By Neil A. Carousso
On the 16th anniversary of the tragic terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, Adopt-A-Battalion, Inc. held its annual memorial barbecue to honor the heroes in the U.S. military who perished in the global war on terror and the brave men and women who continue to fight for freedom.
The 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, The Pentagon and United Airlines Flight 93, perpetrated by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda, killed 2,996 innocent people and injured over 6,000 people while leaving first responders and others with illnesses resulting from the carnage at Ground Zero. Our country will never forget.
Present at Adopt-A-Battalion’s 9/11 memorial barbecue were veterans from the Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam and Korean wars, veterans from all different services and missions, and families of our troops who are currently stationed overseas plus first responders from the New York City Policy Department and the Fire Department of New York.
Adopt-A-Battalion volunteers gather weekly to prepare care packages with necessities to U.S. military members in Afghanistan and Kuwait.
The Sgt. Peter F. Colleran Jr. Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7763 in Massapequa Park, NY accepted a flag on behalf of the fallen soldiers from Massapequa who died fighting in the war on terror that the United States was thrust into after 9/11.
“Unfortunately, our troops have to go in where [U.S. enemies] are or they’ll come where we are,” said VFW Post 7763 Commander William E. Colfer. “I’m very proud of the men and women who served and I am more than proud to do anything I can to help.”
“For anything that respects our people, any of the veterans, especially from 9/11, responders who are equally as courageous, we will do whatever it takes to honor them,” First Sgt. Rick Zarembski said.
Zarembski fought in Vietnam and now associates with the 11th New York Regiment Volunteers. The volunteers organize proper military funerals and burials for any soldier’s family in the area at no cost to the Gold Star Family.
As we are reminded of the day that changed the country and the world forever, we stand in solidarity with the heroes – past and present – abroad and at home – who fight for freedom – some who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.
Adopt-A-Battalion President and Vietnam Veteran Richard Olson gave an emotional address to volunteers and military families about how the country is more united than portrayed, echoing the nation’s responsibility to respect and take care of those who protect our citizens, our freedom, our sovereignty and our way of life.
While getting choked up, Olson said, “This is America. It is our country. And, we do love them.”
EXCLUSIVE: Congressman Pete King Will Not Vote for Tax Reform, Only Tax Cuts as President Trump Prepares to Use the Bully Pulpit
By Neil A. Carousso
In a wide-ranging 25 minute-long sit-down interview with Rep. Peter T. King (R-NY) on the GOP legislative agenda, a variety of pressing national security concerns and the nationwide opioid epidemic at his congressional district office in Massapequa Park, NY, Mr. King emphasized tax cuts over President Donald J. Trump’s promised tax reform and urged Republicans to compromise with Democrats.
“Tax reform, I think, would be another debate going on forever,” said Rep. King, adding, “I wouldn’t vote for it myself.”
Rep. King suggested that his fellow House Republicans feel Democrats will not support any tax reform legislation. He substantiated his reasoning for favoring tax cuts this year by citing former President Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts in 1981 that preceded the Tax Reform Act of 1986 – the last comprehensive tax reform law that included a slashing of the top individual income tax bracket to 28 percent from 50 percent, a reduction in the number of tax brackets from fifteen levels to four levels of income, and expansions of the standard deduction and personal exemptions.
Rep. King is not alone in preferring tax cuts to reform. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R) – a friend and informal advisor to President Trump, and sometimes, a critic of the Trump Administration in appearances on Fox News Channel – wrote an op-ed in The Hill earlier this month in which he called for Republicans to get points on the board with favorable and “easy to explain” tax cuts.
President Trump has proposed a simplification of the complex tax code that has 4 million words and takes a collective 6.1 billion hours a year for taxpayers to comply with the tax laws. Mr. Trump has called for a reduction of individual tax brackets from seven to four with the rates being 0 percent, 10 percent, 25 percent and a top-rate of 35 percent.
The Chief Executive emphasized reducing the corporate tax rate to 15 percent; the current effective corporate tax rate is 39.6 percent, which is the highest among industrialized nations. A 15 percent corporate tax rate would be the lowest since 1937. It peaked at 52.8 percent in 1968 and 1969.
