Sunday, May 28, 2023
Sunday, May 28, 2023

Milwaukee Press Club 'Excellence in Wisconsin Journalism' 2020, 2021 & 2022 Triple GOLD Award Recipients

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House Republicans Vote to Overturn Biden’s Student Loan Cancellation

House Republicans voted 218-203 Wednesday to overturn President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness even as the U.S. The Supreme Court considers the legality of the measure.

Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., led the effort to overturn Biden’s loan cancelation via the Congressional Review Act, a provision that allows Congress to overturn recently enacted federal rules. The Government Accountability Office recently said that the student loan rule fell within Congress’ authority to overturn under the CRA.

“President Biden’s student loan transfer scheme shifts hundreds of billions of dollars of payments from student loan borrowers onto the backs of the American people,” Good told The Center Square. “I am proud to lead the fight against President Biden’s reckless, unilateral, and unauthorized action that would unfairly penalize those who worked hard to pay off their loans or who never took them out in the first place. I am pleased that my Republican colleagues overwhelmingly supported my legislation on the House Floor this week.”

Biden announced last year his administration would “forgive” $10,000 in federal student loan debt for those making less than $125,000 per year. For Pell Grant recipients, the debt cancelation would total $20,000, and the plan would allow debtors to to cap repayment of their loans at 5% of their income.

"Whether you want it or not—and you don't—thanks to Biden’s student loan bailout every man, woman, and child in America will be taxed $3,527 to foot the bill for someone else’s debt," Rep. Aaron Bean, R-Fla., said Wednesday.

The U.S. Congressional Budget Office estimated the provision would cost taxpayers about $400 billion.

Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget Senior Vice President and Senior Policy Director Marc Goldwein testified before Congress in March, raising the alarm about runaway federal spending, inflation, and the rise of the national debt.

“Unfortunately, the Administration’s policies have contributed to this inflation and cancellation could further exacerbate inflationary pressures if allowed by the Supreme Court to go forward,” Goldwein testified before the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development. “This in turn puts more pressure on the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates, which disrupts the financial, housing, and labor markets and risks pushing the economy into a recession.”

Biden has defended his plan, saying it is helping Americans struggling to pay back their debt. Student loans have been deferred several times because of the COVID-19 pandemic, first by former President Donald Trump and then by Biden. The House bill would also put an end to that delay and restart repayments for borrowers.

Critics of Biden’s plan say it unfairly punishes poorer Americans who could not afford to go to college, forcing them to subsidize wealthier Americans with degrees and more earning potential.

“President Biden is not forgiving debt, he is shifting the burden of student loans off of the borrowers who willingly took on their debt and placing it onto those who chose to not go to college or already fulfilled their commitment to pay off their loans,” Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., said after introducing the Joint Resolution of Disapproval earlier this year in conjunction with Good.

“It is extremely unfair to punish these Americans, forcing them to pay the bill for these irresponsible and unfair student loan schemes," he added.

Whether the measure can get traction in the Senate, especially before the Supreme Court issues their ruling, is unlikely. A favorable court ruling, though, could push the issue for some Senate Republicans in particular.

Biden has made clear he opposes the House's move to overturn his Department of Education rule, meaning it would almost certainly be vetoed.

The Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling on the debt forgiveness in the coming weeks.

Wisconsin Congressman Derrick Van Orden Says He’s Proud of Russian Ban

(The Center Square) -- Congressman Derrick Van Orden says he may get a T-shirt made to celebrate his being banned from Russia.

Van Orden, the Republican congressman from western Wisconsin, is among 500 Americans on the latest list of people banned from Russia.

“I think it’s great that Vladimir Putin and his gang of thugs have identified the fact that I don’t believe this naked, international aggression should go unchecked,” Van Orden told The Center Square on Wednesday.

Van Orden has been a vocal opponent of the war in Ukraine.

“What I said about Putin is correct. That he has cable television,” Van Orden explained. “One of the reasons that he invaded Ukraine is that he saw President Biden abandon thousands of American citizens and our allies to terrorists in Afghanistan. I believe that emboldened Putin to invade Ukraine.”

Russia released a new list last Friday of 500 Americans who have been banned from the country for life.

In addition to Van Orden, the list includes former President Obama, former U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman, several U.S. senators, and entertainers Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, and Seth Meyers.

“It is interesting that President Obama and I wound up on the same list,” Van Orden explained. “We didn’t really agree with a lot of stuff, politically. But it's nice to see that this really, truly is a bipartisan issue. That Russia must be stopped from what they are doing.”

Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that “It is high time for Washington to learn that not a single hostile attack against Russia will go without a strong reaction.”

Van Orden said he’s not worried about the ban, because he wasn’t planning on going to Russia anytime soon anyway.

