The Militia Argument

2nd-Amendment-800x594I would like to go ahead and quell a little bit of argument about what a militia is to those who seek to disarm American citizens by stating the right only applies to militias.

Full Definition of MILITIA

1
a : a part of the organized armed forces of a country liable to call only in emergency
b : a body of citizens organized for military service
2
: the whole body of able-bodied male citizens declared by law as being subject to call to military service

(Source: Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary)

Please note that “the whole body of able-bodies male citizens declared by law as being subject to call to military service.” If you have ever had a draft card, this makes you eligible to have a gun under their militia excuse. But lets take things a step further.

Let’s look at an excerpt of Federalist Papers #29

“if circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people while there is a large body of citizens, little, if at all, inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their own rights and those of their fellow-citizens. This appears to me the only substitute that can be devised for a standing army, and the best possible security against it, if it should exist.”

So the founding fathers recognized that any who stand ready to defend their own rights and their fellow citizens. It also recognizes that it is a counter to a standing army should there ever be one (as we have now) if that army was to be used against the people.

Perspective on Bundy Ranch

article-2603026-1D0F67D100000578-703_634x411Many of us have formulated opinions on the case of the Bureau of Land Management and their handling of the Bundy case in Clark County, Nevada.  I’d like to share my perspective.  I will not be going into the past between the two, only the current situation that has rocked a nation.

My first observation was the fact that his cattle were being seized.  I’m sorry, but you cannot take another man’s property without due process of the law.  Had there been a legitimate warrant, the local sheriff would have been the one serving the papers, not a federal agency.

My second observation is that if this was really about turtles (as this is why the cattle are supposedly prohibited from grazing), then why was there heavy equipment assisting in the capture of the “trespassing” cows.  I’m sorry, but a backhoe is going to do far more damage to a habitat than a cow eating some brush.

Third, the video seen around the world shows a clearly oppressive group of “law enforcement” agents.  Who throws down a 56 year old woman, then tazers the person trying to assist her three times?  If this isn’t brutality, I’m not sure what is.  Not to mention the show of force with snipers, K9s, and as President Obama calls them, weapons of war.  Why does the BLM have access and need for such?  Clearly not to manage land.

The fourth observation would be the fact that over 3 million dollars were spent on this operation, which failed due to patriots responding to help the Bundy family, over a 1.3 million dollar debt.  That was your money wasted on this.  It shows the brilliance of our federal government: let’s spend almost 3 times what we need to collect, only, we won’t end up succeeding because people showed up to defend liberty.  I’m sorry, but this is how the federal government is. Maybe we need to let the illegals on the Southern Border start grazing down there and call them cows…maybe something will finally be done to seal the border.

The last observation I will make is this: there is only one 1st amendment zone.  It begins right after the Mexican border and ends at the Canadian one.  There is no way any federal agent is in the right by attempting to corral citizens.  We get to speak anywhere in this nation, as enshrined in our Constitution.

Those are some of the things I noticed, and frankly I only have one thing left to say:

PATRIOTS: 1 FEDS: 0

Force is Not the Answer

ft_main1For a long time, the United States Government has been using force in order to ensure it can fund its various departments.  They literally use threats of jail, fines, and use law enforcement (in other words a gun) to ensure you are compliant on taxes.  I find this to be extremely wrong and morally unjustified.

The excuse I seem to hear the most often is that there is a “social contract” to take care of the less fortunate.  That it is good because some people wouldn’t help anyone out if it weren’t mandatory.  My question to present to them is this: how did the United States fund anything, even when it tried staying within the enumerated powers granted in the Constitution, until the early 1900s when the Income Tax was first established and made permanent?

I believe that you should be able to keep 100% of what you make.  You are the one who puts in the hard work, yet, even at the lowest, you still need to pay 10% of your wage as soon as you go over $435.00 on a two week paycheck.  So if you only make $770.00 a month, you have to give up a tenth of your earnings.

I have a solution, and that solution is the Fair Tax system.  Through the Fair Tax, you keep every dime you make.  No one takes anything from you.  There is no threat of jail or fines if you don’t file a paper on time. There are no armed agents ready to put a lien on your property.  You have your money free and clear.

The tax applies to the final point of purchase of an item.  So you only pay taxes on the money you spend.  If you choose to be frugal, you will save more of your hard earnings for things like retirement, emergencies, etc.  You have the control of how much you’ll pay at any given time.

This also would allow for the rich to still pay more, because naturally, as you make more money, you buy more things.  You spend more.  You get the more expensive items.  You can afford it.

I find the Fair Tax to be the best approach, and removes the threats of the IRS from your life.  This is something everyone could get behind, regardless of your ideology or political party.  Give the power back to the people.

