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


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

White House Seeks Traction on Criminal Justice Reform

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In a roundtable discussion earlier this week with governors, state attorneys general and members of his cabinet, President Donald Trump sought to broker a compromise for federal legislation on criminal justice reform.

In particular, the President sought to gain traction for the “FIRST STEP Act” that already overwhelmingly passed in the U.S. House of Representatives last May. Officially tasked with creating a federal “risk and needs assessment system to assess and classify the recidivism risk of prisoners; to guide housing, grouping, and program assignments and to incentivize and reward participation in and completion of recidivism reduction programs and productive activities,” the bill – a project for presidential advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner – seeks to lower recidivism rates through training and mentoring while offering prison reforms and early-release options for model behavior.

A July poll commissioned by the group In Pursuit Of found 70 percent support of the FIRST STEP Act among “likely voters.”

Senator Mike Lee, who was in attendance at this week’s roubdtable, called it a “great meeting” in which “meaningful progress” was made.In an earlier D.C. meeting on the same topic, Senator Lindsay Graham also called the potential for progress in the Senate “promising.” The FIRST STEP Act has thus far been stalled in the Senate, and a competing Senate bill lost momentum after being criticized by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Possible compromises for a Senate version could include lowering mandatory minimum sentences.

Long before this recent round of discussion, members of the National Center’s Project 21 black leadership network were talking about the FIRST STEP Act and a more forgiving manner toward certain redemptive inmates.

Council Nedd

Written at the time President Trump issued a posthumous pardon to Jack Johnson and a pardon to Dinesh D’Souza, in addition to commuting the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson and others, Project 21 Co-Chairman Council Nedd II – a Pennsylvania State Constable in addition to being an archbishop in the Episcopal Missionary Church – wrote a commentary about prison system issues that was published by the Daily Caller:

There are days when jail officials ask me not to bring in another prisoner because there are already too many people incarcerated for nonviolent or low-level offenses.

As a clergyman, I counsel those who have run afoul of the law but want a fresh start.

Council noted that the President’s pardons and his pushing for criminal justice reform “entails risk,” but that “President Trump has repeatedly demonstrated he is not averse to taking risks, political or otherwise, when the cause is right and in the best interest of our nation.”

“It’s a far cry,” Council insisted, “from creating a culture of permissiveness fostering an escalation of bad behavior.”

Likewise, Project 21 member Emery McClendon wrote that “a stronger emphasis on reforming the system to correct these disparities” of not focusing on reform and reduced recidivism “should be employed to immediately ease the stress right now.”

In a Politichicks-published commentary, Emery suggested:

There’s a serious problem of prison overcrowding and the incarceration of people – especially blacks – for minor convictions such as drug use rather than drug dealing. There are also those Project 21 has mentioned who languish simply because they lack the ability to pay a fine. President Trump could make a profound statement by pardoning or commuting sentences like he just did for Alice Marie Johnson. They say doing so could alleviate stress on our prison system and allow it to better address those convicted of more serious offenses.

As Emery mentioned, Project 21 offers recommendations on criminal justice reform as part of its “Blueprint for a Better Deal for Black America.” The Blueprint is a 57-point planfor removing barriers blocking blacks from empowerment and ensuring they have a chance to attain the American Dream.

There are ten specific Project 21 proposals in its Blueprint to give black Americans a better deal through reforming the criminal justice system:

  • Requiring the government to establish a connection between the owner of property and an alleged crime before property can be taken.
  • Requiring a criminal justice conviction to be obtained before assets are permanently forfeited to government.
  • Requiring assets be returned within 30 days unless charges are filed against the owner.
  • Requiring the government to return property immediately upon failing to obtain a conviction.
  • Requiring proceeds from forfeited property to go into general funds instead of the seizing agency’s budget.
  • Requiring proceeds from fines and fees to go into general funds instead of a fining agency’s budget.
  • Reducing the number of revenue-generating activities by prohibiting police from pulling over cars solely for minor traffic infractions such as broken tail lights or failing to wear car restraints.
  • Prohibiting authorities from using failure to pay as grounds to deny the means for making payments, such as the suspension of driver’s licenses.
  • Requiring that ability to pay be one of the factors considered in levying fines and fees.
  • Prohibiting incarceration for failure to pay fines on misdemeanor offenses, except as a last resort.

