Schumer Shutdown Makes Clear Democrats’ Real Priorities

A couple of days before the shutdown Genevieve Wood recorded this commentary, which you can either watch above or read below.  Since then, Senate Democrats, whose leader is Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.,  did indeed refuse to join Republicans to vote for a spending bill, and so the government did shut down. 

As you may have heard, a government shutdown is looming here in D.C. Many of you out there watching probably think, ‘So what? That can be a good thing. Less of Washington, fewer bureaucrats telling us what to do and how to spend our money.’  Those are all good points.

But that is not why Democrats are threatening to shut down the government.

Let’s keep in mind this is the same party that is always telling us if we shut down the government, this will be a travesty for millions of Americans, so many government programs and services will be unmet.

But yet they’re still willing to do so. Why is that?

Well, it’s because their liberal base is demanding that in this election year they put the needs and desires of those who are here in this country illegally before anybody else.

So if you’re an American who wants to live in a safe community and wants a safe border, too bad for you. If you’re a man or woman serving in our military, sworn to protect us around the world, well, we’re just not going to get those funds in that the military may need. And if you’re somebody who is not an American citizen but you’re standing in line because you, too, want to have a chance at the American dream and you’re trying to do it the right way? To all of those folks, Democrats are saying “get to the back of the line. ”

Now for all of you of DACA recipients out there who may feel as though you’re kind of a pawn in this whole thing: Well, you have a reason to believe that. Keep in mind Democrats have made promises to you before. But when Barack Obama was president, Nancy [Pelosi] was running the House, Harry [Reid] was running the Senate.–for two years, Democrats were in control of the White House and Congress, they did absolutely nada.

That’s why Democrats are willing to shut down government.  The reality is they don’t really want a deal on immigration. They talk about addressing the needs of the DACA population, but they have no time to address the other side of the immigration issue, border security and enforcement.

Here’s the deal. Democrats are fearful that President Trump and Republicans could go into the midterm elections with both victories on tax cuts and immigration reform. So at the end of the day, that’s what all of this is about. It’s an election year, and that means politics, not people, are their priority.

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I Went to the March for Life. Here’s What I Saw.

Thousands of pro-lifers descended upon Washington, D.C. for the 45th annual March for Life. Prior to the march, President Donald Trump addressed the March—the first president in history to do so live.

The Daily Signal went to the March for Life to find out why people were marching.

“It is so important that we make a stand and we show other people that we care about this and make a change,” one marcher said.

This rally and subsequent march is held annually to urge action on behalf of the most vulnerable in our community. Check out the video above to see why these pro-lifers march.

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Q&A: Black Activist Says Trump Policies, Unlike Obama’s, Create Jobs for Black America

Project 21’s Horace Cooper joined The Daily Signal’s Genevieve Wood to discuss the historic low unemployment rate for black Americans and how the left is co-opting Martin Luther King Jr. Day to protest tax reform and promote action for illegal immigrants covered by the DACA program. Here is an edited transcript of the video.

Wood: Horace, Martin Luther King Day is coming up next week, and there has been a lot of interesting news, especially for the black community on the economic front, in this past week or so. What do you make of the numbers coming out?

Cooper: The news for black America is amazing. It’s phenomenal. We have had three separate records accomplished: In June of 2017, in September of 2017, and in January of 2018, we have set record low unemployment for black Americans. And what’s really exciting, relative to the rest of the country, is black Americans are making much more progress …  and that’s, like, really big gains.  

Wood: You probably just heard that overflight. We’re very close to the Pentagon right now and Reagan Airport, so you’re going to hear a lot of airplanes. Horace, we talk about historic numbers. This is the lowest black unemployment has been in over 45 years. Why all of a sudden? Is it President Obama’s economy, which is kind of what he claimed in the last few weeks?

Cooper: It was surprising to me to hear the president make these claims.

Wood: The former president.