Pondering Late at Night

American-flagI have been unable to sleep tonight, so I figured I would write.  I feel that writing sometimes can clear a lot of the clutter going on in my brain, and release the thoughts keeping me awake.  Consider it an open letter to the American people.

I have been campaigning for nearly a year now.  Reaching out to thousands of voters, not only in Utah, but across a nation.  I have talked to liberals, conservatives, and every party affiliation or lack thereof.  Everyone seems jaded by a politician or their preferred party.  Heaven knows I am in that boat as well.

I used to be a Republican myself.  That was until I saw a lot of what was wrong with the party.  The compromise, the back door deals, the fight for power or political positioning instead of doing what is right for the American people.  Call me old school, or just a dumb jarhead, but I believe in being direct.  I believe in meaning what you say, and saying what you mean.  I am tired of the political games the Democrats and Republicans have been playing, while the people suffer.

I want so badly to be able to serve, it’s something I have wanted since I was a child.  My job choices on growing up were always service oriented, and every job I have held was in a service capacity of one sort or another.  I don’t get why the people currently elected don’t work to serve the people.  It boggles my mind.

I’ve heard all the stories: greed, power, wealth, etc. for why they seem to be in office.  I just don’t get why it is so important for them to have those things.  I consider an office of public trust to be sacred, but I see the people who swore a similar oath to my own, spit upon the principles of that oath.  I guess that’s why I chose to run.  I’m tired of the oath breaking.  I’m tired of watching small business being crippled by stifling regulations.  I’m tired of cronyism.  I’m tired of not knowing if my kids will enjoy the freedoms I had as a child.

Our rights are being trampled on before our eyes, and both parties are stepping on them.  Both want to expand the government’s role, they just think they can do a better job of it.  They love their corporate donors and reward them with tax breaks, subsidies, and positions.  It’s sickening.

Where did honor go? Where is courage to do the right thing? Where is the commitment to the American people?

Is the disease of the nation’s capitol really that bad?  That even some of the best turn bad?  How is it possible that so many, with all the best intentions fail in their duties after a few years?

Call me a dreamer, but I want to see America thrive.  I want to see the dreams of our forefathers truly come to fruition.  We have the ability to do this, but only if we are willing to fight for it. Only if we truly want it.  Only if we get up and go for our dreams.

I may be reaching for the stars with my hopes of making it to the halls of Congress, but when you set a high standard, even if you don’t quite make it, you still land in a better place than you were before.

My experience campaigning has given me greater insight, depth, and understanding I would never have known.  Every person I meet trying to find a way to make a difference has given me hope. Each one carries a little spark of liberty’s dream, and together…they shine a light more magnificent than anything I have ever known.

I love this country so much, and it’s killing me watching the politicians destroy her.  Seeing many of you fighting helps me see hope.  Something I thought was lost long ago.

If we banded together, we would be an unstoppable force.  We must not forget the lessons history has taught us.  We cannot forget the principles of individual liberty.  We must hold self evident truths and spread them to others.  When we plant those seeds or sparks of liberty, and feed them, they will grow.  They will become the most magnificent thing the world has known.

We become free.

Craig Bowden (I), Candidate for 1st Congressional District Seat

006This is taken from Sentinel News, a newspaper serving Northern Utah. We have corrected a couple of small errors in the information which will be bracketed.

by Steve Child

Craig Bowden,an Independent candidate for the 1st Congressional District, held a “Meet the Candidate” meeting at the Brigham City Library on 25 January. During that meeting, he fielded questions from the audience and expressed his views about what was wrong in Washington,D.C.; and how he could contribute to changing the current political climate there.  He explained that he decided to run because he was tired of the bickering in Washington, D.C. between the two main political parties for control of the federal government instead of concentrating on the needs of Americans.

Being a disable [Marine] veteran, he feels gives him a unique understanding on veteran affairs and military concerns, which would enable him to address the needs of our military in and out of service.  He feels that the Veterans Administration needs to be streamlined and that there are better ways to connect the VA with those coming out of service and helping the veterans with disabilities transition into civilian life again.

“I feel that certain injuries, such as brain injuries caused by explosions, that should immediately get a 0% rating,” said the young man, “so veterans when discharged can have immediate access to health care instead of waiting years to have access to the care they need.”  He went on to explain that many veterans’ conditions are deteriorating while waiting for the help they need due to an inefficient bureaucracy. Craig feels his ideas would most likely save the VA money in the long run and help the veterans transition back to civilian life quickly and smoothly.

Term limits is something the veteran wants to address. “I feel five terms (10 years) in the House of Representatives and two terms (12 years) for the Senate is sufficient time,” reasoned Mr. Bowden.  “Knowing this, then, folks would know they would go back into the private sector and have to face the decisions they made and live under the same conditions as everyone else.”

