Politics

WASHINGTON—Americas current national debt stands at roughly $23.3 trillion, according to the U.S. Treasury Departments “Debt to the Penny” website, which is so precise that visitors can pick a specific date in the recent past—say Jan. 1, 2000—and get the exact amount on that day: $5,776,091,314,225.33.

While based on those figures, the national debt has more than quadrupled in that time frame, its actually much worse than that, according to calculations by Bill Bergman.

“This calculation highlights some of the pitfalls and perils of false precision,” Bergman, the director of research for the Chicago-based nonprofit advocacy group Truth in Accounting (TIA), told The Epoch Times.

“The U.S. government does not include the unfunded obligations for Social Security and Medicare under current law. These massive negative positions are so high that Truth in Accounting believes the true national debt runs north of $100 trillion.”

$122,309,089,510,200, to be exact.

Because future obligations arent included in current-year accounting, a government budget can technically be “balanced” when, in truth, its anything but.

Thats because those unfunded obligations under Social Security and Medicare are benefits the government has promised to pay future beneficiaries, but for which there currently exists no dedicated funding.

The yawning gap between the Treasury Departments calculation of the national debt and TIAs reflects how the federal government keeps its books.

“How does the U.S. government justify not counting these obligations as debts? The reasoning has been that the government controls the law, and can change it at any time,” Bergman said.

“We at TIA dont believe sound accounting allows for this degree of discretion. As long as current law is current law, the government should record these debts, and behave accordingly.”

But thats not all.

Bergman said that “a true national debt running almost five times as high as the reported debt may suggest deception is at work,” but federal accounting “also calls Social Security and Medicare entitlement programs, and [for annual budgeting purposes] calls entitlement expenditures mandatory spending.”

In other words, officials can spend less now and save the difference, raise taxes now for future spending, or hope the economy keeps growing and generates added revenues and budget surpluses down the road.

Federal officials know these options well, and they even allude to them on the annual Social Security statement that future beneficiaries get in the mail: “Your estimated benefits are based on current law. Congress has made changes to the law in the past and can do so at any time.”

The annual trustees for Social Security and Medicare also issue annual reports that acknowledge the spiraling benefits and project the years when each system will be unable to pay promised benefits based on current assets if Congress continues to ignore the problem.

The problem of misleading accounting isnt unique to the federal government; its widespread at the state and local levels as well, according to TIA President Sheila Weinberg.

“While governments consolidated or government-wide statements are prepared on an accrual basis, the general and other budgeted funds statements are prepared using the modified accrual basis, which loosely resembles the cash basis. These two sets of books lead to misleading and contradictory financial information,” Weinberg reRead More – Source

[contf]
[contfnew]

The Epoch Times

[contfnewc]
[contfnewc]

Politics

A federal appeals court has allowed a Trump administration family planning rule to take effect that prohibits clinics from using a federal grant program, known as Title X, to perform or refer abortions.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday ruled 7-4 to lift injunctions ordered by courts in Oregon, California, and Washington state while the cases play out in the courts. A three-judge panel from the court had previously lifted the injunctions, prompting abortion-rights groups and states to appeal the case to the full court of the circuit court for review.

Title X of the Public Health Service Act, a grant program enacted in the 1970s, provided funding for certain types of pre-pregnancy family planning services. In 1988, HHS regulations were put in place to forbid clinics receiving Title X funds from providing counseling or referrals for abortion as a method of family planning. Those regulations were suspended several years later, but the Trump administration is now seeking to reinstate the 1988 rule, which was upheld in the 1991 Supreme Court decision Rust v. Sullivan.

In 2019, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a rule that “prohibits the use of Title X funds to perform, promote, refer for, or support abortion as a method of family planning,” the department stated in a release. The rule also requires “clear financial and physical separation between Title X and non-Title X activities.”

The rule addresses the complaints of abortion opponents, who have argued that Title X funding helps abortion providers, and Planned Parenthood, in particular, to free up other money that can then be used to fund abortions. Meanwhile, proponents of abortion have characterized the Trump administrations move as a “gag rule.”

Following its promulgation, several states and private Title X grantees sued the Trump administration to challenge the rule. Three district courts in separate states ordered preliminary injunctions against the implementation of the rule.

In Mondays decision, the justices referred to the similar Rust case in its opinion to allow the rule to move forward.

“In light of Supreme Court approval of the 1988 regulations and our broad deference to agencies interpretations of the statutes they are charged with implementing, plaintiffs legal challenges to the 2019 rule fail,” Judge Sandra S. Ikuta wrote in the courts opinion (pdf).

