Featuring the Work and Ideas of the National Center for Public Policy Research & Project 21
Participation in the federal food stamp program is at an eight-year low. The economy and fraud-busting tactics on the part of the Trump are getting a lot of the credit for this decline. There are also suggestions about changing the program, officially called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), to allow for a work requirement for benefits eligibility.
Project 21, the National Center’s black leadership network, recommends a work requirement for SNAP benefits in its “Blueprint for a Better Deal for Black America.” On the Fox Business Network program “Varney & Co.,” Project 21 Co-Chairman Horace Cooper pointed out how getting people into the workforce is the best way to shrink peoples’ dependence on handouts:
What you need to be doing is being in the workplace, being in the workforce and moving toward independence.
Our American peoples’ generosity has always been predicated on helping people as they found themselves in trouble to a point where they can become independent. It has never been a promise of a lifetime of dependency.
Host Stuart Varney asked Horace if there should exemptions for people such as single mothers from having to work. Horace noted there are options available to meet familial obligations while gaining a foothold in the workforce and better provide for children over the long-term. He pointed to the success of the work requirements included in welfare reform measures enacted in 1996:
What we saw was a boom in employment. What we saw was a large number of people who had had multiple-generational experience in poverty move from dependent to independence.
There’s a role that grandpa and grandma can play. A role that employers can play in providing daycare. Even some of our schools have expanded this kind of services that they need.
This isn’t an issue of a mother trapped at home providing care with no options. What we’re talking about are the large number of people who are sitting in this economy – not taking advantage of the extraordinary growth that we’ve not seen in my lifetime…
We would be cruel if we told those who are needy and dependent you can opt out of it.
Improving welfare reform, including more work requirements for eligibility in programs such as the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps), in recognition of past success in reducing the number of people requiring government assistance.
Project 21 cited the Farm Bill (H.R. 2), which has now passed in the U.S. House of Representatives, as compliant with the Blueprint because is contained a SNAP work requirement. Several Project 21 members, including Horace, also met with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Dr. Ben Carson to discuss HUD’s proposal to include a work requirement for eligibilty for public housing assistance (which was also considered Blueprint Compliant).
In addition to welfare work requirements, Varney also asked Horace about the idea of a universal minimum income. Horace also thought that setting people up to accept a subsistence income was a cruel concept:
Well, besides being looney, the first thing I would say is that we don’t need to create dependency. What we need to do is say to people: “Your goal is not how much minimum you can get but why can’t we get you to aspire to a maximum.”
The public housing that we provided. The public health care that we provided. The public food assistance that we provided over 45+ years has never been amazing, has never been remarkable.
Basic income wouldn’t be any different. The thing is it would trap – it would operate as a magnet – and it would trap more people. It is cruel to say to someone: “You, your child and your grandchild are gonna be stuck in this cycle of dependency and poverty.
The basic minimum income idea, if it wasn’t so looney, the cruelty behind it would be obvious.
It’s a given that the “n-word” is taboo. But there are some who use it liberally. There are some who think it’s alright for certain people to say it, but absolutely forbidden to others in any context.
It’s causing problems that could tear us apart as a nation. Members of the National Center’s Project 21 black leadership network are concerned about this development.
Right now, n-word retribution ruining careers and hurting businesses. Just consider the example of “Papa John” Schnatter and his abrupt exit from the day-to-day leadership of the pizza business he founded. He said the n-word in the company of others, but not maliciously. He just said it.
That’s enough at this point. And there’s no forgiveness when it comes to the issue of race these days
Project 21 member Emery McClendon, a tea party organizer, thought Schnatter should have known better. Emery said:
Although the now-former CEO of Papa John’s may not have meant his statements to be taken as a racial slur, he should have realized that – in today’s society – many people would take them that way. A better choice of words should have been used to avoid conflict with today’s weak-minded people.
There’s been a definite shift in the what language is acceptable. Evangelicals might now accommodate the locker-room talk of a politician who fights for the policies that protect their personal piety. Certain minorities might be allowed to “take back” words once considered slurs. But, in this latter case, the once-hated words can become coveted. In the case of the n-word, anyone not allowed to use it can now be severely punished.