“I think to get it through, we have to get the party in a stronger position and that’s why you need tax cuts,” said Congressman King. “Tax cuts, to me, would be a lot easier to get Democrats on your side.”
Rep. King said the priority this fall should be tax cuts for “working class middle income people who are the backbone of the country” and reducing the corporate tax rate to unleash private sector business growth, and hopefully, the hiring of American workers out of the labor force.
The significant drop in the corporate tax rate and President Trump’s proposed repatriation of trillions of corporate dollars stored overseas to be taxed at a one-time low-rate of 10 percent would contribute to further economic growth. The U.S. markets have been banking on tax cuts, at the very least, seeing gains over optimism of tax cuts coming into fruition after Congress’ August recess.
“I think repatriation is absolutely essential,” Rep. King said. “We should be able to get a certain amount of bipartisan cooperation.”
The Dow Jones Industrial Average reached 22,000 for the first time at the beginning of August, although it has slipped for a variety of reasons, and $4.1 trillion in wealth was created in U.S. markets in President Trump’s first 6 months in office – absent of major legislation on taxes, infrastructure and health care. The President’s executive orders on cutting bureaucratic regulations plus Trump’s campaign promises have sustained investors’ hopes to this point.
“Within a year or two, you’re going to see more jobs being created,” said Congressman King on President Trump’s roll back of Obama-era regulations. “I fully support what he’s doing as far as cutting back on the regulations. They got totally out of control.”
President Trump’s successful removal of over 860 regulations in his first 7 months in office and an executive order he signed on the early days of the Administration to eliminate two regulations for every new one created by the federal government has been a contributing factor in the 2.6 percent of GDP (gross domestic product) growth in the second quarter of 2017.
The economy grew at a sluggish 1.4 percent of GDP in Q1 and an anemic average of 1.5 percent of GDP in 8 years under former President Barack Obama who is the only U.S. president to not see 3 percent annual growth since the Great Depression.
While 41,000 manufacturing jobs have been created in the U.S. since President Trump was sworn in on Capitol Hill on January 20, the rate of job overall growth, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, has essentially remained the same – 184,000 jobs per month this year compared to 187,000 in 2016.
Companies such as Foxconn, Wal-Mart, Alibaba, Toyota, Ford and others have made commitments to the “blue collar billionaire” elected President to invest in the U.S. and employ American workers based on the promise of pro-business and pro-growth policies and legislation.
President Trump begins a campaign to garner support for his proposed overhaul of the federal tax system Wednesday when he visits Missouri – a state Mr. Trump won by 19 points over Hillary Clinton in November.
I will also be going to a wonderful state, Missouri, that I won by a lot in '16. Dem C.M. is opposed to big tax cuts. Republican will win S!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 27, 2017
President Trump tweeted Sunday morning with a jab at Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, who stands for re-election in The Show-Me State in 2018. McCaskill said in a statement she hopes she and the President can “find common ground.”
Congress is expected to begin pushing for tax cuts after the recess. Congress has pressing priorities such as raising the debt ceiling by the end of September to keep the government open.
Watch this reporter’s comprehensive interview with Congressman King on the embedded player above or below about Congress’ legislative priorities and whether the Republican Party will keep their promises, including “repeal and replace” of Obama’s signature Affordable Health Care Act of 2010, which Rep. King said will be “pushed to the side for a while.”
Further, the Chairman of the House Homeland Security Sub-Committee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence slams Democrats’ divisive rhetoric over the construction of the border wall on the U.S.-Mexico border that was supported by both parties in 2006. Rep. King emphasizes progress under the Trump Administration in tackling the heinous MS-13 gang that is responsible for double-digit murders this year on Long Island and discusses citizens’ roles in the nationwide opioid epidemic.
By Neil A. Carousso
President Donald J. Trump signed the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 on Friday morning in The White House East Room. It’s a long-overdue promise kept by a Commander-In-Chief who truly has the heart and respect for all those who serve bravely and proudly so that we, U.S. citizens can enjoy the benefits of freedom.
