I disagree with Daniel Cotter’s essay i The Des Moines Register urging our U.S. Senators to reject Steven Menashi’s nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals. (See link below to Register “Your Turn” essay.) What I’ve learned by watching Steven Menashi’s Senate testamony and reading his writings makes me think he would be a very good appellate judge.The fact that the two Democratic Senators from his home state of New York don’t support him should be considered irrelevant, regardless of precedent. The Senate “blue slip” tradition which permitted a Senator from the home state of the nominee to veto the nomination, is the remnant of a good-ol’-boy’s-club attitude that should be discarded.His opponents take his comments out of context and make them appear to have the opposite meaning of his actual position. For example, nine years ago he wrote that it was okay for Israel, a democratic country, to have an official state sanctioned dominant religion. The Left says this means he is a white supremacist. No, he is simply a defender of Israel’s right to exist, and of the right of the people of that nation to decide how they will be self-ruled. He testified before the Senate that the United States is not a country that is based on a single religious or ethnic tradition. He also testified that he values our, “…country’s tradition of tolerance and equality before the law…”So, I ask Senators Grassley and Ernst to support the nomination of Steven Menashi to the U.S. Court of Appeals.
The Des Moines Register recently published an editorial that showed how out-of control Iowa and other states are in giving incentives to businesses to locate in their state. To help reverse this situation, Congress should exercise its Constitutional power to “…regulate commerce… among the several states…” and should limit states’ ability to bribe companies to locate in their state. States should be prohibited from giving custom incentives to specific businesses to locate in their state. They should only be allowed to use schemes that provide uniform incentives to all companies that locate their business or otherwise create new jobs in that state.
Link to Register editorial: https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/editorials/2018/11/20/amazon-apple-corporate-iowa-workers-education-environment-bribing-business-workforce-jobs-money-tax/2061418002/
The announcement by Senator Grassley, (and other Senate Republican leaders), that the Senate Judiciary Committee would not even hold hearings on President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, before a nominee is even announced, sets a bad precedent. The Senate may have the power to not even consider a nominee, but what is to stop this kind of thing from getting even further out of control? If a Democrat is elected President this November, and the Republicans maintain control of the Senate, will the Senate withhold its consent for four more years in order, “…to protect the will of the American people…”? The Senate would have the power to do that too. And the Democrats would do the same to a Republican President’s nominee just as soon as they got the chance. The Republicans, and Senator Grassely, should hold the hearings and then vote the nominee up or down.
I will respect the ruling of the Supreme Court in upholding the subsidies under Obamacare, but the decision was wrong.
Those who drafted, supported, and voted for Obama care clearly intended to withhold money from those states that did not set up their own state health insurance exchange – just like many other laws that require states to meet certain requirements in order to get federal money. In this case, they intentionally wrote the law to provide subsidies only to people in states who purchased their health insurance through an “exchange established by the state.” It was intended as a carrot or a stick to get the states to comply. Many did not comply, so the strategy backfired.
The job of the Supreme Court is to resolve disputes based on the law, the facts, and the Constitution. It is not the job of the Court to fix mistakes in political strategy. That is what they did, and it was wrong.
Both the Iowa and U.S. Constitutions allow government to take private property, using the government’s power of eminent domain, when the property taken is for public use, (and just compensation is paid). Taking property for public benefit is not sufficient. Many privately owned enterprises benefit the public. If we allow property to be taken for public benefit, there would be almost no limit on the power of government to take people’s property. Public use means what is says: the property will be used by the public, not by a privately owned company. So, using eminent domain to take property for privately owned gas pipelines or electricity transmission lines is not public use and should not be allowed. The Iowa Legislature failed to pass legislation that would have strengthened our property rights against taking by eminent domain, but that doesn’t mean regulators (the Iowa Utility Board) can’t stand up for the rights of property owners and not allow the use of eminent domain for privately owned projects.
Link to related Des Moines Register article: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/editorials/2014/12/07/editorial-must-forfeit-land-utilities/20012449/
The Register still has it wrong. (“Churches cross line with political endorsements”, 4/9/2015 – see link below.) Churches with ministers who advocate for specific candidates should be allowed to be tax exempt. But donors who contribute to them should not get a charitable tax deduction.
There are two types of tax-exempt organizations. First, there are the Charitable, Religious and Educational organizations, (tax code 501c3 organizations), that pay no income taxes, (and often don’t pay other taxes), plus donors get a charitable tax deduction on their income taxes for the amount of their contribution. Second, there are all other tax-exempt organizations that pay no income taxes, (and often don’t pay other taxes), but donors do NOT get a charitable deduction. They are properly classified as tax exempt, since they are organized to not make any kind of profit, but their activities are not charitable, so no charitable tax deduction is given.
There are many tax exempt organizations that do not make any profit, but that are not charitable and whose donors don’t get a tax deduction. They include Rotary clubs, political parties, country clubs, political issue organizations, chambers of commerce, special interest clubs, etc. None of them try to make any profit, but they are not charitable.
To the extent that any not-for-profit organization advocates for or against specific candidates, that organization is not doing charitable work. It is doing political work. Under the principle of equal treatment under the law, donors to churches that advocate for specific candidates should not get a charitable tax deduction. If a church wants its donors to receive a charitable tax deduction for contributions made, then the minister should not advocate for candidates from the pulpit, or through any other communication from the church.
Link to Register editorial: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/editorials/caucus/2015/04/08/rgisters-editorial-churches-cross-line-political-endorsements/25500433/
The new downtown Des Moines YMCA should not receive federal funding for its new Olympic size swimming pool. The Register reported that the Y did not receive the $6 million in federal tax credits it had requested, but that it had reapplied for funding next year under the same program. I don’t blame the Y, or any of the thousands of similar organizations across the nation, for applying for available grants. I blame our federal government and elected representatives for creating such spending programs. Building swimming pools, and other local community projects, is clearly an improper role for our federal government. There is no authorization for this kind of spending in the Constitution. Wanting to fund good causes is not sufficient. (As a longtime member, financial supporter, and twice past board member, I believe in the good cause of the Y.) Spending proposals that are not authorized under the Constitution must be opposed for that reason alone – no matter how good the cause. Let’s see if the newly Republican controlled Congress will honor their oath to uphold the Constitution and work to reign in these Constitutionally abusive spending programs.