DeSantis Reshapes Republican Primary, Sparks Wave of Opposition & Support

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis kicked off his 2024 presidential campaign Wednesday night, reshaping the Republican primary field and forcing Republicans to take sides.

Former President Donald Trump welcomed DeSantis to the primary race with a barrage of attacks on his platform of choice, TruthSocial.

“‘Rob,’ My Red Button is bigger, better, stronger, and is working (TRUTH!), yours does not! (per my conversation with Kim Jung Un, of North Korea, soon to become my friend!),” he wrote.

Trump posted several videos of DeSantis as well. One video points out how a Trump endorsement likely propelled DeSantis to victory in his Florida governor’s race in 2018. The video features old campaign videos where DeSantis held a Trump sign, praised Trump, and thanked him for standing by him, even "when it wasn't necessarily the smart thing to do."

DeSantis secured billionaire Elon Musk’s endorsement as well as praise from U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., during the Twitter Spaces event. U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., wore a “Make America Great Again” hat to Capitol Hill Thursday morning, hours after DeSantis’ announcement.

On Twitter, pundits and popular conservative voices chose sides, posting in favor or against DeSantis through the night and into the morning depending on their allegiances. The announcement has divided the party more than any other.

Many Republicans hope DeSantis can provide the party with a more effective, drama-free, post-Trump future while others think Trump is the only way to take on the deep state and liberal establishment.

DeSantis was widely mocked for the technical glitches of his announcement, which was delayed more than 20 minutes as Musk and entrepreneur and author David Sacks, who moderated the Twitter Spaces event, tried to get the production working.

Sacks waved off the technical glitches, saying they were likely "melting the servers" and likely breaking records with their Twitter announcement. There is dispute over the actual number of online attendees with different outlets reporting different figures, but DeSantis had several hundred thousand users listening in for his event to begin before many gave up because of the technical difficulties. DeSantis' team claimed that within 15 hours of the announcement, it had more than 30 million views.

DeSantis’ camp tried to reframe the technical issues as “breaking the internet,” a sign of overwhelming interest. Musk said on the broadcast that breaking new ground online, especially while live, naturally comes with these kinds of issues.

Liberal media outlets poured in criticism of DeSantis for the launch with a string of blistering headlines. Politico called the tech failures "horrendous" while the Washington Post said it "didn't work." CNN called the launch "embarrassing," and NBC said the launch "melts down."

It is worth noting, though, that both Trump and DeSantis have built their brands by mocking and disregarding those very same media outlets.

Trump jumped on this opportunity as well, sharing a video on Truth Social of one of Musk’s rockets failing to launch and then exploding with DeSantis’ logo overlaid on the crashing missile.

“I know Ron,” Trump said. “The way he handled his announcement, he will handle the Country!”

During the Twitter event, DeSantis took subtle shots at Trump without naming him, saying he had frustration with the former president's inability to enact his agenda and blasted the "culture of losing" in the GOP.

DeSantis hit on several key issues for Republican voters during his announcement, namely the border crisis, rising crime, critical race theory, media bias and censorship as well as the government response to COVID-19, saying his response in Florida kept states around the country from "rolling lockdowns."

"First, we need an honest reckoning about what happened during COVID," DeSantis said, calling the federal pandemic response "authoritarian" and not in line with the data. "I saw an interest in the narrative and politics over evidence..."

The first GOP caucus is in Iowa on Jan. 22, 2024, while the first GOP primary is Jan. 30 of the same year in New Hampshire. The first group of states holding their presidential primary votes is in March of next year.

Polling from Morning Consult surveyed Republican primary voters and put DeSantis in second place among the contenders with 18% support, though far behind Trump, who came in at 61% support.

Radio host and commentator Larry Elder, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy have announced their 2024 ambitions as well. The Morning Consult poll put Haley and Ramaswamy both at 4% support. U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., announced he is running on Monday.

Former Vice President Mike Pence is still considering a bid.

DeSantis Expected to Announce 2024 White House Bid Today

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to announce his 2024 presidential bid Wednesday evening.

DeSantis, who currently ranks second in the latest Republican primary polling, is expected to make the announcement during a live stream video on Twitter as part of a conversation with billionaire Elon Musk.

Morning Consult polling of Republican primary voters released last week puts former president Donald Trump at 61% support with DeSantis in second at 18% support.

“Governor DeSantis has been the primary vessel for conservatives looking for a different direction post Trump,” Colin Reed, Republican strategist and Co-founder of South & Hill Strategies, told The Center Square. “He’s earned his place atop the pack, now he’s got to prove he is up to the task in a growing field of other talented contenders.”

DeSantis built his reputation and conservative following by taking on the “woke establishment” by pairing his tough rhetoric on critical race theory and the LGBT agenda with tangible policy wins. DeSantis took on Disney after the company made clear it wants to advance an LGBT agenda in its programming for kids, and he had some success, working with local leaders to strip the company of special tax and governance protections in his state of Florida. DeSantis still faces legal challenges from the company, but his battle was largely seen as a victory among Republican voters.

