Obama Administration Buries Good News on Keystone Pipeline

Did the Obama Administration Bury Good News on Keystone Pipeline?

    In Washington, a presidential Administration releases news it doesn’t like at 5 p.m. on Fridays. So it pays to pay attention when everyone is leaving work for the weekend.

    Late last Friday, the State Department released a positive environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline. President Obama has been delaying this pipeline—which would carry oil from Canada to refineries in Texas—for more than three years.

    The delay has meant that America is still waiting on an additional 700,000 to 830,000 barrels of oil per day from a close ally, not to mention 179,000 American jobs.

    Why has this taken so long, when all environmental reports thus far have been positive? Heritage’s Nicolas Loris, the Herbert and Joyce Morgan Fellow, explains:

Given the need for jobs and more oil on the global market to offset high prices, the permit application had been moving along positively with bipartisan support without much attention until environmental activists made blocking the Keystone XL pipeline their issue to rally around for 2011. Although President Obama and the Department of State (DOS) said they’d make a decision at the end of 2011, they ultimately catered to a narrow set of special interests, punting the decision until after the 2012 elections.

    The State Department, which is overseeing the pipeline because it crosses a U.S. border, has “already conducted a thorough, three-year environmental review with multiple comment periods,” Loris reported last year.

    The review has been comprehensive:

DOS studied and addressed risk to soil, wetlands, water resources, vegetation, fish, wildlife, and endangered species. They concluded that the construction of the pipeline would pose minimal environmental risk. Keystone XL also met 57 specific pipeline safety standard requirements created by DOS and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

    Canada has oil to sell, and it isn’t likely to wait forever. Forbes writer Brigham McCown said that “Delays in approving the upper portion of the pipeline have bewildered many Canadians who see the U.S. as their closest ally and trading partner.”

    McCown pointed out that “Even without the pipeline, Canada will continue to extract the oil which would be most likely transported by pipeline and rail to Canada’s coast for shipment to Asian markets.”

    Because the State Department is overseeing the application, the new Secretary of State, John Kerry, will be giving his recommendation on the pipeline. Ultimately, the decision rests with President Obama. But Heritage’s David Kreutzer says Congress can, and should, step in if the President continues to block it:

Should the President reject Keystone again, Congress should wield its power to regulate commerce with foreign nations and approve the pipeline’s construction once the State Department again finishes its review of the rerouted project.

    These delays are pointless. The Keystone pipeline has passed its environmental reviews, and the Obama Administration is only hurting America by holding it up.


Where Is Congress? – What Oath of Office?

Why Is Obama’s Growing DHS Army Buying Armored Vehicles and 7000 AR-15s?

Security: In addition to stockpiling over a billion bullets and thousands of semiautomatic weapons the feds would deny U.S. citizens, the vehicle of choice for fighting the counterinsurgency war in Iraq is appearing on U.S. streets.

    The sequestration question du jour is why the Department of Homeland Security, busy releasing hundreds, if not thousands, of deportable and detained illegal aliens due to budget constraints, is buying several thousand Mine Resistant Armored Protection (MRAP) vehicles?

    And just who are they intended to be used against?

    This acquisition comes on top of the recent news of the stockpiling by DHS of more than 1.6 billion (with a ‘b’) bullets of various calibers, enough by one calculation to fight the equivalent of a 24-year Iraq War, and the ordering of some 7,000 5.56x45mm NATO “personal defense weapons” (PDW) — also known as “assault weapons” when owned by civilians.

    Additionally, DHS is asking for 30 round magazines that “have a capacity to hold thirty (30) 5.56x45mm NATO rounds.”

    The Department of Homeland Security (through the U.S. Army Forces Command) recently retrofitted 2,717 of these MRAP vehicles for service on the streets of the U.S. They were formerly used for counterinsurgency in Iraq.

   These vehicles are specifically designed to resist mines and ambush attacks. They use bulletproof windows and are designed to withstand small-arms fire, including smaller-caliber rifles such as a .223 Remington. Does DHS expect a counterinsurgency here?

   After IEDs began to take a toll on U.S. military forces in Iraq, the Pentagon ordered a large supply of MRAPs.

   “They’ve taken hits, many, many hits that would have killed soldiers and marines in unarmored Humvees,” Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a recent interview. 

    A DHS officer, Robert Whitaker, stationed in El Paso, Texas, recently proudly described the agency’s new armored toy as “Mine-resistant … we use to deliver our team to high-risk warrant services … (with) gun ports so we can actually shoot from within the vehicle; you may think it’s pretty loud but actually it’s not too bad … we have gun ports there in the back and two on the sides as well. They are designed for .50-caliber weapons.”

    This is needed to serve warrants? Perhaps it might have been useful at Waco.

    So the question is what does DHS need 1.6 billion bullets, 7,000 AR-15s and 2,700 armored vehicles for?

    What are they anticipating or planning for, and why are few in the media and Congress asking about it, particularly in the light of daily apocalyptic bleats from the administration about sequestration cuts?

DHS Supplier Provides Shooting Targets of American Gun Owners

Company produces cardboard cut-outs of “non-traditional threats”: Pregnant women, elderly & children

Paul Joseph Watson
February 19, 2013

A provider of “realistic” shooting targets to the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies has created a line of “non-traditional threat” targets that include pregnant women, mothers in playgrounds and elderly American gun owners.
DHS_target1 DHS_target2  DHS_target3  DHS_target4


DHS_target5  DHS_target6  DHS_target7








 Law Enforcement Targets, Inc. is a 21-year designer and full service provider of training targets for the DHS, the Justice Department and thousands of law enforcement agencies throughout the country.

The company’s website offers a line of “No More Hesitation” targets ”designed to give officers the experience of dealing with deadly force shooting scenarios with subjects that are not the norm during training.” The targets are, “meant to help the transition for officers who are faced with these highly unusual targets for the first time.”

The targets include “pregnant woman threat,” “older man with shotgun,” “older man in home with shotgun,” “older woman with gun,” “young school aged girl,” “young mother on playground,” and “little boy with real gun.”

Why are top training target suppliers for the government supplying the likes of the DHS with “non-traditional threat” targets of children, pregnant women, mothers in playgrounds, and elderly American gun owners unless there is a demand for such items?

This is particularly alarming given the fact that the Department of Homeland Security has purchased roughly 2 billion rounds of ammunition over the course of the last year, enough to wage a near 30 year war.

In comparison, during the height of active battle operations in Iraq, US soldiers used 5.5 million rounds of ammunition a month.

The DHS also purchased no less than 7,000 fully automatic assault rifles last September, labeling them “Personal Defense Weapons.”

The fact that targets of armed pregnant women, children, mothers in playgrounds, and American gun owners in general are being represented as “non traditional threats” “for the first time” is deeply concerning given the admitted preparations for civil unrest undertaken by Homeland Security as well as other federal agencies.

A leaked US Army Military Police training manual for “Civil Disturbance Operations” also outlines how military assets are to be used domestically to quell riots, confiscate firearms and even kill Americans on U.S. soil during mass civil unrest.

This also dovetails with the continuing characterization of Americans who are “suspicious of centralized federal authority,” and “reverent of individual liberty” as “extreme right-wing” terrorists by DHS-funded studies.

The US military trained last year to take on another “unusual target” – zombies – which some fear is just a ruse to get troops used to engaging crowds of people with deadly force. As Alex Jones documented in his film Police State 2000, numerous “urban warfare” training drills stretching back well over a decade have revolved around incarcerating and battling the American people on domestic soil.

Note: The website containing these targets has crashed since this article was published, but this graphic shows a screenshot of the page with the URL visible.

Paul Joseph Watson is the editor and writer for Infowars.com and Prison Planet.com. He is the author of Order Out Of Chaos. Watson is also a host for Infowars Nightly News.



United States and Territories, 1789-Present

United States and Territories, 1789-Present


Territorial Population at Admission


The United States Constitution came into effect, forming the new nation. Note that the states ratified at different times, but to simplify the map, the final result is shown here.


August 7, 1789: The United States Congress affirmed the organization of the Territory North West of the Ohio River, or Northwest Territory, under the terms of the Northwest Ordinance.


April 2, 1790: Congress accepts North Carolina’s cession of its western counties, which had initially been ceded on December 22, 1789. The land became unorganized territory.


May 26, 1790: The Southwest Ordinance organized the Territory South of the Ohio River, or Southwest Territory, which corresponded to present-day Tennessee.


March 4, 1791: The Vermont Republic, which had portions claimed by New York and New Hampshire and, while unrecognized by the United States, was a de facto independent country, was admitted as the 14th state, Vermont.


September 9, 1791: The District of Columbia, the nation’s federal district, was formed from land granted by Maryland and Virginia; the Virginia portion would be returned in 1847.


March 3, 1792: The federal government sold the Erie Triangle to Pennsylvania.


June 1, 1792: The western counties of Virginia beyond the Appalachian Mountains were split off and admitted as the 15th state, Kentucky.


October 27, 1795: Pinckney’s Treaty, also known as the Treaty of San Lorenzo, signed on October 27, 1795, and proclaimed on August 3, 1796, settles the northern border of West Florida as the 31st parallel.


June 1, 1796: The Southwest Territory was admitted as the 16th state, Tennessee.


April 7, 1798: Due to the Yazoo Land Fraud, an act was signed by President John Adams, authorizing him to appoint commissioners to negotiate with Georgia about ceding its western land. The act created Mississippi Territory in the region ceded by West Florida, corresponding to roughly the southern third of present-day Mississippi and Alabama except their panhandles, which were part of West Florida.


July 4, 1800: Indiana Territory was formed from the western portion of Northwest Territory. It corresponded to present-day Illinois, Indiana, northeastern Minnesota, and Wisconsin, as well as the western half of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan and all but the eastern tip of the Upper Peninsula. Northwest Territory was left with only most of Ohio and the rest of Michigan.


July 10, 1800: Connecticut ceded its Western Reserve to the federal government, which made it part of Northwest Territory, and is the northeastern part of present-day Ohio.


April 26, 1802: Georgia finally ceded its western claims, the Yazoo Lands, to the federal government, where it became unorganized land.


March 1, 1803: The southeastern portion of Northwest Territory was admitted as the 17th state, Ohio. The remainder of Northwest Territory was transferred to Indiana Territory.


April 30, 1803: The Louisiana Purchase was made, expanding the United States west of the Mississippi River. There was a dispute with West Florida over how much land east of the Mississippi River it included. West of the Mississippi, it was defined as the Mississippi Basin, whose extent was not known at the time and extends slightly north of the modern Canada-US border. It consisted of the whole of present-day Arkansas, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma, and portions of Colorado, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming. It also included the southernmost portions of the present-day Canadian provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan.


March 27, 1804: The unorganized land ceded by Georgia was added to Mississippi Territory, consisting of the whole of present-day Mississippi and Alabama, minus their panhandles which were still part of West Florida.


October 1, 1804: The Louisiana Purchase was split into the District of Louisiana, which was temporarily under the authority of Indiana Territory, and the organized Territory of Orleans, which corresponded to part of present-day Louisiana with a small portion of Texas. The western border of Orleans Territory caused further conflict with New Spain, specifically over the region between the Sabine River on the west and the Arroyo Hondo (River) on the east, which became known as the Sabine Free State. This land was later confirmed as U.S. territory by the Adams-Onís Treaty of 1819.


January 11, 1805: Michigan Territory was split from Indiana Territory, including the whole of the lower peninsula of present-day Michigan but only that eastern tip of the upper peninsula which was held by the Northwest Territory after Indiana Territory had been split from it.


July 4, 1805: The District of Louisiana was organized as Louisiana Territory.


March 1, 1809: Illinois Territory was split from Indiana Territory. Illinois Territory included present-day Illinois, northeastern Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Indiana Territory included the present-day borders of Indiana, with its western and eastern borders continuing northward; thus, it also included the central portion of the upper peninsula of Michigan, as well as Door Peninsula of present-day Wisconsin.


April 1810: The Hawaiian islands are unified as the Kingdom of Hawaii.


October 27, 1810: By proclamation by President James Madison, the United States annexed the Baton Rouge and Mobile Districts of West Florida, declaring them part of the Louisiana Purchase. These had, 90 days earlier, declared independence as the Republic of West Florida.


April 30, 1812: Most of the Territory of Orleans was admitted as the 18th state, Louisiana. The rest of the territory (the northwestern tip) was ceded to Louisiana Territory.


May 12, 1812: The federal government annexed a part of West Florida, the Mobile District, to Mississippi Territory, making the territory correspond to present-day Alabama and Mississippi.


June 4, 1812: Louisiana Territory, having the same name as a state, was renamed to Missouri Territory.


December 11, 1816: The southern portion of Indiana Territory was admitted as the 19th state, Indiana. The remainder became unorganized.


March 3, 1817 Alabama Territory was split from Mississippi Territory; both correspond to their present-day counterparts.


December 10, 1817: Mississippi Territory was admitted as the 20th state, Mississippi.


October 20, 1818: The Treaty of 1818 established the 49th parallel north west of the Lake of the Woods as the border with British-held lands, and Oregon Country was established as a shared land between the United States and United Kingdom. Oregon Country consisted of most of present-day Idaho and Oregon, all of Washington, and a portion of Montana, as well as the southern part of the Canadian province of British Columbia. The treaty transferred the Red River Basin to the United States, consisting of northwestern Minnesota, northeastern North Dakota, and the northeastern tip of South Dakota.


December 3, 1818: The southern portion of Illinois Territory was admitted as the 21st state, Illinois. The remainder was reassigned to Michigan Territory. The unorganized lands which had been a part of Indiana Territory prior to the admission of Indiana as a state were also assigned to Michigan Territory.


March 2, 1819: The southern part of Missouri Territory was organized as Arkansaw Territory, consisting of present-day Arkansas as well as part of Oklahoma. It was not officially spelled Arkansas until later.


December 14, 1819: Alabama Territory was admitted as the 22nd state, Alabama.


March 16, 1820: The Maine District of Massachusetts was split off and admitted as the 23rd state, Maine, as part of the Missouri Compromise.


July 10, 1821: The Adams-Onís Treaty or Transcontinental Treaty came into effect, establishing a defined border between the United States and New Spain. The treaty ceded Spain’s claims to Oregon Country to the United States and American claims to Texas to Spain; moved portions of present-day Colorado, Oklahoma, and Wyoming, and all of New Mexico and Texas, to New Spain; and all of Spanish Florida to the United States. The new borders intruded on Arkansaw Territory’s Miller County, created on April 1, 1820, which dipped below the Red River and into land now ceded to Spain. However, the remoteness of the region caused no serious conflict with Spain.


August 10, 1821: The southeastern corner of Missouri Territory was admitted as the 24th state, Missouri. The remainder became unorganized. Missouri did not include its northwestern triangle at this point, that being added later in the Platte Purchase.


September 27, 1821: The Viceroyalty of New Spain achieved independence as Mexico. Spanish Texas became Mexican Texas. | March 30, 1822: East Florida and the portion of West Florida not already part of other states were combined and organized as Florida Territory, which corresponded to present-day Florida. Around this time, the official spelling of Arkansaw Territory became Arkansas Territory.


November 15, 1824: Arkansas Territory was shrunk, the western portion becoming unorganized.


May 6, 1828: Arkansas Territory was shrunk further, attaining the present-day borders of Arkansas, with the remainder again becoming unorganized, excepting the land it still claimed as Miller County.


June 30, 1834: A large portion of unorganized land was added to Michigan Territory, corresponding to present-day Iowa, western Minnesota, and eastern North Dakota and South Dakota.


March 2, 1836: The Republic of Texas achieved independence from Mexico, though with a large portion of the territory disputed. It had control over the eastern half of present-day Texas, and disputed the western half, as well as portions of Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, and Wyoming. Miller County in Arkansas Territory now intruded on the borders of Texas, and the people there began to take a Texian identity, leading to both governments having representatives from the county.


June 15, 1836: Arkansas Territory was admitted as the 25th state, Arkansas. It continued to claim Miller County, with increasing irrelevance.


July 4, 1836: Wisconsin Territory was split off from Michigan Territory, consisting of present-day Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and eastern North and South Dakota. As an inducement to give up its claim over the Toledo Strip to Ohio, the whole of the present-day upper peninsula was assigned to Michigan Territory, giving it the present-day borders of Michigan.


January 26, 1837: Michigan Territory was admitted as the 26th state, Michigan.


March 28, 1837: The Platte Purchase added a small area of land to Missouri, giving it its present-day boundaries.


July 4, 1838: Iowa Territory was split off from Wisconsin Territory, consisting of present-day Iowa, western Minnesota, and eastern North Dakota and South Dakota, leaving Wisconsin Territory with northeastern Minnesota and Wisconsin.


November 10, 1842: The Webster-Ashburton Treaty settled the border between the United States and lands held by the United Kingdom east of the Rocky Mountains, ending the disputes over the northern border of the state of Maine and northeastern border of Wisconsin Territory, which today resides in present day Minnesota.


March 3, 1845: Florida Territory was admitted as the 27th state, Florida.


December 29, 1845: The Republic of Texas was admitted as the 28th state, Texas. The United States Congress passed the joint resolution of annexation on March 1, 1845, but Texas did not agree to join the union for some time after. Although the annexation resolution avoided specifying Texas’s boundaries, the U.S. inherited Texas’s unenforced claims to South Texas, West Texas, over half of New Mexico, a third of Colorado, and small parts of Oklahoma, Kansas and Wyoming. With Texas joining the union, Arkansas finally gave up its claim on Miller County.


June 18, 1846: The Oregon Treaty established the 49th parallel west of the Lake of the Woods as the continental border (so it did not include Vancouver Island) with the lands held by the United Kingdom. The sharing of Oregon Country ended, and the American portion becomes unorganized territory.


December 28, 1846: The southeast portion of Iowa Territory was admitted as the 29th state, Iowa. The remainder became unorganized.


February 2, 1848: The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the Mexican-American War. Mexico ceded the Texas-claimed areas as well as a large area of land consisting of all of present-day California, Nevada, and Utah, most of Arizona, and portions of Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming.


May 29, 1848: The southeastern portion of Wisconsin Territory was admitted as the 30th state, Wisconsin. The remainder became unorganized.


August 14, 1848: Oregon Territory was organized, including present-day Idaho, northwestern Montana, Oregon, Washington, and western Wyoming.


March 3, 1849: Minnesota Territory was organized, consisting of present-day Minnesota, and eastern portions of North Dakota and South Dakota.


September 9, 1850: The Compromise of 1850 divided the Mexican Cession and land claimed by Texas but ceded to the federal government in exchange for taking on its debts. The western portion was admitted as the 31st state, California, most of the rest was organized as Utah Territory and New Mexico Territory, and a small portion became unorganized land. New Mexico Territory consisted of most of present-day Arizona and New Mexico, as well as a southern portion of Colorado and the southern tip of Nevada. Utah Territory consisted of present-day Utah, most of Nevada, and portions of Colorado and Wyoming.


March 2, 1853: Washington Territory was split from Oregon Territory, consisting of present-day Washington, northern Idaho, and the western tip of Montana, leaving Oregon Territory with all of Oregon, southern Idaho and a portion of Wyoming.


December 30, 1853: The Gadsden Purchase added some land to New Mexico Territory, corresponding to the southernmost areas of present-day Arizona and New Mexico.


