Heritage American Perceptions Initiative Finds Good News for Conservatives

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Conservatives Improve on Important Attributes/Characteristics.

In 2013, The Heritage Foundation launched the American Perceptions Initiative, a comprehensive market research program to help conservatives take our ideas to the American people.

Heritage’s Matt Streit reports on some good news for conservatives in the latest survey:

In a rather significant change from October 2013, more Americans believe that conservatives are better equipped to handle the issues personally important to them. Strengthening the economy, fighting terrorism, protecting family and community and passing policies that create jobs are personally important to most Americans and perceived to be conservative equities…

Another notable shift from 2013: Americans’ perceptions of conservatives improved in terms of the characteristics or attributes that a national political movement would need to provide leadership and direction for the country.

Streit urges conservatives to build this momentum by “reinforcing in America’s mind that they are ready and capable of leading on issues of national importance.”

Do you think conservatives are gaining ground with the American people?

Obama’s Misguided Veto of the Keystone XL Pipeline

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In Heritage Work

The Keystone XL Pipeline — vetoed by the Obama administration on Tuesday — would have bolstered the economy and added jobs.

The administration has long claimed the pipeline would impose environmental costs, though Heritage’s Nick Loris debunks the EPA’s latest claims.

There’s a historical parallel to the 1970s debate over the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, Heritage chief economist Stephen Moore wrote last fall. That pipeline was finally approved by Congress after much debate in 1973 and since its completion in 1978 has yielded a myriad of positive results, Moore writes:

Over the past 40 years, [the Trans-Alaska Pipeline] has carried 17 billion barrels of oil, worth more than $1.7 trillion in today’s dollars. It also helped to rebuild the Alaska economy and made Alaska the second largest oil-producing state in the nation and one of the largest producers in the world.

Not only has the United States and Alaska in particular benefited from the Trans-Alaska pipeline, the dire environmental consequences used to argue against it have either not been realized or been smaller than predicted.

“The Trans-Alaska Pipeline has demonstrated that pipelines can be built and operated in ways that protect the environment and economically benefit the nation,” Moore writes. “The naysayers were wrong 40 years ago, and they are still wrong today.”

Why do you think Obama vetoed the Keystone XL Pipeline? 

New Heritage Index Ranks America’s Military Strength ‘Marginal’

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Overall US military capability in the 2015 Index of Military Strength

“Our federal government has no consistent, standardized, and publicly accessible approach to reviewing on a year-by-year basis America’s ability to defend its interests,” Heritage President Jim DeMint writes.

That’s why Heritage this week launched the Index of U.S. Military Strength: to fill a gap in Americans’ understanding of the nature of our military power. Its goals are three-fold:

  1. Assess the status of U.S. military forces (overall score: marginal);
  2. Define the environment in which our military must act (overall score: moderate); and
  3. Identify threats to America’s national interests (overall threat score: elevated).

Future editions will describe how each score has changed from the previous year. Get more information about the scores in the full Index.

Speaking Tuesday at The Heritage Foundation to help launch the Index, Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) said that while “liberal thought has always failed” when it comes to national defense, even conservatives “are failing at national defense because they focus on the wrong problem.” Continue Reading »

New Education Act Misses Opportunity for True Reform

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The education law that is making its way through Congress wastes an opportunity for true education reform because it renews the No Child Left Behind Act.

Heritage education expert Lindsey Burke explains the flaws with NCLB and the conservative alternative, known as APLUS:

NCLB currently authorizes roughly $24 billion in spending for the nearly 80 programs that fall under the law. Providing flexibility within a single title of the law totaling just 10 percent of overall spending in NCLB, and within a limited scope, is a missed opportunity to truly restore state and local decision-making.

States need genuine flexibility from Washington mandates and prescriptive programmatic requirements established by the Department of Education and Congress. States need to be able to completely opt-out of all of the programs that fall under NCLB, not just a handful of programs.

The APLUS approach has long been championed by conservatives as a way to restore state and local control of education. And conservatives now have a chance to advance policies that do just that.

Do you think Congress should renew No Child Left Behind? 

The Fight Over Obama’s Amnesty Comes Down to the Wire

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President Obama’s executive amnesty “is wrong and sets a dangerous precedent,” Heritage’s John Malcolm explains. In Heritage’s checklist for lawmakers, overriding unilateral amnesty is the first of ten steps lawmakers should take to strengthen our immigration system.

A bill passed by the House of Representatives would block this unilateral amnesty while funding the rest of the Department of Homeland Security. The bill, which must be passed by Friday to keep DHS funded, is now stuck in the Senate, where liberals are blocking the measure. The White House has said that it will only sign a DHS funding bill that includes amnesty.

Come Friday, if no bill is passed, around 15 percent of DHS employees will be furloughed. Most front-line DHS staff, including the Border Patrol and TSA agents at airports, would work without pay. Read more from the Daily Signal.

Do you think the DHS funding bill is the right way to block Obama’s amnesty? 