Cooper: The former [president], Obama, make these claims. It was very surprising because from 2009 to 2015, black America’s unemployment rate turned to the worst numbers that we have seen as a community. It was the very policies that he pushed that caused this disparity.

Here’s the thing: Black American unemployment typically is somewhere between 40 percent and even 100 percent higher than white America’s unemployment. When this [black unemployment rate] number in 2018 reached 6.8 percent, that was the narrowest gap we’ve ever seen. We saw nothing like that during the Obama administration.

And it didn’t surprise me, because the policies of President Obama were more focused on handing out food stamps, and assistance, and government handouts, rather than seeing to it that the most important civil rights of all, your right to be independent, your right to be self-sufficient, [were] being honored with policies of limited government. That’s not Obama’s plan.

Wood: Now, President Trump has been in office only one year. What do you think explains the nosedive in unemployment across the board, but particularly with minority Americans?

Cooper: Any investor, any businessman, any company understands now that America is open for business and if you’d like to do business in the United States, we’re going to say, ‘That’s great.’ Remember what the last president said?  ‘You didn’t build that.’ The last president said people that did things, that built things that were consequential, they were the people that we have to go after, to [put in a] stranglehold, a litany of regulations. And by the way, The Heritage Foundation did seminal studies every year, talking about how the last president set records for how many regulatory strangleholds he put on the United States.  

This president, President Trump, is doing just the opposite. Two things: One is, he is not bringing new regulations into place, but [two,] he is actually rolling back the bad regulations that we saw before. So businesses are opening up and it turns out the pool of  people that are most available right now, because of multiple years of bad regulatory and economic growth, are black Americans. And those people therefore are rushing into the marketplace. This is great news.

Wood: It’s great news. But as you well know, Horace, as we come up to MLK Day you are going to have a lot of folks out there talking about how the Trump administration, the tax reform package that was passed just before Christmas, is bad particularly for black Americans. We know this because they have already said they were going to do it.

[House Minority Leader] Nancy Pelosi and a lot of others are going to be holding events over the weekend in “honor” of Martin Luther King Jr., kind of hijacking the holiday, I would argue. To go tell black Americans why this is actually a bad economy for them, the complete opposite of all the numbers and evidence.

Cooper: Here’s the irony, what the left wants to tell black America is, ‘Who are you going to believe, them or your lying eyes?’ If you want to look at your bank account, if you want to look at the value of your home, if you want to make that the test, then you’ll look and you’ll say, ‘Wow, the news is amazing. My uncle, my cousin, even my next-door neighbor, they’re getting jobs that they didn’t have.’

A record 2 million fewer people are receiving food assistance under the Trump administration than before. But it is also not a surprise to me. Here’s the thing: When you look at Martin Luther King, most people remember the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. What they don’t recall is that the main reason for the big rally at the Lincoln Memorial [in August 1963] was a jobs program.

Black Americans were worried and concerned that there weren’t a lot of great economic opportunities. And that’s how this [March on Washington in 1963] got organized. The essence of what black America and the civil rights effort was about was letting people be able to get the kinds of things that control their own lives.

Wood: The right to a quality education, the right to good jobs.

Cooper: Absolutely. Right. A great house.

Wood: Not the right to handouts, wanting handouts.

Cooper: Absolutely. But the left, with these teach-ins as you mentioned, it’s cynical what they are doing. They don’t have a program for black America. Black America rejected—people don’t realize this—black America rejected Barack Obama’s program. How do I know this? [In 2008], the highest percentage of black Americans in history voted for the Democrat [Obama]. 

In 2012, we saw something happen that we have never seen before. Fewer black people voted for the re-election of a president. We haven’t seen that in 120 years. Not with Clinton, not with Nixon, not with Reagan. Every other re-elected president got more black votes than they did the first time around.

Wood: And why do you think that is? Do you think people really made the calculation within the black community, he hasn’t done what he said he was going to do?