May 30, 1854: Kansas Territory and Nebraska Territory were organized; the remaining unorganized land colloquially became known as Indian Territory. Kansas Territory consisted of present-day Kansas and eastern Colorado. Nebraska Territory consisted of present-day Nebraska, and parts of Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. Indian Territory corresponds to eastern Oklahoma. A peculiarity appeared at this time, when a small strip of land north of Texas was not officially assigned by any state or territory; this came to be called the Neutral Strip or “No Man’s Land”, which corresponds to the present-day panhandle of Oklahoma.


May 11, 1858: The eastern portion of Minnesota Territory was admitted as the 32nd state, Minnesota. The remainder became unorganized.


February 14, 1859: The western portion of Oregon Territory was admitted as the 33rd state, Oregon. The remainder was assigned to Washington Territory.


February 8, 1860: Texas began claiming Greer County, Texas, controlled at that time by the federal government as unorganized territory, and now in present-day Oklahoma.


January 29, 1861: The eastern portion of Kansas Territory was admitted as the 34th state, Kansas. A peculiarity arose for the western portion. It was added to Colorado Territory on February 28, 1861; however, for the month between statehood for Kansas and the Colorado Territory being formed, it appears to have had no official status.


February 4, 1861: The Confederate States of America (CSA) was formed. The Southern states seceded at different dates and joined the CSA at different dates; to simplify the map, only the final form of the CSA is shown here. There were rebel governments as well as Union governments in Kentucky and Missouri, and the CSA had full control over Indian Territory.


February 28, 1861: Colorado Territory was organized, with land from Utah, New Mexico, and Nebraska Territories, as well as the land left over from Kansas Territory; it corresponded already to present-day Colorado. Also, the eastern tip of Washington Territory was transferred to Nebraska Territory.


March 2, 1861: Dakota Territory was split from Nebraska Territory, and included the unorganized land left over from Minnesota Territory. Dakota Territory consisted of both present-day North and South Dakota, as well as most of Montana and northern Wyoming. Nebraska Territory consisted of all of Nebraska and southeastern Wyoming. Nevada Territory was split from Utah Territory, corresponding to northwestern present-day Nevada; the eastern border was the 39th meridian west of Washington, D.C.


August 1, 1861: The Confederacy established Arizona Territory (CSA) in the southern half of the Union’s New Mexico Territory. It would be organized on February 14, 1862. It corresponded to the southern halves of present-day Arizona and New Mexico.


July 14, 1862: Due to its nature as a mining and grazing area, land started to be added to Nevada Territory to accommodate these activities. Its eastern border was moved eastward from the 39th meridian west from Washington, to the 38th meridian west from Washington, transferring the land from Utah Territory.


February 24, 1863: The Union created its own Arizona Territory, splitting it off from New Mexico Territory, making both territories correspond to their present-day states, except for Arizona Territory including the southern tip of present-day Nevada.


March 4, 1863: Idaho Territory was created from portions of Washington, Dakota, and Nebraska Territories, consisting of present-day Idaho, Montana, and most of Wyoming. Nebraska and Washington Territories were left corresponding to their present-day counterparts.


June 20, 1863: Several counties of northwestern Virginia who didn’t want to be part of the Confederacy split off and were admitted as the 35th state, West Virginia


May 26, 1864: Montana Territory was split from Idaho Territory, which also had some land transferred to Dakota Territory. Montana Territory corresponded to present-day Montana, Idaho Territory consisted of Idaho and western Wyoming, and Dakota Territory included both North and South Dakota, and most of Wyoming.


October 31, 1864: Nevada Territory was admitted as the 36th state, Nevada; it was a bit smaller than it is today, lacking area in both the east and south.


April 9, 1865: The Confederate States of America surrendered. The process of Reconstruction and readmission to the union would take several years; to simplify the map, they are shown as already readmitted.


May 5, 1866: Nevada’s eastern border was moved from the 38th meridian west from Washington, to the 37th meridian west from Washington, transferring land to it from Utah Territory.


January 18, 1867: The northwestern corner of Arizona Territory was transferred to the state of Nevada, giving it its present-day borders.


March 1, 1867: Nebraska Territory was admitted as the 37th state, Nebraska.


October 11, 1867: The United States purchased Alaska from Russia; it was designated the Department of Alaska, and corresponds, except for a boundary dispute, to present-day Alaska.


July 25, 1868: Wyoming Territory was formed from portions of Dakota, Idaho, and Utah Territories, corresponding to the present-day borders of Wyoming.


August 1, 1876: Colorado Territory was admitted as the 38th state, Colorado.


May 17, 1884: The Department of Alaska, previously under the direct control of the federal government and the military, was redesignated the District of Alaska, forming a local government.


November 2, 1889: Dakota Territory was split in two, and it was admitted as the 39th state, North Dakota, and 40th state, South Dakota.


November 8, 1889: Montana Territory was admitted as the 41st state, Montana.


November 11, 1889: Washington Territory was admitted as the 42nd state, Washington.


May 2, 1890: Oklahoma Territory was organized from the western portion of Indian Territory, and included the Neutral Strip, and corresponded to the western half of present-day Oklahoma.


July 3, 1890: Idaho Territory was admitted as the 43rd state, Idaho.


July 10, 1890: Wyoming Territory was admitted as the 44th state, Wyoming. | July 4, 1894: The Kingdom of Hawaii became the Republic of Hawaii.


January 4, 1896: Utah Territory was admitted as the 45th state, Utah.


May 4, 1896: A Supreme Court ruling officially assigns Greer County to Oklahoma Territory.


August 12, 1898: The Republic of Hawaii was annexed by the United States. | June 14, 1900: The annexed Hawaiian islands were organized as the Territory of Hawaii, and corresponded, except for including Palmyra Atoll, to the present-day state of Hawaii.


November 16, 1907: Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory were combined and admitted as the 46th state, Oklahoma.


January 6, 1912: New Mexico Territory was admitted as the 47th state, New Mexico.


February 14, 1912: Arizona Territory was admitted as the 48th state, Arizona.


August 24, 1912: The District of Alaska was organized as Alaska Territory.


January 3, 1959: Alaska Territory was admitted as the 49th state, Alaska.


August 21, 1959: Hawaii Territory was admitted as the 50th state, Hawaii, resulting in the present-day situation of the United States. The statehood act specifically excluded Palmyra Atoll from the new state; it thus became unorganized land. Since it had been incorporated as part of the Hawaii Territory, Palmyra Atoll became the only incorporated territory left in the United States.

America’s Oil Revival

The Energy Spectator

America’s Oil Revival

By William Tucker on 2.8.13

Keeping abreast of the new energy reality — how soon before the U.S. becomes an energy exporter?

Last week Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski unveiled the Republicans’ new plan for energy development. She called for a partial opening of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, the development of offshore oil tracts plus more production from federal lands. Within hours the Natural Resources Defense Council had dismissed the whole thing as “a plan from the past.” And in fact it was little more than a reiteration of the four-year-old cry, “Drill, baby, drill.”

Anyone who thinks this signals another four years of energy stalemate, however, is sadly mistaken. The very next day, energy expert Daniel Yergin was telling a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee that, if anything, Washington is completely out of the loop as to what’s happening in energy. “Our thinking has to catch up with reality,” said Yergin, head of the prestigious Cambridge Energy Research Associates. “Everything has been turned upside down.”

Indeed. Only six month ago Mitt Romney was being mocked on front pages across the nation for suggesting North America could achieve energy independence within the next decade. Romney was careful to include Canada and Mexico, but the editorial writers ignored him anyway. Now six months later you could cross out Canada and Mexico. Within a few months, Congress will be undertaking a contentious debate over whether we should become an energy exporter.

Everybody knows about the natural gas boom, of course, brought about by the new fracking technology. Prices have been driven so low that gas wells are now closing down, waiting for the glut to subside. Fracking has so much momentum that even the attempt by Matt Damon to do for fracking what The China Syndrome did for nuclear power slunk out of the theaters in about a week. Sorry, Hollywood, even star power won’t be able to stop this one.

But natural gas is only the beginning. Where indirect drilling and the new fracturing techniques will have an impact is on reviving American oil. Consider this. The Bakken Shale’s “tight oil” formation, opened for development in 2006, has lifted America’s oil output 38 percent over the last five years. That’s the equivalent of the entire output of Nigeria, OPEC’s 7th largest producer. North Dakota is booming as if it were the 1980s. Unemployment is 3.2 percent, lowest in the nation, and Wal-Mart is paying $17 an hour. Things have gotten so good that the New York Times has felt compelled to dispatch reporters to tell us how women are being harassed in oil towns and many roughnecks lack medical insurance. (But the roughnecks do have enough money to offer the women $3,000 a night to tend bar at private parties.)

Now here’s the big news. As far as tight oil is concerned, the Bakken is just square one. The Eagle Ford formation in Texas, which is just getting started, is estimated to have the same amount of reserves (3-4 billion barrels). But another 15.4 billion barrels — 64 percent of all U.S. reserves — lie in the Monterey formation of central California. (Why does California always get the best of everything?) If Golden State politicians allow this oil to be developed, it will be far more significant than the ANWR or the Keystone Pipeline.

All these American resources are open for development precisely because they are not owned by the federal government. That is the saving grace. Except for the 60 percent land west of the Rockies that is owned by the government, America has the best system in the world for developing resources. Private investment and private ownership get things done while governments everywhere are consistently bogged down in bureaucracy, “baksheesh,” red tape, environmental opposition, and every other kind of impediment.

This was emphasized again only last week when BP estimated the tight oil and shale gas resources that have become available around the world through fracking and then projected how much of these new resources are likely to be developed in the next fifteen years:

oil reserves - frackingAs you can see, oil and gas resources are fairly evenly distributed around the world except — irony of ironies! — in the Middle East. Too bad. They will have to settle for the conventional varieties. But when it comes to developing these resources there is only one place where it is going to happen — North America, which means the United States and Canada. And notice how estimated North America production in 2030 — 800 million tons of oil equivalent — is still only a drop in the bucket compared to the 50 billion tons of oil equivalent estimated to lie beneath the ground. If the rest of the world ever gets around to adopting these technologies, there will be plenty of oil and gas for everybody.

In the meantime, the willingness to develop energy resources is creating a huge division between the laggards and those willing to forge ahead. Europe, for example, is falling by the wayside. Although the Continent has ample shale gas, most countries (except Poland) have already decided not to use them. The result is the EU is becoming ever more dependent on Russian gas — which is the equivalent of putting your neck in the noose. The Russians are already shaking down Ukraine and Lithuanians have been left shivering this winter as Gazprom enforces its monopoly power. (Lithuania was put in this bind by the European Union in 2009 when it was forced to close its two nuclear reactors, which provided 70 percent of its electricity, as the price of entry.) Meanwhile, Russia and China continue to forge ahead with conventional oil and gas. Russia is planning pipelines across Siberia to reach Asia and China is buying up energy resources from Africa to Alberta (as well as in the U.S. — President Obama is afraid to rock the boat for fear China won’t lend us any more money).

What is even more interesting is the divide that is coming between the Red and Blue States. Those states with Republican governors and legislatures are forging ahead. Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma, of course, have long been the workhorses of the nation but Ohio Governor John Kasich also did a beautiful job of bringing the players together to chart Ohio’s development of its Utica Shale. Now shale gas revenues are not only filling employees’ pockets but spurring a manufacturing renaissance as well. In neighboring Pennsylvania, where Republican Governor Tom Corbett presides over an all-Republican legislature, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports: “Private landowners are reaping billions of dollars in royalties each year from the boom in natural gas drilling, transforming lives and livelihoods.” Pennsylvania royalties are moving north into the vicinity of Alaska.

Right across the border in New York, however, despair prevails. Although upstate farmers are ready to go, the state is in the clutches of New York City’s celebrity culture where Yoko Ono is leading an anti-fracking campaign out of her Central Park West apartment. Governor Andrew Cuomo, of course, is shilly-shallying, eager not to offend anyone famous. Cuomo has punted several times on the issue and will continue to dodge it as long as possible. As far as the oil and gas industry is concerned, who cares? New York’s Marcellus portion would only add to the glut, depressing prices even further. But upstate New York remains in the company of Mississippi and Alabama as the poorest regions in the nation.

Just like Governor Cuomo, President Obama will avoid taking a stand on the Keystone Pipeline as long as humanly possible. The latest postponement is until June and will undoubtedly stretch far beyond that — maybe into the next administration. But once again, it doesn’t matter much. The only losers will be those Texas refineries that were built to process the heavy Alberta tar sands. Much of that oil was slated for export as refined products anyway. Killing Keystone won’t have much impact on domestic supplies. In fact, President Obama will probably argue that the bounty from tight oil and shale gas now makes Keystone unnecessary — while claiming credit for the fracking boom himself.

The epic confrontation, however, will come when California has to decide whether to open the Monterey Shale. Will the Golden State go the way of Europe and forsake resource development? Will it go on chasing windmills and solar butterflies while sliding toward insolvency? And if California, New York, Illinois, and the other enterprise-averse states do slide into insolvency, will the prospering red states be obliged to bail them out?

Stay tuned. It’s going to be interesting.

Winning Without Fighting: Chinese Public Opinion Warfare

Winning Without Fighting: Chinese Public Opinion Warfare and the Need for a Robust American Response
By Dean Cheng
November 26, 2012

Abstract : Over the past decade, the People’s Republic of China has exhibited a growing interest in waging asymmetrical warfare. The purpose of this interest is chilling: to enable the PRC to win a war against the U.S. without firing a shot. To this end, the PRC is expanding potential areas of conflict from the purely military (i.e., involving the direct or indirect use of military forces) to the more political. Such expansion will be fueled by manipulation of public opinion, legal systems, and enemy leadership. It is essential that the United States counter the PRC’s new soft-power surge not only by rebutting political attacks, but also by taking the offensive and promoting America’s positions to a global audience.

    Over the past decade, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has exhibited a growing interest in waging asymmetrical warfare. To this end, the PRC released an initial set of regulations regarding political warfare in December 2003, before updating them in 2010. These “political work regulations” for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) address the importance of waging “the three warfares”: public opinion warfare, psychological warfare, and legal warfare.

    The “three warfares” represent the PRC’s commitment to expanding potential areas of conflict from the purely military (i.e., involving the direct or indirect use of military forces) to the more political. Such expansion will be fueled by manipulation of public opinion, legal systems, and enemy leadership. But unlike more traditional military conflict, the foundation for political warfare must be established during peacetime so as to create beneficial conditions and context for the military conflict and, in turn, precipitate an early end to a conflict on terms favorable to the PRC. Indeed, if waged successfully, political warfare allows one side to win without fighting.

    In hopes of being able to alter the strategic context of any future U.S.-PRC confrontation, the PRC is improving its ability to influence both global and Chinese public opinion. If the United States does not counter Chinese political warfare efforts, it may well find that its access to the Western Pacific is endangered by a lack of regional support—long before American forces even begin moving toward the area. In order to avoid being outmaneuvered by a PRC intent on winning without firing a shot, the U.S. must strengthen its strategic communications, public diplomacy, and media outreach capabilities.

Comprehensive Power and Cultural Security

    When the Chinese write about their conception of security, it is often couched in terms of “comprehensive national power [zonghe guojia liliang].” This concept argues that a nation should be judged not simply by its military, economic, or diplomatic power, but by a combination of all of three, as well as its scientific and technological base and its cultural influence.

    Consequently, the PRC considers many seemingly unrelated activities essential to Chinese security. China’s space capabilities, for example, contribute to Chinese comprehensive national power, not only by placing Chinese satellites and astronauts into space to obvious military and political effect, but also by fostering scientific and technical expertise and enhancing China’s economy. Space capabilities also serve as evidence of China’s growing technological prowess and scientific, industrial, and military capability and are therefore considered an important element of public diplomacy.

    At the same time, however, China’s growing interaction with the rest of the world has given rise to concerns about the PRC’s “cultural security.” In late 2011, Chinese leader Hu Jintao gave a speech in which he noted that on the international scene, one characteristic of the competition in comprehensive national power is the growing prominence of culture: “Many major nations have sought to expand their range of cultural soft-power as a means of increasing core national competitiveness.&#8221[1] As the speech goes on to note, this has meant that “international hostile forces are intensifying the strategic plot of Westernizing and dividing China, and ideological and cultural fields are the focal areas of their long-term infiltration.&#8221[2] The cultural competition is seen not simply as the proliferation of Western videos and entertainment, but as an aspect of ideological struggle.

    This question of “cultural security” is fueled by two elements. The first issue is the residue of what the Chinese term “the Century of Humiliation,” during which China was bullied and exploited by foreign powers. There is a concern that, despite its economic rise and growing military prowess, China remains subject to foreign influences that will undermine its culture. As one Chinese observer has noted, “as an importer of cultural products, ideas, and technologies since the 19th Century, China has every reason to worry about its cultural identity.&#8221[3] China has long demonstrated less confidence in its cultural security and identity than, for example, its Japanese neighbors.

    The second issue driving these concerns about “cultural security” is the PRC’s belief that Chinese cultural products are not given a “fair shake.” For example, Chinese articles lamented that Zhang Yimou’s “Flowers of War,” starring Christian Bale and believed to be the most expensive movie yet made in China, was not even nominated for the Oscar for best foreign film[4] Some believe that this was because of pressure to deny China its due recognition. Conversely, awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo is seen as using the award to criticize China.

The Three Warfares: Winning Without Firing a Shot

    There is a military aspect to the PRC’s focus on public opinion, embodied in the concept of “the three warfares.” Chinese military writings emphasize the importance of influencing global public opinion so as to coerce opponents into compliance without having to go to war and to influence an enemy’s leadership, domestic population, and military in the event of conflict, as well as to garner international support.

    Chinese writings suggest that Beijing has accorded ever greater importance to public opinion since the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s, when NATO’s aerial bombardment and public diplomacy combined to undermine Slobodan Milosevic—a combination that was equally as effective during the 2003 Iraq war. Indeed, the ability of coalition forces to undermine popular support for the Milosevic and Saddam Hussein regimes, influence global views, and preserve domestic support are seen by the PRC as key factors in the outcome of each conflict.

