Consumer spending accounts for approximately two-thirds of the U.S. economy, and this helpful chart…
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Shattering the Decade of "New Normal" Economic Sluggishness

Consumer spending accounts for approximately two-thirds of the U.S. economy, and this helpful chart from the U.S. Senate's Joint Economic Committee illustrates why our economy suddenly turbocharged over the past two years from its decade of sluggishness that we were told was the "new normal":

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="439" caption="Turbocharging the U.S. Consumer Economy"][/caption]…[more]

October 15, 2018 • 11:46 am

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Meanwhile, Trump Is Crushing Iran Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, August 02 2018
This all amounts to an enormous but underreported policy success for Donald Trump, not to mention for our ally Israel and anyone else across the world potentially threatened by Iran and its sponsorship if terrorism.

This deserves to be front-page news. 

Amid the constant headlines announcing the latest manifestation of a roaring U.S. economy, however, not to mention ceaseless media pearl-clutching over everything down to President Trump's morning breakfast selections, it hasn't received the attention and celebration that it merits. 

Simply put, Trump's hard line toward Iran is suffocating its economy and making life miserable not only for Iranian mullahs, but also European leaders who prefer a more accommodationist approach. 

In a letter to the Trump Administration detailed by The Wall Street Journal, European officials conceded that their ongoing attempts to salvage the Iran nuclear agreement negotiated by the Obama Administration are proving impossible under the weight of looming U.S. sanctions: 

[I]n a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the finance and foreign ministers of France, Germany, the U.K. and European Union said the Trump administration's plan to enforce so-called secondary sanctions - laws allowing Washington to penalize foreign companies for doing business with third countries - was undercutting their push to preserve Iranian trade. 

Cry us a river.  Is that supposed to persuade Trump toward a softer approach? 

"The letter," the Journal adds, "amounts to a stark admission by European officials that there is little the EU can do to ensure businesses remain in Iran." 

But it's not just the feelings of European diplomats that Trump's policies are hurting. 

The Iranian economy is crumbling, and its everyday citizens are understandably irate and taking to the streets to demand change. 

All of this follows President Trump's May 8 announcement that he was withdrawing from the 2015 agreement negotiated by Barack Obama that lifted sanctions in exchange for Iranian leaders' sham promises that it would restrain its nuclear program. 

This week, Iran's currency plummeted to a record low against the U.S. dollar on the eve of reimposition of U.S. sanctions on August 6.  In recent weeks, Iran outlawed trading currencies outside of its official government rate, and began arresting anyone committing what it labels "economic disruption" by using American dollars as currency on black markets.  For the year, Iran's rial has lost 50% of its value relative to the dollar. 

By eradicating the rial's purchasing power, imported goods have become too expensive to purchase for Iranian businesses and consumers.  Moreover, almost all global trade in oil - Iran's primary export and therefore its lifeblood - is conducted in dollars.  Iranian exports have fallen from 2.7 million barrels per day earlier this year to 2.2 million as of June. 

Additionally, foreign banks across the world are refusing to conduct transactions with Iran due to fear of U.S. sanctions.  Even nations like China and the European Union that wish to continue engagement with Iran cannot do so, because no international banks will process payments and fund trade. 

Then at the end of June, the Trump Administration made it clear that it would sanction nations that didn't slash their oil imports from Iran to "zero" by November 4.  Previously, purchasers of Iranian exports hoped that they had several additional months or even years to gradually reduce their transactions. 

As a result of these pressures, the Iranian economy is crashing.  After achieving gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 12.5% in Obama's last year in office, growth plummeted to approximately 4% in 2017.  That rate is projected to fall to about 1% this year and negative 5% next year, perhaps even worse if present trends continue. 

The increasing economic misery has driven Iranian citizens to street protests and business strikes.  Perhaps most amazingly, chants of "Death to America" from the past have become "Death to Palestine." 

This all amounts to an enormous but underreported policy success for Donald Trump, not to mention for our ally Israel and anyone else across the world potentially threatened by Iran and its sponsorship if terrorism. 

Obama should never have agreed to the accommodationist nuclear accord, as Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu warned in an address to Congress.  Since its inception, Iran has only accelerated its terrorist activity in Syria and elsewhere, and maintained its sights on nuclearization and missile development. 

But thanks to President Trump's reversal, those activities and Iran's hard-line regime itself may be approaching their end. 

Question of the Week   
Between 1946 and 2016, what percentage of U.S. Supreme Court decisions have split evenly (4-4)?
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Quote of the Day   
 
"With the confirmation of Justice Kavanaugh, for the first time in generations there is a majority of justices on the Supreme Court who, to varying degrees, practice originalism and textualism. This means that the Court can systematically begin to restore the Constitution to its original meaning. This constitutional restoration does not mean that the Constitution's original meaning is the best choice…[more]
 
 
—John Yoo and James C. Phillips
— John Yoo and James C. Phillips
 
Liberty Poll   

During a campaign season, particularly one as intense as the current midterm cycle, do you respond to telephone political polling?