Thursday, December 14, 2017

Don't Let Grinch Bots Steal Christmas

By Senator Richard Blumenthal (D - CT)

Washington, D.C. - December 14, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) urged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to take action to protect kids and not let “Grinch Bots” steal Christmas toys. So-called Grinch Bots are algorithms and software deployed by online scammers to buy up popular toys and merchandise at lightning speed, and then re-sell those items at wildly inflated prices on websites like Ebay. After The New York Times reported that Grinch Bots have caused a shortage of Fingerlings, the Barbie Hello Dreamhouse and the Vampirina Scare B&B, among other toys, Blumenthal, Udall, and Schumer called on the FTC to convene a workshop to assess and address the damage these scammers have caused to kids and families this holiday season.

The senators also wrote that they plan to introduce legislation to combat Grinch Bots in the coming week.

“Millions of Americans are turning to online retailers in search of hard-to-find gifts for their family and friends this holiday season. Unfortunately, unscrupulous scammers are also taking note of the limited availability of popular items online, and are succeeding at gaming the system by aggressively deploying cyber bots that automatically spot and snap up the most popular products,” the senators wrote. “These bots are able to scoop up the season’s hottest toys before the typical consumer can even log on. They will then turn around and sell these limited availability items at large markups in the remaining shopping days of the holiday season. The profiteers behind these programs are becoming the Grinch bots of the 2017 holiday season."

“We respectfully request that the Federal Trade Commission convene a workshop on the use of bots that usurp technology and purchase large quantities of a particular product, including in-demand toys, with the intent to resell them. We request that you and your staff work with retailers, both online and traditional, to determine ways to protect consumers from high-speed purchases made by bots designed to game the system and take advantage and deprive consumers of online discounts,” the senators continued. "The commission should also collaborate with the nation’s 51 attorneys general to share information and best practices about how to protect consumers from these unfair practices. Such a workshop can help bring much needed attention to this issue, and help retailers and consumers assess the full extent of damage caused by these bad actors."

The full text of Blumenthal, Udall and Schumer’s letter can be found here.

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By Senator Tammy Baldwin (D - WI)

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Washington, D.C. - December 14, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin’s Domestic Maritime Centers of Excellence Act was signed into law as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018. This bipartisan legislation helps address the critical need for trained workers in the maritime industry.

“It is an honor to represent a state with a long and proud maritime manufacturing tradition,” said Senator Baldwin. “I am proud to see this bipartisan legislation signed into law, in order to help ensure the future of our maritime workforce.”

The Domestic Maritime Centers of Excellence Act authorizes the Maritime Administration (MARAD) to designate community and technical colleges with maritime training program as centers of excellence and allow the Administration to provide technical assistance and other support to these institutions as they train the domestic maritime workforce.

“The legislation reinforces how important the marine manufacturing talent and skills of the Great Lakes Region are to the nation,” said Ann Franz, director of the North Coast Marine Manufacturing Alliance (NCMMA). “At the heart of the marine industry, there is a highly skilled workforce with an unwavering passion. We see this as an opportunity to showcase world class marine manufacturing in northeast Wisconsin and grow the shipbuilding and maritime careers in our area.”

“Passage of the Maritime Centers of Excellence legislation empowers Northeast Wisconsin Technical College to remain in the forefront of maritime and marine education and training,” said NWTC President Dr. Jeff Rafn. “The College will collaborate with other Centers of Excellence throughout the country to prepare workers for the maritime and marine manufacturing industry. Northeast Wisconsin is a premier shipbuilding center on the Great Lakes. Designating a Maritime Center of Excellence at NWTC will improve the opportunities for the Great Lakes marine manufacturing industry to innovate and grow. We are thankful for the support of our congressional delegation, who clearly understand the critical role technical and community colleges including NWTC play in sustaining and growing the maritime and marine workforce.”

The bipartisan legislation is supported by the North Coast Marine Manufacturing Alliance and the Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) and was cosponsored by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), John Kennedy (R-LA), Mark Warner (D-VA), Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).

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Early Intervention in Mental Health is Critical

By Senator Lamar Alexander (R - TN)

Washington, D.C. - December 14, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- At an oversight hearing on the mental health provisions in 21st Century Cures, Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said that early intervention for patients with mental health disorders is critical.

“Sean Lester is, by all accounts, a typical, Nashville young adult with a full-time job who also attends college,” Alexander said. “However, just before his 25th birthday, he experienced his first schizophrenic experience and has spent ten weeks receiving psychiatric treatment since 2014. Sean wrote me, saying, “This may seem slightly depressing, but my story does not end there. The doctors and staff I encountered at the hospital and at the Centerstone clinic taught me to live productively again in society. I have been free of the hospital for a whole year now. During that time, I have taken medication, returned to work, and even paid off a car! I am currently enrolled at Tennessee State University as a Junior pursuing a degree in Psychology.’”

