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Rep. Byrne: A tax code that works

Each April, Americans across the country face great frustration and inconvenience in filing their taxes.

Fortunately, this Tax Day marked the last time Americans would file their taxes under the old tax code. Thanks to passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Americans will now have a simpler and fairer tax code. I was proud to work with President Trump to reform our tax code and make the process easier for taxpayers.

Starting next year, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will bring Americans relief when filing their taxes under a more streamlined, straightforward tax code. However, making the overall filing process simpler and more convenient was just one of the many ways we worked to create a tax code that benefits and works for the American people.

One of the most important reforms under the new tax code is the doubling of the standard deduction. This provision increases the standard deduction to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for married couples. Combined with new lower tax rates, almost every Alabamian should see a tax decrease.

Also important, the new tax code prioritizes American families by doubling the Child Tax Credit from $1,000 to $2,000 per child. It is no secret that raising a family is not cheap; so, this increase provides additional support for families struggling to pay for childcare and other necessary expenses associated with parenting.

To provide even more support for families, the bill preserves the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, as well as the Adoption Tax Credit. Even more, the bill makes improvements to saving options for education by allowing parents to use 529 accounts to save for elementary, secondary, and higher education.

Most people will not have to wait until the next tax season to see the impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Already, many hardworking Alabamians are seeing more money in their paychecks each month. That means your hard-earned money is ending up back in your pockets, rather than the coffers of the federal government.

Tax reform has also helped spur overall economic growth. Our bill helps to level the playing field for American businesses, creating new job opportunities and finally causing wages to rise after years of stagnation.

Many businesses have also handed out bonuses and improved benefits to their workforce. Since passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, I have had the pleasure of personally handing out bonus checks at multiple businesses in Southwest Alabama. Trust me, these workers were thrilled with the extra money.

We aren’t stopping now either. The House passed a package of bills last week to help cut down on identity theft and to hold criminals accountable for IRS scams. It is important that these crooks be punished for trying to defraud hardworking Americans, including our nation’s senior citizens.

Equally important, the House also passed bills to make the IRS more efficient, effective, and accountable. The IRS should be a customer-friendly organization that responds to the questions and concerns of the American people.

In the past four months, we have seen tremendous growth right here in Southwest Alabama because of the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act. From our small business owners handing out bonus checks to our single-income families taking home extra money in their paychecks, evidence shows that allowing Americans to keep more of their hard-earned money is a huge boom for our economy.

As we bid farewell to an old, outdated tax code, Americans can rest easy knowing they have a simpler, fairer tax code to work with in the future.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope.

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When did marriage, parenthood become about self-fulfillment?


Listen to the 10 min audio

Read the transcript:

AMERICAN BIRTHRATE AT ALL-TIME LOW

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, headline out of The Wall Street Journal, “American women are having children at the lowest rate on record with the number of babies born in the United States last year dropping to a 30-year low.”

Some 3.85 million babies were born last year and that’s down 2 percent from 2016 and the lowest number since 1987. The general fertility rate for women from ages 15 to 44 was 60.2 births per 1,000 women, the lowest rate since government began tracking it more than a century ago.

WHAT DOES GOD SAY ABOUT THE VALUE OF PARENTHOOD?

DR. REEDER In a Christian world view, the having of children was seen as a calling from the Lord and that, actually, procreation was not only a blessing, but it was, in a sense, a vocation, a desire, a calling.

Now, that comes, of course, from the fact that when God made us — male and female, Adam and Eve, the first parents — He then gave us three commands:

— Be fruitful and multiply.

— Subdue the earth.

— Rule over the creation.

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Note that, subdue the earth, that’s the sanctity of work; rule over the creation, that’s the sanctity of stewardship of God’s creation; and then be fruitful and multiply, that’s the sanctity of sexuality within marriage, not only for the recreational blessings in each other’s life, but also for the purpose of procreation that we are to be fruitful and — not add — but multiply.

Well, now we are following the pattern of Europe in America and now we’re not even replacing ourselves. In fact, if America was not even a desirable place to be for immigration, then we would not even be growing at all as a society. Our growth is significantly reliant upon immigration — we’re not even replacing ourselves.

SHAME-CULTURE

This all began with the notion of Planned Parenthood — two parents and have two children to replace yourself — and so now we’re about to 1.78 children per marriage, not even a replacement rate. When you begin to do that, you lose the sense of the blessing of children, the blessing of the multiplication of the legacy of families, the joy of having children as well as the challenge that comes.

