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Featuring the Work and Ideas of the National
Center for Public Policy Research & Project 21

CONSERVATIVEBLOG.ORG

Featuring the Work and Ideas of the National Center for Public Policy Research & Project 21

Keeping Walmart’s Woke Gamble From Paying Off

Keeping Walmart’s Woke Gamble From Paying Off
/ ConservativeBlog.org /

Liberals have traditionally opposed “corporate speech,” particularly when they saw businesses supporting conservative candidates and causes, and especially after the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling.

“My, how times have changed,” writes Justin Danhof, Esq., director of the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project, in a new commentary published by The Federalist. Now that Walmart has decided to stop selling most guns and ammunition in the wake of the recent El Paso mass shooting, Justin notes that the big box retailer “is suddenly a corporate darling.”

By way of background, Justin explains how CNBC commentator and New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin pushed Walmart CEO Doug McMillon on and off the air “to suggest that Walmart use its massive economic influence to pressure other companies to get on board with his anti-gun crusade… Sorkin suggested that throughout Walmart’s entire supply chain and its business relationships, the company could do much to curtail the Second Amendment.”

Noting that “the left is often the tail that wags the dog of corporate action,” Justin further explains how the business community – normally thought of as conservative and profit-driven – is actually becoming a muscle for the left to achieve its goals outside of the legislative and regulatory arenas:

Sorkin and other far-left activists use corporate pressure to achieve change because they understand one concept very well: You don’t need to change a law to change the culture. If gun manufacturers are frozen out of the marketplace through corporate action, the left will have achieved its political goals without the use of politics.

This is why conservatives must start to engage with corporate leaders in the same manner liberals do. And it’s urgent we do this now because liberal interest groups are rapidly changing — and even redefining — corporate culture.

While this acquiescence to radical politics is a current trend in the business community, Justin believes corporate America can be pushed back to political neutrality. But this move depends on a new level of activism on the part of conservatives:

If conservatives meaningfully engage with companies as the left does, CEOs may decide it’s not worth engaging in the culture wars. They may even find that long-term goals of freedom and prosperity are better for actual shareholders than pandering to progressive stakeholders.

To read all of Justin’s commentary – “Conservatives Should Use the Left’s Playbook to Change Corporate Culture” – at The Federalist, click here.

Green Politics Promotes Energy Poverty

Green Politics Promotes Energy Poverty
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Extreme measures pushed by radical politicians threaten America’s growing energy independence, its international stature and the needs of its most vulnerable citizens.

Derrick Hollie

As liberal lawmakers introduce green energy agendas costing lots of money and promising to fundamentally change America, Project 21 member Derrick Hollie – in a RealClearEnergy commentary – points out that this alarmist attitude to “consume less, accept less, be less” is not new. But it is a cruel stance to take when America can do so much for its citizens and the world.

Derrick writes:

We should all be good stewards of the environment and do our best to protect it. But we also need a sensible approach to our energy needs and that will come from fossil fuels, specifically natural gas, which is the future in U.S. and global electricity production.

In the commentary, Derrick explains that the proliferation of major pollutants has dramatically decreased over the last 50 years without the need for a “Green New Deal.” At the same time, the American gross domestic product rose by 262%. Population and energy use also rose while overall spending on energy decreased.

America is riding high on this fossil fuel boom in domestic energy production. But Derrick notes that there is a risk of that boom turning into a bust  because of politics:

But for America to continue this economic growth, we must continue to pursue energy independence, allowing us more stability and power in trade negotiations as we rely less on hostile and unstable nations. Through our leadership in energy production and environmental protection, the United States is in a position to help lift billions in developing nations out of poverty and sickness by exporting our natural resources—along with pollution control technology.

One aspect that would be particularly hurtful to America is an unnecessary spike in energy poverty.

“Energy poverty,” Derrick explains, “occurs when low-income families and individuals can’t afford basic heating and electric needs due to high energy prices.” While he notes that energy poverty “has no color,” those most affected by it tend to be minority, low-income and rural communities.