“I will not allow a woke corporation based in California to run our state,” DeSantis said last year. “Disney has gotten away with special deals from the State of Florida for way too long.”

After the Black Lives Matter riots and following push to defund police, DeSantis offered bonuses to police officers who would come to his state, drawing attention and praise from conservatives by flying in the face of mainstream media’s narrative around race and policing.

He also took heavy fire from the media for supporting legislation to prevent educators from discussing gender and sexuality topics for young children in the Florida school system. Opponents labeled it the “Don’t Say Gay” bill in the initial controversy, but DeSantis navigated through it, fighting publicly with the media, which was later forced to admit the bill does not include those words.

DeSantis’ decision to stand firm and his Trump-esque battling with reporters bolstered his reputation among conservatives.

Trump, though, has already started attacking DeSantis, calling him “DeSanctimonious” and “unelectable.”

Whether DeSantis will return fire with the same intensity remains to be seen and may be the deciding factor in the primary campaign.

After news broke of the coming announcement, DeSantis’ wife, Casey, posted on Twitter, “Big if true,” apparently a joke giving a nod to the news.

The news comes after U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., announced Monday that he is also running for president. Scott comes in well behind at 1% support in the Morning Consult poll.

The first GOP caucus is in Iowa on Jan. 22, 2024, while the first GOP primary is Jan. 30 of the same year in New Hampshire. However, the first cohort of states holding their presidential primary votes is in March of next year.

Green Bay Lawmakers Propose $2 Million in State Help for 2025 NFL Draft

(The Center Square) – Two of Green Bay’s state lawmakers are asking for millions of dollars to welcome the NFL Draft to town.

The NFL on Monday announced that Green Bay will host the 2025 Draft.

On Tuesday, state Rep. David Steffen, R-Green Bay, and state Sen. Robert Cowles, R-Green Bay, submitted a formal request for $2 million to help “offset” the costs.

“A $2 million investment for a $94 million return is phenomenal,” Steffen said. “I am proud to have advocated for state support of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, given the significant positive financial impact this event will have on our state. I’m excited for Green Bay to show off all it has to offer and give attendees and viewers a top-notch, Wisconsin-style experience.”

Steffen and Cowles say the NFL Draft will bring a nearly $100 million economic impact to Green Bay, $20 million of which they say will go to the city itself.

Steffen and Cowles say the Packers will contribute $5 million of their own money to the draft celebration.

The NFL said just over 300,000 people turned out for this year’s draft in Kansas City.

Cowles said the league expects 240,000 visitors to Green Bay, as well as 54 million people to watch the draft on TV.

He said $2 million to help bring the draft to Green Bay is an investment that will pay off.

“The history of the Packers and the history of Wisconsin go hand in hand. With the announcement of the 2025 draft taking place in Titletown, we’re continuing to build on that history while producing new opportunities for people throughout the country to understand and appreciate all that Northeast Wisconsin has to offer,” Cowles said. “With a reasonable request to ensure the event goes off without a hitch and that we put our best foot forward, Northeast Wisconsin and the entire state would be able to see a great return on our investment.”

The 2024 NFL Draft will be in Detroit. The NFL has not yet said just when the draft in Green Bay will be held.

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24 Republican Governors Commit to Help Texas Defend its Border

Twenty-four Republican governors have responded to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s call for help to secure its border with Mexico.

“The federal government’s response handling the expiration of Title 42 has represented a complete failure of the Biden Administration,” the governors said in a joint statement, referring to the end of the public health authority, Title 42, which expired at midnight on May 11.

Title 42 allowed for the quick expulsion of foreign nationals who’d entered the U.S. illegally during the COVID-19 pandemic. With its end, an estimated 150,000 foreign nationals from all over the world are waiting in Mexico to illegally enter the U.S. at any moment, border officials say.

This is after at least more than 7 million people have been apprehended or reported evading capture by law enforcement since President Joe Biden’s been in office.

The Biden administration recently sent 1,500 military personnel to the border and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security sent several thousand federal employees to help Border Patrol agents expedite processing of foreign nationals into the U.S., not to block their entry, administration officials have explained.

While doing so, the president and DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas continue to argue the border is closed.

Within the past few days, groups of tens of thousands of foreign nationals arrived in the Rio Grande Valley and in other areas of Texas, overwhelming Border Patrol agents, officials said. Abbott has already sent more than 10,000 Texas National Guard troops to the border as border communities continue to declare emergencies.

“While the federal government has abdicated its duties, Republican governors stand ready to protect the U.S.-Mexico border and keep families safe,” the group of 24 governors said.