    Such an ability to influence popular will and shape perceptions, according to PLA writings, constitutes political combat styles under informationalized conditions (xinxi tiaojian xia de zhengzhi xing zuozhan yangshi). These styles are codified for the PLA in the “People’s Liberation Army Political Work Regulations” as the “three warfares”: public opinion warfare, psychological warfare, and legal warfare[5] They employ the range of national resources, including military, civilian, and hard and soft power, guided by the overall military strategy, to secure the political initiative and psychological advantage over an opponent, debilitating one’s opponent while strengthening one’s own will and securing support from third parties[6]

The “Three Warfares”

As noted in a previous Heritage Foundation Backgrounder on legal warfare, public opinion warfare is one of the “three warfares” (san zhan), the third being psychological warfare[7] Chinese analyses almost always link these three types of combat together, as they are seen as interrelated and mutually reinforcing. Specifically, the “three warfares” seek to influence the public’s understanding of a conflict by retaining support from one’s own population, degrading it in an opponent, and influencing third parties. Public opinion/media warfare is the struggle to gain dominance over the venue for implementing psychological and legal warfare. It is seen as a form of warfare independent of armed confrontation or actual hostilities. Indeed, it is perhaps understood most accurately as a constant, ongoing activity aimed at long-term influence of perceptions and attitudes. One of the main tools of public opinion/media warfare is the news media, including both domestic and foreign entities. The focus of public opinion/media warfare is not limited to the press, however; it involves all of the instruments that inform and influence public opinion (e.g., movies, television programs, books). Psychological warfare seeks to disrupt an opponent’s decision-making capacity by creating doubts, fomenting anti-leadership sentiments, and generally sapping an opponent’s will. Legal warfare seeks to justify a nation’s own actions legally while portraying an opponent’s activities as illegal, thereby creating doubts, both among adversary and neutral military and civilian authorities and in the broader population, about the wisdom and justification of an opponent’s actions. In essence, both psychological warfare and legal warfare require the use of public opinion warfare in order to have greatest effect. Public opinion warfare and legal warfare require psychological warfare guidance so that their targets and methods can be refined. Public opinion warfare and psychological warfare require legal warfare information in order to be their most effective[8]

Public Opinion Warfare: Chinese Definitions

    Public opinion warfare (yulun zhan) refers to the use of various mass information channels, including the Internet, television, radio, newspapers, movies, and other forms of media, in accordance with an overall plan and defined objectives to transmit selected news and other materials to the intended audience. It is directed primarily at an opponent’s military forces and is intended to complement national political, diplomatic, and military operations.

    The purpose of public opinion warfare is to shift the overall balance of strength between a nation and that nation’s opponents[9] Such an impact demands more than just securing exposure for a particular point of view or a set of facts. Rather, the goals are to preserve friendly morale, generate public support at home and abroad, weaken the enemy’s will to fight, and alter the enemy’s situational assessment. Public opinion warfare is both a national and a local responsibility, and it will be undertaken not only by the PLA, but also by the People’s Armed Police.

Pillars of Public Opinion Warfare

Chinese writings on public opinion highlight certain themes that provide a conceptual starting point and framework that govern all related military operations. These themes include:

  • Follow top-down guidance. Public opinion warfare must support national political, diplomatic, and military objectives. Its actions must be consistent with the larger national strategy as laid out by the top levels of leadership (i.e., the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee and the Central Military Commission). Consequently, public opinion warfare measures must follow higher-level guidance on content and timing.
  • Emphasize preemption. In undertaking public opinion warfare, the side that plants its message first enjoys a significant advantage. Chinese analyses of public opinion warfare emphasize that the “the first to sound grabs people, the first to enter establishes dominance (xian sheng duoren, xianru weizhu).” Essentially, the objective is to establish the terms of the debate and define the parameters of coverage. By presenting its message first, the PLA expects to underscore the justice and necessity of its operations, accentuate national strength, and exhibit the superiority of its forces—all in an effort to undermine an opponent’s will to resist[10]
  • Be flexible and responsive to changing conditions. Under the unified leadership structure and consistent with the requirements of unified, joint operations, commanders should implement public opinion warfare in a flexible manner, taking into account shifts in the political and military situation. At the same time, these commanders should also tailor their methods with respect to specific operations rather than pursuing a one-size-fits-all approach. Thus, when engaging in public opinion warfare against what the PRC considers “secessionist elements,” for example, it is important to use different propaganda activities, depending on the audience. “One must make distinctions between the more stubborn elements and the general populace.&#8221[11]
  • Exploit all available resources. Chinese military writings regularly invoke the ideals of combining peacetime and wartime operations, civil-military integration, and military and local unity (pingzhan jiehe, junmin jiehe, jundi yiti). This emphasis is especially pronounced in public opinion warfare, as civilian resources for public opinion warfare vastly outweigh military ones. Civilian and commercial assets—news organizations, broadcasting facilities, Internet users, etc.—are seen as an invaluable resource in getting China’s message before both domestic and global audiences. Moreover, the use of civilian assets could uncover better techniques and information than might be available through purely military channels[12]

    Within this construct, Chinese writings suggest that, like any other military operation, there are both offensive and defensive components of public opinion warfare. For instance, offensive public opinion warfare seeks to undermine the enemy’s will and weaken any external support while garnering friends and allies. In the first Gulf War, the U.S. used its considerable advantage in information dissemination to bombard the Iraqi military and civilian population with various messages that undermined both Iraq’s will to fight and the people’s faith in Saddam Hussein. In the U.S. war with Afghanistan, Washington employed public opinion warfare mechanisms to create an anti-terrorism coalition, gain support from other major nations, and allay concerns in Arab and Muslim nations[13]

    On the other hand, defensive public opinion warfare is waged to counter enemy public opinion warfare. It entails strong education and news management efforts designed to ensure that the domestic population is not exposed to enemy messages and that, even if they are, those messages will not take root. Defensive public opinion warfare requires prompt, credible responses to enemy criticisms and charges.

    This latter aspect can be achieved only through careful preparation of the public opinion battleground in peacetime. That is, there must be extensive research into tactics and methods for undertaking public opinion warfare, understanding potential opponents’ psychology and national moods, and the nurturing of public opinion warfare specialists. For this reason, PLA writings consistently invoke the saying, “Before the troops and horses move, public opinion is already underway (bingma weidong, yulun xianxing),” emphasizing that the preparation for public opinion warfare must begin far in advance of the actual outbreak of hostilities[14]

Public Opinion Warfare in the Second Gulf War

    For PLA analysts, the second Gulf War provided a demonstration of public opinion warfare under informationized conditions[15]

    According to Chinese analyses, Coalition public opinion warfare efforts began long before the outbreak of overt hostilities in March 2003. Indeed, one Chinese analysis suggests that the United States was waging public opinion warfare against Iraq at least from the time of 9/11, if not the end of the first Gulf War, constantly demonizing Saddam Hussein and Iraq[16] Such a protracted period of public opinion preparation acclimatized both the American and global audience to the idea that Iraq posed a threat to the world. Consequently, when President George W. Bush labeled Iraq part of the “Axis of Evil,” the ground had been prepared for that characterization to take hold.

    Once the decision to go to war had been made, the United States then sought to maintain this early advantage by exploiting its enormous media strength to shape national and global public opinion. According to Chinese writings, this advantage was heightened because Western media, especially American and British news organizations, were aligned with, if not actively subordinate to, the Anglo-American authorities. In an example of how a nation’s own system shapes its perceptions of others, Chinese writings describe the U.S. government as employing CNN and NBC to influence both American and global public opinion in support of the war with Iraq[17] Other Chinese writings suggest that the American media were complicit in claiming that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, because they were “under the control of the government and the military [meiguo meiti you zai zhengfu he junfang de caokong xia].&#8221[18]

    From the Chinese perspective, the “embed” program for journalists was an especially effective means of influencing the global perception. By allowing reporters onto the front lines, it allowed the U.S. to broadcast its operations directly to a global audience, underscoring the power of American military forces. Moreover, Chinese analyses conclude that by incorporating foreign journalists into the program, including ones drawn from China and other nations skeptical of the U.S., American public opinion warriors were able to project an image of objectivity and transparency. If American journalists could be dismissed as being naturally pro-U.S., it would be harder to make the same accusation against journalists from non-Coalition countries[19]

    Meanwhile, to further support its public opinion warfare campaign, in August 2002, with the help of Iraqi dissident groups and exiles, the U.S. created a satellite television station[20] Coupled with a military decision to leave Iraqi communications and broadcasting infrastructure intact (unlike in the Balkan conflicts), the U.S.—as perceived by the PRC—was able to transmit a range of false messages and inaccurate information to undermine Iraqi resistance, using both Iraqi and other frequencies.

American Strategic Communications and Public Diplomacy Policy

    The PRC’s interpretation of basic press coverage reflects a fundamentally different view of the relationship between the media and the government. That the PRC would see the major news networks as adjuncts, never mind agents, of American policy suggests that an underlying Chinese assumption is that the press exists to influence rather than inform the audience. This is obviously a fundamental misreading of the role of the Fourth Estate.

    Yet it is ironic that the PRC should express such concern about American public diplomacy, strategic communications, and media policy, given the restrictions and limitations imposed on the ability of the U.S. government to inform as well as influence global opinion.

    First, the American strategic communications effort is declining amid a global information explosion. Despite the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors’ (BBG) 2012-2016 Strategic Plan, which called for such programs as Voice of America and Radio Free Asia to be part of the “world’s leading international news agency” by 2016, the BBG’s offerings are shrinking. Efforts to reach audiences in Pashto and Dari (key languages in Pakistan), Tibet, and Bangladesh, among others, are being scaled back even as Chinese investment, broadcasts, and overall presence increases in each region.

    This decrease in America’s strategic communication channels, coupled with the spike in PRC broadcasts, has sparked bipartisan concerns. For example, Representative Zoe Lofgren’s (R-CA) recent letter to the BBG questions the decision to consolidate Radio Free Asia, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, echoing concerns expressed by Representatives Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)[21]

    Second, even these limited efforts are hampered by outdated restrictions, such as the Smith-Mundt Act. The U.S. Information and Educational Exchange Act, first enacted in 1948, was intended to counter Communist propaganda. Specifically, it codified how the United States could engage in public diplomacy, authorizing international broadcasting efforts such as the Voice of America and promoting cultural and educational exchanges with the rest of the world through the State Department.

    Concerned about the potential for governmental misuse of this set of powers, Smith-Mundt prohibited the domestic dissemination of any materials intended for foreign audiences; in short, U.S. public diplomacy was not to be employed where it might feed back to an American audience. While this was viable in an age of radio and TV broadcasts, the rise of the Internet and a global information system effectively stymies most forms of strategic communications and public diplomacy, at least in the context of Smith-Mundt.

    Meanwhile, military psychological operations, or what is now termed military information support operations (MISO), are also facing possible budget cuts. In May of this year, for instance, Representative Hank Johnson (D-GA) tabled an amendment to reduce MISO-related funding by nearly one-third[22] In the face of Chinese public opinion warfare efforts, such massive reductions cripple the U.S.’s ability to influence others.

Chinese Lessons and Possible Approaches

    As a result of their observations of the second Gulf War, as well as their own views of the principles of public opinion warfare, PLA analysts now advocate that such warfare must be considered within the larger context of the overall goals of a conflict.

    An essential lesson that the PLA seems to have derived from the second Gulf War is that to truly rival the U.S., it must attempt to counter the American advantage in global access and coverage. As one Chinese article puts it, propaganda guidelines should seek to establish news dominance (xinwen quan) and information dominance (xinxi quan) on the path to obtaining psychological dominance (xinli quan)[23] In this regard, the Chinese seem to be committed to developing a much more efficient strategic communications infrastructure. Starting in September 2011, for example, the Chinese Foreign Ministry began to offer daily press briefings instead of the twice-weekly ones that were begun in 1995. Earlier that year, the Defense Ministry began holding monthly press conferences for the first time[24]

    In this context, China’s expansion of its global news coverage should be seen as part of the peacetime preparation for public opinion warfare. These developments include the creation of a 24-hour English-language global news service under the aegis of the government news agency Xinhua, as well as the expansion of state-owned China Central Television (CCTV) to a more global presence[25] Given the concern about shaping public opinion and the belief that such news organizations as CNN and Fox News are in the service of the U.S. government, it may well be that these new news entities are intended to counter Western news coverage by providing a Chinese view of global developments.

    Similarly, although at a more subtle level, the expansion of the Confucius Institutes around the world may be seen as an attempt to alter the world’s image of China[26] These institutes are often embedded within universities or secondary schools and are funded by the hosting institution and the Office of Chinese Language International, which is affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Education. The Confucius Institutes promote Chinese language training but focus on “providing information about China’s education, culture, economy, and society, as well as facilitating research on China.”[27]

Countering the PRC Soft-Power Surge

    Chinese security planners are concerned that they are vulnerable to strategic communications and public diplomacy aimed at the general populace. Consequently, Chinese leaders warn about “cultural security” and are intent on building Chinese “soft power,” both as a peacetime response to foreign pressure and as a potential tool in wartime.

    America’s response to this surge of Chinese “soft power,” therefore, must take into account both peacetime and possible wartime applications. American efforts to shape and influence public opinion must be prepared not only to defend the United States by rebutting attacks, but also to take the offensive and promote America’s positions to a global audience. Public diplomacy efforts will be essential in both cases[28]

    Like the PRC, then, the United States needs to influence foreign leaders and populations on a daily basis. This cannot be accomplished through momentary, ad hoc efforts; rather, the U.S. must present itself as a reliable source of information, available on a regular basis. The PRC, like other regimes, seeks to limit discussion and avoid the dissemination of information; the American interest is best served by the free flow of information, both in times of peace and in times of war.

    In the event of a conflict, though, the U.S. needs to have available additional methods by which it can project American messages to an adversary’s population and decision makers and rebut efforts to influence American allies and friends, as well as neutral states. In order to meet this requirement, current public diplomacy efforts should be overhauled and expanded. This reform should be a priority for the next Administration.

    In the meantime, there are steps that can and should be taken in the near term to show China and the world that the U.S. is serious about competing in the global marketplace of ideas. Specifically, the U.S. should:

  • Demand visa parity for U.S. journalists and public access for U.S. broadcasters. The PRC has several hundred journalists operating in the United States, most of whom work for state-owned media outlets. Yet Beijing is unwilling to grant reciprocal access to foreign journalists, including Americans. It should be American policy to demand comparable access for American journalists or else to reduce the size of the Chinese presence in the U.S.
  • Fill public diplomacy leadership positions promptly. The U.S. government needs officials who are accountable for carrying out a new public diplomacy strategy. The Broadcasting Board of Governors, for example, is currently operating with most of its members still serving on expired terms.
  • Improve strategic communications and public diplomacy training for military public affairs officers. The Chinese see public opinion as playing a key role in shaping the global and operational environment, and during any military conflict, they likely will strive to influence such sentiment. American military public affairs officers (PAOs) need to be cognizant of this and be suitably trained and prepared both to respond and, when possible, to seize the initiative.
  • Sustain funding for MISO operations. A review of Chinese assessments of American psychological warfare/MISO operations in recent conflicts indicates that the PLA and Chinese decision-makers in general are very concerned with the West’s ability to propagate its message to both senior leaders and the broader populace in wartime as well as peacetime. For the United States to reduce spending in this area unilaterally, especially when total MISO-related spending is about $250 million (equivalent to the cost of two F-35 fighters), would seem to be penny-wise and pound-foolish.


    The information era provides unparalleled access to both a nation’s leaders and its population. The PRC has made clear that, in the event of a conflict, it will exploit that access to try to influence an adversary in hopes of winning a war without firing a shot. Even today, during a time of peace, the PRC is laying the groundwork for such soft-power operations. It is therefore essential that the United States counter that influence now while preparing to use its own arsenal of political warfare weapons should a conflict ever arise.

—Dean Cheng is Research Fellow in Chinese Political and Security Affairs in the Asian Studies Center at The Heritage Foundation.

[1] Hu Jintao, “Holding Unswervingly to a Socialist Cultural Development Path with Chinese Characteristics, Strive to Build a Nation Strong in Socialist Culture,” Qiushi, January 4, 2012, (accessed October 15, 2012).

[2] Edward Wong, “China’s President Lashes Out at Western Culture,” The New York Times, January 3, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/04/world/asia/chinas-president-pushes-back-against-western-culture.html.

[3] Xinhuanet, “China’s Cultural Security Lies in Openness and Exchanges,” October 27, 2011, (accessed October 15, 2012).

[4] “Golden Statuette Can Help Elevate Cultural Appeal,” Global Times, February 27, 2012, (accessed October 15, 2012).

[5] A new edition of the PLA Political Work Regulations was released in September 2010. Xinhuanet, “Newly Established ‘Political Work Regulations of the PLA’ Are Promulgated,” September 13, 2010, http://military.people.com.cn/GB/1076/52984/12714077.html (accessed October 15, 2012).

[6] Academy of Military Sciences, Operations Theory and Regulations Research Department and Informationalized Operations Theory Research Office, Informationalized Operations Theory Study Guide (Beijing, PRC: AMS Press, November 2005), p. 403.

[7] Dean Cheng, “Winning Without Fighting: Chinese Legal Warfare,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2692, May 21, 2012, /research/reports/2012/05/winning-without-fighting-chinese-legal-warfare.

[8] Liu Kexin, Study Volume on Legal Warfare (Beijing, PRC: National Defense University Press, 2006), pp. 18, 34–37.

[9] Academy of Military Sciences Operations, Informationalized Operations Theory Study Guide, p. 405; Liu Gaoping, Study Volume on Public Opinion Warfare (Beijing, PRC: NDU Press, 2005), pp. 16–17.

[10] Yao Fei, “Some Thoughts Regarding Our Military’s Anti-Secessionist Public Opinion and Propaganda Policies,” Military Correspondent (PRC), No. 5 (2009), (accessed October 15, 2012); Ji Chenjie and Liu Wei, “A Brief Discussion of Public Opinion Warfare on the Web,” Military Correspondent (PRC), No. 1 (2009), (accessed October 15, 2012).

[11] Ibid.

[12] Wang Zijun, Chen Tao, and Mo Jinshan, “Explaining People’s Armed Police Public Opinion Warfare Thought,” Hebei Legal Newspaper, April 6, 2010, (accessed October 15, 2012).

[13] Sheng Peilin, Wang Lin, and Liu Ya, eds., 100 Examples of Public Opinion Warfare (Beijing, PRC: PLA Publishing House, 2006), pp. 162–163, 208–209.

[14] Nanjing Political Academy, Military News Department Study Group, “Study of the Journalistic Media Warfare in the Iraq War,” China Military Science, No. 4 (2003), p. 28.

[15] “Informationized conditions” refers to the application of information technologies to all aspects of warfare, including command and control, logistics, weapons, intelligence, etc. In the Chinese view, it is the military aspect of the Information Era, in which technology developments have facilitated the collection, storage, management, analysis, and exploitation of information. Future wars are described by the PLA as “Local Wars Under Informationized Conditions.” Xie Zheng, On Informationized Operations (Beijing, PRC: Academy of Military Sciences Publishing House, 2006), p. 5.

[16] Nanjing Political Academy, “Study of the Journalistic Media Warfare in the Iraq War,” p. 28.

[17] Fan Gaoming, “Public Opinion Warfare, Psychological Warfare, and Legal Warfare, the Three Major Combat Methods to Rapidly Achieving Victory in War,” Global Times, March 8, 2005.

[18] Liu, Study Volume on Public Opinion Warfare, p. 27.

[19] Nanjing Political Academy, “Study of the Journalistic Media Warfare in the Iraq War,” p. 32.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Representative Zoe Lofgren, letter to Michael Lynton, Interim Presiding Governor, Broadcasting Board of Governors, June 7, 2012, (accessed October 17, 2012).

[22] Tom Vandenbrook, “House Panel Calls for Serious Cuts to Propaganda Spending,” USA Today, May 17, 2012, http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/story/2012-05-17/congress-information-operations-funds/55045982/1(accessed October 15, 2012).

[23] Nanjing Political Academy, “Study of the Journalistic Media Warfare in the Iraq War,” p. 30.

[24] Yan Weijue, “Ministry to Hold Daily News Conferences,” China Daily, September 1, 2011, http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2011-09/01/content_13595060.htm (accessed October 15, 2012); Xinhuanet, “China’s Military Diplomacy Boosts Relations with Foreign Forces in 2011: Defense Ministry,” January 17, 2012, (accessed October 15, 2012).

