In this era of increased harassment and persecution of people on the basis of political viewpoints and…
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First Amendment Rights: Good News from the IRS on Donor Privacy

In this era of increased harassment and persecution of people on the basis of political viewpoints and First Amendment expression, there’s actually good news to report.

In fact, that positive development comes from none other than the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which few people typically consider a font of good news.

Specifically, the IRS just announced a proposed rule to stop requiring nonprofit organizations to file what’s known as a Form 990 Schedule B, which exposes sensitive donor information not only to the federal government and potential rogues like former IRS official Lois Lerner, but also people who seek to access and use that information to target people on the basis of political belief.

As we at CFIF have long asserted, this welcome move will help protect the…[more]

September 12, 2019 • 11:07 am

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Economy: Obama Slump to Trump Bump Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, November 02 2017
Obama Administration hyper-regulation suffocated economic growth, and Trump Administration deregulation has accelerated economic growth.

Has our economy emerged from the Obama slump to the Trump bump? 

It increasingly appears so. 

Consider that since World War II, the United States has averaged 3.3% economic growth per year.  Under Barack Obama, however, we never once reached 3% gross domestic product (GDP) growth in a year.  We've gone an entire decade without a single year of 3% growth, which has never happened in American history. 

Under Donald Trump, however, we've already achieved 3% growth in the first two quarters of his presidency. 

The U.S. Commerce Department announced last week that GDP grew 3% in the third quarter, on the heels of 3.1% growth in the second quarter.  Accentuating the Obama-Trump distinction, remember how Obama attempted to scapegoat such distant events as the 2011 Japanese tsunami for his own poor economic record?  Well, the U.S. suffered three hurricanes last quarter, yet managed to nevertheless steam forward. 

Further delighting smaller-government conservatives and libertarians, it's worth noting that government spending actually fell 0.1% last quarter.  So much for big-government apologists' "multiplier effect" theory on government confiscation and redistribution fueling economic growth. 

So is our sudden economic upswing merely coincidence, or even attributable to Obama? 

Stubborn Obama apologists might attempt to make that case, but they face a heavy burden of persuasion to explain how a man who presided over eight long years without 3% growth suddenly flipped the switch to achieve it after he departed and was replaced by a president pursuing economic policies diametrically opposite his own. 

Beyond our sudden economic growth revival, other leading indicators also refute the suggestion that Obama merits credit. 

For example, American economic confidence surged from negative readings to record highs upon Obama's departure and Trump's arrival.  Each week, Gallup publishes its U.S. Economic Confidence Index.  On Election Day in November 2016, the index stood at -11.  Just one week later, confidence jolted upward and escaped negative territory, which hadn't occurred in years.  By March 2017, less than two months into President Trump's tenure, the index reached an all-time record high of +16.  It hasn't returned to negative territory at any point since Trump was elected, whereas it remained in negative territory throughout the entire Obama presidency with the exception of approximately two months in late 2014. 

Gallup isn't the only institution recording record consumer confidence, either.  In October, CNBC ran the headline "American Optimism About the Economy Hits an All-Time High," noting its overlap with the Trump presidency: 

The third-quarter CNBC All-America Economic Survey found 43 percent of the public believes the economy is excellent or good, a record high in the 10-year history of the survey.  Thirty-six percent believes the economy will get better, down a couple of points from last quarter, but just 23 percent say it will get worse, down 6 points. 

The four-quarter average for every major economic metric in the poll - the outlook for the economy, housing, wages and the stock market - is at a record 10-year high.  Those four quarters cover the time span since President Donald Trump's election. 

Since consumer spending accounts for approximately two-thirds of the American economy, consumer confidence obviously constitutes a core element of economic health.  And by that measure, the Trump bump from the Obama slump has been immediate and irrefutable. 

Other measures similarly suggest a Trump bump. 

For instance, small businesses account for almost two-thirds of all new jobs in America.  And on that front, there's more great news to report.  In Gallup's most recent quarterly small business survey, business sentiment increased to a ten-year high. 

Meanwhile, stock markets have grown approximately 20% in less than one year since Trump's election, the housing market continues its ascent and the job market remains robust. 

So how is this wave of positive economic news attributable to Trump?  After all, aren't we constantly reminded by the mainstream media of his erratic behavior and lack of legislative accomplishment in such realms as ObamaCare repeal? 

In a word:  deregulation.  The Wall Street Journal's Gerald Seib, no hyper-conservative by any definition, perhaps explained it best this week: 

While the Republican machine that emerged from the 2016 election may be sputtering on other fronts, it is proving to be a juggernaut on deregulation.  And as a priority for the business community, deregulation ranks right up there with tax cuts and tax reform. 

A new set of figures from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce tells the tale of how far and fast the president, his administration and the Republican-controlled Congress have moved.  The business group has been keeping a tally of deregulatory actions this year, and its scorecard lists 29 executive actions - executive orders by Mr. Trump or directives from his White House - to reduce regulatory requirements.  In response, executive-branch agencies have issued 100 additional directives that either knock down regulations or begin a process to eliminate or shrink them. 

The Chamber's count also lists almost 50 pieces of legislation that have been introduced or begun moving through Congress.  And that count doesn't include perhaps the most aggressive step the Republican Congress has taken:  It has pioneered the use of a little-known 1996 law, the Congressional Review Act, that allows lawmakers to repeal executive-branch regulations within 60 days after they are finalized.  Using that law, Congress has passed, and Mr. Trump has signed, legislation overturning 14 regulations promulgated by President Barack Obama's administration in its final days. 

In other words, Obama Administration hyper-regulation suffocated economic growth, and Trump Administration deregulation has accelerated economic growth. 

Deregulation, however, is only one component of maximizing lasting prosperity.  The U.S. still suffers the world's highest corporate tax rate, which drives companies, investment and jobs overseas.  Congress must therefore pass, and the White House must sign, significant comprehensive tax reform that lowers rates, broadens the base and simplifies the code. 

The prospect of tax reform has boosted economic optimism this year, but we can't afford to let that momentum evaporate by failing to finally accomplish it after three long decades of waiting. 

Question of the Week   
On September 11, 2001, the United States was attacked by terrorists using which one of the following?
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Quote of the Day   
"An FBI assistant to James Comey says in a book released Tuesday that the former FBI director took advantage of the 'chaos' of the early Trump administration to set up an interview with Michael Flynn, the national security adviser.Josh Campbell, who was Comey's personal assistant at the FBI, writes in 'Crossfire Hurricane: Inside Donald Trump's War on the FBI,' that FBI leadership had 'intense discussion…[more]
—Chuck Ross, Daily Caller
— Chuck Ross, Daily Caller
Liberty Poll   

Is the desire to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan in conflict with the lessons of September 11, 2001?