The law repairs the Department of Veterans Affairs government agency that provides health care and other services to millions of U.S. veterans. The bill was prompted by a scandal at the Phoenix VA medical center where some veterans died waiting for care while on secret wait lists and some were prescribed the wrong medications.
A VA accountability measure passed the House in 2014 but it met its fate in the Senate while former-President Barack Obama threatened to veto the bill if it went to his desk, siding with the unions that represent VA employees.
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) June 23, 2017
Pete Hegseth, a U.S. Army veteran and co-host of Fox News Channel’s top-rated morning show “Fox & Friends,” collaborated on the VA accountability bill over several years to ensure veterans receive the care they deserve without lengthy weight times and poor health care caused by government bureaucracy.
What’s In the Law:
The legislation would cut the 30-day advance notice to 10 days. It advances the appeals process that employees use to appeal any disciplinary action against them. It also reduces the evidentiary standards required to terminate an employee and it allows the VA secretary to recoup bonuses and relocation expenses in certain situations.
“Under the current disciplinary process, it takes an average 51 days to remove an employee, largely due to a 30-day notice period,” said VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin.
It also allows the VA secretary to directly appoint directors to lead VA hospitals and integrated service networks, instead of going through lengthy hiring processes. There are approximately 350,000 employees in the Department of Veterans Affairs.
True to the law’s name, it will give protection to employees who disclose poor practices and criminal activity at VA hospitals.
On March 30, Fox News reported on retaliation at the Missouri VA in which Dr. Dale Klein was punished for speaking out about long wait times at the VA hospital. Dr. Klein, a highly rated pain management specialist at the Southeast Missouri John J. Pershing VA, is being paid $250,000 a year to sit in his office and do nothing. The government prevented him from seeing veteran patients in need after serving our country because the doctor revealed sinful practices at the Missouri VA.
Stars and Stripes published a story on June 21 about U.S. Army Veteran Mike Verardo who lost a leg and an arm in an IED blast in Afghanistan in 2010. After receiving treatment at military hospitals, which included over 100 surgeries, he returned home in 2013, but “waited 57 days for his prosthetic to be repaired, with no backup, and even longer for a neurological appointment.”
Sergeant Verardo and his wife, Sarah, were present for Friday’s signing at The White House and was introduced by Secretary Shulkin. Verardo shared his emotional story at the East Room podium and thanked President Trump for his leadership in listening and acting on veterans’ needs. Verardo criticized the Obama Administration for turning a blind eye to soldiers who returned to the U.S.
President Trump gave Mr. Verardo the pen he used to sign the bill into law.
The Verardos sat in Mr. Trump’s VIP box with the Trump family during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last July. The New York Times featured Verardo in a story about vets who supported Trump for president.
The Verardos also stood beside Trump at The White House in April when the Commander-In-Chief signed an executive order creating a new office at the VA to find and remove incompetent and immoral workers.
Alarming Veterans Statistics:
In 2013, the Department of Veterans Affairs released a study that covered suicides from 1999 to 2010, which showed that roughly 22 veterans were dying by suicide per day, or one every 65 minutes. Some sources suggest that this rate may be undercounting suicides.
In 2014, an average of 20 veterans died from suicide each day. 6 of the 20 were users of VA services, according to Veterans Affairs. Vets accounted for 18 percent of all deaths from suicide among U.S. adults in 2014, while veterans constituted 8.5 percent of the U.S. population. In 2010, Veterans accounted for 22 percent of all deaths from suicide and 9.7 percent of the population.
There is continued evidence of high burden of suicide among middle-aged and older adult veterans. In 2014, approximately 65 percent of all vets who died from suicide were aged 50 years or older. There’s also a correlation between age of veterans and homelessness that is on the rise.
President Trump Keeps His Promise:
As a candidate, Mr. Trump promised to fire VA employees “who let our veterans down.” Secretary Shulkin has touted the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act bill.
“So to every veteran who is here with us today, I just want to say two very simple words: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You are the warriors and heroes who have won our freedom and we will never forget what you have done for all of us, ever.” – President Donald J. Trump, The White House, June 23, 2017
The bill cleared the House last week by a vote of 368-55, and passed the Senate unanimously by a voice vote.
