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Power to the States (National radio commentary, Salem/Townhall) January 31, 2018

Posted by daviddavenport in Radio Commentaries.
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One encouraging development is that power is leaving Washington, DC and heading to the states. Policy wonks call it devolution, I call it progress.

After 15 years of federalizing K-12 education, for example, Washington turned its back on No Child Left Behind and passed a bill returning power over schools to the states.  There’s no need for Washington to act, as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos says, as a national school board.

There’s discussion in Congress that the states should not only manage the trees, plants and flowers in their territory, but wildlife as well, including endangered species.

Welfare reform may be the next big issue and any solution is likely to create a larger role for states. Only the marijuana laws are moving the other way, toward Washington.

It’s heartening that Washington may finally be reading the Tenth Amendment—that all powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution belong to the states or the people.  Not everything needs to be a federal case.

I’m David Davenport.
https://omny.fm/shows/townhall-review-conservative-commentary-on-todays/david-davenport-power-to-the-states/embed?style=artwork

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What Kind of Country Wants Media Stars for President? (National radio commentary, Salem/Townhall) January 29, 2018

Posted by daviddavenport in Radio Commentaries.
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Social media blew up when it appeared that Oprah Winfrey might run for president.  Think of it:  two billionaire media stars who had never held political office running for president. Only in America.

But the deeper question is why voters are turning in this direction?  Besides their obvious frustration with politicians, voters seem more interested in making statements than actually governing. We don’t know what policies Oprah might follow and, even after a year, Trump’s policy approach is still taking shape.  But they do make a statement.

A related problem is that the presidency is becoming all bully pulpit and no real leadership, all hat and no cattle as they say in Texas.  We want superheroes and action, not mature deliberation.  What passes for action in Washington these days is party-line votes and executive orders, not working through complex issues.

Citizens have duties, too, and we shouldn’t vote just to express frustration, but to guide the policy and governance of the nation.

https://omny.fm/shows/townhall-review-conservative-commentary-on-todays/david-davenport-what-kind-of-country-wants-media-s/embed?style=artwork

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Previewing Trump’s State of the Union Speech (National radio commentary, Salem/Townhall) January 22, 2018

Posted by daviddavenport in Radio Commentaries.
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A president’s first state of the union message is an important occasion. But in our era of political theater, there is some danger that this year the sideshow will overshadow the main attraction.

Several Democratic members of Congress say they will boycott the event.  One Congresswoman is encouraging females who do attend to dress in black.

Despite the political challenges, “it’s the economy, stupid.”  If Trump makes this primarily an economic address, he can succeed.  Think about it:  unemployment is down, jobs are up and the stock market is on fire. His big piece of legislation, the tax bill, is projected to lead to even more economic growth. The president has problems elsewhere, but so far so good on the economy and that should be his message.

The Constitution does not actually require this kind of televised state of the union address, though tradition does.  It’s always possible that a nontraditional president like Trump might surprise us and do something completely different.

https://omny.fm/shows/townhall-review-conservative-commentary-on-todays/david-davenport-previewing-trump-s-first-state-of/embed?style=artwork

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A Cancer Growing on Congress (National radio commentary, Salem/Townhall) January 10, 2018

Posted by daviddavenport in Radio Commentaries.
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There is a cancer growing on Congress.  It is the curse of party-line voting.  The biggest legislation of the Trump administration is the tax bill, passed with only Republican votes.  And the biggest of the Obama administration:  Obamacare, again passed on a party-line vote with only Democrats.

Party-line voting has grown dramatically in the last 40 years.  In the 1970s, party unity voting was around 60 percent but today it is 90 percent.  Sadly it has become the new normal.

Such partisanship is cancerous because it cuts out all the people and ideas of one political party. And it leads to rushed votes, without the expected give and take and amendments of a quality legislative process. It also leads to weak laws because what can be passed by one party’s vote can be undone later by the other party’s vote.

This is no way to run a government.  I vote for more collaboration and less hyper-partisanship in 2018.

https://omny.fm/shows/townhall-review-conservative-commentary-on-todays/david-davenport-a-cancer-growing-on-congress/embed?style=artwork

The Tax Bill Needs Follow-On Spending Cuts (National radio commentary, Salem/Townhall) January 5, 2018

Posted by daviddavenport in Radio Commentaries.
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Although a tax cut may have been a nice Christmas gift, it needs some follow-on spending cuts to work.  At best, Republicans have eaten their dessert first, waiting to eat their spending cut vegetables later; at worst, they will have increased the federal deficit by another trillion dollars or more.

 

By most estimates, even stimulating economic growth will not fully pay for the tax cut.  Republicans will now have to undertake the politically courageous step of cutting federal spending.

 

It will be difficult to make spending cuts without touching Medicare or Social Security, which President Trump has said are off limits. Meanwhile there is pressure to undo the sequester, automatic cuts on spending no one liked, but which have at least kept spending growth down.