Alexander continued: “Sean is one person out of nearly 10 million in the United States with a serious mental health condition. Without treatment, his story could have had a very different outcome. Over the past few years, this Committee has worked in a bipartisan way to update parts of the federal mental health system – including programs at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration – for the first time in over a decade.”

Today’s hearing is the third oversight hearing on the 21st Century Cures Act, which included provisions from the Mental Health Reform Act that passed the committee on March 16, 2016 and updated programs at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) for the first time in a decade. Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, the first Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use, a position created in Cures, has new authorities through Cures to work with states and federal agencies and to help more Americans receive the treatment they need.

“Most of the services, treatment, and care for people with mental health issues is provided by the private sector, like Vanderbilt, or through programs run by the states. The federal government plays a role through Medicaid and SAMHSA, which provided Tennessee with over $80 million grants last year.”

“Prior to our work on Cures, the coordination between federal agencies that provide mental health care was not as effective as it could have been. I hope today we will learn how implementation of these provisions is going. For example, how has coordination improved between federal agencies on the best ways to assist those with mental illness? We hoped that promising research into early intervention programs at the National Institutes of Health would translate into clinical applications for patients… I look forward to hearing about the progress being made to ensure more people can receive the help they need and have positive outcomes like Sean.”

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Governor Abbott Announces $20 Million In Grants To Texas Military Installations

By Texas Governor's Office

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Washington, D.C. - December 14, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- Governor Greg Abbott today announced a new round of grants totaling $20 million from the Texas Military Preparedness Commission’s (TMPC) Economic Adjustment Assistance Grant (DEAAG) program to various military installations in Texas. This program assists defense communities that may be positively or negatively impacted by a future Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round. The grant money will be invested in infrastructure projects and other initiatives to increase the military value of installations in Texas, thereby strengthening them from a future BRAC round on our state’s installations.

"The strength of our military communities in Texas is unparalleled in part because of state support like the DEAAG program,” said Governor Abbott. “Not only are the 15 major military installations in Texas critical for the defense of our nation, they also add $136.6 billion to the state’s economy and support, directly and indirectly, more than 800,000 jobs in communities across this great state. That is why I will continue to work with the Texas Legislature and TMPC to ensure that our military installations continue to add unmatched value.”

The following entities will receive FY2018-2019 DEAAG disbursements:

  • Bell County - $3.1 million, Army Airfield security improvements
  • City of Corpus Christi – $3.3 million, Corpus Christi Army Depot security repairs and upgrades
  • City of Corpus Christi - $2.7 million, water infrastructure improvements at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi
  • Tom Green County - $4.5 million, infrastructure for mission expansion at Goodfellow Air Force Base
  • City of Kingsville - $144,000, purchase of property to prevent encroachment around Naval Air Station Kingsville
  • City of Abilene - $282,000, improvements to Dyess Air Force Base security upgrade
  • Port San Antonio - $5 million, Airfield Operations upgrades and improvements
  • City of Wichita Falls - $900,000, improvements to Sheppard Air Force Base security upgrade [partial funding]

    The Governor previously announced over $30 million in grants last biennium awarded by TMPC.

    The TMPC is part of the Governor’s Office and advises the Governor and the Legislature on defense and military issues and ways to strengthen the position of Texas military installations in preparation for a potential BRAC and other defense-related issues. The commission is composed of 13 members serving 6-year staggered terms, typically representing an installation in their community.

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  • DOJ Appeals Military “Transgender” Ruling

    By Liberty Counsel

    Protect Your Family

    Washington, D.C. - December 14, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- The Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed an appeal in a D.C. federal appeals court after the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said the military must begin accepting so-called “transgender” recruits on January 1, despite opposition from President Trump and the Pentagon.

    The DOJ is currently reviewing the legal options to ensure that the president’s directive can be implemented. The Pentagon, under the direction of former President Obama, had originally set the January 1 deadline before President Trump declared a ban on all “transgender” military personnel earlier this year.

    Two U.S. district courts, one in the District of Columbia and one in Maryland, blocked enforcement of President Trump’s proposed August 2017 ban on “transgender” persons in the armed services. According to the Defense Department, those courts required the branches to begin allowing such recruits to sign up for military service. A third order was issued Monday, by a U.S. District judge who also allowed the state to challenge the ban, stating that Washington has an interest in protecting its residents from discrimination.