[25] Xinhua, “Xinhua Launches CNC World English Channel,” July 1, 2010, (accessed October 15, 2012); Tania Branigan, “Chinese State TV Unveils Global Expansion Plan,” The Guardian (UK), December 8, 2011, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/08/china-state-television-global-expansion (accessed October 15, 2012).

[26] Helle Dale, “The State Department’s Confusion over Confucius Institutes,” The Heritage Foundation, The Foundry, June 13, 2012, http://blog.heritage.org/2012/06/13/the-state-departments-confusion-over-confucius-institutes/.

[27] Guo Xiaolin, Repackaging Confucius: PRC Public Diplomacy and the Rise of Soft Power (Stockholm, Sweden: Institute for Security and Development Policy, January 2008), p. 32.

[28] For an extensive discussion of public diplomacy, see Helle C. Dale, Ariel Cohen, and Janice A. Smith, “How Other Countries Are Using Public Diplomacy to Oppose the U.S.,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2698, June 21, 2012, /research/reports/2012/06/challenging-america-how-russia-china-and-other-countries-use-public-diplomacy-to-compete-with-the-us.

Six Entitlement Reforms to Solve the Real Fiscal Crisis


Six Bipartisan Entitlement Reforms to Solve the Real Fiscal Crisis: Only Presidential Leadership Is Needed

By J.D. Foster, Ph.D. and Alison Acosta Fraser
November 30, 2012

Abstract: The United States faces a real fiscal crisis, and the impending fiscal cliff of massive tax hikes and spending cuts in January is only the first act. In early 2013, the federal government will exhaust its ability to issue debt legally. Yet as large and as major a concern as federal budget deficits are today, they are of secondary consequence compared with the fiscal quagmire of unaffordable entitlement spending in the next decade. Fortunately, the entitlement problem can be resolved by six simple reforms to improve the fiscal future for Social Security and Medicare. But to implement these reforms, President Barack Obama must lead.

A high-stakes fiscal policy debate of unique size and import has just begun. Absent congressional action to the contrary, a massive slate of tax hikes and spending cuts will take effect on January 1, and that is only the first act. The second act will occur early in 2013 when the federal government will exhaust its ability to issue debt legally. Both acts need prompt solutions.

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R–OH) made the first move. After congratulating President Barack Obama upon his reelection, Boehner promised a willingness to work with him, giving Obama the additional revenues he desired through pro-growth tax reform accompanied by reforms in entitlement programs.[1] President Obama’s counter, while unsurprising, was unhelpful because he focused exclusively on fiscally meaningless and economically harmful tax hikes on upper-income taxpayers. The President repeatedly has argued for a balanced approach, but he has yet to offer a single meaningful proposal on spending reductions.

While the President prepares to start his second term, he should set about negotiating in good faith with Republicans, especially in the House where Republicans were returned to office in the majority with expectations of cutting spending without increasing taxes. The voters, we are told, expect it. This means the President cannot sit back and just harp on revenues. He needs to address spending and in particular entitlements.

Fortunately, the President has occasion and opportunity to lead by proposing some simple yet transformational reforms in two of the prime sources of the nation’s fiscal problems: Social Security and Medicare. Better yet, many such reforms have already been thoroughly considered and enjoy broad bipartisan support, lacking only the moment and the leadership to become a reality. These proposals will not resolve either program’s key structural flaws—they constitute a start of the reform journey, not the conclusion—but they would be a powerful start that would markedly alter the nation’s fiscal trajectory.

At the start of a President’s second term, the political stars are in the best possible alignment for solving big problems. All the President needs to do is seize the moment. This is the moment; President Obama must lead.

Fiscal Cliff: By Design, Not by Chance

Many events arrive by chance, but the present fiscal spectacle is not one of them. The fiscal cliff results from explicit actions by Congress and the President to push difficult fiscal policy issues past the recent election. In this, they succeeded, although it took a series of legislative acts to accomplish it. With regard to taxes:

  • The payroll tax cut, extended in the spring of 2012, will expire on December 31, 2012.
  • The extension of the Bush tax cuts, signed into law in December 2010, will expire at the end of the year.
  • This same law also established a new structure for the death tax with a 35 percent rate and a $5 million exemption per spouse, which will expire at the end of the year.
  • Various Obamacare tax hikes begin at the start of 2013.[2]

The same pattern holds for the spending cuts. For example, the sequester slated to gouge defense spending while making modest cuts—such as a 2 percent across-the-board cut to Medicare providers—reflects the final leavings of the earlier Budget Control Act, which created the failed “supercommittee.” Early in 2012, Congress also prevented deep and disastrous reductions in Medicare provider payments, but this “doc fix” remedy expires at the end of the year.

In May 2011, the federal government exhausted its legal authority to finance deficit spending by issuing debt. The U.S. Department of the Treasury exercised its typical but limited authorities for temporarily creating more room under the “debt limit,” allowing policymakers to postpone action until early August. A brutal and economically risky political battle ensued, eventually resulting in legislation that raised the debt limit by $2.1 trillion, sufficient to fund the federal government past the November election.

Projections now suggest that the government will reach the debt limit late in 2012, after which the Treasury will again deploy its limited authorities. This will trigger what could be another difficult negotiation for Congress and President Obama—a negotiation that will be heavily influenced by what happens with the fiscal cliff.

No Time for Distractions

President Obama clearly believes in raising taxes on upper-income taxpayers, and he is willing to weaken the economy, slow job growth, and constrain wage growth to do so. It is difficult to fathom his acceptance of this trade-off of economic security for an ideological doctrine of social justice, especially considering that this long-standing debate likely will rage indefinitely. However, these tax hikes are a distant sideshow in the present context, a political distraction that diverts attention from the central fiscal issue of runaway spending, which gives rise to persistent and economically dangerous deficits.

In his own budget, the President proposed to extend the Bush tax cuts except for those making $250,000 or more, raising $836 billion over the next 10 years. His companion proposal to limit the value of deductions for upper-income taxpayers would raise another $574 billion, for a total of $1.4 trillion. In absolute terms, that is a lot of revenue. However, even allowing for all the other budget gimmicks and tax hikes in Obama’s budget, the federal debt would rise by $7.7 trillion over the next 10 years including these tax hikes and by $9.1 trillion without them.

Obama’s tax hikes would reduce the rise in federal debt over the next 10 years by about 15 percent. The President is silent about the remaining 85 percent. The numbers confirm that President Obama’s tax hike demands are at best tangential to attaining a balanced budget.

Fiscal Cliff Today, Entitlement Crisis Tomorrow

As large and as major a concern as federal budget deficits are today, they are nevertheless secondary in consequence to the fiscal quagmire of unaffordable entitlements. Social Security and Medicare in particular share certain vital characteristics. Both programs are extraordinarily complicated, having been built up in complexity over the years one Congress at a time. Similarly, each program badly needs programmatic reforms. For example, the minimum benefit in Social Security is woefully inadequate to protect low-income seniors from poverty, and Medicare still lacks a catastrophic benefit. These are only some of the many shortcomings that must be addressed in fundamental overhauls of each program.

Of most immediate concern, however, is that Social Security and Medicare are unaffordable in their current forms. When this year’s kindergarteners enter college, just 13 years away, spending on these two programs plus Medicaid and interest on the debt will devour all tax revenue. (See Chart 1.)


Social Security will lack the funds to pay full benefits beginning as early as 2033.[3] Medicare’s unfunded promises in current dollars reach into the many tens of trillions of dollars. These facts are not in dispute. Solutions to our fiscal challenges are needed, urgent, and inevitable.

Carpe Diem, Mr. President

The fiscal cliff and the debt limit have set the stage, but there is also the reality of the rhythms in the American political system. There are certain windows in every four-year or eight-year cycle when bold leaders can achieve bold things. The first few months of a reelected President’s second term is one such window, but it closes fast, and lame-duck status arrives quickly.

Thus, the President must adopt the mantle of leadership, rather than brinksmanship, to steer the nation away from the fiscal cliff and all that is set to follow, and he must start with spending. However, the critical silver lining is that simple, commonsense, and thoroughly vetted solutions such as the four listed below constitute a strong start on the journey to more complete programmatic reforms remedying acknowledged flaws in these programs, and they already enjoy broad support across the political spectrum.

  1. Raise the Social Security eligibility age to match increases in longevity. Originally set at 65, the normal eligibility age is rising two months every year until 2022, when it will reach 67. According to the Social Security actuaries, continuing to increase the eligibility age to 69 by the year 2034 and allowing it to rise more slowly thereafter to reflect gains in longevity could go a long way toward reducing Social Security’s funding shortfall.[4] While this would not reduce today’s budget deficit, it would strengthen Social Security’s finances and dissipate far more important long-term budget pressures.
  2. Correct the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). The annual COLA benefit adjustment is determined today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index (CPI). However, the CPI, an antiquated measure, generally overstates inflation, meaning that benefits are increased a bit too much each year to offset inflation. The effect on benefits in a given year of switching to a more accurate inflation measure is minute, but Social Security spans generations.[5] Again, according to the Social Security actuaries, using a more modern inflation measure would substantially reduce Social Security’s shortfall over time.
  3. Raise the Medicare eligibility age to agree with Social Security. Medicare has an eligibility age problem, but unlike Social Security, the Medicare eligibility age remains stuck at 65. An obvious solution is to wait five years and then slowly raise the eligibility age to align eventually with the Social Security eligibility age. While the short-term budgetary savings would be negligible, the long-term savings in Medicare would be profound.
  4. Reduce the Medicare subsidy for upper-income beneficiaries. In 2012, the average Medicare beneficiary received a subsidy of about $5,000. The subsidy is the per capita amount of Treasury revenue that is used to fill the financial hole arising each year because Medicare’s premiums are inadequate, in conjunction with its other revenue sources, to cover Medicare’s total costs. Subsidizing Medicare benefits for low-income seniors—and perhaps for some middle-income seniors—makes sense, but upper-income seniors do not need and should not receive a $5,000 subsidy to buy Medicare health insurance. The Medicare subsidy was first cut for the wealthiest seniors in legislation signed by President George W. Bush in 2004 by income-relating premiums so that higher-income beneficiaries pay a higher share of their Medicare cost. It was cut further in Obamacare, and President Obama proposed to pare it back still further in his budget proposals of February 2012 with still-higher premiums for upper-income beneficiaries.

    Medicare has many programmatic problems that demand attention, and the sooner the better, but the immediate fiscal problem is straightforward: It is the subsidy. The total cost of the Medicare subsidy—about $230 billion in 2012—will soar over time as health care costs rise and the baby boomers retire.[6] Paring back the subsidy for well-to-do retirees is an obvious step toward reducing the budget deficit today and shoring up Medicare for the long run.

Bolder Proposals

The four foregoing proposals for Social Security and Medicare meet the test of simplicity, being relatively easy to communicate to the American people, having been thoroughly vetted, and enjoying widespread support. Together, they would dramatically improve America’s fiscal future for the better. Two additional proposals, one each for Social Security and Medicare, meet the tests of simplicity and effectiveness but have not been considered as intensively. Yet they should also garner bipartisan support and consideration.

  1. Phase out Social Security benefits for upper-income retirees. Everyone who has ever paid into Social Security is entitled to the benefits prescribed by law. However, as a nation, we need to ask whether today’s working families should pay payroll taxes so that upper-income retirees can continue to receive their checks. We need to ask why phasing out the Medicare subsidy to upper-income seniors while continuing to send them their full Social Security check would make sense. In short, Social Security should be social insurance against poverty rather than a government-run pension scheme.

    Some might charge that this is redistributionism, but would anyone suggest that millionaires should receive food stamps? Food stamps and other welfare programs are specifically intended to operate as part of the social safety net, yet their existence constitutes a form of redistributionism that most Americans accept. Social Security (and Medicare) should become real insurance against poverty, meaning that only those seniors who need help should receive help. On the other hand, if Social Security remains a universal government-run pension, then it remains a vastly larger program built on an entirely different redistributionist principle: redistribution from workers to retirees, including the wealthy.

  2. Consolidate Medicare’s elements and collect a single higher premium. Medicare is actually three distinct components, referred to generally as Parts A, B, and D, reflecting the fact that Medicare was built up over many years. This antiquated structure is confusing and inefficient. An obvious reform is to consolidate the three distinct parts into a unified Medicare program.

    Medicare Parts B and D each require beneficiaries to pay a premium covering 25 percent of the cost of the programs. As the Medicare Parts are consolidated, the premium should be consolidated as well and then raised to 35 percent of the relevant costs.[7]


The nation’s fiscal problems, today and beyond, derive entirely from excess spending, especially entitlement spending, not a dearth of revenue. While current revenues are exceptionally low as a share of the economy, this is due almost entirely to the weak economy. As analysis by the Administration’s budget office and the Congressional Budget Office affirm, revenues will return to a more normal 18.5 percent of the economy as the economy recovers. Given these facts, President Obama’s insistence on an economically harmful tax hike for what is essentially a fiscally meaningless increase in revenues will not help policymakers navigate successfully around the fiscal cliff.

A hopeful sign, however, is that the political timing is propitious, and important policy reforms in Social Security and Medicare are simple, straightforward, and well known. These proposals, while not correcting more fundamental programmatic flaws, would materially correct the spending excesses in these programs. Better yet, these proposals are not partisan in nature, but have been supported on a bipartisan basis in the past.

All that is lacking to avoid the fiscal cliff, profoundly stabilize the nation’s public finances, and shore up these critical entitlement programs is for the President to take the lead. The nation waits.

—J. D. Foster, Ph.D., is Norman B. Ture Senior Fellow in the Economics of Fiscal Policy in and Alison Acosta Fraser is Director of the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

[1] Alison Acosta Fraser, “Boehner’s Olive Branch: More Revenues, but Only Through Growth,” Heritage Foundation, The Foundry, November 9, 2012, http://blog.heritage.org/2012/11/09/boehners-olive-branch-more-revenues-but-only-through-growth/.

[2] Curtis S. Dubay, “Taxmageddon: Massive Tax Increase Coming in 2013,” Heritage Foundation Issue Brief No. 3558, April 4, 2012, http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2012/04/taxmageddon-massive-tax-increase-coming-in-2013.

[3] David C. John, “Social Security Finances Significantly Worse, Says 2012 Trustees’ Report,” Heritage Foundation Issue Brief No. 3577, April 23, 2012, http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2012/04/social-security-finances-significantly-worse-says-2012-trustees-report.

[4] Social Security Administration, Office of the Chief Actuary, “Individual Changes Modifying Social Security,” Actuarial Publications, December 21, 2011, http://www.socialsecurity.gov/OACT/solvency/provisions/index.html (accessed November 27, 2012).

[5] The Social Security actuaries have considered in particular a modern measure of inflation known as “chained CPI” (C-CPI). Price indices of this sort are constructed by looking at a basket of goods and services to proxy all consumer purchases. The traditional CPI rarely changes the basket and thus steadily becomes a less accurate proxy as the pattern of consumer purchases changes. The more modern C-CPI, relying on advances in economic theory, updates this reference basket regularly and thus better proxies consumer purchases.

[6] Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 2012 Annual Report of the Boards of Trustees of the Federal Health Insurance and Federal Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Funds, April 23, 2012, p. 10, Table II.B.1, http://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Statistics-Trends-and-Reports/ReportsTrustFunds/Downloads/TR2012.pdf (accessed November 27, 2012).

[7] See Robert E. Moffit, “The First Stage of Medicare Reform: Fixing the Current Program,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2611, October 17, 2011, http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2011/10/the-first-stage-of-medicare-reform-fixing-the-current-program.

Lincoln – Prudence, Politics, and the Proclamation, Allen C. Guelzo

Lincoln – Prudence, Politics, and the Proclamation
By Allen C. Guelzo
August 17, 2007

Constituit bonos mores civitati princeps et vitia eluit, si patiens corum est, non tamquam probest, sed tamquam invitus et cum magno tormento ad castigandum veniat. [Justice is established, and vice eliminated, in the state if the ruler is patient with vice, not as if he approved of it, but as though he pursued it seemingly unwillingly and could only use force as a painful last resort.] – Seneca, De Clementia I.22.3

    Say the word prudence to the ancients, and it would be a virtue; say the word prudence to the faculties of the American colleges of the 19th century, and it would be a part of the curriculum in moral philosophy; say the word prudence today, and it would be part of a joke.

    This says something for how ideas change over time; but it also serves as a warning for the difficulty we may have in understanding 19th century American thought, where virtue was discussed seriously and where prudence was considered a desirable trait in public leaders. It also explains a major difficulty we have in understanding the prime American example of prudence in political life, and that is Abraham Lincoln.

    Much as Lincoln was a grass-roots, up-from-the-ranks politician, he was perfectly at ease in speaking of the role of virtue (in general) and prudence (in particular) in political life. Lincoln “regarded prudence in all respect as one of the cardinal virtues,” and he hoped, as President, that “it will appear that we have practiced prudence” in the management of public affairs. Even in the midst of the Civil War, he promised that the war would be carried forward “consistently with the prudence…which ought always to regulate the public service” and without allowing it to degenerate “into a violent and remorseless revolutionary struggle.” Lincoln had little notion that, over the course of 150 years, this commitment to prudence would become a source of condemnation rather than approval.[1]

What Is Prudence?

    Prudence carries with it today the connotation of “prude”-a person of overexaggerated caution, bland temperance, hesitation, a lack of imagination and will, fearfulness, and a bad case of mincing steps. This would have surprised the classical philosophers, who thought of prudence as one of the four cardinal virtues and who linked it to shrewdness, exceptionally good judgement, and the gift of coup d’oeil-the “coup of the eye”-which could take in the whole of a situation at once and know almost automatically how to proceed.

    Aristotle called prudence “practical wisdom” in the Nicomachean Ethics and contrasted it with “intuitive reason,” the natural endowment Aristotle thought some people had for understanding what was ultimately right and what was ultimately wrong. Intuitive reason marked out “the ultimates in both directions,” while prudence “makes us take the right means.” The link which prudence provides between seeing and acting is what distinguishes it from simple discernment, which is a function of reason. It is the roadbuilder toward the goals marked out by the reason.[2]
Thomas Aquinas chalked out an even more critical role for prudence, since he regarded prudence as “an intellectual virtue” which performs two vital tasks.

First, it was the nail head which fastened the intellectual and moral virtues together.
Second, because it was housed in the reason, prudence acted as a restraint on “impulse or passion.” It was “right reason about things to be done.”

    Prudence, moreover, was characterized by the possession of a good memory (so that someone always had on call a mental encyclopedia of material with which to compare current situations); an understanding of the present (being able to understand what a given situation really meant); and foresight of the future so that a prudent person always could see several jumps ahead to where any actions were likely to lead. Aquinas was not trying to say what moderns usually say about prudence: that it is an expression of moderation, or the attitude of moderates in action, or an instinct for the middle of the road. It was actually the other way round: Prudence might resort to moderation for a solution, but not always. [3]

    What separates prudence from moderation is that “moderation” is an attitude preoccupied with the integrity of means but not ends in political action. Moderation is a tragic attitude, because it understands only too well the constraints imposed by limited human resources and by human nature.

    This is why “moderation” so often becomes paralyzed and snarled in an effort to placate competing moral demands or to insist on pragmatic process without regard to what the process is producing. Being wise “does not mean that prudence itself should be moderate, but that moderation must be imposed on other things according to prudence.” Daring, which “leads one to act quickly,” might also be the work of prudence, provided that “it is directed by reason.” Prudence, then, does not avoid action; if anything, it demands action of a particular kind.