“Texas Governor Greg Abbott has exemplified leadership at a critical time, leading the way with Operation Lone Star, and deploying the Texas Tactical Border Force to prevent illegal crossings and keep the border secure,” they said. “We support the efforts to secure the border led by Governor Abbott.”

The governors pledging support in addition to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is deploying troops and resources in the next 24 hours, include those of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

They pledged their support within hours of Abbott’s request for help Tuesday afternoon.

In his letter to his fellow 49 governors, Abbott wote, “The flood of illegal border activity invited by the Biden Administration flows directly across the southern border into Texas communities, but this crisis does not stop in our state. Emboldened Mexican drug cartels and other transnational criminal enterprises profit off this chaos, smuggling people and dangerous drugs like fentanyl into communities nationwide.

“In the federal government’s absence, we, as Governors, must band together to combat President Biden’s ongoing border crisis and ensure the safety and security that all Americans deserve.”

The 24 governors agreed. No Democratic governors have responded as of publication. The Democratic governors of the three neighboring border states – New Mexico, Arizona and California – have made no similar requests as Abbott’s.

The Republican governors say they are sending support as the former ICE chief argues Biden administration policies are the greatest national security threat since 9/11 and the former CBP chief argues the issue isn’t about immigration but about national security, crime and terrorism. At least 125 known, suspected terrorists have been caught illegally entering the southern border this fiscal year so far.

Previously, in September 2021, 26 Republican governors, led by Abbott and former Arizona governor Doug Ducey, sent a letter to Biden requesting a meeting to discuss the border crisis. They say Biden never replied.

One month later, in October 2021, Republican governors then released ten policy solutions for the president to adopt to immediately secure the border, which he also ignored.

Last April, 26 Republican governors signed an agreement, the American Governor’s Border Strike Force, to commit to a cross-state law enforcement effort including sharing intelligence, strengthening analytical and cybersecurity efforts, and improving humanitarian efforts to protect children and families.

Republican governors have also previously sent personnel and resources to Arizona and Texas in response to requests from Abbott and Ducey through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC). They’d again be sending support through EMAC, which allows participating states to provide resources to those that request aid in times of emergency. The governors argue the border crisis is such an emergency. The EMAC process also ensures resources and personnel deployed for emergency situations are eligible for FEMA reimbursement.

Florida Deploying Troops, Resources to Help Secure Texas-Mexico Border

In response to a Tuesday SOS from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to fellow governors seeking help at the southern border, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was among the first to answer the call. Florida is sending more than 1,000 personnel, including 800 National Guard troops, to help secure the Texas-Mexico border.

“Florida stands ready to help defend the southern border and is deploying assets to aid Texas’ border security crisis,” DeSantis announced within an hour of Abbott’s call on Tuesday.

“The impacts of Biden’s Border Crisis are felt by communities across the nation, and the federal government’s abdication of duty undermines the sovereignty of our country and the rule of law,” he said. “At my direction, state agencies including law enforcement and the Florida National Guard are being deployed to Texas, with assets including personnel, boats and planes. While Biden ignores the crisis he created, Florida stands ready to help Texas respond to this crisis."

Florida is sending more than 1,100 assets and resources, including 101 Florida Highway Patrol troopers, 200 Florida Department of Law Enforcement officers in teams of 40, 20 Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers, 800 Florida National Guard soldiers, and 20 Emergency Management personnel, including radio technicians, logisticians, mechanics and planners.

The state also is sending five available fixed wing aircraft with monitoring equipment and downlink capabilities with two aviation crew teams, two Mobile Command Vehicles and two command teams, 17 available unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) and support teams, and 10 vessels – including airboats, shallow draft vessels, and mid-range vessels.

“We stand with Texas as they work to repel illegal aliens at the border,” Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie said. “We are prepared to assist however needed.”

The Florida Division of Emergency Management, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida National Guard, Florida Highway Patrol and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are ready to deploy within the next 24 hours, he said.

Through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, Abbott notes in his letter to the 49 governors, states can provide resources, including personnel, to other states to assist in times of emergency, which the GOP governors who responded agree the border crisis warrants.

Texas and Florida are both parties to the EMAC and accept support from each state at any time through an EMAC request. The EMAC process also ensures resources and personnel deployed for emergency situations are eligible for FEMA reimbursement.

In July 2021, DeSantis also sent troops and reinforcements, meeting with Abbott in Del Rio, Texas, to discuss joint border security operations.

DeSantis is again sending assistance now after the Florida legislature passed extensive border security measures. Florida is continuing to be negatively impacted by Biden administration policies, state lawmakers and law enforcement chiefs have argued. Biden administration policies have directly resulted in increased crime, human and drug trafficking and smuggling and are burdening taxpayers in other ways, they have argued.