“There is no reason anyone should be without affordable energy,” Derrick writes.

He adds:

We don’t have to accept less. We’ve experienced economic freedom and a better quality of life because of our abundance of affordable, reliable energy resources. And with that abundance, we can promote human health, combat energy poverty and improve the quality of life for all people regardless of where they live.

To read all of Derrick’s RealClearEnergy commentary – “No Need for Energy Poverty” – click here.

Obama Clean Water “Power Grab” Repealed

Obama Clean Water “Power Grab” Repealed
/ ConservativeBlog.org /

Fulfilling an executive order, and in response to multiple court rulings, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Assistant Secretary of the Army R.D. James announced the repeal of the Obama-era “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) definition in the Clean Water Act (CWA).

National Center Senior Fellow Bonner Cohen, Ph.D., who called the WOTUS rule a “far-reaching power grab,” cheers the repeal:

This is a victory for property rights and a defeat for the administrative regulatory state. The Trump Administration has just lifted a huge burden from rural communities all across the country.

Wheeler said the finalized repeal will “recodify the previous administration’s overreach in the federal regulation of U.S. waters and recodify the longstanding and familiar regulatory text that previously existed.” It will officially go into effect 60 days after the rule is published in the Federal Register.

The rule fulfills Executive Order 13778, signed by President Trump in March 2017, that sought clean water solutions while also “promoting economic growth, minimizing regulatory uncertainty, and showing due regard for the roles of the Congress and the States under the Constitution.”

At the time, Bonner said the change mandated by the order would “bring long-overdue regulatory certainty to farmers, ranchers, fruit growers and other businesses, allowing them to operate without the fear of arbitrary and capricious acts by unaccountable Washington bureaucrats.”

The need for Trump’s order was backed by legal challenges that said the rule changed too much from its original proposal without necessary public input. Wheeler said the reimplementation of the old rule would provide “greater regulatory certainty” to those affected by the CWA.

In a Daily Signal article by Kevin Mooney, Bonner adds:

Under the guise of “clarifying” two ambiguous Supreme Court rulings from the early 2000s, the Obama Administration concocted an elaborate scheme that would have subjected millions of acres of private land across the country to federal zoning.

Two federal court decisions in the last three months – one in Texas, and the other in Georgia – found that the 2015 Obama plan to regulate wetlands went far beyond what the Clean Water Act allows. The confusion over what qualifies as “waters of the United States” under the CWA has triggered endless litigation and bedeviled farmers, ranchers, developers, home builders and others involved in natural resources-related businesses for years.

Had the Obama WOTUS rule not been repealed by the Trump Administration, landowners would have had to get a permit from EPA and/or the Corps of Engineers before making any significant modifications to their property. The Washington bureaucrat deciding whether a farmer could put a ditch or stock pond on his farm would have been someone who had never set foot on the farmer’s property and who was accountable to absolutely no one.

The Obama WOTUS rule was the biggest power grab in EPA’s history.

Baltimore Improving Thanks to Lower Regulation, Surging Free Market

Baltimore Improving Thanks to Lower Regulation, Surging Free Market
/ ConservativeBlog.org /

During his first visit to Baltimore since his July tweets about crime and rat problems there, President Donald Trump encouraged conservative members of Congress on a legislative retreat to “fight for the future of cities like Baltimore that have been destroyed by decades of failed and corrupt rule.”

The day before the president’s visit, Project 21 Co-Chairman Horace Cooper made a similar case  on the Fox News Channel program “The Ingraham Angle.” He said:

Baltimore needs complete overhauling. The mismanagement that has occurred there, the people that are hurt… Every step forward – we should acknowledge as positive. What we shouldn’t say is there hasn’t been any steps forward. There have been some, but there are a lot more to take place.

While fellow panelist Leo Terrell seemed willing to put all of Baltimore’s problems on President Trump’s shoulders, host Laura Ingraham said it is one of many “badly run cities by liberals who won’t learn lessons.”

Ingraham remained skeptical of Horace’s optimism. So he explained:

It’s not humming – it’s better… It is improved.