    In the August 2017 order, President Trump reversed policies put in place by the Obama administration in June 2016. Those Obama administration policies themselves reversed long-standing military rules against “transgender” people serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. Prior to June 2016, “transgender” people were not permitted to enlist in the military and members of the military who identified themselves as “transgender” were discharged. Obama's Department of Defense announced in June 2016 that openly “transgender” people would be permitted to enlist in the military as of January 1, 2018 and those already in the military could not be discharged.

    “These court rulings are not in the best interest of the military and our national security,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “The duty of military officers is to appropriately lead and prepare their personnel to serve and protect, and they cannot do that when there is confusion, dysfunction and distraction about a person’s gender preference. President Trump has tried to refocus the mission to emphasize military readiness and unit cohesion, and the courts have no business telling the Commander-in-Chief who is eligible to serve,” 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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    Mario Batali is in Hot Water Again

    By Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights

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    Washington, D.C. - December 14, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on Mario Batali's latest troubles:

    When Pope Francis came to Washington in 2015, he met with Kim Davis, the brave Kentucky clerk who, on religious liberty grounds, refused a marriage license to homosexual couples. Chef Mario Batali objected to the meeting, calling out the pope. Now Batali is being called out for sexually abusing four women.

    He has apologized and has taken a leave of absence from his work, including hosting a segment on "The Chew." This is not the first time the liberal superstar has been in trouble.

    Five years ago, Batali and his partner agreed to pay $5.25 million to settle their cash-skimming schemes at eight high-scale restaurants. They took 4-5 percent of the tips from employees, ripping off the busboys to pay for the sommeliers' salaries. The money he paid out was shared by 1,100 employees; many were forced to work more than 40 hours a week without making minimum wage. In other words, he stole from the poor and gave to the rich.

    Batali condemns the pope, and preys on the poor and women, all the while championing their cause. No matter, he remains a liberal in good standing—there will be no "SNL" skit lampooning him. If anything, look for him to run for office.

    See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site

    Over 50,000 Moral Outcry Petition Signers in First Amicus Brief at the U.S. Supreme Court - Abortion is a Crime Against Humanity

    By The Moral Outcry

    Washington, D.C. - December 14, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- The Moral Outcry Project, through its founder, Melinda Thybault, and The Justice Foundation filed their first Supreme Court Amicus brief including over 50,000 signers of The Moral Outcry Petition, in Case No. 17-689, Andrew March v. Janet T. Mills, as Attorney General of Maine, et al. The issue in this first case for The Moral Outcry is whether a preacher should be allowed freedom of speech to preach against abortion on a sidewalk outside the abortion facility.

    Melinda Thybault is the founder of The Moral Outcry Petition. She states: "Join us as we raise a Moral Outcry and sign our petition to see the travesty of legalized abortion overturned. I thank the Lord that the first 57,725 voices of Outcry are now filed with the Supreme Court."

    The over 50,000 Moral Outcry Project signers believe that abortion is a crime against humanity and that the Supreme Court should ultimately reverse its abortion decisions such as Roe v. Wade.

    Christian Supporters or Signers of The Moral Outcry Petition include: Frank Amedia, POTUS Shield; Mike Bickle, International House of Prayer; Pierre Bynum, Family Research Council; Pastor David Chun, L.A. Glory Church; Lou Engle, The Call; Lewis & Rachel Hogan, United Cry; Intercessors for America; Steven Kendrick, co-writer and producer of the movies Facing the Giants, Fireproof, Courageous, and War Room; Dr. Alveda King, Alveda King Ministries; Byron Paulus, Life Action Ministries; Jeanne Mancini, March for Life; Herman Martir, Asian Action Network; Dutch Sheets, Dutch Sheets Ministry; Doug Stringer, Somebody Cares; Tim Wildmon, American Family Association.

    Click here to read the brief. The Justice Foundation was represented pro bono by Erin Mersino and William Wagner of The Great Lakes Justice Center.

    Click here to read the Petition.

    Click here to go to the website. Sign the Petition to add your name in appropriate cases until the Supreme Court reverses legalized abortion.

    11 Women Hurt By Abortion also gave their testimonies for the brief. See Appendix of Amicus Brief.

    Allan Parker, President of The Justice Foundation stated: "Everyone, but particularly Christians, must oppose this crime against humanity. We must bear witness in love, just as the Reverend Martin Luther King fought courageously against the crimes against humanity committed against his people."

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    McConnell Should Resign for Helping to Defeat Judge Roy Moore

    By Operation Rescue

    Montgomery, AL - December 14, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- It's no secret that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did not like Judge Roy Moore, who ran to fill the seat vacated by Jeff Sessions. McConnell endorsed his primary opponent, Luther Strange, and poured an estimated $30 million into a campaign against Moore.