Ideally, Republicans would have disciplined themselves to do tax and spending cuts at the same time. Tax cuts may come and go, but the federal debt remains forever, it seems. And—without spending cuts—it grows.
https://omny.fm/shows/townhall-review-conservative-commentary-on-todays/david-davenport-the-tax-bill-needs-follow-on-spend/embed?style=artwork

Jerry Brown’s Blue Christmas (national radio commentary, Salem/Townhall) December 28, 2017

Posted by daviddavenport in Radio Commentaries.
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California governor Jerry Brown has been everywhere, preaching the gospel of blue-state California. California wildfires are the curse of climate change, he told 60 Minutes, while he whisks off to yet another climate conference in Paris, warning that the world is on the road to hell. He says the new federal tax cuts are a “monstrosity,” while he raises taxes at home.

Brown has turned California into a blue-state model of governance, but all is not calm or bright. Even with higher taxes and Silicon Valley growth, the state budget has a deficit and its pension deficit has grown dramatically.

Meanwhile jobs continue to flee the state in the face of high labor costs, high taxes and over-regulation. California has the highest poverty rate in the nation. The cost of housing is sky-high and the roads are old and gridlocked.

Much has been made of Governor Sam Brownback’s failing red-state experiment in Kansas, but Jerry Brown’s blue state Christmas left lumps of coal in many stockings.

Free Speech on the Decline (National radio commentary, Salem/Townhall) November 28, 2017

Posted by daviddavenport in Radio Commentaries.
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One reason to be concerned about the future of America is the reduced commitment of its young people to freedom, starting with free speech.

A recent survey from the Brookings Institution indicates that 44 percent of millennials do not believe hate speech is protected by the Constitution. Moreover, 51 percent believe it is appropriate to shout down a controversial speaker, with 19 percent saying it is ok to use violence for that purpose. Mistakenly, 62 percent say the First Amendment requires one controversial speaker to be balanced by another speaker.

Today’s college students are coddled by helicopter parents and seek safe spaces on campus, not freedom. And, with little or no civic education, students do not understand the First Amendment.

Founder Benjamin Franklin said that “whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freedom of speech.” Wake up, America, the message from our campuses is that free speech is on the decline and, ultimately, so is freedom itself.

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We’re Number 45 (National radio commentary, Salem/Townhall) November 15, 2017

Posted by daviddavenport in Radio Commentaries.
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For nearly 50 years now, Freedom House has published its annual survey of the freest countries in the world. This year’s report contains some troubling news.

First, with an increase in authoritarian regimes and populism, overall freedom in the world declined in the past year.

Second, the United States, after dropping a point in freedom last year, lost another point this year. Where would you rank the U.S. among the freest countries? Number one or two, certainly in the top 10? No, the U.S. is now tied for 45th.

Though we are still rated as “free,” the U.S. is heading in the wrong direction. Burdened by over-regulation, with attacks on our political system from within and without, American democracy is seen as troubled.

Abraham Lincoln wisely said, “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” When it comes to freedom, we should never be content to say, “we’re number 45.”

Balancing Religious Rights with Health Care (National radio commentary, Salem/Townhall) November 13, 2017

Posted by daviddavenport in Radio Commentaries.
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This is David Davenport of the Hoover Institution for Townhall.com.

Public policy is full of difficult dilemmas, tough cases where there are strong interests on both sides.  Such dilemmas are not usually solved as much as they are managed.

That’s why two federal departments recently expanded the rights of religious employers.  During the Obama years, the federal government had required religious employers to provide birth control coverage in their health insurance plans even when contrary to their religious beliefs.  And the government had limited the rights of religious employers to hire or favor people who shared their beliefs.

This action properly swings the pendulum back in favor of religious rights, which are protected by the First Amendment.  Civil rights are also constitutionally protected, which is what creates the tension.  In the end, both rights are powerful, but neither is absolute.

A liberal president pushes too far in one direction and a conservative administration appropriately pushes back.  Ultimately, the Supreme Court may well have to decide how to manage this difficult dilemma.

I’m David Davenport.

Civic Education to Save the Republic (National Radio Commentary, Salem/Townhall) October 31, 2017

Posted by daviddavenport in Radio Commentaries.
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A recent report reminds us that if the future of the American republic is in question, doing a better job with civic education is the answer.

The report for the “Democracy at a Crossroads National Summit” provides plenty of reasons for pessimism: people don’t trust their government, they don’t vote, they don’t take part in churches or other civic organizations like they used to. And young people lack civic knowledge, with only 23% of high school seniors scoring at a proficient level on tests.

But some states are awakening to the solution: better civic education in our schools. Florida now requires a middle school course in civics and tests the students, with strong results. Illinois requires a high school civics course, and other states are looking at new requirements.

The report is surely right when it says, “Civic learning, when done properly, is the best vehicle to train young people to sustain our democracy.” I hope it’s coming soon to your state.