Cooper: They absolutely could see that. You can’t show up the day before Election Day and have to wait for a handout, and then on the day after go and say I’m going to vote for this guy because he is making me great. But the Democrats and the left have been very good, and that’s what this teach-in is about.

Wood: Well, you make a point. And I want to talk more about Project 21 because I’m sure a lot of folks watching are going to say, ‘Wow, the news media doesn’t usually go out and find people like Horace Cooper to talk about Martin Luther King Day.’ 

They want to know where there are more Horace Coopers. And Project 21 is one of those organizations. The release that you all put out talked about, in addition to the teach-in, that while all of that is going on, the liberals are also pushing the Dream Act and trying to legalize a lot of illegal immigrants.  

Cooper: Oh, it’s a classic bait and switch, a beautiful bait and switch. When you don’t have a good program for people—by program, I mean a policy initiative that would be good for them—what you do is you find something to distract them.

What’s ironic is they’re not going to succeed in telling people, in this teach-in that they announced, that ‘You shouldn’t want the tax cuts you are about to get,  you shouldn’t want more money in your bank account, you shouldn’t want more flexibility in the kinds of jobs.  And that’s what’s coming your way. You don’t want that, that’s bad, we want to make you understand that the Trump regulatory tax policies are bad for you.’

Meanwhile, what they don’t say is ‘By the way, we do have a program, not for you, [but] we have a program. It is primarily focused on illegal immigrants. And in fact, even as late as today, the talk is we’ll shut the government down if we don’t get the ability to get the illegal immigration support policy changes that we want. Hey, black America, look at the teach-ins, that’s what we’ve got for you; but for our new favored class, we’ve got real policy changes that are designed to improve and make their livelihoods better.’  

Wood: And in many cases, though, trying to get [illegal immigrants] into the same government programs that got [black Americans] trapped into big government.

Cooper: Well, of course, that’s the ultimate goal.

Wood: Because those folks will often times also turn into voters once they get locked into government. And they become the party of big government.

Cooper: It’s a vicious cycle.

Wood: You’re right, it’s a bait and switch. Let’s talk about Project 21. Tell everybody what Project 21 is, how they can get involved, and how they can learn more about it.  

Cooper: Project 21 is an organization made up of black Americans who have rejected the idea that the only way for black Americans to succeed is if the government specifically engages in a series of handouts or preferential treatment. We are people, moderate and conservative, who say that the best way for black Americans to succeed is the same way it is for [all] Americans to succeed: Strong families, hard work.  Get a good education, engage in the kind of policies where you personally save your money, you’re not extravagant. Where you make the sacrifice and you hand your children.

We believe in limited government, we believe in family values. We believe the church and the synagoge are the primary place where good values get inculcated. Our organization welcomes any American that believes in those kinds of things and wants to make sure that those are the values that we put forward. That got America started, that got America to succeed, that’s the future for America.

Wood: And that’s a lot of things that Martin Luther King Jr. absolutely stood for.

Cooper: Absolutely.

Wood: Horace, thank you.  I’ve known this guy for over 20 years, he is rock-solid. It’s great being on with you. Thanks for coming on and being out here and talking with us.

Cooper: Thanks for having me on The Signal.

Wood: And thank you everybody. Check out Project 21. And thank you for watching us right here on The Daily Signal’s Facebook Live.

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Q&A: Meet Kay Coles James, the New Heritage Foundation President

On Tuesday, The Heritage Foundation announced that its next president would be Kay Coles James, who previously served on President Donald Trump’s transition team and who was director of the Office of Personnel Management in the George W. Bush administration. Genevieve Wood interviewed James Tuesday about her background, why she cares about policy, and what she intends to do as president of The Heritage Foundation. Below is a lightly-edited version of their conversation. 

Genevieve Wood: We have had an exciting morning here at The Heritage Foundation because we just announced who is going to be the next president of The Heritage Foundation beginning Jan. 1, and we want you to meet her right now. Ladies and gentlemen, this is Kay Coles James. Kay, thank you and congratulations.