    When Strange was soundly rejected by the people of Alabama, and Moore became the GOP nominee, McConnell continued to oppose him.

    At the first sign of an unproven 40-year old allegation of sexual misconduct against Moore in the waning weeks of the campaign, the GOP halted financial support for Moore's campaign, and several Republicans withdrew their endorsements, when they should have maintained their support in the face of such obviously fake allegations. Instead, they allowed Moore to be tarred and feathered by the spurious attacks.

    However, Mitch McConnell went a step further. He promised to never allow Moore to occupy his Senate seat, if he were to be elected, even though none of the allegations had ever been proved true in the four decades since they supposedly happened.

    This sent a strong message to the electorate that Moore would never be accepted as a legitimate Senator, that the people of Alabama would be disenfranchised, and chaos would reign in the Senate.

    "It is my opinion that Sen. Mitch McConnell heavily contributed to Moore's defeat, and because that led to giving a seat away to a pro-abortion Democrat, he should resign immediately," said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue. "McConnell has ensured that pro-life legislation will never pass, Planned Parenthood will never be defunded, and babies that can feel pain will continue to be aborted after the mid-point of pregnancy. He has made sure that the Trump agenda will stall out, and Congress will continue in gridlock. He has betrayed the will of the American people, who support the Trump agenda, especially when it comes to ending abortion. Sen. McConnell, please resign!"

    Operation Rescue is one of the leading pro-life Christian activist organizations in the nation and has become a strong voice for the pro-life movement in America.

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    Women Traumatized by Past Abortions File Brief at U.S. Supreme Court

    By Operation Outcry

    Washington, D.C. - December 14, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- Operation Outcry and The Justice Foundation filed a Supreme Court Amicus brief including the testimony of Cynthia Collins and 10 women of Operation Outcry, in Case No. 17-689, Andrew March v. Janet T. Mills, as Attorney General of Maine, et al. The issue in this case is whether a preacher should be allowed freedom of speech to preach against abortion on a sidewalk outside the abortion facility.

    Click here to read the brief. The Justice Foundation was represented pro bono by Erin Mersino and William Wagner of The Great Lakes Justice Center.

    Operation Outcry, a ministry of The Justice Foundation, has collected approximately 4,500 written testimonies of women traumatized by abortion in their past, who are now bravely breaking silence. Here are some quotes from this Supreme Court Brief:

    "Those who stand on the sidewalks have helped many women who did not know there was help to have their baby or that anyone cared. … It might have saved me years of suffering depression, guilt, miscarriage, medical problems conceiving. I carried trauma into my marriage relationship." Cynthia Collins

    "Since January 1973, millions of women like myself have come to regret their abortions.
    How I wish there had been someone to counsel me before the appointment to abort." Myra Jean Myers

    "If someone had stopped me entering that abortion clinic with my sister and Mom and told us the impact of abortion complications, risk factors and fetal development and gave us other options, I would never have chosen abortion or suffered so much pain and grief of losing six babies. I completely support sidewalk counseling in front of abortion clinics." Nona Ellington

    "I wish I had had someone talk to me before my abortion. My abortion caused me to have guilt, shame, grief, anger, rage, suicidal ideation, panic attacks, anxiety, fear, sexual dysfunction, drug and alcohol abuse, bonding issues with living children, relationship disorders, stress issues, difficulty in making decisions, emotional trauma, nightmares, flashbacks, anniversary syndrome, difficult pregnancies and deliveries, debilitating depression during holidays and family gatherings, break in trust of the medical profession." Molly White

    "I represent the post-abortive women who were hurt by abortion and have nine years' experience as a sidewalk counselor. I have multiple journals of documentation of what happens on the sidewalk." Karen Bodle

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    Judicial Watch Sues California and Los Angeles Over Dirty Voter Registration Rolls

    By Judicial Watch

    Washington, D.C. - December 14, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- Judicial Watch announced that it filed a federal lawsuit against Los Angeles County and the State of California over their failure to clean their voter rolls and to produce election-related records as required by the federal National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) (Judicial Watch, al. v. Dean C. Logan, et al. (No. 2:17-cv-08948)). The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of California’s Western Division on behalf of Judicial Watch, Election Integrity Project California, Inc., and Wolfgang Kupka, Rhue Guyant, Jerry Griffin, and Delores M. Mars, who are lawfully registered voters in Los Angeles County.

