A President's Day Conversation With Senator Mike Lee

With President Donald Trump dominating news cycle 24/7, many Americans are happy to forget politics and spend President's Day relaxing. It has become just another three-day weekend to go to the movies or take the family on a quick vacation. Not for Utah Senator Mike Lee. In a recent phone interview, Lee shared his feelings on this particular holiday --- President's Day.

Strong Roots

From his childhood, Lee developed a deep reverence for the Constitution, love for the Republic and respect for the office that continues to this day.

"As a Latter-day Saint (Mormon), I was taught by my parents that these were wise men raised up by God for that very purpose," Lee said. "Those involved in writing the Constitution --- not to say every word was inspired or infallible or their words were flawless, but on the whole --- the government they devised was absolutely brilliant. And it is a document that to the extent that we follow it, it has led to the greatest civilization the world has ever known."

Earliest President's Day Memory

While attending various Lincoln Day dinners in Utah and around the country, Lee's thoughts drifted back to his kindergarten days and the lessons he learned about the Constitution and two of our greatest presidents.

"My teacher made us a cake the Friday before President's Day, and it was decorated with this elaborate frosting depicting the faces of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington," Lee said.

His teacher taught Lee and the other children about the sacrifices these two presidents and their families made for a great cause and the Constitution.

"I always reflect back on that on President's Day," he said.

Respect for the Office

Throughout Donald Trump's presidential run, the Utah senator made no secret of his opposition to Trump's candidacy. But now, because of his deep respect for the office, Lee is looking for common ground with the President.

"There's nothing that will weigh a person down faster, more relentlessly than contempt for another human being," Lee said. "When you respect people who hold that office, even when you disagree, it actually makes life better. It causes you to look for ways to be constructive."

Favorite President

Because of his reputation as one of the most conservative members of the Senate, you might think Lee's favorite president would be someone like George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, right? Possibly Ronald Reagan?

Nope.

While he agreed all three of those belong on Mount Rushmore, leave it to Sen. Lee to choose one of the more obscure and widely ignored presidents of the last century to add to the group.

"Calvin Coolidge is not treated fairly by historians --- not even remotely," Lee said. "He's not treated well, perhaps in part because of his political philosophy, but he is the type of president we should always aspire to have."

One of the things Lee said he admired most about Calvin Coolidge was his deep respect for the Constitution.

"He was going to recognize limited power for the federal government at a time when it was rapidly becoming more fashionable to advocate for more government," Lee said.

Coolidge fought back against powerful interests within his own party advocating for bigger government, for higher taxes. He even went to war with large entities like the Chamber of Commerce who wanted higher taxes, while Coolidge wanted to reduce the tax rate. They fought him on this aggressively, but he won and convinced Congress to lower the rate.

"As he did that, even though he was mocked and ridiculed at every turn for taking this position, he was ultimately proven right," Lee said. "As they reduced the tax rate, the economy flourished and they actually brought in more revenue."

Coolidge was not only fiscally conservative but also knew the power in leaving things well enough alone. Sen. Lee referred to Amity Shlaes biography of Coolidge and his belief that government could cause harm with poor legislation.

No-Good Government Solutions

"Once a bad law is put in place it takes on a life of its own, it has its own inertia. It's there and it will continue, absent some other action," Lee said. "So it can be very hard to get rid of a bad law."

Ronald Reagan was famously quoted as saying: "The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help."

Reagan would be spinning in his grave to know how much faith has been put in those people who are "here to help." Lee discussed the type of president we need to fix that problem.

"In an era over the last hundred years or so, we've seen the rise of the progressive movement in America. We've seen the American people put an almost religious-like faith in the government," Lee said. "Coolidge stands out in open defiance against that both for constitutional reasons and policy reasons that had to do with the need to protect the common man."

Optimism About Trump's Presidency

Now that Trump has been elected, his apparent reverence for the office has Lee optimistic.

"I'm hopelessly optimistic," Lee said with a chuckle. "I always believe that someone who believes in that kind of approach is willing to stick with it even though it's difficult, is willing to remain consistent with it, needs to be president and will be president. Our current president has just taken office and he could decide to be that type of president and I would be thrilled if he did."

Conservatives are often heard pining for the next Ronald Reagan, but according to Sen. Lee, America might be even better off with another Calvin Coolidge. Whether Trump can be that type of president remains to be seen. But we can all take a page from what a young Mike Lee learned back in kindergarten: Respect the office, reinforce the fabric of our great nation and be optimistic.

Elected in 2010 as Utah's 16th Senator, Mike Lee has spent his career defending the basic liberties of Americans and Utahns as a tireless advocate for our founding constitutional principles.

Reform Conservatism and Reaganomics: A middle road?

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Senator Marco Rubio broke Republican ranks recently when he criticized the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act by stating that “there's no evidence whatsoever that the money's been massively poured back into the American worker." Rubio is wrong on this point, as millions of workers have received major raises, while the corporate tax cuts have led to a spike in capital expenditure (investment on new projects) of 39 percent. However, the Florida senator is revisiting an idea that was front and center in the conservative movement before Donald Trump rode down an escalator in June of 2015: reform conservatism.