In April, President Trump signed bipartisan legislation, eliminating an expiration measure enacted by the 2014 Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act. It ensures that veterans do not have to travel long distances to receive care at VA hospitals, and it expands the private-sector health program for vets. It also authorizes the sharing of certain medical records across the governmental and private sector health care systems. Mr. Trump promised that those who serve our country would be able to receive health care at any U.S. hospital – private or public – at the government’s expense and by signing this executive order, President Trump kept that campaign promise.
In June, President Trump approved a measure giving priority for federal grants to those federal and state law enforcement agencies that hire and train veterans.
According to CNN exit polls, veterans voted at a 2-1 ratio for Mr. Trump over Democrat opponent Hillary Clinton. In Ohio, North Carolina and Florida, battleground states rich with military history, several counties voted for Trump at higher numbers than GOP candidates John McCain and Mitt Romney had over former-President Obama in 2008 and 2012.
Featured Image: U.S. President Donald Trump holds up the bill after signing the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017, on June 23, 2017, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC. (Mandel Ngan—AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. Air Force Veteran and Rape Survivor Kyung Jones Shares Her Emotional Story and Explains Why She Supports Donald Trump
By Neil A. Carousso
Kyung “Grace” Jones was sexually assaulted by her father at 18-years-old, and recently, alleges was drugged and raped at a Texas bar. A strong-willed American patriot, Grace is determined to get justice and help other sexual assault and rape victims through personal mentoring and Congressional legislation.
On episode 59 of “The Neil A. Carousso Show Podcast,” Grace chats with this host for an emotional interview.
She is a Korean-American United States Air Force Veteran who bravely fought for our country for 9 years, protecting our nation’s security, freedom and core American values.
Grace discusses how she overcame her adversity, her inspiration to other sexual assault victims, sexual assault legislation, veterans health, the U.S. Military, and why she vehemently supports President Donald Trump and the Commander-In-Chief’s policies.
Listen to the roughly hour-long interview, part of the 59th episode of “The Neil A. Carousso Show Podcast,” by clicking the “play” button on the embedded SoundCloud player above.
Featured Image from Kyung Jones’s Instagram page.
By Neil A. Carousso
President Donald J. Trump’s 100th day in The White House came on Saturday, April 29. While highly scrutinized in a politically divided time in American history, facing much Democratic “resistance,” President Trump has energized his base, fulfilling many campaign promises, although, no major legislation has been passed through Congress.
Mr. Trump has demonstrated a stark contrast to the past 8 years under 44th President Barack Obama in terms of both domestic and foreign policy. The 45th President has committed to an “America First” agenda to restore blue collar American jobs in the manufacturing sector that have left from the rust belt, renegotiate trade policies to benefit the American worker, cut job-killing regulations and enforce immigration laws, deporting thousands of criminal illegal aliens.
Jobs, Jobs, Jobs
Beginning in the first hours of his presidency, Mr. Trump began cutting regulations imposed by the Obama Administration. President Trump’s philosophy, rooted in traditional conservative ideology, is to pull back on restraints on businesses, especially small businesses, that would allow them to dedicate more time to create outputs and hire more workers.
Under Trump’s pro-business policies, for every new regulation created, two regulations must be repealed.
The former business mogul also signed a House Joint Resolution to help the coal industry recover after strenuous Environmental Protection Agency regulations were imposed. Eight thousand mining jobs were created in February.
About 49,000 manufacturing jobs have been created since new year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with 12,392,000 U.S. manufacturing employees in the labor force. That is the greatest number of people employed in manufacturing in the United States since January 2009, the month that former-President Obama was inaugurated, when there were 12,561,000 people employed in manufacturing.
In February 2009, manufacturing employment dropped to 12,380,000, a number it did not exceed until February of this year, when it reached 12,381,000.
Construction jobs have also increased in the Trump Administration with 58,000 brick and mortar jobs created in February and another 6,000 in March.
At the same time, according to BLS, the number of people employed in government increased by 9,000 in March, climbing from 22,309,000 in February to 22,318,000.