Groups of tens of thousands of foreign nationals have already arrived in the Rio Grande Valley and other areas of Texas, overwhelming Border Patrol agents to a breaking point, officials said. Abbott has sent over 10,000 Texas National Guard troops to the border as Texas border communities continue to declare emergencies.

The Texas governor also asked for help after at least 125 known, suspected terrorists have been caught illegally entering the southern border this fiscal year to date and as the former ICE chief argues Biden administration policies are the greatest national security threat since 9/11.

The Biden administration continues to claim the border is closed, something Abbott and DeSantis argue is verifiably false.

Texas Governor Sends SOS to Fellow Governors, Seeks Border Security Help

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott sent an SOS to his fellow 49 governors Tuesday asking for help to secure the state's 1,254-mile-border with Mexico.

Abbott sent a letter to every governor of every U.S. state asking for their help after the public health authority Title 42 ended on May 12 and roughly 150,000 people are estimated to be congregated on the Mexican side approaching to enter the U.S. illegally.

Groups of tens of thousands have already arrived in the Rio Grande Valley and other areas of Texas, overwhelming Border Patrol agents. Gov. Abbott already has sent more than 10,000 Texas National Guard troops as border communities continue to declare emergencies.

The call for help comes after at least 125 known, suspected terrorists have been apprehended illegally entering the southern border this fiscal year and as the former ICE chief argues Biden administration policies are the greatest national security threat since 9/11.

While the Biden administration has sent 1,500 military personnel to help Border Patrol agents process illegal foreign nationals into the U.S., they aren’t acting in a law enforcement capacity.

“Since taking office, President Biden has willfully refused to enforce our nation’s immigration laws while systematically dismantling every effective border security policy that previously led to the lowest number of illegal border crossings in decades,” Abbott wrote the governors. “The resultant surge in illegal immigration and transnational criminal activity is a direct consequence of these misguided actions.

“The flood of illegal border activity invited by the Biden Administration flows directly across the southern border into Texas communities, but this crisis does not stop in our state,” Abbott wrote. “Emboldened Mexican drug cartels and other transnational criminal enterprises profit off this chaos, smuggling people and dangerous drugs like fentanyl into communities nationwide.

“In the federal government’s absence, we, as Governors, must band together to combat President Biden’s ongoing border crisis and ensure the safety and security that all Americans deserve.”

Referring to an Emergency Management Assistance Compact, he said the states are empowered to provide assistance to each other “in times of disaster or emergency, both of which accurately describe the current border crisis.

“Join us in the mission to defend our national sovereignty and territorial integrity and send all available law enforcement personnel and resources to the Texas-Mexico border to serve alongside our thousands of Texas National Guard soldiers and Texas Department of Public Safety troopers,” Abbott urged his fellow governors.

He also explained that the Texas legislature first allocated $4.5 billion on border security operations from 2021-2023 through Operation Lone Star. The current budget is allocating an additional $4.6 billion over the next two years. Texas also began building its own border wall using hundreds of millions of Texas taxpayer dollars and private donations totaling over $55 million so far.

Since March 2021, Operation Lone Star officers have apprehended more than 376,000 illegal foreign nationals and made over 28,000 criminal arrests, with over 25,000 felony charges reported. They’ve also seized more than 416 million lethal doses of fentanyl, enough to kill more than the entire U.S. population.

“Texas alone should not have to shoulder the financial burden of protecting our nation," Abbott wrote.

He also thanked the governors of Idaho and Florida for already committing to send assistance to secure the Texas-Mexico border.

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(The Center Square) – Apprenticeship programs across Wisconsin are on the rise, as companies fiercely compete for talent in the post-pandemic era.

Wisconsin Apprenticeship Deputy Director Liz Pusch pointed to an ongoing surge in business engagement with the state Department of Workforce Development (DWD), adding that more students and even college-educated workers now view the program as an avenue toward better job opportunities.

“Our average age of a registered apprentice is 28 years old,” Pusch shared during a recent speech at the Madison Region’s Economic Development and Diversity Summit hosted by the Madison Region Economic Partnership and the Urban League of Greater Madison, according to “So people are starting in their career route, and then they’re figuring out, ‘This is not what I want to do.’”

In April, DWD announced a new record-high 8,357 high school junior and senior students were taking part in the Youth Apprenticeship programs during the 2022-23 school year, and just weeks before then state officials highlighted that a record 15,900 apprentices took part in the Registered Apprenticeship program last year. While many of the programs typically train workers for a specific occupation, the youth program is structured to open participants to a growing list of career choices.

“Employers are starting to see some increased retention because you’re making and building this bond with the workers,” said Seth Lentz, executive director of the Workforce Development Board of South Central Wisconsin, adding that more businesses are starting to internalize the long-term advantages of investing in their own workers’ skills.

Americans’ Views of Housing Market Worse Than After 2008 Market Crash

Americans’ views of the housing market have plunged as interest rates continue to rise because of government-fueled inflation.