And why is that happening? Well, if you have more than two children, you’re being marginalized and shamed. Now, one of the great challenges is the notion that you have children for self-fulfillment — not to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth with those who are raised in the home with a proper nurturing atmosphere from a father and a mother, but now you can have children for your own fulfillment.

CHILDREN AND MARRIAGE HAVE BECOME AFTERTHOUGHT

I remember after a wedding one time, a mother came up to me and she said, “I just think my daughter have children.” I said, “Well, that’s wonderful.” She said, “Well, she’s not married,” and I said, “Well, then she needs to be married.” And she said, “Why should they? If my daughter wants children to be fulfilled, why should she have to be married?”

And I said, “Well, to begin with, you don’t have children to be fulfilled. It is fulfilling to have children, but you don’t have children to be fulfilled. You have children to be fruitful and multiply. And, when you have children, you’re supposed to be responsible and part of the responsibility is to provide a covenant home that is a covenant of marriage whereby the child knows there’s two people committed to each other which means, ‘When I wake up in the morning, I’m going to have a daddy and mama.’ The father providing what only a father can provide and the mother providing what only a mother can provide.”

And so now it was, “Let’s get married and let’s discuss whether we want to have children for self-fulfillment.” Now, it’s, “Let’s connect.” We used to call it “shacking up.” “Let’s cohabitate.” And then it’s, “You know what? Why don’t we have a child?” And then, after they have a child, just like you’ve got to have a dog for a while and then, “We’ll have a child for a while. And then, now that we have a child, do we want to be married or not?”

The statistics are astounding. Those who are having sex outside of marriage and the child is sitting here like a pawn. That child was brought into this world simply as an item to be displayed and enjoyed in life. It’s all about my comfort, my nurture and my self-fulfillment.

You remember the song, Tom, sung on the playground — a taunting song — “There’s Sally and Jack, first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Jack with a baby carriage,” but at least in the taunting they got the order right.

If we have the right view of marriage and the right view of procreation and that children are not a burden but a blessing from the Lord and the Lord’s given us a covenant promise, “I’ll be a God to you and to your children after you,” if that is true, there’s a great opportunity for us, as the world starves itself by its lack of procreation, we can be fruitful and multiply and, by the way, covenantal evangelism and bringing forth children who know Christ can be a great impact in a society, in a community and in a neighborhood.

PARENTHOOD LOW, SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES HIGH

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, let me bring up a sidebar issue. As you know, California often leads the rest of the nation in statistics and California officials recently said cases of sexually transmitted diseases reached a state record high last year, more than 300,000 cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis were reported in 2017, a 45 percent increase in the last five years.

DR. REEDER: Amazingly, we’ve got these unbelievable advances in medicine that stem the tide, but it won’t get rid of it. Here’s the fact: sex belongs within marriage. If we could take an entire generation and, if in the providence of God, instead of acting like animals in heat, but we were to put sex within marriage defined by one man and one woman for one life, if we could do that for one generation, after that generation is through, give us 25, 30, 40 years. After that generation faithfully puts sex within marriage, then all sexually transmitted diseases would be gone.

However, vaccines are not going to get rid of them. I’m not saying to not get the vaccines — we need to always try to alleviate suffering — but I will tell you that prophylactics, vaccines, and all of the behavior modification theories will not get rid of the fact that, when you break God’s law and you decide to have sex outside of a Biblically defined marriage, then sexually transmitted diseases will rise.

Here we are looking at a state that flaunts its rebellion against God’s law and the result is skyrocketing sexually transmitted diseases. That doesn’t even give us a glimpse of what is happening emotionally in people’s lives.

SEXUAL SIN HAS LIFETIME CONSEQUENCES

Everybody thinks, when they look at the movies and they look at the pornography and all of that, by the way, after everybody’s jumped around in bed to bed with each other, show’s over and let’s just go on with life.” No, let me tell you what happens in real life: broken homes, broken bodies, and broken lives.

GOD’S LAW BRINGS TRUE FREEDOM FROM TEMPTATION AND SIN

However, let me tell you what can happen that is true life and that life comes in Jesus Christ, Who can forgive us of the shame and guilt of our sin and, even more than that, can transform us so that we can delight in His law and we love to do that which pleases Him,

And we love not only the Lord, to obey him with all of our heart, soul and mind because He has saved us from sin at the cross, but we also love our neighbor enough so that no longer will we covet our neighbor’s wife, no longer will we covet those relationships that lead to sexual activity outside of marriage and produce children who do not have the benefit of a father and mother and will likely seek out some kind of a gang as a substitute before long.