During its initial rollout, Project 21 leaders briefed key staff at the White House and with congressional leadership about the 57 policy ideas covering education, economics, criminal justice and more from the Blueprint.


More Cops = More Crime? Project 21 Leader Says “Those Talking Points are Killing People”

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In the war against terrorism, the tactics of President George W. Bush were repeatedly derided by critics as a better recruitment tool for terrorism than a deterrent. Now, ideas for more effective policing in crime-addled communities are being accused of breeding more criminals.

You can’t make this stuff up!

On the Fox News Channel’s “The Ingraham Angle,” criminal defense attorney Anthony Tall tried to rebut Project 21 Co-Chairman Horace Cooper’s get-tough strategy for making Chicago’s poor and minority neighborhoods safer by saying: “I don’t want the environment of police being there to create more criminals, incarcerate more people and those people go back into the community and create more crime. That’s what I want to safeguard against. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

Horace deftly replied:

Those talking points are killing people. There’s a small number of people in these communities that are creating a nightmarish existence. Those people need to be pulled out of the circumstances.

Chicago Alderman Anthony Beale, who represents the 9thward on the south side of the city, is asking for police to be permanently reassigned to his crime-plagued community and other areas of the city that are only now receiving temporary upgrades in coverage. Overall, there have been more than 300 homicides in the city of Chicago this year (and over 1,700 people shot). Horace explained:

These people are living – literally – in war zones.

It is unbelievable that conversation is being held that grandma can’t go and get her prescription filled. That her granddaughter can’t get to school without a drive-by shooting. That jobs won’t locate in those communities – perpetuating poverty – because investors will not go there when there is this elevated level of crime.

What you need is a common-sense idea. The same thing that happens when you’re on the interstate, when the officer puts his car prominently on the side of the road. All of a sudden, everybody slows down. Even people who are law-abiding take notice.

What we need to do is have an elevated presence of law enforcement in these communities. And it doesn’t need to be for a weekend. It doesn’t need to be for a few weeks. It needs to be for a year – two or three, if necessary. That’s the way you make it safer. That’s the way that this war zone mentality can go away.

Host Laura Ingraham echoed Horace’s concern, making a plea for people to look past political differences in finding a solution. She said: “If you can save lives… with smarter policing, with smarter community involvement – that’s a good thing.”

Tall nonetheless professed a concern about alleged racial profiling and bias in sentencing “doubling the fear” in black communities. Raising the prospect of unconstitutional searches and seizures, he asked: “Do you really want a police force that’s not strategic, and that’s not following Forth Amendment rules?”

Horace replied:

You can hide behind the Fourth Amendment all you want – here’s the facts. Black Americans, particularly those in Chicago, are DYING as a result of the failure of law enforcement officials to be welcomed in and to let them play the role that they’re capable of doing.

Horace’s prescription for curing Chicago’s crime crisis now is the same as it was in 2017. In January 24, 2017, during an interview on the Fox News Channel’s “The O’Reilly Factor,” he made a suggestion for President Donald Trump to lend a hand (something he similarly suggested to Ingraham and Tall):

He sends a Justice Department directive that says to the U.S. attorneys in that jurisdiction, in Cook County, that they are going to work directly with the prosecutors. They’re going to have the FBI and the local law enforcement work together, and they’re going to pick which cases that they go across that they’re going to prosecute directly. This doesn’t require change in law — this simply requires will.

Within minutes of that 2017 interview, the President took to Twitter to declare: “If Chicago doesn’t fix the horrible ‘carnage’ going on,… I will send in the Feds!”

In addition to this specific suggestion for curbing violence in Chicago through a great and more accepted police presence, Project 21 offers several recommendations for improving police-community relations in its “Blueprint for a Better Deal for Black America.”

