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Partial government shutdown likely to extend past Christmas

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Partial government shutdown likely to extend past Christmas

WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government was expected to remain partially shut down past Christmas as the standoff deepened Saturday over President Donald Trump’s demand for funds to build a border wall with Mexico.

With Trump’s insistence on $5 billion for the wall and negotiations with Democrats in Congress far from a breakthrough, even a temporary measure to keep the government running while talks continued seemed out of reach until the Senate returned for a full session Thursday.

From coast to coast, the first day of the shutdown played out in uneven ways. The Statue of Liberty was still open for tours, thanks to funding from New York state, and the U.S. Post Office was still delivering mail, as an independent agency.

In Arizona, the Grand Canyon was remaining open with state funding, the governor said. But visitors arriving at Carlsbad Caverns National Park in southern New Mexico could check out only the surface, not the underground cavern that is the park’s main attraction. The memorial to Oklahoma City bombing victims was to continue to operate, but the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library Center at College Station, Texas, said its National Archives facilities were closed during the shutdown.

Yet the disruption affected many government operations and the routines of 800,000 federal employees. Roughly 420,000 workers were deemed essential and were expected to work unpaid. An additional 380,000 were to be furloughed, meaning they will stay home without pay. The Senate had already passed legislation ensuring that workers will receive back pay, and the House was likely to follow suit.

No one knew how long the closures would last. Unlike other shutdowns, this one seemed to lack urgency, coming during the long holiday weekend after Trump had already declared Monday, Christmas Eve, a federal holiday. Rather than work around the clock to try to end the shutdown, as they had done in the past, the leaders of the House and the Senate effectively closed up shop. But they didn’t rule out action if a deal were struck.

“Listen, anything can happen,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters after he closed the Senate’s rare Saturday session hours after it opened.

But after ushering Vice President Mike Pence through the Capitol for another round of negotiations, the Republican chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, said a quick end to the shutdown was “not probable.”

At the White House, Trump hosted a lunch Saturday with conservative lawmakers, including House Freedom Caucus chiefs Mark Meadows of North Carolina and Jim Jordan of Ohio, and several senators. Absent from the guest list were GOP leaders or any Democrats, who would be needed for a deal.

“I am in the White House, working hard,” tweeted the president, who canceled his Florida holiday getaway to his club Mar-a-Lago due to the shutdown. First lady Melania Trump was flying back to Washington to be with her husband.

Trump’s re-election campaign sent out a fundraising email late Saturday launching what he called “the most important membership program ever – the OFFICIAL BUILD THE WALL MEMBERSHIP.” The president urged donors to sign up.

With Democrats set to take control of the House on Jan. 3, and Speaker Paul Ryan on his way out, the shutdown was providing a last gasp of the conservative majority before the new Congress.

Trump savored the prospect of a shutdown over the wall for months. Last week he said he would be “proud” to close down the government. He had campaigned on the promise of building the wall, and he also promised Mexico would pay for it. Mexico has refused to do so.

In recent days, though, Trump tried to shift blame to Democrats for not acceding to his demand. He has given mixed messages on whether he would sign any bill into law.

After the luncheon at the White House, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said, “It’s clear to me he believes the additional funding is necessary.”

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York met with Pence on Saturday at the request of the White House, according to Schumer’s office. But the senator’s spokesman said they remained “very far apart” on a spending agreement.

Schumer said the “Trump shutdown” could end immediately if the president simply dropped his demand for money. “If you want to open the government, you must abandon the wall,” Schumer said.

Democrats said they were open to other proposals that didn’t include the wall, which Schumer said was too costly and ineffective. They have offered to keep spending at existing levels of $1.3 billion for border fencing and other security.

But Trump, digging in, tweeted about “the crisis of illegal activity” at American’s southern border is “real and will not stop until we build a great Steel Barrier or Wall.”

Republican leaders largely stayed in the background of the negotiations. McConnell acknowledged that any deal to reopen government would require Democratic support for passage and the president’s signature.

Senators approved a bipartisan deal earlier in the week to keep the government open into February and provide $1.3 billion for border security projects, but not the wall. But as Trump faced criticism from conservatives for “caving” on a campaign promise, he pushed to House to approve a package temporarily financing the government but also setting aside $5.7 billion for the border wall.

A test vote in the Senate on Friday showed that Republicans lacked the 60 votes needed to advance the House plan.

Pelosi, poised to become speaker, said in a letter to colleagues Saturday that “until President Trump can publicly commit to a bipartisan resolution, there will be no agreement before January when the new House Democratic Majority will swiftly pass legislation to re-open government.”

The impasse blocked money for nine of 15 Cabinet-level departments and dozens of agencies, including the departments of Homeland Security, Transportation, Interior, Agriculture, State and Justice.

Those being furloughed included nearly everyone at NASA and 52,000 workers at the Internal Revenue Service. About 8 in 10 employees of the National Park Service were to stay home; many parks were expected to close.

