Wednesday, November 18, 2015

21st Century Conservative Platform By Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal


Bobby Jindal's Plan to Repeal & Replace Obamacare


“Unlike many of his competitors for the GOP presidential nomination, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has laid out a detailed plan for replacing President Obama’s health-care reform, widely known as Obamacare.” -The Washington Post

The Only Candidate with a Plan

In 2014, Republicans won the Senate and made huge gains in the House based on a simple promise to voters: repealing Obamacare. But once they got to Washington, they said repealing Obamacare, and the taxes that came with it couldn’t be done.

The good news is a truly conservative health plan does exist. In 2014, I outlined a plan with America Next, the conservative policy group I founded to go on offense in the war of ideas. This plan would repeal Obamacare and start over with a new plan based on conservative principles.

While repealing Obamacare is a popular line amongst Republicans running for President, I’m the only one with a comprehensive plan to actually do it.

Obamacare is Flatlining Our Health Care System

Five years after being enacted into law, Obamacare’s massive government overreach and higher taxes continue to wreak havoc on the American economy and health care system. The unpopular, unworkable, and misguided law should be repealed in its entirety.

It is now becoming obvious to all that Obamacare is not merely bad policy, but it is also constructed ineptly, and was deceptively sold to the American people with the now infamous “lie of the year.” Without the President’s repeated acts of deception, his disastrous health regime would never have become law.

Today, costs to consumers are rising, people are losing their health coverage and access to their doctors, struggling families are being forced to buy coverage they do not want, and the Congressional Budget Office has acknowledged that the law incentivizes Americans not to work—which the President now insists is a good thing.

The American people are in favor of repealing Obamacare. But conventional wisdom in Washington holds that the law cannot be fully repealed. I couldn’t disagree more. A country that won two world wars and landed a man on the moon can surely eradicate this attack on our health care system.

Health Care Reform Built on Conservatives Principles

Repealing all of Obamacare is a good and necessary step—but not one sufficient by itself to achieve the real health reform America needs. The President was right about one thing: American health care did need reform. But Obamacare did not “reform” American health care. It took a dysfunctional system and made it dramatically worse.

Rather than focusing on the liberal shibboleth of “universal coverage”—forcing individuals to buy a plan under pain of taxation, and raising health spending through new mandates and taxes—the American health system should be focused on containing the rising tide of health costs. To quote none other than Barack Obama: “I believe the problem is not that folks are trying to avoid getting health care. The problem is they can’t afford it.”

True reform would also preserve what Americans like about their health care—its high quality, its innovation, the relationship of patients and doctors—while changing what they don’t. Giving more control to the states, controlling and slowing the growth in health costs, protecting the most vulnerable in our society, and enhancing portability and choice are the keys to achieving real reform that will improve America’s health care system, and Americans’ health.

My plan is built around the following three principles:

Principle #1: Lowering Health Costs

Tax Equity: Giving all individuals the same standard deduction for health insurance, regardless of whether they obtain that health insurance from an employer or on their own, will remedy a major inequity in the tax code. Moreover, linking the growth in the deduction to price inflation (after an appropriate phase-in) would give medical providers and insurers an incentive to become more efficient, slowing the growth of rising costs.

State Health Insurance Program: While Congress does have a role to play in reforming health care, the states have often led the way by introducing new and exciting reforms. Providing states with a grant pool of over $100 billion over ten years, along with a few simple restrictions—notably, guaranteed access for individuals with pre-existing conditions, coupled with reductions in health insurance premiums that make coverage more affordable—would give states both the flexibility and resources to innovate. States could use these funds to subsidize insurance coverage for low-income individuals who would not receive tax savings from a health insurance deduction, and individuals with pre-existing conditions.

Health Savings Accounts: Additional incentives associated with health savings accounts—allowing individuals to use HSA funds to pay health insurance premiums, and allowing for additional flexibility in benefit design—would further increase participation in this innovative insurance model, and enhance its ability to contain the growth of health costs.

Greater Incentives for Wellness: Providing insurers and employers with additional flexibility to offer incentives for healthy behaviors—and the ability to provide those incentives on a tax-free basis—would accelerate efforts at changing behaviors in a way that can slow health cost growth.

Crack Down on Fraud: Our current record deficits and debt highlight the need to spend taxpayer resources wisely. Reforms should move away from the existing “pay and chase” model, while targeting those who profit from or traffic in personal health information.

Price and Quality Transparency: Health care remains one of the few industries where consumers struggle to find information on price and quality. Online posting of price and quality data can empower patients with trusted information and provide providers a greater incentive to improve their quality practices.

Principle #2: Protect the Most Vulnerable

Guaranteed Access for Pre-Existing Conditions: As a condition of participation in the new $100 billion innovation pool, states will be required to guarantee access for individuals with pre-existing conditions—through a high-risk pool, reinsurance, or some other method ensuring those with chronic conditions can obtain needed care.

Premium Support: A bipartisan concept since its introduction nearly two decades ago, premium support can provide seniors with more health insurance choices, while making Medicare more financially solvent and sustainable for future generations.

Medicaid Reforms: While some states have already implemented innovative reforms to their Medicaid programs, the federal government can and should do more to assist their efforts. Specifically, Washington should empower Medicaid reform through a global grant program, which gives states additional flexibility to design solutions that meet their needs, in exchange for a fixed funding allotment from the federal government and accountability standards.

Pro-Life Protections: Unlike Obamacare—which sees federal funds flowing to plans that cover abortion—true reform would make permanent in law the pro-life protections enacted by Congress annually since 1976, as well as strengthening conscience protections for businesses and medical providers.

Principle #3: Portability and Choice

State Reforms to Expand Access: By reforming laws that govern medical licensure and construction of new medical facilities, states can dramatically increase the supply of medical providers—including new options that could lower health care costs.

Better Access for Individuals Changing Employers: Individuals leaving their employers should not be required to exhaust COBRA continuation coverage before gaining access to the individual health insurance market. Removing this requirement would alleviate a costly mandate on businesses, and ease the transition into individual health coverage for those changing jobs.

Pooling Mechanisms: Allowing small businesses, fraternal organizations, civic groups, alumni associations, and other similar organizations to band together and offer health insurance to their members will provide new options for individuals to purchase coverage that goes with them from job to job.

Cross-State Insurance Purchasing: Empowering individuals to purchase health insurance across state lines—a power most currently do not have—would allow Americans to buy the customized plan that best meets their needs.

Lawsuit Reform: Enacting common-sense tort reforms to crack down on frivolous lawsuits—some of which have successfully been implemented in Texas and other states—would expand patient access and lower costs by reducing the incidence of defensive medicine practices among physicians.

Freedom for Seniors to Choose: Enhancing choice and competition involves eliminating the arbitrary restrictions on seniors’ choice of medical providers imposed by bureaucratic mandates. Congress should restore the doctor-patient relationship by repealing these onerous requirements.

Additional Reading

  1. Read Gov. Jindal’s top eight op-eds on repealing Obamacare
  2. Read the full America Next health care plan



“In Louisiana, we passed tenure reform and doubled the number of charter schools. Fully 70,000 students now attend charter schools across the state, and our Recovery School District has 100 percent charter school enrollment. We also expanded a scholarship program created for New Orleans to the entire state. As a result of these efforts, the graduation rate in New Orleans rose 18 percentage points since 2004, while the percentage of failing schools plummeted from 67 percent in 2005 to 17 percent. More than nine in ten parents are satisfied with the statewide scholarship program, and little wonder: From 2008 to 2013, proficiency among scholarship students rose 20 percentage points in third grade English language arts and 28 points in math.” -Bobby Jindal


There was a time when America’s education system was the envy of the world. There was also a time when assembly line manufacturing of Model T’s in Detroit was the envy of the world.

American auto manufacturing has evolved and adapted to changing technologies and dynamics.

America’s education system has not, and is in fact mired in 50-year-old thinking. It’s time to change from our old, industrial age, pre-Internet education model, and to once again become the envy of the world.

To be certain, many kids in America today are receiving a first rate education. Also certain, many are not. It was long ago decided that every kid in America deserves an equal opportunity for a good education. We don’t guarantee equality of results, but we do guarantee equal opportunity.

The sad reality

In America today, we do not provide equal opportunity in education. This is an indisputable point, even an inconvenient truth. If families have the means to live in areas with high performing public schools, or to send their children to high performing private schools, or the ability to home school their children, they can and will provide their kids with a first-rate education. And if not, there is an alarmingly high chance that their kids will never have the opportunity for a first rate education, and therefore those kids will have a much harder time in the rest of their lives. This is not only bad for those kids, it is bad for our entire country.