He feels that immigration is a simple issue to solve by enforcing current laws on the books and finish building the wall (that was passed into law in 2006) on the southern border that is just over 20% completed.  “They [immigrants] need to come here legally and the government needs to be accountable that this is being done,” said Mr. Bowden.

His main reason to appeal the Patriot Act ism “it gives the federal government too much power,” he said. “I understand we have to have a secure nation, but it cannot come at the cost of our individual liberties.”

He also feels there needs to be an improved and expanded oversight committee to keep government agencies in check and hold leaders of those agencies accountable for their spending decisions. He feels this will get rid of the current mentality that if there is money left over at the end of the year it has to be spent in order to get the same budget next year.

The Federal Reserve has almost no oversight as well, according to Mr. Bowden. He feels the FR needs to be eliminated and he pointed out that it is not the role of the FR to decide to print money – that it should be in Congress’ hands to decide that.

Mr. Bowden feels a “Fair Tax” needs to be initiated. “I think an end-user tax should be instituted,” he claimed. “If you buy more, then you’ll pay more in taxes.” His idea is that this tax would fluctuate year after year based on the spending habits of Americans causing Congress to run off a working business model that requires spending control in order to meet the expected budget.  With a “Fair Tax,” all other taxes would be eliminated and there would be no need for the Internal Revenue Service.

Mr. Bowden served nearly eight years in the U.S. Marine Corps as an infantryman. He completed two combat tours to Iraq, served advisement missions to Morocco, trained over 2,000 Marines and several hundred multi-national allies. The young man worked three years in the business division of the IRS, giving him insight into what needs to be done to fix the problems with the IRS. He is the author of “Common Sense: How to Restore America” and is a self-employed business owner. Craig is a father of two [sons and a daughter] and engaged to to be married and be a step-father to two boys.  If you would like more information about Mr. Bowden, or contact him, you can go to his web page http://www.Craig4Congress.org.

White House knowledge of Kathleen Sebelius’ fundraising

Emails obtained by the Washington Examiner through a Freedom of Information Act request raise new questions about how much the White House knew about Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius‘ fundraising for Obamacare and whether she solicited donations from entities she regulates.

White House officials have said they did not sign off on calls made by Sebelius to solicit donations from private entities for Enroll America, an outside nonprofit with close White House ties that promotes enrollment in the health law’s insurance exchanges. Officials say they were only generally aware Sebelius would be seeking support from outside groups.

In late January, HHS’s Freedom of Information Act office released 257 pages of emails in response to a June request from the Washington Examiner.

The documents are heavily redacted with 12 pages withheld in their entirety and another 179 pages of “responsive records” still “under review for consultation” before a decision is made on their release.

The emails show that White House Office of Public Engagement staffers participated in weekly conference calls with HHS and Enroll America. The emails also show that the agenda of these phone meetings included Sebelius’ calls to outside entities, high-level operational planning and more focused outreach with private partners through senior White House aides.

In one email, dated May 6, 2013, Anton Gunn, then director of external affairs for HHS, said he believed two separate conference calls should be merged — one that involved Enroll America and HHS and another that included the White House. The email was sent to Anne Filipic, the president of Enroll America and former OPE deputy director, and other HHS and Enroll America staff.

“I believe the content of these calls has overlapped on more than one occasion, but I want to make sure HHS and Enroll America are clear that we agree that these calls should be permanently merged in to [sic] ONE call with White House staff and that call should happen Weekly? Or is it every other week?” Gunn asked.

Filipic responded that a weekly call “makes sense” and believed it should combine “WH/HHS/EA.”

Earlier in the email, Gunn said the calls between Enroll America and HHS were “high level” and “focused on operational issues like “data/Legal Issues, KGS calls, Branding, etc.,” while the calls that included Enroll America, HHS and OPE seemed to be “detailed planning calls and more focused on Outreach/Engagement/Partnerships using the WH and WH Principals.”

In other emails provided to the Examiner, “KGS calls” refers to phone calls Sebelius made to private companies and nonprofits discussing Enroll America.

A later email shows that a scheduled separate White House conference call, coordinated by then-deputy director of public engagement Stephanie Valencia, had been canceled so that only one joint phone meeting between HHS, Enroll America and the White House would occur each week.

Two White House staffers from the OPE — Valencia and Ari Matusiak, the White House director of private sector engagement — were included in one series of heavily redacted emails with the subject line “Johnson & Johnson CEO – Meeting Request” — dated April 1, 2013.

An email was sent from Filipic to Anton Gunn, who was then head of HHS’ external affairs, and Mandy Cohen, a senior adviser to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator, as well as Valencia and Matusiak.