Within Project 21’s 57-point planfor removing barriers blocking blacks from empowerment and ensuring they have a chance to attain the American Dream are several recommendations for improving public safety and community-police relations:

  • End police enforcement of regulations such as smoking bans and childrens’ lemonade stands as well as any unnecessary focus on minor infractions that can escalate into major incidents.
  • Provide officers with special training to identify and handle people with autism, Alzheimer’s disease and other developmental and mental disorders.
  • Increased use of body cameras by officers.
  • Prevent SWATting to remove the threat of civilians incurring physical harm and property damage when police departments are pranked into mistakenly dispatching tactical units when no threat exists.
  • Disarm federal agencies lacking direct law enforcement responsibilities and redirecting funds to local departments for community relations efforts.
  • Lift restrictions on civilian gun ownership and give local police responsibilities in teaching gun safety to the public.
  • Encourage local houses of worship to sponsor “First Responder Sundays” in which police, fire and rescue personnel attend in uniform and programming is geared toward strengthening community ties to them.
  • Establish a “Presidential Medal for Exemplary Law Enforcement” to honor acts of extreme kindness, compassion and service that is based on community recommendations.

To see all of Project 21’s Blueprint for a Better Deal for Black America,” click here.




Is Mueller Probe Criminalizing Constitutionally Created Rights?

Asked to comment on the scope and progress of the ongoing Mueller investigation of President Donald Trump, National Center Senior Fellow Horace Cooper said the White House should be looking for “traction” right now. In a Fox Business Network interview, he said that “you wanna get either a conclusion, a decision, some sort of ultimate outcome” at this stage.

Commenting on news that the President’s lawyers may be seeking to narrow the scope of questioning should he actually agree to an interview with the special counsel’s staff, Horace pointed out the potential constitutional problems with the way the investigation may be going:

Purportedly, this is an investigation about collusion. And if it has morphed into a conversation about whether or not the President may exercise his authority to select a cabinet nominee or a high-ranking official at the FBI – or remove them – or any of these other reasons as a pretext for some criminal action, you create a serious constitutional problem.

This normally isn’t the circumstance.

You normally look for behavior outside the context of lawful behavior – whether it’s your First Amendment right or your Second Amendment right. Normally, constitutionally created and protected rights aren’t the basis for arguing you’ve committed a crime.

Asked what could be gained by sitting down for such an interview, Horace noted:

Hillary Clinton sat down with the Department of Justice investigators. They worked out a pre-arranged agreement – an understanding on how things would occur – and she walked away with no consequence.

All that a good lawyer wants for any of their clients – whether it’s the President, whether it’s the Secretary of State, a senator or anyone else – let’s get some ground rules that will allow our client to give the best presentation possible.

The problem, as I see it, is this idea that you can use constitutionally protected authority – the executive power in Article II – can be the basis for a claim of obstruction. That, to me, is a circumstance that puts this investigation on a very tenuous ground.

The Actions of NY Times Speak Louder Than Its Words

A funny thing happened on Twitter the other day. Black conservative Candice Owens was suspended by Twitter for “hateful conduct.” What did she do? She repeated some of the comments made by recently hired New York Times editorial writer Sarah Jeong. The twist that got Owens suspended, while Jeong’s tweets and account remained unscathed, was that Owens inserted “Jewish” for “white.”

By Twitter standards, it’s apparently alright to say that “white people are bull–t.” Jewish? Notsomuch. When the Owens double-standard became a national news story, Twitter apologized.

At the same time, the Times is standing by its hiring of Jeong. In a statement, the paper’s leaders said the woman who tweeted about the “joy” she felt being “cruel to old white men” and with rabidly anti-police sentiment “will be an important voice for the editorial board moving forward.” They even admitted to already knowing her tweeting history, explaining it away as simply imitating harassment she’d allegedly experienced online.

Project 21 member Derryck Green thinks that support for Jeong by the Times is a blessing in disguise. As offensive as she has shown herself to be, its support for her exposes its bias:

On the one hand, Sarah Jeong should be condemned for her racist, misandrist and anti-law enforcement officer tweets. Despite what the New York Times claims, these tweets are inexcusable. One would have expected her to be fired for her offensiveness.

But, in the long run, I think it’s a good thing the New York Times hired and then defended Jeong after her hateful tweets became known. Not firing Jeong proves the moral hypocrisy and selective outrage of the political left – specifically, in this case, the media. It removes all pretense of moral authority when it comes to future condemnation of the Times’ political opponents for allegedly saying and believing things it perceives to be racist, sexist or bigoted.