Consider what happened with Schnatter and two other people over the last three months.
At the Hangout Festival in Alabama last May, rapper Kendrick Lamar performed his song “m.A.A.d. City.” The song contains the n-word (albeit ending with “-a” instead of “-er”) 21 times. When Lamar picked a white woman out of the audience to accompany him, booing ensued when she stayed true to the lyrics and used the n-word. She apologized after Lamar told her “you got to bleep one single word.” The audience didn’t want to let her finish, but Lamar let her anyway.
A month later, Netflix Chief Communications Officer Jonathan Friedland was fired for uttering the n-word during a company meeting about being more race conscious and another time a few days later in reference to the controversy over his using it at that first meeting. Although the details haven’t been disclosed, there is no indication Friedland used the word maliciously. It’s use by a white man seemed to be the issue. Criticism was compounded for some because he did not address what he said (and potentially risk saying the n-word a third time) during a meeting with black Netflix employees.
In a memo to employees about Friedland’s firing, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings asserted: “For non-Black people, the word should not be spoken as there is almost no context in which it is appropriate or constructive (even when singing a song or reading a script).” Regarding the Kendrick Lamar show, the BBC quoted the artist Yizzy saying: “If you use the word… and you’re not of any black heritage, in this modern day world, be prepared to face a backlash.”
And then there was Schnatter this week. He had already resigned as Papa John’s CEO in January after his criticism of NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem provoked controversy. Then it was revealed this week that, during a crisis-management training call involving Papa John’s executives and the staff of the marketing firm the Laundry Service to prepare for any future instances like the NFL kneeling issue, Schnatter used the n-word. He reportedly said “[Kentucky Fried Chicken founder] Colonel Sanders called blacks [the n-word]” and never suffered a backlash.
Sanders sold his chain’s American locations in 1964 and died in 1980, so it’s not really the same – even if his image is still used to promote the company. Schnatter told Forbes magazine: “Regardless of the context, I apologize. Simply stated, racism has no place in our society.” After the Forbes article was posted and shares in Papa John’s fell by almost six percent, Schnatter resigned as chairman of the company.
This helped Papa John’s stock, which rose 11 percent after the news of his resignation. He may be out as chairman, but he remains on the board and retains ownership of 24 percent of company stock. Over at Laundry Service, however, the loss of Papa John’s account – which the firm terminated after Schnatter said the n-word – helped bring about a layoff of 10 percent of its staff.
All those who uttered the n-word were contrite. They were not afforded a modicum of forgiveness.
While the woman at the concert suffered pain and embarrassment that will likely be her own personal millstone, Friedland and Schnatter are both in their 50s and radioactive – relatively unemployable in their fields of expertise. And there are dozens of people out of work at Laundry Service for Schnatter’s misstep. And he may be gone from Papa John’s front office, but Schnatter’s name is synonymous with the company and he is the face of the brand (like Colonel Sanders). How many consumers will still turn their backs and how many jobs might this cost? It’s too soon to tell.
Beyond bottom lines, Project 21 member Derryck Green, Ph.D. also worried that demonizing people for using the word while not considering the context risks trivializing what racism can be:
In saner times, this would be a non-issue. It should be a non-issue. But because of the extreme political tribalism our country is experiencing, sanity seems to be both a distant memory, and something we strive to achieve.
Because of our zero-tolerance culture, context is usually discarded. Witch hunts need victims. But context matters.
In context, it’s clear that John Schnatter wasn’t using the n-word as a racial pejorative. It’s also no proof that he’s a racist. Schnatter was simply trying to draw a parallel between his situation and the public and financial price he’s paid, and another situation where the n-word was used deliberately as racial disparagement accompanied by the relative lack of consequences resulting from it.
This stupidity is nothing more than an attempt by racial totalitarians to further punish a guy who rightly questioned the legitimacy of NFL protests and how these “protests” decreased NFL ratings, reduced the number of people who saw Papa John’s commercials, which in turn reduced his company’s revenue.
