Wal-Mart Announces Higher Minimum Wage and Bonuses, Citing Trump Tax Cuts

Wal-Mart announced Thursday it will raise its starting wage to $11 per hour and will give employees a bonus of up to $1,000, crediting the tax cuts signed into law Dec. 22 by President Donald Trump.

Wal-Mart President and CEO Doug McMillon said in a statement the retail giant was “pleased” to announce the wage increase, which will take place beginning in February and will benefit more than 1 million Walmart, Sam’s Club, eCommerce, logistics and home office employees.

The bonuses will be based on the length of employment, with a minimum of $200 for employees with less than two years of experience working at Wal-Mart and a maximum of $1,000  for employees who have worked there for more than 20 years.

The payouts should total around $400 million, according to CNBC.

“Today, we are building on investments we’ve been making in associates, in their wages and skills development,” he said. “It’s our people who make the difference, and we appreciate how they work hard to make every day easier for busy families.”

McMillon added that Wal-Mart is “early in the stages of assessing the opportunities tax reform creates” for it to invest in its customers and associates to “further strengthen” its business.

“Tax reform gives us the opportunity to be more competitive globally and to accelerate plans for the U.S.,” he said, adding that the retailer is especially excited to invest in new technologies to help customers and employees alike.

Trump responded to the announcement by saying it’s “[g]reat news,” adding that it is “a result of our TAX CUTS & JOBS ACT!”

Wal-Mart also announced it will be expanding its paid maternal and parental leave by offering full-time hourly employees 10 weeks of paid maternity leave and six weeks of paid parental leave. Salaried workers will receive the same six weeks of paid parental leave that their hourly counterparts receive, too.

“Families are a priority to us, and connecting with and caring for a new family member is obviously important,” McMillon said.

Prior to these changes, paid maternity leave was eight weeks and paid parental leave was four weeks for full-time hourly workers.

Additionally, Wal-Mart will contribute $5,000 toward the cost of adoption, which on average ranges from about $34,000 to $40,000. The $5,000 can be used for adoption-agency fees, translation fees, and legal or court costs.

“I’m proud of our progress, and we have momentum. Let’s build on that in 2018,” McMillon said.

The post Wal-Mart Announces Higher Minimum Wage and Bonuses, Citing Trump Tax Cuts appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Delaware County Could Miss Right-to-Work Boom, Chief of Kentucky County Predicts

GEORGETOWN, Delaware—Despite one county’s decision to reject a right-to-work law, Delaware will remain the only state in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic with a local statute prohibiting imposition of union mandates on private sector employees.

The town of Seaford intends to move ahead with its right-to-work law even though surrounding Sussex County backed down in the face of pressure from labor unions whose leaders argued that the change would drive down wages.

“Right to work is one tool that will help to improve our competitive posture so we can lure in new businesses,” Seaford Mayor David Genshaw told The Daily Signal in an interview.

And in Kentucky, where local action to pass right-to-work laws has galvanized the movement, one county official says Seaford did the right thing for its residents last month even as Sussex County backed down this week.

“People are noticing that Warren County, Kentucky, is a great business-friendly place to live, to work, or to start a business,” Mike Buchanon, the county’s judge-executive, told The Daily Signal.

Right-to-work laws prohibit private sector employers from entering into agreements that make union membership and payment of union dues a condition of employment.

Since Warren County’s right-to-work ordinance went into effect, Buchanon said, the county seat of Bowling Green has seen downtown development “skyrocket” with about $300 million in new capital improvements.

Commercial and residential development is booming, he said, as is the hotel business.

‘Big Gains’ Forfeited?

The Sussex County Council rejected its own right-to-work ordinance in a 4-1 vote Tuesday after County Attorney J. Everett Moore told members that the law would not prevail against inevitable legal challenges from unions.

Councilman Rob Arlett, an early proponent, was the only member of the all-Republican council to vote for the measure one week after union members packed the council chambers during a public hearing.

>>> Right-to-Work Advocate Blames Unions’ Legal Threats for Loss 

Elected officials in Seaford, however, took the unexpected step of passing their own ordinance Dec. 12 in a unanimous vote. The city of about 7,000 in southwestern Sussex County was once home to a 35-acre DuPont plant that created thousands of local jobs by producing nylon used in military parachutes.

Sussex is one of three counties in Delaware.

As mayor of Seaford, Genshaw said he wasn’t content to wait for the county to act and anticipated that the city’s own right-to-work law could attract businesses and opportunities to the site of the former DuPont factory as well as other parts of Seaford.

“When you compare right-to-work states with non-right-to-work states, it’s clear to me that this could mean big gains for Delaware,” Genshaw said in an October interview. “I talk to a lot of families who want their kids to stay in the area, but we need to create opportunities that have gone missing in recent years.”

Signs of Boom in Kentucky County

The capital investment and job growth flowing into Warren County, Kentucky, where the local right-to-work movement first took root, appears to bolster Genshaw’s argument.

As judge-executive, Buchanon, a Republican, is Warren County’s elected chief administrator, similar to a mayor. In previous interviews with The Daily Signal, he described how a broad cross-section of Kentucky residents came together to support right-to-work legislation in Warren County that passed in 2014.

For years, Warren County had been losing out to neighboring parts of Tennessee, Buchanon explained, because experts recruited by companies and other employers to identify potential work sites viewed right-to-work status as a critical factor in making a final determination.

At the time, Tennessee was a right-to-work state and Kentucky was not. Times have changed.

>>> Local Leaders Try New Tactic to Bring Right-to-Work Laws to Kentucky

Since passage of the ordinance in December 2014, Warren County has attracted 174 prospective new businesses, representing about $2.5 billion in potential investment, and 16,618 jobs have materialized, according to the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce.

Buchanon estimates that Warren County now has more than 6,000 openings for blue-collar and white-collar jobs in a wide range of fields that include manufacturing, education, health care, retail, hospitality, construction, and engineering positions.

“We are growing our workforce as well, with inward migration, attracting workers from across the nation and from around the globe,” Buchanon told The Daily Signal in an email Tuesday.

A new University of Kentucky Medical School is under construction on the Bowling Green campus, and multi-unit residential apartments and townhouses are being built throughout downtown Bowling Green and on campus.

“The economy is growing to an historic level, and new people are moving into Bowling Green in Warren County every single day,” Buchanon said.

Some of the union members who turned out Jan. 2 outside Sussex County’s government office building to oppose a right-to-work measure, from left: Michael Burns of AFSCME, Jeff Taschner of the Delaware State Education Association, Michael Begatto of AFSCME, James Maravelias, president of Delaware AFL-CIO, and Kat Caudle of AFSCME. (Photo: Kevin Mooney/The Daily Signal)

Union Opposition in Delaware

In response to the action in Warren County, 11 other Kentucky counties quickly followed suit with their own ordinances, and the whole state went right to work in January 2017.

>>> Kentucky’s Right-to-Work Earthquake Reverberates Across State Lines 

A total of 28 states and the territory of Guam now have right-to-work laws. In addition to Kentucky, since 2012, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and West Virginia have become right-to-work states.

Despite the transformative influence of right to work in Kentucky, union leaders and activists who gathered to protest the proposed Sussex County ordinance in Delaware insisted that it would harm average workers.