Why doesn’t the United States have more superstar teachers, engaged parents, and superior curriculum offerings? For starters:

  • The horrifically bureaucratic education system repels smart people looking at career options;
  • Union-dominated compensation and pension systems for teachers work against the individual choices teachers want;
  • Piles of regulations regarding everything from testing to curriculum and discipline to record-keeping limit freedom in the classroom and waste teachers’ time; and
  • Parents often find it impossible to vote with their feet and increase the attendance of a school that’s really good at hiring effective teachers while decreasing attendance at schools they find unsatisfactory.

In short, America’s education system is set up as a collective, a series of interlocking, coercive monopolies, instead of an individual-driven ecosystem of freedom and choice where people willingly work together to accomplish their mutual goals. A key to this system is restraining the growing intrusion of the federal government.

Education is best directed at the local level, not by the federal government. In today’s debate this brings us to the issue of Common Core. When Common Core first came on the scene it was described as an effort led by states to seek high standards for our students. It sounded pretty good. But Common Core has become a way for the federal government to dictate a national curriculum. Some inaccurately believe that those who oppose Common Core are opposed to high standards. This is simply false.

High standards are crucial for our success, and some level of testing of students is necessary. But in today’s schools, we are quite simply testing our students to the point of absurdity. In many cases, our teachers are forced to ‘teach to the test’ year round. And while teaching to the test, they are therefore teaching the federal curriculum that is required to excel on the tests.

A few years back, some in the media had the perception that those opposing Common Core were just a bunch of right-wingers. But then, many in the teaching profession began to sound the alarm as well. Finally, there is now a new group that is insisting on eliminating Common Core. They are called parents.

It’s bad enough that the federal government has begun tying compliance with Common Core to federal funds, but once you see the methods and the homework that accompanies Common Core, the verdict is in, Common Core must go.

These are the stakes—restoring freedom for parents to choose, and the freedom for children to develop the tools with which they can flourish in life. It’s time for us to embrace this opportunity— because the opportunity of the next generation is too critical to waste.

Principle 1: Parent choice

All parents deserve to choose the education that fits their children best. Any change to education policy should be measured, first, by whether it will empower them to choose or take that choice away.

Members of the educational-industrial complex don’t want parents to make education decisions for their children usually because they genuinely believe parents are incapable of making the “right” decisions—or giving parents the freedom to choose would expose the problems in the system and jeopardize the complex’s status. Of course, parents are not perfect. But neither are government bureaucrats. Someone—parent or bureaucrat—has to be the prime decision-maker for children. History, research, and common sense show that parents do a far, far better job. This is the best and truest form of accountability.

The American school system today resembles the industrial policy and rampant shortages of the old Soviet Union. Customers—parents and students—face long lines, bare shelves, and poor quality of limited “goods.” As with any monopoly, public or private, government bureaucrats in education feel little need or desire to respond to parents’ concerns, or improve their offerings.

A true system of choice would give parents the option to send their child to the school that best fits their needs and with their taxpayer dollars following their child to that school, regardless of whether it is a traditional public school, charter school, private school, virtual school, or even a specialized provider that offers workforce training programs. Choice is particularly helpful for the parents of special-needs students, who fight every day to see their children’s needs addressed. Alternative types of schools should not and will not replace traditional public schools, but where parents demand other options, those needs should be met.

Principle 2: Limited Government

The purpose of public education is to help parents cultivate citizens able and willing to govern themselves and join the rest of us in national, state, and local civic life. But our education system is increasingly unresponsive to parent and family needs and desires, and responsive instead to the dictates of unelected bureaucrats.

Perhaps no better example of this kind of unrepresentative government exists in education than Common Core national curriculum mandates. Common Core may be “standards” in name, but the reality is that what’s tested is what’s taught. Ask any teacher: Federally funded Common Core tests drive classroom practice. Ask mothers and fathers what they want for their children, and their answer will be some variation on the one found in our Declaration of Independence: the freedom to pursue happiness. Participating in our system of government too requires an educated electorate.

Restraining the federal government in education requires us to:

  • Let the “dollars follow the child” at the federal level without the historically myriad intrusive regulations that often cost more than the money provided. Congress should instead return to states their citizens’ education money as block grants.
  • Restrain the United States Department of Education by specific legislation to carefully defined responsibilities—largely civil rights enforcement, enforcing transparency, facilitating clear information, and deregulation—and its budget slashed so it does not have the capacity to overreach even when it wants. Its myriad funding streams and programs should be consolidated and streamlined, and ineffective programs eliminated.
  • Protect children’s personal data. There should be less data collection as the people with access to it get farther and farther away from students and only with informed parent consent. Congress should examine these realities and scale back federal and state data collection, only requiring public school districts to send them the handful of categories required about each student to fit transparency requirements.
  • Give parents clear information about the performance of schools, but not according to a federally mandated system. “Adequate-yearly progress” has been and continues to be a meaningless metric. Parents need clear information in a language everyone can understand: letter grades. Everyone understands the difference between an A and an F. But no bureaucrat in Washington could ever come up with this system nor should they.

Principle 3: Educator Freedom

The top 5 percent of teachers impart a year and a half ’s worth of learning to their students in one year. Teachers who raise their students’ test scores also reduce their teen pregnancy rates, increase their college attendance rates, and raise their lifetime earnings, according to a recent study of 2.5 million children over 20 years.

This difference might seem small in the grand scheme of how much one person earns over their lifetimes, but multiplied over two-dozen students in a class, year after year, and compounding for each effective, highly effective, or ineffective teacher a student may have during their years in school, a highly effective, or ineffective, teacher can gain or lose students hundreds of thousands of dollars. Teacher quality doesn’t just affect individual students; it affects the entire U.S. economy, to the tune of trillions of lost dollars and untold lost opportunities for bountiful lives.

Education reform should remember that effective teachers are the most important in-school determinant of a child’s academic achievement. But current teacher policies prioritize everything except effectiveness, and greatly restrict personal and professional autonomy. While most of these policies happen on the local or state level, the U.S. education system treats teachers and school leaders as interchangeable cogs in a machine on the federal level as well. That’s demeaning and counterproductive.

A system that treats teachers like professionals would:

  • Focus teacher preparation and teacher credentials on the elements that research shows increase student achievement. Federal teacher certification mandates essentially establish a monopoly over entry into the teaching profession and teaching styles while federal regulation of teacher preparation programs have nearly zero connection to any metric of teacher quality.
  • Reward teachers fairly and for performance. Experience has now shown us that “value-added” evaluation systems are hardly much better when they are centrally planned, cookie-cutter metrics which allow principals to abdicate responsibility for the results. School leaders need tools to support and improve their teachers, but, like essentially everything else in school buildings, it’s nearly impossible to micromanage these kinds of on-the-ground decisions from state capitols—or Washington, DC. Yet again, the Obama Administration has tried to intervene by requiring “value-added” evaluations as a condition of federal grant money.
  • Allow districts and individual schools to apply to USDOE for relief from major mandates, such as annual tests of all students in certain grades and teacher evaluation requirements. Such applications should include a concrete plan for maintaining and accelerating student performance. This relief would free states and schools to, among other things, shift the overemphasis on reading and math scores once they have established that students are learning at high levels, and employ other valid metrics of student performance.


A stronger economy from a more educated and productive workforce will not solve all our fiscal problems, but will help reduce them. Over and above the economic and fiscal imperatives, however, our nation faces a moral imperative to provide a quality education to each child—regardless of neighborhood, race, gender, income, or creed. The urgency of that imperative should remain on the shoulders of every parent and policy-makers—from the local school board to the White House—compelling reform forward. Our nation’s children are too special to let the status quo stand by any longer.

About the plan: Bobby Jindal wrote this plan in 2015 when he was Honorary Chairman of America Next, the conservative policy group he founded to go on offense in the war of ideas.

Additional Reading

  1. Read Gov. Jindal’s top Op-Eds on education reform
  2. Read the full America Next education plan



“The reality is, right now, we’ve got an administration —the Obama administration — that are science deniers when it comes to harnessing America’s energy resources and the potential to create good-paying jobs.” -Bobby Jindal

American energy resources and energy technologies are the envy of the world. We have more oil, natural gas, and coal resources combined than any other nation in the world. Our technological innovations on newer and alternative sources of energy from wind, to solar, to biofuels are the most advanced in the world. These are not wild eyed theories, these are the facts.

America is poised for a golden age of energy—an era of energy abundance, low prices, and environmental stewardship that can be the envy of the world. Energy has already created millions of jobs for the American economy. Consultants at PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report that the oil and gas industry supports over 10 million jobs across the economy. Another study found that unconventional oil and gas—i.e., the hydraulic fracturing revolution—supported 2.1 million jobs in 2012. But smart energy policy can also turbocharge our existing economic resources to give America an era of significant job and manufacturing growth.