If this is racism, then that word has lost all its original meaning.
While talk about an international trade war has presidential critics warning of rising car prices, Project 21 member Derrick Hollie highlighted the Trump Administration’s unsung efforts to lower the prices and increase the safety of cars in America.
In a Daily Signal commentary, Derrick explained how the rollback of Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards could improve the way Americans drive. The industry is no longer burdened by an Obama era mandate to get their vehicle fleets to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. The result is already being seen in consumer choice, and it could also make new vehicles more accessible to poor and minority consumers. He wrote:
The Trump Administration’s rollback of fuel efficiency mandates to favor the present-day economy over ambiguous predictions is a smart move. It promises more vehicles people want to safely transport their families, engage opportunities and fuel the economy. It also respects the situations of the American consumer – particularly those at the lower rungs of the economic ladder.
In his commentary, Derrick pointed out:
CAFE standards have been around for 40 years, but green crusaders in the Obama Administration put them on steroids. During the Obama presidency, the industry was required to increase fuel efficiency by around nine miles per gallon. In 2012, it imposed a spike from 30.2 miles per gallon for a passenger car in model year 2011 to 60 miles per gallon over 14 years.
American car prices have risen steadily with higher CAFE standards. According to Heritage Foundation research, car prices rose while other big-ticket durable goods prices dropped. “If vehicle prices had tracked furniture and appliance prices since 2007,” a 2016 Heritage study noted, “they would be 23.4 percent lower than they are today.” Comparatively, the average cost of a car in the United States rose $6,200 above trending prices in other countries.
Higher prices lower opportunity. Those without much disposable income find themselves unable to afford new CAFE-friendly vehicles. Using federal data, a National Automobile Dealers Association study concluded that between 3.1 and 14.9 million households might lack the credit necessary to buy a new vehicle under the original 2025 CAFE scenario. This fate would undoubtedly fall hardest on minority communities due to lower earnings.
And then there’s safety. To meet stringent fuel efficiency goals quickly, an easy way is to make vehicles smaller and lighter. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety explicitly warns that “[b]igger, heavier vehicles protect their occupants better.” That means those forced into the smaller cars are inherently less safe.
And the alleged benefits of CAFE standards as they relate to impacting climate change are considered “trivial and elusive.”
Minority advocates embrace Trump’s CAFE relief. In a letter to [Secretary of Transportation Elaine ]Chao and [Then-EPA Administrator Scott] Pruitt, the Project 21 black leadership network stated: “Excessive regulatory costs that make products unaffordable are one of the most significant non-racial obstacles to black economic progress… Increasing black hardship and jeopardizing driver safety for such a small payoff is simply irrational.”
Project 21 announced the policy shift was “Blueprint Compliant” with its new “Blueprint for a Better Deal for Black America” – that specifically recommended reforming CAFE standards – to improve black opportunity.
To read Derrick’s commentary – “Trump’s Fuel Efficiency Reality Check Revs Up the American Economy” – click here.
Liberals often claim their concern about the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy from the U.S Supreme Court, and the subsequent nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace him, is that it could change the political balance of the Court.
In an interview on “Wilkow!” on CRTV, Horace told host Andrew Wilkow that someone such as Kavanaugh could help return the operation of the judiciary to something more in line with the intentions of our Constitution’s authors.
In America, the way our founders contemplated our system to operate is that you have to do the heavy lifting. The hard work of persuading your fellow citizen. You can’t change policy, you can’t change leaders, you can’t change law without persuading your fellow citizens.
The left says: “Whew, that’s too much trouble. Oh, it’s just too much work. Here’s what we want. Our idea. Our policy initiative. It is so right [that] what we’re gonna do is we’re just going to force it into place [through the judiciary]. And we’re going to mandate that you adopt it.”
You and I may look at a particular law that Congress has passed and we may say: “You know, I don’t really like that.” The thing about that is we have the power to influence that. We can change that.