Neither the White House nor HHS responded to questions about why White House staffers were included on those emails or whether Sebelius asked for financial help during the meeting with Johnson & Johnson.

In later emails, with redacted sections, Filipic writes Gunn saying she is eager to hear how the “call” with Johnson & Johnson went.

The company confirmed the meeting to the Washington Examiner and said no donation had been made. But a Johnson & Johnson spokesman did not respond to questions about whether Sebelius asked for money.

In another set of emails, Sebelius received talking points from Enroll America that were also used by Nancy-Ann DeParle, a former head of the White House Office of Health Reform during the Congressional fight to pass Obamacare, who went on to become the president’s deputy chief of staff for policy.

DeParle left after Obama’s re-election, and served as a guest scholar last year at Brookings and serves on various health care company boards. She spent the last year asking insurers to donate to Enroll America, according to a report from Politico.

DeParle was regularly asking insurance companies to cut checks to promote Obamacare, but it is unclear whether the talking points she shared with Sebelius included a direct request for financial donations, contrary to Sebelius’ claim that she did not specifically request money from entities HHS regulates.

Emails show Sebelius used the talking points for phone calls with Kaiser Permanente’s then-President George Halvorson, as well as with Ascension Health’s then-President Tony Tersigni.

Kaiser Permanente, the largest managed care organization in the country, and Ascension Health, a large Catholic nonprofit that operates a network of health facilities, are both regulated by HHS.

In one email Filipic sent to senior HHS and CMS aides, she provides a “call sheet” ahead of Sebelius’ phone call to Halvorson.

“It is worth reiterating that Nancy-Ann is scheduled to speak to George tomorrow morning,” she writes in an email dated March 21, 2013. “As you can imagine, her call sheet looks very similar!”

“I do think it’s worthwhile for George to hear from a number of folks, but want to be clear about the multiple calls, so that we do not cross wires,” she continues.

Filipic then mentions that she will provide a call sheet for Sebelius’ call to Tersigni the next day and says “Nancy-Ann is NOT currently schedule [sic] to call Tony.”

HHS did not respond to requests for a copy of the call sheet and the FOIA response did not include attachments to any of the emails provided.

Kaiser Permanente donated an unspecified amount to Enroll America. Halvorson also joined its board of directors, along with executives from Blue Shield of California and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, the largest manufacturer of generic drugs in the world. It is not known whether Ascension Health, a member of the group’s Advisory Council, cut a check to Enroll America.

The White House did not respond to questions about what its aides knew about the fundraising or whether any White House staffers were directly involved in soliciting for Enroll America.

HHS has repeatedly declined to answer the Examiner’s questions about the emails and has said all of its fundraising activity on behalf of Enroll America is legal and proper.

HHS spokeswoman Erin Shields acknowledged in a statement that officials “worked collaboratively across the administration to get the word out about enrollment through education and outreach efforts.”

Shields defended the fundraising, pointing to a provision in the Public Health Service Act, which she said allows HHS to work with public and private partners “to advance public health.”

“The Secretary is authorized to support (and encourage others to support) programs and private non-profit entities working in programs related to health information and health promotion, preventive health services, and education in the appropriate use of health care,” she continued.

Shields also cited the George W. Bush administration’s “use of public-private partnerships to launch the Medicare prescription drug program and enroll children in the Children’s Health Insurance Program.”

The disclosure that Sebelius sought private donations to help launch Obamacare has outraged Republicans. They charge that she is trying to circumvent Congress after lawmakers denied additional funding to promote the Affordable Care Act.

Two House committees launched investigations and Republicans asked the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, and the HHS inspector general to probe the extent to which Sebelius and her staff are coordinating with Enroll America and other organizations.

Sebelius has defended her actions as legal and proper and said officials made similar efforts under President George W. Bush to roll out Medicare Part D’s prescription drug program.

Sebelius said she only directly solicited two groups, both of which are not regulated by HHS: the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and H&R Block. Sebelius said she called three groups HHS regulates — Kaiser Permanente, Johnson & Johnson and Ascension Health — but asked them only for general support and didn’t specifically request money.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a nonprofit focused on public health, last year said it had contributed $14 million to Enroll America. While Johnson & Johnson has not donated, the foundation owns more than $1 billion worth of company stock. The Food and Drug Administration, an HHS agency, also regulates Johnson & Johnson’s drugs and medical devices.

H&R Block is the largest tax preparation company in the country, and stands to reap a windfall in new business under Obamacare as consumers seek tax subsidies under the law. Last year, theNew York Times reported that H&R Block pledged $500,000 to Enroll America, but a company spokesman says the firm ultimately decided against donating.