Affordable energy gives American businesses and entrepreneurs a built-in advantage compared to their peers overseas. Companies have made major investments in plants and equipment in the United States—because the hydraulic fracturing revolution and other innovations have made energy more affordable for businesses located on our shores.

With the right policies that promote abundant and affordable energy, millions of Americans can and will benefit from new, quality, high-paying jobs. If we jettison the Obama Administration’s left-wing approach, and follow the smart energy path, the new projects created over the past several years could represent a mere prelude to a full-scale energy and manufacturing jobs boom. PwC reports new natural gas production opportunities could add 1 million manufacturing jobs to the U.S. economy by 2025. Other studies confirm this finding, noting the hundreds of thousands of new potential jobs in chemical and other industries. Overall, the number of jobs—direct and indirect—created by unconventional oil and gas could nearly double over the next decade.

Now for the tragic part, none of this is inevitable. Without a smart and aggressive energy plan, we will fail to seize this opportunity. In fact, we are on the road to failure right now.

America’s Current Energy Reality

Despite our incredible potential, today America suffers under a government-created energy crisis. Electricity and gasoline prices have risen, and show no signs of easing due to current federal policies. Thousands of unemployed Americans who could be working in good paying jobs remain jobless because of wrongheaded polices from Washington.

We must discard the failed policies of the Obama Administration and embrace our energy blessings. The Obama Administration policies are based on radical leftist ideology which is causing America to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The Obama Administration would like Americans to believe in the inevitability of energy scarcity and ever-rising energy prices—the same failed mindset of the Jimmy Carter Administration. Energy scarcity and skyrocketing energy prices result from failed public policy, not our unparalleled energy abundance.

Hostile nations around the world, sitting on fewer energy resources than the United States, celebrate high energy prices and take advantage of these high prices to make their nations rich. Under the Obama Administration, America neither does everything we can to increase energy production to take advantage of high energy prices nor actively works to bring such prices down. To the contrary, excessive restrictions on American power plants, refineries, and other

American energy businesses make our mounting energy problems even worse.

At the same time, the Obama Administration refuses to build the Keystone XL pipeline, brags about bankrupting entire industries, and touts their desire to see consumers pay higher prices. Meanwhile, they pick winners and losers, and they seem to specialize in losers, wasting our tax dollars on left-wing fantasies such as Solyndra.

When it comes to energy policies, the Obama Administration is full of “energy deniers” who pursue radical environmental ideology that flies in the face of the science and the facts, and they do so with religious fervor.

America’s Energy Fork in the Road

We have a choice to make.

Embrace our resources and technological abilities and usher in an unprecedented era of energy independence and job growth.


Stay the course of the Obama Administration’s radical Left policies and watch these opportunities for job growth, lower prices, and energy independence slip through our grasp.

A truly effective American energy policy will recognize that abundant energy resources are a blessing, not a curse. We must strive for—and achieve—strong environmental stewardship while reaping the benefits of our energy blessings. We must finally have the courage to pursue our bright energy future without resigning ourselves to self-fulfilling prophecies of energy scarcity and environmental ruin.

Principle #1: Promote Responsible Development of Domestic Energy Resources and Construction of Infrastructure to Transport It

Affordable energy is one of the most important prerequisites of a strong economy. Punishing conventional energy production and conventional energy utilization will unnecessarily punish the American economy until the day comes when alternative energy sources such as wind and solar power become similarly dependable and affordable.

The Obama Administration continues to limit oil and natural gas production on federal lands even as new technologies are enabling game-changing production increases on state and private lands. Our federal government should take a leadership role in our energy renaissance, not serve as a ball and chain weighing it down. We must make more of our energy-rich federal lands available for energy production.

America must also take better advantage of on-demand, zero-emissions nuclear power. Nuclear power supplies one fifth of America’s electricity, yet the federal government is suffocating nuclear power under unnecessary red tape. Nuclear power provides zero-emissions power much more affordably and reliably than renewable energy alternatives. Our federal government should work to facilitate nuclear power production rather than suppress it.

In addition to encouraging domestic production, America must welcome energy resources from friendly nations, particularly those in North America. After more than five years of stalling and delays, the time has come to approve and build the Keystone XL pipeline, which would create American jobs while bolstering American energy supplies.

Principle #2: Encourage Technological Innovation of Renewables and Emerging Energy Resources

Renewable energy offers substantial promise as an environmentally friendly energy source. Wind and solar power are rapidly gaining market share and supporting home-grown jobs. We can encourage continued growth for renewable energy by working to solve intermittency and transmission challenges that currently place restrictions on renewable energy utilization. Hydropower, an often-overlooked form of renewable energy, can also comprise an important piece of America’s energy portfolio. At the same time, all energy sources should compete on a level playing field and the federal government should avoid picking winners and losers.

Principle #3: Unlock the Economic Potential of the Manufacturing Renaissance by Putting America’s Energy Resources to Work

Domestic energy production does more than reduce scarcity and prices; it creates and supports millions of American jobs. Importantly, the jobs created in the energy industry are high-paying jobs that lift people out of poverty and into prosperity. Many of these jobs are available to young adults with appropriate technical training, providing unique opportunities for America’s newest generation to share and improve upon the American dream.

With suppressed energy production and unnecessarily high energy prices, America’s manufacturing sector suffers competitive disadvantages versus manufacturers in other countries. Economists agree that America’s manufacturing sector is poised for a surge in prosperity and high-paying job creation once our federal government begins embracing rather than suppressing new energy production techniques and recent energy discoveries. Abundant, affordable energy is needed for America to regain its proper place at the forefront of global manufacturing.

Principle #4: Eliminate Burdensome Regulations

Energy may be the lifeblood of the economy, but excessive regulation is clogging our economy’s arteries. For example, the Obama Administration has just upped the ante on unjustified energy regulations with excessive carbon dioxide restrictions on America’s power plants. Rather than utilizing America’s abundant coal resources by working to develop cleaner coal technologies, the Administration has instead promulgated rules targeting the coal industry that could cost 500,000 jobs by 2030, raising electricity prices by 20%. To secure a bright economic future, we must put an end to such regulatory overreach.

To protect American jobs, EPA should be forced to justify its actions under a cost-benefit basis. We must also put an end to EPA abusing its authority and restore EPA’s role of carrying out Congress’ will rather than supplanting it. Similarly, EPA must no longer be allowed to collude with activist groups in sue-and-settle decrees that take place behind closed doors.

Principle #5: Bolster National Security

American energy production, or lack thereof, plays a crucial role in our national security. America should not put policies in place that ban exporting our natural resources. While the best policies will encourage the use of abundant oil and natural gas here so that we can produce goods competitive in a global marketplace, we should not close the door to exporting the resource when it makes economic sense.

American energy production is ever more important for our longer-term national security. Stale and failed policies are all that are keeping us from realizing North American energy self-sufficiency. It is time to shed our dependency on oil imports from hostile nations and reduce our vulnerability to international political instability. Our energy plan will jettison such dependency and vulnerability while leading America into a bright, abundant, and more self-sufficient North American energy future. American national security requires a strong national economy, and a strong national economy requires abundant, affordable energy.

Principle #6: Take Simple Steps to Address the Possible Risks of Climate Change, in Concert with other Major Economies

The best way to address climate change concerns is to work in cooperation with domestic manufacturers, conservationists, Congress, and other stakeholders to develop smart policies that protect the environment and American jobs. When America imposes unilateral restrictions on itself and does not secure commitments from other nations to do the same, we impose unilateral disadvantages on our economy while failing to make a meaningful impact on the global climate.

Our federal government should focus on agenda- free climate research to best understand what may or may not take place regarding future climate changes. We must also work to develop strategies to adapt to and mitigate whatever climate changes may occur. The climate change issue is too important for the federal government to play political games and engage in demeaning name-calling and grandstanding. While we pursue scientific answers to many climate change questions, we should pursue “no regrets” policies that reduce carbon dioxide emissions without punishing the American economy.


Following these basic principles will lead to changes that generate energy abundance—and stronger economic growth—for the United States for decades to come. This vision of energy abundance represents a way forward far better than the Obama Administration’s obsession with energy scarcity—and a policy long overdue.

About the plan: Bobby Jindal wrote this plan in 2014 when he was Honorary Chairman of America Next, the conservative policy group he founded to go on offense in the war of ideas.

Additional Reading

  1. Read the full America Next energy plan



“This is not a cause any of us can resist. It is our destiny, it is our mission. As America goes, so goes the world. We are the light of freedom in a dark world, and it’s time we start acting like it. I will not be intimidated from talking about the fact that radical Islam is evil and must be destroyed.” -Bobby Jindal

After World War II, the leaders of the United States, on a bipartisan basis, made a deliberate decision to change America’s approach to global affairs. The disasters of the 20th Century to that point, and especially the two World Wars, had made clear that the United States could no longer play a secondary role in the world. To protect America’s homeland and her vital national interests, and to prevent a third World War, it was necessary for the United States to assume a global leadership role, and to build a national security architecture that allowed her to execute that role effectively.

