
  • A new tax on families’ cable TV bill
  • A new tax on homeowners’ gas heating bill
  • An additional tax on energy jobs

Additionally, borrowing gimmicks continue to be discussed as a way to bridge the budget gap.

It’s important to continue to reach out to your lawmakers so they know that Pennsylvanians cannot afford more tax hikes.

But here’s good news: Lawmakers are also discussing substantive changes in government to balance the budget without higher taxes—including letting grocery stores and other private retailers sell liquor and reducing government subsidies for horse race prizes. And yesterday, the House passed meaningful welfare reforms that will help improve our state’s safety net.

Click here to send a message to your lawmakers now.

You can get the latest on the state budget from the CF team on our PolicyBlog, Facebook, and Twitter.

Mr. Benefield is vice president and chief operating officer of Commonwealth Foundation.

Pennsylvania Budget 2017 Explained

Pennsylvania Budget 2017 Explained