Trump pen scratches out Obama’s expensive and futile Clean Power Plan

What Obama could do with his pen, Trump can undo with his — and has.

On Tuesday Trump signed an order telling the EPA to rewrite Obama’s Clean Power Plan that would have closed down most coal-fired power plants so they could be replaced with windmills and solar panels. Obama had committed to cutting so-called greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent by 2025, while shrugging off the fact his plan would suck $1 trillion out of the economy and kill 125,000 jobs, as The Wall Street Journal reports today in an editorial.

The WSJ further points out the utter futility of Obama’s senseless and futile gesture, because a year of U.S. emission cuts in 2025 would be canceled out by three weeks of Chinese emissions. Besides, though emissions continue to increase, temperatures globally have remained much the same.

Also in today’s WSJ, Paul Tice, a business prof and energy research analyst, recommends that Trump’s EPA needs to conduct a study that would show whether or not the agency’s 2009 “endangerment finding” that tagged carbon dioxide as a pollutant is indeed valid. He suggested the decision was rushed and based on flawed data. Until that finding is confirmed or more likely refuted, he notes some future liberal president can scratch through Trump’s order.

Tice notes the “breakdown in correlation between the world’s average surface temperatures and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels” has called into “question both the predictive power and input data quality of most global climate models, and further highlights the scientific uncertainty surrounding the basic premise of anthropogenic climate change.”

Throwing money at faulty theories is hardly a wise endeavor.

The WSJ editorial concludes: “As for climate change, President Trump’s order will have the same practical effect on rising temperatures as the Clean Power Plan: none.”

 

 

When haggling over details, it is easy to forget what the rules are

When you are down in the scrum, butting heads and scrambling for the ball it is easy to forget the rules of the game or even what game you are playing.

Now, if it is wrong for Congress to mandate under pain of tax penalties that everyone buy insurance from privately owned and operated health insurance companies or through state or federally operated exchanges, isn’t it just as wrong for Congress to order those health insurers to charge a 30 percent premium penalty to those who let their insurance lapse?

The Commerce Clause has been stretched beyond any semblance of rationality when a person can be fined for growing grain to feed his own cattle because that disrupts interstate commerce, but health insurance is not commonly available across state lines.

Where does Congress derive the enumerated power to micromanage health insurance — whether via ObamaCare or RyanCare?

And why pray tell can you be given Medicaid — basically government insurance that dictates what allegedly private doctors and hospitals may charge for care no matter what it really costs — if your income is 138 percent of the poverty level, but you are on your own if you earn 139 percent of the poverty level?

Overturn the actuarial tables and whole concept of insurance when Congress dictates that those with pre-existing conditions and “children” to the age of 26 must be covered at the same rate as others. What is the difference between only allowing insurers to charge three times as much for older people than healthier younger people than only allowing them to charge five times as much.

Despite what you may have read in the morning paper, RyanCare does not repeal the tax on so-called Cadillac insurance plans. It merely delays it a couple of years.

When you are up to your arse in alligators it is hard to remember your objective was to drain the swamp.

 

 

 

 

Trump orders feds to review Obama-era water grab

President Trump today signed an executive order telling the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to review the so-called waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule created under the Obama administration, which attempted to usurp dominion over every stream, ditch, wetland or muddy hoof print that might eventually spill a few drops of water into any rivulet that might occasionally be navigable with an inner tube.

“We’re going to free up our country and it’s going to be done in a very environmental and positive environmental way, I will tell you that,” Trump said. “[We will] create millions of jobs, so many jobs are delayed for so many years that it’s unfair to everybody.”

Trump ordered the federal agencies to review a 2006 opinion by the late Justice Antonin Scalia, that reduced the scope of the act by defining “waters of the United States” as only permanent bodies of water and not the occasional result of rainfall.

Nevada was one of 23 states to file suit over the WOTUS rule. The Supreme Court ruled this past summer that property owners had a right to sue in court over permitting decisions. The federal agencies had contended property owners could only go to court once decisions were final, but essentially argued that all permitting decisions are reviewable and potentially reversible and therefore never final.

