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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
As graduation season is quickly approaching, many high schools and universities are faced with deciding between virtual or in-person ceremonies. As states begin to lift mask mandates, as reported by The New York Times, educators choose to continue holding virtual graduations. Being forced to host these small ceremonies is not ideal, and the loss of their special celebrations will sadden many students. However, due to public health risks presented by the pandemic, this precaution is necessary for many schools. Virtual graduation is a hard decision, but it may have an upside. Let’s analyze the lack of traditional graduation ceremonies in serving as an eye-opener to the ‘lost’ school-time and the starless future in the job market.
Amid the complex changes, everybody has been compelled to cope. The strife of the pandemic has made way for more neighborly festivals later on. The need to adjust the face-to-face functions for pandemic limitations has set out the freedom for graduations to be more available later on. This option permits relatives who can’t travel or individuals with more extended families to participate in the special day.
Because of the pandemic, plans changed, and life was reconsidered. The virtual graduation functions were unquestionably not what seniors had expected as the hotly anticipated finish of their school vocations. Virtual graduations are not the slightest bit amazing arrangements; understudies merit the magnificence and acknowledgment that accompanies achieving such an accomplishment as moving on from secondary school or even primary school. Nonetheless, this isn’t to imply that beating the earlier year’s deterrents has received no rewards.
Alumni of 2021 merit the option to be disturbed about their deficiency of conventional functions, and their misery over virtual beginnings ought not to be neglected. Following quite a while of challenging work and late evenings considering, these understudies were denied graduation services and their capacity to command the entirety of their achievements face to face. Notwithstanding, these equivalent, appalling conditions have made COVID-time initiations open to potential participants who might not regularly have the option to drive to conventional graduations.
In his seminal article in 1971 on the economic theory of regulation, the Nobel Laureate George Stigler of the University of Chicago argued that government agencies were often “captured” by the industries they were designed to regulate. Before Stigler, the common view was that noble regulators worked assiduously to correct “market failures” with regulation, in order to promote the public interest. Stigler showed that if we assume that regulators have other goals in mind besides promoting the public interest (e.g., covering up their own government failure or enhancing their power, prestige, and budget) they will eventually represent the interests of the industry they are supposed to regulate.
This is referred to as “regulatory capture.” Examples such as a “revolving door” between defense contractors and the Department of Defense and cozy relationships between pharmaceutical companies and the Food and Drug Administration and large energy firms and the Environmental Protection Agency come to mind. When there is regulatory capture, the interests of firms become more important than the public interest, which leads to a net loss to society.
Traditionally, capture theory applies mainly to private sector interests, i.e., firms and industries. However, thanks to several intrepid reporters at the New York Post, we now know that capture theory can also be applied to public sector unions. These reporters uncovered palpable evidence of explicit collusion between the American Federation of Teachers and the CDC. Similar types of explicit collusion between teacher unions and public health officials may also be occurring at the state and local levels. We know that it has also occurred in the U.K., where Boris Johnson appears to be defying trade union pressure to keep masks on secondary school children.
What motivates political appointees at the CDC to collude with teacher unions to prolong lockdowns and continue the confinement and deformity of our children? First, the Biden administration is beholden to teacher unions, who provide substantial financial support to Democrats and also constitute a major, reliable voting bloc. Second, CDC stands for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and thus, is responsible for the single greatest government failure of all time. Their ineptitude, inconsistency, and overall incompetence, both before and after the outbreak of the virus, has been staggering. Therefore, it is important that the CDC keeps its trade union friends for political cover. Third, public health police state officials, such as the CDC director, are basking in the limelight and flush with funds, power, and influence. For infectious disease experts, who have become our un-elected rulers, these are the best of times. Pandering to teacher unions allows them to continue regulating all aspects of our family life. Note also that while the CDC is lionized by the media, they are also shielded by craven, cowardly politicians from any accountability for the damage they have inflicted on our economy, society, and physical and mental health, as a result of their misguided quarantines, lockdowns, and “re-openings.”
A sad irony is that the agency responsible for the most massive government failure of all time is allowed to grow and prosper, while continuing its ongoing collective theft of private property, services, and economic, personal, and religious liberty. For example, thanks to the CDC, the entire cruise industry has been grounded for at least fifteen months. CDC guidelines have led to closures of public libraries, museums, and other cultural institutions for over fourteen months. The CDC Director’s recent message of “impending doom” is music to the ears of teacher union officials, who have a vested interest in maintaining maximal use of non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as school closures, physical distancing, and masks for children as young as two years old.
It is impossible to understate the dastardly actions of teacher unions in exerting undue influence on the federal agency charged with deciding how and when to “re-open” schools. Let’s start with the fact that teachers have already received more special treatment than any other type of worker. Recall that when our state-run COVID religion was established in March 2020, a totalitarian/Orwellian taxonomy of “essential” and “non-essential” workers and industries was developed. In most states, teachers are “essential” workers. Unlike many “non-essential” workers, teachers have received full pay during quarantines and lockdowns, with virtually no job losses in the sector. In some school districts, teachers have even received raises and additional benefits, while children remain at home to learn online, often with inferior Internet connections and overwhelmed parents to supervise them. Unlike almost all other “essential” workers, many teachers have not physically reported to work since March 2020. Also, in many states, teachers were vaccinated before many others in their age groups, since we were told that this step was necessary to reopen the schools. The forced masking of students as young as two years old for six hours a day is designed to protect teachers, not students. It has never been clearer that teacher unions aim to prolong the pandemic party for teachers while paying no heed to the physical and psychological damage to the nation’s students.