That’s what James Maravelias, president of the AFL-CIO in Delaware, said in a Jan. 2 interview with The Daily Signal during a protest by labor unions at the Georgetown Circle outside the Sussex County administration building.

If passed, a countywide right-to-work law would lower wages for workers, Maravelias said.

Standing next to him, Michael Begatto, executive director of AFSCME Council 81, echoed that argument.

The state AFL-CIO president was joined by dozens of union members from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the United Food and Commercial Workers, the Communications Workers of America, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and the Delaware State Education Association, among others.

During the Jan. 2 hearing, Sussex County Council members heard from county residents on both sides of the debate.

To Jermaine Johnson, a member of United Brotherhood of Carpenters Local 173 who said he also is a pastor with Prophetic Kingdom Ministries, right to work is “about defunding and dividing the ability of unions to negotiate on behalf of the worker.”

‘There Is No Pie’

But other residents spoke out ardently in favor of the bill.

Lyle Humpton, of Bridgeville, represented Master Interiors, a Delaware-based acoustical contractor that he described as an “open shop company” with 43 employees.

“There is a bigger issue here than just union versus nonunion,” Humpton told council members. “This is about freedom and liberty versus government intrusion.”

Kevin Burdette, a Milton resident who heads the KNB Associates business consulting company, told council members that a right-to-work law would create a “bigger pie for everyone,” including union and nonunion companies.

Burdette added: “Unless we get other jobs coming to Sussex County, there is no pie. Economic growth has occurred at higher rates in right-to-work states.”

David Stevenson, an economist with the Caesar Rodney Institute, a Wilmington-based free-market think tank, picked up on this point during his testimony.

In contrast to states that have right-to-work laws, Delaware has experienced anemic economic growth, diminished job opportunities, and falling household incomes, Stevenson told council members.

Over the past decade, Delaware’s economy has grown by 0.4 percent a year, he said, and in 2017, the state was one of only four that logged a rise in unemployment.

Contrary to what union leaders and members said in public statements, incomes rise just as fast in right-to-work states as in other states when the cost of living is properly considered, Stevenson argued:

You can’t compare wages in right-to-work states like Alabama or Georgia, where houses sell for a quarter of the price of [those in] California, without adjusting for cost of living. My own analysis shows real household incomes have grown just as fast in right-to-work states since 2000—2.1 percent—as in non-right-to-work states—2.2 percent.

‘Clear Legal Path’

Stevenson cited a 2015 report from The Heritage Foundation that shows right-to-work laws do not lower pay in the private sector.

Right-to-work states have equal rates of health insurance coverage subsidized by private employers, Stevenson told council members, adding:

In summary, worker pay, benefits, and safety are the same with or without right-to-work [laws]. However, faster economic growth will raise incomes through higher-paying occupations and a tighter labor force, putting upward pressure on wages.

It is certainly true that unions likely would challenge a right-to-work law in court, Buchanon told The Daily Signal, but the Kentuckian said that Sussex County officials, in his opinion, should have pressed ahead.

“Although I am not familiar with Delaware’s constitution or their laws, the federal courts were clear in their decision about the legal rights of counties as political subdivisions of the state,” the Warren County official said.

“The courts recognized counties’ rights and responsibilities to govern and make laws in the interest of protecting individual workers’ rights and freedoms, and for economic development and commerce,” Buchanon said, adding:

I believe that the unanimous decision of the federal appeals court in the Hardin County, Kentucky, decision established a clear legal path forward for counties in most every U.S. state.

This doesn’t mean that a union can’t file a suit. Certainly they have the right to file legal action, as everyone does. However, that doesn’t mean they can win, and in light of the federal appeals court’s decision, their suit would appear to me to be a waste of their time and of their members’ money.

The post Delaware County Could Miss Right-to-Work Boom, Chief of Kentucky County Predicts appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Trump’s EPA Is On Course To Retire Half Its Staff

Due to a series of buyouts and retirements, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could cut its workforce by half by the end of President Donald Trump’s first term in office, The Washington Examiner reports.

Several agencies in the Trump administration are focused on a leaner workforce and cutting spending. The EPA is leading the pack. It is on track to reduce the size of the agency anywhere from 25 to 47 percent.

“We’re proud to report that we’re reducing the size of government, protecting taxpayer dollars and staying true to our core mission of protecting the environment,” EPA administrator Scott Pruitt said in a statement to The Washington Examiner.

At the start of 2018, EPA employed 14,162 workers. Through Pruitt’s series of buyouts and generous retirement packages, as well as normal retirements, up to 47 percent of employees will leave the agency in the next five years.

Trump initiated a hiring freeze in Jan. 2017 that will prevent retirees being replaced by new hires.

If the EPA remains on its current course, agency could employ less than 8,000 people in the next few years. It would be the leanest workforce the agency has seen since 1972, two years after it was created.

The post Trump’s EPA Is On Course To Retire Half Its Staff appeared first on The Daily Signal.

County Votes Down Right to Work as Attorney Warns of Union Lawsuits

GEORGETOWN, Delaware—Officials in one of Delaware’s three counties rejected right-to-work legislation Tuesday, shortly after the county attorney detailed his legal opinion and predicted a thicket of costly court challenges to the law from labor unions.

Councilman Rob Arlett, who has spearheaded the proposal, was the only one of the five Sussex County Council members, all Republicans, to vote yes on the measure.

“What we want regardless of the color of our shirts is we all want jobs, and we all want the best for our families,” Arlett said before casting his lone vote in favor of the right-to-work ordinance.

“We have to do something as a community and as a council to attract new industries, I think all sides agree to that,” he said. “The question before us today is, is this a tool in that toolbox as a community that we should consider?”

Right-to-work laws prohibit private sector employers from entering into agreements that make union membership and payment of union dues a condition of employment.

A total of 28 states and the territory of Guam now have right-to-work laws, with Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and West Virginia making the move since 2012.

Delaware last month became the only state in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic with a local right-to-work law on the books. The city council of Seaford, not content to wait on the Sussex County Council to act, passed its own ordinance Dec. 12.

Sussex County officials had put off action Tuesday after dozens of union members turned out in force at government offices to oppose the legislation during a public hearing. The Sussex council then asked for a formal opinion from the county attorney, J. Everett Moore, pending this week’s formal vote.

Representatives of local union affiliates gathered before the hearing at a traffic circle outside the Sussex County Administrative Office Building. Members also packed the council chambers and watched the action from overflow rooms.

“My No. 1 concern is that right to work lowers wages,” Kat Caudle, a member of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, told The Daily Signal before the hearing.

“Workers should have the right to bargain for wages,” Caudle said, “and unions bring equality to this process.”

Voting no Tuesday were council President Michael Vincent, Vice President George Cole, and Councilmen Samuel Wilson and Irwin Burton.

Arlett at first moved to delay action but the other council members also rejected that.

Based on testimony and the public record, Arlett said, it is evident to him that “people want this.” He also recognized that “quite a few others [are] in opposition.”

“I believe in the power of choice and to me, if it’s worthy for six school districts in this county, why isn’t it worthy in the private sector?”

Six of the eight school districts in Sussex County are right-to-work entities in the public sector, with no requirement for teachers to pay fees to the union.

