If given the option between working full time or doing nothing but receiving the same or greater pay, which would you choose? Most people would choose the latter. And can you blame them? Why wake up early and work all day if the government will pay you to stay home and do nothing instead?
This is the current workforce environment in America, and it is having a detrimental impact on our economic recovery. The result? While the Biden administration was hoping to tout a million new jobs for the month of April, they ended with a paltry 266,000.
And we have seen this lag in job recovery all across the country. Restaurants have posted signs apologizing to customers for delays in service, noting that their employees refuse to come back to work. And some businesses have started offering cash simply for coming in for an interview.
Never let a crisis go to waste, right? Under the guise of a global pandemic, politicians shut down the economy, and then created a citizenry dependent on unemployment checks exceeding the wish list $15 minimum wage pushed by the likes of Bernie Sanders. How is a business, coming out of potentially months with no profit, supposed to compete with that?
It is completely unsustainable. States can’t afford it. The feds can’t afford it. And most importantly, small businesses can’t shoulder it any longer.
Fortunately, some states have moved in the right direction. South Carolina announced they will be ending the $300 federal unemployment supplemental payments. This comes after Montana announced the same, along with $1,200 stipends to Montanans who return to work.
Virtually since it was first announced, the effort by the Arizona State Senate to audit the results of the November general election in Arizona’s largest County has been mocked or vilified by members of the media and assorted partisan figures. There is little doubt that their initial attacks were designed to thwart an audit, and there is little doubt that most of the effort since then has been to discredit the process and its participants to the maximum degree possible. When I talk to political people, there is a consensus that this has been a deliberate sabotage in an effort to discredit any potential findings before they are disclosed. “Convince the voters in advance that the whole thing is a joke, and they won’t believe it if something real is turned up by the audit.” said one to me recently.
The entire state would be well served if everyone would take a deep breath, refrain from turning the effort into a partisan circus, and waited for any findings and supporting evidence.
In the meantime, let’s give credit where credit is due, to Senate President Karen Fann and State Senator Warren Petersen, both of whom continue to make themselves available to a media that is looking to undercut them, while providing reasoned answers in measured tones.
As someone who has dealt with a hostile media, I know how difficult it is to not get sucked into the insults and childish behavior. But that is often a tactic used by reporters who know that their own behavior will not be a part of the story, only the responses to their behavior. So they goad and wait, and too many elected officials fall for it. As a result we have the public spectacle of Republicans firing away at other Republicans in an increasingly personal way, just like the media wants.
Fann and Petersen know when to respond and how, and the points they make are generally fair and on target. The Senate has a responsibility and is acting on that responsibility. Opposition is largely partisan in origin and passionate objections to legitimate concerns come mostly from those who spent years insisting that Congress spends tens of millions of dollars investigating a Russia hoax that they got daily updates on from their MSNBC shows. Fann and Petersen recognize this hypocrisy and have kept focused on the audit itself, the need to do it right, and the importance of getting as many facts gathered as possible before conclusions are reached.
The audit will show that everything was largely done right, or it will show meaningful problems or weaknesses in systems that need to be corrected. Both outcomes are victories for Arizona voters, even though some will claim victory and insist it is a defeat for others. If all was well then that’s obviously good news. If corrections need to be made, then the fact that they were identified and can be fixed for future elections is also good news. We all benefit from a system that strives for perfection and is checked for improvements.
If you want Election Integrity, accurate and legitimate elections, and a process that every voter can largely trust, then you’re on the side of an accurate and professionally done audit that produces verifiable results. I for one, am more than willing to patiently wait for the process to work, and I’d encourage every Arizonan to do the same.
Sergio Arellano was born and raised in Tucson, AZ. He joined the Army at the age of 17 and served his country honorably as an Infantryman and Human Resources Specialist for a total of 10 and a half years before retiring from the military due to combat sustained injuries.
Sergio is a founding member of the Arizona International Consortium, the Santa Cruz County Elections Integrity Committee, and the first ever AZGOP Latino Coalition. Sergio is also credited with establishing Arizona’s first ever cultural exchange agreements between the Arizona Republican Party and some of Mexico’s prominent political parties.
Unions are in decline in America, and it’s no surprise as to why. Most do not offer any sort of value to the overwhelming majority of workers.
You would think they could take a hint. In 2017, workers at Nissan in Mississippi and Boeing in South Carolina rejected union representation by a wide margin. In 2019, Volkswagen employees in Tennessee voted against unionizing for the second time in recent years. And just last month, employees at an Amazon facility in Alabama largely rejected joining the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union.
So, what solution has labor unions come up with? Will they focus on bringing more value to members or potential members? Will their leadership stop supporting liberal and other far-left causes? Will they stop pushing socialist policies and politicians?
Nope. Their solution is to force American workers to join unions through legislation.
H.R. 842, also known as the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, would enact sweeping changes to the National Labor Relations Act. And it’s dangerous in 3 particular ways.
The PRO Act repeals all state right-to-work laws. Currently, 27 states have right-to-work laws, including Arizona. These laws ensure workers can choose whether or not to join a union and pay for representation. The PRO Act would remove these laws, which could cause some workers to lose more of their wages and others to lose their jobs…
For the last 15 years I’ve protected Arizonans and Americans from dangerous criminals – the past eight working for the United States Attorney’s Office securing the southwest border. I’ve seen how decisions made in the halls of power – whether it be Washington, D.C., or Phoenix – play out on the ground. When our leaders put politics and political correctness before safety and security, there are real life consequences.
I know this because I’ve had face-to-face conversations with cartel members and listened to wiretaps on their phones. I’ve investigated them for drug trafficking, human smuggling, murders and mutilations. That was my job. I was a border security section chief for the District of Arizona.