    Aquinas also found another difference between prudence and moderation in foresight. Moderation is blind, which is why it necessarily leads people to grope forward slowly. Prudence, however, is based on foresight, which yields a discerning and dependable estimate of the way things are going. “Foresight is the principal of all the parts of prudence, since whatever else is required for prudence, is necessary precisely that some particular thing may be rightly directed to its end.” This only made sense, since the term prudence (prudentia) was itself derived from providence (providentia), the providing-ahead for things.

    Aquinas, in fact, introduces a discussion of prudence for the first time in the Summa Theologica at the point where he begins his quaestio on the providence of God, “for in the science of morals, after the moral virtues themselves, comes the consideration of prudence, to which providence would seem to belong” because both providence and prudence are concerned with “directing the ordering of some things towards an end.” Prudence occupied so large a place in providence that one might as well concede that “the perfection of divine providence demands that there be intermediary causes as executors of it.”[4]

    At the other remove from prudence stands absolutism, which is about the integrity of ends without sufficient attention to the integrity of means so that it invests its servants with the attitude of disdain and certainty. This is the universe where it is supposed that wills are free from ultimate constraints and that only willing and power are lacking to attain a good end.

    Prudence, however, pays equal attention to the integrity of ends and of means. Prudence is an ironic rather than a tragic attitude, where the calculus of costs is critical but at the same time neither crucial nor incidental. Prudence prefers incremental progress to categorical solutions and fosters that progress through the offering of motives rather than expecting to change dispositions. Yet, unlike “moderation,” prudence has a sense of purposeful motion and declines to be paralyzed by a preoccupation with process, even while it remains aware that there is no goal so easily attained or so fully attained that it rationalizes dispensing with process altogether.[5]

    So, if we were to create a palm-card for prudence, it would contain the following elements:

    • Balancing the integrity of means and ends in political life;
    • Accepting reciprocity, imperfection, and concession rather than demanding resolutions;
    • The predominance of reason among the faculties;
    • Waiting on providence rather than affirming free will;
    • The ironic viewpoint rather than the comic, tragic, or didactic.

Prudence and Romanticism

    What broke over the boundary between classical prudence and the shrinking-violet image that prudence became saddled with was Romanticism. In their rage against the restraints of Enlightenment reason, the Romantics of the late 18th century and 19th century-Herder, Hamann, Fichte, Schiller, Goethe-glorified the passionate, the willful, the sublime, and all the fearful and monstrous qualities which the Enlightenment had tried to banish from the human imagination. And at no point was a greater opening offered for the exercise of the Romantic virtues than in the ethics of Immanuel Kant.

    Kant is a hinge figure in European intellectual history, with one face pointing backwards to the rationalism of the Enlightenment and one facing forward toward the Romantics. Kant’s fundamental problem was the one Locke had left unaddressed in the Essay Concerning Human Understanding and which Hume exploited with such genteel ruthlessness, and that is how (given Locke’s premises about the source of all knowledge being in sensation) the mind can be aware of relations and connections (like causality) which have no phenomenal or sensation-triggering reality.

    Kant’s reply to Hume was an acknowledgment that Hume had gotten things partly right-that minds had no way of directly apprehending non-empirical relationships (like causality) between phenomena-and partly wrong in that Hume had missed the active role played by the mind itself in knowledge. Minds came equipped with their own hard-wired categories, which govern the knowledge of phenomena and their relations, and causality was one of the mind’s necessary categories, even if there was no direct apprehension of the essence (noumena) of the objects themselves.[6]

    What this did for the creation of a Kantian ethic was to establish the dominance of a “categorical imperative” which is not known by the senses but which, when applied to ethical dilemmas, yields an absolute and universal answer. “We do not need science and philosophy to know what we should do to be honest and good, yea, even wise and virtuous,” argued Kant in his Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals. What we need to do is obey the imperative:

There is an imperative which commands a certain conduct immediately, without having as its condition any other purpose to be attained by it…. It concerns not the matter of the action, or its intended result, but its form and the principle of which it is itself a result; and what is essentially good in it consists in the mental disposition, let the consequences be what it may.[7]

    This sort of immediate absolutism in ethics could not have sat at greater distances from the rational metaphysics of Aquinas, and it started prudence on its long roll downwards from its ancient status as virtue toward its modern status nearer to vice. In America, it played directly to Romantics like Ralph Waldo Emerson, whose essay on “Prudence,” from 1841, describes prudence unflatteringly as “the virtue of the senses; it is the science of appearances,” other than which nothing could be of less consequence for Kantian ethics. “The world is filled with the proverbs and acts and winkings of a base prudence,” Emerson complained, “a prudence which adores the Rule of Three, which never subscribes, which never gives, which seldom lends, and asks but one question of any project,-Will it bake bread?”

    But what gave the assault on prudence its moving power was the intersection of the Romantic ethics with America’s own homegrown version of ethical absolutism in the religion of the Evangelical Awakeners. “There can be nothing to render it, in any measure, a hard and difficult thing, to love God with all our hearts,” wrote Joseph Bellamy, the pupil of Jonathan Edwards, in 1750, “but our being destitute of a right temper of mind…therefore, we are perfectly inexcusable, and altogether and wholly to blame, that we do not.”[8]

Abolition or Emancipation?

    These two streams of absolutism met in the abolitionists, who combined Romantic ethics with evangelicalism in a fiery blend of German idealism and John the Baptist. But it was exactly this blending which alienated Abraham Lincoln from their ranks. Born at the very end of the so-called long Enlightenment, Lincoln had no reservations about being guided by “Reason” or making reason the instrument preferred to passion.

    In one of his earliest speeches, from 1838, Lincoln warned that the pillars of the republic must fall “unless we, their descendants, supply their places with other pillars, hewn from the solid quarry of sober reason. Passion has helped us; but can do so no more. It will in future be our enemy. Reason, cold, calculating, unimpassioned reason, must furnish all the materials for our future support and defence.” Twenty-one years later, as he stood on the east portico of the Capitol to take the presidential oath, Lincoln was still warning that “Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.”[9] On those terms, Lincoln had no shame in being known as prudent.

    The most obvious example of Lincoln’s prudence at work can be seen through his handling of slavery and emancipation. It has become common-and was common in Lincoln’s own day among the abolitionists-to denounce Lincoln as “an equivocating, vacillating leader” whose chief aim was “the integrity of the Union and not the emancipation of the slaves; that if he could keep the Union from being disrupted, he would not only allow slavery to exist but would loyally protect it.”[10]

    The standard of judgement being applied (in this case by W.E.B. DuBois) is a standard based upon immediatism. But consider what Lincoln’s options for emancipation really were: In an era before the Fourteenth Amendment’s incorporation of civil rights into the federal Constitution, civil rights (and that included even the definition of citizenship) were state prerogatives and were protected by a jurisprudential firewall from federal review. Much as he “was himself opposed to slavery,” he could not “see how the abolitionists could reach it in the slave states.”

    Demands for immediate abolition might satisfy some Romantic yearning for justice over law, but as long as slavery was a state, not a federal, institution, any attempt on Lincoln’s part to emancipate slaves by executive order would be at once challenged by the states in the federal courts-and the federal judiciary, all the way up to the Supreme Court, had shown itself repeatedly and profoundly hostile to emancipation. Abolitionists, Lincoln complained, “seemed to think that the moment I was president, I had the power to abolish slavery, forgetting that before I could have any power whatsoever I had to take the oath to support the Constitution of the United States as I found them.”

    On the other hand, immediate abolition was not the only avenue to emancipation. The federal government might have no direct power to interfere in state matters, but it did have considerable fiscal powers with which it could tempt slave states to abandon slavery by legislative action and embrace a federally funded buyout.
Within six months of his inauguration, Lincoln had initiated a campaign for legislative emancipation, beginning with Delaware, the weakest of the four slave states that remained loyal to the Union. This legislative option was based “upon these conditions: First, that the abolition should be gradual. Second, that it should be on a vote of the majority of the qualified voters of the District; and third that compensation should be made to unwilling owners.” Handled this way, emancipation would set up what he expected would a domino effect among the slave states for emancipation and would cost infinitely less than the blood and treasure to be expended on civil war.

    Unhappily for Lincoln, the loyal slave states threw his offer back in his face. So, in the summer of 1862, he turned instead to a military order that freed the Confederacy’s slaves-what we now know as the Emancipation Proclamation. But because the Proclamation was only a military order, prudence dictated that he limit its application to those slave states in actual rebellion against the Union. And since little (if any) legal precedent existed for the use of presidential “war powers” in this way, he continued to back a legislative strategy, parallel to his “war powers” Proclamation, and in the end, it was that legislative strategy which bore the ultimate fruit of black freedom in the Thirteenth Amendment.

    Between these two strategies, legislative and military, Lincoln saw no conflict. He told federal judge Thomas Duval that “he saw nothing inconsistent with the gradual emancipation of slavery and his proclamation.” Lincoln’s procedure was at every step a model of prudence: It made use of memory (a knowledge of constitutional process); an understanding of the present (the limitations his position placed upon his ability to move in certain directions); and foresight (his confidence that he knew what the results of his actions, military and legislative, were likely to be).[12]

Invoking Providence

    No characteristic of Lincoln’s prudence on emancipation, however, was more remarkable than his invocation of Providence. “Mr. Lincoln,” wrote William Henry Herndon, Lincoln’s law partner, in 1866, “had faith…that Providence rules the universe of matter and substance, mind and spirit. That a law enwraps the universe, and that all things, beings, minds, were moving to their appointed end.”[13]

    This may not have been a particularly shocking revelation, since a good deal of the Victorian world was consumed by a passion to believe in an intelligent, direction-giving, and preserving power, whether in physical nature or supernaturally sovereign over human nature or both. In Lincoln’s own time, providence had come to be an expression of the Enlightenment’s confidence in the mechanical regularity of physics and its hope that the same pattern of regularity crossed over into human nature.

    Joseph Fourier published the first statistics on suicide in Paris in the 1820s, accompanying them with the almost triumphal announcement that “One observes, year after year, within one or two units, the same number of suicides by drowning, by hanging, by firearms, by asphyxiation, by sharp instruments, by falling or poisoning.” There was, in other words, a pattern if one but stopped to look, and Fourier’s tentative pleasure in observing this required only time and the methods of Andre-Michel Guerry and Adolphe Quetelet to yield a new faith in a physics of human action that looks like nothing so much as a naturalized predestination. “We know in advance,” wrote Quetelet, “how many individuals will dirty their hands with the blood of others, how many will be forgers, how many poisoners, nearly as well as one can enumerate in advance the births and deaths that must take place.”

    Or perhaps the Victorian passion for providence was better captured by the literati, who yielded to the grim inevitability of Quetelet’s predictions, but resignedly. “If you look closely into the matter, it will be seen that whatever appears most vagrant, and utterly purposeless, turns out, in the end, to have been impelled the most surely on a preordained and unswerving track,” concluded the Puritan-haunted Nathaniel Hawthorne, and even as irreligious a humorist as Mark Twain was preoccupied with free will and determinism, on one occasion sitting up half the night arguing with William Dean Howells about whether there was a controlling providence in the universe. In his final years, it was almost the primary obsession of his writing. If we find Lincoln ruminating similarly, there is nothing in that which forces us to see his providentialism as necessarily religious.[14]

    Except, of course, for the way that Lincoln felt compelled to use providence as a living political notion rather than just a metaphysical one. Certainly, no one who knew Lincoln needed to question the frequency with which he drew providence into both public and private discourse and spoke of it as a power exerted by a divine personality on both individuals and in general. “I know that Mr. Lincoln was a firm believer in a superintending and overruling Providence,” wrote Orville Hickman Browning, briefly an Illinois senator and one of Lincoln’s oldest personal and political friends. “He believed the destinies of men were, or, at least, that his own destiny was, shaped, and controlled, by an intelligence and power higher and greater than his own, and which he could neither control or thwart.”

    Out of his own mouth, Lincoln placed “my reliance for support” on “that Divine assistance without which I cannot succeed, but with which success is certain,” and he told well-wishers in a speech in Newark, on his way to his inauguration in 1861, “I cannot succeed, without the sustenance of Divine Providence.” In 1862, a delegation of Pennsylvania Quakers, headed by the famous helper of fugitives Thomas Garrett, waited on Lincoln to urge him to deal with slavery, but Lincoln, speaking off the cuff, turned his reply in a curiously providential direction. “The President responded [that] he had sometime thought that perhaps he might be an instrument in God’s hands of accomplishing a great work.”[15]

    The problem is that this is admirable only up to a point. Holding private consultations with the Ancient of Days on matters of policy has never recommended itself to the American people as proof of presidential greatness. And yet, as he explained to the Cabinet on September 22, 1862, his decision to issue an Emancipation Proclamation was the direct consequence of “a vow, a covenant” he had made “that if God gave us the victory” in the battle that resulted at Antietam on September 17, he would consider it an indication of divine will and that it was his duty to move forward in the cause of emancipation. It might be thought strange that he had in this way submitted the disposal of matters when the way was not clear to his mind what he should do. God had decided this question in favor of the slaves. He was satisfied it was right, was confirmed and strengthened in his action by the vow and the results.

    This, coming from a man with as minimal a religious profile as Lincoln’s, was so surprising that Treasury Secretary Salmon Chase asked Lincoln to repeat himself, and Lincoln, “in a manner half-apologetic,” conceded that “this might seem strange.”[16]

    But providence had always played a major role in the constitution of Lincoln’s prudence. He told the journalist Noah Brooks that he thought it “wise to wait for the developments of Providence; and the Scriptural phrase that ‘the stars in their courses fought against Sisera’ to him had a depth of meaning.”[17] John Todd Stuart, who had been Lincoln’s mentor in Illinois law and who served in the 38th Congress, pressed Lincoln with the assertion: “I believe that Providence is carrying on this thing.” Lincoln replied “with great emphasis”: “Stuart, that is just my opinion.” And “considering our manner of approaching the subject” and “the emphasis and evident sincerity of his answer,” Stuart was “sure he had no possible motive for saying what he did unless it came from a deep and settled conviction.”[18]

    That conviction, instead of puffing Lincoln up with personal hubris, forced him into an admission that he knew entirely too little about the ways of providence. Clear as his reliance on providence was, what is equally impressive is how Lincoln made no claims to knowing the precise road that providence had ordained for him. “Certainly there is no contending against the Will of God,” Lincoln wrote in a set of notes he prepared during the Lincoln-Douglas debates in 1858, “but still there is some difficulty in ascertaining, and applying it, to particular cases.”

    When a delegation of Chicago ministers presented him with a brace of resolutions from a citywide anti-slavery meeting in September 1862, Lincoln warned them against presuming to know what the direction of providence was. “These are not…the days of miracles, and I suppose it will be granted that I am not to expect a divine revelation. I must study the plain physical facts of the case, as certain what is possible and learn what appears to be wise and right.”[19] The result was that Lincoln believed “we are all agents and instruments of Divine providence” (as he told Senate chaplain Byron Sunderland) but not in the egoistic sense; that God had invested a special interest in the Union cause but in the sense that, North and South alike, “we are working out the will of God.”

    Moreover, the government of providence was universal in both time and space. The Civil War was a “struggle…for a vast future” that required “a reliance on Providence, all the more firm and earnest” so that Americans may “proceed in the great task which events have devolved upon us.”[20]

    Providence was also a means for balancing respect for a divine purpose in human affairs with the candid recognition that it was surpassingly difficult to know what specific purposes God might have or who should speak for those purposes. Providence is a sun best observed generally and through a glass darkly; but its most ardent observers tend to come in very specific and confident flavors-Methodist, Baptist, Zoroastrian, and so forth-and they present the problem of how to speak of religion in public without also seeming to endorse just one of those very specific or exclusionary flavors.

    In his long years as a Whig, Lincoln had learned the importance of recognizing the fundamentally secular structure of the American federal government without surrendering entirely to the notion that it was totally secular-“that shallow doctrine of the Monticello School,” as a Whig journal put it in 1846-or that the power of religious belief in society had to go untapped by civil government in its avoidance of seeming to establish a civic religion. A totally secular state was, of course, a possibility but not an attractive one, if only because the tendency of secularity is to debase and dispirit democracy.

    Tocqueville worried that the great flaw of democracy was its inability to offer good reasons for its own virtues; it had no transcendent sanction. By attaching the Emancipation Proclamation to his “vow” to God, Lincoln demonstrated what James C. Welling, the editor of Washington’s flagship newspaper during the Civil War, called “that prudent and reverent waiting on Providence” which allowed Lincoln to fend off “the danger of identifying the proclamation in the popular mind with a panic cry of despair.”[21]

    Prudence is not a matter of looking for guidance from voices from the sky; it is also not about ignoring them, either. The Proclamation was “warranted by the Constitution,” but in its final form on New Year’s Day, 1863, it was also designed to enjoy “the gracious favor of Almighty God.” Lincoln rooted human dignity in God and natural law; Kant, as one modern commentator quips, “makes us out to be gods ourselves.”[22]

Intrusion of the Kantian Ethic

    Part of what makes our understanding of Lincoln and prudence so difficult is the intrusion of the Kantian ethic into American political thought, an intrusion now grown into dominance through the work of John Rawls. The Rawlsian notion of the “original position” is not one which grows from memory or understanding, much less foresight; it is, on the contrary, a purely theoretical construct.

    “The original position is not,” Rawls admitted, “thought of as an actual historical state of affairs”; it is, in fact, a cutting-off of the theorist from the “contingent advantages and accidental impulses from the past.” Unlike prudence, it is predicated on a “veil of ignorance” which allows the theorist to debate justice without the admixture of concrete realities or concrete probabilities. “Certain principles of justice are justified because they would be agreed to in an initial situation of equality,” Rawls argued, in precisely the same spirit that Kant argued for the mandate of the categorical imperative as a way of nullifying “the effects of specific contingencies.”[23]

    Lincoln understood emancipation not as the satisfaction of a “spirit” overriding the law, nor as the moment of fusion between the Constitution and absolute moral theory, but as a goal to be achieved through prudential means so that worthwhile consequences might result. He could not be persuaded that emancipation required the headlong abandonment of everything save the single absolute of abolition, or that purity of intention was all that mattered, or that the exercise of the will rather than the reason was the best ethical foot forward.

    “Kant,” remarks Robert Kaplan, “symbolizes a morality of intention rather than of consequences, a morality of abstract justice rather than of actual result.”[24] For Lincoln, the integrity of intention (in the form of the Constitution and the rule of law) and the integrity of consequences (the abolition of slavery) were complementary rather than conflicting actors-the one possessed moral claims fully as much as the other. “To those who claim omnipotence for the Legislature, and who in the plenitude of their assumed powers, are disposed to disregard the Constitution, law, good faith, moral right, and every thing else,” Lincoln declared in one of earliest speeches to the Illinois legislature, “I have nothing to say.”

    In this, Lincoln struggled to be true to the two souls of American culture. The one soul is the spirit of the Puritans: self-denying, evangelical, radical, and providential to the point of confidently identifying precisely who and what represent the operations of providence. The other is the spirit of the Enlightenment: secular, commercial, self-interested in the enlightened sort of way. These two have often been locked in combat, only to withdraw from the combat after a brief battering reminds them that in America they have no choice but to coexist.