Since December 2016, the U.S. has gained 49,000 manufacturing jobs and 19,000 government jobs.
In an effort to reduce the Washington bureaucratic machine, President Trump signed an executive order to place a hiring freeze on federal workers, excluding the military and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
The Chief Executive also placed a 5-year lobbying ban on government employees and a lifetime ban for members of a presidential administration to lobby on behalf of a foreign government.
President Trump signed off on the construction of the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines with the provision to use American-made piping while moving towards energy independence from nations like Saudi Arabia that sponsors terrorism and lives under the oppressive Sharia Law.
In recent weeks, Mr. Trump took steps to undo the Dodd-Frank financial regulations that have slowed bank loans and put pressure on the financial industry at the expense of small financial brokers.
The President with the encouragement of First Daughter Ivanka Trump launched a council for the advancement of women entrepreneurs and has continued to meet with American business tycoons to encourage private sector initiatives to promote women leadership in the workforce.
Since President Trump’s inauguration on January 20, the stock market has grown 12 percent with the Consumer Confidence Index at the highest mark since December 2000. The stock market incline has slowed since House Speaker Paul Ryan, at the direction of the Chief Executive, pulled the American Health Care Act from a House vote on March 24.
Big League Jobs
Since Mr. Trump was elected on November 8, 2016, a number of American companies have made major job announcements to create and save American jobs from leaving the U.S., many after personal pleadings by phone or in meetings with the incoming President. Roughly $110.2 billion in U.S. investments has been pledged with approximately 1,883,830 U.S. jobs being created that can be credited to President Trump’s pro-growth, pro-business policies.
- Carrier: Keeping 1,100 American jobs instead of sending to Mexico
2. SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son: Investing $50 billion to create 50,000 American jobs
3. Sprint: Bringing back 5,000 jobs to the U.S. that were sent overseas
4. OneWeb (new company): Creating 3,000 jobs in the U.S. (associated with Son’s guarantee)
5. Ford: Cancels $1.6 billion plant in Mexico, saving 3,500 American jobs. Creating new innovative center as an expansion of its Flat Rock, MI plant by investing $700 million in the U.S. and creating 700 American jobs
6. Qualcomm and Apple will invest in SoftBank’s new technology fund, SoftBank Vision Fund that is being used to create 50,000 American jobs.
7. Fiat Chrysler announces it would spend $1 billion on U.S. manufacturing, including modernizing plants in Michigan and Ohio, adding 2,000 new American jobs.
8. Toyota will spend $10 billion in U.S. capital investments and will expand its U.S. plants over the next five years.
9. Alibaba Chief Executive Jack Ma met with Trump to discuss the creation of 1 million American jobs, specifically focusing on small business growth.
10. Amazon will create 100,000 jobs in the first year and a half of the Trump Presidency.
11. Wal-Mart will create 10,000 jobs in the U.S. this year.
12. General Motors will invest $1 billion in its U.S. factories this year, moving some parts of production from Mexico to the United States that was previously handled by a supplier.
13. Toyota will add 400 American jobs to build more SUVs at an Indiana assembly plant.
14. Amgen will add 1,600 jobs.
15. Intel will invest $7 billion in innovation in an Arizona factory, creating 3,000 specialist positions and 10,000 support jobs.
16. Delta announces it will hire 25,000 jobs over the next 5 years.
17. Lockheed Martin will create 1,800 new jobs.
18. Exxon Mobil will invest $20 billion to create 35,000 temporary construction jobs and 12,000 high-wage permanent jobs.
19. Charter Communications will invest $25 billion in broadband infrastructure over the next four years to create 20,000 high-paying, highly beneficial American jobs.
20. Ford will invest $1.2 billion in Michigan, securing 3,700 American jobs and creating 130 jobs.
21. Toyota will invest $1.3 billion to revamp its Kentucky factory, saving 8,200 American jobs.
On day 89 of Trump’s presidency, the first businessman to occupy the Oval Office visited Wisconsin, where he was the first Republican since Ronald Reagan’s re-election to win over the Democrat Party nominee. President Trump announced an executive order, “Buy American, Hire American,” a campaign pledge to mandate American companies use American products and higher American workers before high-skilled foreign workers.
