Category Archives: Federal

Canceling Student Debt Accentuates the Class Divide

by Chris Saxman

The big news of the week was President Biden’s announcement that he was canceling a lot of student higher education debt. #IsItLegal?
Here are three non-judicial-branch reactions to the Biden plan:

The Washington Post Ed Board:

The loan-forgiveness decision is even worse. Widely canceling student loan debt is regressive. It takes money from the broader tax base, mostly made up of workers who did not go to college, to subsidize the education debt of people with valuable degrees. Though Mr. Biden’s plan includes an income cap, the threshold does not reflect need or earnings potential, meaning white-collar professionals with high future salaries stand to benefit….

Mr. Biden’s student loan decision will not do enough to help the most vulnerable Americans. It will, however, provide a windfall for those who don’t need it — with American taxpayers footing the bill.

President Obama’s Chairman of Council Economic Advisors: Continue reading

Taking Food From Needy Children to Advance the Trans Agenda

by Kerry Dougherty

This ought to be the number one campaign issue in the U.S. right now: the Biden administration’s radical plan to starve the National School Lunch program unless states adopt far-left gender identity rules for schools that include allowing biological boys to compete in girls’ sports.

This outrageous federal blackmail leaves states struggling to choose between protecting girls and keeping needy children from going hungry.

And it’s just another case of a federal agency — this time the USDA — exceeding its authority. How many times will Biden’s out-of-control bureaucrats have to be smacked down by the U.S. Supreme Court before they stop illegally exercising powers not delegated to them by Congress?

Twenty-two Republican attorneys general sued Tuesday to block the Agriculture Department’s newly announced guidance making student-lunch funds contingent on enforcing the Biden administration’s gender-identity agenda. Continue reading

Youngkin on the Mar-a-Lago Raid

What do you think of Governor Glenn Youngkin’s comparison? Does former President Trump’s behavior on Jan. 6, 2021, warrant special attention by federal law enforcement? Or have the DOJ and FBI become servants of the new ruling class, intent upon prosecuting only the transgressions of the political right? If the latter (remembering that this is a Virginia blog), how can Virginia, as a co-sovereign state in a federal system, push back?

Social Theory vs. Science in K-12 Discipline in Virginia – Fraud or Just Wrong?

Both fraudulent and wrong?

by James C. Sherlock

American school children have in my lifetime been the subject of widespread experiments in theory disguised as breakthroughs in education.

Consider the “new math” and the “reading wars” as prominent examples.

Now we have social theory on school discipline created by federal civil rights lawyers piggybacking on what may or may not prove to be successful academic practices for children with disabilities. That social theory has been promulgated as state policy guidance in Virginia.

A Multi-tiered System of Supports (MTSS) has been used successfully in some instances to help teach academics to the learning-disabled.

This system was extended by lawyers from the aspirational left to school discipline and social-emotional learning without evidence. Now it has been published by the Virginia Board of Education for use by every school division in Virginia as a potential cure for “systemic racism” in discipline.

The 2021 Model Guidance for Positive, Preventative Code of Student Conduct Policy and Alternatives to Suspension (Virginia Model Guidance) may be fraudulently referenced. It is certainly incompletely referenced. Continue reading

The July Surprise from Congress – a Completely Revised Energy Economy by 2030

It’s simple. Let’s write a bill and put a date certain on it.  What could go wrong? Courtesy BP

by James C. Sherlock

Here at Bacon’s Rebellion we spend a lot of ink talking about Virginia energy demand and supply. We debate the ideas of both sides of the discussion. Turns out that we made the mistake of thinking these were state issues.

Democrats in Congress are about to intervene in every part of that discussion in a reconciliation bill to be passed with 50 votes in the Senate.

First, consider the inside joke of the title of an act to be buried in the reconciliation bill: “The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.”

  • Congressional Democrats propose to fight inflation by pouring another $369 billion into the economy in a period of extremely high inflation and by raising taxes in a recession.
  • Projection of the writers of the bill: “slash” the country’s carbon emissions by roughly 40% by 2030 — less than 8 years.
  • No risk is recognized in completely upending the nation’s energy economy — “slashing” it to use the term of art.
  • No controls offered to make sure that corruption doesn’t follow the money.
  • No controls offered to make sure the money accomplishes its goals.
  • No word on how the production of plastics, synthetic fabrics, fertilizer, concrete, asphalt, paraffin wax used by electric companies to insulate wires, steel, petrochemicals, and sulfur removed from petroleum used in the pharmaceutical and agrochemical industries might be impacted.
  • No tongues in cheeks when promising low-income Americans a $7,500 tax credit to buy a $65,000 electric vehicle.
  • No mention anywhere of how this bill merges seamlessly with the major climate “investments” in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act.
  • No word on how the new taxes, which will be popular with voters, will affect employment and capital investment. You know, capital investment, the money corporations use to bring innovation to market.  Or on the risk-reward calculations of investment decisions in early stage companies.
  • No indication of market effects when for-profit businesses pay the new taxes and their self-declared “not-for-profit” competitors in, say, the hospital industry do not.  No calculation of the effects on insurance rates.
  • Or, as Steve Haner points out, on the international competitiveness of American products with higher prices and less reliable energy.