Gallup released new polling data showing that only 21% of Americans say now is a good time to buy a house, down 9 percentage points from the previous year. This year and last year during the Biden administration are the only times that fewer than half of Americans said it was a good time to buy a house since Gallup began asking in 1978.

Even during the housing market crash of 2008, numbers did not drop nearly as low as they are in this latest survey.

“Gallup first asked Americans about their perceptions of the housing market in 1978, when 53% thought it was a good time to buy a house,” the group said. “Thirteen years later, when the question was asked again, 67% held that view. The record high of 81% was recorded in 2003, at a time of growing homeownership rates and housing prices.”

The change in perspective comes as the Federal Reserve has hiked interest rates nearly a dozen times during the Biden administration, making borrowing money to buy a home far more expensive.

The problem is further complicated by the fact that millions of Americans currently have mortgages with an interest rate below 3%, pushing many to decide now is not the time to sell their house and lose that lower rate.

“In the past two years, as housing prices have soared and the Federal Reserve has raised interest rates to try to tame inflation, houses have become less affordable for many Americans, and views of the housing market have tumbled,” Gallup said.

The higher inflation rates are driven in large part by a surge in the money supply and federal debt spending to the tune of several trillion dollars in recent years.

The federal government also recently enacted controversial policies to punish home buyers with good credit and help those with poor credit, akin to policies enacted ahead of the 2008 financial crisis, fueling fears first sparked by several bank collapses earlier this year.

All these factors have helped to contribute to Americans’ banking fears hitting the worst point since the 2008 financial crisis. Gallup released the survey data earlier this month, which showed that 19% are “very” worried about the safety of their funds in banks and another 29% are “moderately” worried.

The survey shows nearly half of Americans are concerned about the safety of their money in banks, a figure that is reminiscent of the 2008 financial crisis.

“The latest readings are similar to those in 2008,” Gallup said. “In September of that year, shortly after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, which remains the largest bankruptcy filing in U.S. history, 45% of U.S. adults said they were very or moderately worried about the safety of their money. Several months later, in December, after Congress’ Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) bailed out other banks in danger of failing, Americans were slightly less concerned about the safety of their personal financial accounts, as 41% said they were very or moderately worried.”

UW President Defends Tuition Hike, Budget Increase During Enrollment Dip

(The Center Square) – University of Wisconsin President Jay Rothman said the “war for talent” is driving his vision for the school, which he says is necessitating both a tuition increase and a request for $200 million more in the next state budget.

Rothman told WisPolitics’ Newsmakers program that Wisconsin must do both in order to compete in that war.

“We’re not graduating enough people in the state right now to fill the jobs that are there,” Rothman said. “That war for talent is in this state. If we are not successful in graduating the number of people that this state needs, the state’s long term economy is going to suffer. Those jobs will leave the state.”

Rothman uses the “war for talent” to justify not only the recently approved tuition increase for students, but his request for an 8% budget increase over the next two years.

“We need more nurses, and engineers, and educators, and data scientists,” Rothman added. “So our budget request, which is 4% on the operating side in each year of the biennium, is really to address those needs. To build the capacity we need to educate students in those high-demand areas, as well as to attract them, get them enrolled, and get them graduated.”

Enrollment is an issue for Rothman and the University of Wisconsin. A Legislative Fiscal Bureau reported that enrollment declined nearly 10% between 2012 and 2021. The same report said four-year campus enrollment is down 5.7%, the lowest since 2000.

Rothman said enrollment is starting to bounce back after COVID, noting that last fall’s freshman class was the largest since 2018, and the new class for the fall of 2023 is even larger.

But Rothman also came back to his “war for talent” stock answer.

“All of the states around us are having more people go on to some form of higher education. That ought to be very concerning to the state of Wisconsin,” Rothman explained. “If we don’t [reverse that trend] Wisconsin is going to fall behind in the Midwest. But we’re not just competing in the Midwest. We are competing nationally, and we are competing globally.”

Rothman’s focus on the “war for talent” is so encompassing, that it’s his answer to questions about diversity, equity, and including concerns on UW campuses.

“I keep going back. We are in a war for talent,” Rothman again said. “We need to be as inclusive as we possibly can to get our students and prospective students interested in coming on to our campuses, and feeling they are included.”

Wisconsin’s Assembly Speaker, Robin Vos, this month hinted at withholding some state money from the UW System to push Rothman to rein-in DEI efforts on campuses.

Vos said he’d rather see the university spend its $13 million DEI budget on in-demand degree programs.

Rothman last week told lawmakers the UW System will no longer require DEI statements as part of the hiring process, which was welcome news to the Republican-controlled legislature.

It remains to be seen, however, just how much of a budget increase (if any) lawmakers will provide to the university system in the new budget.