What the left says is: “We don’t want you to have complaints. We don’t want you to be able to make changes. We want you to accept it as if it had come from God on high.” And yet there is no basis for what it is they are telling us other than it’s their policy preference. That’s unjust. That’s not self-government. And that’s not what the founders intended.
Wilkow noted how the confirmation process has become such a nasty affair. This includes opposition research and wild speculation about future rulings as well as the use of the filibuster to block nominees and the filibuster-busting “nuclear option.” Horace said this is all a perfect example of his eponymous “Cooper’s Law” in which he posits that “bad behavior begets bad behavior”:
What has happened is every bad action has resulted in an equal bad action…
Now the truth of the matter is it would be much better if we just returned back to a norm where we didn’t place so much emphasis on the Court at all.
This is the reason our founders never thought of it as the penultimate branch of government. It was supposed to stay in a certain lane. The left has pushed it – not out of its lane necessarily – but to the front of the line. Into the main lane, and put it in charge.
Change may come, Horace speculated, from the shift in behavior that moves the judiciary out of that main lane and back into its traditional role of interpreting the law rather than making it:
The truth of the matter is what we needed are simple referees… But because of bad activity, we continue to get more and more attention to this.
It’s my hope, with someone like Brett Kavanaugh put on the Court, that people will decide: “You know what? All this we’ve been doing on the Court wasn’t right – wasn’t appropriate. Let’s just go back to constitutional norms.”
Despite the divisive words and challenges uttered in the wake of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, Project 21 Co-Chairman Horace Cooper thinks that both the political and economic climate indicate a positive outcome for the Trump Administration. While the process may roil the Senate, all signs appear to point to Kavanaugh’s eventual confirmation.
On the Fox Business Network program “Cavuto Coast to Coast,” Horace said:
Just looking at the numbers, this is gonna likely break down with the overwhelming majority – if not every one – of the Republicans and a few Democrats voting yet. And that will get you more than the 50 votes that you need.
And what we’re looking at is this economy growing on all eight cylinders. What you see is a reason for the incumbent party to feel very, very secure about their situation.
To foster race-neutral admissions processes at American colleges and universities, the Trump Administration rescinded “unnecessary, outdated, inconsistent with existing law or otherwise improper” guidance issued during the Obama era.
Among discarded guidance is the approval of race-explicit selection criteria – including the suggestion there is a “compelling interest” that “[i]n some cases, race-neutral approaches will be unworkable because they will be ineffective to achieve the diversity the institution seeks.”
No longer. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said it’s “wrong, and it’s not good government.”
Joining Sessions in sharp criticism of these old ideas is Project 21 member Dr. Carol M. Swain, a former professor at Vanderbilt University and Princeton University. In a press release applauding the Trump Administration’s action, she called the removing the endorsement of racial preferences “wise” and said the Obama guidance “places students in situations where they are doomed to fail, become embittered by rising debt and frustrated with the mismatch between abilities and expectations.”
Producers at the Fox News Channel program “The Ingraham Angle” saw and liked what Carol had to say, and they asked her to be on the July 5 edition of the program to debate the topic in greater detail. Guest host Pete Hegseth moderated the exchange between Carol and liberal commentator Antjuan Seawright.
Seawright made the assertion that this was a “red-meat issue” for President Donald Trump’s supporters, and the President was trying to undo the work of the Obama Administration out of spite. Carol succinctly countered about the unfairness of anachronistic racial preference priorities:
It is unfair against Asians as well as other non-minorities who are better qualified. And it’s also [that] the country is not the same as it was 50 or 60 years ago.
In more detail about the long-term problems associated with race-based admissions policies, she noted:
There have been many minority students that I have encountered that have been struggling. There are some that are well-qualified. I mean, they’re at the top of the class. But there’s many that are struggling. They are failing. They would have been successful if they had gone to a state university or a community college or a trade school. They leave school with a lot of debt.
And I firmly believe one reason we have so much unrest on college campuses today – so much anger and bitterness and the students who want to self-segregate – is because many of them are not prepared for the institutions that have been allowed to matriculate in.