The only thing that matters: Joe Manchin has agreed to it. Continue reading

Where Does Virginia Most Need Charter Schools?

by James C. Sherlock

Discussing failing schools in Virginia, people tend to speak in generalities. When an example is needed, the City of Richmond Public Schools is chosen — an uncontested layup.

But failed schools are not a problem just in Richmond. And bad public schools in Richmond are not limited to RPS. They are a problem to which VDOE has paid lip service, hamstrung by Virginia law and constitution when trying to fulfill federal mandates with federal money.

I will be very specific about schools and school divisions and the potential to help those children with professionally-run charter schools. Currently not a single one of the six or so charter schools in Virginia is managed by a successful charter management organization (CMO).

The most useful public list that we have at the moment for this discussion is the 2020-21 VDOE list of “Schools Identified for Support and Improvement under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).”

I will use that list to offer specificity to a Governor who wants to help. Continue reading

Wind Farm Threat to Whales is Next Big Argument

Source: NOAA

by David Wojick

The massive offshore wind (OSW) project proposed by Dominion Energy may pose a serious threat to the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale population. A comprehensive environmental impact assessment is required to determine the extent of this threat and the mitigation it might require. The same is true for the other proposed Mid-Atlantic OSW projects.

The North Atlantic Right Whale is reported to be the world’s most endangered large whale, with an estimated population of just a few hundred critters. They winter off of Florida and Georgia, but summer off New England.  They migrate through the coastal waters off of Virginia twice a year, including that year’s baby whales. They can grow to over 50 feet in length and weigh more than 70 tons. Protecting them is a major challenge.  Continue reading

New Fed Policy Would Hide CMS Data on Patient Safety Records of Hospitals

by James C. Sherlock

One of the most disturbing commentaries I have read in a long time relating to federal efforts to improve hospital patient safety reports a major step backwards in that program.

I have written here many times of the power of the hospitals over Virginia’s politics. A proposed new federal rule shows that power at the federal level. It would negatively affect your ability to understand and compare the patient safety records of hospitals.

The Biden administration Centers for Medicare/Medicaid Services (CMS) proposes to hide from the public a CMS rating that helps consumers view relative patient safety grades of hospitals. As important to the hospitals, perhaps, no one would be able to report on that information.

It also proposes to waive $350 million in fines for hospitals that violated existing regulations.

CMS for the Secretary of Health and Human Services is, with this rule, exercising the extraordinary powers the Secretary gives himself by constantly extending the Declaration of Public Emergency for COVID.  And yes, that is legal.

Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA) submitted a 17-page letter of comment. It of course supported the waiver of fines.  On the issue of suppressing patient safety data, the VHHA wrote, unsurprisingly:

“VHHA and its members are supportive of the proposed suppression (of data) in the HVBP program.”

The letter also encouraged CMS to also suppress pneumonia mortality measure because of the potential overlap with COVID- related pneumonia.

The only way that could happen since CMS is already suppressing data with a primary or secondary COVID diagnosis is if there was no reported COVID indication in pneumonia cases.

The proposal itself represents a major scandal.  A total of 1,533 comments, now closed, were submitted on the proposed rule.

They comments from doctors and patient safety groups were unsupportive.  Hospitals were very supportive.  The Virginia Department of Health sent a short letter on the larger rule, but did not comment on data suppression.

The result: political healthcare rules courtesy of the Biden administration and the hospital lobby.

The following article is reprinted by permission of Kaiser Health News. Continue reading

Disin-Cline-Nation

Representative Ben Cline

by Jim McCarthy

Representative Ben Cline secured more than 80% of the votes cast in the primary in the Virginia’s 6th Congressional District. Fewer than 5% of registered voters participated, and the margin was less than 10% of the votes that elected him in 2020. Since then, the January 6 Committee has commenced its hearings. One might ask what the implication are for Cline, who voted to reject the electoral slates and popular votes of Arizona and Pennsylvania certified to the Congress.

Consider his response to an interview question from The Winchester Star shortly before the primary election.

Reporter: Do you think former President Donald Trump tried to steal the 2020 election, and what should be done about what happened on Jan. 6?

Cline: The Constitution provides that each state shall appoint its electors for president, “in such a Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct.” In the months preceding the 2020 election, those rules and procedures established by the state Legislatures were deliberately changed by a number of individuals, including governors, secretaries of state, elections officials, judges, and private parties. These changes were a direct violation of Article II, Section 1, Clause 2 of the Constitution. For this reason, I objected to the electors from those states and I stand by my objection. Continue reading

Let’s Get Out of Here

Petersburg Federal Correctional Institution

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that four prisoners escaped from the federal prison complex near Petersburg early Saturday morning.  No details were released on how they escaped.