“That’s just a commonsense analogy,” Arlett said.

He also acknowledged differing legal opinions.

“That’s why there is a court system, to determine what is lawful and not lawful,” Arlett said. “On the merits of economic development … if it has the ability to attract jobs, then we should consider it and let the courts make their decision as they see fit. So, for that reason alone, based on the testimony and the record, I will vote in favor of this.”

But the testimony and opinion of Moore, the council’s attorney, carried the day.

Moore repeated his concern that Delaware’s home rule statute did not delegate authority to the council to adopt a right-to-work law. Sussex County would be drawn into legal challenges at both the state and federal level that could prove costly,  he said.

“My opinion is that a Delaware court is unlikely to uphold the ordinance in its current form,” Moore said.

The county attorney also warned council members that if they did go forward with the ordinance and accept pro-bono legal coverage from outside the state, they would need to confer with the State Public Integrity Commission, whose rules cover payment to government employees.

 Burton also spoke at length, saying he voted no because he was convinced by Moore that the county would incur legal costs that would detract from the council’s ability to perform its primary functions.

“If we adopt this ordinance, we will be in expensive, time-consuming litigation,” the council member said.

Burton credited Moore with providing a “thorough, extensive opinion.”

Given the need to attract new jobs, Burton said, his vote was “one of the hardest decisions” of his career.

Burton expressed concern that enforcement of a controversial ordinance would burden the county with additional costs.

“I’m a proponent of limited government and of keeping costs low,” Burton said. “This will cause an expansion of government and new costs.”

Despite voting no,  Cole said he favored the concept of right to work but was not convinced the council had the legislative authority to move forward.

“I wish there was a way I could vote yes,” Cole told fellow council members.

At least two lawyers in Delaware have disagreed publicly with Moore’s opinion that the state’s home rule statute doesn’t allow local right-to-work laws.

Theodore Kittila, a lawyer speaking for the Caesar Rodney Institute, a free-market think tank based in Wilmington, told council members last Tuesday that Sussex County has the authority to pass such a law under authority delegated by the 1970 statute. Kittila expanded on this point, citing several cases, in a written legal opinion that is part of the public record.

Kevin Fasic, a Wilmington-based lawyer who specializes in construction law, said during the council’s Oct. 24 meeting that a 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling opened the door for local right-to-work laws in Delaware and other parts of the country.

As The Daily Signal has previously reported, the U.S. Supreme Court turned away a legal challenge to the local right-to-work ordinance in Hardin County, Kentucky, permitting the 6th Circuit ruling to stand.

The 6th Circuit covers Kentucky, Michigan, Tennessee, and Ohio; Delaware falls within the 3rd Circuit, which has not ruled on the merits of local right-to-work laws.

If the 3rd Circuit were to rule in conflict with the 6th Circuit, the case likely would move up to the U.S. Supreme Court. But Fasic noted during the October meeting that the high court may have signaled its intention to uphold local right-to-work laws last year when it rejected a petition from labor unions challenging the Kentucky law.

But on Tuesday, Moore insisted the legal questions are not entirely the same.

“Because some other county has done this, doesn’t mean that we can,” Moore said. “We have to look at the underlying legislation.”

While the ruling out of the 6th Circuit “may influence” the 3rd Circuit, it doesn’t “control” either the 3rd Circuit or the U.S. Supreme Court, Moore told council members.

In New Mexico, Sandoval County has pursued its own right-to-work legislation amid intense union opposition. The County Commission is set to vote Jan. 14 on the bill.

Although union leaders also threaten to file lawsuits to block the Sandoval County measure, Forbes columnist Matt Patterson has noted that unions “almost always lose” such challenges.

Ken McIntyre contributed to this report.

The post County Votes Down Right to Work as Attorney Warns of Union Lawsuits appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Black Unemployment at Lowest Rate on Record

In Friday’s jobs report, black unemployment reached a record low: 6.8 percent. That’s the lowest black unemployment has been since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking unemployment, which started in 1972. “The lowest in nearly 5 decades and a credit to [President Donald Trump’s] economic policies!!” tweeted White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah.

Trump weighed in, too:

And so did the new president of The Heritage Foundation, Kay Coles James:

Watch the video above to see Fox Business’ Charles Payne discuss the record low number.

The post Black Unemployment at Lowest Rate on Record appeared first on The Daily Signal.

We Hear You: Tax Cuts, the GOP Establishment, the Job Outlook, and the Trump Economy

Editor’s note: Here’s another smorgasbord of emails from The Daily Signal’s audience, reflecting your thoughts on tax cuts and other matters as 2017 came to a close. Enjoy, and don’t forget to write us at letters@dailysignal.com.Ken McIntyre

Dear Daily Signal: The historic tax reform legislation draws a clear distinction between the governing matrixes guiding the two political parties in Congress (“Taxpayers Could See Benefits of GOP Tax Reform Bill as Early as February“).

Simply stated, the Democrats govern by onerous taxation (their “affordable” health care act), stressing that only the “state” can adequately spend the citizen’s money. The Republicans govern by free market license, stressing that the state has no business in the citizen’s pocketbook; the way citizens spend their money is their decision, and the consequences are to be borne by them.

The Democrats seek an obtrusive nanny state governed by elites who “know best” how to spend someone else’s money. In the wake of the passage of the historic tax reform, they are reliving the wounds they suffered when they thrust Obamacare upon the American taxpayer, increasing taxes in every imagined way.

The Democrats are saying the defeat they suffered in 2010 will now befall the Republicans. But such a conclusion only exposes a delusional matrix of governing that believes that citizens love to be taxed, so if taxes are removed they will be enraged.

The huge difference between the way the Affordable Care Act became law along party lines and the way tax reform did is so simple: In the first, the Democrats crammed oppressive taxes down citizens’ throats, and in the second, the Republicans released citizens from oppressive taxes.

The blowback of the 2010 election cycle resulted because Americans angrily rejected the Democrats’ governing matrix. Once they realize the 2017 tax reform released them from the onerous bondage of elitism taxation, they will show genuine appreciation at the polls.—John L. Kachelman Jr., Searcy, Ark.

Dear Daily Signal: I will fight the GOP establishment every day for what they think is an adequate calculation of what our wimp of a House speaker, Paul Ryan, called “giving back to taxpayers their money.”

How can anyone with millions of dollars in wealth even keep a straight face when saying that giving back a family of four making $70,000 a year around $2,000 of their own money is great? Enough for each of them to purchase an extra happy meal a week.

I have been paying from 15 to 18 percent and never, ever have had one year since 1965 that I paid zero taxes.

That gets me on the topic of the 48 percent who don’t pay taxes each year. And yet I hear how, if you owe over $10,000 in taxes, so many fly-by-night companies can make a deal with the IRS to cut what you owe. If the IRS is making deals with these groups, they’re all stealing from those of us who pay taxes every year, plus penalties.

I was given a penalty of 11 percent. That alone gets my goat when we give enemy countries billions every year and politicians live the life of Riley. Under my rule, that would stop now.

Seniors having to include our Social Security in our income is double jeopardy. That’s like an insurance company saying that if you collect on the policy we have to take 15 percent back as a penalty.

