Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Judge Moore Releases Statement on Manhattan Terrorist Attack

by Judge Roy Moore

Montgomery, AL - December 12, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- On Monday morning, Judge Roy Moore released a statement in response to the attempted terrorist attack in Manhattan.

"As we get news this morning of yet another radical Islamic terrorist attack, I am grateful that it appears no one was critically injured, and, as always, I am thankful for the quick action of law enforcement who have the suspect in custody. This incident underscores the continued threats our nation faces from those who want nothing more than to destory the freedoms we enjoy.

"In the United States Senate I will fight with President Trump for the increased safety of the American people and I will not mince words when it comes to calling out radical Islamic terrorism for the threat that it is. I am committed to implementing the President's travel ban, putting an end to sanctuary cities, building the wall and making America safer."

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Small Business Optimism Hits Near All-Time High

By National Federation of Independent Business

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Washington, D.C. - December 12, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- Not since the roaring Reagan economy has small business optimism been as high as it was in November, according to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Index of Small Business Optimism, released today.

“We haven’t seen this kind of optimism in 34 years, and we’ve seen it only once in the 44 years that NFIB has been conducting this research,” said NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan. “Small business owners are exuberant about the economy, and they are ready to lead the U.S. economy in a period of robust growth.”

The Index gained 3.7 points in November, a sharp increase over what was already a near-record performance the previous month. Eight of 10 components posted gains, including a stunning and rare 16-point gain in Expected Better Business Conditions and a 13-point jump in Sales Expectations.

“This is the second-highest reading in the 44-year history of the Index,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “The NFIB indicators clearly anticipate further upticks in economic growth, perhaps pushing up toward four percent GDP growth for the fourth quarter. This is a dramatically different picture than owners presented during the weak 2009-16 recovery.

“The change in the management team in Washington has dramatically improved expectations,” he continued.

Job Creation plans increased six points last month, providing more evidence of a strong labor market. The number of owners who said it’s a Good Time to Expand rose four points; Inventory Plans increased by three points; Inventory Satisfaction increased by three points; and Actual Earnings Trend moved up two points.

“Job creation faded, but hiring plans soared, primarily in construction, manufacturing, and professional services,” said Dunkelberg.

Finding qualified workers has been a persistent problem all year for small business owners, a reliable sign of growing economy. Last month, it was the second most important problem facing small business owners. Only taxes polled higher.

“Small business owners are paying very close attention to what is happening in Washington,” said Duggan. “They continue to list taxes as their number-one problem, but they now have clear expectations that Congress and the President will address that problem.

“As long as Congress and the President follow through on tax reform, 2018 is shaping up to be a great year for small business, workers, and the economy.”

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NAHU Continues to Support Bipartisan MLR Legislation

By National Association of Health Underwriters

Washington, D.C. - December 12, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- The National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU) congratulates Representatives Billy Long (R-MO) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR), the lead sponsors of the bipartisan bill to amend the Affordable Care Act’s medical loss ratio (MLR) requirements. The Access to Professional Health Insurance Advisors Act would remove independent agent and broker compensation from the definition of “administrative expense” under the MLR rule to protect jobs and preserve the critical role of agents and brokers.

“The MLR rules have inhibited the number of insurers willing to write health insurance in the individual and small-group markets,” explained NAHU CEO Janet Trautwein. "By restricting the calculations to include independent agent and broker commissions as part of their administrative costs, many new or smaller insurers are not able to meet the requirements of the MLR while supporting the agents and brokers who serve their customers.

“MLR has also caused serious harm to agent and brokers and their ability to provide essential services to consumers, who depend on them to assist with finding coverage. Because of MLR, agents and brokers are leaving the market and small businesses and individuals are having a harder time finding affordable insurance. This bill would ensure that the doors of these small businesses stay open and individuals continue to have access to quality health insurance coverage.

“While NAHU agrees with the goal of providing consumers with more value for healthcare dollars spent, the health reform law’s MLR requirements significantly and negatively impact access to health insurance agents and brokers by wrongfully including agent and broker commissions with administrative costs.

“We look forward to working with members of Congress and the Administration on this critical issue as well as other needed improvements to protect health insurance consumers.”

The National Association of Health Underwriters represents 100,000 professional health insurance agents and brokers who provide insurance for millions of Americans. NAHU is headquartered in Washington, D.C.

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New Space Policy Directive Calls for Human Expansion Across Solar System


Washington, D.C. - December 12, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- President Donald Trump is sending astronauts back to the Moon.

The president Monday signed at the White House Space Policy Directive 1, a change in national space policy that provides for a U.S.-led, integrated program with private sector partners for a human return to the Moon, followed by missions to Mars and beyond.

The policy calls for the NASA administrator to “lead an innovative and sustainable program of exploration with commercial and international partners to enable human expansion across the solar system and to bring back to Earth new knowledge and opportunities.” The effort will more effectively organize government, private industry, and international efforts toward returning humans on the Moon, and will lay the foundation that will eventually enable human exploration of Mars.