    Judicial Watch argues that the State of California and a number of its counties, including the county of Los Angeles, have registration rates exceeding 100%:

    Eleven of California’s 58 counties have registration rates exceeding 100% of the age-eligible citizenry.

    Los Angeles County has more voter registrations on its voter rolls than it has citizens who are old enough to register. Specifically, according to data provided to and published by the EAC, Los Angeles County has a registration rate of 112% of its adult citizen population.

    The entire State of California has a registration rate of about 101% of its age-eligible citizenry.

    Judicial Watch points out that this is due in part to the high numbers of inactive registrations that are still carried on California’s voter rolls:

    About 21% of all of California’s voter registrations, or more than one in five, are designated as inactive.

    California has the highest rate of inactive registrations of any state in the country…. Los Angeles County has the highest number of inactive registrations of any single county in the country.

    Although these inactive registrations should be removed after a statutory waiting period consisting of two general federal elections, California officials are simply refusing to do so.

    Judicial Watch explains that, even though a registration is officially designated as “inactive,” it may still be voted on election day and is still on the official voter registration list. The inactive registrations of voters who have moved to a different state “are particularly vulnerable to fraudulent abuse by a third party” because the voter who has moved “is unlikely to monitor the use of or communications concerning an old registration.” Inactive registrations “are also inherently vulnerable to abuse by voters who plan to fraudulently double-vote in two different jurisdictions on the same election day.”

    Judicial Watch sent a written request for public records on November 16, 2017, and another on November 29, 2017, seeking information about “the number of inactive registrations on the voter rolls in Los Angeles County,” but was told each time that there were no responsive records.

    Last summer, Judicial Watch sent a broader request for voter roll records that Los Angeles County and the State of California are required by the NVRA to keep and to make publicly available. Nothing was produced in response to this request. Judicial Watch points out that it is impossible to believe that there were no responsive records:

    Los Angeles County, with over five million active voters and massive list maintenance responsibilities, and the Secretary of State of California [must] have exchanged emails responsive to [Judicial Watch’s] request for “all email or other communications between the Secretary’s Office and all California County voter registration officials concerning . . . [i]nstructions to the counties concerning their general list maintenance practices and obligations” and “[n]otices to the counties concerning any failure to comply with their voter list maintenance obligations.” Such emails should have been produced.

    Section 8(a)(4) of the NVRA requires states to implement a program to remove ineligible registrants; and to turn over relevant records and information. Judicial Watch argues:

    Los Angeles County is failing to properly conduct the list maintenance required by the NVRA by failing to properly train employees, failing to require and enter registrants’ birthdates, and failing to timely process reports that registrants have died, have committed disqualifying felonies, are mentally incompetent, or have registered twice.

    Judicial Watch asks that the court enjoin Los Angeles County and the state of California from further violating the NRVA, and compel them to “develop and implement a general program that makes a reasonable effort to remove from Los Angeles County’s rolls the registrations of ineligible registrants.” Judicial Watch asks to inspect and copy the requested voter roll records.

    Judicial Watch sent a notice-of-violation letter in August 2017 to threatening to sue California and certain of its counties over their violations of the NVRA. California was one of 12 states to receive such letters from Judicial Watch.

    “California may have the dirtiest election rolls in the country,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Federal law requires states to take reasonable steps to clean up their voting rolls. Dirty voting rolls can mean dirty elections. This lawsuit aims to ensure that citizens of California can have more confidence that their elections are fair and honest.”

    Judicial Watch Senior Attorney and Director of its Election Integrity Project Robert Popper recently provided testimony to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity concerning the NVRA. Popper was formerly Deputy Chief of the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department.

    Judicial Watch sent notice-of-violation letters threatening to sue 11 other states having counties in which the number of registered voters exceeds the number of voting-age citizens, as calculated by the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2011-2015 American Community Survey: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and Tennessee. Judicial Watch informed the states that should they fail to take action to correct violations of Section 8 of the NVRA, it would file suit.

    Judicial Watch previously filed successful lawsuits under the NVRA against Ohio and Indiana that resulted in those states taking several actions to clean up their voting rolls. Judicial Watch is currently suing Kentucky over its failure to remove ineligible voters as required by the NVRA, and is suing the State of Maryland and Montgomery County over their failure to release voting-related records.

    Judicial Watch is being assisted by Charles H. Bell Jr., of Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk, LLP; and H. Christopher Coates of Law Office of H. Christopher Coates.

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    Remarks by President Trump and American Taxpayers on Tax Reform

    by The White House

    Washington, D.C. - December 14, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- This is the readout of the Press Conference in the Grand Foyer of the White House about Tax Reform:

    THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you, everyone. Please.