Moreover, based on what the newspaper has previously published, I’d say Sarah Jeong’s perspective is simply reflective of the predominant views held by those employed at the New York Times. Its support of Jeong is just another example of cowardly white progressives hiding behind their “people of color.” This practice permits specific license for members of minority populations on the left to say and do foolish, reckless and offensive things with protection from any negative consequences related to their childishness due to a privilege that’s ascribed by skin color, gender and sexuality.

Other Project 21 members have already spoken out against Jeong, calling her comments “vulgar” and “racist.” Like Green, Project 21 Co-Chairman Stacy Washington noted that the controversy exposed the “leftist privilege” that allows certain hateful comments to be made with impunity.

Earlier this year, Justin Danhof, Esq., the director of the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project, called out the New York Times at its annual shareholder meeting for possibly keeping conservative books off its influential bestseller list. He noted that the paper refused to list Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life despite strong performance as cited by Amazon, the Washington Post and Publishers Weekly, among other lists. Times Chairman Arthur Sulzberger refused Justin’s request for an independent audit of the processes of creating the bestseller list.

Also at the meeting, Justin was offered a pin that read “The truth has a voice.” When he took the pin and rhetorically asked the person offering it to him, “Who doesn’t like a pin?,” Sulzberger responded something to the effect that Donald Trump wouldn’t. Justin noted:

When Sulzberger made the quip about the pin, it was obvious that he simply assumed that I, along with anyone else who would be in the Times building, was as liberal as him. He was wrong, and frankly his discussions with other shareholders were equally as disturbing.

When it comes to racial and political polarization, the New York Times has proved it is part of the problem. Whatever its editorial pages advocate as a solution will ring hollow, as the its actions to perpetuate leftist sentiments are louder than its words.

Black Teen Unemployment Dropped Again in July

In last Friday’s jobs report, the big headline was that Hispanic unemployment hit another record low. It moved down again from 4.6 percent to 4.5 percent. This overshadowed equally good – or perhaps even better – news that black teen unemployment dipped below 20 percent yet again.

While a 19.9 percent unemployment among blacks between 16 and 19 doesn’t seem like something to celebrate, it must be put in perspective. In September 2010 – almost eight years ago – 48.9 percent of black teens seeking work were unemployed. Nearly half! In June of 2016, the rate was still 33.2 percent.

Throughout the Trump Administration, black teen unemployment has remained under 30 percent. In June of 2017, it cracked the 20 percent barrier for the first time ever at 19.8 percent. It did it again this past May, at the same time as the overall black unemployment rate reached a historic all-time low of 5.9 percent. The only other time the teen rate ever came close was hitting 20 percent exactly in April 2000.

And this is three months in a row that the black teen unemployment rate has hovered around 20 percent. There was a spike earlier this year, but this is beginning to look like a trend.

Project 21 member Derryck Green, who wrote regularly about economic trends affecting black Americans during the Obama presidency, is excited about the black youth employment figures. He said:

Since the 2016 election, the overall black unemployment rate has either matched or reached historical lows several times— reaching an all-time historical low of 5.9 percent this past May.

Black teen unemployment, which has been consistently high, is finally dipping below 20 percent. Whether one supports this president or not, this is a phenomenal achievement and should be acknowledged as such.

As part of its “Blueprint for a Better Deal for Black America,” Project 21 offers five policy ideas to improve black employment opportunity:

  • Improving welfare reform, including more work requirements for eligibility in programs such as the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps), in recognition of past success in reducing the number of people requiring government assistance.
  • Repealing the Davis-Bacon Act – the Jim Crow-era regulation essentially requiring union wages for most federal contracting – that can hurt small minority-owned businesses and lower-skilled, non-union minority workers.
  • Allowing employers in special low-income zip codes to not pay Social Security and Medicare taxes for school-age employees under 22 years old.
  • Exempting employers in special low-income zip codes from minimum wage laws so they can hire workers at a discounted wage.
  • Analyzing the impact of new federal regulations on the hiring of young, low-skilled workers, and requiring congressional approval for all regulations that cannot be modified to mitigate negative impacts.