That’s what happens in real life so I would like to encourage everyone to come to the true life of the Savior, Who loves you and will set you free from sin’s guilt and power. And, in that glorious freedom comes the great transforming grace that we can begin to walk in life and, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, you can do to the glory of God, not the idolatry of sin.

COMING UP MONDAY:

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, on Monday’s Today in Perspective, we’re going to have a good follow-up program to what we talked about today. Christianity Today recently combed through some research by Pew Research, who found that evangelical mothers score high for balance and satisfaction in parenting but, at the same time, these evangelical women struggle with “mom guilt.”

DR. REEDER: Yeah, mom guilt: “Am I spending enough time with my child? Can I work outside the home?” Let’s take a look at that from a Biblical world and life view.

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News, who has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and whose work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

2 hours ago

Greens file lawsuit to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline from being built

Environmental groups have taken to the judicial system in their latest attempt to derail construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

TransCanada Corporation has dealt with years of delays and stonewalling from those opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline project. The Calgary-based energy company was relatively unknown until it proposed to make an additional line to its extensive pipeline system that runs through the U.S. and Canada. TransCanada entered the national spotlight ever since opposition to Keystone XL became a rallying cry for climate change activists, with numerous protests organized to halt the project.

The Obama White House officially rejected the pipeline in 2015, claiming it wouldn’t do much for the U.S. economy or energy security. But not long after entering office, President Donald Trump reversed this decision and gave Keystone the green light to begin construction.

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The president’s support for Keystone has not scuttled activists’ hopes of preventing it. Environmental organizations — such as Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and others — initiated a lawsuit in March 2017, claiming Trump’s approval of Keystone was unlawful. Their case is being held in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana.

Attorneys for the Trump administration on Thursday defended approval of the project in a Montana courtroom. Environmentalists and some Native American groups are asking U.S. District Judge Brian Morris to overturn the pipeline’s approval decision.

“In approving Keystone XL, the Trump administration unlawfully ignored that it would be a disaster for our climate, wildlife and clean water,” senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity Jared Margolis said in a statement released Thursday. “Regulators failed to fully consider this pipeline’s profound threats to the environment and endangered species, including the iconic whooping crane, which would be devastated by the project’s power lines. The government failed to do its job, and this terrible project must be stopped.”

In another Thursday statement, a spokesman for the Natural Resources Defense Council appeared to say her organization would oppose Keystone no matter where on the map it was placed.

“The Trump administration barreled into office eager to appease big polluters, and fast. So fast it acted illegally by approving the KXL project even before it had an approved route,” stated Jackie Prange, a senior attorney at the NRDC. “But no route will ever be safe. Wherever it goes, this dangerous pipeline will always pose an unacceptable risk to water supplies for farmers, ranchers, indigenous people, and communities. We intend to stop it once, and for all.”

Keystone is also battling a separate legal challenge in Nebraska. Landowners are challenging the Nebraska Public Service Commission’s approval of a route through the state.

Keystone is expected to cost around $8 billion to complete. Beginning in Alberta, it will extend through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska, and will transport up to 830,000 barrels of crude a day.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

3 hours ago

VIDEO: Alabama may lose a congressman — Ainworth’s ‘blood on [Gov. Ivey’s] hands’ comment — run-offs in the governors’ races … and more on Guerrilla Politics!

Radio talk show host Dale Jackson and Dr. Waymon Burke take you through this week’s biggest political stories including:

— Is Alabama going to lose a Congressional seat and can it be stopped?

— Did State Representative Will Ainsworth go too far with the way he asked the governor to call a special session?

— Will there be run-offs in the races for governor?

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Attorney General Steve Marshall joins Jackson and Burke to discuss his re-election and his lawsuit with the federal government over counting illegals in the census.

Jackson closes the show with a “Parting Shot” directed at NFL players who are doing all they can to help Republicans hang on to Congress.

5 hours ago

The real story: Destroying Trump and protecting Clinton

You don’t need to believe that the special counsel investigating President Donald Trump is a terrible person to conclude that the Obama administration and Clinton machine (and later their holdovers during the Trump administration) politicized and weaponized federal agencies to protect Hillary Clinton and damage Trump.

So if you just can’t shake your instinct that Robert Mueller is the epitome of virtue and professionalism, hold fast to it, but consider the litany of facts that prove serious and abundant malfeasance on the part of the Obama-Clinton “deep state” actors.