Kay Coles James: Thank you, dear friend.

Wood: This is awesome. To say that this was an enthusiastic reception this morning would be selling it short. You got a lot of standing ovations. The emails are all coming in-

James: I must confess that I didn’t want my first impression to the staff to be standing there with tears running down my face, but the reception was so warm and so overwhelming that I think a dose of real emotion was probably appropriate.

Wood: I think it was too. So you are starting Jan. 1?

James: Jan. 1.

Wood: You’re not new to Heritage. You’ve been on our board since 2005. … You’re not new to politics and public policy. You’ve worked local level, state level, federal level.

James: My time with Heritage actually goes back more than 25 years, serving on the board of course, but I have had the opportunity to speak at Presidents Clubs and Resource Banks and to be involved as a fellow here at The Heritage Foundation when I did the Citizenship Project several years ago. My love and affinity for this organization runs deep and it runs long.

Wood: I want people out there who don’t know you, and I know many of you do, but what they may not know about your background is you worked for Gov. George Allen in Virginia, [as] assistant secretary of Health and Human Resources-

James: Let’s start at the beginning. I think what people need to know about me is that I came from a welfare mom. I came from a broken home, a dad who was absent. And the reason that’s important is because when I began to talk about welfare reform I had to grow out of failing schools and learn.

So for me, policy isn’t just about the white papers that we produce, but it’s what’s behind those papers. The lives of people that can be changed with the excellent policy that we produce here. And in no small measure, I really feel like everything in my life has been gearing up for this moment. Yes, I did have the opportunity to work on welfare reform with Gov. Allen in Virginia and we’re going to be tackling that nationally very soon. I have the privilege to serve on a state Board of Education so I have been diving deep into education policy. Yes, I was the secretary of Health in Virginia and I understand entirely what needs to happen to fix our failing health care system in our country today. The policy side runs deep, but I want people to know that the passion, the passion for changing peoples’ lives, runs deep as well.

Wood: You have had this storied career. You worked for Ronald Reagan. You worked for President George W. Bush. I mean you go on and on with the list here. You were at Regent University, dean there. After such a career, why now Heritage?

James: Because it’s so interesting. You may know that for a while I actually headed the search committee [for a new president of The Heritage Foundation]. Somebody said “oh, so you did a full Dick Cheney.” So I was helping to develop the profile of what the next president of Heritage needed to be and to do and working with the search committee on those issues. And it was so interesting that one of our board members at one point said “what about Kay?” And as soon as I became a serious candidate I stepped down from the search committee and [former attorney general and Heritage Foundation Ronald Reagan Fellow Emeritus] Ed Meese took it over.

The reality is that when I look back over my life everything has been preparation for this. Our donors and our members and the people that we serve know how important this organization is and it isn’t just important for the conservative movement, it’s important for this country. We’re at a critical place in our nation right now and I think that, to borrow a phrase from one of my favorite Bible verses, I feel like my life has been leading up to this for such a time as this.

Wood: This morning you shared a really personal story with our team here. I know our audience would love to hear about when you really realized you were a fighter because Kay, you’re the first woman president of Heritage but [not only of Heritage but] of many a conservative or a think tank period across the board. You’re also a black woman.

James: You know what I’m so excited about. The fact that I’m a woman and African American? I don’t think anybody on the board cared. It is absolutely not in their DNA and I think we did it the right way. I think that they were looking for the best and the most qualified person and you know, it’s like it was an afterthought. Oh my gosh-

Wood: On the flip side.

James: Yeah, so isn’t that something.

 Wood: It is, but it’s part of who you are. And it’s part of your story that you told us this morning-

James: Well, you know I shared this morning that at 12 years old when I was integrating the schools in the south in Richmond, Virginia, it was a very difficult time for those who went through that period in our country’s history. It was a frightening time. Far more than anything I’ve seen today with some of the folks who complain about where our country is today.