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CNN and its journalist Kaitlan Collins both made false statements about Wisconsin's election when they "fact-checked" President Donald Trump on his voter fraud claims...

Border Patrol to Release Foreign Nationals En Masse Into Communities as Title 42 Ends

Instead of U.S. Border Patrol agents apprehending, detaining and deporting people who’ve illegally entered the U.S., they will be implementing a plan decided on last year to release them en masse into local border communities.

The public health authority Title 42, which has given Border Patrol agents an additional tool to deport certain individuals, was slated to end last May. On May 20, 2022, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana enjoined the repeal of Title 42 in a case filed by 24 states, issuing a nationwide injunction.

The federal court order was the only thing that stopped CBP from enacting its policy of releasing foreign nationals en masse into local border communities. The federal injunction imposed last May halted the administration from ending Title 42.

After President Joe Biden ended the national public emergency implemented under the Trump administration to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Title 42, which can only be utilized during a public health emergency, will expire Thursday (May 11).

While Fox News reported on Tuesday that CBP and Border Patrol made a decision Monday night to “authorize all Border Patrol sectors to begin ‘safe’ street releases of migrants to communities across the border *if* NGO shelters and CBP facilities do not have the capacity to hold them,” this isn’t a new plan.

It’s been a plan in place for over a year, which The Center Square first reported on last September. Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody uncovered the plan as part of discovery in a lawsuit Florida filed against the administration over its “catch and release” policy.

Rio Grande Valley Sector Chief Border Patrol Agent Gloria Chavez also told local Texas law enforcement last December she was working with local municipalities to learn where foreign nationals should be released into their communities when shelters, NGOs and nonprofits assisting them were at capacity. A recording of her remarks was provided to The Center Square, which broke this story ahead of her giving testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability in February.

In a May 19, 2022, memo, Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz instructed Border Patrol agents to release “processed noncitizens in the vicinity of nongovernmental organizations” and coordinate with NGOs in advance as to the specific locations where they’d be released, “paying particular attention to the availability of services and transportation options.”

“If safe locations are not available” to release illegal foreign nationals, instead of processing them for removal, Ortiz said agents would “engage with nearby cities and local governments to identify alternate safe locations for release.”

Foreign nationals were also instructed to be released into the U.S. in a “safe, humane and orderly manner,” not “late at night in an unpopulated area or in circumstances in which the individual would face a known safety risk.”

On Dec. 20, 2022, Chavez told local law enforcement that she was coordinating with local mayors and NGOs to move people into the U.S., saying the NGOs “are phenomenal.” She was learning of “particular areas they [mayors, local officials] want us to drop them off at.”

Many Texas border counties first issued declarations of disaster in early 2021 after their communities were inundated with people committing crimes and burdening local taxpayers with services they didn’t have the resources to provide – including thousands infected with COVID-19 who were released into local communities even while Title 42 was in place.

By July 5, 2022, the first county judge and later judges and commissioners of over 40 Texas counties declared an invasion, arguing Mexican cartels are bringing in drugs, terrorists and criminals through the southern border using “migrant warfare” and “nonconventional warfare” to do it. The amount of fentanyl being seized by law enforcement in single vehicles over 100 miles from the border in Texas, Arizona and California is enough to kill entire populations of small cities and towns. The amount of fentanyl Texas Operation Lone Star officers have seized since March 2021 is enough to kill everyone in the United States.

More counties are likely to issue disaster and invasion declarations as the Biden administration continues to facilitate “legal pathways” for people from all over the world to illegally enter the United States. An estimated 13,000 are expected to arrive a day when Title 42 ends, officials have estimated, or roughly 4.6 million within a year.

Republican Lawmakers Pitch ‘Dirty Book’ Ban in Wisconsin Schools

(The Center Square) – The latest plan to limit the books on school library shelves in Wisconsin could lead to lawsuits over "obscene materials."

State Rep. Scott Allen, R-Waukesha, and Republican state Sen. Andre Jacque, R-DePere, are looking for support for their plans to ban material they deem obscene from school libraries, as well as allow parents to sue librarians if they break the law.

“LRB-0522 prohibits schools from using the tax-payer funded common school fund to purchase obscene materials. LRB-0423 removes the exemption for school employees to be held liable for displaying obscene material,” the two wrote on a note to possible co-sponsors in the state legislature.

Allen calls the pieces of legislation the Protect Childhood Innocence plans.

“When you look at the definition of obscene material in state statute, there is no reason for that type of material to be in our schools,” Allen said.

Wisconsin state law defines obscene material as something that describes or shows sexual conduct in an offensive way with no educational or literary value.

Allen said he got a complaint from a parent in his district about a “book in which characters describe how to perform oral sex.”

“Since the pandemic, parents have been paying more attention to what material their students are encountering at school,” Allen added. “There is a demand to ensure that students are not encountering sexually explicit material in school.”