    We're joined today by college students, young entrepreneurs, families, workers, mothers, and fathers from all over our nation. You make this country run. It's an honor to be with you, and it's an honor to have you at the White House. And thank you all for being here -- really fantastic. Thank you. Great people. (Applause.)

    As a candidate, I promised we would pass a massive tax cut for the everyday, working American families who are the backbone and the heartbeat of our country.

    Now we're just days away -- I hope, I hope -- you know what that means, right -- from keeping that promise and delivering a truly amazing victory for American families. We want to give you, the American people, a giant tax cut for Christmas. And when I say giant, I mean giant. (Applause.)

    As we speak, Congress has reached an agreement on tax legislation that will deliver more jobs, higher wages, and massive tax relief for American families and for American companies.

    The typical family of four earning $75,000 will see an income tax cut of more than $2,000, slashing their tax bill in half. It's going to be a lot of money. You're going to have an extra $2,000.

    But there are many more things than that. Our plan expands the child tax credit for working families. You'll hear the numbers very soon, but they're even larger than anticipated.

    It nearly doubles the amount of income taxed at the rate of zero. I don't know if any of you are paying zero. I hope you're not; I hope you're paying above that. But a lot of people who are having it a little bit tough are going to be paying zero.

    It closes special interest loopholes; it lowers tax rates for families; and our plan also cuts taxes on businesses, which is expected to raise income by an average of more than $4,000. So your income goes up. It's like having a $4,000 increase, which isn't bad, which isn't bad.

    a lot of money to spend. A lot of jobs are going to be created with the money that you spend -- very special. And it makes America competitive again so we can bring back that simple but beautiful phrase, you've heard it before: Made in the USA. Right? I don't know if they've heard it, but you've heard it. (Applause.)

    Our current tax code is burdensome, complex, and profoundly unfair. It has exported our jobs, closed our factories, and left millions of parents worried that their children might be the first generation to have less opportunity than the last. Our factories have left. So many of them, gone. But they're all coming back. And you see it, even before we do this, that they're starting to come back. Our country is starting to do really well again, and as a country we're being respected again. We're being respected again.

    I'm here today to tell you that we will never let bad things happen, with respect to the economy of our country. We're not going to lose our businesses again like has happened over the last number of decades. America is coming back bigger and better and stronger than ever before. Okay? They'll see it, and they're going to see the result.

    America isn't content just by getting by. America is about getting ahead, about finding the best in ourselves and in each other. We are reclaiming our destinies as Americans, a nation that thinks big, dreams bigger, and always reaches for the stars. We didn't become great through massive taxation and Washington regulation. And, by the way, we are cutting regulation at a rate never seen before in the history of our country.

    We became great because our people, our families -- and because of our freedom. We became great because of our drive to find the next horizon, to unlock the next mystery, and to begin the next adventure. You know what I'm talking about. And that's who we are: a nation of strivers and builders and dreamers and doers, people who treasure their independence and don't know how to quit. Never quit. Never, ever give up -- never, ever.

    I say that, also, to our great Cabinet. And they've done a great job. A lot of things have happened. Nobody's done the job that we've done.

    When government loosens its grip, there is no summit we cannot reach. Our tax cuts will break down, and they'll break it down fast -- all forms of government, and all forms of government barriers -- and breathe new life into the American economy. They will unleash the American worker; they will tear down the restraints on discovery, innovation, and creation; and they will restore the hopes and dreams of the American family.

    Millions of middle-class families will win under our plan. And today we are honored to hear from a few of those wonderful and truly great families.

    Bryant and Ashley Glick -- right -- are from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. I know it well. They have two beautiful children with a third on the way. Bryant manages a farm equipment store. Ashley works in healthcare. This year, they were in the 15-percent tax bracket.

    Under our plan, they will drop to the 12-percent bracket. That's a big drop. Instead of itemizing their deductions, they will be able to file their taxes on a single, little, beautiful sheet of paper. That's good. That's good. (Applause.) And instead of paying $2,600 in income taxes, they will get it down to $2,000. They'll save at least $600 and probably more than that.

    Bryant, Ashley, how about saying a few words? You want to? Come on. Thank you very much.

    MR. GLICK: Well, thank you, Mr. President. It's an honor to be here. On behalf of the good people of Lancaster County; my family; and, specifically, my grandmother, Linda Martin, well done. Many of your predecessors promised that this reform was coming, but you did it. We are greatly excited about this.

    With the tax savings that we are going to see, we are going to put that money into home renovations. And I'm excited that you were the one that got it over the finish line. Thank you, Mr. President. (Applause.)