To that end, the United States built alliances and partnerships with like-minded nations, and developed and maintained robust standing tools of power, hard and soft, with a view towards anticipating and deterring the risk of aggression before it directly threatened America’s vital interests. That policy eventually bore fruit in the late 1980s, when the United States won the Cold War without firing a shot.

Disengagement is not a Prescription for American Security

Since that time, however, American policy has drifted. An increasingly multipolar world has brought with it myriad new threats — global terrorist organizations, rogue states like Iran and North Korea seeking access to nuclear weapons, a resurgent Russia looking to re-establish a sphere of influence on its eastern and southern borders, and a Chinese regime expanding and modernizing its military at a rapid pace. Yet even as threats continue to multiply, the Obama Administration has repudiated the operating principles of the post-war strategy that kept America safe by allowing our alliances and power to atrophy and disengaging from a global leadership role.

But disengagement is not a prescription for American security, nor is it the basis for a
successful American foreign policy. We cannot continue to pretend that the world will get safer, or that risk will go away, if we respond to threats with rhetoric or attempt to ignore them entirely. The tumult of the last six years — and the last several months in particular — have demonstrated the failure of President Obama’s attempts to “lead from behind.”

“Containment is a strategy for losers. But as General George S. Patton famously observed – “Americans play to win all the time.” Americans don’t play to lose. President Obama has it wrong, Secretary Clinton has it wrong, our allies need to trust us. Our enemies need to fear us. It’s time we play to win again.” -Bobby Jindal

Instead, to preserve America’s security, our leaders must explain that America must remain active in the world, that her strategic interests must be protected, and that the way to protect them isn’t to deploy at every sign of trouble, but to maintain the robust tools of a great power, both hard and soft, both military and diplomatic, and use those tools thoughtfully to protect America and deter or contain conflict.

Unfortunately, the past several years have witnessed a significant erosion in America’s military capabilities. In 2011, then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates, recognizing both the growing threats to our national security and the fragile state of our military force structure and readiness, proposed modest increases in the overall defense budget. In response, President Obama took the unprecedented step of disregarding the recommendations of his own Defense Secretary, implementing nearly $1 trillion in cuts to the defense budget over the next decade. At a time when our armed forces were already stressed from frequent combat deployments, these additional cuts have further undermined a military in desperate need of repair.

Rebuilding the American Defense Consensus

Rebuilding our military begins with establishing a confident and workable foreign policy that Americans understand and support — a vision — and a sober understanding, that few good things happen in the world today unless America helps shape them. The paradox of American military power is that there’s less of a need to use it when it is feared and respected. Therein lies the great economy: peace through strength costs infinitely less in American blood and treasure than does war precipitated by weakness.

By any standard, funding defense at the Gates baseline, and without a tax increase, is fully affordable, given the following:

  • The first priority of the federal government is the nation’s defense, not only as a matter of prudence but constitutionally. But the federal government has grown so large that it tries to do everything. This results in our exploding national debt, and in failure to do those things which are absolutely necessary. We must abandon any sense of moral equivalence when it comes to our budget priorities. If we fail to defend ourselves, all else is indeed lost. So the question is not — how much can we afford when it comes to ensuring our security and defending America? The question must be, how much will it require for us to do so.
  • The current baseline for defense amounts to only 2.9% of the nation’s GDP — the lowest percentage of the nation’s wealth spent on defense since World War II. Even the Gates baseline budget would constitute only 3.5% of GDP — still a historically low figure. In 2009, the government spent $830 billion — not including debt service costs — on the “stimulus” bill. In 2010, it passed Obamacare, which by 2024 will spend $235 billion per year on its coverage expansions alone. If the government could afford these programs, it can afford the funding which is so manifestly necessary to protect the nation’s security.
  • It always costs more to rebuild military readiness than it would have cost to sustain it in the first place. The short term savings produced by the defense cuts will evaporate; the Pentagon spends more to recruit and retrain new personnel than it would have spent retaining the people it had. The up and down nature of defense budgeting is not only dangerous but inefficient; it makes planning difficult and usually costs more than if a consistent funding level had been maintained in the first place. For that reason, the government should adopt a guideline for defense budgeting at approximately 4% of GDP. The United States has urged the same principle on its NATO partners, and for the same reason: to keep those countries from reducing their defense budgets in the mistaken belief that the end of the Cold War meant the end of threats to which NATO should be capable of responding.
  • The United States is a wealthy nation with interests around the world on which its economy and way of life depend. Moreover, given the availability of asymmetric weaponry, Americans are now more vulnerable to a direct and devastating attack on their homeland — their families and communities — than at any time in recent history. In that sense, the defense cuts are self-defeating; they will make it impossible to sustain the kind of stability on which American prosperity depends, and without prosperity we cannot hope to solve the budget challenges facing the government.
  • The Department of Defense needs to redouble its efforts to eliminate waste, both to provide extra funding and to increase efficiency. One promising area is reduction of the number of civilian personnel and contractors. As the National Defense Panel noted, the number of civilian employees in the DOD grew by 15% from 2001 to 2012, while the number of active duty military personnel grew by only 3.4%. The number of civilian contractors in the Department grew to 670,000 in the same period.

But the area where reform is most needed is acquisition. Rebuilding the military will require that new weapons programs stay on schedule and within budget. This point is nonnegotiable. The following steps should be taken:

  • First, the requirements process — the process by which each service determines the need and justification for new weapons and other equipment — should be streamlined. Today, over 100 meetings are required within the Pentagon bureaucracy before a major acquisition program can progress to the next milestone or stage in the development process. Program managers must be focused on their programs, not on briefing literally hundreds of Pentagon officials.
  • The chain of command within the acquisition process should be simplified and consolidated, with major programs overseen by the service Secretaries and Chiefs of Staff of each service, reporting to the Undersecretary for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology, all ultimately responsible to the Secretary of Defense. At present, there are countless officials and agencies that possess, in effect, a veto authority over the progress of a major weapon development program. Authority and responsibility must be vested with the program manager and the immediate chain of command, not dissipated across the Pentagon’s vast bureaucracy.
  • Second, the Department should commit to designing and procuring new programs in no more than a five to seven year window, and the new inventory should be engineered so that, after it is deployed, it can be upgraded with new technologies as they are developed. Shortening the design/build cycle will minimize changes in requirements, reduce delays, and control costs.
  • The primary need now is for new equipment with reasonable capability in the field as soon as possible. Technology older than seven years is likely to be obsolete upon delivery anyway. This kind of “spiral development” was common during the Reagan buildup of the 1980s. As an example, the F-16 fighter aircraft was designed in the mid-1970s and first deployed in 1980. The aircraft was continually upgraded over time and will be operationally relevant for another decade. The Department has procured over 4,000 F-16s. In contrast, it took 14 years to design the F-22, the technology was obsolete by the time it was deployed, and the cost overruns were a factor in its cancellation after only 187 were procured.
  • Finally, programs should be competed whenever possible, not just in the design phase but also in production. The Department should make every effort to ensure that key parts of key programs are dual sourced, both to hold down costs and to ensure the vitality of the defense industrial base. The Department should make much greater use of multi-year procurement contracts. Members of Congress may resist because it diminishes their year-to-year control over programs, but buying in volume over time, when a program has a stable design, will produce savings for the Department and the American taxpayer.


Our nation’s defense should be the top priority of the federal government. Without a secure nation and economy, America cannot hope to overcome the other challenges which face us.

The postwar generation of leaders understood this principle — and the need for a robust military as a primary tool to deter threats before they grow. Having witnessed firsthand the effects of passivity in failing to protect the American people from attack, and the cost in men and material that our lack of preparation bred, politicians from both parties supported a strong national defense as a key way of deterring Soviet aggression, and protecting American interests.

While the specific threats have evolved, and in many cases multiplied, since the end of the Cold War, the principle that a strong defense will best protect the country remains valid. It is time for America’s leaders to return to that principle, and commit to rebuilding a weakened military infrastructure. The American people will support that effort, and the United States is more than strong enough to make it a success. What is needed is leadership, on a bipartisan basis, committed to the idea that clarity, purpose, and power remain the keys to peace and security.

About the plan: Bobby Jindal wrote this plan in 2014 when he was Honorary Chairman of America Next, the conservative policy group he founded to go on offense in the war of ideas.