Green praised the Blueprint, noting that “[g]iving employers greater ability to set wages, to make them proportionate to applicants’ experience and skillsets, would certainly help in economic deserts where people most need jobs but often lack the skills and experience necessary to be competitive.”

In the U.S. House of Representatives, the “Farm Bill” that was passed in June contained SNAP work requirements similar to those recommended in Project 21’s Blueprint. The bill has been deemed “Blueprint Compliant.”

Politicized Superhero “Social Justice League” is Kryptonite to Fans

Holy Fan Alienation, Batman!

The Marvel and DC comic book empires are scoring big at the box office and on television. Comic book sales are another story. While there’s a big draw for Robert Downey, Jr.’s swaggering portrayal of the playboy industrialist Iron Man on the big screen, true believers aren’t as excited about Ironheart – the 15-year-old black girl who has taken his place in the comic book pages. They also aren’t happy about an overall heavy LGBTQ influence on comic book titles and storylines. It’s putting the industry’s profits at risk.

Project 21 member Stone Washington explained all of this in a recent Daily Caller commentary.  He wrote:

Superheroes once cherished for their classic appearance and style are being remodeled to promote a liberal agenda. They now echo social justice themes and advocate for causes such as LGBTQ rights.

While the lucrative movies stay relatively true to origin stories, there are now comic book franchises (and many heroes and villains have multiple storylines) that are not faring so well with fans and comic book Stonsellers. Some of the radical changes to the superhero universe are a failed female Thor, bisexual Batman villains and a lesbian Batgirl. There’s even a new transgender hero named Dreamer who will be on the “Supergirl” television show this fall.

To fans, this is about as welcome the “Howard the Duck” movie. As Stone noted:

This obsessive push for LGBTQ characters distorts the original history of Marvel and DC characters, whose traditional morals and identities were a constant for decades. This radical shift risks losing more fans and their money…

This backlash clearly shows how the perversion of comic book characters to promote a progressive agenda is not only morally unethical, but altogether bad business for the comic book industry.

In fact, as Stone noted, all of the Marvel titles – including ones involving very popular heroes such as Black Panther and Deadpool – that were singled out for praise by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation have now been suspended from publication.

Stone advised:

The comic book industry has a clear problem: it is forsaking its moralistic origins to advance a radicalized progressive social justice paradigm. Marvel and DC are setting themselves up to lose more money and readership because of a growing backlash to the ongoing trend of distorting and perverting the identities of iconic superheroes.

To read Stone’s Daily Caller commentary in its entirety, click here.

Trump Tweets Are a Twist in Presidential Messaging

When it comes to President Trump’s use of Twitter to get his message out, Project 21 member Emery McClendon says, “Tweet on, Mr. President.”

In a commentary syndicated by InsideSources and published by media outlets such as the Northwest Indiana Times, Emery noted that “Trump uses Twitter like no other politician to express his point of view and answer his critics.”

And, to those who think the President should consider curtailing his social media activities, Emery suggested:

Like it or not, it is a line of communication the president seems to have no intention of giving up — in the same way President Obama refused to give up his Blackberry after entering the White House.

Why should he give it up? Emery pointed out that social media is “providing Americans with new avenues of political expression and robust debate” and has proven to be a vital link between the President and his supporters:

To Trump’s ardent supporters, the tweets are a fresh alternative to the sound of crickets in the mainstream media when it comes to hearing good news about the president’s agenda and record. Without these tweets, many Americans think they would lose an opportunity to learn about the president’s accomplishments and policies…

At the same time, social media provides increased accountability for media outlets that are tempted to report “fake news.” That’s a really good thing for America.

In particular, Emery contended that presidential tweets helps get the news out to black America over the mainstream media silence about how this administration is helping improve opportunity and growth benefiting their communities.

To read Emery’s commentary in its entirety, click here.

Project 21’s Stacy Washington Gets National Radio Program

Starting Monday, the “Stacy on the Right” talk radio program hosted by Project 21 Co-Chairman Stacy Washington will begin broadcasting nationwide.

Beginning with the August 6 broadcast, the first hour of Stacy’s weekday program will be available on all 180 stations of the American Family Radio network. Her national hour is between 3:00pm and 4:00pm Eastern. The featured guest for Monday will be Judge Jeanine Pirro of the Fox News Channel.