Some agencies, including the Pentagon and the departments of Veterans Affairs and Health and Human Services, were already funded and will operate as usual. Also still functioning were the FBI, the Border Patrol and the Coast Guard. Transportation Security Administration officers continued to staff airport checkpoints and air traffic controllers were on the job.

Many of Congress’ most conservative Republicans welcomed such a confrontation, but most GOP lawmakers wanted to avoid one because polling showed the public opposed the wall and a shutdown over it.

Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said, “This is a complete failure of negotiations and a success for no one.”

___

Associated Press writers Alan Fram, Mary Clare Jalonick and Jill Colvin in Washington contributed to this report.

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Conspiracy Theory

The clock is ticking on climate change… alarmists

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The clock is ticking on climate change alarmists

The world is going to end in ten years. The world has been ten years away from ending for the last four decades. And yet, here we are.

I’m not one of those who denies we need to be better stewards of this world. We are trashing the planet that God gave us, oftentimes in ways that no longer make sense. Whether or not these actions are actively changing the climate is for smarter people than me to debate, but I’ve suffered through too many doomsday predictions to give any credence to hypothetical timetables. Invariably, these doomsdayers have been proven wrong as their predictions fail miserably.

Those who say we need to take radical action to preserve the environment are making empty, political threats whether they realize it or not. Most are indoctrinated. Some are fully aware they’re using the politics of climate change to advance their economic and power-grabbing agenda.

Those who say we need to find solutions to improve conditions in the world for humans, animals, and plants are correct. There are old practices that need to change, new practices that need to be adopted, and problems that need to be solved. We need to address these issues in a systematic way. But not because of climate change. Not because of the doomsdayers.

Advancing human society, protecting vulnerable aspects of the environment, and making the world a cleaner place for all to live are righteous goals that are being subverted by climate change alarmists. Instead of a systematic, pragmatic approach to improving conditions, they want to force-feed sweeping authoritarian changes into the world. The indoctrinated masses are behind the climate change puppetmasters like sheep being led to the slaughter.

Before I get into the real agenda of the climate change puppetmasters, let’s look at actual solutions for protecting the environment that should be implemented through the proper course of an advancing society.

Clean energy that makes sense

I am very much in favor of expanding research into renewable energy sources that will EVENTUALLY replace fossil fuels when it makes fiscal sense. Today, that’s not the case. Solar, wind, geothermal, and hydroelectric energy collection are all still terribly inefficient. Moreover, they require resources such as large swaths of land for wind, expensive projects for geothermal and hydroelectric, and rare components for solar that could be used better.

We know we can collect and store energy. We just haven’t figured out how to do it efficiently yet. Trying to force the issue before it’s time is silly. The problems of finite fossil fuels have been identified and we must move towards solutions that will ween us off their use. But we must do so in a way that makes sense. We must be practical. Setting arbitrary time limits based on false doomsday predictions is idiotic.

Instead of expensive projects to prematurely collect renewable energy inefficiently, we should be focusing on improving the collection process. Why are we building massive wind farms and solar arrays using stage-one technology? We know we can do it better if we have the patience to let the technology blossom. But the technology isn’t ready. It’s too expensive. It’s inefficient at best, ineffective at worst. Much of the renewable energy infrastructure will have to be replaced once better technology is discovered and developed.

Pushing for mass clean energy initiatives now is like picking fruit before it’s ripe. We need to let the technology guide the politics, not the other way around.

Potable water is shockingly ignored

The biggest environmental problem we face is the one few climate activists ever address. Clean drinking water is genuinely difficult to find in many populated areas of the world. If there’s a reason to sound an environmental alarm, this is the one. Unfortunately, the alarm bells over fossil fuels, cows, and carbon emissions drown out the real challenges people are facing today with potable water.

Eliminating plastic straws will not give water to those who need it in Africa. Replacing ten million SUVs with Priuses will not end the drought in southeast Asia. It’s the ultimate con-job that climate alarmists point to people needing water as a reason for their alarms while they do absolutely nothing to help these people get the water they need. Keep in mind, the problem with potable water existed long before climate change became an issue, which is why the alarmists do nothing to address the issue.

More people will die today from lack of potable water than any of the alleged climate change catastrophes that happen this year. Yet the problem is ignored. It’s just not politically expedient for the doomsdayers to address an issue that preexisted their doomsday claims.

Again, we must turn to technology. But this time it’s not a matter of technology needing to be created through research. The technology exists. Instead, we need to apply funding to make the technology readily available to those who need it. The money spent promoting climate change propaganda would go a long way towards a desalination and filtration infrastructure that would bring clean drinking water to the billions who need it. The solutions are staring us in the face, but we’re too busy trying to cut carbon emissions.

Cleaner world through federalism

I’ve long called for the Environmental Protection Agency to be abolished. It’s a regulatory nightmare that stands in the way of progress so virtue-signalling bureaucrats can say they’re doing something. Instead of an EPA, we need to turn to local communities. States, counties, cities, and communities can go a long way towards cleaning up the mess we humans are making of this world if the challenge is presented at those levels rather than at a national level.