Additional Reading

  1. Read the full America Next defense plan

Jindal Announces Partners In Crime Plan to Hold Sanctuary City Officials Accountable For Illegal Immigrant Crimes


BATON ROUGE – Today, Governor Bobby Jindal proposed the Partners In Crime Plan to hold city officials accountable for sanctuary city policies that enable illegal aliens to commit crimes in the United States. The plan would hold Mayors and City Officials liable for these crimes, and force them to suffer the consequences for these crimes. Under this plan, Governor Jindal proposes two things:

  1. Congress should criminalize sanctuary city policies by making city officials that enact those policies as an accessory to the crimes committed by the illegal aliens those policies enabled.
  2. Congress should give standing to victims and their families to civilly sue local, state, and federal officials for failing to enforce the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA) or failing to bring criminal charges of accessory against public officials that enact these policies.

Governor Jindal said, “Many have argued that Congress should attempt to defund these cities. Defunding is a good idea, but the Left will simply argue that withholding federal funds will hurt the most disadvantaged citizens.

“My plan will hit these lawless city leaders where it hurts by holding them directly accountable for crimes. If on their watch, an illegal immigrant breaks the law, we will count sanctuary city leaders as accessories and force them to pay for these crimes. Sanctuary City leaders are flouting the laws of the United States and that is unacceptable.”

Under the Immigration and Nationalization Act (INA), it is a federal felony to harbor, aid or abet an illegal alien, but that law does not extend liability for the crimes committed by the illegal aliens enabled to stay in the US as a result of the person’s aid. Sanctuary city policies enable illegal aliens to stay in the US without detection. In addition, under current federal law, if the US Attorney fails to bring federal criminal charges against a city official, there is nothing the average person can do about it. These changes will hold city officials that act negligently by passing policies or ordinances that enable illegal aliens to stay in their cities – or entice them to move there – accountable for their actions.

The Jindal Tax Reform Plan: Everybody Has to Have Some Skin in the Game


My tax plan lowers the tax bracket for every American, and it dramatically simplifies the tax code for every American. To grow the American economy we must reduce our tax burden and make taxes simpler. My plan has only three rates – 2 percent, 10 percent, and 25 percent. Most Americans will be in the 10 percent bracket.

Most Republican plans brag about the idea that they will allow about half of all Americans to pay zero federal taxes. I think that is a terrible mistake. Again, most Republican plans do not require the lowest wage earners to pay anything, and some basically require half of Americans to pay zero federal taxes.

We have come to the point in this country where far too many Americans believe that money grows on trees in Washington. They do not seem to get the fact that our government has no money other than what it takes from our citizens. President Obama has nearly doubled our national debt.

We simply must require that every American has some skin in this game. If we have generations of Americans who never pay any taxes, it will be very easy for them to turn a blind eye to absurd government spending and to continue to allow our government to bankrupt our nation.

There is great strength in shared sacrifice. My plan only asks 2 percent from the bottom bracket but that may be the most important 2 percent in the whole plan. It reestablishes the idea that in America everyone is expected to help row the boat. Now some people may have a bigger oar and some smaller but you keep your oar in the water along with everyone else.

The liberal Democrats will hate this plan, and they will claim that it is not ‘fair.’ Remember this about socialism – it is fair. In socialist economies, everyone is poor, and therefore all but the ruling class suffer equally.

The genius of America is that hard work and ingenuity are rewarded and enable people to succeed and make their own way in life. Independence, not dependence, is the root of the American Dream. It’s time we had the guts to say so in public. There is dignity in work. Work should be embraced not avoided. Earned success increases personal happiness in a way that unearned success does not, and never will.

Governor Jindal’s tax reform plan has FOUR overarching goals:

  1. Governor Jindal’s plan requires every American to have skin in the game. Every citizen needs to help row the boat, even if only a little. The idea that half of American wage earners would pay no taxes at all only reinforces the fact that we are creating two classes in America, the tax paying class and the dependent class. Instead of fewer people paying more taxes, more people should pay fewer taxes.
  2. Governor Jindal’s plan neuters the IRS, ending the “gotcha game” of tax code compliance and getting Washington out of our wallets. At four million words, it’s no wonder average people get trapped in a web of confusing regulations that read like an instructional manual for your life and your money: buy an electric car, don’t save money to give to your children, only one spouse should work. Let’s stop spending billions of taxpayer dollars to collect taxpayer dollars so that the IRS can make decisions with your money for you.
  3. Governor Jindal’s plan taxes CEOs rather than companies. By eliminating the corporate income tax, this plan recognizes that corporations will always have better paid lobbyists than the average person. Make no mistake, corporations are not people, they are businesses, which create jobs and wealth; at present, the tax code pushes them to create these jobs and this wealth outside of America. Let’s allow business to reinvest and grow in the US, rather than inverting profits to other countries and taking on risky debt to finance activities.
  4. Governor Jindal’s plan reduces the amount of money the federal government will be able to spend. President Obama has nearly doubled our national debt. It is now over $18 trillion and is the largest debt in the history of the world. The only way to shrink the size and influence of Washington is to starve it.

Over 10 Years, Governor Jindal’s Tax Reform Plan Will Produce The Following Results:

  • GDP will grow by 14.4%, or on average 1.4% per year on top of the projected 2% base growth.

– Taking into account other pro-growth reforms that return capital to the economy, this plan is part of an overall plan to get GDP growing at over 4% per year.

  • Capital stock will grow by 38.3%
  • Wage rate will grow by 8.7%
  • 5.9 million jobs will be added to the economy
  • Federal revenue will be cut by 22% or $9 trillion

Governor Jindal’s tax reform plan will significantly flattens the distribution of taxes across all income brackets.


Personal Income Tax Changes In Governor Jindal’s Tax Reform Plan:

Reduce brackets from 7 to 3 and simplify filing status to two: single and married. Maintain widower filing jointly.

  • Eliminate the personal exemption, the standard deduction and all itemized deductions, except for five:

– The charitable contributions deduction with no changes.

– The Earned Income Tax Credit, transferred over to the payroll tax where it will be easier to audit, administered by employers, and more appropriately mirror income

– The Mortgage Interest Deduction, capped at interest on mortgages worth up to $500,000 instead of $1 million as is allowed today

– Replace the exclusion for employer-based health insurance with a standard deduction for health insurance costs whether they are provided by the employer or purchased by an individual

– A nonrefundable dependents credit that accounts for household size of dependents: children under the age of 18, elderly making less than $5,000 over the age of 65, and the disabled.

  • These remaining deductions would have no PEP or Pease limitation, while imposes arbitrary income caps on the value of deductions.
  • Eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax, which increasingly penalizes the middle class.
  • Address the marriage penalty by doubling income brackets for married vs. individual filers and allowing married filers to chose how to file. Currently, the married brackets are not double the single brackets, which means that a second working spouse can increase the couple’s tax rate and lower overall after-tax income.

– For example, John Doe currently makes $65,000. He falls into the 25% bracket as a single man and the 15% bracket as a married man. If his wife, Jane Doe, starts to work and makes only $8,000 a year at a part time job, they would still fall into the 15% bracket as a married couple and pay $1,200 more in taxes. If Jane gets a fulltime job making $50,000 per year, now Joe and Jane fall into the 25% bracket, and they have to pay for childcare. So they pay 12,500 more in taxes plus an additional $5,000 per year in childcare.

New Rates/Brackets In Governor Jindal’s Tax Reform Plan:

Create a Tax-Free Savings Account up to $30,000 per year.

  • This is another way to get at a consumption based system by taxing less income that is not spent. It also helps remove the bias towards immediate consumption by equalizing the cost of spending now vs. spending later.
  • Existing retirement and tax-free savings accounts, such as those for college, would be grandfathered in, or could be rolled over into the new TFSA. Any contributions to these accounts would be subtracted from the $30,000 cap and unused contribution value could be rolled into future years. Roth accounts would remain separate from the TFSA completely in order to avoid double taxation.

– For example, an individual who makes the maximum contribution to their IRA ($5,500) in a single year, would be able to make an additional $24,500 contribution to their TFSA.

– The $30,000 cap would not apply to 529 plans, which currently do not have an annual contribution limitation.

All taxpayers see an increase on a dynamic basis in income.


Proposed Corporate Income Tax Changes In Governor Jindal’s Tax Reform Plan:

  • End double corporate taxation by taxing all income at the same rate and only once.

– This proposal eliminates the corporate income tax, taxes capital gains and dividends as ordinary income and eliminates the Obamacare Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT) of 3.8%.

– Corporations spend millions of dollars on “tax planning” to avoid the U.S.’s corporate income tax, which is the highest in the developed world. Instead of spending millions of taxpayer dollars on corporate compliance, we invite business to reinvest back in the American economy and shift the single layer of corporate taxation to CEOs and corporate executives.

– By default, this removes the deductibility of interest from the CIT, which encourages companies to finance with debt.