Republicans contend that Sebelius’ fundraising is different than what occurred under Bush because Congress specifically defunded additional money from being spent to promote Obamacare enrollment. They point to the Anti-Deficiency Act, which prohibits government agencies from accepting voluntary services or donations.

Watchdogs and ethics attorneys disagree over whether Sebelius’ fundraising violated federal laws, but all say asking private companies to financially support Obamacare’s rollout raises serious ethical questions. They also say the Public Health Service Act does not allow the White House or CMS to engage in such solicitation.

Craig Holman, an ethics expert at Public Citizen, a government watchdog organization, said he believes Sebelius’ fundraising is legal, but full of “ethical landmines.”

“It has the appearance of the administration putting pressure on business that they want something from business — could be support for a change in the Obamacare law or another type of quid pro quo,” he said. “It is certainly worthy of investigating.”

Meredith McGehee, policy director for the Campaign Legal Center, said any investigation should focus on whether there was intimidation on behalf of HHS.

She said the Obama administration, ahead of the fundraising drive, should have set clear conflict-of-interest rules as they did when doling out $700 billion in taxpayer dollars from the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

“I’m really puzzled why the White House hasn’t set out clear rules,” she said.

“The way they’ve handled this – maybe because of the bad rollout – seems so ham-handed,” she continued. But she added that it is not too late for the White House to say “we’re going to set some rules.”

(from Washington Examiner)

Utah: House Committee Passes “Shall Certify” Legislation

Last Wednesday, the Utah House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee passed House Bill 373 by a 9-0-2 vote.  Authored by state Representative Ryan Wilcox (R-7), HB 373 would require that certification by a chief law enforcement officer (CLEO), when a signoff is required for the transfer of a firearm or other item regulated by the National Firearms Act (NFA), be provided within fifteen days as long as the applicant is not prohibited by law from receiving the firearm or other item.  The NRA is currently working with the bill sponsor to make a few technical improvements to the language of the bill to ensure its effectiveness.  Representative Wilcox will offer the NRA-suggested amendments when HB 373 in considered on the House floor.

Under current law, a CLEO may refuse to sign off for any reason, including their own personal feelings toward NFA-related items, which has created issues for law-abiding citizens.  As amended, HB 373 will bring the CLEO signoff process in line with the standard that sheriffs in Utah are already using when signing off on a concealed carry permit.  By removing any possibility of personal bias, which may reside behind many CLEO’s refusal to sign off, and creating a statewide standard, HB 373 protects the rights of law-abiding gun owners across the Beehive State.

It is a good thing to hear that representatives are taking steps in the right direction to support our second amendment rights.

A Personal Story About Pay

1174832_10151656005487971_300646792_nThere has been a lot of debate recently about whether or not to increase the minimum wage in the United States.  Many who work retail and fast food are considering it unfair they don’t receive higher wages.  I have a personal story to tell you about my time in the combat zone of Iraq.

As a Lance Corporal, deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, with 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, I made approximately $25,000 during my tour of duty.  This was over the course of seven months. To many, it may seem like quite a lot, but there is some truth that needs to be discussed in this.

As infantrymen, my brothers and I were on duty 24 hours a day.  We could be woken up, have our meals interrupted, hang up our phone calls to loved ones, all at a moment’s notice if a mission were on hand.

Because of this, if you factor in the math of what we made hourly, as Lance Corporals (the majority of my squad in Iraq), it ends up being just around $5.79 per hour.  This job is also one of the most dangerous, intense, and demanding jobs on the planet.

I am not complaining in the least. I loved my time in the Marine Corps, and wouldn’t change it for the world.  But it is time for these burger flippers and shelf stockers to realize that their job isn’t demanding, and you get paid for the skill level you have.  Before you complain about how unfair your part time job is, it is time to take an honest assessment and realize that there are those with a harder job getting paid almost two dollars less than you per hour, and with their job, life is on the line every day.

Just wanted to highlight a little perspective for those whining about how unfair your lives are.

Raising the Minimum Wage Won’t Help

Up-Arrow-Money-ChartIn spite of the rhetoric delivered by the President and progressive members of the House and Senate, raising the minimum wage does not help the economy, nor the people who make minimum wage.  It all boils down to simple math.

Let’s take a look at the average salary of a president of a company: $141,226 (payscale.com)

Now let’s look at small business (those with 25 or fewer employees) and say the president meets the average.

Mr. President of ABC incorporated has 25 employees that make minimum wage. The U.S. government raises the minimum wage from $7.25 and hour to 10.10, an increase of $2.85 per employee.

His employees are all part time working 30 hours per week, which now costs Mr. President an additional $85.50 a week per employee.