And I’m glad I had that experience. The experience of being kicked when I walked down the hall. The experience of being called names. The experience of being stuck with pins, and that’s how they used to try to scare us. You never knew where it was going to come from when you were walking down the hall, but it turned me into a fighter. I was determined to stay. I was resolved.

I think God used that in shaping me in who I am today. I don’t mind fighting for the things that I believe in. I believe in this great country. I believe in The Heritage Foundation. I believe in our mission, vision and values and I’m ready to fight for it.

Wood: When did you decide I’m a conservative?

James: I didn’t actually know I was a conservative until a reporter told me. Years ago, and this is absolutely true, I was being interviewed and he said something like, “so, how is it being a black conservative?” And I went, “I’m a conservative?”

I knew what I believed, and incidentally my definition of a black conservative, actually I believe it’s a definition for any good conservative, is someone that has the audacity to believe what their grandmother taught them. There’s nothing weird, deep, or complicated about it. The values that we have are good, solid, traditional, American values. That’s who we are at our core. And one day I realized that somehow that group of values that were mine to the core had a label, and that label was conservative. And I said, “by golly, I’m a conservative.”

Wood: Let me ask you, you talked also about just reaching everybody with this message–because conservatism is good for everybody.

James: Oh, absolutely.

 Wood: The values that we fight for.

James: The values that we have and that we fight for. Some of the best research data and analysis emanates out of this building that builds the case for, and makes the argument for, the policies that we believe in. I want to make sure that that message, that it goes to every corner of this country.

I want Bernie Sanders voters to understand why we are actually more compassionate, why we actually have real solutions that will affect poverty and end failure factories– that we somehow call schools–that don’t educate. I really want them to understand … Let’s just go for what’s true, and right and positive and let’s look at what the data and the research says.

Are we bold enough to do that? Because if we are we will find common ground and we can change this country for the better.

Wood: You have any particular goals coming in? I mean, I know you said, “look. we’re not going to change who Heritage is.” But what are your personal leadership goals or just hope for the organization and for America?

James: Oh, you know I am here, not just for the organization, but for this country because I believe that Heritage is the premiere organization that’s charting the course for this nation. To have the opportunity to do that is overwhelming. But my goal initially is to listen. In this building are some of the most superior individuals on the planet who know the policies, who are the scholars and I want to listen. Beyond listening I want to make sure that what we know and what we learn can explode out of this building and go all across America. We know that we have as our major constituency the policymakers here on Capitol Hill and we want to change their minds.

The people in the administration, we want to provide them good data and research analysis. But I want people even outside of America … Do you understand that people who are fighting for freedom and liberty in foreign countries look to Heritage for research and data and information? So, yes my love and my passion is the country but my love and passion goes to wherever people are fighting for freedom and liberty and opportunity.

Wood: Now a lot of folks out there are going to say what is your relationship with the current administration and current other leaders? I know that you spoke with Speaker [Paul] Ryan already this morning on the phone. What is your relationship with those different groups?

James: It’s interesting having been in this town for as long as I have, many of them I have known for many, many years. I knew Speaker Ryan when he was an intern and at Empower America. I have a great relationship with [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell and many great relationships within the administration. I had the privilege of serving on the Trump transition and preparing them for leadership. So, I think that I’m ready to put all those wonderful and great solid relationships to work.

Wood: Final question for you. What have I not asked you that you would want to share with those out there that are members of Heritage, who follow The Daily Signal, who are looking forward to getting to know you?

James: I’d want to share with them that this is an exciting time. That they can look forward to the Heritage that they’ve known and loved for a very long time. I said to [Heritage Foundation president] Ed Feulner and to [Heritage Foundation senior adviser] Phil Truluck this morning that I understand this precious thing that they have created. And my job is to care for it, nurture it, and grow it.

Wood: And we have every reason to believe you’re going to do simply that. Kay James, thank you so much. Congratulations. Everybody in the building is excited.

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