– It also puts pass through entities like partnerships, LLCs, and s-corps on a level single playing field, and includes immediate expensing of capital investments for these entities.

  • Moves to a territorial taxation system. A one-time 8% forever tax rate would be imposed on income earned abroad prior to the law change.

– Instead of incentivizing American companies to sell to foreign companies to avoid our corporate tax code, do complicated inversions, or keep corporate income abroad by penalizing them for bringing it home, we should be encouraging American companies to reinvest in our economy.


Additional Changes In Governor Jindal’s Tax Reform Plan:

  • Death and gift tax are eliminated

– These taxes penalize parents that save to pass on property or assets to their children.

  • Repeals all of Obamacare taxes

– Obamacare raised nearly $500 billion in taxes on individuals and companies.

Fred Thompson, with larger-than-life persona, dies at 73 By Dave Boucher and Joey Garrison


November 5, 2015

Fred Thompson, right, Senate Watergate committee minority counsel, talks about his role in the investigation of the Watergate break-in with William L. Underhill, president of the Tennessee Trial Lawyers Association Sept. 22, 1973. J.T. Phillips / The Tennessean

(Photo: Charles Rex Arbogast, ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Story Highlights

Fred Thompson died on Sunday in Nashville. He was 73.
He served as counsel to the Senate committee investigating the Watergate scandal.
Mr. Thompson served in the U.S. Senate from 1994 to 2003.
As an actor, he had roles on NBC's "Law & Order" and in films such as "The Hunt for Red October."

Fred Thompson, a former U.S. senator from Tennessee, GOP presidential candidate, Watergate attorney and actor who starred on the television drama "Law and Order," died on Sunday in Nashville. He was 73.

Mr. Thompson died after a recurrence of lymphoma, according to a prepared statement issued by the Thompson family. Mr Thompson, who had recently purchased a house in Nashville to return to Tennessee, was first diagnosed with cancer in 2004.

"It is with a heavy heart and a deep sense of grief that we share the passing of our brother, husband, father, and grandfather who died peacefully in Nashville surrounded by his family," the Thompson family's statement reads.

"Fred once said that the experiences he had growing up in small-town Tennessee formed the prism through which he viewed the world and shaped the way he dealt with life," his family said. "Fred stood on principle and common sense, and had a deep love for and connection with the people across Tennessee whom he had the privilege to serve in the United States Senate. He enjoyed a hearty laugh, a strong handshake, a good cigar, and a healthy dose of humility. Fred was the same man on the floor of the Senate, the movie studio, or the town square of Lawrenceburg, his home."

Fred Thompson funeral set for Friday in Nashville

Haslam orders flags to half-staff to honor Thompson

Standing at least 6 feet, 5 inches with a booming voice, Mr. Thompson and his larger-than-life persona played a role in several key moments that shaped the U.S. and Tennessee political landscape.

As an attorney, he helped lead to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. As an actor, he starred in some of the most prominent films and television series of his time. And as a politician, he served the state of Tennessee in the U.S. Senate from 1994 to 2003, before making a brief run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008.

Fred Thompson remembered by Tennesseans, others

"Today Tennessee lost a talented and admired statesman and many of us lost a beloved friend," said former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, whose Senate term overlapped with Mr. Thompson's time in Washington. "Working at his side in the Senate for eight years, Fred embodied what has always been the best of Tennessee politics — he listened carefully and was happy to work across the aisle for causes that he believed were right."

“Tennessee has lost a great statesman and one of her favorite sons”
Gov. Bill Haslam

Mr. Thompson was elected in Tennessee as a Republican in 1994 to fill the unexpired term of Al Gore, who had became vice president two years earlier. On the campaign trail, Mr. Thompson famously crisscrossed the state in a rented red pickup truck before soundly defeating Democrat Jim Cooper — currently Nashville's congressman — in what was a dominant election year for Republicans nationally.

In a prepared statement, Gore said he was saddened to learn of Mr. Thompson's death.

"His longtime dedication to public service helped millions of people around the country and here, in our home state," Gore said.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said Mr. Thompson will be missed.

Former Sen. Fred Thompson (Photo: Submitted)

"Tennessee has lost a great statesman and one of her favorite sons," Haslam said. "Crissy and I have always appreciated his friendship, and we will miss him."

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., called Mr. Thompson's personality "infectious" and said he had a way of making all of those around him strive to be better.

"Fred never forgot where he came from, and our state and country miss his common-sense approach to public service," Corker said. "I greatly appreciated his friendship and am saddened to learn of his passing."

Democrats, including former Rep. Bob Clement, D-Nashville, remembered Mr. Thompson as someone who put aside partisanship to solve problems. Clement, a personal friend of Mr. Thompson who briefly attended elementary school with him in Nashville, said Mr. Thompson could "absolutely take over a room" with his physical presence, personality and charm.

"He was a good-ol'-boy from Lawrence County with a lot of talent and a lot of gifts," Clement said.

Early life

Born in Alabama, Fred Dalton Thompson grew up across the state line in Lawrenceburg, Tenn. Known then as "Freddie," Mr. Thompson was described as a "class cut-up" and "clown" by a high school basketball teammate in a Boston Globe article.

Although he was a well-respected athlete, his high school banned him from playing basketball after he married then-wife Sarah Lindsey at the age of 17. Not a particularly impressive student, he struggled with school and his future until his father-in-law gave him the autobiography of Clarence Darrow, the famed attorney from the Scopes trial in Dayton, Tenn.

"I just knew it. I was 17 and I wanted be a lawyer. It's the only thing I considered for five minutes," Mr. Thompson told the Globe in 2007. "Until I was 17, it never occurred to me I had to be anything, but at 17 I knew I wanted to be a lawyer."

“Very few people can light up the room the way Fred Thompson did.”
U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander

He made good on his plans, earning a law degree from Vanderbilt University in 1967. Mr. Thompson started working as an assistant U.S. attorney, where he met current U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. Alexander introduced him to longtime U.S. Sen. Howard Baker, according to the Globe profile.

Baker became a mentor for Mr. Thompson, in both his professional and political life. In turn Mr. Thompson served as Baker's campaign manager during his successful 1972 run. That relationship brought Mr. Thompson to Washington, D.C., and to a role within the Watergate investigation.

“Very few people can light up the room the way Fred Thompson did," Alexander said in a prepared statement Sunday. "He used his magic as a lawyer, actor, Watergate counsel, and United States senator to become one of our country’s most principled and effective public servants. He was my friend for nearly 50 years. I will miss him greatly. Honey and I and our entire family send our love and sympathy to Jeri and the Thompson family.”


Baker, the ranking Republican on the Senate Watergate Committee investigating President Richard Nixon, secured a job for Mr. Thompson as committee counsel. Nixon was none too pleased with the appointment of Mr. Thompson, who was 30 at the time. Mr. Thompson wasn't "very smart" in the eyes of Nixon, according to a 2007 review by The Associated Press of White House tapes.

"Oh s***, that kid," Nixon said when told by his chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman, of Mr. Thompson's appointment on Feb. 22, 1973, according to the review.

"Well, we're stuck with him," Haldeman said.

Although the same tapes showed Nixon thought Mr. Thompson would be friendly to his cause — Baker reportedly assured Nixon that Mr. Thompson was a "big mean fella" — it was Mr. Thompson's knowledge of the tapes themselves that helped seal the president's fate.

Fred Thompson. (Photo: File photo)

Lore says it was Mr. Thompson who helped phrase the famed Baker question, "What did the president know and when did he know it?" But the Associated Press accounting notes a different question from Mr. Thompson himself that truly spurred Nixon's downward spiral.

Through GOP investigators, Mr. Thompson learned from former White House aide Alexander Butterfield about the recording system within the White House. Although Mr. Thompson told the White House that the committee knew about the tapes, a move that resulted in years of criticism from Democrats, he still was the first to bring up the matter of the tapes in a public hearing.

On July 16, Mr. Thompson asked Butterfield during a hearing if he was "aware of the installation of any listening devices in the Oval Office of the president." As noted in the Associated Press report, the question, and its answer, precipitated the president's resignation nearly one year later.

"Legalisms aside, it was inconceivable to me that the White House could withhold the tapes once their existence was made known. I believed it would be in everyone's interest if the White House realized, before making any public statements, the probable position of both the majority and the minority of the Watergate committee," Mr. Thompson wrote in one of his books, according to the report.

Gore, the former vice president, said Mr. Thompson's "extraordinary integrity while working with Senator Howard Baker on the Watergate Committee helped our nation find its way."

"I was deeply inspired by his matter-of-fact, no-nonsense moral courage in that crucible," Gore said. "Tennessee and our nation owe a great debt to Fred Thompson."

