The U.S. currently administers around 80 welfare and poverty assistance programs across a fractured, disjointed, ineffectual bureaucracy. The costs of these programs add up to $1 trillion a year—about $750 billion federally, plus about $250 billion in state contributions. That means we could give each household in poverty a $30,000 check every year and still spend half of what we spend on these welfare programs each year. Senator Sessions offered an amendment that would establish welfare reform priorities designed to transition workers from dependency to independence—this would be accomplished not by cutting benefits but by prioritizing job placement. Only 1% of welfare funds currently go to job training; Sessions argued that welfare reform legislation should redirect a greater share of those funds towards job training and apprenticeships. Sessions also argued that companies looking for workers should go to the welfare office instead of the immigration office, and that benefits should be consolidated to improve oversight and efficiency.
The Israeli election campaign just ended has been one hell of a dismal and ominous ride. I knew that well enough, but it was only when near-final results were released, and I began to cry, that I realized how very frightened I had been. For this nation that I love, and for the free world.
Credit: Reuters/Amir Cohen
And so I am grateful. First to the Almighty. And then to the people of Israel, who saw their way past the nonsense, and saved the day.
The campaign was one that I found shameful on several counts, something I have written about in recent days:
It was personalized – an attack directly on Binyamin Netanyahu (with ridiculous accusations against his wife), rather than primarily a debate on the issues. This was ugly, and unbecoming.
What is more, there is solid reason to believe that the campaign incorporated outside American interference, which is unacceptable by all measures of diplomatic conduct. Such was the desire and determination of the Obama administration to take down Netanyahu. (More on this below.) The campaign advice provided to “the Zionist Camp” was slick – starting, I strongly suspect, with the fact that the merged Labor-Hatenua faction renamed themselves “Zionist Camp,” thereby creating the possibility of confusion in people’s minds. And, I just as strongly suspect, including an announcement by Livni, just hours before the voting was to start, that she was pulling out of the shared premiereship deal with Herzog (clearly because internal polls indicated he would do better without her).
That in the end the people of Israel did not buy the rhetoric of the campaign on the left is a source of great gladness.
For – and this is the heart of the matter!! – it is difficult to exaggerate the damage that Buji and Livni might have done, had they gained the reins of the government. They would have created a threatening situation for us at home with their “two state” negotiations nonsense, would have invited attack by Hamas and Hezbollah with their appeasement, and would have left Obama in the White House and the mullahs in Tehran laughing their heads off.
But we are not in that place. Thank God, thank God.
Coming into the election, Bibi was trailing Buji by some four mandates, and it was a scary time. A concerned Bibi let it be known that if the electorate was interested in a nationalist government, they would have to center their votes on Likud, and not spread them out amongst the nationalist parties. For if the nationalist vote was divided, and Herzog came in with more mandates, President Rivlin might select Herzog to first try to form a coalition.
The people heard.
When the polls closed at 10 PM yesterday, the nation was provided with the results of several media exit polls that had been done in the course of the day. These polls were supposed to be a reasonably solid predictor of the actual results.
What we were told was that Bibi and Buji were just about neck and neck, at 27 mandates each by most accounts. This was reassuring – a far cry from the information we had via the final polls five days before the election. There was now solid hope for Likud, as it was being predicted that Bibi had a better chance to form a coalition. But it was still too close for real comfort. Netanyahu claimed victory; Herzog declined to congratulate him, assuming a “wait and see” stance instead.
But as the night wore on, the picture changed to one increasingly positive, until it was at last clear that Bibi Netanyahu and Likud had secured an amazing win, with 30 mandates to 24 for Buji and the Zionist Camp.
Buji then congratulated Bibi on his win. And now it is a sure thing that Rivlin will ask Bibi to form the government.
Prior to the election, the far left Hadash had joined with the Arab parties for a united list, and they came in third at 14 mandates. It is expected that they will now break apart again.
Then: Yesh Atid (Lapid) 11, Kulanu (Kahlon) 10, Habayit Hayehudi (Bennett) 8, Shas (Deri) 7, United Torah Judaism (Litzman/Gafni) 6, Yisrael Beitenu (Lieberman) 6, Meretz 4.
Just as Habayit Hayehudi lost mandates (some 12 had been anticipated), because of the call for votes to Likud, so, too, did Eli Yishai’s new party Yahad fail to make the electoral cut-off. I am sorry about that. A break off from Shas, and solidly Orthodox/ultra-Orthodox, it was also shaping up as a nationalist party. I believe Yishai is a good man, and hope he finds his way.
The numbers I cite here represent 99% of the vote, there are still votes from soldiers and others to be counted. That last 1% is unlikely to change matters – but it could cause a shift, as has happened before.