Seniors getting Medicare and Social Security don’t think the word “entitlement” should be construed as the politicians keep using it, as if we don’t deserve it and it should be taken away from us. We didn’t mismanage the funds. We didn’t create the program. Get the drift?

President Trump has done more than any other president in history to guide us in a better direction, but the establishment politicians are still idiots and border on being crooks.—L. Michael Bessinger

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Dear Daily Signal: Your two sets of charts reviewing the effects of the changes in taxes are excellent (“In Updated Charts, How These 7 Taxpayers’ Bills Will Change If Tax Reform Is Signed Into Law,” “In Updated Charts, What 8 Seniors’ Tax Bills Will Be With Tax Reform“). I am bombarded by liberals on every side whining about how much they will be harmed by changes that they have not even seen yet.—Anne Rose

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Dear Daily Signal: The big question: Are leftists going to apply for all the new jobs President Trump is creating?—Robert Albanese

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Dear Daily Signal: Why should we embrace tax cuts and tax reform? Because they will help our families and the businesses that employ us.

Republicans proposed to end the death tax, the alternative minimum tax, and the marriage penalty; they proposed to increase the child tax credit and double the standard deduction. They lowered taxes for small businesses and corporations, and allowed full “expensing” of new business investments. Historically, these kinds of tax cuts translate into hiring by companies of more workers and raising wages.

The changes simplify a complex, anti-growth tax code that serves special interests (through loopholes) and confiscates the earnings of hardworking Americans.

Republicans campaigned on pro-growth tax reform as a priority in 2016. Now they can pair tax reform with spending cuts to maximize economic growth.—Lucy Tscherne, Valley Forge Patriots

Editor’s note: This letter also was signed by Pennsylvania residents Linda Hertzog, West Chester Tea Party; Betty Dunkel-Hernon, Valley Forge Patriots; Lisa Esler, Delaware County Patriots; Jane Marie Toal, Citizens for Liberty; Donna Ellingsen, Elk Township Republican Committee; Linda Cleaver, Londonderry Township Republican Committee; Margaret Layden, Tredyffrin M-6 Republican Committee; Jane E. Brown, Landenberg; and Rita Misero, Coatesville.

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Dear Daily Signal: I suggest you discuss with several economists whether we are living in a “Trump economy” (“4 Big Signs of a Trump Economic Recovery”). It has been stated often that the economy of the prior president carries forward at least one if not two years.

Both Trump and The Daily Signal talk like a president starts with a clean slate. Doesn’t work that way. Trump takes no responsibility for his actions that have negative consequences, and inflates the benefit of any action with agreeable results.

Conservatives allegedly recognize reality. That is not consistent with judgments The Daily Signal has made about Trump and his non-policies.—Dr. Jacob T. Chachkes

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I thoroughly enjoy reading your updates and have tremendous confidence that the Trump administration is performing as advertised. However, the leftist media and Democrat talking heads will continue to sway the citizenry. Therefore, would it be possible to compile a list of the accomplishments of the administration?

Anything from regulation reduction to the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court would, we hope, contribute to a considerable list that would be good ammunition in talking to others in our circle of friends and family.—Mike Stevens

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We can take pride again that we have a president who represents the people who put him in office, much to the dismay of the sewer creatures of Congress.—William Wall

A New President at Heritage 

As a fan of The Heritage Foundation who watched Genevieve Wood’s interview with its new president, I’m impressed with Kay Coles James’s resume and, most importantly, her library of common sense that, sadly, cannot be passed on (“Q&A: Meet Kay Coles James, the New Heritage Foundation President”).

Ms. James is an example of someone who should be a role model for our youth and adults alike. I appreciate the efforts of people like Ms. James and Ms. Wood in trying to keep citizens informed.—Brannen Edwards

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I really enjoy receiving The Daily Signal. I’m a 60-year-old woman who grew up reading and being excited by the biographies of our nation’s founders. The Barack Obama years were truly depressing.

I feel like the world has been turned upside down and inside out regarding our nation’s values. I applaud The Heritage Foundation’s new president, Kay Coles James. She and your organization give me a glimmer of hope for our future.—Mona Hamel

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I have had the blessing and privilege of being mentored and nurtured by Kay Coles James. Heritage and America are getting the best this nation has to offer. I am also proud that Heritage had the vision and courage to do the right thing by hiring the best person for the job.—Clarence Carter, Phoenix

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Thank you, Heritage, for introducing me and so many others to this beautiful woman. It certainly seems Kay Coles James should and be the “poster adult” for every disadvantaged child in this nation, and many around the world. To admire and emulate her will help so many of our young as her story gets wider review. May God continue to bless Ms. James and Heritage.—Mike Briggs

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So pleased with the selection. A dedicated, decent woman and smart, too, who respects and has been part of the Heritage tradition for a long time. Onward!—Jean Smoot, Raleigh, N.C.

Concerning Paris Dennard’s tribute to Kay Coles James (“What I Learned From The Heritage Foundation’s New Leader”): President Trump should place this woman and the young conservatives she has mentored in charge of developing and implementing strategies to fulfill his promises to the black communities of this nation.

Nothing is more important to the success of the Republican Party than changing the hearts and minds by ridding black communities of the violence perpetrated by a few on the many decent families living there.

Improving security will bring businesses, which will bring jobs, which will bring higher wages. Safe schools will foster a better educational environment. Mobilizing members of the community who want more for themselves and their neighbors to participate in community action projects aimed at improving lives rather than fighting perceived oppression can lift entire communities.

Kay Coles James appears to be the sort of inspirational, action-oriented, solution-oriented person who can make a huge difference in the proper leadership position.—Chas Bassos

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Paris Dennard paints a very positive Heritage Foundation future under the tutelage of Kay Coles James, a highly reasoned educator.

I’ll gladly embrace what she purports for black America as long as she embraces personal choice and equal rights, diminishes sameness, and acknowledges cultural preferences. I’m seriously interested in reading her take on income inequality and our nation’s diverse population.

Perhaps she’s the libertarian with a heart that Heritage very much needs. I wish her total success at Heritage. I’ll also look forward to future Daily Signal commentary with her guidance.—John Kominitsky, Los Osos, Calif.

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Heritage is the source we look to for thoughtful and reasoned opinions on current issues in America (“Kay Coles James to Lead The Heritage Foundation as Next President“). We wish Ms. James all the best.—Randy and Peggy Malcom, Limon, Colo. 

I have a question for Ms. James: What does being inclusive mean? The Dems are in the resist movement with very strange bedfellows. Is that what she means by inclusive?—Lori Hopkins-Cavanagh, New London, Conn.

Saw her on “Hannity” last night. Very impressive. Good luck to Ms. James.—Jo Ann Tackovich, Florida

Very happy to hear. I have always respected and admired her.—Sandy Groepel, Elizabethton, Tenn.

Heroism in Higher Education

Tell Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., to keep up the good work. His Hero Act, explained in the congressman’s commentary, is exactly what needs to happen to our broken higher education system that my kids are in the middle of (“Student Debt Is a Symptom of Our Broken Education System“).

We hold our noses every time we make a payment to these “institutions of higher education.” Institutions are what they are. They are not serving the needs of many of our students, society in general, and definitely not Florida families.