    Providence and prudence together are thus joined at the head, if not the heart, of American politics. The Kantian imperative, however, is a threat to both, not because it takes the side of one against the other, but because it dispenses with the virtues of both.

    In Lincoln, we have a glimpse of prudence in a liberal democracy; but it is also our best glimpse of it, and perhaps our best hope for understanding and recovering it, and our best hope for the possibility of statesmanship in an age of the partisan absolute, where ignorant armies clash by night.

Allen C. Guelzo, Ph.D., is Director of Civil War Era Studies and Henry R. Luce Professor of the Civil War Era at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

1. Abraham Lincoln, “Communication to the People of Sangamo County,” March 9, 1832, and “Annual Message to Congress,” December 3, 1861, in Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, ed. Roy P. Basler (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1953), Vol. 1, p. 8 and Vol. 5, pp. 24, 36, 49; Charles S. Zane, “Lincoln As I Knew Him,” Sunset Magazine, Vol. 29 (October 1912), pp. 430–438; Ethan Fishman, “Under the Circumstances: Abraham Lincoln and Classical Prudence,” in Abraham Lincoln: Sources and Style of Leadership, ed. Frank J. Williams et al. (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994), pp. 3–15; Ralph Lerner, Revolutions Revisited: Two Faces of the Politics of Enlightenment (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994), pp. 107–111.
2. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Book Six, Chapters 11 and 12.
3. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, II-I, Q. 57, 65.
4. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I, Q. 23, II-I, Q. 47, 57, II-II, Q. 49, 127; Summa Contra Gentiles, III-I, Ch. 76 (South Bend, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1975), Vol. 4, p. 260.
5. William Lee Miller, Lincoln’s Virtues: An Ethical Biography (New York: Knopf, 2002), pp. 222–223; Thomas Sowell, The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy (New York: Basic Books, 1995), p. 105.
6. Isaiah Berlin, “The Restrained Romantics,” in The Roots of Romanticism, ed. Henry Hardy (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1999), p. 68; Ralph C.S. Walker, Kant (London: Routledge, 1978), pp. 151–164.
7. Immanuel Kant, Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals, ed. T.K. Abbott (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1932), pp. 20, 33; John Rawls, Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy, ed. Barbara Herman (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2000), p. 156.
8. Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Prudence” [Essays: First Series, 1841], in Selected Writings, ed. Brooks Atkinson (New York: Modern Library, 1940), pp. 237–248; Joseph Bellamy, True Religion Delineated, or, Experimental Religion as Distinguished from Formality and Enthusiasm (1750; Morristown, N.J.: Henry P. Russell, 1804), p. 100; James Hoopes, Consciousness in New England: From Puritanism and Ideas to Psychoanalysis and Semiotic (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989), p. 121; Lerner, Revolutions Revisited, pp. 95–98.
9. Abraham Lincoln, “Address Before the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield,” January 27, 1838, and “First Inaugural Address,” March 4, 1861, in Collected Works, Vol. 1, p. 115, and Vol. 4, p. 271; James Jasinski, “Idioms of Prudence in Three Antebellum Controversies: Revolution, Constitution, and Slavery,” in Prudence: Classical Virtue, Postmodern Practice (University Park, Pa.: Penn State University Press, 2003), pp. 168–176.
10. Lerone Bennett, in “Differing Perspectives on Abraham Lincoln,” in Booknotes: Stories from American History (New York: Perseus Books, 2001), pp. 115–117; W.E.B. DuBois, “Abraham Lincoln,” May 1922, and “Lincoln Again,” September 1922, in W.E.B. Du-Bois: Writings, ed. Nathan Huggins (New York: Library of America, 1986), 1196, 1197–1198.
11. Henry W. Blodgett, in Recollected Words of Abraham Lincoln, eds. Don and Virginia Fehrenbacher (Stanford, Cal.: Stanford University Press, 1996), p. 34; Francis B. Carpenter, Six Months at the White House with Abraham Lincoln (New York: Hurd and Houghton, 1867), p. 76; Abraham Lincoln, “To John Hill,” September 1860, in Collected Works, Vol. 4, pp. 106–107; Joseph R. Fornieri, “Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation: A Model of Prudent Leadership,” in Tempered Strength: Studies in the Nature and Scope of Prudential Leadership (Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 2002), pp. 125–149.
12. Thomas Duval, in Recollected Works, p. 146.
13. Woodrow Wilson, “Abraham Lincoln: A Man of the People,” in Abraham Lincoln: The Tribute of a Century, 1809–1909 (Chicago: A.C. McClurg, 1910), p. 30; David Donald, “Getting Right with Lincoln,” in Lincoln Reconsidered: Essays on the Civil War Era (New York: Vintage, 1960), p. 17; William Henry Herndon, December 3, 1866, in The Hidden Lincoln: From the Letters and Papers of William H. Herndon, ed. Emanuel Hertz (New York: Viking, 1938), p. 43.
14. Ian Hacking, The Taming of Chance (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1990), pp. 77–78, 105; Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Marble Faun, or the Romance of Monte Beni (1860; Boston, 1901), p. 333; Paul F. Boller, Freedom and Fate in American Thought (Dallas, Tex.: Southern Methodist University Press, 1978), p. 189; Alfred Kazin, God and the American Writer (New York: Knopf, 1997), pp. 188–193.
15. Orville Hickman Browning to Isaac Arnold, November 25, 1872, in Isaac Arnold Papers, Chicago Historical Society; Abraham Lincoln, “Farewell Address,” February 11, 1861, “Remarks at Newark, New Jersey,” February 21, 1861, and “Remarks to a Delegation of Progressive Friends,” June 20, 1862, in Collected Works, Vol. 4, pp. 190, 234, and Vol. 5, pp. 278–279.
16. Salmon P. Chase, diary entry for September 22, 1862, in Inside Lincoln’s Cabinet, ed. David Donald (New York: Longmans, Green & Co., 1954), p. 150; on Chase asking for the repeat of the “vow,” see Isaac Arnold, The History of Abraham Lincoln and the Overthrow of Slavery (Chicago: Clarke & Co., 1866), pp. 295–296; Gideon Welles, diary entry for September 22, 1862, in Diary of Gideon Welles, ed. John Torrey Morse (Boston: Houghton & Mifflin, 1911), Vol. 1, p. 143; Gideon Welles, “History of Emancipation,” in Civil War and Reconstruction: Selected Essays by Gideon Welles, ed. Albert Mordell (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1959), p. 248.
17. Noah Brooks, “Personal Recollections of Abraham Lincoln,” in Lincoln Observed: Civil War Dispatches of Noah Brooks, ed. Michael Burlingame (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998), p. 216.
18. John G. Nicolay, “Conversation with Hon. J.T. Stuart,” June 24, 1875, in An Oral History of Abraham Lincoln: John G. Nicolay’s Interview and Essays, ed. Michael Burlingame (Carbondale, Ill.: Southern Illinois University Press, 1996), pp. 14–15.
19. Abraham Lincoln, “Fragment on Pro-slavery Theology,” October 1, 1858, and “Reply to Emancipation Memorial Presented by Chicago Christians of All Denominations,” September 13, 1862, in Collected Works, Vol. 3, p. 204, and Vol. 5, p. 420; W.W. Patton, President Lincoln and the Chicago Memorial on Emancipation (Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society, 1888), pp. 19–20.
20. Abraham Lincoln, “Annual Message to Congress,” December 3, 1861, in Collected Works, Vol. 5, p. 53; Abraham Lincoln to Sunderland, in Recollected Words, p. 436; William E. Barton, The Soul of Abraham Lincoln (New York: George H. Doran, 1920), p. 332.
21. James C. Welling, in Allen Thorndike Rice, Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln by Distinguished Men of His Time (New York: North American Publishing, 1886), p. 530; Stewart Winger, Lincoln, Religion, and Romantic Cultural Politics (DeKalb, Ill.: Northern Illinois University Press, 2003), p. 111.
22. Robert Hariman, “Theory Without Modernity,” in Prudence: Classical Virtue, Postmodern Practice, p. 31; Herman Belz, “The ‘Philosophical Cause’ of Free Government: The Problem of Lincoln’s Political Thought,” in Abraham Lincoln, Constitutionalism, and Equal Rights in the Civil War Era (New York: Fordham University Press, 1998), pp. 56–57; J. Budziszewski, The Revenge of Conscience: Politics and the Fall of Man (Dallas, Tex.: Spence, 1999), pp. 53, 93–94.
23. John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (New York: Oxford University Press, 1971), pp. 12, 21, 136, and Political Liberalism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993), p. 23.
24. Robert Kaplan, Warrior Politics: Why Leadership Demands a Pagan Ethos (New York: Random House, 2002), p. 113; Abraham Lincoln, “Speech in the Illinois Legislature Concerning the State Bank,” January 11, 1837, in Collected Works, Vol. 1, p. 67.

Heritage Experts’ On the Second Presidential Debate

During last night’s debate between President Obama and former Governor Mitt Romney, Heritage’s policy experts were live-blogging their analysis of the ideas discussed. Below are some of the highlights of our experts’ reactions to the major points made.

“Getting Tough on China”: The Truth About Trade

President Obama said during the debate that he signed three trade deals. Not true. Obama was left three free trade agreements on his desk when he took office. Those deals and many others were initiated, negotiated, and signed by President Bush. The one trade agreement that Obama has prioritized, the Transpacific Partnership (TPP) involving now 11 countries, was also initiated by President George W. Bush.

What Obama did was to delay passage of agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama that were already completed. He did so to appease labor unions and others in his political base. During the three years of waiting for the President to submit the U.S.-Korea FTA, the U.S. lost $30 billion in exports.

The United States needs an energetic, committed trade policy. We need a TPP that is truly a free trade agreement and of sufficient scale to make a major impact on the U.S. economy. That means accommodating the world’s third largest economy and U.S. ally, Japan. It means folding in other willing free trade partners like South Korea. And it means putting TPP on a timeline that gets it completed, passed and implemented as quickly as possible.

“Getting tough on China,” something both candidates claimed to aspire to, is good—as long as what is meant by that is ensuring China abides by its international trade commitments. But this is not enough—it is not a trade policy. The U.S. needs to create opportunity with trade, not just manage bad behavior.

– Walter Lohman

Chinese Currency Manipulation and U.S. Employment

Governor Romney suggested that China’s currency manipulation was related to business activity and job creation in the U.S. However, as Heritage’s Derek Scissors showed, there is in fact little to no relationship between China’s currency policy and U.S. employment:

[T]he exchange rate between the yuan and the dollar has no direct effect on American prosperity or American jobs. It never has. Seventeen years ago, China sharply devalued the yuan against the dollar. Yet American unemployment fell for years afterward. Since 2005, the PRC has been slowly raising the value of its currency, which is what protectionists say they want. And American unemployment has soared.

There are, however, other policies the U.S. President and Congress should pursue to return America to a place where businesses want to invest and hire workers. These include pro-growth tax reform, reducing undue regulatory burdens on the economy, and enabling energy exploration and production.

– Romina Boccia

Did Someone Say Libya?

The issue was raised in the debate: What did the Administration do about security before the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, and how did it respond afterward? It was the question that the President never clearly and explicitly responded to. When it comes to how the White House responded to the attack, the Administration has a lot of explaining to do. Its series of explanations was muddled and misleading.

When it comes to responding to the attack, Americans of course expect that our government will go after the perpetrators. The questions of how our government responded to the terrorist threat in Libya, however, still has to be answered.

James Jay Carafano

Are Oil Companies Sitting on Leases?

Are oil companies sitting on leases? The short answer is no. President Obama made this statement tonight, and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar routinely makes this statement. But as Kathleen Sgamma, Vice President of Government and Public Affairs for the Western Energy Alliance, recently testified:

By looking at the statistics over time, it is evident that industry has become much more efficient over the last several decades. While we used to hold 80,000 leases and produce on 24% in 1988, we now hold just 49,000 leases and produce on 46%. Secretary Salazar’s statements that this shows industry is intentionally leaving leases idle is tired rhetoric that fails to take into account the huge obstacles the federal government places in the way of oil and natural gas producers, and the fact that not every lease has recoverable oil and gas.

Just because oil companies aren’t drilling, this does not mean that no activity is occurring on that land. Environmental review, permitting, seismic research, and exploration may be occurring. But even that fails to address the real problem: The environmental review and leasing process takes entirely too long.

Rather than implementing an efficient leasing process, the Department of the Interior added three unnecessary and duplicative administrative regulations to the leasing process in 2010. Oil companies are not sitting on leases; they are simply not being issued by the DOI, or the DOI is making it more difficult to actually obtain the leases.

– Nicolas Loris

Energy Production on Federal Lands Has Fallen

While President Obama made the familiar statement that oil and gas production is the highest it has been in eight years, Governor Romney was right to point out that this was driven by production on private and state lands. Oil and gas production on federal lands is, in fact, down.

According to a recent report from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), energy production decreased 13 percent on federal lands in fiscal year (FY) 2011 when compared to FY 2010. The official moratorium and de facto moratorium as a result of a molasses-like permitting process reduced planned capital and operating investments by $18.3 billion and cost the Gulf more than 162,000 jobs in just the past two years.

Federal production in the West has experienced a similar fate: The Administration’s delays on permitting oil and gas projects public lands are preventing economic activity. In Utah and Wyoming, for instance, projects held up by the National Environmental Policy Act process are preventing the creation of 64,805 jobs, $4.3 billion in wages, and $14.9 billion in economic impact every year.

– Nicolas Loris

Immigration: Finally, Debate Touches the Third Rail

For the first time in two debates, the issue of fixing our broken borders and flawed immigration system was finally addressed by the two sides that want to occupy the White House. They offered two very different approaches and a distinct choice. One approach is to change the laws to accommodate the unlawful population that is already here—an approach that will not only not fix the problem, it will just make America a magnet for more problems. The other approach is to make the laws work and create a legal system that gets employers the employees they need when they need them to grow the economy and create more jobs.

There are good answers to address these tough problems. What we need in Washington is leadership that is willing to do the job.

– James Jay Carafano

Tax Plan Details: No Taxes on Savings

Governor Romney, when giving more details on his tax plan tonight, discussed that families making $200,000 or less would face no taxes on savings. The Heritage Foundation’s New Flat Tax would deduct savings immediately from taxable personal income, and savings would remain tax exempt until spent on consumption. This would lead to greater financial security for the American middle class by providing incentives for greater personal savings.

The New Flat Tax, as outlined in Heritage’s Saving the American Dream plan, would replace today’s convoluted tax system with a simple, neutral, and transparent tax system that would allow America to achieve its full economic potential.

– Romina Boccia

The Auto Bailout and Bankruptcy

President Obama once more criticized Governor Romney for saying GM should go bankrupt. But Romney tonight finally cleared the record, pointing out that that is exactly what happened – GM and Chrysler DID go bankrupt. But, as Obama confirmed, the administration didn’t stop there – it nationalized the firms. Taxpayers are still some $25 billion in the hole and still own a quarter of the shares of GM. Bankruptcy was the right solution; a bailout was not.

– James Gattuso

Where Was Welfare Reform?

One major topic missing from the domestic policy debates was welfare reform. We never got an answer to our question about whether able-bodied welfare recipients should be required to work as a condition of receiving assistance. That’s a critical issue in the wake of the Obama administration’s gutting welfare reform by unlawfully claiming the authority to waive the work requirements that made the historic 1996 policy such a success.

On the other hand, we did hear tonight about where welfare reform needs to turn next: restoring marriage. Governor Romney pointed to the significance of married mothers and fathers in reducing child poverty and fighting social breakdown. Marriage reduces the probability of child poverty by 80 percent. Moms and dads are an antidote to youth violence. FamilyFacts.org has more on the significance of marriage and family for America’s social welfare.

– Jennifer Marshall


Cybersecurity was largely ignored by the candidates, but we cannot ignore this issue. The reality of cyber threats was exemplified by the reference to China’s theft of U.S. intellectual property. There was also a mention of the need for an adequate tech workforce. The big problem is that it is foolish to take action just to say “something” was done. The correct thing must be done, because the wrong cure could be worse than the present disease. The approach that is being pushed by the present Administration will do nothing to make our networks more secure, and will stifle innovation. Regulation is a static19th Century solution for a dynamic, modern-age problem.

A correct cyber policy has five parts. It will enable info sharing, not mandate it. It will develop a true cyber insurance industry. The cyber supply chain must be secured. A realistic cyber “right to self defense” must be developed. The badly needed awareness, education and training “culture” needs to be a major federal priority. Lastly, the creation, protection, and effective utilization of a 21st Century cyber workforce will provide the foundation for the future.

– Steve Bucci

The Truth on Trade Policy: Asia

President Obama said during tonight’s debate that he signed three trade deals. Not true. President Obama was left three free trade agreements on his desk when he took office. Those deals and many others were initiated, negotiated, and signed by President Bush. The one trade agreement that Obama has prioritized, the Transpacific Partnership (TPP) involving now 11 countries, was also initiated by President George Bush.

What President Obama did was to delay passage of agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama that were already completed. He did so to appease labor unions and others in his political base. During the three years of waiting for the President to submit the U.S.-Korea FTA, the U.S. lost $30 billion in exports.

The United States needs an energetic, committed trade policy. We need a TPP that is truly a free trade agreement and of sufficient scale to make a major impact on the U.S. economy. That means accommodating the world’s third largest economy and U.S. ally, Japan. In means folding in other willing free trade partners like South Korea. And it means putting TPP on a timeline that gets it completed, passed and implemented as quickly as possible.

A robust trade policy in Asia also means initiating new agreements with countries like Taiwan and carving out select initiatives to American allies like the Philippines that are not quite ready for a gold standard free trade agreement like TPP.

“Getting tough on China,” something both candidates claimed to aspire to, is good – as long as what is meant by that is ensuring they abide by their international trade commitments. But it is not enough. It is not a trade policy. The U.S. needs to create opportunity with trade, not just manage bad behavior.

– Walter Lohman

Corporate Taxes and Jobs

President Obama misrepresented what is known as a territorial tax system. Obama said that moving from our worldwide system to a territorial system would create jobs in foreign countries. The exact opposite is true. We are the only developed country that taxes our businesses on the income they earn abroad. That is driving jobs overseas. Until we move to a territorial system and lower the corporate tax rate we’ll lose jobs to more competitive countries.

– Curtis Dubay

Marriage Protects Against Child Poverty and Promotes Child Well-being

Governor Romney touched on a very important point in tonight’s debate: the importance of marriage. Marriage is America’s number one weapon against child poverty. Children born to married-parent families are 82 percent less likely to live in poverty.

Children raised in intact families are also less likely to engage in delinquent behavior and are protected against a variety of other negative outcomes.

Unfortunately, unwed childbearing has increased dramatically in the last five decades. Today, over 40 percent of children are born to single women.

Policies that support and promote healthy marriage are crucial to a thriving society.

– Rachel Sheffield

The Truth About Trade

Both Obama and Romney missed opportunities to highlight the benefits of trade.

President Obama talked about signing three free trade agreements during his administration. But those agreements were signed during the Bush administration, and the Obama administration took its time before eventually submitting them to Congress for approval, where they passed overwhelmingly. Although President Obama has taken several trade cases to the World Trade Organization (WTO), claims that his administration has filed twice as many cases with the WTO as the Bush administration are not accurate.