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The Department of Justice, especially the FBI, bent over backward to protect Clinton and bent over forward to harm Trump. Despite those efforts, the stubborn facts have emerged, thanks to patriots relentlessly pursuing the truth. More will be revealed as the Obama-Clinton glass house continues to shatter, but there’s already enough to make an objective person gasp. If Clinton had won the election, this evidence would have remained buried, and the power-abusing left would have been emboldened to continue to thwart the rule of law and target its opponents. Before you say it’s preposterous that Obama or Clinton would have politicized and weaponized government agencies, remember the actions of Obama’s IRS and EPA.

As for protecting Clinton, consider this partial list:

–Then-FBI Director James Comey wrote a letter exonerating her in advance of interviewing her and other key witnesses.

–Comey presented a strong case against her yet shielded her from prosecution.

–Comey claimed that Christopher Steele’s dossier was not an indispensable part of the FISA warrant application, when everyone has admitted it was. He said he didn’t know that the Clintons had paid for the dossier.

–Comey earlier said there was no spying against Trump and later said there was but the “informants” were carefully regulated.

–The FBI gave immunity like candy in the Clinton case and allowed two fact witnesses to sit in on the belated Clinton interview as her lawyers.

–The FBI claimed to have lost five months’ worth of texts between adulterous FBI honchos Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, which the inspector general found in less than a week.

–Then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch met privately with Bill Clinton while Hillary was under investigation. Lynch instructed Comey to refer to the Clinton investigation as a “matter” instead of an investigation.

–Strzok texted Page after Trump and Clinton became the nominees, “Now the pressure really starts to finish MYE” — meaning “midyear exam,” the FBI’s code word for the Clinton email probe. Page responded, “It sure does.” They were desperate to wrap up the Clinton investigation to prevent Trump’s election. Page was legal counsel to then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. The lovebirds noted that Obama wanted “to know everything.” As Newt Gingrich said, with all that was going on under his watch, it’s inconceivable that Obama and his adviser Valerie Jarrett didn’t know about it.

As for stopping, removing or disabling Trump, consider this partial list:

–The FBI planted a spy or spies in the Trump campaign with no real evidence (beyond wishful thinking, anecdotal minutiae and hearsay rumors) that there was any nefarious connection between the campaign and Russia. It appears these spies were there not just to eavesdrop but to lure the Trump campaign into the very conduct they were pretending to investigate — trying to “honey-trap” them.

–The government opened a counterintelligence investigation against Trump without any evidence of a crime.

–Based on a disgraceful leak from Comey, the DOJ appointed a special counsel to investigate the Trump campaign without any evidence of a crime and without specifying any crime in the appointment memo — and such specificity is required by law. Recognizing this, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein surreptitiously amended his appointment memo, but he still won’t reveal its content to congressional investigators.

–The FBI deceived the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court four times by presenting the Steele dossier, paid for by the Clinton machine and based on unsubstantiated opposition research, as legitimate evidence and disclosing none of its origins to the court. It also fraudulently presented a news article sourced to the same Christopher Steele as corroborating the dossier. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act requires substantiated evidence; it’s a strict standard because of the extraordinary encroachments on privacy it entails. The FBI also concealed from the court that Steele had been fired by the FBI.

–The government has been stonewalling and scapegoating Rep. Devin Nunes and other congressional investigators for jeopardizing national security in demanding that documents be unredacted. Invariably, when the redactions are removed, we see that no security interests were involved but that the government was seeking to conceal embarrassing actions of government officials. The government slandered Nunes for outing the FBI mole, whose existence it had previously deceitfully denied, when it leaked facts facilitating his outing.

–The Obama administration engaged in unprecedented and egregious unmaskings.

–Five or six DOJ/FBI officials have been fired, demoted or reassigned.

–The FBI agents didn’t believe that Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, lied to them, yet the special counsel pressured him into a guilty plea.

–Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper lied to Congress but later denied he had lied, claiming he was thinking about something other than what he was being questioned about. That would be lame from any witness, but from a man of Clapper’s caliber, it is stunning. Clapper also said, disingenuously, that the government’s intent was not to spy on the Trump camp but to find out what Russia was doing. Then why did the government try to entrap campaign members, and why did Clapper earlier deny there were spies in the campaign? If the government’s goal was to protect the campaigns from Russian influence, why didn’t it plant spies in the Clinton campaign, as well? Why didn’t it warn the Trump campaign of the possible interference — unless its goal was to damage Trump and protect Clinton, as opposed to safeguarding national security?