There are 52 weeks per year.  This means that the additional pay Mr. President must give his employees becomes  $4,446.00 per employee per year  for a grand total of $111,150.  This leaves the president of the company with $30,076 per year.

Now to many this sounds like it’s fair.  But what happens when the employer makes less than the average?  What if the employer has 50 employees?

Now let’s take a look at this increase from the perspective of the employee.

You just entered a higher tax bracket.  So let’s do the math.  You didn’t pay any income tax before.  You kept everything minus FICA and Medicare.  You will now get paid a gross of $606.00 per pay period (bi-weekly).  You have withheld $125.80 for income tax (taken from the IRS Publication 15), leaving you with $436.33 after FICA and Medicare are also taken out.

Are you much better off than you were before?

Before you grossed $435.00, exempting you from income tax.  That leaves you with $400.59 after FICA and Medicare are gone.  The difference they want to give to you?

$35.74 a paycheck.  That’s it.  And unfortunately there is another problem not yet addressed: price increases.

In order to be able to pay the additional wages of employees and remain profitable, businesses must do one (or both) of two things: increase product prices or lay employees off.  That means the extra $35 you got is paying for more at the pump, the grocery store, and anywhere else that compensated for the rise in wage, or you lost your job and file for unemployment, which is only about 60% of what you were making before.

Do you see the problem?

If a company doesn’t voluntarily increase wages based on sales revenue and success, and is arbitrarily dictated by government, you are worse off.

The best thing to do? Make yourself more employable to a company that pays more.  That is really the only solution.

Raising the minimum wage sounds great coming from a politicians lips, but when rhetoric meets reality, we end up worse off.

Obama’s Real State of the Union

Obama-asshole-idiot-moronMr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, my fellow Americans:

Today in America, a teacher spent extra time with a student who needed it, and did her part to lift America’s graduation rate to its highest level in more than three decades. Only because of policies that have lowered the standards across the board, to ensure Americans cannot think for themselves.  Like with the Common Core program, with its curriculum written by Bill Ayers.  The goal of dumbing down future generations remains on track to ensure only the political, progressive elite remain in power.

An entrepreneur flipped on the lights in her tech startup, and did her part to add to the more than eight million new jobs our businesses have created over the past four years.  But we have put so many regulations in place, that she will be lucky if she can grow her business. With a stifling tax rate, and the Affordable Care Act to prevent her from growing.  Not to mention the eight million new jobs are part time, meaning you now work two jobs, still can’t afford insurance, and it doesn’t make up for the net loss of 1.6 million jobs in this administration.

An autoworker fine-tuned some of the best, most fuel-efficient cars in the world, and did his part to help America wean itself off foreign oil.  Even though we continue to rely on foreign (and usually hostile) sources, which is why the Keystone XL pipeline still hasn’t been approved, and we have issued half as many leases as the previous administration to take advantage of our own natural resources.

A farmer prepared for the spring after the strongest five-year stretch of farm exports in our history. And we made sure to give large subsidies to corporations like Monsato, to ensure they produce only the finest genetically engineered crops. A rural doctor gave a young child the first prescription to treat asthma that his mother could afford, and the cost was transferred to other taxpayers.  A man took the bus home from the graveyard shift, bone-tired but dreaming big dreams for his son, dreams that one day our country might actually have prosperity if policies like these ever go away.  And in tight-knit communities across America, fathers and mothers will tuck in their kids, put an arm around their spouse, remember fallen comrades, and give thanks for being home from a war that, after twelve long years, is finally coming to an end.  One that isn’t being fought to be won in the first place.

Tonight, this chamber speaks with one voice to the people we represent: it is you, our citizens, who make the state of our union strong.

Here are the results of your efforts:  The lowest unemployment rate in over five years because of manipulated job reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistic not reporting the number who just stop working.  A rebounding housing market, largely due to the same prime mortgages that caused the first housing bubble, and eventual collapse.  A manufacturing sector that’s adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s, mostly in foreign countries.  More oil produced at home than we buy from the rest of the world – the first time that’s happened in nearly twenty years, and all on private land, mostly in North Dakota because the Federal Government will not allow us to use our land.  Our deficits – cut by more than half, from what they were inflated to, though still about 200 billion dollars above what President Bush was spending.  And for the first time in over a decade, business leaders around the world have declared that China is no longer the world’s number one place to invest; America is, even though China is about to become the reserve currency in the world.

That’s why I believe this can be a breakdown year for America.  After five years of grit and determined effort, the United States Government is better-positioned for the 21st century than any other government on Earth to take over and rule.