Now that the collusion between the teacher unions and the CDC has been exposed, we can no longer pretend that public health officials have the public interest in mind. Their claim to follow the “science” has been revealed as fallacious, since they are actually following “political science.” Since March 2020, we have all been human subjects in a grand social science experiment, which has been conducted without “informed consent.” As social scientists, when we conduct an experiment, we are required by law to obtain the informed consent of each of our human subjects. That is, we are required to explain to each subject, in great detail, precisely what we are trying to accomplish in our project, as well as its duration, cost, and risks. All of these protocols have not been followed. We also have to abide by an ethical code, which says that there should be no psychological or physical harm to the subject.
There is no doubt that this unprecedented and deviant child experiment has inflicted significant harm on its human subjects. Thus, while some might say that it is wrong to demonize public health officials, we say that their actions, especially as they relate to children, have been demonic. Regulatory capture of the CDC by teacher unions is a scandal of epic proportions.
For these reasons, we call on parents to reject CDC guidelines for schools and any semblance of the “new normal” at schools. We should no longer allow our children to be unwitting subjects in this deviant and unethical grand social experiment. CDC and teacher-union-enabled child abuse and its ongoing destruction of normal childhood development must end now. The next time your child is forced to wear a face mask for seven hours a day and prevented from interacting with her playmates, you should call child protective services on that teacher or school official. The CDC and the teacher unions are now officially guilty of child abuse.
Donald S. Siegel, Foundation Professor of Public Policy and Management and Director, School of Public Affairs, Arizona State University (Donald.Siegel.email@example.com)
Robert M. Sauer, Professor of Economics, Royal Holloway, University of London (Robert.Sauer@rhul.ac.uk)
Members of the Public Policy Committee of Greater Phoenix Leadership recently endorsed an editorial entitled “Disenfranchising Voters is Not Election Reform”.
“As an organization of CEOs at the helm of hundreds of thousands of employees in Arizona“, they felt it their public duty to warn of efforts in the legislature not only “undermining our carefully crafted voting system“ but also “actually attempting to suppress the votes of Arizonans“.
They were especially incensed by the “stringent new identification requirements for those voting by mail“ and the “purge of voters from the Early Voting List”. They grouped these bills with other less important measures, then claimed that all of them had “one thing in common: making it more difficult for Arizonans to vote”.
Voter suppression is a serious accusation. It evokes our racist past and implies serious civil rights violations. It’s a cheap slander when charged carelessly without reasonable proof.
There was one critical element missing in the CEOs’ argument: even a single example of how any of these bills would make voting more difficult. Did they even read the bills? There is no such case to be made.
Let’s look at some facts. Voter ID is required for all in-person voters. Their ballots are handled securely throughout the process and their votes are made without any inappropriate influence.
Yet for bulk mail voting (I.e., voting with a ballot not specifically requested by the voter), all the rules go out the window. No ID is required either for receiving nor submitting a ballot.
It’s no surprise that several election experts and commissions have tagged bulk mail voting as a potential source of significant fraud, even though any fraud that does occur is largely undetectable. With mailed ballots, unlike in-person ballots, it’s impossible to know who filled them out and under what circumstances.
The “stringent new requirement“ for mail-in voters would simply require the mailed ballot to include either a voter registration or Arizona Drivers License number. The measure is far from a comprehensive solution but…voter suppression? Give me a break.
The purported “purge“ of the Permanent Early Voting List (PEVL) is nothing more than routine maintenance of the files of bulk mail voters that inevitably become inaccurate with time. County recorders would be required to send a notice to voters who had not returned a mail ballot in four consecutive elections, most likely persons who have died, moved or simply lost interest.
If the addressee failed to respond within 30 days, they would be removed from the list. However they would still be registered to vote and could request reinstatement on the PEVL at any time.
No harm, no foul. Yet this is “Jim Crow 2.0“ according to Democrats desperate to maintain the fraud-vulnerable status quo. But even if passed, these reforms would still not be as restrictive as many laws already on the books in California, Connecticut, DC and other Democrat strongholds never accused of “voter suppression“.
The phenomenon of woke CEOs pressuring legislatures to push left-wing electoral nonsense is not unique to Arizona. Georgia legislators suffered withering criticism from their business community after passing bills similar to those being considered here.
As in Arizona, Georgia activists like the CEO of Coca-Cola were unable to offer any specific objections, other than generic “voter suppression”. With President Biden‘s encouragement, Georgia was nevertheless penalized with the loss of baseball’s All-Star game. Arizona too is facing the threatened loss of scheduled sports championships.
The GPL CEOs, like athletes and entertainers seeking influence, mostly just reiterate the talking points of the Democrat/media crowd. They claim the that voting issues are non-partisan when in fact even mild reforms are unanimously opposed by Democrats.
The CEOs write that voters are satisfied with the current system, so there is nothing to fix. Again, the reality is different. Non-partisan polls reveal a clear majority of voters harbor at least some distrust of our system and favor specific reforms like Arizona’s.
Election integrity isn’t racist, it’s essential to our right to vote. Your vote has been stolen if it is canceled by fraud or manipulation just as surely as if you were refused a ballot.
Dr. Thomas Patterson, former Chairman of the Goldwater Institute, is a retired emergency physician. He served as an Arizona State senator for 10 years in the 1990s, and as Majority Leader from 93-96. He is the author of Arizona’s original charter schools bill.