–The Obama administration opened up a Logan Act case against the campaign opponent (Trump) of its would-be successor (Clinton). This is unprecedented and astonishing.

–The Obama holdouts in the DOJ and FBI are still stonewalling and misrepresenting the facts — especially as to the origin of the Trump investigation.

That Hillary Clinton wasn’t disciplined or prosecuted for her security breaches and deliberately destroying relevant evidence, among other things, is beyond disturbing. That Donald Trump colluded with Russia to win the presidency at this point seems fantastical.

David Limbaugh is a writer, author and attorney.

(Creators, copyright 2018)

6 hours ago

Offending NFL fans isn’t just bad for owners, but players too

One of the most obnoxious stories in America the past year has been the controversy over players protesting during the national anthem.

While I personally sympathize with both concerns from athletes about police brutality in minority communities, as well as the desire of most football fans to simply not have any sort of political advocacy mixed into their sports, the resulting media coverage – from both political and sports outlets – has been largely nauseating.

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While the NFL offseason obviously brought discussion of the topic down to a simmer (with the exception being the occasional update on Colin Kaepernick – and now Eric Reid’s – lawsuit against the league), the NFL’s decision this week to change its anthem-policy has it once again at a raging boil.

Unfortunately most of these articles try to make this issue more complicated than it really is: it’s all about money.

While it’s natural to try to fit this story into some of the larger culture wars going on in the country, this is really just a simple business calculation. At the end of the day the NFL is not in the business of promoting patriotism, or providing a venue for social causes, or even really about the athletes who play in the league.

It’s all about getting the attention of fans, and the NFL clearly thinks most of them don’t want protests during the national anthem. This also means that one key point has been ignored in this whole debate, it isn’t only in the interests of league owners to not offend fans – it’s in obvious long-term interest of players too.

After all, if the same athletes were making the same plays in front of the same sized audience that watches the NHL, the value of each individual player would be significantly less than it is today. Being a great athlete is not an inherently profitable skill, there are plenty of athletic marvels who can’t make a million dollars a year taking advantage of their specific abilities.

It’s the mass appeal of specific sports that allows individuals like LeBron James, Bryce Harper, and Antonio Brown become very wealthy individuals. In the case of the NFL, polling showed that over 60% of fans watched fewer NFL games due to the player protests. If declining NFL ratings remain a constant, and it impacts revenue, then players in 2028 may be worse off than players in 2018.

As I explained last year when I defended the obvious league-wide blacklisting of Kaepernick, whether or not his cause was righteous or intentional disrespectful means little when the consumers of his product decide they don’t like it. As Ludwig von Mises frequently noted in his works, consumers are empowered by the market economy to guide the decisions of businesses based on their willingness to consumer their product or a competitors. As he wrote in Bureaucracy​:

The capitalists, the enterprisers, and the farmers are instrumental in the conduct of economic affairs. They are at the helm and steer the ship. But they are not free to shape its course. They are not supreme, they are steersmen only, bound to obey unconditionally the captain’s orders. The captain is the consumer.

While this understanding of the NFL’s decision should be pretty common sense, pundits who are offended by the fact so many NFL fans were offended by the protests have tried to take the NFL’s decision to absurd ends.

For example, I recently read Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk ask whether the NFL’s new respect for the national anthem would lead the league to crack down on Kansas City Chiefs fan who traditionally substitute “CHIEFS!” for “brave” at the song’s conclusion. Florio may think he is being clever, but the answer is obviously not, because Chiefs fans clearly don’t see that behavior as disrespectful.

People can judge that to be hypocritical, but at the end of the day the masses that consume Chief tickets don’t care. So long as consumer values are inconsistent and conflicting, so will certain business policies.

It’s also worth noting that it’s possible the NFL’s judgment in this matter may end up being wrong. After all, the league was able to ink a new Thursday night package with Fox this offseason that was worth $15 million more a game than previous deals with NBC and CBS, in spite of declining ratings. Last year’s troubles also didn’t stop Pizza Hut from being willing pay big to take over the spot of “Official Pizza of the NFL”  from Papa John’s.

Businesses make mistakes all the time, and perhaps the NFL’s new rules will end up alienating a different block of fans, without regaining those who agreed with Donald Trump. Only time will tell.

What we can be certain though is that discussing this decision isn’t about anything more than the NFL looking out for its bottom line. At the end of the day, the players should be as interested in that as the owners.

(Courtesy of the Mises Institute in Auburn)