I spent the Fourth of July in Baltimore because it’s something that I will do now that I wouldn’t have done three or four years ago.

Pointing out that Baltimore is just beginning to mend, Horace added:

What I am concerned about is the emphasis over appearance contrasted with substance….

Baltimore is better today that it was before [Trump] became president. Now there’s a lot more that needs to be done because that city is still being mismanaged. But the free market, the low regulation, small government solutions…

In citing a specific improvement that has helped black residents of Charm City, Horace noted about President Trump:

I’ll tell you what he’s done. He has created a circumstance where black Americans – including in Baltimore – you can get a job.

Project 21 has also tried to do its part.

Blueprint for a Better Deal for Black AmericaAfter the president criticized Baltimore, Project 21 mailed copies of its “Blueprint for a Better Deal for Black America” – its 57 recommendations “to remove barriers blocking blacks from reaching their full potential” – to Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, the Baltimore City Council and Representative Elijah Cummings. This was followed up by emails, to which only one councilman responded just to say our message had been received. Automated replies promising responses within hours went unfulfilled.

Project 21 is following up again with city leaders with correspondence that includes downloadable versions of the Blueprint. The leaders’ continued silence will confirm the assertion made by Ingraham that “liberals… won’t learn lessons.”

NY Times Rewrites History for New Trump Attack

NY Times Rewrites History for New Trump Attack
/ ConservativeBlog.org /

When former special counsel Robert Mueller failed to deliver on the accusations of 2016 election collusion with Russia and bring an end to the Trump presidency, the New York Times appeared to quickly move to Plan B.

Adrian Norman

The paper’s “1619 Project,” in the words of Project 21 member Adrian Norman, tasks Times writers with “shap[ing] their stories to contextualize anything they can through the lens of racism because it’s the most effective tool they have at achieving their ultimate goal: casting [Trump] as a racist.” According to a transcript of a Times staff meeting, Executive Editor Dean Baquet explained to his staff that “the story changed” post-Mueller, and they had to “regroup, and shift resources and emphasis to take on a different story.”

“That approach is opining,” Adrian points out, “not reporting.”

In a commentary for Epoch Times, Adrian critiques the Times‘s “revisionism” that is framing everything through terms of race. He cites articles that go as far as to blame today’s traffic jams on segregation, current health care troubles on Reconstruction-era policies and modern prisons on slavery.

Adrian writes:

[T]his project seems more like an attempt to reshape the public’s view of U.S. history to inflame racial tensions by mischaracterizing the country as inexorably tied to slavery and irredeemably racist, and tying the ills and anxieties of the present to events that occurred roughly 400 years ago.

To do all of this, the Times reset America’s founding from 1775, 1776 or even 1789 to 1619. This is the year that the first African slaves arrived at the Jamestown colony. Actually, slavery in the Americas may have started as early as 1501 with the Spanish.

But accuracy takes away the opportunity to make this all about white-on-black oppression. Adrian notes:

The framing of slavery as a uniquely American (or a white versus black) phenomenon is counterfactual and intellectually dishonest, as slavery occurred all around the globe. It was America that played a large role in ending slavery and casting it as an unacceptable practice.

So why is the Times revising history?

For one thing, there are more blacks supporting President Trump today than in 2016. According to a recent poll by Zobgy Analytics, 28% of black voters support him. Support this high, Adrian remarks, “spells trouble for the left.”

Is the New York Times trying to hurt the President’s reputation with American blacks for political gain? Adrian writes:

It’s reshaping American history for political purposes and keeping the black community looking backward, rather than forward.

“But, pesky little things like facts don’t matter,” Adrian pointed out, “when your real goal is activism and revising history to push your own political agenda.”

To read all of Adrian’s Epoch Times commentary – “Race, Revisionism and the New York Times” – click here.

We’re Hiring! Free Enterprise Project Seeks Program Coordinator

We’re Hiring! Free Enterprise Project Seeks Program Coordinator
/ ConservativeBlog.org /

Imagine a job where you take on the likes of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Disney’s Bob Iger and JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon – making sure these captains of industry and others are staying true to the free market principles that made their companies great.