Mr. Thompson worked as a lobbyist off and on for roughly more than 20 years after serving as counsel to several legislative committees.


In 1977 Mr. Thompson found himself representing the whistle-blower in one of Tennessee's biggest political scandals. In her role as a parole administrator, Marie Ragghianti refused to release inmates granted pardons after paying then-Gov. Ray Blanton. Mr. Thompson successfully represented Ragghianti in a wrongful termination case, helping her win a settlement and a return to her job in 1978.

That case eventually became the subject of a book and launched Mr. Thompson's acting career. Mr. Thompson played himself in the 1985 version of the movie “Marie." Critics praised his performance, and more roles soon followed.

Five years later, Mr. Thompson had roles in three of the biggest films of 1990: “Days of Thunder,” “The Hunt for Red October” and “Die Hard 2.” He also enjoyed a five-year run on NBC’s “Law and Order” as District Attorney Arthur Branch from 2002-2007.

Though he took a break to run for the Republican nomination for president in 2008, acting remained a constant in Mr. Thompson’s life.

He appeared in box office hits as recently as 2012, with a role in the horror film “Sinister,” and had a recurring role on NBC’s short-lived 2015 series “Allegiance.”

Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn. talks to reporters on Capitol Hill Thursday, Jan. 7, 1999 after attending the ceremonial opening of the Senate's impeachment of President Clinton. (Photo: Doug Mills / The Associated Press)

Senate and the presidency

In 1994 Mr. Thompson successfully earned a seat in the U.S. Senate by beating Cooper 61 percent to 39 percent.

While Cooper criticized Mr. Thompson for acting like a Tennessean while living the life of a Washington lobbyist and Hollywood star, Mr. Thompson argued in a New York Times article that "in many respects, I am an average Tennessean."

"I worked in a factory. I drive a truck. I practice law. I was a federal prosecutor. I've worked without health insurance. I've worked for minimum wage. ... Like a lot of people in Tennessee, I had to get with it to get by," Mr. Thompson told the Times in 1994.

Mr. Thompson won re-election in 1996 by an equally wide margin, but chose not to run again in 2002.

He returned to acting, assuming his well-known role on "Law and Order" in 2002. But he started to again move away from acting and back toward politics in the run-up to the 2008 presidential election. Eventually announcing as a candidate, Mr. Thompson underwhelmed. He never placed higher than third in any of the early primary states and dropped out of the race in late January 2008.

In his book "Teaching the Pig to Dance: A Memoir of Growing Up and Second Chances," Mr. Thompson described his failed candidacy as the first time in his life he "couldn’t accomplish something I had set out to do.”

"It occurred to me that, to paraphrase one of Churchill’s comments, perhaps I had more to be humble about than I had realized. It also occurred to me that this was a pretty doggone expensive way to achieve a little humility," Mr. Thompson wrote in the book, published in 2010.

“Maybe I needed to be reminded of what an old-timer told me years ago after I’d had some success: ‘Just remember, son, the turnout at your funeral is still going to depend a hell of a lot on the weather.' "

Mr. Thompson is survived by his wife, Jeri Thompson, and their children Hayden and Sammy; his brother, Ken; his adult children Tony and Dan; and several grandchildren.

Staff writer Dave Paulson contributed to this story.

Former U.S. senator Fred Thompson has passed away after a recurrence of lymphoma. Known both for politics and acting, the former senator for Tennessee also had a recurring role on 'Law & Order.'

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Obituary - Cohen

COHEN - Janice November 1, 2015, beloved wife of Ronald Cohen; loving mother of David and Brian Cohen. Jan worked for the Social Security Administration in Niagara Falls, NY for over 20 years and was past president of Shir Shalom's Sisterhood. Funeral Services will be held Wednesday, 9:30 AM, at Congregation Shir Shalom, 4660 Sheridan Dr., Williamsville 14221. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Congregation Shir Shalom, c/o Sisterhood, Roswell Park Cancer Institute or Hospice Foundation of WNY. Shiva will be held Wednesday and Thursday 2-4 and 7-9 PM with Prayer Services each evening at the family residence. Condolences at Arrangements by MESNEKOFF FUNERAL HOME.

Mesnekoff Funeral Home, Inc.
8630 Transit Road
East Amherst, NY 14051
(716) 639-8890

Published in the Buffalo News on Nov. 3, 2015


Nov 3, 2015
We are sorry to inform you that Janice Cohen has passed away. Our thoughts are with the family.

COHEN - Janice November 1, 2015, beloved wife of Ronald Cohen; loving mother of David and Brian Cohen.

Jan worked for the Social Security Administration in Niagara Falls, NY for over 20 years and was past president of Shir Shalom´s Sisterhood.

SERVICES: Funeral Services will be held Wednesday, 9:30 AM, at Congregation Shir Shalom, 4660 Sheridan Dr., Williamsville 14221.

SHIVA: Shiva will be held Wednesday and Thursday 2-4 and 7-9 PM with Prayer Services each evening at the family residence.

MEMORIALS: In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Congregation Shir Shalom, c/o Sisterhood, Roswell Park Cancer Institute or Hospice Foundation of WNY.

May the memory of the righteous forever be a blessing.


Friday, October 16, 2015

Iran Got a Far Better Deal Than It Had Any Right to Expect By Elliott Abrams


July 15, 2015

Reading the 150-page agreement with Iran takes less time than one might have anticipated, because it isn’t really a 150-page agreement.

Why not? Because roughly 60 pages consist of lists — lists of all the sanctioned entities that will henceforth have sanctions lifted. These lists include the nicely titled “Foreign Sanctions Evaders List.”

We learn several things from perusing those lists.

First, it has taken decades to build the structure of international sanctions against Iran, and now we are entirely abandoning it. To believe that these sanctions can or will “snap back” — 60 pages’ worth of listed firms, entities, companies, ports, ships, banks, individuals, and on and on — if Iran engages in some violation is foolish. Rob Satloff of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy has made a related point:

There is only one penalty for any infraction, big or small — taking Iran to the UN Security Council for the “snapback” of international sanctions. That is like saying that for any crime — whether a misdemeanor or a felony — the punishment is the death penalty. In the real world, that means there will be no punishments for anything less than a capital crime. . . . But the problem with snapback gets worse. The agreement includes a statement that Iran considers a reimposition of sanctions as freeing it from all commitments and restrictions under the deal. In other words, the violation would have to be really big for the Security Council to blow up the agreement and reimpose sanctions. That effectively gives Iran a free pass on all manner of small to mid-level violations.

Quite right: and that even assumes that the Obama administration will wish to use the agreement’s elaborate procedures, get disputes to the Security Council, re-sanction Iran, and prevent violations of its commitments. But the administration has most recently acted as Iran’s lawyer, defending its violations of the previous agreement and attacking the press for suggesting that violations had occurred.

And Satloff has noted another remarkable aspect of the agreement. It seems that “all contracts signed by Iran up until that point are grandfathered in and immune from sanctions. That means one can expect a stampede of state-to-state and private sector contracts — some real, many hypothetical — all designed to shield Iran from the impact of possible reimposition of sanctions, thereby weakening the impact of the punishment.” That’s my reading as well. And let’s be realistic: Soon enough, the EU will have a huge economic investment in Iran and its companies and trade unions will strongly resist any sanctions that could hurt profits or employment. The idea of restoring the sanctions regime is a fantasy.

EDITORIAL: Don’t Try Trusting Iran

Second, we learn from the lists and the conditions surrounding them how far the Obama administration has gone in accommodating Iran. Here is paragraph 25 of the text of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action:

25. If a law at the state or local level in the United States is preventing the implementation of the sanctions lifting as specified in this JCPOA, the United States will take appropriate steps, taking into account all available authorities, with a view to achieving such implementation. The United States will actively encourage officials at the state or local level to take into account the changes in the U.S. policy reflected in the lifting of sanctions under this JCPOA and to refrain from actions inconsistent with this change in policy.

Think about that: Obama has agreed that the federal government will fight any move by any state to impose or maintain state sanctions on Iran — for example, for human-rights violations, support of terror, aggression in the region, or any other reason. Because, you see, state sanctions of any kind, interfering with finance or commerce in any way, are surely “inconsistent with this change in policy.”

How far we have come. Initially U.S. policy aimed at a sort of zero option: Iran zeroes out its nuclear program, and we zero out sanctions. Satloff summarizes where we went next:

Then, the United States conceded to Iran the right to have its own nuclear reactors but not to develop indigenous capacity to enrich nuclear fuel, which doubles as the core element of nuclear weapons. Then, the United States conceded to Iran the right to enrich but under strict limitations. Then, the United States conceded to Iran that the strict limitations on enrichment would expire at a certain point in the future.