Ikuta also said the 2019 rule is “less restrictive” than the 1988 rule because a counselor providing pregnancy counseling “may discuss abortion” so long as he or she does not “refer” or “encourage” the procedure, adding that there was “no gag on abortion counseling.”

Meanwhile, Judge Richard Paez argued in the dissent that since the Rust decision, Congress had barred the Department of Health and Human Services from imposing rules “that frustrate patients ability to access health care.” He called the ruling a throwback to the “paternalism of the past.”

“The majority would return us to an older world, one in which a government bureaucrat could restrict a medical professional from informing a patient of the full range of health care options available to her,” Paez wrote. “Fortunately, Congress has ensured such federal intrusion is no longer the law of the landRead More – Source

[contf]
[contfnew]

The Epoch Times

[contfnewc]
[contfnewc]

Politics

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) made his first major goof of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary campaign by praising Cuban Dictator Fidel Castros literacy programs, according to Republican campaign pros interviewed by The Epoch Times.

Sanders comments came Sunday on CBS News “60 Minutes” when he said, “were very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba but, you know, its very unfair to say everything was bad. When Castro came into office, you know what he did? He had a massive literacy program.”

Castro imposed a totalitarian Soviet-style communist regime on the Caribbean nation in 1959 and killed thousands of political opponents in the decades following. He gave up power in 2011 to his brother, Raul, and died in 2016.

Sanders praise of Castro caused an immediate uproar among Republicans, led by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who tweeted that “the likely Dem nominee praised the supposed achievements of Castro regime. And hes wrong about why people didnt overthrow Castro. Its not because he educated their kids, gave them health care, its because his opponents were jailed, murdered or exiled.”

Florida Democrats were similarly outraged, with, for example, Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell tweeting that Sanders comments were “completely unacceptable” because Castro “murdered and jailed dissidents, and caused unspeakable harm to too many South Florida families. To this day, it remains an authoritarian regime that oppresses its people, subverts the free press, and stifles a free society.”

Sanders did only a little better among Democratic campaign strategists interviewed Monday by The Epoch Times.

“It doesnt matter who the Democrats put up as the nominee. The GOP will paint them as socialists no matter what,” said Jimmy Williams, former senior economic adviser to Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.). “The only problem is Sanders is an actual Socialist, an admitted anti-capitalist and, if hes the nominee, the ads will be true.”

Christy Setzger, founder and president of New Heights Communications, was more optimistic, noting that “theres no reason to do Republicans opposition work for them. That said, you dont need to do a terribly intense Google search to find all the times [President Donald] Trump praised and continues to praise a variety of dictators. So, I feel pretty confident this is recoverable.”

Others werent so sure. Christian Hanley of Defiance Strategies and the “Keep It In Perspective” podcast, warned that Sanders “would do well to explain his comments and put them in context immediately. The attack ads write themselves.”

Similarly, Robin Biro, a regional director for President Barack Obamas 2008 campaign, said he expects “to be hearing about this comment through the general election and am already bracing myself for the inevitability that GOP pundits will use this against me during our debates. I would do the same if the shoe was on the other foot.”

A former U.S. Army Airborne Ranger, Biro served two tours of duty in Afghanistan.

A Washington, D.C.-based Democratic strategist agreed that Sanders comment will especially hurt his prospects in Florida.

“This will no doubt alienate Latino voters in Florida, a state that will be crucial to his election chances. These are the types of comments that will continue to give more moderate Dems anxiety about Bernie winning the nomination,” said strategist and attorney

The Epoch Times

[contfnewc]
[contfnewc]

Politics

The Trump administration on Monday started enforcing new income-based requirements for green cards and certain types of visas, coming days after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the measure.

Under the new rules, most green card applicants in the United States and abroad will now have to be evaluated under a new set of guidelines to determine whether theyll be a “public charge.” The rule is expected to affect millions and might force numerous immigrants to stop using public welfare programs, including Supplemental Security Income, assistance from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, Medicare, and other programs.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said it will also look into an immigrants age, health, family status, assets, resources, financial status, education, skills, and other factors.

“President Trump continues to deliver on his promise to the American people to enforce our nations immigration laws. After several judicial victories, DHS will finally begin implementing the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds final rule,” said Ken Cuccinelli, the acting deputy secretary of Homeland Security. “This rule enforces longstanding law requiring aliens to be self-sufficient, reaffirming the American ideals of hard work, perseverance and determination. It also offers clarity and expectations to aliens considering a life in the United States and will help protect our public benefit programs.”