In December 2010, the Hawkes Co. applied for a permit to mine peat on property in Minnesota. More than a year later the Army Corps denied the application, saying the land contained “water of the United States” because its wetlands had a “significant nexus” to the Red River of the North, located some 120 miles away.

In the opinion of the court, Chief Justice John Roberts pointed out the definition of WOTUS used by the EPA and the Corps includes “land areas occasionally or regularly saturated with water — such as ‘mudflats, sandflats, wetlands, sloughs, prairie potholes, wet meadows, [and] playa lakes’ — the ‘use, degradation or destruction of which could affect interstate or foreign commerce.’ The Corps has applied that definition to assert jurisdiction over ‘270-to-300 million acres of swampy lands in the United States — including half of Alaska and an area the size of California in the lower 48 States.’”

Roberts also noted that a specialized individual permit on average costs $271,596 and 788 days to complete. He said the permitting process can be “arduous, expensive, and long.” He left out futile, since the process never ends.

Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt applauded the judgment, “This unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision vindicates our position that the Obama administration has continually attempted to avoid the rule of law and judicial review of its unlawful actions. The Obama administration seems determined to move as far and as fast as possible to unilaterally change our constitutional system and our congressional laws. … Fortunately in this case, our checks and balances have protected Nevadans from truly unprecedented federal overreach.”

Trump orders review of WOTUS.

Trump orders review of WOTUS.

Editorial: Equal pay bill is a waste of time and money

If you ever seek to land a government contract in Nevada — paving roads, scrubbing floors, selling typing paper — under a proposed law you will be guilty until proven innocent.

Assembly Bill 106, being sponsored by Democratic Assemblywoman Ellen Spiegel of Henderson, would prohibit government agencies in the state from contracting with any firm until it has received a “certificate of pay equity compliance” issued by the state Labor Commissioner declaring the company provides equal pay for equal work performed by men and women employees.

Never mind the fact the federal Equal Pay Act of 1963 already proscribes pay discrimination based on gender.

The bill appears to be a sop to that widely touted canard that women doing the same work as men get paid less than 80 percent as much as their male co-workers.

The bill would create a mountain of paperwork because it requires submitting to the Labor Commissioner an annual workforce analysis that includes: the total number of persons employed in each job category by gender, the total number of hours worked for each employee and the total compensation for each.

Compliance will be costly and time consuming, driving up the cost of doing business, which will be passed along to taxpayers who cover the cost of government contracts.

AB106 would allow differences in pay for men and women if the employer can prove any pay differential is based legitimately on a seniority or merit system, is based on quality or quantity of production or some unspecified differential based on factors other than gender.

Of course, all these exemptions are entirely subjective and subject to the whim of the bureaucrat looking at the data. One person’s meritorious job performance is another’s discrimination.

Also, the bill states, “The denial or cancellation (of a certificate of compliance) is not subject to judicial review.” Satisfy the inspector or no government contract. Sounds like an invitation to pass envelopes of cash under the table.

Further, the bill also requires all governmental agencies and political subdivisions of government to obtain a certificate of compliance, thus again driving up the cost to all taxpayers for compliance

A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research in 2005 exploded the unequal gender pay myth. It concluded that “the gender gap is attributable to choices made by women concerning the amount of time and energy to devote to a career as reflected in years of work experience, utilization of part-time work, and workplace and job characteristics. There is no gender gap in wages among men and women with similar family roles. Comparing the wage gap between women and men ages 35-43 who have never married and never had a child, we find a small observed gap in favor of women, which becomes insignificant after accounting for differences in skills and job and workplace characteristics. What the average woman sacrifices in earnings from choosing jobs that allow for part-time work and flexible work conditions is presumably offset by a gain in the utility of time spent with children and family.”

We wonder if one way to comply with AB106 is to employ a workforce that consists of only men or women — instant compliance, no pay differential. Or is that discriminatory?

AB106 is an expensive and superfluous boondoggle and should be rejected by lawmakers or vetoed by the governor.

A version of this editorial appeared this week in some of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel,  Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.