Our boys are talented, passionate young men who would benefit from an alternative to a four-year degree at our many Florida universities. One son finds college boring and even wrote a paper about it, suggesting many of the same things DeSantis did.

But they know they have to attend. Our university system needs to be turned on its head. What a waste of money.

Keep up the good work at The Daily Signal. Love you guys.—Caroline Ure

Books Under the Tree

Dear Daily Signal: Your list of books for Christmas gift-giving is comprehensive but, in my opinion, not complete (“29 Books That Would Make the Perfect Christmas Gift“). I would have added Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged,” George Orwell’s “1984,” Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World,” and Amity Shlaes’ “The Forgotten Man.”

I know three of the four are out of fashion, but each applies to the world as it exists today—and possibly the future.—Jack Watson, Ardmore, Ala.

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I love lists of books with a few personal words to recommend them.This one is full of books I will put on my to~read list. Thanks!—Nancy Arey

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Thank you for the list of books. I bought two for me and one for my daughter.—Peter Anderson, New Braunfels, Texas

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I want all of these books, but No. 1 is the Antonin Scalia book. Will get this tomorrow for a present to myself. He’s my legal hero.—Virginia Murrell, Rancho Murieta, Calif.

***

What compendium would be complete without the ever-contemporary Heritage Guide to the Constitution?—Derek Dubasik

This and That

I wish Kelsey Harkness’s video report on Colorado baker Jack Phillips could air on the television networks (“Justice Kennedy: Colorado ‘Neither Been Tolerant nor Respectful’ of Jack Phillips’ Beliefs“). People need to understand this side of the story: This man, this bakery, is about every American.

This story is about the domination of an ideology from the left that seeks to enslave free people—to enslave we, the American people. Let us pray for the defense of the freedoms that self-sacrificing men and women fought and died for.

I thank The Daily Signal and Mr. Phillips for right reason, simplicity, and courage. I thank him for standing up, and paying a terrible price, for truth, beauty, and goodness in all things large and small.Catherine Anderson

***

Great interview of Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, by Rob Bluey (“Q&A: FCC Chairman Explains Why He’s Ending Obama’s ‘Heavy-Handed Internet Regulations’“).

So good to hear someone talk about getting the government out of the way and letting U.S. companies innovate. Yet another part of President Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign promises.—Dale Athanas, Clinton, Conn.

***

I wish entertainers of all persuasions would exercise restraint, as Taylor Swift does, when delving into the political arena (“Problematic Women: Taylor Swift Isn’t Political Enough for Marie Claire“). Most don’t pursue the moral high ground and are way too enthusiastic about their personal lives. Of which I’d be better off not knowing.

And with limited knowledge of the Constitution and economic prosperity (capitalism), they’re not very reliable for advice. Ms. Swift is smart, wealthy, and wise beyond her years. I hope she remains so.—Brannen Edwards

Concerning the commentary by Robert Moffit and Ed Haislmaier (“Who Wouldn’t Have Coverage If the Obamacare Mandate Is Repealed”), the real reason why the left and liberals love communism is because under it the power holders and politicians have absolute power over the little people. Whom they may kill at will. Mao and Stalin were depopulation machines.—Tom Lilac

***

I can’t help but compare today’s spiraling accusations of “sexual misconduct” by women against so many high-profile men as being another Salem witch hunt. Men are losing their jobs and being ostracized with no evidence put forth by the women.

There are no videos, there are no signed statements, there are no still pictures, yet everyone it seems believes that these men are guilty. What has happened to innocent until proven guilty?—Elna Bjelland-Hughes

***

Probably one of the biggest actions President Trump has not taken is repeal of the “Johnson Amendment” that threatens churches’ tax-exempt status if they support political candidates.

True, Trump issued an executive order, but since then he has dropped the subject. The next president, if liberal, will just as quickly rescind the executive order. And there is nothing to say that “infractions” made by churches during Trump’s term will not be prosecuted.—Paul Kellner

***

Is it fairly common that a Republican president’s judicial nominees struggle with questions at Senate confirmation hearings because the Democrats are zealous to destroy any Republican nominee? So do the Democrats question progressive and liberal candidates like this?—Dave Covert

How Are We Doing?

Dear Daily Signal: I want to take a moment just to thank you very much for your excellent publication. Reading your articles both inspires and gives me hope while mentally floundering in the sea of “fake news,” as it were.

Us folks out in the real world already instinctively understand that President Trump is doing a great job, but when you are constantly bombarded with opposing opinions and “facts” to the contrary, it becomes quite disheartening and difficult to discern the truth, to say the least.

Our resolve to stand with the president is mortared with the good, true knowledge that you bring us every day. Your news is like a lifeline of solid information that we can count on in these troubling times. Please keep up the good work, and may God bless.—Jerry C. Reich

***

As a conservative, I am constantly looking for coverage of national, political, and international news that is unbiased, but more importantly accurate. I can abide honest mistakes, but “gotcha” journalism is a huge turnoff. I refuse to watch cable news such as CNN and MSNBC as well as ABC, NBC, and CBS. I do watch Fox’s Bret Baier and think quite highly of him as a professional.

I look forward to The Daily Signal’s continuing the “not fake news” coverage I already expect. I will be enjoying Fred Lucas’s great articles in the future.—Joseph Bochichio

***

Why do you have to interrupt the text of your fine articles with huge color photos so that it is very complicated to print an article without wasting paper and ink on big photos?—Ralph Blair

Gratitude. Thanks for all you do. Bye, B.S.—William Sharpe, Arizona

Some good articles, but too predictably one-sided and selective. The piece on Roy Moore’s loss is pretty balanced. But how about some other views on the benefits (or not) of corporate tax cuts? What are the lessons from President Reagan’s argument that trickle-down aids workers?—Jameson W. Doig

It would be difficult to stay informed about conservative issues without The Daily Signal.—Bill Parker Headland

***

Please put “like/share” buttons at the end of your articles. I hate having to scroll back to the top after reading an article, and I am not one to “like” or “share” an article without reading it first. I will not do so just because of who the author or source may be.—Craig Brueckman

I enjoy your publication. It’s nice to read things I can enjoy and agree with.—Fred Riley

Stop referring to illegal aliens as “immigrants.” Those illegally in the USA are thieves. They have stolen the privilege of being able to live in the USA. Call them thieves.—Doug Wilkerson

Illustrations in your tax charts are disappointing in that only “Mr. Jones” is wearing a tie.—J. Tilford

Compliments. You are doing a great job. Keep up the fine reporting.—Buddy Hutchins

The post We Hear You: Tax Cuts, the GOP Establishment, the Job Outlook, and the Trump Economy appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Iceland’s Equal Pay Regime Will Hurt, Not Help, Women. We Don’t Need It.

Iceland this week took its equal pay law to a new level, as a law took effect requiring employers to prove they don’t discriminate against women in monetary compensation.

Contrary to ecstatic exclamations from the likes of Hollywood actress Patricia Arquette, tennis great Billie Jean King, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., both Iceland and the United States—like most developed countries—already require equal pay for equal work. These equal pay laws are enforced by employee complaints and litigation.