Project 21 recently released its “Blueprint for a Better Deal for Black America” that recommends schools be required to meet minimum graduation rate standards for both general and minority student populations to be eligible for federal student financial aid, among other ideas. The Blueprint is Project 21’s 57-point plan for removing barriers blocking blacks from empowerment and ensuring they have their chance to attain the American dream.
Among its specific proposals to give black college students a better deal by promoting their success, Project 21 recommends:
If you’ve been wondering where Jesse Jackson has gone, you’re obviously not attending corporate shareholder meetings. Justin Danhof, Esq., director of the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project, ran into him twice in just the past month.
Jackson is the harbinger of the left’s latest tactic to impose their agenda on the business community. Justin explained this new strategy for “exponentially expanding” affirmative action in corporate boardrooms in a commentary published by Investor’s Business Daily.
While Jackson’s stature and the shares of Big Labor were the drivers of this change, Justin noted that the “outsized role” of mysterious and shadowy proxy advisors also plays a major role. Unless something is done to curb proxy advisor influence, he wrote, “conservatives may as well cede this entire space to liberal firms and watch corporate America drift further to the left.”
Drawing from his own experiences at these meetings, Justin wrote:
In recent weeks, Amazon, Alphabet, and Facebook have announced updated diversity policies for selecting new directors. Rather than simply selecting the best candidate, each company will interview a female and an under-represented minority for each open board spot. These policies resemble the National Football League’s so-called Rooney Rule which requires that each team interview a minority candidate for open coaching slots.
What’s the problem with a little diversity? Nothing, as long as it’s not quotas imposed for the sake of diversity. There’s a return on investment that shareholders expect and companies need to remain in business. To guide the company by a knee-jerk liberal agenda, Justin, noted, could be disastrous:
Amazon, Facebook, and Alphabet were founded by, and still run by, white men. They have created tremendous wealth and many millions of jobs for women and men of all races and ethnicities. But in light of its new procedure, it’s fair to ask: would Amazon reject Jeff Bezos from its board because he’s a white male? That would be a disaster for Amazon’s investors.
It’s also fair to ask if the race-hustlers and far-left unions that are pushing these racial and gender diversity initiatives care about corporate profits or return on investment. Liberal policies that their ilk promotes, such as high taxation and regulation, diminish corporate profits.
In the case of Amazon, it seems the company settled and did not choose to fight the preference proposal with the same vigor it fought other proposals. The compelling reason may have been support for it from the Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) proxy advisor:
ISS is one of only two major proxy advisory services. Operating with almost zero scrutiny, these firms increasingly exert outsized influence on environmental, governmental, and social issues. That because, according to research from the American Council for Capital Formation, “when proxy advisors recommend voting in favor of a proposal, large institutional holders support the resolution 80 percent of the time. And some funds automatically vote with the proxy advisors nearly 100 percent of the time.”
ISS has become little more than a rubber stamp for liberal activist investors. From climate change, to gender pay issues, to board racial and gender composition, ISS’s supports a full slate far-left shareholder proposals.
It’s entirely possible that Amazon caved to the SEIU’s proposal under pressure from ISS. If ISS can exert that much power over Bezos and Amazon – the richest person in the world and one of the world’s largest publicly-traded companies – what choice do other companies have but to bend to ISS’s liberal will?
Justin mentions legislation in Congress to curb the “unchecked power” of proxy advisors, but also suggests non-governmental means can be used to help them more accountable and fair.
To read Justin’s Investor’s Business Daily commentary – “NFL’s Rooney Rule Runs Amok in the Corporate Boardroom” – in its entirety, click here.
Legal guidance from the federal government favoring race preferences in college and university admissions was wiped away by the Trump Administration.
In a blow to the radical policies favored during the Obama presidency, guidance letters to educators issued between 2011 and 2016 that cited racial diversity as a “compelling interest” were revoked by Trump officials. While this does not set up new rules for admissions policies, it does encourage school officials to consider a wide array of student attributes and be race-neutral in their selection process.