The agency said that an immigrant who received one or more public benefits for more than 12 months within any 36-month period will be deemed a “public charge.”

Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli addresses the Virginia GOP Convention in Roanoke, Va., on June 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli addresses the Virginia GOP Convention in Roanoke, Va., on June 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli addresses the Virginia GOP Convention in Roanoke, Va., on June 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Cuccinelli said he wouldnt guess how many people might be denied under the new rule but stressed that its the immigrants behavior that may change.

“The goal is to make sure that people who are granted long-term status, legal permanent residence status, can stand on their own two feet. And get back to that American tradition that has been in law for over 140 years,” Cuccinelli told the Washington Times.

The move drew a rebuke from some advRead More – Source

[contf]
[contfnew]

The Epoch Times

[contfnewc]
[contfnewc]

Politics

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) launched “an odious attack” against the groups upcoming event after Sanders said he wouldnt attend the conference.

“Senator Sanders has never attended our conference and that is evident from his outrageous comment,” AIPAC, which says it is Americas pro-Israel lobby, said in a statement on Sunday.

The annual conference features over 18,000 Americans from a wide variety of backgrounds and includes both Senate and House Democratic speakers.

“By engaging in such an odious attack on this mainstream, bipartisan American political event, Senator Sanders is insulting his very own colleagues and the millions of Americans who stand with Israel. Truly shameful,” AIPAC added.

The statement was in response to Sanderss announcement over the weekend that he wouldnt attend AIPACs conference, which is being held on March 1 and March 2 in Washington.

“The Israeli people have the right to live in peace and security. So do the Palestinian people. I remain concerned about the platform AIPAC provides for leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights,” he told supporters in a statement.

“As president, I will support the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians and do everything possible to bring peace and security to the region,” he added.

Sanders, a 78-year-old Jew who has been a federal lawmaker for decades, hasnt attended the AIPAC conference before but did offer to speak at the conference via video in 2016.

Epoch Times Photo
Epoch Times Photo
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) speaks during the AIPAC annual meeting in Washington on March 26, 2019. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

Sanders cited a busy campaign schedule as the reason why he couldnt speak at the conference in person. His offer to speak via video was reportedly rejected by AIPAC.

AIPAC later shared dozens of social media posts praising its annual event, some of which attacked Sanders.

In one, New York rabbi Jason Nevarez wrote: “Unlike Bernie Sanders, I will be @AIPAC Policy Conf. I am a proud Jew and progressive Zionist who believes in a safe and secure Israel alongside a future Palestinian State. We need to show up and be a part of the discussion. Each voice matters.”

Added international lawyer Arsen Ostrovsky: “Having attended @AIPAC many times, I can unequivocally say @SenSanders could not be further from truth. AIPAC is unabashedly pro-Israel. But also support Palestinian rights & 2 SS. They have people from Right to Left and in between. It is about dialogue & engagement!”

Scheduled speakers at AIPACs conference include Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.).

Last week, AIPAC distanced itself from a political Read More – Source

[contf]
[contfnew]

The Epoch Times

[contfnewc]
[contfnewc]

Politics

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump visited the Taj Mahal, the ivory-white marble mausoleum known as one of the worlds most iconic symbols of love, as well as Sabarmati Ashram, the former abode of Mahatma Gandhi, on Feb. 24 during their two-day state visit to India.

“The Taj Mahal inspires awe, a timeless testament to the rich and diverse beauty of Indian Culture!” Trump wrote in the monuments visitors book.

The president began his first visit to India on Monday, starting by addressing over 100,000 people at the city of Ahmedabads newly constructed cricket stadium, the worlds largest, which he also inaugurated.

The Taj Mahal inspires awe, a timeless testament to the rich and diverse beauty of Indian Culture!

Thank You, India.

-Writes Hon. President of the USA, Mr. @realDonaldTrump and First lady of the USA, Mrs. @MELANIATRUMP in Visitors book of @TajMahal. pic.twitter.com/WIoWE5VMAC

— Government of UP (@UPGovt) February 24, 2020

Taj Mahal Trump and Melania
Taj Mahal Trump and Melania
U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump pose as they visit the Taj Mahal in Agra, India, on Feb. 24, 2020. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner at Taj Mahal
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner at Taj Mahal
White House senior advisors Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner pose as they visit the Taj Mahal in Agra, India, on Feb. 24, 2020. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

According to travel reports released by the White House, the president and the first lady traveled through the massive gardens leading to the mausoleum in a golf cart motorcade and then “walked together to the mausoleum which they visited while the pool stayed behind.”