I want to mention Naftali Bennett here, because he has conducted himself as a true mensch – a person who behaves with integrity and decency. He and other members of the party (notably Ayelet Shaked) were able to rejoice at a right wing win, even though it was at the cost of some Habayit Hayehudi mandates. Said Bennett to his gathered supporters (emphasis added):
“Netanyahu called me. I praised him for the great victory of the national camp. We concluded that we will begin negotiations to establish the government. I tell you, my friends, in these negotiations we will not focus on cabinet positions, rather on values.
“We will take care to ensure a government … that will safeguard the Land of Israel in its entirety. A government that will ensure the Jewish character of the State of Israel. A government that will protect IDF soldiers from outside [legal] persecution.
“We will secure a government that will safeguard a united Jerusalem under the sovereignty of Israel, and Israel only. And a government that will not give a centimeter of Israeli land to the Arabs.
“We’re running long distance. We are not afraid, and we don’t lower our heads. We raise our heads higher and higher. We love the people of Israel, the land of Israel. We, all of us, love the Torah of Israel and the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces.”
Credit: Avi Lewis/Times of Israel
Bennett’s day will come. So often politicians are concerned only with the success of their own party, and this is refreshing.
In terms of how Bibi conducted himself here, we are also seeing integrity. Bennett was the first one he called, and – undoubtedly appreciating the hit Bennett had taken – he let him know that they would work together to form a nationalist government. Another cause for gratitude. A new day. There has been all together too much tension between these men, and they should be partners in important work now.
Bibi has said he will form a nationalist religious coalition. Its exact nature has yet to unfold. There is, of course, much speculation – with many parameters being examined. In the formation of a coalition government, various factions make demands. Now it is a question of how much Netanyahu needs any given faction, and what the head of that faction is demanding. The fact that Likud has 30 mandates and not 27 somewhat reduces the bargaining power of the various other parties.
Kahlon is focused on social issues and wants the Finance Ministry (and perhaps housing). Bibi is prepared to give him Finance, certainly. Michael Oren, former Israeli ambassador to the US, and now a prominent member of Kulanu, is a two-state man, and makes me nervous. Lieberman, who has gone way down in the number of mandates his party has, is talking big in terms of wanting Defense. I would be shocked if he got it. Lapid is talking about sitting out the coalition and acting in the opposition. (Suffice it to say here that the ultra-Orthodox parties and Lapid are on opposite sides of a huge divide.)
Bibi does not need all of these parties. He would be able to pass over at least one if not two of them and still end up with 61 or more mandates. We’ll watch, and see how it plays over the next couple of weeks.
When I speak of a “new day,” I believe it may be coming in a couple of contexts. Please note that last time around he gave Livni the Justice Ministry. Now he speaks of a nationalist religious government. I believe that Bibi has been pushed hard enough by Obama so that he is in no mood for conciliatory gestures. Sometimes it has to get worse before it can get better.
Just a few final thoughts here now.
What is most important is that the world see that a right-leaning nationalist government is where the Israeli electorate stands. This does not make us radicals, even though a left-leaning media will paint us so. A democratic election was held and the people have spoken. We will, we must, move on from here.
To the extent that the left focused on issues during the campaign, they were social/economic issues, such as the need for more housing. The problem with their perspective is that they represent these issues as the primary and most critical ones.
These issues are very real, but security is and must be treated as more urgent. I read a comment by someone (sorry I cannot quote, as I do not remember who) that: It’s wonderful if the government will build us new apartment complexes, but what good will it do us if Iran nukes them. Crudely put, but absolutely true. The right is not mistaken, to be concerned first with Iran, and what would happen if we gave the Palestinian Arabs a state, and what Hezbollah intends to do.
But it would be prudent if Bibi now gave a more serious nod to those economic/social issues.
For your information: Zahava Gal-On has resigned as head of Meretz because she takes responsibility for the fact that her party only pulled four mandates (at one point it was thought they might not make the cut-off).
As to the meddling from the US, I would not want to see this issue dropped. It must be pursued to its end, and it falls to those who are American citizens to demand that this be done.
Please see the article below which appeared a couple of months ago in no less than Haaretz:
“…With the help of American money and a former campaign adviser to President Barack Obama, V15 is trying to replace Israel’s government. The money and organization comes from V15’s partnership with OneVoice…
“Their secret campaign weapon is Jeremy Bird, a 36-year-old American political strategist who worked for Obama. Bird has come with a team of four consultants that will try to channel the energies of V15 into an organized methodology.”
And this (emphasis added):
“…the [Senate] probe is looking into funding of the OneVoice Movement, a Washington-based group that has received $350,000 in recent State Department grants. A subsidiary of OneVoice is the Israel-based Victory 15 campaign, guided by top operatives of the White House, which openly seeks to ‘replace the government’ of Israel.”
There is going to be a great deal to track, as we move forward now. And I am eager to look at a variety of news items, regarding a very defiant Iran, a belligerent Palestinian Authority, and more.