In March, the flood of immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally was 67% higher than at the same time in 2019, when the United States last experienced a surge of immigrants at the border. According to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, “We are on pace to encounter more individuals on the southwest border than we have in the last 20 years.” Our southern border is not secure.
This is a crisis. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has declared a state of emergency in several counties and deployed the National Guard. And it is a crisis that is entirely President Joe Biden’s making. Every action by this administration sends a direct signal to bad actors who control the flow of immigrants and drugs across the border.
Biden’s public safety failure
The media frenzy surrounding Biden’s border crisis has served to cover up another truly frightening aspect of this administration’s immigration policy: the release of criminals from jails and prisons. On Inauguration Day, the Department of Homeland Security issued an immediate 100-day pause on certain deportations.
With few exceptions, individuals who were going to be deported and were just awaiting their complimentary flight (or walk) back to their home countries would no longer be removed. The immediate consequence was that convicted felons who did not have permission to be in the United States were released from prisons after their sentences and let onto the streets.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton successfully sued Washington and obtained a nationwide temporary restraining order preventing DHS from enforcing the 100-day moratorium. But the Biden administration simply issued replacement guidance, which had the same effect. Immigration and Customs Enforcement got the message – individuals who do not meet certain enforcement priorities should not be removed from the country. And unlike the 100-day pause, this new guidance has no expiration date.
The Biden administration’s enforcement priorities are so narrow that they exclude many violent offenders. Take, for example, the “public safety” priority. It allows ICE to remove individuals who have been convicted of an “aggravated felony.” Sounds serious, right? But what if I told you that some murder convictions do not qualify as aggravated felonies. To put it in perspective, at least one of the killing offenses for which former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin was convicted would not qualify.
Violent offenders on the street
I prosecuted a Honduran in 2014 who had been denied asylum but returned to the United States and got into an altercation during which he hit his victim in the head with a metal bar, fracturing his skull. The resulting aggravated assault conviction was not an aggravated felony.
And yet, this is the porous metric DHS has decided to use when determining whether our community’s public safety is a priority. Tragedy will undoubtedly flow from this awful choice, and it is not just those who reside in close proximity to the border who will be affected. President Biden, it’s time to make public safety a real priority.
Lacy Cooper was the border security section chief for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona. She served 15 years as both a county and federal prosecutor targeting violent offenders, gang members, cartels and terrorists. She is now Of Counsel with the law firm of Schmitt Schneck Even & Williams. The views expressed in this commentary are her own.
Arizona’s income tax – with a top rate of 8% – is not competitive. Reducing and eventually eliminating the state income tax would be a huge win for all Arizonans.
Individual taxpayers and families would be able to keep more of their hard-earned paychecks. Small businesses would be able to invest more in their employees. And Arizona would be much more attractive to businesses and investment, bringing new jobs and opportunities to the state.
Over the last decade, millions of people and jobs have been fleeing from high-tax states to states that do not impose income taxes. The ability to work remotely will only amplify this trend.
Unfortunately, Arizona’s current income tax puts it on the wrong side of this equation.
Arizona is a high tax state and slipping further
Under the status quo, Arizona’s income tax – with a top rate of 8% – is not competitive. Eight states – including Arizona’s neighbor Nevada and nearby Texas – do not impose individual income taxes of any kind. Thirty-two more states – count Arizona’s neighbors Colorado, New Mexico and Utah, among them – have top rates that are lower than Arizona’s.
Even worse for Arizona, the list of states that do not impose income taxes will continue to grow. Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, and Arkansas Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin are among several key lawmakers that are working to eliminate income taxes in their states.
Unless Arizona begins reducing and phasing out its income tax, it will continue to fall behind.
The good news is Arizona’s leaders refuse to sit back and allow it to fail. Gov. Doug Ducey, Sen. J.D. Mesnard, President Pro Tem Vince Leach, Majority Leader Ben Toma and many others are eager to provide pro-growth income tax relief.
A flat tax is a much better way to go
They are working on a tax plan that would streamline Arizona’s current four-bracket system (five brackets when accounting for the Proposition 208 “surcharge” of 3.5% that will be imposed on certain income, resulting in top rate of 8%) down to a flat tax of 2.5%.
That would be lower than its current bottom rate of 2.59% (with adjustments being made to ensure that even with the Proposition 208 “surcharge,” which would effectively create two brackets, the top rate would not be higher than 4.5%).
Flat taxes protect all taxpayers from tax increases. Under a progressive income tax, taxpayers are divided into small groups, allowing politicians to rob them one by one. Raising a flat tax, on the other hand, is much more difficult because politicians are forced to answer to every single income tax filer.
Making this news even better, there is a serious effort to include a full phase-out of the income tax (excluding the Proposition 208 “surcharge”) over time through the use of revenue triggers, a responsible way for states to cut taxes without getting ahead of their ski tips.
It could bring new jobs, higher wages
If such a provision were included, Arizona would be a model for other states to copy.
In addition to reducing income tax rates, the Republican tax plan would provide even more income tax relief by quadrupling the child tax credit and by coupling the standard deduction to inflation.
The Republican tax plan would be a huge victory for every single Arizonan. Reducing and, ideally, eliminating the income tax would attract businesses looking to expand, investors looking for growing economies with hospitable tax climates and families looking for greater prosperity.
This would bring new jobs and opportunities to current Arizona residents.
Income tax relief would also allow small businesses, which overwhelmingly pay their income taxes on the personal side of the code, to invest in higher wages, and would allow the hardworking people of Arizona to keep more of their paychecks.
Arizona’s future will be brighter if it begins reducing and eliminating the state income tax.
Grover Norquist is president of Americans for Tax Reform, a nonprofit taxpayer advocacy organization that was founded at the request of President Ronald Reagan. Reach him at email@example.com.