Governor Romney talked about creating more free trade agreements in Latin America, which is a good idea. But both President Obama and Governor Romney argued about who would be tougher on China, when they could have explained that imports from China and elsewhere actually create jobs in the United States.

And they missed an opportunity to point out that a big factor in our trade deficit with China is the U.S. budget deficit. The federal government borrows billions of dollars from China each year that otherwise could be used to buy U.S. exports. Instead of fighting over who would be more willing to crack down on China, they could have taken the opportunity to criticize U.S. policies, like deficit spending, that undermine export opportunities for American companies.

– Bryan Riley

Al-Qaeda Still Poses a Threat

During the debate President Obama, once again, took the credit for killing Osama bin Laden and implied that al-Qaeda is down and on the ropes. Although bin Laden is currently sitting at the bottom of the Arabian Sea, the inconvenient truth for the Administration is that al-Qaeda is very much alive and active—especially on the Arabian Peninsula and across North Africa. This was most vividly demonstrated on September 11, 2012, when the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three other brave Americans were murdered in Benghazi by terrorists with suspected links to al-Qaeda.

While Obama was blaming a YouTube video and a street protest (which never happened) as the reason for the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Heritage expert Jim Phillips made the link to al-Qaeda just a couple of days after the attack. Now, more than a month later, the Administration still has not been able to give a straight answer as to what the circumstances were surrounding the murder of Ambassador Stevens.

The Administration has either been misleading the American people or it is so incompetent that, more than a month later, it is still unable to tell the American people the facts. Either way, the American people deserve better.

– Luke Coffey

Making Sure America Remains a Nation of Immigrants

As both President Obama and Governor Romney said tonight, “this is a nation of immigrants.” Indeed, but our immigration system is broken.

“Talent from all around the world wants to come here.” Allowing those who want to come to the United States to come here legally, however, requires that the nation reform our visa system. Together with Congress, the next Administration should work to expand the Visa Waiver Program and remove the burdensome requirement that consular officers must interview 100 percent of visa applicants, instead of focusing on those individuals who truly pose a risk to the U.S.

At the same time, reforming our immigration system requires respect for rule of law. Amnesty is not the answer to our nation’s immigration woes and will, in fact, only make matters worse. Instead, America’s leadership should pursue meaningful immigration policies that discourage illegal immigration, while respecting rule of law and strengthening the security and prosperity of the United States.

– Jessica Zuckerman

Libya: Another Presidential Non-Answer

The Obama doctrine in action has led us to a point where terrorists feel emboldened again to attack the United States, as they did the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

In the last few days, Mitt Romney has been outspoken on the topic of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya, as he was outspoken in his criticism of the statement of appeasement issued by the U.S. embassy under attack in Cairo on September 11. If we are to get the real details of what took place that day, it will have to be under pressure from House Republicans. Did the president mean what he said when stated that he is ultimately responsible? The Secretary of State said the same thing today, but they have yet to show what that actually means.

– Helle C. Dale

Chinese Currency Manipulation and U.S. Employment

Governor Romney tonight suggested that China’s currency manipulation was related to business activity and job creation in the U.S. However, as Heritage’s Derek Scissors showed, there is in fact little to no relationship between China’s currency policy and US employment:

“[T]he exchange rate between the yuan and the dollar has no direct effect on American prosperity or American jobs. It never has. Seventeen years ago, China sharply devalued the yuan against the dollar. Yet American unemployment fell for years afterward. Since 2005, the PRC has been slowly raising the value of its currency, which is what protectionists say they want. And American unemployment has soared.”

There are, however, other policies the U.S. President and Congress should pursue to return America to a place where businesses want to invest and hire workers. These include pro-growth tax reform, reducing undue regulatory burdens on the economy, and enabling energy exploration and production.

– Romina Boccia

Outsourcing Confusion in Presidential Debate

In the October 16 presidential debate a question was asked about outsourcing. Governor Romney blamed outsourcing on Chinese currency manipulation. But there is absolutely no relationship between the value of China’s currency and unemployment in the United States.

President Obama also complained about outsourcing. However, the real issue should be “insourcing” – many more dollars are invested by foreign companies setting up factories in the United States than by U.S. companies setting up factories in China and elsewhere.

– Bryan Riley

The Cost of Regulation

Gov. Romney correctly points out that the number of new regulations under the Obama administration was four times that of his predecessor. According to Heritage Foundation calculations, 106 major new rules were adopted during Obama’s first three years in office, compared to 28 during President Bush’s first three years. In terms of cost, the increase is even bigger, with $$6 billion in new costs, compared to $8.1 billion under Bush.

– James Gattuso

Did Someone Say Libya?

The issue was raised in the debate: What did the administration do about security before the Benghazi attack, and how did it respond afterward? It was the question that the president never clearly and explicitly responded to. When it comes to how the White House responded to the attack, the administration has a lot of explaining to do. Its series of explanations were muddled and misleading.

When it comes to responding to the attack, Americans of course expect that our government will go after the perpetrators. The questions of how our government responded to the terrorist threat Libya, however, still has to be answered.

James Jay Carafano

Obamacare and Small Businesses

Obamacare is very harmful for America’s small businesses. As Heritage’s tax expert Curtis Dubay explains, “The new health care law will impose new compliance regulations, employer mandate taxes, taxes on business ‘flow-through’ and investment income, and numerous indirect costs on small- and medium-size companies. Altogether, these constraints will dramatically affect companies’ per-employee costs, firm-level allocation of labor, desire to take on health coverage, and motivation to grow both in terms of income and employment.”

Despite President Obama’s repeated promise that his health care law would significantly decrease premiums, the opposite has happened. On average, premiums for individuals in the employer market have increased by $566 between 2010 and 2012 and family coverage has increased by $1,975. Even when the law is in full effect, premiums will likely continue to rise.

– Alyene Senger

Blame High Corporate Taxes for Job Flight

What is to blame for jobs heading overseas? In part, it’s the burdensome corporate tax rate plaguing businesses right here at home. The U.S. has the dubious distinction of having the highest corporate tax rate, at more than 39 percent. To reverse that trend, Congress should act soon to make our corporate tax system more competitive. That will encourage businesses to invest in jobs in the U.S., not overseas.

Oh, and while they’re at it, they can fix Taxmageddon and stave off massive tax hikes on businesses, investors, and families.

– Emily Goff

Who Creates Energy Jobs?

An “energy strategy for the future” does not include creating and supporting energy jobs with federal spending. That is a strategy for increasing government dependence and a bloated, stretched-thin government. Industry is threatened when the government becomes a stakeholder by artificially creating and supporting demand, because government and regulators are then directly interested in the success of these companies. We’ve seen this recently in the auto industry and in green jobs, but also in pet Republican projects like the ethanol mandate.

Rather than helping companies, government supports – whether in the form of grants, loans, or special tax breaks – hurt companies, not only opening these companies up to greater government intervention but also turning them into political punching bags as their business decisions carry weight in political policy arguments.

An “all-of-the-above” energy policy isn’t a policy that makes all energy types succeed. It’s not punishing some energy resources while favoring others. It’s not a Lake Wobegon policy where “all the children are above average.” It’s creating the space for the market – businesses, investors, consumers, the people who have most to gain and lose – to pick winners and losers, to create energy jobs and opportunity.

– Katie Tubb

Why Federally Funding Planned Parenthood Is a Bad Idea

Federal funding for Planned Parenthood has long been under debate, as the organization continues to see surpluses while the country sinks deeper into debt. Unlike the hard economic times faced by American families, Planned Parenthood has ridden the waves of taxpayer funding to millions of dollars in annual surpluses. In 2009-2010 (the latest year for which data is available), Planned Parenthood had a budget in excess of $1 billion, with over $18 million in profit. Yet, the non-profit organization received over $350 million in taxpayer funding in 2009 and kept the title of America’s largest abortion provider, performing over 300,000 abortion procedures.

There has been longstanding consensus that federal taxpayer dollars should not be used to fund abortions. As the country faces a burgeoning national deficit, policymakers should question the necessity of supporting a financially self-sufficient organization–especially one exposed as willing to be complicit in illegal sex trafficking of minor girls. Policymakers should end taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood and make current prohibitions on federal funding of abortion (like the Hyde amendment) permanent.

– Sarah Torre

On Criminal Prosecution of Drilling Company

During tonight’s debate, Governor Romney said that the current administration brought a misguided criminal prosecution against companies trying to drill for oil in North Dakota. The facts bear this out. In a blog post, Heritage discussed this case in which Brigham Oil and some other companies used reserve pits to hold fluid and oil that accumulated from their drilling operations. The law of North Dakota allows this storage practice, which is a basic and essential function of businesses in this area and is not intended to harm wildlife. However, the U.S. Attorney’s office prosecuted the companies for violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act – which makes it a federal offense to kill, possess, or take migratory birds – when a couple dead birds were found in their reserves. This 1918 law was meant to protect migratory birds from those who would “take” them in violation of the treaty with Great Britain. In that context, it was clear that the Migratory Bird Treaty Act was meant to halt poachers and illegal hunting of the birds—that is, deliberate, not accidental, conduct. Fortunately, a federal district court dismissed the charges, ruling that the use of reserve pits was “legal, commercially useful activity” that cannot be considered criminal, and that if the government’s theory of prosecution were correct, any activity could violate the law. The episode reflected little concern for business and undue concern for environmentalism, as well as a propensity for criminalizing what should have, at most, been a civil matter.

– Daniel Dew

Limiting Religious Liberty, Not Health Care Choices

President Obama tried to deflect intense opposition to an anti-conscience mandate under his health care law by framing critics as taking away health care choices for women. That couldn’t be further from the truth. What’s actually being lost is religious liberty.

Under Obamacare, the Health and Human Services (HHS) preventive services mandate requires nearly all employers to cover abortion drugs, contraception, and sterilization regardless of moral or religious objections, effectively exempting only formal houses of worship. The anti-conscience mandate is unprecedented and unconstitutional. This mandate is about the federal government forcing employers to subsidize drugs and services in violation of their deeply held beliefs or face burdensome fines. Women, like all Americans, deeply value our Constitution’s “first freedom,” and many of the more than 100 individuals and organizations suing over the Obamacare mandate are women.

Unfortunately, this mandate is only an early warning sign of how one-size-fits-all health care requirements will trample on religious liberty as well as individual liberty. To protect all Americans’ religious liberty, and freedom generally, Obamacare must be repealed. Health care reform that reduces cost, increases access, and protects conscience is possible.

– Sarah Torre

Are Oil Companies Sitting on Leases?

The short answer is no. President Obama made this statement tonight, and Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar routinely makes this statement. But as Kathleen Sgamma, Vice President of Government and Public Affairs for the Western Energy Alliance, recently testified, “By looking at the statistics over time, it is evident that industry has become much more efficient over the last several decades. While we used to hold 80,000 leases and produce on 24% in 1988, we now hold just 49,000 leases and produce on 46%. Secretary Salazar’s statements that this shows industry is intentionally leaving leases idle is tired rhetoric that fails to take into account the huge obstacles the federal government places in the way of oil and natural gas producers, and the fact that not every lease has recoverable oil and gas.”

The statements by President Obama and Secretary Salazar fail to take into account that just because oil companies aren’t drilling does not mean that no activity is occurring on that land. Environmental review, permitting, seismic research and exploration may be occurring. But even that fails to address the real problem: The environmental review and leasing process takes entirely too long.

Rather than implementing an efficient leasing process, the Department of Interior added three unnecessary and duplicative administrative regulations to the leasing process in 2010. DOI has not only canceled 77 lease sales in Utah, but also continually fails to issue the leases to companies who win the bids, despite being statutorily required to do so within 60 days. Oil companies are not sitting on leases; they are simply not being issued by the DOI, or the DOI is making it more difficult to actually obtain the leases.

– Nicolas Loris


America is still at risk from the threats of terrorism. The Obama Administration likes to focus on the laudable success of having “gotten” Osama bin Laden. They have also pushed the narrative that al-Qaeda is defeated and the tides of war have receded. Everyone wishes that this were true. Unfortunately, it is not.

The attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi by an AQ affiliate organization was a stake through the heart of this falsehood. Ambassador Chris Stevens and the three Americans who were trying to protect him were murdered in a premeditated, highly organized terrorist assault. It showed that the narrative of “victory” is a hope with no substance. There are still evil men who would do us ill, but the present policies of weakness have not deterred them.

– Steve Bucci

Immigration: Finally, Debate Touches the Third Rail

For the first time in two debates, the issue of fixing our broken borders and flawed immigration system was finally addressed by the two sides that want to occupy the White House. They offered two very different approaches and a distinct choice—one to change the laws to accommodate the unlawful population that is already here—an approach that will not only not fix the problem, it will just make America a magnet for more problems. The other approach is to make the laws work and create a legal system that gets employers the employees they need when they need them to grow the economy and grow more jobs.

There are good answers to address these tough problems. What we need in Washington is leadership that is willing to do the job.

James Jay Carafano

On Oil Subsidies and Addressing Gas Prices

While oil subsidies do exist and we should get rid of them, President Obama overreaches on what truly is a subsidy for oil and ignores the fact that the government does far more to hurt domestic oil production than to help it. Congress and the Administration should be working to open access to areas of oil and gas exploration that are off limits, transition the permitting process to the states, issue leases on time, and reform the environmental review process to allow oil and gas projects to come online in a timely fashion. In the near, intermediate, and long term, oil producers can bring more domestic oil to the world market, increasing supply to offset rising demand and increasing America’s percentage of the world’s total production to help minimize supply shocks. Increasing American energy production will create jobs, increase economic growth, lower gas prices and raise government revenue—without raising taxes.

– Nicolas Loris

Increasing Federal Higher Ed Subsidies Will Not Lower College Costs

Increasing federal grants and subsidies have failed to mitigate the rising cost of college. In fact, they have exacerbated the problem, allowing colleges to increase tuition and fees. The Obama Administration would like to continue building on decades of increases in Pell funding and other subsidies in the coming years.

Such a policy will not make college more affordable for students. Since 1982, the cost of attending college has increased 439 percent, more than four times the rate of inflation. Increases in college costs exceed increases in health care costs, which have risen more than 250 percent over the same time period. An increase in Pell funding would not break this vicious cycle, and it would also fail to place pressure on universities to use resources more efficiently.

– Lindsey Burke

Still No Social Security Plan

Governor Romney is right that President Obama has no plan to fix Social Security. Over the last four years, Social Security has moved from cash flow surpluses to perpetual cash flow deficits. Partly this is due to the Great Recession, and partly it is due to long predicted structural weaknesses in the program. If nothing is done, every American who is receiving Social Security will see their benefits cut by 25 percent.

Back in 2011, President Obama said that in his State of the Union Address, the President called for a bipartisan solution, but then he effectively took everything except raising taxes off the table. Unfortunately for the President, increasing taxes just delays major across-the-board benefit cuts—it does not prevent them.

This problem is nothing new. Even President Clinton recognized the need to fix Social Security. We know what needs to be done. A fix will include increasing the retirement age to recognize that Americans are living longer than in the past and changing the benefit formula so that scarce resources go to those who most need them. However, the President has done nothing over the last four years to prevent the coming across-the-board benefit cuts.

David C. John

Cutting Big Bird’s Subsidies Necessary and a Good Start

President Obama claimed the only ideas coming from Governor Romney consist of cutting funding for Big Bird. It’s not his only idea, but it’s certainly a subsidy ripe for pruning. Yet ending subsidies to the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) is not an attack on Big Bird. These subsidies are unnecessary and in fact politicize both public broadcasting and Big Bird.

Sesame Workshop (and Big Bird) does not even get a large amount of its funding from the federal government. Yet even these small cuts should be made. If Congress can demonstrate that it’s capable of cutting the small programs, it will build momentum for it to address complex, big-ticket items like the entitlement programs.

Proposals for spending cuts both small and large is a welcome change, considering Washington’s spending addiction seems to know no bounds. And as for Obama’s grand plan? The same failed, damaging policies of higher taxes and increased government spending that have gotten us into the current economic malaise.

– Emily Goff

The State of the Housing Market and Credit

President Obama makes a lot of claims about his supposed achievements in the past four years. But a cornerstone of the economy—the housing sector—remains deeply troubled. His policies—fiscal and regulatory—as well as the flaws of the excessive Dodd-Frank financial regulation statute he supported have lenders holding credit tight. Indeed, the vast majority of new mortgages these days are simply the refinancing of existing loans. And, as long as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are supplanting private housing investment, would-be home buyers will confront a weak housing market.

– Diane Katz

Premium Support Is Not a Voucher

The Medicare reform proposal based on premium support is not a voucher plan. Heritage’s Bob Moffit explains, “It’s all scary nonsense. The Ryan proposal, among others, is a defined-contribution system that in, say, 2023 would provide direct payment from a government account to a health plan of a person’s choice, including traditional Medicare.”

– Alyene Senger

More Than $4,000 in Taxes for the Average American Family

Governor Romney mentioned a $4,000 tax increase for American families in order to pay for President Obama’s spending. Under Taxmageddon, a destructive economy policy President Obama and Congress have failed to avert, the average American family would see its tax bill rise by $4,138. Moreover, the Congressional Budget Office projects a recession in 2013 if these tax hikes and the fiscal cliff go into effect. Nevertheless, the President and Congress are holding the economy hostage to push through a tax hike on the rich.

In 2009, President Obama argued that the economy was too weak to sustain a major tax hike. The same is true today. And yet, under President Obama’s leadership the country is heading steadily towards the fiscal cliff—and this is hurting job creation and economic growth today.

– Romina Boccia

Obama Administration Is No Friend to Coal

The Obama Administration may be a friend to coal by way of trying to subsidize clean coal technologies, but unfortunately the Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency is proposing and implementing costly new regulations that will prematurely shut down existing coal power plants, make it almost impossible to build new coal power plants and place burdensome new regulations on coal mining operations. In fact, the consulting group ICF International projects that 20 percent of America’s coal generated plants could retire as soon as 2020 because of the EPA’s air, quality and waste regulations.

These new regulations are already producing very real—and undesirable—consequences. Ohio’s FirstEnergy Corp. announced that it will close six coal facilities because of the new environmental regulations. A Georgia utility recently retracted funding for a permit application, citing the EPA’s air-quality rules. That’s home-grown energy capacity—present and future—down the tubes. Further, Alpha Natural Resources recently announced it would close 8 coal mines and shutter 1,200 jobs in part because of “a regulatory environment that’s aggressively aimed at constraining the use of coal.”

If coal shrinks as a result of cheaper natural gas or nuclear prices, then the market will determine that. But we have 500 years worth of coal, and the industry is facing unnecessary regulations that are prematurely forcing the closure of coal-fired plants and mines and making it exceedingly difficult to build new coal plants.

– Nicolas Loris

Nuclear Energy Policy Must Match Nuclear Energy Rhetoric

Governor Romney said tonight that he wants to see more nuclear energy. President Obama has argued the same in the past. While bringing more safe, clean and affordable nuclear energy online is a great idea, doing so takes more than rhetoric.

Unfortunately, President Obama’s policies during his first term didn’t meet his rhetoric. A nuclear energy policy that would actually expand nuclear energy production as both the Governor and President claim to support must consist of three parts:

Fix nuclear waste management. President Obama’s policy to terminate the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository has set the prospects of a broad expansion of nuclear energy back. Reversing this policy is critical and that starts with directing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to restart its review of the permit to build Yucca.