Is that something that would interest you? Then have we got a job for you!

The National Center’s Free Enterprise Project is now looking for a program coordinator. This person is “responsible for researching corporate America’s role in curtailing essential liberties and developing strategic legal and policy initiatives to counter corporate deviation from free market principles.”

Responsibilities of the position include helping create new free market shareholder proposals through the study of past proposals and precedent, monitoring leftist movement in the corporate world and advising investors on proxy voting and engagement with corporate leaders.

Additionally, the program coordinator serves as a liaison to the conservative movement, government regulators and lawmakers in order to further FEP’s message.

Motivated candidates with political and investment experience and a strong commitment to the principles of limited government and free markets are encouraged to apply through the Talent Market portal.

To find out more about the position and apply, click here.

Liberal Celebs “Do Not Believe in Free Expression”

Liberal Celebs “Do Not Believe in Free Expression”
/ ConservativeBlog.org /

People in the 1940s and 50s who lost their ability to work in the entertainment industry because they were thought to be Soviet collaborators were called “blacklisted.” While many of the accused were far from innocent, the blacklisted of that era are venerated by Hollywood today.

Yet those in our culture who profess the virtue of those individuals – who in reality often worked against our nation – are right now diving headlong into their own blacklisting of conservatives in Hollywood who want to support an elected American president. And many actors, actresses and people behind the camera who hold openly conservative views can point to situations in which they have lost jobs because of their politics.

The blacklist lives, and those who condemned the old one are happily to maintain a new one. On the Fox News Channel, openly conservative actor Robert Davi said “hating on Trump” is “nothing new,” but the antipathy toward conservatives has “increased – it’s now on steroids.” He also said he has been denied jobs because of his politics and has been offered opportunities to publicly renounce his beliefs.

The stars of the cancelled sitcom “Will and Grace” asked that the entertainment media do liberal Hollywood’s bidding and “dox” anyone in the industry who attends an upcoming Beverly Hills fundraiser for President Donald Trump. Eric McCormack recently tweeted to The Hollywood Reporter his request for the newspaper to “kindly report on everyone attending this event, so the rest of us can be clear about who we don’t wanna work with.” Co-star Debra Messing – already making headlines for suggesting black Trump supporters are mentally ill – backed up McCormack when she tweeted: “Please print a list of all attendees please. The public has a right to know.”

In a condemnation of Messing’s act of “liberal privilege,” Project 21 member Derrick Hollie said it “shows how unhinged some liberals are and just how far they will go to destroy the lives of others who don’t agree with them.”

Project 21 Co-Chairman Horace Cooper echoed Derrick during a panel discussion on the Fox News Channel program “The Ingraham Angle.”

While fellow panelist Leo Terrell challenged Horace and host Laura Ingraham that what McCormack and Messing said is “free expression” and merely wanting “transparency,” as McCormack claimed in a later pushback against criticism, Ingraham said such talk from powerful celebrities gives “aid and comfort” to those who want to maintain a blacklist.

Horace added:

Let’s be clear. I remember, not too long ago, a rodeo clown put on an Obama mask and ran around. And liberals exploded.  No one said “right of free expression.” They condemned it. In fact, they continued condemning it until the rodeo fired the rodeo clown.

This standard is no standard. They do not believe in free expression. They do not believe – as I was taught in high school, again when I was in college and even when I was in law school – blacklisting is wrong.

Those people who entertain should never be punished, penalized or threatened with their work because their creative juices deserve to get the freedom of expression.

That standard no longer holds today because liberals changed their standards to suit their circumstances.

Terrell tried to counter by saying that Davi and other conservatives in Hollywood should create their own infrastructure to make their own films and television shows. But Horace pointed out that there’s no virtue or successful business strategy in maintaining a blacklist or other side segregating the American people. He replied:

In a free society, people should be free to vote and believe how they want. And they shouldn’t be shunned or prevented from feeding their children because of it.

That used to be what liberals thought. They don’t anymore.