Trump is the ninth U.S. President to visit India. President Barack Obama visited it in 2015 and George W. Bush​ did so in 2006.

Epoch Times Photo
Epoch Times Photo
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump visit the Taj Mahal in Agra on February 24, 2020. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

As Trump walked back to the gate of the Taj Mahal he said, “Really incredible, an incredible place.”

Earlier during the day, after addressing the people in the crowded stadium, the president and the first lady visited Sabarmati Ashram, the former abode of Mahatma Gandhi.

Sabarmati Ashram is where Gandhi lived for 13 years and is of historical significance because he directed all the major activities of Indias civil rights movement against the British colonial rule from here.

According to the White House travel reports, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was seen explaining to the President and the first lady how to use a traditional spinning wheel used by Gandhi.

US President @realDonaldTrump writes a message in the visitors book at the Sabarmati Ashram.#NamasteTrump pic.twitter.com/92gJrepIRP

— Bijal Patel (@ibijalpatel)

The Epoch Times

[contfnewc]
[contfnewc]

Politics

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg pushed back his CNN townhall from Monday to Wednesday to better prepare for a Democratic presidential debate slated for Tuesday night.

Bloombergs campaign linked the move to the billionaires desire to confront Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

“The country cant afford to let Bernie Sanders skate by another debate without a focus on his extreme record,” Galia Slayen, the Bloomberg campaigns national press secretary, said in a statement to The Epoch Times.

“Mike is preparing for Tuesdays crucial debate, and looks forward to taking part in CNNs town hall on Wednesday.”

Bloomberg and Sanders, both 78, clashed at last weeks debate in Nevada. After Sanders said that billionaires are able to get by paying little in taxes, Bloomberg noted that the longtime federal lawmaker owns three homes.

“What a wonderful country we have,” Bloomberg said. “The best known socialist in the country happens to be a millionaire with three houses. What did I miss?”

Sanders said that one of his homes is in Washington, where he works as a senator, and another is in Vermont. The third, he said, is “a summer camp.”

“Where is your home? Which tax haven is your home?” Sanders asked Bloomberg.

The former mayor said he lives in New York City and pays all of his taxes. He added that as mayor, he raised taxes on city residents.

Epoch Times Photo
Epoch Times Photo
Democratic presidential candidates former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg (L), and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) listen as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) makes a point during the Democratic presidential primary debate at Paris Las Vegas in Nevada on Feb. 19, 2020. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

After Bloomberg said that he earned his money by working hard, Sanders jumped in, telling him: “Maybe it wasnt you who made all that money. Maybe your workers played a part in that as well.”

The Feb. 25 debate in South Carolina will again feature Bloomberg and Sanders along with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), 70; Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), 59; former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, 38; and former Vice President Joe Biden, 77.

Businessman Tom Steyer, who didnt qualify for the last debate, will be back on the stage on Tuesday.

South Carolina voters head to the polls on Saturday.

Sanders

The Epoch Times

[contfnewc]
[contfnewc]

Politics

U.S. President Donald Trump launched his first state visit to India by announcing that the two nations would sign defense agreements valued at billions of dollars.

Addressing a cheering crowd of over 100,000 people at the worlds largest cricket stadium in Ahmedabad city, Trump said on Feb. 24: “I am pleased to announce that tomorrow, our representatives will sign deals to sell over $3 billion in the absolute finest, state-of-the-art military helicopters and other equipment to the Indian armed forces.”

Trump spoke about India and the United States defending their “sovereignty and security” together.

“The United States looks forward to providing India with the best and most feared military equipment on the planet. We make the greatest weapons ever made–airplanes, missiles, rockets, ships. We make the best, and we are dealing now with India,” Trump said in his speech, at a joint rally with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The “Namaste Trump” rally at the Sardar Patel Stadium was a reciprocal event to the “Howdy Modi” rally held in Houston last September.

Experts told The Epoch Times that the defense deal is important for the India-U.S. relationship and for the United States geopolitical strategy in the Indo-Pacific region.

Jeff M. Smith, a South Asia research fellow at Heritages Washington-based Asian Studies Center who was in New Delhi for a ground analysis, described India as “Asias democratic heavyweight and a lynchpin of the administrations Indo-Pacific Strategy,” in a pre-visit analysis.

India is the worlds largest democracy.