Rick McKee cartoon

Rick McKee cartoon

President signs orders telling officials to enforce immigration laws

Why is it necessary for a president to issue an executive order telling public officials to enforce the laws passed by Congress?

That’s apparently what it has come to. According to The Wall Street Journal, Trump has signed orders that mean almost everybody living in the U.S. illegally is subject to deportation and new arrivals will no longer be subject to the current catch and release practice.

“The Department no longer will exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement,” WSJ quotes an enforcement memo as saying. “Department personnel have full authority to arrest or apprehend an alien whom an immigration officer has probable cause to believe is in violation of the immigration laws.”

The New York Times reports that the orders end the Obama administration policy that required Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to immediately deport only those newly arriving illegal immigrants who were apprehended within 100 miles of the border and had been in the country no more than 14 days. “Now it will include those who have been in the country for up to two years, and located anywhere in the nation,” NYT relates.

The orders also tell the federal immigration agencies to revive a program that used local police to help with immigration enforcement, a program called 287g that was scaled down under Obama, NYT says.

According to Channel 3, the 287g program under Sheriff Doug Gillespie only turned over to immigration those suspects that had an outstanding warrant or an immigration detainer.

But it would be up to current Sheriff Joe Lombardo to determine the level of cooperation.

Border wall in Nogales, Ariz. (Reuters pix via WSJ)

Border wall in Nogales, Ariz. (Reuters pix via WSJ)

Why judge blocked Trump travel ban

Immigrants arrive at Boston airport. (Reuters photo via WSJ)

Immigrants arrive at Boston airport. (Reuters photo via WSJ)

Now, we’ve never been big fans of executive orders and question whether they comport with the law and the leeway any given law grants the executive branch.

But Trump’s order suspending immigration from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for at least 90 days in an effort to block potential terrorists and to give time for vetting sounds much like what Obama did without prompting legal challenges. Without consulting Congress Obama called for allowing 110,000 Syrian refugees into the county. Trump cut that in half.

But a Seattle judge, in his seven-page ruling, granted a temporary restraining order sought by the state of Washington.

 

His rationale seems a bit dubious. How is the state irreparably harmed by a 90-day cessation of immigrants?

This is what he wrote:

robart1

robart2

Sounds more like a savings and potential benefit to taxpayers and the state than an irreparable harm. It might well be the right decision under the law and the Constitution, but is it for the right reason?

 

 

Legal battle over Trump refugee ban will be one to watch

That was quick.

With a stroke of his pen Obama agreed to allow 85,000 Syrian refugees into this country. With a stroke of his pen Trump cut that number to zero. Of course, more than 12,000 are probably already here.

Today refugees from the countries singled out by Trump in his executive order are already being held at airports on arrival from overseas and lawsuits have been filed.

Trump signs executive order.

Trump signs executive order.

Trump’s order suspends all refugees for 120 days and bars for 90 days the entry of any citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries — Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Iran and Yemen — even if they have valid visas. Trump said he intends to increase the vetting of certain foreigners and screen out potential “radical Islamic terrorists.”

When admissions are allowed to resume the order would “prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality” — presumably Christians.

This has lawyers scrambling for precedents to cite to establish religious discrimination and question the constitutionality of the order.

The U.K.-based Guardian already has posted an article exploring the legal arguments that can be made and notes that the Supreme Court ruled Congress can make immigration rules that, if applied to citizens, would be unconstitutional.

In the 1890s, the newspaper relates, the high court upheld a ban on Chinese immigrants. In 1972, the court ruled the president could bar a Marxist from entry, but said the president needed reasons that were “facially legitimate and bona fide.”

This past June the Supreme Court deadlocked 4-4 and thus let stand a Texas court ruling that blocked an Obama executive order granting millions of illegal immigrants amnesty from deportation and access to work permits.

The order was called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and would have allowed illegal immigrants if they had been in the country at least five years and had not committed felonies or repeated misdemeanors. It also would have expanded his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

Trump at the time called Obama’s order “one of the most unconstitutional actions ever undertaken by a president.”

Now, we will see how his executive orders fare in court.