In a debate on the Fox News Channel program “The Ingraham Angle,” Horace took on television and talk radio host Rolanda Watts’s assertion that this is “knocking down anything Obama” and that there “needs to be a fairness, a diversity” because “you can’t say those days [of racial discrimination] are over.”
But Watts could not rebut Horace’s point that those who insist upon racial preferences appear to be making their affirmative action demands out of a perceived need more than for fairness. He said:
It was always overreach with the guidance letters.
The Supreme Court has never said affirmative action for affirmative action’s sake was a great thing. It always said it had to be a last resort. It had to be narrowly tailored.
What these guidance letters did was exactly the opposite. If you’re a good school, you need to do this. Now, it implies that we won’t have scientists, we won’t have doctors, we won’t have any bright people [of color].
I say that’s racist if you believe there will never be astronauts, there will never be scientists or bright people who are black without extra help on the part of the government with affirmative action.
When Representative Maxine Waters spoke in favor of “absolutely harass[ing]” members of the Trump Administration as a protest of their policies – real or perceived – Project 21 member Derrick Hollie asked “[w]here does this sort of rhetoric lead?”
Waters’ words are not the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. or of the people. She should be ashamed of herself.
The remarks made by Waters – in which she suggested protestors “create a crowd, and you push back on them” so Trump officials are “not going to be able” to eat or shop in public anymore – came after the owner of the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia asked White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her family to leave because the owner opposes Trump Administration policies.
For the Red Hen, the pushback is worldwide attention for the 26-seat restaurant and calls for boycotts, protests and hypocrisy in light of demands that businesses compromise the faith of their owners to compulsively serve LGBT customers. To Waters, it seems to be a good test case for raising the level of hostility.
Derrick, in a commentary that was one of the most-clicked items on the Daily Signal website last week, noted how Waters’ remarks particularly disturbed him because someone of her stature and background should know better:
To hear these words coming from a black lawmaker – one who saw firsthand the trials of the civil rights movement – cuts me to the core. That’s because, as American leaders – particularly black American leaders – we cannot praise the beliefs of King on one day and incite violence the next.
We cannot preach the gospel of equality on Sunday and show hatred toward our brothers and sisters of a different political belief on Monday.
We cannot criticize the violence shown against those on one side, while at the same time delighting in attacks on the other. Is that not a double-standard?
And for Waters, she appears to have found out where the rhetoric is leading. She reported receiving threats that she perceived to be credible enough that she canceled to planned appearances. But she has since indignantly warned, “if you shoot me you better shoot straight, there’s nothing like a wounded animal.”
To read Derrick’s entire commentary, click here.
National Center Senior Fellow Horace Cooper says the Constitution won out over emotionalism when the U.S. Supreme Court voted to keep President Donald Trump’s travel security orders in place.
In an interview published by Newsweek, Horace also noted that the Supreme Court justices who incorporated the President’s “out of court” statements – particularly about the threat of Muslim-inspired terrorism – as a basis for their opposition in this case acted to the contrary when it came to defending Obamacare.
The Court upheld the Trump Administration restrictions on travel from certain countries, noting that presidential authority and concerns about national security justified the action over allegations that statements made by Trump as a candidate and as president held no relevance.
Horace commented on the decision:
The decision was obviously correct from both a statutory and constitutional perspective. The real disappointment is that not one of the progressives on the Court acknowledged that fact. All four were willing to use out of court statements to justify their decision.
Opponents of the travel restrictions convinced lower courts to overturn them on the argument that comments at rallies and tweets by Trump constituted an anti-Muslim bias. Their hopes this sway a majority of the justices failed, with Chief Justice John Roberts noting in his majority opinion that “[t]he text of the ban says nothing about religion.”
But the justices who did think these “out of court” statements could be used against President Trump didn’t react this way in 2012 when they upheld Obamacare. Horace said:
When President Obama emphatically stated publicly that his signature health care reform was not a tax, but when government lawyers came before the Supreme Court and argued that it was indeed a tax, all four of the progressives accepted the “in court” claim and ignored the “out of court” statements.