Fix nuclear regulation. The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission does a good job of regulating public health and safety for a slow to no growth industry but take the wrong approach for regulating a technological diverse and growing industry. The NRC must be reformed to allow for more efficient regulation of existing technology as well as to promote the introduction of new technologies.

Get the government out of the nuclear energy business. The federal government has too much power over what nuclear technologies move forward. Instead of spending money at the Department of Energy to develop technologies that should be funded by the private sector, the federal government should focus on updating the NRC’s ability to regulate a modern, 21st century industry.

– Jack Spencer

Hardly a Balanced Approach to Fix Spending and Debt Crisis

President Obama’s recycled “balanced approach” mantra surfaced for the umpteenth time this evening—even though Americans know it is far from balanced, never mind mathematically impossible. Raising taxes on wealthier Americans who, in President Obama’s own words, “can afford to pay a little bit more,” would be a direct hit to the very businesses and investors we need to be encouraged, not discouraged from creating jobs. Failing to address Taxmageddon and inject certainty into the economy is an abysmal failure of Congress and President Obama. It’s already threatening the economy, and causing economic stagnation.

On the other side of this “balanced approach” is spending cuts, which the President merely pays lip service to. The facts show that spending is on the rise; everything from anti-poverty to education to transportation spending has grown dramatically over the past ten years. Without reforms, entitlement programs are set to exceed 40 percent of the economy within a few decades. Obama initially even wanted a clean debt limit increase last year—with no spending cuts in exchange. Is that balanced? Hardly.

– Emily Goff

No Taxes on Savings

Governor Romney, when giving more details on his tax plan tonight, discussed that families making $200,000 or less would face no taxes on savings. The Heritage Foundation’s New Flat Tax would deduct savings immediately from taxable personal income, and savings would remain tax exempt until spent on consumption. This would lead to greater financial security for the American middle class by providing incentives for greater personal savings.

The New Flat Tax, as outlined in Heritage’s Saving the American Dream plan, would replace today’s convoluted tax system with a simple, neutral, and transparent tax system that would allow America to achieve its full economic potential.

– Romina Boccia

Damaging Deficits Persist

For all the talk about the deficits that would persist under Governor Romney’s policies, the President is perhaps forgetting what has happened over the past four years. Under President Obama, the federal government has consistently recorded annual deficits in excess of $1 trillion. These deficits persist largely due to inflated levels of spending. The 2012 deficit of $1.1 trillion was about 7.3 percent of GDP; by comparison, the historical average is only 2.1 percent of GDP. If the country does not have leadership at the top, as well as in Congress, that will cut spending, the federal budget will continue to be plagued by damaging, unsightly deficits. It is imperative that Congress and the President get federal spending under control.

– Emily Goff

On “Investing” in Education

President Obama suggested asking the “wealthy to pay more” in order to invest in education. For President Obama, “investing in education” means spending more precious taxpayer dollars on federal education programs. There has been a near tripling of federal per-pupil expenditures since the 1960s, yet student achievement has remained flat. That’s because spending has no correlation with academic achievement. But spending does have a strong correlation with federal intervention in education. The more federal spending and programs grow, the more control Washington has over education. That control comes at the expense of state and local – and ultimately parental – control over education.

Yet the Obama Administration has proposed a nearly $70 billion budget for the Department of Education for 2013, and proposes spending $60 billion in supplemental spending on new education programs. These staggering new spending increases are in addition to the one-time $98 billion provided to the Department of Education in 2009 as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act—the “stimulus”—and on top of the $10 billion “EduJobs” bill passed in the summer of 2010.

Americans are calling for fiscal restraint in Washington. As has been the case for the past half century, more spending and federal programs are not a recipe for educational success.

– Lindsey Burke

Tax Reform and Lowering Tax Rates

Tax reform is about economic growth. Lower tax rates are important to improving growth because they improve the incentives for engaging the activities that grow the economy like working, saving, investing, and taking risks.

Governor Romney’s tax plan would lower rates to improve those incentives. His plan can be made revenue and distributionally neutral.

President Obama has a different approach. He does not have a tax reform plan, but instead proposes to raise taxes on “the rich.” He defines that as incomes over $250,000. Obama’s plan to raise tax rates on incomes over that amount would hit small businesses that employ workers. In fact, the accounting firm Ernst & Young found that Obama’s plan would destroy more than 700,000 jobs.

Obama said he would raise rates to the same level they were under President Clinton. Because Obamacare raised the payroll tax rate and levied a surtax on investment income, Obama’s plan would raise tax rates above where they were in the Clinton years.

And arguing that the economy grew in the 1990s with higher rates does not mean we can raise taxes now and have the same result. In the 1990s, the economy had everything going for it. Today, the economy continues to face stiff headwinds.

– Curtis Dubay

Energy Production on Federal Lands Has Fallen

While President Obama made the familiar statement that oil and gas production is the highest it has been in 8 years, Governor Romney was right to point out that this was driven by production on private and state lands. Oil and gas production on federal lands is, in fact, down. According to a recent report from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), energy production decreased 13 percent on federal lands in fiscal year (FY) 2011 when compared to FY 2010. The official moratorium and de facto moratorium as a result of a molasses-like permitting process reduced planned capital and operating investments by $18.3 billion and cost the Gulf more than 162,000 jobs in just the past two years. Federal production in the West has experienced a similar fate: The Administration’s delays on permitting oil and gas projects public lands are preventing economic activity. In Utah and Wyoming, for instance, projects held up by the National Environmental Policy Act process is preventing the creation 64,805 jobs, $4.3 billion in wages, and $14.9 billion in economic impact every year.

– Nicolas Loris

Where Are the Jobs from the Keystone Pipeline?

President Obama suggested tonight that he was concerned with creating jobs in the U.S. Yet, when he had the opportunity to allow the Keystone pipeline and the many jobs this would have created, the President rejected both. The Keystone XL pipeline would deliver oil from our Canadian ally, relieve some of the pain of high prices at the gas pump, and create jobs in America. Nevertheless, and despite a State Department environmental review concluding that the project poses no significant environmental risk, the President chose to reject TransCanada’s permit application to build the pipeline.

– Romina Boccia

Investing in Our Energy Future?

President Obama discussed creating jobs by investing in energy sources for the future, 10 to 20 years from now. First, we don’t know what the energy sources 20 years from now will be. That’s for the market to determine, not the federal government. As economist F.A. Hayek famously wrote: “The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.” The government shouldn’t be designing our energy policy by subsidizing politically preferred energy sources. That does not create jobs. It merely allocates labor and capitol from one sector of the economy to another. We need to open access, reduce onerous and duplicative regulations, and remove subsidies for all energy sources to allow the market to determine our energy mix.

– Nicolas Loris

The Auto Bailout

President Obama once more criticized Governor Romney for saying GM should go bankrupt. But Romney tonight finally cleared the record, pointing out that that is exactly what happened – GM and Chrysler DID go bankrupt. But, as Obama confirmed, the administration didn’t stop there – it nationalized the firms. Taxpayers are still some $25 billion in the hole and still own a quarter of the shares of GM. Bankruptcy was the right solution; a bailout was not.

– James Gattuso

Energy and Jobs

Both President Obama and Governor Romney recognize the power of energy to create economic growth and jobs, not only within the energy sector but economy wide. But the means to the end are just as important as that end.

Obama talks about “controlling” our energy. His means has been to harness America’s domestic energy, financial, and human resources to a vision and a plan for a politically preferred definition of energy independence. Obama has created a narrow direction for American energy rather than creating space for Americans and the market to pursuit America’s resources and tackle problems.

– Katie Tubb

Stimulus Was a Failure

The President’s economic theories are a failure. If anything, he has proved the folly of the kind of Keynesian-inspired “stimulus” with which he launched his tenure. The $833 billion exercise in economic ideology, enacted within a month of his inauguration, has been a stunning failure—and American households have paid the price.

It is true the President inherited a difficult economy, but his policies haven’t helped. In some respects they have made matters worse. This year’s second quarter growth in real gross domestic product was a meager 1.3 percent—down from 1.7 percent for all of 2011, which was lower than the 2.9 percent rate in 2010. Meanwhile, federal deficits have held stubbornly above $1 trillion every year of the Obama Administration. Further, though the President can point to some net job creation over his term, it has barely kept pace with the growth in the U.S. population. As a result, the ratio of employed persons to the total population has remained flat since mid-2009—not the sign of a growing economy.

Equally stunning are the household income figures. From June 2009—the start of the “recovery”—until June this year, median household incomes declined by 4.8 percent, adjusted for inflation. The drop itself is bad enough—but it is almost twice as deep as the 2.6 percent decline during the recession.

These are the fruits of an economic and fiscal policy that has failed decisively. It is no surprise, really. Every dollar spent by government is taxed or borrowed from the economy, where it would otherwise be available for growth-producing activities. The lesson is clear: Less government spending is not “austerity”; it will not starve the economy. Smaller government, and less government spending, is a fundamental policy for growth.

– Patrick Knudsen

Difficulty Finding a Job, and Saddled with Debt

Not only will the young man who is concerned about his future have difficulty finding a job in the current Obama economy, but just like his peers, he will also be saddled with a tremendous amount of federal debt. Thanks in no small part to Washington’s overspending and its failure to propose real solutions to entitlement reform.

Congress and the President must curb the spending addiction to get deficits and debt under control, and avoid burying its youth and future generations in mountains of debt.

Emily Goff

Obama’s Questionable Embrace of Free Enterprise

In his closing argument, President Obama presented himself as a champion of free enterprise. Then came the ominous “but”: “But I also believe that everybody should have a fair shot and everybody should do their fair share and everybody should play by the same rules.”

Here’s the rub: free enterprise goes hand in hand with the rule of law and equal opportunity—what the President refers to as everyone playing by the same rules and getting a fair shot. A true champion of free enterprise does not need to specify that he also believes in these, since they are part and parcel of free-market economics. To specify that the free enterprise system needs to be supplemented by the rule of law and equal opportunity suggests instead that one has embraced the Left’s straw man depiction of capitalism as a ruthless system that allows the rich to rig the game and fleece the poor.

That the President’s embrace of free enterprise is less than sincere is confirmed by the “fair share” comment. This is a thinly veiled jab at the rich (which he defined during the debate as either the top 1 percent or 2 percent of earners). A true champion of free markets would not be attacking the rich by implying they are somehow taking advantage of the rest of us.

President Obama can either embrace the free enterprise system or he can play the class warfare card. But—and in this case there must be a “but”—he can’t wear both hats at the same time.

– David Azerrad

For more analysis of the debate, video, a slideshow of photos, and a word cloud of Obama’s and Romney’s answers, visit our Debate 2012 page.

Quick Hits:

  • President Obama had more than three extra minutesof speaking time last night compared to Governor Romney.
  • The number of people on food stampscontinues to top record highs.
  • Despite high demand for a smartphone app that allows customers to hail a cab, New York City’s taxi regulators are trying to shut down the app.
  • Russia has been helping Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, who has presided over the massacre of Syrians. At noon ET today, Heritage will host a discussion of what the U.S. should do about the Russia-Syria relationship. Watch online here.


Welfare Reform – Heritage Foundation

An Overview of Obama’s End Run on Welfare Reform
By Robert Rector
September 20, 2012

In July of this year, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) granted itself authority to “waive compliance” with all of the work provisions in the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program.

HHS has declared that the work requirements written in the law are no longer legally binding on state governments and that they can and will be replaced by alternative rules devised unilaterally by the HHS bureaucracy. This action grossly violates the intent and letter of the welfare reform law.

1996 Reform Was Successful

In 1996, Congress enacted welfare reform legislation that replaced the old Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program with TANF. The immediate effects of welfare reform were striking. During the four decades prior to the 1996 welfare reform, the welfare caseload had never significantly decreased.

By 1995, nearly one in seven children was on AFDC. Within just a few years of TANF’s implementation, however, the caseload was cut in half, and employment rates and earnings among single mothers soared.[1] Child poverty rates declined significantly. Roughly 3 million fewer children lived in poverty in 2003 than in 1995, including 1.2 million fewer black children, marking the lowest level of black child poverty in the nation’s history.[2]

Federal work requirements in the TANF program form the foundation of the popular welfare reform law of 1996. These work standards have three parts: They require (1) 30–40 percent of able-bodied TANF recipients (2) to engage in any of 12 different work activities (3) for 20–30 hours per week.

What HHS Wants to Do

In its guidance memorandum and related documents, HHS outlined the types of changes it was seeking in the TANF program. HHS stated that it would:

  • Lower the already lenient work participation rates in TANF by exempting substantial and loosely defined groups of recipients from the work rates;
  • Likely broaden the definition of “work activities”;
  • Replace the requirement that recipients engage in work activities for 20–30 hours per week with looser standards, perhaps as little as one hour per week; and
  • Replace the TANF work participation requirements entirely with alternative standards based on “employment exits.”

All of these changes are likely to substantially increase the number of TANF recipients who receive a check without working.

The “Employment Exits” Red Herring

Stung by criticism that it was weakening the work requirements in welfare, the Obama Administration released a subsequent letter stating that some or all of the states receiving future waivers would be required to increase the number of recipients who left welfare due to employment by 20 percent or at least to make progress toward that target. In reality, this is a miniscule change. To meet this standard, the typical state would merely need to increase the number of monthly “employment exits” from 1.5 percent of caseload to 1.8 percent.

States have kept statistics on employment exits for decades, but they have always been meaningless as a measure of success. Why? Because welfare caseloads always have routine turnover. The larger the caseload, the greater the number of exits—simply because there are more people in the system.

Historically, the number of employment exits rises as welfare caseloads rise and falls when welfare caseloads fall; increases in employment exits are negatively correlated to reductions in caseloads and dependence. For this reason, Congress deliberately excluded “employment exits” as a performance measure when crafting the 1996 welfare reform law.

Now the Obama Administration seeks to make “employment exits” the central performance standard of a radically revised TANF program. Paradoxically, by this standard, the old pre-reform AFDC program was a stunning success: Employment exits nearly doubled in the decade before reform, and caseloads increased by a third. By contrast, the post-reform TANF program has been a decided failure: Both exits and caseloads have fallen. The Obama Administration is not merely gutting welfare reform; it is standing it on its head.

Restore and Expand Work Requirements

Some 95 percent of the public believe that able-bodied recipients of government aid should be required to work or prepare for work as a condition of receiving assistance.[3] By that standard, the existing TANF work rules are already too lenient. Half of able-bodied TANF recipients receive a welfare check but perform no activity at all.

In addition, the federal government runs over 80 means-tested welfare programs providing cash, food, housing, medical care, and social services to low-income individuals. In 2011, the cost of these programs was $927 billion. Over 100 million Americans received benefits from these programs at an average cost of $9,000 per recipient. At the beginning of the year, only three of these 80 programs had a significant work requirement: the earned income refundable credit, the additional child refundable credit, and TANF. Now, in many states, the TANF work requirements will be weakened or eliminated.

Government should take the opposite course. The work participation rates in TANF should be increased to cover more recipients. In the long term, strong work participation standards should be established in other programs such as food stamps, public housing, unemployment insurance, and Medicaid. Regrettably, the Obama Administration is marching briskly in the opposite direction.

[1]See Robert Rector and Patrick Fagan, “The Continuing Good News About Welfare Reform,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 1620, February 6, 2003, http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2003/02/the-continuing-good-news.


[3]See Robert Rector, “Obama’s End Run on Welfare Reform, Part One: Understanding Workfare,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2730, September 19, 2012, footnote 6, http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2012/09/obamas-end-run-on-welfare-reform-part-one-understanding-workfare#_ftn6

—Robert Rector is Senior Research Fellow in the Domestic Policy Studies Department at The Heritage Foundation.

September 20, 2012

Listening to Local Voices on Poverty
by Jennifer Marshall and Robert L. Woodson

    When the Obama Administration announced that it will waive the work requirement in welfare reform, it wasn’t just a bad idea that will roll back one of the most celebrated reforms of the past 25 years. It also showed disregard for the leaders of some of the nation’s poorest communities.

    These leaders had cried out against the corrosive effects of the old welfare system on neighborhoods, families and the spirit of individual responsibility. Their testimonies to the destructiveness of government dependence played an important part in shaping welfare reform. In 1995, they formed a task force charged by House Speaker Newt Gingrich with informing the legislative effort to reform the old welfare system.

    As a result of the historic reform law Congress enacted in 1996, welfare rolls dropped by half and poverty among black children fell to its lowest level on record in America as families moved to independence from the welfare state.

Despite that success, there is much more work to be done. That’s why a new generation of grassroots leaders came to Washington, D.C., on Sept. 12-13 for an antipoverty summit. The 25 leaders met with today’s welfare reformers in Congress, led by Rep. Steve Southerland (R-Fla.) and other members of the Republican Study Committee, in conjunction with the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise and The Heritage Foundation.

    These neighborhood leaders from across the nation have addressed effectively the most entrenched problems of poverty in many of America’s most devastated communities. Their approach promotes principles of personal responsibility, reciprocity and opportunity with a goal of empowering families to achieve upward mobility and, ultimately, self-sufficiency.

    In our nation’s capital, they told members of Congress how they achieved their victories, explained what resources and support could help replicate their programs on a larger scale and identified policy barriers that block greater success.

    The strategies of these leaders, who live in the impoverished neighborhoods they serve, stand in sharp contrast to the conventional approach to fighting poverty. That approach fosters dependency and has absorbed almost $20 trillion of taxpayers’ money since President Lyndon Johnson launched the War on Poverty in the mid-1960s. Today, government spends nearly $1 trillion a year on 80 federal programs for the poor.

    What’s the return on investment? At the outset of the War on Poverty, 8 percent of children overall were born outside marriage each year. Today, the overall “unwed birth rate” has shot to 41 percent, and among blacks, a staggering 72 percent of children are born to single mothers.

    The U.S. Census Bureau, releasing its annual poverty numbers Sept. 12, said the nation’s official poverty rate in 2011 held steady at 15 percent, with 46.2 million Americans in poverty. It’s bad news, even after three consecutive years of increases. But even worse is the persistently high level of poverty in good economic times or bad, particularly among children.

    The strongest factor in child poverty is absence of marriage. Overall, marriage reduces the probability of child poverty by more than 80 percent. If we want to fight poverty and welfare dependence, it’s urgent that we restore marriage. 

    More than a decade ago, the late Michael Joyce, president of the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, addressed members of Congress on why it was critical to hear from such grassroots leaders:

There’s no better place to learn the language of civic renewal than from those who are actually doing it. They capture and convey to the public the ideal of a revitalized civil society, as our best means to protect even the most vulnerable, to tackle even the toughest problems. They are full of the practical wisdom that comes from working every day with real people in the neighborhoods on real problems.

    Joyce’s message – “listen to these folks,” he urged – continues to be sound advice for civic leaders and citizens across America as we face unprecedented economic and social challenges.

Poverty rates are higher among single-mother families, regardless of race.

     Among whites, single-mother families are more than six times more likely to be poor than married-couple families. The ratio is also high among African-Americans, Asian-Americans (four times more likely), and Hispanics (more than twice as likely).

Poverty rates for families with children, by mother’s marital status.

Poverty rates are higher among single-mother families, regardless of race