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Columnists
Thiessen: In opposing impeachment, Pelosi is trying to protect Democrats from the lunatic left

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s, D-Calif., announcement that she is “not for impeachment” has caused resistance on the left. Pelosi is not trying to protect President Trump. She is trying to protect the Democratic Party from its lunatic fringe. It’s an increasingly difficult challenge.

Pelosi is the first House speaker in six decades to return to the job a second time. But the Democratic majority she now presides over is much different from the one she led in 2007. Since the 2018 midterm elections that gave her back the speaker’s gavel, her party has gone off the rails.

First, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., hijacked Pelosi’s agenda by announcing her Green New Deal — an upward of $90 trillion-plus miasma of government spending that proposes to provide everyone with health care, a government jobs guarantee, free education, medical leave, job training, retirement security and universal basic income to support those who, as she put in her infamous talking points, are “unwilling” to work. And that’s before we even get to the energy and environmental policies.

After that troubled rollout, Pelosi tried to dismiss the plan as the “green dream or whatever they call it” and declared it “will be one of several or maybe many suggestions that we receive.” Pelosi favors a more modest, realistic agenda of bolstering Obamacare, lowering the cost of prescription drugs, building infrastructure, passing gun restrictions and other conventional Democratic priorities. But many Democrats do not share her lack of enthusiasm for full socialism. Virtually every Democratic presidential candidate has some kind support for the Green New Deal, making a socialist takeover of the American economy the centerpiece of the Democratic Party’s agenda.

That’s bad enough. But Pelosi has also had to deal with the mess created by another left-wing insurgent, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., whose anti-Semitic remarks have exposed a virulent strain of anti-Jewish hatred that is gripping the left. A resolution condemning Omar’s anti-Semitism faced such intense internal opposition that Pelosi had to replace it with a watered-down version that condemned not just anti-Semitism but also all forms of hate — including “anti-Muslim discrimination and bigotry against minorities” — rendering it meaningless.

Pelosi’s next move was to try and head off a suicidal impeachment drive gaining strength on her left flank. Anticipating that special counsel Robert Mueller may not find incontrovertible evidence that Trump engaged in a criminal conspiracy with Russia to steal the 2016 election, Pelosi announced that “unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path.” That won’t stop Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., who vowed on taking office “to impeach the motherf — er” and has announced she plans to introduce a resolution to start impeachment proceedings.

Pelosi knows that such an impeachment effort would divide Democrats and might not even pass the House. And even if it did, there is zero chance that two-thirds of the Senate would vote to convict Trump for something other than a criminal conspiracy with Russia. A failed impeachment would energize Trump’s base, raise Trump’s approval ratings and alienate the very suburban voters Democrats just peeled away from the GOP to win the House majority in the 2018 midterms. Most important, she knows it would distract Democrats from the agenda Pelosi wants to pursue. “It’s an opportunity cost in terms of time and resources,” she told Rolling Stone magazine.

During a private meeting this week, Pelosi reportedly asked House Democrats, “Do we want to drag him down or do we want to lift people up?” The answer from the Resistance is becoming clear: Drag him down!

Pelosi wants to do more than resist; she wants to govern. She wants to enact legislation. To do that, Democrats need to win back the Senate and the White House in 2020.

But the Ocasio-Cortez-Omar-Tlaib wing of the party seems determined to undermine that strategy by pursuing a platform of socialism, anti-Semitism and impeachment. If they prevail, not only will Trump not be impeached — he’ll also likely become a two-term president.


Columnists
Stossel: Your fair share

Do you pay enough taxes? What is enough?

When asked on “60 Minutes,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez didn’t seem to have a specific tax rate in mind, but then she said, “back in the ‘60s ... you see tax rates as high as 60 or 70 percent.”

Suddenly, 70 percent tax rates are a progressive plan, although Rep. Ilhan Omar added, “We’ve had it as high as 90 percent.”

She’s right.

That was the top tax rate when I was a kid, and today, many Democrats say if we’d just raise rates on rich people, government would have plenty of money to pay for our wonderful programs.

But it’s a myth. What progressives don’t say, perhaps because they don’t know it, is what economic historian Dr. Phillip Magness explains in my new video: “No one actually paid anywhere close to those rates.”

For more than a decade, Magness has researched old taxes.

He discovered that America’s 90 percent tax bracket didn’t bring in much extra money. That’s because rich people found loopholes.

Then, because of that, and because the high tax rates discouraged work, President Kennedy backed a bill that lowered the top rate to 70 percent.

But it turned out that the 70 percent rate wasn’t very real either.

“A millionaire on average would pay 41 percent,” says Magness, because of “all these deductions and exemptions and carve-outs that are intentionally baked into the tax code.”

If you look at newspapers of that time, you see ads promoting things like free $2,499 ocean cruises.

“(B)asically take a vacation around the Caribbean,” explains Magness, “but while you’re onboard the ship you attend, say, an investing seminar or a real estate seminar, and then write off the trip.”

Some rich people bought musical instruments for their kids and deducted the cost because, say, a clarinet would supposedly provide “therapeutic treatment.”

Instead of investing in ideas that might create real wealth, rich people hired accountants to study the tax code.

“Who can afford the best accountants? It’s always the wealthy,” says Magness.

Today, our top tax rate is 37 percent. A dozen years after President Kennedy’s tax cuts, Ronald Reagan proposed reducing the 70 percent rate, saying, “Our tax system could only be described as un-American.”

“Democrats actually agree with him,” recounts Magness. “Reagan goes to the table and says, ‘Let’s make a deal ... cut the rates ... and in exchange, we’ll consolidate the tax code.”

They did.

Surprise — the lower rates brought in just as much money.