Yet Arquette, who fancies herself a crusader for women’s rights, breathlessly tweeted:

And Sanders, who ran for president in 2016, enthused on Facebook: “We must follow the example of our brothers and sisters in Iceland and demand equal pay for equal work now.”

Wrong. Again, laws in both Iceland and the U.S. already require this.

What Iceland actually did is ring in in 2018 with mandatory, government-enforced certification that employers pay men and women equally. Noncompliance results in fines.

“It’s a mechanism to ensure women and men are being paid equally,” Dagny Osk Aradottir Pind, one of the leaders of the Icelandic Women’s Rights Association, told Al Jazeera.

But is it?

Icelandic employers with 25 or more workers are required to obtain a “pay equality certification” from a government-approved certifier every three years.

The small Nordic nation adopted the law in June 2017 in an effort to root out even the small, unexplained pay gap that remains after reasonable factors are taken into account to explain the so-called raw wage gap.

That’s a knee-jerk policy response to a rather complicated problem, with far-reaching implications for Iceland’s economy.

The raw wage gap is simply the median difference in pay for full-time, year-round workers by gender. For U.S. workers, this wage gap meant women made 80.5 cents to every dollar men made in 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

After accounting for factors such as occupation, hours worked, education, tenure, and so on, the wage gap shrinks substantially. What remains is the “unexplained” wage gap.

In the U.S. context, about 5 to 7 percent of the wage gap is unexplained. In Iceland, the gap was similar, at 5.7 percent.

The fact of an unexplained gap does not necessarily imply discrimination. It simply means that researchers have not been able to quantify certain explanatory factors.

We know from polling that women exhibit a preference for compensation other than cash wages in the form of more flexibility or more time off.

But the value of benefits such as flexible and alternative work schedules and on-site child care are difficult—if not nearly impossible—to measure because their value varies significantly among individuals. A childless male, for example, would value on-site child care at zero while a female with young children would value it highly.

Other known data limitations include quantifying the importance of experience and job tenure by occupation and industry.

The right response to such limitations is not to make broad-stroke, unwarranted judgment calls. Instead, governments should allow workers to choose the jobs—including the pay and total compensation packages—they desire without imposing unwarranted conditions that could backfire against the very same people they intend to help.

After all, most developed nations already have strong laws in place to ensure equal pay for equal work.

Unfortunately, the European Social Policy Network, a group that  advises the European Commission on social issues, hasn’t considered that the remaining gender pay gap actually may be the result of women’s choices.

Author Stefán Ólafsson writes: “This 5.7% unexplained pay gap [in Iceland] is thus the gender difference in pay that can be attributed to discrimination against women.”

That’s shoddy social science at best and intentionally misleading analysis at worst.

The result is a law based on a faulty premise that imposes rigid pay structures across the Icelandic economy.

According to the “Equal Pay Standard,” the basis of certification by Iceland’s government, companies are required to go through a pay assessment process that classifies jobs according to value created for the company and determines associated pay based on the position held in the company.

More flexible pay structures assess the value an individual brings to an organization and base pay on experience, tenure, education, and other factors related to performance.

The goal of Iceland’s Equal Pay Standard appears to be to pay all individuals performing similar roles the same, regardless of any distinguishing features or what that these individuals are able to negotiate for themselves. This will result in rigid pay structures, similar to the General Schedule classification and pay system used by the U.S. federal government.

By distorting the labor market, rigid pay structures will result in inflexible job requirements and work schedules that disproportionately hurt those who value workplace flexibility the most: women.

Rigid pay structures also will prevent businesses from attracting and retaining qualified employees. They will reduce economic growth as well as job and wage prospects for many workers.

The Trump administration recently reversed an Obama administration rule requiring employers to report detailed salary information by gender and other factors. The Labor Department intended to use this information to police employers who raised red flags in the agency’s data files for an unequal distribution in employment and pay scales.

The Obama administration rule would have reduced the availability of flexible work arrangements, which are especially important to working parents. It also would have led to less performance-based pay, such as bonuses, to encourage and reward excellence.

Billie Jean King tweeted of the news out of Iceland:

But what Iceland actually has done is go far beyond reporting requirements. Its government instead will approve or disapprove of employers’ payroll decisions, starting this year.

The resulting rigid pay structures for Icelanders likely will lead to more temporary and independent contractor-type work arrangements, since the law applies only to companies with 25 or more full-time, year-round workers.

In America, reasonable men and women should agree this is a bad idea to import here.

The post Iceland’s Equal Pay Regime Will Hurt, Not Help, Women. We Don’t Need It. appeared first on The Daily Signal.

More Businesses Raise Wages, Give Bonuses in Wake of Tax Cuts

More businesses are announcing bonuses, higher minimum wages, and new benefits for employees after passage by Congress of Republicans’ tax reform bill. 

An email from House Speaker Paul Ryan’s press office highlights 33 businesses—including Aflac, Associated Bank, and PNC Bank—that have announced raises, bonuses, and other improvements for employees.

In moves that may defuse efforts to mandate higher minimum wages across the nation, at least nine of the 33 businesses announced they are boosting their minimum wage for thousands of workers to $15 or more an hour.

“Happy New Year and welcome to 2018, where Americans are waking up across the country with a brand new, pro-growth tax code,” the Wisconsin Republican’s press office says.  “Despite the doom and gloom rhetoric from the left and special-interest groups, millions of hardworking people are already seeing benefits.”

Among developments:

Insurance company Aflac says it will boost U.S. investments by $250 million and increase 401(k) benefits for employees, including a one-time contribution of $500 to every worker’s retirement savings account

Associated Bank announced a $500 bonus for  nearly all employees and an increase in its minimum wage from $10 per hour to $15 per hour, and PNC Bank is giving a $1,000 bonus to 47,500 workers and a $1,500 boost to workers’ existing pension accounts.

Southwest Airlines announced a $1,000 cash bonus for all employees, including part-timers, plus $5 million in charitable donations.

President Donald Trump, who made passing tax reform a top goal of his first year in office and signed the bill into law Dec. 22, has praised businesses for their positive response.

Republicans’ tax reform package maintains the current seven tax brackets but lowers rates to 10, 12, 22, 24, 32, 35, and 37 percent.

The package caps at $10,000 the state and local tax deduction, which allows taxpayers who itemize instead of taking the standard deduction to deduct from federal taxable income any property and income taxes paid to state or local governments.

The package repeals Obamacare’s mandate for individuals to buy health insurance, increases the $1,000 child tax credit to $2,000, and provides a $500 credit for child dependents who aren’t minors.

The legislation reduces the federal corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent and repeals the corporate alternative minimum tax.

Hours after Congress passed the legislation, AT&T announced it would give a $1,000 bonus to over 200,000 U.S. employees and invest $1 billion in the economy and Boeing announced a $300 million investment, as The Daily Signal previously reported.

>>> Companies Announce Bonuses, Raises Following Tax Reform Legislation Passage

CVS announced it would hire 3,000 new workers and FedEx said it would increase hiring.

Adam Michel, policy analyst for economic studies at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal in an email Wednesday that such announcements are just the beginning.

“Raises, bonuses, and new investments spurred by tax reform show that the Republicans’ tax reform is working how they said it would,” Michel said, adding:

Businesses across America are putting their tax cuts to work for the American people. This first wave of stories is great news, but the real benefits are yet to come. Tax reform expands the economic pie so that more Americans will be better off.