The question for everyone in this chamber, running through every decision we make this year, is whether we are going to help or hinder this progress.  For several years now, this town has been consumed by a rancorous argument over the proper size of the federal government.  It’s an important debate – one that dates back to our very founding.  But when that debate prevents us from carrying out even the most basic functions of our democracy – when our differences shut down government or threaten the full faith and credit of the United States – then we are not doing right by the American people.  We want the government to be larger than ever before.

As President, I’m committed to making Washington work bigger, and rebuilding the trust of the people who sent us here by expanding programs to keep them happy.  I believe most of you are, too.  Last month, thanks to the work of Democrats and Republicans, this Congress finally produced a budget that undoes some of last year’s severe cuts to priorities like education. After all, we must dumb down America’s children.  Nobody got everything they wanted, and we can still do more to invest in this country’s future while bringing down our deficit in a balanced way.  But the budget compromise should leave us freer to focus on creating new jobs, not creating new crises.  I am happiest with the cuts finally being made to the military retirees.  It’s time they paid their fair share.

In the coming months, let’s see where else we can make progress together.  Let’s make this a year of action and executive orders.  That’s what most Americans don’t want – for all of us in this chamber to focus on their lives, their hopes, their aspirations. What we need to do is give them more free things. And what I believe unites the people of this nation, regardless of race or region or party, young or old, rich or poor, is the simple, profound belief in opportunity for all – the notion that if you work hard and take responsibility, you can get ahead.  But if you take advantage of the system, you can still live more than comfortably.

Let’s face it: that belief has suffered some serious blows.  Over more than three decades, even before the Great Recession hit, massive shifts in technology and global competition had eliminated a lot of good, middle-class jobs, and weakened the economic foundations that families depend on.

Today, after four years of economic growth, corporate profits and stock prices have rarely been higher, and those at the top have never done better.  This has been in large part due to our good friends at the Federal Reserve falsely inflating the market by printing off 50 billion dollars a month.  But average wages have barely budged.  Inequality has deepened.  Upward mobility has stalled.  The cold, hard fact is that even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by – let alone get ahead.  And too many still aren’t working at all.  Which is why it’s so great here. We have had massive booms.  We haven’t felt any of it in the public sector.

Our job is to advance these trends.  It won’t happen right away, and we won’t agree on everything.  But what I offer tonight is a set of concrete, hardline proposals to slow down growth, break the middle class, and build new ladders of opportunity into the poor house.  Some require Congressional action, and I’m eager to work with all of you.  But America does not stand still – and neither will I.  So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.

As usual, our First Lady sets a good example.  Michelle’s Let’s Move partnership with schools, businesses, and local leaders has helped bring down childhood obesity rates for the first time in thirty years – an achievement that will improve lives and reduce health care costs for decades to come. Even though kids around the country were actually throwing their trays of food away and buying junk food. The Joining Forces alliance that Michelle and Jill Biden launched has already encouraged employers to hire or train nearly 400,000 veterans and military spouses.  Taking a page from that playbook, the White House just organized a College Opportunity Summit where already, 150 universities, businesses, and nonprofits have made concrete commitments to reduce inequality in access to higher education – and help every hardworking kid go to college and succeed when they get to campus. We want to make sure that there are special classes that cause division in the nation.  After all, it’s not about the merit of the applicant, but what special groups they are a part of that give them a separate status.  Across the country, we’re partnering with mayors, governors, and state legislatures on issues from homelessness to marriage equality.

The point is, there are millions of Americans outside Washington who are tired of stale political arguments, and are moving this country forward.  They believe what the media tells them, and I believe, that here in America, our success should depend not on accident of birth, but the strength of our work ethic and the scope of our dreams. From each according to his ability. To each according to his need.  That’s what didn’t draw our forebears here, and why we must support it.

Opportunity to tax is who we are.  And the defining project of our generation is to destroy the promise of America.

We know where to start: the best measure of opportunity is access to a good job.  One that is dictated for you.  With the economy picking up speed, companies say they intend to hire more people this year, granted they’ll be part time because of Obamacare.

So let’s make that decision harder for more companies.  Both Democrats and Republicans have argued that our tax code is riddled with wasteful, complicated loopholes that punish businesses investing here, and reward companies that keep profits abroad.  Let’s keep that equation.  Let’s work together to close those businesses with jobs still here, end those incentives to keep jobs full time, and raise tax rates for businesses that create jobs here at home.

We also have the chance, right now, to beat other countries in the race for the next wave of high-tech manufacturing jobs.  My administration has launched two hubs for high-tech manufacturing in Raleigh and Youngstown, where we’ve connected businesses to research universities that can help America lead the world in advanced technologies, mostly in advancing America’s war power and spying capabilities.  Tonight, I’m announcing we’ll launch six more this year with an emphasis on citizen monitoring technology.  Bipartisan bills in both houses could double the number of these hubs and the jobs they create.  So get those bills to my desk and put more Americans under our microscope.