Trump “paid appropriate homage to Indias exceptional democracy. Conjured a powerful vision of India and the U.S. standing together as guardians of freedom in a troubled world,” Smith wrote on Twitter on Feb. 24. “Early signs it has been very well received here in Delhi.”

On Feb. 25, Trump is expected to sign two major defense deals in New Delhi: $930 million for six Apache attack helicopters and $2.6 billion for 24 Seahawk/Romeo anti-submarine warfare helicopters, according to Smith.

Aparna Pande, research fellow and director of the India Initiative at the Washington-based Hudson Institute, told The Epoch Times that the India-U.S. defense relationship is one of the strongest aspects of their bilateral ties.

“From almost no purchases two decades ago, today, the U.S. is among the top three suppliers to India,” she said.

In his speech, Trump also highlighted the first-ever air, land, and sea military exercises between the Indian armed forces and the U.S. military.

“It was something to behold. We called it Tiger Triumph.'”

The United States is playing a central role in building Indias military capability, said Kashish Parpiani, a research fellow with India-based Observers Research Foundation.

“By announcing upcoming defense procurements within the context of the U.S. and India together defending their sovereignty, security, and protecting a free and open Indo-Pacific, Trump sought to underscore the U.S.s central role in Indias military-capacity building,” he said.

In his speech, Trump also hRead More – Source

[contf]
[contfnew]

The Epoch Times

[contfnewc]
[contfnewc]

Politics

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has a likely cancerous tumor on his left kidney that will be surgically removed in early March, he announced on Feb. 23.

“Friends—Ive got a tumor on my left kidney and will undergo a partial nephrectomy in early March to remove it,” Murphy, a Democrat, wrote on Twitter on Saturday evening, adding that “the prognosis is very good and Im profoundly grateful to my doctors for detecting the tumor early.”

“Over 50,000 New Jerseyans will hear the words you have cancer this year, so Im far from alone here. Its a situation that far too many families find themselves in. Thats why were fighting for them each and every day,” he said.

Murphy, 62, who last year signed legislation to establish a state-based health exchange, added that “health care is a right, not a privilege for a select few, and skyrocketing medical costs are a national emergency.”

“If theres anything my diagnosis reminds me of, its that preventative services are lifesaving and we need to continue fighting for affordable health care for all,” he said.

The governors communications director, Mahen Gunaratna, said that Murphys doctor had discovered a 3-centimeter-wide tumor on his left kidney during a recent checkup but noted that the doctor believes it is “fully treatable since the tumor was discovered early.”

He will undergo a partial nephrectomy, also referred to as a kidney-sparing surgery, in March, where doctors will remove the diseased tissue and save the kidney. The surgery can be performed through a single incision in the abdomen or side (open nephrectomy) or through a series of small incisions in the abdomen using a camera and small instruments (laparoscopic nephrectomy), according to the Mayo Clinic.

Gunaratna added that Murphys family is “profoundly grateful to the medical professionals who detected this tumor early and sends thanks to everyone for their good wishes.”

Murphy told

The Epoch Times

[contfnewc]
[contfnewc]

Politics

House Majority Whip Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) said Sunday that former Vice President Joe Biden may have “suffered” due to his performance in previous debates, which may have cost him in earlier voting states.

“Ive heard from a lot of the people that they thought that Joe Biden could have done more to engage … during the debates and thought he could have done more to say why he would be deserving. And so, I think he suffered from that because he didnt do enough,” Clyburn told NBCs “Meet the Press.”

The former vice president finished fourth in Iowa and fifth in New Hampshire, but he claimed second-place in Nevada on Saturday.

Biden has often said that his campaign must do well in South Carolina, telling CBS Newss “Face the Nation” that he believes he will win the state.

“I feel good about where we are. I feel good about going into South Carolina,” he said on Sunday. “And I feel good about the kind of support Ive had with African Americans around the country.”

But Clyburn on Sunday said Bidens debate in South Carolina on Tuesday will be critical.

Biden
Biden
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the Democratic presidential primary debate at Paris Las Vegas in Nevada on Feb. 19, 2020. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

“I think that at that time you had, what, 17 or 18 people on the stage. Kamala Harris, I think, unnerved him a little bit with her question,” Clyburn said, referring to the California senator. “So all of this changes when you only have six people. The dynamics on Tuesday night will be totally different from what they were.”

Clyburn added in the interview that hell endorse a candidate on Wednesday.

“I just believe it would be, it would not be good for me to hold myself out as a person Read More – Source

[contf]
[contfnew]

The Epoch Times

[contfnewc]
[contfnewc]