Horace’s comments were well-received. After the broadcast, the National Center received many complimentary tweets about the interview.

unalienableJoe tweeted that Horace was “brilliant”:

And Bill Sanford called it “awesome”:

Tucker: Al Gore’s House Remembered as Obama Buys Beachfront Estate

Tucker: Al Gore’s House Remembered as Obama Buys Beachfront Estate
/ ConservativeBlog.org /

Much has been said about the apparent hypocrisy of former President Barack Obama buying a vacation home on Martha’s Vineyard that is estimated to be around 7,000 square feet in size and valued at around $15 million.

After all, this is the man who said in 2010, “I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money,” only to remark in 2018 that “I’m actually surprised by how much money I got.”

Others are skeptical of his purchase of beachfront property when the world is supposed to suffer from catastrophic climate change in 12 years. Or 11 years. Or 18 months. Or maybe just 14 months!

Well, maybe it’s alright since he is the one who said on the day he secured the presidential nomination that it was “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.” But he nonetheless did just jet to Sicily to hang with the elites who are still concerned about the environmental impact from the rest of us leaving our porch lights on overnight and not riding our bikes to work.

When he was boasting about his wealth in South Africa back in 2018, Obama did tell that crowd that “[t]here’s only so big a house you can have.” That seems to be debatable. As the Fox News Channel reported, Obama’s new seaside estate is smaller than the Nashville home of former Vice President Al Gore.

And while correspondent Trace Gallagher could only speculate on the Obamas’ future utility bills, he was able to shed some light on the kind of power Gore is using – thanks to a report from the National Center. He told host Tucker Carlson:

The former vice president’s Nashville home is over 10,000 square feet.

In 2017, right before his documentary “An Inconvenient Sequel” opened, the National Center for Public Policy Research – a conservative think tank – estimated the vice president used 21 times more energy than the average American.

That’s just in the Nashville home. They didn’t figure on the other two [houses Gore owns].

That National Center report, “Al Gore’s Inconvenient Reality,” used information obtained from the Nashville Electric Service to determine that “Al Gore uses vastly more electricity at his home than the average American – a particularly inconvenient truth given his hypocritical calls for all Americans to reduce their home energy use.” It found that “[a]fter the embarrassing revelations that his home wolfed down nearly 20 times more electricity than the average American household, Gore made updates in an effort to make his home more energy efficient.” But report author and National Center Senior Fellow Drew Johnson noted: “Even those costly measures could not prevent his home energy consumption from rising even higher.”

Price Controls a Poor Prescription for America’s Ills

Price Controls a Poor Prescription for America’s Ills
/ ConservativeBlog.org /

Stacy Washington

In a new Townhall commentary, Project 21 Co-Chairman Stacy Washington explains how a Trump Administration proposal she suggests would impose “European-style price controls” on prescription drugs will force the President to retreat on his promise that “America will never be a socialist country.”

“Fighting socialism with socialism,” Stacy writes, “will only harm patients.”

At issue is a plan promoted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to set Medicare reimbursement rates – the price the government pays for prescription drugs under Medicare Part B – closer to what foreign governments are paying for the same drugs (“at most, 26 percent more than the average developed nation price”).

Stacy remarks:

Their plan, though well-intentioned, misses the mark. It rewards freeloaders rather than punishing them. And it would jeopardize Americans’ access to state-of-the-art drugs.

In the commentary, she explains the inherent risk with this idea:

Countries with socialized healthcare systems frequently impose price controls on innovative drugs. Governments flat-out refuse to cover medicines that cost more than an arbitrary limit. If manufacturers want to sell their drugs in those countries, they have to heavily discount them.

That forces drug companies to generate a disproportionate share of revenue from countries, like the United States, that have comparatively free markets in healthcare. America accounts for just 5 percent of the world’s population and a quarter of the global economy – but funds 44 percent of global pharmaceutical research and development.

It’s this reliance on others doing their part, she notes, that leads to a definite problem with the viability of such a plan:

The administration hopes this plan will force other countries to pull their weight. But in reality, those governments won’t budge. Copying those nations’ socialist tactics will only make it harder for Americans to access new therapies.