    THE PRESIDENT: The Kovacs family also joins us today from Ohio. That's a great state. A lot of success in Ohio. (Laughter.) Adam is a veteran who works in telecommunications, Lindsay works in administration admissions at a university, and they have two beautiful children.

    This year, they're currently in the 25-percent bracket and pay nearly $14,000 in taxes. Our plan gives them their time back because they won’t have to itemize, and it gives them nearly one-third of their money back -- more than $3,500 for one year.

    I’d like to invite the Kovacs to explain what our tax cuts will mean for them. They've studied it very closely. These are very smart, sharp people. They know exactly what we're doing here, and they like it. Come on up. Thank you. (Applause.)

    MR. KOVACS: Thank you, Mr. President. It is truly an honor that you invited the Kovacs family to the White House today. This is going to be great for our family. We have home renovations that we want to take care of, and hopefully save for our two children to go to college.

    Thank you so much, Mr. President. (Applause.)

    THE PRESIDENT: The Giampolo family is from Polk County, Iowa. Anthony is a police officer and Aubyn is a 911 emergency dispatcher. When they’re not at work protecting and serving their fellow citizens, their hands are full with four wonderful children.

    This year, they were in the 25-percent bracket, their itemized deductions, and they've done everything they can. They paid more than $19,000 in taxes -- thank you very much, by the way; that's a lot of money. (Laughter.) Under our plan, they will file on a single page and save $2,700. Anthony, Aubyn, maybe you'd like to say a few words? Come on in. (Applause.)

    MR. GIAMPOLO: I just want to thank President Trump. Education is very important to our family. Under this bill, our family will be able to save a lot of money. We have a lot of people going to school. My wife and I are both in graduate school, finishing up, and we still got three other -- four other kids to get through college. So, it will help out a lot. (Laughter and applause.)

    THE PRESIDENT: Leon and Maria Benjamin are pastors of New Life Harvest Church -- and it's a beautiful church in Richmond, Virginia -- and they have three wonderful children.

    Under our plan, they will get a larger tax refund to help them pay their bills. They'll receive a tax refund, this year, of $3,000. Leon and Maria, I would love you to discuss your middle-class tax cut a little bit with the millions of people watching right now on television. (Laughter.) You do very well, and we're very proud of you. And it is indeed a beautiful church. I got to see a very, very nice picture. We'll have to get there someday soon. Thank you. Come on in, please, please. (Applause.)

    MR. BENJAMIN: (Laughter.) To God be the glory. Thank you, President Trump, for inviting us here. On behalf of the Benjamin family and of course, Richmond, Virginia, we represent a cadre of many families across the nation. African American families, urban communities, and families all across need this now. And it's time for a change, and it's time that we recognize that our President is making good on his promises. (Applause.) Thank you, Mr. President. God bless you, and we'll continue to keep praying for you and your team as you move forward and forge ahead with this new future in America. God bless you. (Applause.)

    THE PRESIDENT: He can be my minister anytime. (Laughter.)

    The Howard family lives in Tenino, Washington. Issac owns an espresso machine service company, and Emily takes care of their four beautiful children. They are currently in the 15-percent bracket and pay $2,500 in taxes. Our plan will totally wipe out their tax bill, and they might even get a refund of substantially more than $700. I'd like to introduce them. Come on up. (Applause.)

    MRS. HOWARD: I'm going to speak for us today. (Laughter.) We are absolutely blessed to be here, so thank you, Mr. President. It’s our joy to stand before you guys. And what this means to us as a family is that we will be able to pour out into our community -- whatever that looks like -- giving away to families that are in need, or setting them up for success in any way that -- whatever God has planned for our family.

    I think that that is our goal, and that we are blessed to have such an amazing President -- and what a good steward he is of our country.

    So thank you, Mr. President. (Applause.)

    THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you all. It’s critically important for Congress to quickly pass these historic tax cuts, and that's going to take place, I think, even before the media -- I used the word “media.” Did you notice? As opposed to “fake news media” -- I don't say. (Laughter.) Because today is a very important day. We want everybody to be covered very accurately.

    So I’m excited to announce that if Congress sends me a bill before Christmas, the IRS -- this is just out, this is breaking news -- has just confirmed that Americans will see lower taxes and bigger paychecks beginning in February, just two short months from now. (Applause.) Just got that. We just got that.

    Fifty-five years ago this week, President John F. Kennedy, a Democrat, launched a historic effort to pass sweeping top-to-bottom tax cuts. A half a century later, we're reminded that lowering taxes is neither a Republican or Democrat idea, but an American principle and an American idea.