As businesses and their competitors continue to increase investment in the U.S., workers’ yearly wages will also go up and underemployed households will see the biggest benefits from new jobs.

Below is the list of the groups and businesses included in the email from Ryan’s office. The full list may be viewed here.

Aflac: $250 million boost in U.S. investments and increased 401(k) benefits, including one-time contribution of $500 to every employee’s retirement savings account.

American Savings Bank: $1,000 bonus to 1,150 employees, nearly the entire workforce, and increase of minimum wage from $12.21 an hour to $15.15.

Aquesta Financial Holdings: $1,000 bonus to all employees, increase in minimum wage to $15 per hour.

Associated Bank: $500 bonus to nearly all employees and increased minimum wage to $15 per hour, up from $10.

AT&T: $1,000 bonus to all 200,000 U.S. workers and $1 billion boost in U.S. investments.

Bank of America: $1,000 bonus for about 145,000 U.S. employees.

Bank of Hawaii: $1,000 bonus for 2,074 employees, or 95 percent of its workforce, and increase of minimum wage from $12 to $15.

BB&T Corp.: $1,200 bonus for almost three-fourths of associates, or 27,000 employees, and increase in minimum wage from $12 to $15.

Boeing: $300 million boost in investments to employee gift-match programs, workforce development, and workplace improvements.

Central Pacific Bank: $1,000 bonus to all 850 nonexecutive employees and increase in minimum wage from $12 to $15.25.

Comcast NBCUniversal: $1,000 bonus for more than 100,000 employees.

Deleware Supermarkets Inc.: $150 bonus to 1,000 nonmanagement employees and $150,000 in new investment in employee training and development programs.

Express Employment Prc: $2,000 bonus to all nonexecutive employees at Oklahoma City headquarters.

Fifth Third Bancorp: $1,000 bonus for all 13,500 employees and increase of minimum wage to $15 for nearly 3,000 workers.

First Hawaiian Bank: $1,500 bonus for all 2,264 employees and increase in minimum wage to $15.

First Horizon National Corp.: $1,000 bonus to employees who do not participate in company-sponsored bonus plans.

Kansas City Southern: $1,000 bonus to employees of subsidiaries in the U.S. and Mexico.

Melaleuca: $100 bonus for every year an employee has worked for the company—an average of $800 for each of 2,000 workers.

National Bank Holdings Corp.: $1,000 bonus to all noncommissioned associates who earn a base salary under $50,000.

Nelnet: $1,000 bonus for nearly all of 4,100 employees.

Nephron Parmaceuticals: wage increase of 5 percent for its 640 employees.

Nexus: wage increase of 5 percent and plans to hire 200 workers in 2018.

OceanFirst Bank: increase in minimum wage from $13.60 to $15, affecting at least 166 employees.

PNC Bank: $1,000 bonus to 47,500 employees and $1,500 increase to existing pension accounts.

Pinnacle Bank: $1,000 bonus for all full-time employees in Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri.

Pioneer Credit Recovery: $1,000 bonus to employees.

Rush Enterprises Inc.: $1,000 discretionary bonus to 6,600 U.S. employees.

Sinclair Broadcast: $1,000 bonus to nearly 9,000 employees.

SunTrust: increase of minimum wage to $15, $50 million increase in community grants, 1 percent percent 401(k) contribution for all employees.

Turning Point Brands, Inc.: $1,000 bonus to 107 employees.

Washington Federal, Inc.: wage increase of 5 percent for employees earning less than $100,000 per year and increased investments in technology infrastructure and community projects.

Wells Fargo: increase in minimum wage from $13.50 to $15, and higher charitable giving by about 40 percent, to $400 million.

Western Alliance: wage increase of 7.5 percent for the lowest-paid 50 percent of employees.

The post More Businesses Raise Wages, Give Bonuses in Wake of Tax Cuts appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Delaware County Stalls Right-to-Work Vote as Unions Protest

GEORGETOWN, Delaware—County officials put off action Tuesday on a right-to-work ordinance after dozens of union members turned out in force at government offices to oppose the legislation during a public hearing.

Members of the Sussex County Council asked for a formal opinion from the county attorney pending a vote that could come as early as Jan. 9.

Representatives of local unions affiliates gathered beforehand at a traffic circle outside the Sussex County Administrative Office Building.

“My number one concern is that right to work lowers wages,” Kat Caudle, a member of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, told The Daily Signal.

“Workers should have the right to bargain for wages,” Caudle said, “and unions bring equality to this process.”

Inside, union members helped fill the council chamber to capacity during the first formal hearing on the proposed ordinance and watched the action with others from overflow rooms. Council members questioned speakers over the course of nearly six hours.

Union members and supporters gather at Georgetown Circle just outside the Sussex County Administrative Office Building. (Photos: Kevin Mooney/The Daily Signal)

Besides AFSCME, unions represented included the AFL-CIO, the United Food and Commercial Workers, the Communications Workers of America,  and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

More than 30 speakers in a crowd of about 120 addressed the County Council, composed of five Republicans, both in support and opposition of the right-to-work measure.

Councilman Rob Arlett, who has spearheaded the proposal, asked the county’s legal counsel, J. Everett Moore, to provide a written opinion before the next meeting. Moore previously had cast doubt, in spoken remarks at an Oct. 24 meeting, on the council’s power to adopt a right-to-work law.

The Daily Signal later asked Moore whether he expected to deviate from his verbal opinion based on the state’s home rule statute. Moore declined comment.

‘We Want to Hear From Residents’

At the request of council members because not everyone would be able to speak, those in attendance raised their hands to indicate whether they backed or opposed the bill. The official count: 34 supported, 64 opposed.

To determine that speakers were county residents, something Arlett expressed concern about, they were asked to provide their addresses as well as names.

“We want to hear from our residents, and yes, we want to hear from others, but we need to hear from the people in this community,” Arnett said.

Right-to-work laws prohibit private sector employers from entering into agreements that make union membership and payment of union dues a condition of employment.

A total of 28 states and the territory of Guam now have right-to-work laws, with Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and West Virginia making the move since 2012.

Delaware last month became the only state in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic with a local right-to-work law on the books. The city council of Seaford, not content to wait on the Sussex County Council to act, passed its own ordinance Dec. 12. Sussex is one of three Delaware counties.

>>> Delaware Town OKs Right-to-Work Law in Advance of County Action

Throughout the hearing Tuesday, union members disrupted other speakers and shouted out comments. Several times, council President Michael Vincent threatened to have individuals removed if they continued to act out.

In opening remarks, Arlett emphasized the need for a robust public hearing:

We are here today because the people in this county expect and desire jobs and to provide for their families, and as elected officials we have a responsibility. I don’t care what color shirt you are wearing, we all desire the same thing: to provide for our families. We all have dreams and aspirations. We are here to foster this.

Afterward, Arlett told The Daily Signal he wasn’t convinced the hand count was representative of his constituency, but said that with “one or two possible exceptions,” those who addressed the council were residents.