The entire program is available on select stations, and it will remain on all of its existing affiliates. It also can be streamed through the AFR website as well as TuneIn Radio, Facebook and YouTube.

Stacy began her broadcasting career just a few years ago as a fill-in host on WFTK-St. Louis. This led a weekend programs on the station until she began a two-hour program available through the American Family Association’s American Family Radio and Urban Family Talk networks.

Commenting on the “super big deal” of having a national broadcasting platform, Stacy said:

I’m just excited. It’s a fantastic audience. It’s a great start for me. It’s a great partnership with what they do there at American Family Radio and the American Family Association.

It’s a really great fit for me – Christian radio. I love the dynamic of doing politics and Christian radio at the same time.

Buckle up and hang on!

CBS Postpones Shareholder Meeting (Again)

For most investors, a shareholder meeting is the one time each year when investors have a chance to question the company leadership. For CBS shareholders, that opportunity is indefinitely on hold.

In May, CBS postponed its originally scheduled shareholder meeting – set to take place in New York City – because of controversy over the possible merger of CBS with Viacom. At the time, CBS said: “The Board will determine shortly a new record date for the meeting… [to] provide all constituents with additional time to consider all pertinent matters before the annual meeting.”

Now, with CBS CEO Les Moonves accused of sexually harassing women, the CBS board of directors decided to postpone its rescheduled shareholder meeting, which was relocated to Los Angeles on August 10. While announcing that the board “is in the process of selecting outside counsel to conduct an independent investigation” about Moonves, it gave no additional information to investors waiting for their meeting.

One of those people waiting for the meeting is Justin Danhof, Esq., the director of the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project. Having travelled to New York in May and holding tickets to travel to the California meeting, Justin gave CBS some advice this week via Fox News:

CBS board’s inaction speaks volumes. The allegations against Moonves warrant investigation, however, he should step aside while that process plays out.


In Trade Talks, China Must Signal Change

With rumors that the United States and China may be on the verge of new trade negotiations, National Center Senior Fellow Horace Cooper told Fox Business Network host Charles Payne:

It’s actually very popular with the American people that the President would like to reset the table with regard to our relationship.

As fears of a trade war with Europe are easing, investors also appear hopeful that similar concerns about a clash between the world’s two largest national economies will be averted. But Horace noted that President Donald Trump seems to mean business when it comes to American priorities for any new trading relationships regarding a government that hasn’t been an upstanding partner in the past:

It’s pretty clear the President is serious about renegotiating the nature of this relationship. And… if the Chinese are serious about supporting and promoting business growth in their country, they should understand that we need to be as serious about promoting business growth in our country.

The cheating. The stealing. The coercion has got to come to an end. We’re seeing the signs that is the case, and now – with our booming economy – it’s the perfect time for this negotiation to take place.

Questioned by Payne about whether China’s totalitarian regime lacks domestic pressure to alter its existing stance because of its one-party system, Horace pointed out that China’s lack of freedom is precisely why it may lose the upper hand at the negotiating table:

The Chinese government requires growth in order for it to perpetuate the dictatorship that runs that jurisdiction.

In other free countries, you have breakers that go off to let you know when there are problems. That’s what a congress does. That’s what a free media does. They help send signals when there are problems.

The circumstances in China are, since you don’t have… those solutions as tools to help guide you and steer you, you absolutely need to maintain the kind of growth that we aren’t truly seeing from China.

They have a reputation that this land of growth is sustainable and is ongoing. But it’s starting to look like it’s been a lot of hype. It’s been a lot of misleading representations. And these things create problems for the Chinese leadership.

China has tried to rally the American business community to its side, and may bring in former House Speaker John Boehner to assist their efforts, but Horace said that China is fighting an unpopular, uphill battle. China’s influence may not actually amount to much these days:

The status quo isn’t gonna stay.

There are instances where the president of China can talk to the President of the United States directly about specific issues. And, in order to maintain a healthy relationship, you might see some responsiveness. But that’s not gonna be able to be a tool for every problem.

Broadly speaking, even top-dollar lobbyists aren’t going to be able to change the fact there isn’t overwhelming support – there isn’t even moderately high support in Congress or in the media or among the public – for a continuation of the policies that exist.


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