There are worries that allowing parents to sue will lead to a flood of lawsuits against school districts or individual teachers or librarians.

But Allen said state law requires both local prosecutors and the Wisconsin Attorney General’s Office to sign-off on any possible lawsuits.

He said he’s not worried about, or looking for, lawsuits. He, instead, said he wants to make sure kids aren’t exposed to graphic sexual content while in school.

“Schools that are focused on teaching students have nothing to fear from this legislation,” Allen said. “Accountability is important, and these bills create healthy accountability for schools.”

The two bills are out for co-sponsorship, and have not yet been assigned a hearing date.

It is highly unlikely that either plan would ever become law. Gov. Evers is expected to veto both bills if they ever make it to his desk.

House Oversight: Foreign Nationals Paid Biden Family $10 million

Members of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Accountability said Wednesday the panel uncovered evidence of influence peddling and financial deception by the Biden family, claims the White House said lack merit.

"Many of the wire payments occurred while Joe Biden was vice president and leading the United States' efforts in these countries," House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., said at a news conference Wednesday.

He said the payments show "a pattern of influence peddling."

The committee's memorandum said the Bidens and their business associates formed a series of companies, the majority of which were created while Joe Biden was the vice president. The memo said the Biden family, their associates and their businesses were paid more than $10 million by foreign companies, including companies in China and Romania.

"The committee has identified over 20 companies affiliated with certain Biden family members and their business associates, formed mostly in Delaware and Washington, D.C," according to the memo. "The services provided by some of these companies, the purpose for creating such a complicated corporate structure, and whether ethics/financial disclosure laws should require a public official to publicly disclose the identities of such companies remain under scrutiny by the committee."

The committee wants to change government ethics and disclosure laws to provide transparency regarding presidents and vice presidents immediate family members’ income, assets and financial relationships, the memo said.

Existing financial disclosure laws and regulations don't require non-dependent family members of senior elected officials to provide any information to the public. The committee plans to write legislation that would change reporting requirements related to some foreign transactions involving senior elected officials’ family members and financial disclosure requirements that show ownership of corporate entities, according to the memo.

The White House has dismissed the claims as baseless.

"They're really just microwaving old debunked stuff," White House spokesman for oversight and investigations Ian Sams said on Twitter.

Wauwatosa Schools Hired Notorious Activist to Teach Juvenile Delinquents with Predictable Results

This MacIver Institute article was originally published on April 27, 2023. Republished with permission. The Wauwatosa School District’s approach to rehabilitating juvenile delinquents includes exposing...

Department of Transportation to Require Airlines Compensate Stranded Passengers

The U.S. Department of Transportation said Monday it will launch a new rulemaking process to require airlines provide compensation and cover expenses for stranded passengers.

"When an airline causes a flight cancellation or delay, passengers should not foot the bill," U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement. "This rule would, for the first time in U.S. history, propose to require airlines to compensate passengers and cover expenses such as meals, hotels, and rebooking in cases where the airline has caused a cancellation or significant delay."

The rulemaking will address compensation for passengers when there is a controllable airline cancellation or significant delay; a meal or meal voucher, overnight accommodations, ground transportation to and from the hotel, and rebooking for controllable delays or cancellations; timely customer service during and after periods of widespread flight irregularities; and it will define what constitutes a controllable cancellation or delay.

The 10 largest airlines guarantee meals and free rebooking. Nine guarantee hotel accommodations. One guarantees frequent flyer miles and two airlines guarantee travel credits or vouchers in the case of significant delays or cancellations caused by something within the airline’s control, such as a mechanical issue. No airline guarantees cash compensation when an airline issue causes the significant delay or cancellation.

The department's planned rulemaking process would make passenger compensation and amenities mandatory.

Airlines for America, a lobbying group for airlines, said its members plan to work with the government "to ensure U.S. airspace remains the safest airspace in the world while supporting robust marketplace competition that provides transparency and vast options for consumers."

"U.S. airlines have no incentive to delay or cancel a flight and do everything in their control to ensure flights depart and arrive on time – but safety is always the top priority," Airlines for America said in a statement. "We have the safest air travel system in the world because we never compromise on safety."

The group said weather is a major cause of disruptions. It said that in 2022, more than half of flight cancellations were due to extreme weather.

"Thus far in 2023, the majority of flight cancellations have been because of ATC outages and severe weather," the group said. "Carriers have taken responsibility for challenges within their control and continue working diligently to improve operational reliability. This includes launching aggressive, successful hiring campaigns for positions across the industry and reducing schedules in response to the FAA’s staffing shortages. In 2022, carriers reduced their schedules by about 15% to alleviate pressure on the National Airspace System (NAS), and U.S. airlines are currently accommodating record demand while operating 10% fewer flights than in 2019 to reduce pressure on the system."

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