Unions Fear Lower Wages

Three of the four other members of the councilPresident Michael Vincent, Vice President George Cole, and Councilman Samuel Wilsondeclined to reveal their position in interviews afterward. Councilman Irwin Burton was not available.

Several union members and other right-to-work critics cited Moore’s previously expressed misgivings and rested their arguments on that verbal opinion.

Throughout the meeting union members who were present would sometimes disrupt other speakers and shout out comments. Vincent told those audience members several times that if they continued to act out they would be removed from the chamber.

That opinion is not part of the official record, Arlett told audience members.

“People are making reference to something that doesn’t exist,”  he said,

Arlett agreed to defer action as Vincent joined him in calling for Moore to submit the written opinion.

>>> Amid Union Opposition, Right to Work Advances in Delaware County

Nakeesha Armstrong, of Wilmington, belongs to Laborers Local 199, a union of construction workers based in Newark, Delaware.

Union members who spoke with The Daily Signal at the demonstration before the hearing warned that implementing right to work in Delaware would decrease wages, diminish the quality of health care coverage, and undermine the ability of unions to help workers negotiate fair compensation and benefit packages with employers.

James Maravelias, president of the AFL-CIO in Delaware, said in an interview that a right-to-work law would “lower wages” in the state.

Right-to-work states tend to have higher poverty rates and worse health care, Maravelias argued.

“If right-to-work is such a good idea, why aren’t these states more prosperous?” he said.

Union-Busting?

While Arlett and other supporters of the proposal tout right to work as a tool to produce more choice and opportunity, the demonstrators maintained it is anti-union.

Bill Prinsket, a retired physician who lives in the Sussex County town of Bridgeville, said the proposed ordinance is “just union-busting.” He challenged supporters to “name just two companies that didn’t come here because we don’t have right to work.”

Prinsket, who is active with the Sussex County Progressive Democrats, carried a homemade sign that read “Right-to-work is wrong.”

With him was Joe Campbell, also from Bridgeville, a retired member of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 27. Campbell said the proposed ordinance would “destroy unions and make wages go down.”

Kentucky stands out in the right-to-work cause because its counties established the legal right to move forward with their own ordinances in the absence of state-level action. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a law passed in the state’s Hardin County in a unanimous ruling in November 2016.

At least two other lawyers in Delaware have disagreed publicly with the statement by the county attorney, Moore, that the state’s home rule statute doesn’t allow local right-to-work laws and that costly litigation would follow.

Theodore Kittila, a lawyer speaking for the Caesar Rodney Institute, a free-market think tank based in Wilmington, told council members Tuesday that Sussex County has the authority to pass such a law under authority delegated by the 1970 statute.

Kittila expanded on this point, citing several cases, in a written legal opinion that is now part of the public record.

Kevin Fasic, a Wilmington-based lawyer who specializes in construction law, said during the council’s Oct. 24 meeting that the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling opened the door for local right-to-work laws in Delaware and other parts of the country.

The Legal Landscape

The 6th Circuit covers Kentucky, Michigan, Tennessee, and Ohio; Delaware falls within the 3rd Circuit, which has not ruled on the merits of local right-to-work laws.

If the 3rd Circuit were to rule in conflict with the 6th Circuit, the case likely would move up to the U.S. Supreme Court. But Fasic noted during the October meeting that the high court may have signaled its intention to uphold local right-to-work laws last year when it rejected a petition from labor unions challenging the Kentucky law.

Delaware state Sen. Bryant Richardson, a Republican,  recounted conversations with Seaford Mayor David Genshaw in which the mayor said lack of a right-to-work law discourages businesses from locating to Sussex County, and to Seaford in particular.

In an email to The Daily Signal, Genshaw said that regardless of how the Sussex County Council votes, his city will press ahead under its own right-to-work law.

“We are under a 30-day advertisement period that started on Dec. 12 and after that, it goes into effect,” the mayor wrote, adding: “Seaford moves forward looking to win new business for the people of Seaford.”

Meanwhile, the advance of right to work in Kentucky continues to inspire action elsewhere.

In New Mexico, Sandoval County has pursued its own right-to-work legislation amid intense union opposition. The County Commission is set to vote Jan. 14 on the bill.

Although union leaders threaten to file lawsuits to block the Sandoval County measure, Forbes columnist Matt Patterson points out that unions “almost always lose” in such court challenges.

The post Delaware County Stalls Right-to-Work Vote as Unions Protest appeared first on The Daily Signal.

I Voted for Tax Reform. Here’s Why It Will Help America.

The tax cut bill just passed by Congress and signed into law by the president is not perfect. But I voted for it because it will help working families and small businesses, give almost all Americans an immediate pay raise, and create millions of new jobs.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. In fact, as citizens, you shouldn’t take any politician’s word for it. And happily, you won’t have to.

As in any political debate, there has been a lot of overheated speculation about this bill. Some Republicans who opposed my work with Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., to change the bill to provide more tax relief directly to working and middle class said that would destroy the bill and crush its chances to spur economic growth. The argument was silly.

But so are many of the criticisms of the bill coming from the left. Some Democrats say the bill will only cut taxes for businesses, not individuals.

That’s false. The centrist Brookings Institution says the bill will reduce taxes for all income groups in 2018 by an average of $1,600.

Some congressional Democrats argued this tax rate reduction plan was the worst bill in American history, apparently forgetting about the Fugitive Slave Act, or the Alien and Sedition Acts. These criticisms are nuts.

In total, the bill is estimated to cut some federal taxes by a total of $6.5 trillion over the next 10 years, and raise others by $4 trillion over the same period, coming out to a $1.5 trillion tax cut.

I am not thrilled about the potential hit to the deficit. But I also believe we cannot tax our way to a balanced budget. The only way to close the deficit is with economic growth and spending discipline.

With new jobs, higher wages, and more investment, the larger overall economic pie will give a bigger slice both to American workers and to their government.

Over the last two decades, the United States’ 35 percent corporate tax rate has cost us trillions of dollars in aggregate international investment. The new 21 percent rate in this bill will help bring more of the global economy to our shores, instead of having us send so much of ours overseas.

And of course the doubling of the standard deduction and child credit will deliver immediate, substantial tax relief to middle-income families.

And the good news is, in a few weeks, we will be able to ignore the political speculation and rhetoric and just see for ourselves.

Now that the bill is law, the IRS will begin to implement the new rules, and paycheck withholding guidelines will change. In another few pay periods, you either will or won’t see a raise in your take-home pay.

Over the course of the next year, two years, three years, we either will or won’t see more “Help Wanted” signs in business windows. We will or won’t see more listings on job search websites. We will or won’t hear about this or that business expanding, opening a new branch or a new plant.

The new, $2,000 per-child tax credit—which Rubio and I successfully fought to make available to millions of additional working families—won’t make raising kids easy. But it will make things like diapers, braces, little league, or piano lessons more affordable again.

I voted for this tax bill because I believe it will deliver higher take-home pay, more relief for middle-class families, and business tax reform to spur hiring, wage growth, and investment. Every Democrat in the House and Senate voted against the bill because they thought it would not do those things.

In a few weeks, we’ll start to see—in your paychecks, at your office, in your community—who was right.

The post I Voted for Tax Reform. Here’s Why It Will Help America. appeared first on The Daily Signal.