Obamacare Backers Resort to Dubious Claims as Case Heads to Supreme Court

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In Heritage Work

Photo Source: The Daily Signal

Obamacare is headed back to the Supreme Court next week.

On March 4, the court will hear oral arguments in King v. Burwell, which centers around the legal status of the federally-run Obamacare health insurance exchanges.

Thirty-four states have refused to set up Obamacare exchanges. Since Congress lacks the power to force states to set up exchanges, Washington chose to set up its own exchanges in these states. Here’s the problem: according to the law itself, Obamacare’s subsidies apply only to individuals who purchase insurance “through an Exchange established by [a] State.”

Obamacare proponents are now arguing that if the provision is struck down, a “parade of horribles” will result. In a new report, Heritage health care expert Ed Haislmaier evaluates these “horribles” and finds them wanting: Continue Reading »

Court Blocks Obama’s Executive Amnesty

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A federal judge in Texas issued a temporary injunction earlier this week against President Obama’s executive amnesty for illegal immigrants. Twenty-six states are suing the administration over the unilateral amnesty.

In his decision, Judge Andrew Hansen had harsh words for the Obama administration, as Heritage legal expert Hans von Spakovsky writes:

The most crucial decision made by Judge Hanen in this early stage of the lawsuit is that, contrary to the Justice Department’s claim, the states are legally allowed to bring this lawsuit because they are going to suffer concrete, measurable costs from the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents program, that is to say, they have standing…

Hanen’s lengthy opinion provides an extensive, well-researched, well-written review of the history of the Obama administration’s actions in the immigration area and points out the many problems caused by its lack of enforcement and overriding of federal immigration law. Hanen agrees that Homeland Security does have discretion “in the manner in which it chooses to fulfill the expressed will of Congress” in federal immigration law. But it cannot “enact a program whereby it not only ignores the dictates of Congress, but actively acts to thwart them.” In fact, the Homeland Security secretary “is not just rewriting the laws; he is creating them from scratch.

The Obama administration is expected to fight the decision. Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are filibustering a bill that would fund the Department of Homeland Security without funding amnesty. 

What do you think of the court’s decision to halt Obama’s executive amnesty?

Ambiguity Should Play No Part in Obama’s Anti-ISIS Strategy

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In Heritage Work

President Obama’s proposed new Authorization for Use of Military Force against ISIS is “ambiguous,” Heritage Foundation legal expert Cully Stimson explains to International Business Times:

He’s trying to thread the needle here by giving something to the anti-war left, by saying ‘it’s not an endless war,’ but he also knows that some Republican senators will not tolerate that sunset provision, so he’s left in language that gives hope that it can be extended in the future

Ambiguity in warfare is not useful. As Heritage expert James Phillips puts it, the president actually left himself “open to future use of special operations forces in an expanded role.”

Take a look at the infographic below from The Daily Signal to see what’s in the proposed AUMF: Continue Reading »

We Need to Increase the Defense Budget

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In Heritage Work

Pentagon, U.S. Department of Defense (Photo: Getty Images)

The United States military is at a crossroads.

Recent shifts in global power and indiscriminate cuts to defense spending have left the Department of Defense shaken and without secure footing. How can we provide our military with the tools to answer today’s threats and defend America?

The Heritage Foundation’s Diem Nguyen Salmon says we must increase our defense budget:

First, the security situation in many parts of the world has shifted in directions unfavorable to U.S. interests. In the past few years, the constellation of threats to the U.S. has changed, and the U.S. needs to reexamine current defense spending levels, which were set in 2011.

Second, the state of the U.S. military continues to degrade due to recent spending decisions. The several years of uncertainty in the defense budget, the unprioritized cuts, and the magnitude and pace of the reductions have led to a weaker and smaller force today.

Salmon’s report urges Congress to increase defense spending — and pay for it by cutting spending elsewhere in government, reforming social programs, and fixing how the Department of Defense itself spends money. Lawmakers need to not only undo the indiscriminate defense cuts of the sequester, which leave our military in decline, but also build for the future.

Do you agree that the military needs more funding?

Heritage Wrote the Book on Cutting Government Spending

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$3.5 trillion — $3,500,000,000,000. That’s how much the federal government spent in 2014. And that number is projected to only grow if President Obama’s budget proposals go through.

There’s a better way. Heritage experts have compiled a Budget Book that recommends 106 specific ways Congress can cut spending and reduce the size and scope of the federal government.

The Budget Book, which includes information directly usable by lawmakers and their staffs working on the 2016 budget, outlines ways to cut waste and reform spending in areas like defense, welfare, energy, agriculture, transportation, education, and more.

Controlling spending and debt is imperative. If we don’t, the massive debt will start dragging down the economy. It’ll also threaten our national security by constraining critical defense spending, and limit lawmakers’ ability to respond to unexpected crises.

Even more alarming, we have just surpassed $18 trillion in cumulative national debt. We borrow 14 cents out of every dollar we spend. It needs to end.

Be sure to share the Budget Book with you friends, families, and colleagues.

What do you think should be done rein in spending?

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