The order targets the H1-B visa program, which permits American companies to employ foreign workers in IT, engineering, mathematics and science industries. Mr. Trump, fulfilling a campaign promise, seeks to end the H1-B lottery system and replace it with a merit-bases system enforcing that foreign workers, hired by U.S. companies, are highly skilled with Americans given priority for jobs.
Since 2009, 95 million Americans left the labor force, the lowest labor participation rate since the 1970s. Thirteen million more Americans are on food stamps with about 43 million Americans living in poverty at the conclusion of the Obama Administration-era.
Peace Through Strength
President Trump plans to seek what he’s calling a “historic” $54 billion increase in defense spending, while pursuing cuts elsewhere in the federal government, as part of his upcoming budget plan. The military has been under a “sequestration,” under the Budget Control Act of 2011, with spending cuts and regulations imposed on the U.S. Armed Forces.
President Trump seeks to rebuild the military and the dilapidated military equipment to promote “peace through strength,” an ode to former-President Reagan who had the idea of beefing up the military to discourage other nations from waging war on the U.S.
Across the Armed Forces, the U.S. military equipment has been overused and in many cases part of our fleets and jets have been docked and grounded indefinitely.
Out of 276 F/A-18 Hornet strike fighters in the Marine Corps inventory, only about 30% are ready to fly, according to statistics provided by the Corps. Similarly, only 42 of 147 heavy-lift CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters are airworthy.
U.S. military spending has dropped from $691 billion in 2010 to $560 billion in 2015. The cuts came just as the planes were returning from 15 years of war, suffering from overuse and extreme wear and tear. Many highly trained mechanics in the aviation depots left for jobs in the private sector.
Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornets are supposed to have a shelf life of 6,000 hours, but they are being refurbished to extend the life to 8,000. There is talk that some aircraft might be pushed to 10,000 hours while the Marine Corps waits for the 5th-generation Joint Strike Fighter, which is slated to replace the F-18, but has been plagued by cost overruns.
President Trump has vowed to invest in American ingenuity to strengthen our military in a time of increased terror threats from radical Islamic terror groups. In terms of the budget, the Commander-In-Chief has been personally negotiating for lower prices of the F-35 fighter jets as well as Air Force One, the presidential plane.
Eradicating ISIS from the Face of the Earth
Within weeks of President Trump’s inauguration, he ordered his Defense team including Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis, and his National Security Council to draw up a plan for defeating the Islamic State that has inspired all-too-frequent terrorist attacks in our country while persecuting and beheading Christians, Jews and journalists overseas and using videos as recruitment propaganda.
Under the guide of the Islamic faith, ISIS militants seek to destroy freedom and the American way of life.
On April 13, the U.S. dropped the “Mother of All Bombs,” a 21,000-pound GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast on Islamic State fighters in an area that has been an ISIS stronghold since 2015. According to Afghan officials, the largest non-nuclear bomb with a 1-mile killing radius killed 94 Islamic State militants. While literally destroying ISIS in the region, it sent a message to our adversaries like North Korea that the U.S., under President Trump, will stand-up for American values and will not sit idly by as murderous regimes and extremists murder innocent people.
Shift in Foreign Policy
After campaigning on the idea that America shouldn’t be interfering in other countries’ conflicts, like the Syrian civil war, President Trump had an apparent change of heart after Syrian Dictator Bashar al-Assad launched a chemical weapons attack on his own civilians on April 4.
“My attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed,” said President Trump at a press conference at The White House Rose Garden alongside King Abdullah II of Jordan. Mr. Trump has spent time on the phone or has met with over 30 foreign leaders, making defeating radical Islamic terror a focal point of all foreign policy meetings.
Trump said, as the leader of the free world, it is imperative for him to remain “flexible” to changing world events.
About 63 hours after Syria heinously attacked its own people, President Trump ordered 59 Tomahawk missiles to be launched, in unison, on an airstrike on the Shayrat airfield in Western Syria, signaling that America will not be isolationists as Assad and his ally in Russia promote and attempt to conceal a vicious attack on civilians.