Instead of wasting billions of dollars on an environmental nanny, we should empower and encourage communities to go to work for themselves. Imagine if the money spent on studies about the delta smelt’s habitat was instead spent on building local efforts to promote recycling. We could kill two birds with one stone by helping homeless people. In Little Rock, Arkansas, the city is paying homeless people to pick up trash.

Let’s eliminate the federal virtue-signaling agency and replace it with localized efforts. Empower the lower governments to experiment with ways to make our nation cleaner. This would yield real results instead of obtuse and unnecessary regulations.

The truth about climate change alarmists

Climate change actions such as the Green New Deal are all about transforming the economic and governmental systems of this nation and the world. Climate change itself is simply the engine these Marxists are using to get the masses riled up.

It’s a powerful vehicle for them because we have years of indoctrination in schools, propaganda in the media, and an array of false (political) science studies that have been tilted for nefarious reasons. They use fear to promote their agenda, and frankly I’m extremely concerned we may be beyond the point of no return. Too many Americans have fallen for the ruse. But the clock is ticking. As long as we continue fighting their agenda, the false claims will be proven to be nothing more than doomsday political machinations of forces bent on our nation’s destruction.

There are two types of climate change alarmists: The indoctrinated Americans, such as those in the #ClimateStrike, and the authoritarian puppetmasters using climate change as a pedestal to push their political agenda. They must be exposed.

We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.

American Conservative Movement

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Democrats

Leon Cooperman on stock market’s reaction to an Elizabeth Warren presidency

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Leon Cooperman on stock market's reaction to an Elizabeth Warren presidency

Leon Cooperman knows a thing or two about the stock market. The billionaire hedge fund manager has worked the market for decades. As founder of Omega Advisors, he doesn’t just move his own money around the stock market. He invests for others as well. When it comes to the market, people listen to Leon Cooperman.

They should be listening when he discusses the prospects of a Democrat in the White House and the implications of their policies, which he noted are heading further to the left.

“The Democratic Party seems to be leaning towards the left on policies, which is very harmful for the economy. I don’t like the shift to the left,” he explained to CNBC, adding that the market, of course, will open, but it won’t be pretty.

He also said something else profound…

“It would be a bear market and they go on for a year and go down 25%,” he said. “You don’t make the poor people rich by making rich people poor.”

But the best quote pertained to one of the frontrunners directly, Elizabeth Warren.

“They won’t open the stock market if Elizabeth Warren is the next president,” he quipped.

It may not be THAT bad, but it might as well be. With the radical progressives’ push for Modern Monetary Theory, the economy as we know it would evaporate like a puddle in the desert.

We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.

American Conservative Movement

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Economy

The CFPB must protect consumers from abusive debt collection practices

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The CFPB must protect consumers from abusive debt collection practices

Washington, D.C. – Dennis M. Kelleher, President and CEO of Better Markets, issued the following statement with the filing of a comment letter on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (“CFPB’s”) proposed rules implementing the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act:

“Almost all Americans pay their debts and most of those who don’t are facing circumstances beyond their control like unemployment, a medical calamity, and other usually tragic occurrences. Congress enacted the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) to protect those vulnerable Americans from shocking, egregious, and abusive practices by the debt collection industry: calling homes repeatedly day and night; calling employers to get people fired; calling friends, neighbors, and relatives to embarrass people; and generally harassing people nonstop to boost their profits. The list of horror stories is long and revolting.

“The CFPB is now charged with implementing and enforcing the FDCPA and it must be guided by Congress’s clear and unequivocal objective to protect consumers not the debt collection industry. It must strongly and clearly regulate a business model that is embedded with incentives to pursue debtors ruthlessly using abusive tactics.

“The CFPB has proposed a rule to implement the provisions of the FDCPA. While it has a few modest consumer protections in it, the proposal also opens too many loopholes and ambiguities that will enable debt collectors to once again engage in too many near-abusive or outright abusive practices. For example, as we detailed in our comment letter, the proposal allows too many communications with debtors, essentially amounting to legalized harassment, and it would create an escape hatch from liability when debt collectors file lawsuits to collect on debts that are actually time-barred under the law.

“The CFPB must finalize a rule consistent with the letter and spirit of the FDCPA, which means it must put consumer interests over debt collectors and meaningfully constrain their impulse to engage in abusive but highly profitable practices.”

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Better Markets is a non-profit, non-partisan, and independent organization founded in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis to promote the public interest in the financial markets, support the financial reform of Wall Street and make our financial system work for all Americans again. Better Markets works with allies – including many in finance – to promote pro-market, pro-business and pro-growth policies that help build a stronger, safer financial system that protects and promotes Americans’ jobs, savings, retirements and more. To learn more, visit www.bettermarkets.com.

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