Background: In addition to the widespread abuse of the guestworker programs, experts also issued dire warnings about the idea of “stapling” green cards to diplomas—explaining that this would lead to enormous amounts of academic abuse, diploma mills, and collusion with outside companies to keep U.S. graduates out of the labor market.
By: Frank Salvato
Initially I was going to start with the line, “It is stunning to think,” but then I remembered I was opining about the Obama Administration, of which I have come to expect the unexpected, especially when it comes to nefarious doings meant to advance his agenda. To be certain, all of the actions (and inactions) taken (and not taken) by this administration – without exception – have been executed to advance his ideological agenda, chief among them the handling of the IRS’s targeting of the administration’s political adversaries.
TheHill.com reports that Ronald Machen, the US attorney for the District of Columbia –an Obama appointee – has not acted on a Contempt of Congress charge for former IRS official Lois Lerner even though the contempt citation has been in his hands since May of 2014. Manchen is set to step down next month.
Search the mainstream media headlines and you find this item far down the list if, in fact, you find it at all. Yet the issue is no less important than that of the Constitution’s First Amendment guaranteed rights themselves; to both “peaceably assemble” and to “petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
There is now no defense, nor believable denial in ignorance, for the illegal actions taken by the Exempt Organizations Unit of the Internal Revenue Service under Lois Lerner. The facts present as undeniable. Under her direction, applications for organizations with political ideologies antithetical to those of the Obama Administration were treated as politically adversarial, receiving excessive scrutiny and myriad unreasonable demands for discovery; treatment not experienced by organizations whose ideologies were symbiotic with the administration’s. Succinctly, Ms. Lerner executed a political attack on a large faction of the American people for their support of a political ideology anathema to that of the President’s.
Ironically, Ms. Lerner’s claim to have learned of the illegal targeting through the news media failed to afford her the popular cover that has served President Obama well through several sensitive issues; cover that is now beginning to expose the disingenuousness of the claim, much to his chagrin. Ms. Lerner’s refusal to cooperate with the House Oversight Committee in its examination of these events – including her intentional denial of the existence of emails pertaining to her actions – rightfully garnered a Contempt of Congress charge.
But what is the worth of a Contempt of Congress charge if the authority tasked with bringing the weight of that charge to bear abdicates the responsibility of doing so? What punishment is there for transgression in a simple designation?
Citizens in the United States have been guaranteed the right to redress government; to be openly critical of the government’s policies and actions. Further, these defined rights allow them to openly oppose any and all elected officials, regardless of station, in an effort to affect change in political offices under which the people are represented.
So, too, are citizens guaranteed the right to peaceably assemble for political purposes; to create groups and organizations – especially under the banner of educating the public – that enjoy all the rights and privileges afforded under the law, including tax-exempt status, should the qualifying criteria exist.
Ms. Lerner’s action usurped these guaranteed rights, and her refusal to cooperate with the House Judiciary Committee not only aggravated that usurpation, but proved – beyond reasonable doubt – that she holds the value of her politics above the rights of the People, and above the guaranteed Rights in our Constitution. Yet, when tasked with executing a Grand Jury referral mandated by a Contempt of Congress charge, Mr. Machen saw fit to prioritize the routine prosecution of dozens of district court financial fraud and local public corruption cases, as if to intentionally ignore the contempt citation. This leads to this question. If the police officer is corrupt – or intentionally abdicates his sworn duty, who do the innocent turn to for justice?
Article II, Section 1, of the House Judiciary Committee’s Articles of Impeachment against Pres. Richard M. Nixon (R) states:
“He has, acting personally and through his subordinates and agents, endeavored to…cause, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, income tax audits or other income tax investigations to be initiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner.”
If the use of the IRS to target political enemies was enough to bring about impeachment charges that would eventually see the first resignation of a sitting President, how does the exact same criminal act not warrant – at the very least – a referral to a Grand Jury for examination?
The Obama Administration claims the mantle of the most transparent in the history of the United States. In the non-execution of the Contempt of Congress charge against Lois Lerner they are transparent in their tyranny against the American people. Case closed…with prejudice.
Frank Salvato is the Executive Director of BasicsProject.org a grassroots, non-partisan, research and education initiative focusing on Constitutional Literacy, and internal and external threats facing Western Civilization. His writing has been recognized by the US House International Relations Committee and the Japan Center for Conflict Prevention. His opinion and analysis have been published by The American Enterprise Institute, The Washington Times, The Jewish World Review, Accuracy in Media, Human Events, Townhall.com and are syndicated nationally. Mr. Salvato has appeared on The O’Reilly Factor on FOX News Channel, and is the author of six books examining Islamofascism and Progressivism, including “Understanding the Threat of Radical Islam”. Mr. Salvato’s personal writing can be found at FrankJSalvato.com.