Undoubtedly, it is important for federal officials to discover how the prisoners escaped and take steps to tighten security.  However, there is another question that is almost as important:  how did it come about that these particular prisoners were housed in that particular facility?

Three of the four had long sentences resulting from their convictions on drug distribution charges (fentanyl, cocaine, or heroin). Also included among the charges were possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking, possession of a stolen firearm, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Their sentences ranged from 10 to 16 years.  In summary, these were serious offenders who had shown a tendency toward firearm violence. Continue reading

Commonwealth Set for Major Broadband Expansion

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

One of the issues underlined by the pandemic was the need for all areas of the state to have access to broadband internet. Without access to broadband, kids (and adults) in rural areas cannot take advantage of courses offered online. To the extent that more people will be working remotely, rural areas need access to broadband in order for those people to move there. Broadband accessibility is necessary for almost all businesses and industries and rural areas will need to have such accessibility if they hope to convince private companies to bring new jobs to their areas.

Thanks to federal funding, the Commonwealth is well on its way to achieving universal availability. The source of most of that funding is the American Rescue Plan (ARP), enacted in early 2021 as part of the Biden administration’s efforts to offset the economic effects of the COVID pandemic. In July of last year, the Northam administration and the General Assembly announced an agreement to allocate $700 million of the state’s ARP funding to broadband expansion. Several months later, that amount grew by  $220 million as a result of an allocation from another section of the ARP. Finally, it is expected that Virginia will get $65 million for broadband expansion from the federal infrastructure bill passed last fall. Continue reading

Virginia Partisanship in Congress

Rep. Abigail Spanberger
Photo credit: Richmond Times Dispatch

Virginia Congressmen have scored at the extremes on a national measure of bipartisanship in Congress.  As reported by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-7th, has been ranked as the fifth most bipartisan member of the House of Representatives and Rep. Bob Good, R-5th, the fifth least bipartisan member.

Rep. Bob Good, Photo credit: Richmond Times Dispatch

The Lugar Center, founded by the late Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Indiana), and the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University, annually publishes the Bipartisan Index.  The Index “measures the frequency with which a member co-sponsors a bill introduced by the opposite party and the frequency with which a member’s own bills attract co-sponsors from the opposite party.”  It is not a simple compilation of co-sponsorships.  The Index utilizes a 20-year baseline of data to standardize the data and there is a weighting factor to account for members who sponsor or co-sponsor lots of bills or just a few bills.  Not counted in the compilation were resolutions or private bills, such as those that name post offices. Continue reading

George Orwell Call Home

Nina Jankowitz

by James C. Sherlock

This blog, while proudly based in individual research, often offers controversial ideas.

Uniform agreement is not expected. Debate is encouraged. We learn from one another and even occasionally change a few minds on both sides.

Yesterday the Biden administration announced the establishment of a federal “Disinformation Governance Board” in the Department of Homeland Security to “combat online disinformation in the 2022 midterms.”

Seriously. It was disclosed yesterday afternoon by Secretary Mayorkas in his testimony on Capitol Hill.

You will not be shocked to learn that neither The Washington Post nor The New York Times has yet covered the story. I just checked. Yet it represents a bigger threat to our nation than Russia and China. And it lives within the Department of Homeland Security. Continue reading

CDC Chicanery

by Kerry Dougherty

Looks like the jig is up for the CDC. Someone needs to tell the secretive political animals running the agency that when you’ve lost The New York Times, you’re done.

On Sunday, The Times published a story criticizing the Centers for Disease Control for hiding massive amounts of data from the public. “The CDC Isn’t Publishing Large Portions Of The Covid Data It Collects.”

Why has the CDC “published only a tiny fraction of the data it has collected?“

The agency has been reluctant to make those figures public…because they might be misinterpreted as the vaccines being ineffective.

Uh-oh. What are they keeping from us and why? Continue reading

Infrastructure Bill, Meet Richmond’s United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit Richmond, Va.

by James C. Sherlock

The President and members of Congress have celebrated the enactment of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act into law.

In Virginia and the other states (Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia) of the federal Fourth Circuit, good luck with that.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit just published two related decisions on January 29th and February 4th, 2022 decided by the same three-judge panel, all appointees of Democratic presidents.

Both decisions remanded to federal agencies for reconsideration years of federal assessments that have supported the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Those agencies are now run by Biden appointees. They won’t be back.

The court is populated with a majority of judges appointed by Democratic presidents. There is a vacancy awaiting a Biden appointment. The Chief Judge faces mandatory retirement next year.

So no relief in sight except the Supreme Court.

The decisions clearly demonstrate what will happen to Virginia public infrastructure projects that are opposed by the greens and/or protected classes or both, which will be nearly all of them.

Roads, bridges, pipelines, large solar panel projects, airport expansions, new rail lines, you name it. Flood control? Forget it. They are headed into the federal and state bureaucracies and then to court and then back again.

For years. Continue reading