It turns out that tax revenue as a percentage of gross domestic product stays about the same no matter what the top bracket is. Higher tax rates don’t necessarily get rich people to pay more taxes.

“They’ll change where they earn their income,” economist Art Laffer told me about what he’d once said to President Reagan. “They’ll change how they earn their income. They’ll change how much they earn, when they receive the income. They’ll change all of those things to minimize taxes.”

President Trump, who in some years paid zero income tax, understands that. Before he became president, I asked him about a proposed tax hike. “Look, the rich people are going to leave — and other people are going to leave!” he told me. “You are going to end up with lots of people that don’t produce. And then, that’s the spiral. That’s the end.”

That happened in Europe, recounts Magness: “France attempted a massive tax on its wealthiest earners. ... the business people left in a mass exodus from the country.”

But today’s progressives are selective when they look at history.

“I ask the question: Do we leave (wealth) in the private sector where the market decides? Or do we subject it to corrupt politicians?”

Please, let’s leave most of America’s wealth in private hands.


Columnists
The Conversation
The Conversation: The mental health crisis among America's youth is real – and staggering

The first signs of a problem started to emerge around 2014: More young people said they felt overwhelmed and depressed. College counseling centers reported sharp increases in the number of students seeking treatment for mental health issues.

Even as studies were showing increases in symptoms of depression and in suicide among adolescents since 2010, some researchers called the concerns overblown and claimed there simply isn’t enough good data to reach that conclusion.

The idea that there’s an epidemic in anxiety or depression among youth “is simply a myth,” psychiatrist Richard Friedman wrote in The New York Times last year. Others suggested young people were simply more willing to get help when they needed it. Or perhaps counseling centers’ outreach efforts were becoming more effective.

But a new analysis of a large representative survey reinforces what I – and others – have been saying: The epidemic is all too real. In fact, the increase in mental health issues among teens and young adults is nothing short of staggering.

An epidemic of anguish

One of the best ways to find out if mental health issues have increased is to talk to a representative sample of the general population, not just those who seek help. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health, administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has done just that.

It surveyed over 600,000 Americans. Recent trends are startling.

From 2009 to 2017, major depression among 20- to 21-year-olds more than doubled, rising from 7 percent to 15 percent. Depression surged 69 percent among 16- to 17-year-olds. Serious psychological distress, which includes feelings of anxiety and hopelessness, jumped 71 percent among 18- to 25-year-olds from 2008 to 2017. Twice as many 22- to 23-year-olds attempted suicide in 2017 compared with 2008, and 55 percent more had suicidal thoughts. The increases were more pronounced among girls and young women. By 2017, one out of five 12- to 17-year-old girls had experienced major depression in the previous year.

Is it possible that young people simply became more willing to admit to mental health problems? My co-authors and I tried to address this possibility by analyzing data on actual suicide rates collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Suicide is a behavior, so changes in suicide rates can’t be caused by more willingness to admit to issues.

Tragically, suicide also jumped during the period. For example, the suicide rate among 18- to 19-year-olds climbed 56 percent from 2008 to 2017. Other behaviors related to depression have also increased, including emergency department admissions for self-harm, such as cutting, as well as hospital admissions for suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts.

The large increases in mental health issues in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health appeared almost exclusively among teens and young adults, with less change among Americans ages 26 and over. Even after statistically controlling for the influences of age and year, we found that depression, distress and suicidal thoughts were much higher among those born in the mid- to late-1990s, the generation I call iGen.

The mental health crisis seems to be a generational issue, not something that affects Americans of all ages. And that, more than anything else, might help researchers figure out why it’s happening.

The shift in social life

It’s always difficult to determine the causes behind trends, but some possibilities seem less likely than others.

A troubled economy and job loss, two typical culprits of mental stress, don’t appear to be to blame. That’s because U.S. economic growth was strong and the unemployment rate dropped significantly from 2011 to 2017, when mental health issues were rising the most.

It’s unlikely that academic pressure was the cause, as iGen teens spent less time on homework on average than teens did in the 1990s.

Although the increase in mental health issues occurred around the same time as the opioid epidemic, that crisis seemed to almost exclusively affect adults older than 25.

But there was one societal shift over the past decade that influenced the lives of today’s teens and young adults more than any other generation: the spread of smartphones and digital media like social media, texting and gaming.

While older people use these technologies as well, younger people adopted them more quickly and completely, and the impact on their social lives was more pronounced. In fact, it has drastically restructured their daily lives.

Compared with their predecessors, teens today spend less time with their friends in person and more time communicating electronically, which study after study has found is associated with mental health issues.

No matter the cause, the rise in mental health issues among teens and young adults deserves attention, not a dismissal as a “myth.” With more young people suffering – including more attempting suicide and more taking their own lives – the mental health crisis among American young people can no longer be ignored.


Letters
Letter: Radio signals could interfere with jets

Radio signals could interfere with jets

Editor:

President Trump says he has signed an order to ground Boeing 737 MAX 8.

My call at this hour is high frequency radio transmissions in the spectrum are interfering with the new 737 Max 8 and 9’s control systems. At Creech AFB in Vegas they use high frequency radio signals to control drones all over the world for surveillance and munitions payloads.

Why don’t they want you to use your digital devices upon takeoff and landings? You now have satellites beaming frequencies to drones flying all over the globe.

To me, it’s a radio signal transmission issue. Drive up Nevada Highway 95 out of Vegas to Spanish Springs and see the series of high frequency antennaes beaming control instructions to satellites. Then the satellites beam control instructions to drones circling the globe and causing havoc to the 737 Max 8 and 9 control systems.

If this is the case, which I think it is ... this is a very big deal defense issue and Boeing should not take the heat for a faulty product.

Dave Murray

Reno