“The directive I am signing today will refocus America’s space program on human exploration and discovery,” said President Trump. “It marks a first step in returning American astronauts to the Moon for the first time since 1972, for long-term exploration and use. This time, we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprints -- we will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars, and perhaps someday, to many worlds beyond.”

The policy grew from a unanimous recommendation by the new National Space Council, chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, after its first meeting Oct. 5. In addition to the direction to plan for human return to the Moon, the policy also ends NASA’s existing effort to send humans to an asteroid. The president revived the National Space Council in July to advise and help implement his space policy with exploration as a national priority.

"Under President Trump’s leadership, America will lead in space once again on all fronts,” said Vice President Pence. “As the President has said, space is the ‘next great American frontier’ – and it is our duty – and our destiny – to settle that frontier with American leadership, courage, and values. The signing of this new directive is yet another promise kept by President Trump.”

Among other dignitaries on hand for the signing, were NASA astronauts Sen. Harrison “Jack” Schmitt, Buzz Aldrin, Peggy Whitson and Christina Koch. Schmitt landed on the moon 45 years to the minute that the policy directive was signed as part of NASA’s Apollo 17 mission, and is the most recent living person to have set foot on our lunar neighbor. Aldrin was the second person to walk on the Moon during the Apollo 11 mission. Whitson spoke to the president from space in April aboard the International Space Station and while flying back home after breaking the record for most time in space by a U.S. astronaut in September. Koch is a member of NASA’s astronaut class of 2013.

Work toward the new directive will be reflected in NASA’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget request next year.

“NASA looks forward to supporting the president’s directive strategically aligning our work to return humans to the Moon, travel to Mars and opening the deeper solar system beyond,” said acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot. “This work represents a national effort on many fronts, with America leading the way. We will engage the best and brightest across government and private industry and our partners across the world to reach new milestones in human achievement. Our workforce is committed to this effort, and even now we are developing a flexible deep space infrastructure to support a steady cadence of increasingly complex missions that strengthens American leadership in the boundless frontier of space. The next generation will dream even bigger and reach higher as we launch challenging new missions, and make new discoveries and technological breakthroughs on this dynamic path.”

A piece of Moon rock was brought to the White House as a reminder of the exploration history and American successes at the Moon on which the new policy will build. Lunar Sample 70215 was retrieved from the Moon’s surface and returned by Schmitt’s Apollo 17 crew. Apollo 17 was the last Apollo mission to land astronauts on the Moon and returned with the greatest amount of rock and soil samples for investigation.

The sample is a basaltic lava rock similar to lava found in Hawaii. It crystallized 3.84 billion years ago when lava flowed from the Camelot Crater. Sliced off a parent rock that originally weighed 8,110 grams, the sample weighs 14 grams, and is very fine grained, dense and tough. During the six Apollo surface excursions from 1969 to 1972, astronauts collected 2,196 rock and soil samples weighting 842 pounds. Scientific studies help us learn about the geologic history of the Moon, as well as Earth. They help us understand the mineral and chemical resources available to support future lunar exploration.

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DOJ Investigating Planned Parenthood

By Liberty Counsel

Washington, D.C. - December 12, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- The Department of Justice (DOJ) is now investigating Planned Parenthood regarding the sale of aborted baby body parts for profit. Last Friday, DV Biologics and DaVinci Biosciences, which purchased aborted baby body parts from Planned Parenthood abortion clinics, agreed to pay $7.785 million and cease all business operations in California.

Justice Department Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs Stephen Boyd sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee requesting unredacted documents underlying a 2016 investigation by the committee into the exchange of human fetal tissue that had been donated for research by women who got abortions.

The Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives both referred Planned Parenthood and the organ procurement companies to the Department of Justice for criminal investigation and prosecution. Based on its findings, the Judiciary Committee’s report, “Human Fetal Tissue Research: Context and Controversy,” concluded that the executive branch had failed for years to exercise oversight on the tissue transfer process and created a situation where costs and fees were not properly accounted for. The report recommended that the Justice Department “fully investigate” the fetal tissue practices of Planned Parenthood, its affiliates, and three companies involved in the sale of the tissue for potential crimes.

The DOJ investigation comes as a result of the 14 undercover videos produced by the Center for Medical Progress that show Planned Parenthood officials trafficking body parts of aborted babies, flippantly negotiating prices and abortion methods to sell aborted baby hearts, lungs, livers and brains. Liberty Counsel represents Sandra “Susan” Merritt, one of the two journalists with the Center for Medical Progress, whose undercover work exposed Planned Parenthood’s barbaric practices of harvesting organs from aborted babies and selling them to organ procurement organizations, including StemExpress, LLC, Advanced Bioscience Resources, Inc. and Novogenix Laboratories, LLC., for profit. Cecil Richards, Planned Parenthood’s CEO, has admitted before Congress that the recordings were made in public places and were not confidential.