Already, many of the newest drugs aren’t available in developed countries that impose price controls. Only two-thirds of new drugs launched worldwide between 2011 and 2018 are available in the United Kingdom. Roughly half are available in France and Canada. By contrast, 88 percent of those new drugs are available in the United States – including nearly 95 percent of new cancer medicines.

Not only does this raise the probability that Americans will pay more for life-saving drugs, it also sets up a disincentive for innovative new treatments to be developed in the first place. Stacy explains:

Medical research is a risky business. It costs $2.6 billion, on average, to develop a single new drug. And close to 90 percent of experimental treatments fail to gain FDA approval. Only the potential of profit incentivizes investors to fund these long-shot projects.

Price controls make it difficult – if not impossible – for companies to recoup their upfront costs, let alone earn a profit. They thus kill the incentive to invest in cures. If HHS adopts these price caps, drug development will grind to a halt – and patients will suffer.

So how can the Trump Administration find a happy medium that protects consumers and lowers their costs? “Negotiating better trade deals,” Stacy suggests, “could stop foreign governments from effectively robbing American innovators.”

To read all of Stacy’s commentary – “Socialism Isn’t the Solution to Unfair Drug Prices” – at the Townhall website, click here.

 

 

Fixing Government’s “Terrible Record” on Endangered Species

Fixing Government’s “Terrible Record” on Endangered Species
/ ConservativeBlog.org /

An inconvenient truth of the Endangered Species Act is that it hasn’t worked very well.

“It’s a terrible record,” said National Center Senior Fellow Bonner Cohen, Ph.D. in a recent interview, “even by the standards of a government program.”

He added:

We have removed, in 46 years, something in the neighborhood of 20 species from the list. In the course of doing that, however, the law has wreaked havoc on particularly landowners across the country who bear a disproportionate burden for removing these species from the list.

In an interview for the One America News Network about the Trump Administration’s new endangered species reforms, Bonner told reporter Chanel Rion how current policy and enforcement has not been effective in aiding species recovery efforts – often pitting landowners against the species and the government rather than fostering a partnership with common, beneficial goals.

As an example, he brought up the government’s plans to help the dusky gopher frog. In a case that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, landowners in Louisiana were finally given relief from government edicts that would have limited development in favor of the frog.

This case showed the inherent problems in pre-reform endangered species enforcement, especially since it wasn’t really a direct case of human and frog interests being pitted against each other. He explained:

There are no dusky gopher frogs in that habitat. In fact, the only known species of dusky gopher frogs are not even in Louisiana. They are in one county in Mississippi.

In explaining the implications of such enforcement action:

Who would, in his right mind, would touch that size land knowing full well that it is going to be regulated from now until kingdom come to recover a species that demonstrably is not even there.

This manner of enforcement created an adversarial relationship between landowners and the government, a process that actually hurts the process of recovering endangered species. As Bonner noted:

There’s an old saying out in rural America for a long, long time that, if you see an endangered species on your land, “shoot, shovel and shut up.” In other words, get rid of it. Because, if you don’t, you’re going to find yourself in the draconian litigation that the ESA’s enforcement structure is.

Under the rules that were recently announced by the U.S. Department of the Interior and described in a commentary by Bonner in The Hill, enforcement of the Endangered Species Act has been reformed to:

  • Reaffirm acknowledged differences between threatened and endangered designations and how they are handled.
  • Have uniform criteria for adding and removing species from threatened or endangered status.
  • Base climate change considerations in a “foreseeable future” timeframe instead of long-term climate modeling.
  • Modify initial consideration of existing species habitats so unoccupied areas are only considered if they already contain features essential to species survival.

In the commentary, Bonner wrote that these “sweeping revisions,” which will apply to future species designations, “provide much-needed fixes to a cumbersome, convoluted statute that has ill-served both the wildlife it is meant to protect and the rural communities caught up in its enforcement provisions.”

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The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 60,000 active recent contributors.