    The goal of my administration is for every American to know the dignity of work, the pride of a paycheck, and the satisfaction of a job well done. We want people to love waking up in the morning and going to work -- just with that incredible enthusiasm that we have in this country. And that's what we're going to be doing, and that's what’s going to be happening.

    Today we stand on the verge of a new economic miracle. Our economy has already surged to 3 percent growth -- far ahead of schedule, by the way -- far, far ahead -- in each of the last two quarters. And if we didn't have the hurricanes, we could have hit four last quarter. Four -- a number that was unthinkable two years ago when I started the campaign, and even my first month in office -- that was an unthinkable number. And I’ll tell you what, it’s going to go higher than that.

    We’ve created 2.2 million jobs since the election. Unemployment is at a 17-year low. The unemployment rate in the manufacturing business is the lowest in recorded history. Consumer confidence is a 17-point high. Pensions and retirement accounts are soaring as the stock market hits 85 new record highs since the election. How are we doing? Are we doing okay? Not bad, right? (Applause.)

    And if Congress sends me a tax reform, this is only a small beginning to the incredible things that our people will achieve over a very short period of time, and the tremendous heights that we will reach economically and so many other ways in our country.

    Every day, as this victory draws closer -- I mean, we are so close, right now. So close. In fact, almost -- I don't want to talk about it. Maybe we shouldn’t talk about it. (Laughter.)

    The cynical voices that opposed tax cuts grow smaller and weaker, and the American people grow stronger. I heard one of our opponents stand up the other day and say, this is for the rich. They had no idea. They didn't even see the final bill. I didn't see the final bill. This is for the people of middle-income. This is for companies that are going to create jobs. This is for very, very special people, the great people of America.

    Everyday, hardworking Americans know that the future of this nation will never belong to those who say you can't; it will always belong to the American people who will say we will.

    belongs to people like the Glicks, the Kovacs, the Giampolos, the Benjamins, the Howards, and the millions of Americans just like them across our nation, who pour out their hearts and souls every single day to take care of their families and the country they love and that we love.

    We are going to have a country that celebrates you again -- hardworking, great people. You're being celebrated again. Remember that. Because you were a little bit forgotten. We had called it "the forgotten people." Somebody else called me and everybody else the “deplorables.” Have you ever heard that term? Right? We're proud to be the deplorables, and we're doing well.

    going to make our tax system work for you again. We’re going to make our economy work for you again. And we are going to make the American Dream -- and that's the real dream -- that will be the dream that you want for your children and your grandchildren once again.

    But we need your help to get Congress across that finish line. We’ll have very little Democrat support, probably none, and that's purely for political reasons. They like it a lot, and they can't say it. They don't like what’s happening. But they can't say it. Some day we have to come together and do bipartisan, and hopefully it can happen soon. Right? (Applause.)

    If you make your voices heard, this moment will be forever remembered as a great new beginning, the dawn of a brilliant American future shining with patriotism, prosperity, and pride.

    With your help, we will bring back our jobs; we will bring back our wealth as a country; and, for every citizen across this beautiful land, we will bring back our great American Dreams.

    you and God bless you all. Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)


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    Tax Reform Must Move Forward: Americans Want Washington to Work

    By Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council

    Washington, D.C. - December 14, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- The House-Senate conference committee hosted a public meeting to debate and discuss the differences between the two versions of the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” and President Trump hosted middle-class families at the White House for a speech on tax reform. The positive movement continues on tax reform, but Democrats are calling for a delay in legislative activity on Capitol Hill because of the results of the special election in Alabama. Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council) president & CEO Karen Kerrigan said the work of Congress – especially as it relates to tax reform – must keep moving forward.

    “A special election involving one Senate seat must not change or interfere with the responsibility that Congress has to the American people. Tax reform is vital to the growth of our economy and providing families and small businesses with the tax relief they need. Entrepreneurs and families need certainty and the ability to plan for the upcoming year. Putting off or delaying legislation and bringing the gears of Congress to a standstill is not practical. In fact, it is irresponsible. The American people – especially hard working middle-class families and small business people – have waited long enough!

    “As noted by President Trump in his speech today, the tax code is ‘profusely unfair.’ Lowering rates and improving the tax system for all taxpayers will give Americans the capital they need to save, educate their children, start a new business or invest in a local business. Our economy is getting back on track, and tax reform is essential to sustaining that growth. I agree with President Trump that status quo thinking has kept our economy and entrepreneurship in a weak state. The economy is getting stronger, and there is great optimism among entrepreneurs and small business owners. Tax reform will harness that optimism and fuel the positive growth that we are now experiencing. All Americans will benefit from a stronger economy that is producing more opportunity, quality jobs, and greater dynamism overall.”

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