The sale or purchase of human fetal tissue is a felony punishable by up to ten years in prison or a fine of up to $500,000.

“This investigation of Planned Parenthood is long overdue,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “The Obama administration shielded Planned Parenthood from scrutiny. The smothered voices of innocent children cry out for justice. There is no amount of money that can bring back all the precious lives lost due to the despicable actions of Planned Parenthood and these organ procurement companies. Two of the organ procurement companies have now faced the consequences of their barbaric acts. Now it is time for Planned Parenthood to face justice,” said Staver.

Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.

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Ways and Means Republicans Take Action to Deliver Relief from Obamacare Taxes

By The Ways and Means Committee

Washington, D.C. - December 12, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- Members of the Ways and Means Committee have introduced several bills to deliver immediate, targeted relief from Obamacare taxes that will be in effect in 2018.

Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX, 8th) issued the following statement after the Members introduced their legislation:

“Obamacare’s failures are continuing to hurt families across the country – and allowing burdensome health care taxes to continue or go back into effect would make these problems even more severe. As we continue working toward a patient-centered health care system, Ways and Means Republicans are taking action to provide targeted relief from taxes that stand in the way of affordable health care, innovative treatments, access to medications, more jobs, and bigger paychecks for hardworking Americans.

“I appreciate my colleagues for their work on commonsense proposals that will reduce health care costs for families, provide flexibility for employers to offer the plans that are right for their employees, and help American businesses bring jobs back to the United States. I look forward to continuing this work and advancing legislation in the weeks ahead.”

The following bills were introduced:

  • H.R. 4617, introduced by Reps. Erik Paulsen (R-MN) and Jackie Walorski (R-IN), provides relief from the job and innovation-killing Medical Device Tax for 5 years.
  • H.R. 4618, introduced by Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), provides relief for two years from the tax on over-the-counter medications, expanding access and reducing health are costs by once again allowing for reimbursement under consumer-directed accounts.
  • H.R. 4620, introduced by Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD), provides relief in 2018 from the Health Insurance Tax that drives up health care costs, if the insurer provides the plan holder with a premium rebate and delays the tax in 2019 for all insurers.
  • H.R. 4619, introduced by Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), provides needed relief from the Health Insurance Tax, for 2 years for health care plans regulated by Puerto Rico.
  • H.R. 4616, introduced by Reps. Devin Nunes (R-CA) and Mike Kelly (R-PA), delivers three years of retroactive relief and one year of prospective relief from the harmful employer mandate paired with a one-year delay of the Cadillac Tax.

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  • Chairman Chabot Applauds President Trump’s Signing of the NDAA

    By The Small Business Committee

    Washington, D.C. - December 12, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- House Committee on Small Business Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) released the following statement after President Trump signed the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law:

    “Today is a great day for our nation’s military and our nation’s entrepreneurs and innovators. I applaud the President for signing this overwhelmingly bipartisan bill that not only funds our military, but also is a win for America’s 29 million small businesses.”

    Some small business-friendly provisions signed into law include:

  • H.R. 1773, the Clarity for America’s Small Contractors Act of 2017, sponsored by Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH), co-sponsored by Ranking Member Nydia Velázquez (D-NY)

  • H.R. 3294, the HUBZone Unification and Business Stability Act of 2017, sponsored by Ranking Member Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) and Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH)

  • H.R. 1597, the Commercial Market Representatives Clarification Act of 2017, sponsored by Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA), co-sponsored by Rep. Steve Knight (R-CA) and Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL); and

  • H.R. 1693, the Improving Contract Procurement for Small Businesses through More Accurate Reporting Act of 2017, sponsored by Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY), co-sponsored by Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA)

    Note: Chairman Chabot, upon the passage of the NDAA conference report, said, “Small businesses play a vital and indispensable role in providing for the common defense, and I thank both Chambers for recognizing their contribution to the safety of our homeland.”

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  • Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Act of 2017 (H.R. 3359) Passes House


    Washington, D.C. - December 12, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Act of 2017 (H.R. 3359) passed unanimously to rename and authorize the NPPD as the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). It aims to elevate the cybersecurity and infrastructure missions of the nation’s lead civilian cybersecurity agency through the enhanced flexibility provided by the newly established structure of CISA.

    “One of my primary goals as a lawmaker is to be a productive steward of our country’s cybersecurity posture, and this stems from a fundamental obligation to safeguard the American people. By authorizing the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency within DHS, we’re establishing the structure, the nomenclature and the flexibility we need to ensure we’re successfully achieving this goal,” said House Representative John Ratcliffe (R-TX, 4th).

    “We’re considering this legislation at a time of great transition and opportunity for DHS, where cybersecurity expert, Kirstjen Nielsen, recently took the helm. We owe it to her, and the dedicated men and women working alongside her, to ensure DHS has the proper organization and resources to carry out its mission as the lead civilian cybersecurity agency in the federal government.”