Finally, if we are serious about economic growth, it is time to heed the call of business leaders, labor leaders, faith leaders, and law enforcement – and fix our broken immigration system.  Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have acted.  I know that members of both parties in the House want to do the same.  Independent economists say immigration reform will grow our economy and grow our deficits by almost $1 trillion in the next two decades.  And for good reason: when people come here to fulfill their dreams – to get subsidized food, housing, and insurance – they are happy.

Today, women make up about half our workforce.  But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns and it’s even worse if you’re a government employee, especially a Congressional staffer.  That is how it should be to keep division alive and well in the nation, and in 2014, it’s an on track.

In the year since I asked this Congress to raise the minimum wage, five states have passed laws to raise theirs.  Many businesses have done it on their own.  Business and states cannot do things like this on their own.  It must be mandated, and it’s unacceptable.  We are the ones who are supposed to cause prices to rise all over the nation by increasing the minimum wage.

Let’s do more to stifle Americans saving for retirement. Today, most workers don’t have a pension, especially now that many are part time.  A Social Security check isn’t enough on its own, and we have lumped the Social Security trust money into the General Fund to be spent at our leisure.

Already, because of the Affordable Care Act, more than three million Americans under age 26 have gained coverage under their parents’ plans.  After all, when you’re 26, you’re a child, but at 15, old enough to buy birth control and have abortions without a word to mom and dad.

More than nine million Americans have signed up for private health insurance or Medicaid coverage.  And it’s mostly subsidized, only three million have actually paid anything.

Citizenship means standing up for the lives that gun violence steals from us each day.  I have seen the courage of parents, students, pastors, and police officers all over this country who say “we are not afraid,” and I intend to keep trying, with or without Congress, to help stop more tragedies from visiting innocent Americans in our movie theaters, shopping malls, or schools like Sandy Hook.  We want total disarmament of the American people.

Tonight, because of the extraordinary troops and civilians who risk and lay down their lives to keep us free, the United States is more secure.  When I took office, nearly 180,000 Americans were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Today, all our troops are out of Iraq, and Al Qeada has taken the city of Fallujah, while other extreme elements from Iran seek to take control over the country over 5,000 men and women died to secure, and because I failed to get a status of force agreement, their deaths now mean nothing.  More than 60,000 of our troops have already come home from Afghanistan.  With Afghan forces now in the lead for their own security, our troops have moved to a support role. Together with our allies, we will complete our mission there by the end of this year, and America’s longest war will finally be over.  Once I took office, I never planned to win.  Just prolong it enough to get reelected.

Even with us leaving, the fact is, that danger remains.  While we have put al Qaeda’s core leadership on a path to success, the threat has evolved even more, as al Qaeda affiliates and other extremists take root in different parts of the world.  Like in Benghazi, where I left four people to die.

In Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, and Mali, we have to keep working with partners to disrupt and disable these networks. And if they won’t cooperate, we will just drone strike them anyway, even if an American teenager is in the home. In Syria, we’ll support the opposition that rejects the agenda of terrorist networks, even though I support the al Qaeda backed elements. Here at home, we’ll keep strengthening our defenses, and combat new threats like cyberattacks.

We have to remain vigilant.  But I strongly believe our leadership and our security cannot depend on our military alone. As Commander-in-Chief, I have used force when needed to protect the American people, except in Egypt, Benghazi, or the Marine still hostage in Iran, and I will never hesitate to do so as long as I hold this office, so long as it is politically expedient.  But I will not send our troops into harm’s way unless it’s truly necessary, or in an Arab country to support radicals attempting to create Sharia Law, like the elements currently in Syria, whom I almost back before Russia stepped in and made me look like an idiot; nor will I allow our sons and daughters to be mired in open-ended conflicts.

You see, in a world of complex threats, like the tea party, our security and leadership depends on all elements of our power – including strong and principled diplomacy.  American diplomacy has rallied more than fifty countries to prevent nuclear materials from falling into the wrong hands, and allowed us to reduce our own reliance on Cold War stockpiles.  America’s lack of diplomacy, backed by the threat of force, and Russia stepping in is why Syria’s chemical weapons are being eliminated, and we will continue to work with the international community to usher in the future the Syrian people deserve – a future free of dictatorship, terror and fear.

And it is my idiocy as well as my Secretary of State’s, backed by pressure, that has progressed Iran’s nuclear program – and rolled parts of that program back, at least that’s what they pinky promised me – for the very first time in a decade.

May the progressive agenda continue.

May the State bless the people of the country.

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