Iran has been arguing for years that it has the right to enrich uranium under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The United States has always said “no way” — until now. The George W. Bush administration insisted that before our allies Jordan and the UAE could sign a civil nuclear-cooperation agreement with us, they had to agree they would not enrich uranium — not spin one centrifuge. Now we allow Iran 6,000 centrifuges, and indeed the JCPOA legitimizes Iran as a nuclear state. Decades of American nonproliferation policy are dead.

RELATED: Obama’s Jihadist Stimulus Package

What has Iran gained in this agreement? The New York Times’s Thomas Erdbrink tweeted the speech of Iran’s President Rouhani:

Our objective was to have the nuclear program and have sanctions lifted. At first they wanted us to have 100 centrifuges now we will have 6,000. They wanted restrictions of 25 years now its 8. First they said we could only have IR1 centrifuges, now we can have IR6, 7, and 8, advanced centrifuges. Heavy water plant at Arak had to be dismantled but now it will remain with heavy water under conditions. Fordo had to be closed now we will have 1000 centrifuges there.

There are of course other ways to measure. Iran has four Americans being held hostage, and apparently it keeps all four; indeed Kerry rejected the idea that he should have tried to insist on their freedom before signing a deal. Iran has always argued that its nuclear program was legal, and we said it was illegal; now we give that up. Iran has not had to disclose previous work on nuclear warheads to the International Atomic Energy Agency. Iran will get an immense cash haul, perhaps $150 billion, plus the profits from future oil sales, gas development, and trade and investment. And worst of all, the arms embargo ends in five years, and the embargo on helping Iran build ballistic missiles in eight.

RELATED: Obama’s Iran Deal Provides for Congressional Review — by Iran’s Congress

So the third thing we learn from reading the JCPOA is the neat sequencing. At five years, Iran begins rearming without any limits; at eight years, it begins modernizing and enlarging its ballistic missiles; after ten years, the nuclear limits start falling away. That is, Iran can then develop warheads and it will have the missiles on which to put them. And its years of conventional military buildup will make any U.S. or Israeli military strike against the Iranian nuclear-weapons program much harder and more dangerous.

The fourth thing we learn from reading the JCPOA is what has changed. On its very first page the document says the the deal “will mark a fundamental shift” in how we approach Iran and its nuclear program. You betcha; that’s one true line in the document. Once upon a time, faced with an implacable enemy, Ronald Reagan said we would do what Truman and Kennedy had done: persevere until we had won, until there was a fundamental shift in Soviet conduct or an end to the Soviet Union. Obama is instead throwing in the towel: The fundamental shift in behavior comes from the United States, not Iran. The Islamic Republic remains an implacable enemy, holding hostages, supporting terror, organizing “Death to America” marches even as its negotiators sat in Vienna and Lausanne smiling across the table at John Kerry.

Of course Obama has a theory: The main problems in world politics come from American militarism, aggression, bullying, and the like, and if we open our “clenched fists” to embrace Iran, it will respond in kind. We’ve seen the results of such policies in Russia and North Korea, and most recently in Cuba. In fact Obama’s Iran deal is based on his “Cuba model”: Hand a lifeline to a regime in deep economic trouble and ignore the population of the country and their quest for human rights and decent government. Call it a historic achievement, and above all don’t bargain hard for recompense. For, you see, in these openings to Iran and Cuba we are only righting the historical wrongs America has committed and for which we need to apologize.

People who do not live in and bicycle around in Lausanne or Vienna, but rather try to survive in Israel and the Persian Gulf countries, understand all of this. Iran has won a great victory: A weak country has outmaneuvered and outnegotiated the United States and the EU. Kerry and Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will probably share a Nobel Peace Prize, which is disgraceful, but Zarif does deserve recognition for producing a far better deal for Iran than he had any right to expect. He owes a huge debt of gratitude to Barack Obama and his view of the world. For the rest of us, the rise of Iran means great danger ahead.

Elliott Abrams is senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is the author of Tested by Zion: the Bush Administration and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

How America can counter Putin’s moves in Syria By Condoleezza Rice and Robert M. Gates


October 8, 2015

Condoleezza Rice was secretary of state from 2005 to 2009. Robert M. Gates was defense secretary from 2006 to 2011.

One can hear the disbelief in capitals from Washington to London to Berlin to Ankara and beyond. How can Vladimir Putin, with a sinking economy and a second-rate military, continually dictate the course of geopolitical events? Whether it’s in Ukraine or Syria, the Russian president seems always to have the upper hand.

Sometimes the reaction is derision: This is a sign of weakness. Or smugness: He will regret the decision to intervene. Russia cannot possibly succeed. Or alarm: This will make an already bad situation worse. And, finally, resignation: Perhaps the Russians can be brought along to help stabilize the situation, and we could use help fighting the Islamic State.

The fact is that Putin is playing a weak hand extraordinarily well because he knows exactly what he wants to do. He is not stabilizing the situation according to our definition of stability. He is defending Russia’s interests by keeping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power. This is not about the Islamic State. Any insurgent group that opposes Russian interests is a terrorist organization to Moscow. We saw this behavior in Ukraine, and now we’re seeing it even more aggressively — with bombing runs and cruise missile strikes — in Syria.

Putin is not a sentimental man, and if Assad becomes a liability, Putin will gladly move on to a substitute acceptable to Moscow. But for now, the Russians believe that they (and the Iranians) can save Assad. President Obama and Secretary of State John F. Kerry say that there is no military solution to the Syrian crisis. That is true, but Moscow understands that diplomacy follows the facts on the ground, not the other way around. Russia and Iran are creating favorable facts. Once this military intervention has run its course, expect a peace proposal from Moscow that reflects its interests, including securing the Russian military base at Tartus.

We should not forget that Moscow’s definition of success is not the same as ours. The Russians have shown a willingness to accept and even encourage the creation of so-called failed states and frozen conflicts from Georgia to Moldova to Ukraine. Why should Syria be any different? If Moscow’s “people” can govern only a part of the state but make it impossible for anyone else to govern the rest of it — so be it.

And the well-being of the population is not the issue either. The Russian definition of success contains no element of concern for the dismal situation of the Syrian people. Refugees — that’s Europe’s problem. Greater sectarianism — well, it’s the Middle East! Populations attacked with barrel bombs and Assad’s chemicals, supposedly banned in the deal that Moscow itself negotiated — too bad!

Putin’s move into Syria is old-fashioned great-power politics. (Yes, people do that in the 21st century.) There is a domestic benefit to him, but he is not externalizing his problems at home. Russian domestic and international policies have always been inextricably linked. Russia feels strong at home when it is strong abroad — this is Putin’s plea to his propagandized population — and the Russian people buy it, at least for now. Russia is a great power and derives its self-worth from that. What else is there? When is the last time you bought a Russian product that wasn’t petroleum? Moscow matters again in international politics, and Russian armed forces are on the move.

Let us also realize that hectoring Putin about the bad choice he has made sounds weak. The last time the Russians regretted a foreign adventure was Afghanistan. But that didn’t happen until Ronald Reagan armed the Afghan mujahideen with Stinger missiles that started blowing Russian warplanes and helicopters out of the sky. Only then did an exhausted Soviet Union led by Mikhail Gorbachev, anxious to make accommodation with the West, decide that the Afghan adventure wasn’t worth it.

So what can we do?

First, we must reject the argument that Putin is simply reacting to world disorder. Putin, this argument would suggest, is just trying to hold together the Middle East state system in response to the chaos engendered by U.S. overreach in Iraq, Libya and beyond.

Putin is indeed reacting to circumstances in the Middle East. He sees a vacuum created by our hesitancy to fully engage in places such as Libya and to stay the course in Iraq. But Putin as the defender of international stability? Don’t go there.

Second, we have to create our own facts on the ground. No-fly zones and safe harbors for populations are not “half-baked” ideas. They worked before (protecting the Kurds for 12 years under Saddam Hussein’s reign of terror) and warrant serious consideration. We will continue to have refugees until people are safe. Moreover, providing robust support for Kurdish forces, Sunni tribes and what’s left of the Iraqi special forces is not “mumbo-jumbo.” It might just salvage our current, failing strategy. A serious commitment to these steps would also solidify our relationship with Turkey, which is reeling from the implications of Moscow’s intervention. In short, we must create a better military balance of power on the ground if we are to seek a political solution acceptable to us and to our allies.

Third, we must “de-conflict” our military activities with those of the Russians. This is distasteful, and we should never have gotten to a place where the Russians are warning us to stay out of their way. But we must do all that we can to prevent an incident between us. Presumably, even Putin shares this concern.

Finally, we need to see Putin for who he is. Stop saying that we want to better understand Russian motives. The Russians know their objective very well: Secure their interests in the Middle East by any means necessary. What’s not clear about that?