Chemical weapons have been used in Syria approximately 10 times since 2013, with the Syrian regime responsible for at least half of the attacks.
Former Secretary of State John Kerry and former-President Obama, himself, claimed “100 percent” of chemical weapons were removed from Syria. Since 2013, there have been 10 chemical weapons attacks on Syrian civilians with the Syrian government responsible for at least half of the heinous attacks. Obama infamously drew an unenforced “red line” that would be the Syrian government using chemical weapons.
Helping Our Heroes
On day 89, President Trump signed the “Veterans Choice Program Extension and Improvement Act,” an extension, allowing our U.S. veterans to receive private sector health care, paid by the government.
This will resolve the problematic and outrageous wait times and bureaucracy at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs with too many veterans committing suicide while waiting on line. The suicide rate among veterans has surged 35 percent since 2001, driven in part by sharp increases among those who have served since 2001, according to the largest study of such suicides. Of particular concern is the suicide rate among women, which has increased 85 percent in that time.
The veterans choice program was enacted amid the 2014 wait-time scandal. As a result, veterans can seek private health care if they live within 40 miles from a VA site. 1.5 million veterans have made 7 million appointments.
President Trump has promised to reduce the alarming veterans statistics, as an estimated 39,471 veterans are homeless on a given night, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Mr. Trump vowed to allow vets to seek private health care anywhere in the country for full coverage by the federal government.
Last week, Mr. Trump ordered the opening of a new accountability office of the VA, providing whistleblower protection for Veterans Affairs employees who sound the alarm on inefficiencies and poor treatment of U.S. veterans.
Law and Order
President Trump made immigration a core issue of his campaign for president, proposing a physical wall on the southern border to include increased Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers, video surveillance, face recognition and other technological deterrents and border control measures.
The Trump Administration is receiving hundreds of proposals from American construction companies that are applying to build the wall.
The Trump Administration is hiring of 5,000 border patrol agents and 10,000 ICE officers. Plus, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has announced the addition of 125 immigration judges to be able to process and arraign criminal illegal aliens with due process, ending the “catch-and-release” and sanctuary city policies that have enabled the harboring of criminal illegal aliens in minority communities. Sessions has also repeatedly threatened to withdraw funding from cities and states that do not enforce federal immigration law.
Since President Trump’s inauguration, the Department of Justice has published weekly reports of illegal immigrant crime, including detainer requests and deportations that have occurred. The reports reveal that MS-13 gang members from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and other countries, who economically thrive on the sale of opioids across the border, have been detained and deported. Murderers, rapists, drug dealers and other violent criminals with convictions have also been targeted, detained and deported from the U.S., as the President created a task force to reduce crime.
President Trump signed an executive order to target drug cartels while there is a violent drug epidemic in the country. Attorney General Sessions has ordered U.S. attorneys to prosecute criminal illegal aliens and drug cartel members to the fullest extent of the law.
In a shift of rhetoric and a signed order, law enforcement officers are being supported and protected. Some states have even followed with “Blue Lives Matter” legislation, increasing penalties for assaulting police officers that has become a cornerstone of the violent anti-Trump and anti-police riots that have swept the nation. The past administration embraced the radical “Black Lives Matter” movement, even protesters to The White House.
President Trump signed two travel suspension orders from radical Islamic terror riddled nations – Yemen, Somalia, Syria, Sudan, Iran and Iraq. Iraq was left off the revised order that was a “watered down version” of the first executive order, according to Trump at a post-inauguration rally in Melbourne, FL. Both have been tied up in the courts as activist judges instituted holds based on Trump’s campaign comment about a “Muslim ban.” These orders, though, did not include the most populous Muslim nation, Indonesia, or other Muslim-majority nations. These six countries fail to communicate about traveler to the U.S. and have been recent hotbeds of terror.
The November 8 exit polls revealed that the Supreme Court vacancy, left by Justice Antonin Scalia when he passed away last February, was a top issue. Of the nearly 700 counties that voted for Obama twice, one-third states flipped to support Trump. The Republican also won 194 of the 207 counties that voted for Obama either in 2008 or 2012.