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The "reformicons," like Rubio, supported moving away from conservative or supply-side orthodoxy and toward policies such as the expansion of the child and earned income tax credits. On the other hand, longstanding conservative economic theory indicates that corporate tax cuts, by lowering disincentives on investment, will lead to long-run economic growth that will end up being much more beneficial to the middle class than tax credits.

But asking people to choose between free market economic orthodoxy and policies guided towards addressing inequality and the concerns of the middle class is a false dichotomy.

Instead of advocating policies that many conservatives might dismiss as redistributionist, reformicons should look at the ways government action hinders economic opportunity and exacerbates income inequality. Changing policies that worsen inequality satisfies limited government conservatives' desire for free markets and reformicons' quest for a more egalitarian America. Furthermore, pushing for market policies that reduce the unequal distribution of wealth would help attract left-leaning people and millennials to small government principles.

Criminal justice reform is an area that reformicons and free marketers should come together around. The drug war has been a disaster, and the burden of this misguided government approach have fallen on impoverished minority communities disproportionately, in the form of mass incarceration and lower social mobility. Not only has the drug war been terrible for these communities, it's proved costly to the taxpayer––well over a trillion dollars has gone into the drug war since its inception, and $80 billion dollars a year goes into mass incarceration.

Prioritizing retraining and rehabilitation instead of overcriminalization would help address inequality, fitting reformicons' goals, and promote a better-trained workforce and lower government spending, appealing to basic conservative preferences.

Government regulations tend to disproportionately hurt small businesses and new or would-be entrepreneurs. In no area is this more egregious than occupational licensing––the practice of requiring a government-issued license to perform a job. The percentage of jobs that require licenses has risen from five percent to 30 percent since 1950. Ostensibly justified by public health concerns, occupational licensing laws have, broadly, been shown to neither promote public health nor improve the quality of service. Instead, they serve to provide a 15 percent wage boost to licensed barbers and florists, while, thanks to the hundreds of hours and expensive fees required to attain the licenses, suppressing low-income entrepreneurship, and costing the economy $200 billion dollars annually.

Those economic losses tend to primarily hurt low-income people who both can't start businesses and have to pay more for essential services. Rolling back occupational licenses will satisfy the business wing's desire for deregulation and a more free market and the reformicons' support for addressing income inequality and increasing opportunity.

The favoritism at play in the complex tax code perpetuates inequality.

Tax expenditures form another opportunity for common ground between the Rubio types and the mainstream. Tax deductions and exclusions, both on the individual and corporate sides of the tax code, remain in place after the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Itemized deductions on the individual side disproportionately benefit the wealthy, while corporate tax expenditures help well-connected corporations and sectors, such as the fossil fuel industry.

The favoritism at play in the complex tax code perpetuates inequality. Additionally, a more complicated tax code is less conducive to economic growth than one with lower tax rates and fewer exemptions. Therefore, a simpler tax code with fewer deductions and exclusions would not only create a more level playing field, as the reformicons desire, but also additional economic growth.

A forward-thinking economic program for the Republican Party should marry the best ideas put forward by both supply-siders and reform conservatives. It's possible to take the issues of income inequality and lack of social mobility seriously, while also keeping mainstay conservative economic ideas about the importance of less cumbersome regulations and lower taxes.

Alex Muresianu is a Young Voices Advocate studying economics at Tufts University. He is a contributor for Lone Conservative, and his writing has appeared in Townhall and The Daily Caller. He can be found on Twitter @ahardtospell.

Is this what inclusivity and tolerance look like? Fox News host Tomi Lahren was at a weekend brunch with her mom in Minnesota when other patrons started yelling obscenities and harassing her. After a confrontation, someone threw a drink at her, the moment captured on video for social media.

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On today's show, Pat and Jeffy talked about this uncomfortable moment and why it shows that supposedly “tolerant" liberals have to resort to physical violence in response to ideas they don't like.

President Donald Trump has done a remarkable job of keeping his campaign promises so far. From pulling the US from the Iran Deal and Paris Climate Accord to moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem, the president has followed through on his campaign trail vows.

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“It's quite remarkable. I don't know if anybody remembers, but I was the guy who was saying he's not gonna do any of those things," joked Glenn on “The News and Why it Matters," adding, “He has taken massive steps, massive movement or completed each of those promises … I am blown away."

Watch the video above to hear Glenn Beck, Sara Gonzales, Doc Thompson, Stu Burguiere and Pat Gray discuss the story.

Rapper Kendrick Lamar brings white fan onstage to sing with him, but here’s the catch

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Rapper Kendrick Lamar asked a fan to come onstage and sing with him, only to condemn her when she failed to censor all of the song's frequent mentions of the “n-word" while singing along.

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“I am so sorry," she apologized when Lamar pointed out that she needed to “bleep" that word. “I'm used to singing it like you wrote it." She was booed at by the crowd of people, many screaming “f*** you" after her mistake.

On Tuesday's show, Pat and Jeffy watched the clip and talked about some of the Twitter reactions.

“This is ridiculous," Pat said. “The situation with this word has become so ludicrous."