On April 10, Justice Neil Gorsuch was sworn in as the 113th Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States with his first day on the Court 8 days later.
Gorsuch is a respected judge who has ruled on a number of religious liberty cases, but not abortion. He is seen as a moderate conservative justice who has ruled under the common Constitutional, originalist philosophy. Justice Gorsuch, 49, is the youngest sitting justice and the youngest to be confirmed since Clarence Thomas at 1991 at the age of 43.
President Trump has also signed executive orders to reduce business and ObamaCare regulations while cutting burdensome EPA regulations on businesses and reducing government bureaucracy.
Mr. Trump is also working across party lines, trying to engage with Democrats where appropriate. Trump has met with Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and pharmaceutical company CEOs in an effort to lower prescription drug prices.
Mr. Trump is meeting with inner-city leaders, working to implement school choice policies, allowing families to decide where to send their student children to receive an education. The President continues to meet with Congressional Black Caucus members and African American leaders to clean up inner cities after a year of record gang violence and inner-city crime.
Chicago saw 163 murders in 2016 with 786 shooting incidents in the Windy City. The sanctuary city has already seen numbers inch towards the 2016 levels in the fourth month of the 2017 calendar.
A show of patriotism, President Trump signed an order investing in NASA’s space exploration programs.
Challenges and Arguable Shortcomings
Failure to send the American Health Care Act to a House vote was embarrassing for Republicans who have campaigned on “repeal and replace” of ObamaCare for over 7 years. The GOP and President Trump set an artificial deadline to get a 3-pronged approach repeal and replacement plan through legislation, but conservative members of the Freedom Caucus were not in unison with moderate Republicans who seem to be more generous on benefits that would not reduce premiums and deductibles enough to be a major change from Obama’s signature legislation.
At first, President Trump suggested that he would move on to tax reform as the first piece of Congressional legislation to tackle, but the Affordable Health Care Act contains taxes that would ideally be cut before true tax reform can be addressed.
The MacArthur Amendment, proposed last Wednesday, to the American Health Care Act maintains many provisions in the original bill, but it would allow states to request waivers of pre-existing conditions, known as community rating. The amended ObamaCare replacement bill allows states to opt-out of the essential health benefits while protecting people with “continuous coverage.” States may waive a 30 percent surcharge in a bill for people who have a gap in coverage. The House Freedom Caucus, the conservative wing of the Republican Party that refused to endorse the AHCA, because it would not lower premium and deductible costs by large enough margins, has endorsed the MacArthur Amendment.
There has not been comprehensive tax reform since former-President Reagan’s 1986 tax cuts. Mr. Trump has proposed simplifying the 4 million-word tax code, reducing personal tax brackets to 3 and cutting taxes across-the-board. Trump also aims to reduce the corporate tax rate to 15 percent from 35 percent, the highest among developed nations, and offer incentives for companies to repatriate trillions of dollars stored and invested overseas to invest and create jobs in the U.S. The White House has also proposed a doubling to the standard deductions for middle class individuals and families and elimination of tax deductions except mortgage interest and charitable contributions. The Trump Administration is also seeking to end the estate tax, also known as the “death tax,” repeal the alternative minimum tax and ObamaCare taxes.
Congress, which was only in session 8 days in April, has set an August timetable to have healthcare and/or tax reform passed, but that is looking unlikely at this time, a blow to the ambitious Trump Agenda that requires a fast-moving legislative branch to match Mr. Trump’s unrivaled work ethic.
Moving forward, President Trump has about 1,360 days remaining in his first term. While many steps have been made to create change in Washington and implement his ambitious agenda, it will be incumbent upon the Chief Executive to pass legislation through Congress. The President will be ultimately judged on economic results for the market and American workers, keeping the country safe from terror, defeating our enemies, including radical Islam and criminal illegal aliens, and respectably leading the United States in terms of its standing in the world, energy independence, prosperity and peace.
Featured Image Courtesy of Reuters photographer Carlos Barria.
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