ISIS Targeting Mecca; Pro-life Sentiment at All-Time High; Chalk Up Net Job Growth to Immigrants

Sunday, 13 Jul 2014 02:44 PM

By Special From Newsmax's Most Informed Sources

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Employment Growth Since 2000 All Notched by Immigrants
2. Fully Half of Americans Receive Government Benefits
3. Mortgage Interest Deduction Mostly Aids the Rich
4. ISIS May Ultimately Target Mecca
5. College Education Still Worth the Cost
6. Poll: Pro-life Sentiment at All-Time High
 

1. Employment Growth Since 2000 All Notched by Immigrants

Immigrants both legal and illegal accounted for all of the net employment growth since the turn of the century, according to a new report.

In the first quarter of this year, there were 5.7 million more immigrants with a job than in 2000.

But among native-born Americans, there were 127,000 fewer with a job in 2014 than in 2000 — 114.7 million this year compared to about 114.8 million in 2000, the report from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) discloses.

Because the native-born population grew significantly during that period while the number of those working decreased, there were 17 million more working-age natives unemployed in the first quarter of 2014 than in 2000.

"With 58 million working-age natives not working, the Schumer-Rubio bill and similar House measures that would substantially increase the number of foreign workers allowed in the country seem out of touch with the realities of the U.S. labor market," the CIS report observes.

That bill, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S.744), has already been passed by the Senate.

Currently only 66 percent of natives ages 16 to 65 are holding a job. And that figure does not take into consideration the 7.3 million people, both native and immigrant, who are forced to settle for working part time despite wanting full-time work.

Immigrants, meanwhile, have made gains in all areas of the labor market, including lower-skilled jobs such as maintenance and food service, middle-skilled jobs such as healthcare support and office support, and higher-skilled jobs including management and positions in the computer field.

The report from CIS scholars Steven A. Camarota and Karen Zeigler also points out that 8.7 million native-born college graduates are out of work, as are 17 million natives with some college and more than 25 million with only a high school education.

The CIS cites several reasons why immigrants have fared better than natives in the job market. For one, the Summer Work Travel Program allows employers to hire temporary workers without needing to make the Social Security and Medicare payments that would be required for natives.

Also, foreign workers who enter under the H-1B visa program cannot change jobs easily, making them more captive to their employers. And immigrants may also be willing to work off the books for lower pay than natives would command.

Based on its research, the CIS offers the conclusion that the long-term decline in employment among native-born Americans indicates that there is no general labor shortage in the country.

And the decline in employment among the native-born during years of high immigration confirms other research showing that immigration does reduce employment for natives.

"If the Schumer-Rubio bill becomes law, the number of new legal immigrants allowed into the country will roughly double to 20 million over the next decade," the CIS states. "The primary argument for this dramatic increase is, as Republican Congressman Paul Ryan has argued, that without it the country faces 'labor shortages.'

"Given the abysmal employment and labor force participation rates, particularly of the native-born, it is difficult to take at face value assertions by employer groups that workers are in short supply or to justify the dramatic increase in immigration levels in the Schumer-Rubio bill."

Editor's Note:



2. Fully Half of Americans Receive Government Benefits

A new report from the Department of Health and Human Services reveals that the percentage of Americans on welfare in 2011 — the most recent year studied — was at its highest level ever, 23.1 percent.

But the number of Americans receiving some form of government benefits is actually more than twice as high.

The Welfare Indicators Act of 1994 requires HHS to present annual reports to Congress on indicators and predictors of welfare dependence.

According to the new report, "Welfare Indicators and Risk Factors 2014," a welfare recipient is any person living in a family where someone received benefits from at least one of three programs — Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps), and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

HHS has calculated the percentage of persons who live in families that receive benefits beginning in 1993.

"In 2011, 23.1 percent of the total population received or lived with a family member who received a benefit of any amount from TANF, SNAP, or SSI at some point during the year," the report states. "While falling steadily between 1993 and 2000, this annual recipiency rate began to increase after 2000, and increased more rapidly during and in the immediate aftermath of the Great Recession."

The report also discloses that a whopping 38 percent of children ages 5 and under were welfare recipients in 2011, up from 19.8 percent in 2000.

Among children ages 6 to 10, 34.8 percent were on welfare, as were 32 percent of those ages 11 to 15.

The HHS count of welfare recipients differs from data published by the Census Bureau regarding Americans living in households where someone received benefits from one or more "means-tested" government programs, CNS News pointed out in an article about the new HHS report.

The census data includes beneficiaries of public housing, Medicaid, the Women, Infants and Children program, and "other cash assistance" programs, as well as beneficiaries of TANF, SNAP, and SSI.

In the fourth quarter of 2011, there were 108,592,000 people living in households that received benefits from one or more means-tested programs, equal to 35.4 percent of the people in the United States at that time.

Adding in the number of people in non-means-tested government programs such as Social Security, Medicare, unemployment, and veterans benefits, the Census Bureau finds that about half of the total U.S. population, 49.2 percent, received some form of government benefits in 2011.

The HHS report also indicates that just 14.5 percent of married families were on welfare in 2011, while 55 percent of "female-headed" families were receiving welfare benefits.

In 1940, 3.8 percent of births in the United States were to unmarried women. In 2011, the figure was 40.7 percent.

Editor's Note:



3. Mortgage Interest Deduction Mostly Aids the Rich

The mortgage interest deduction (MID) was originally conceived as a tool for promoting middle-class home ownership, but upper-income taxpayers benefit most from the deduction, new research reveals.

The MID, which is worth about $70 billion a year, allows taxpayers to deduct interest paid on mortgages on their principal residence or second home from their taxable income and thereby lower their tax obligation.

But 64 percent of the benefits, as measured by effective tax reduction, go to households earning more than $100,000, according to the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

On the other hand, very few lower-income households claim the MID — fewer than 10 percent of those earning $50,000 or less. Those taxpayers most often don't pay enough in mortgage interest and other tax-deductible items to itemize rather than use the standard deduction, which is $12,400 for married couples.

The average effective tax reduction for a household earning between $100,000 and $200,000 is $1,420, nearly 10 times larger than the $150 saved by taxpayers earning between $30,000 and $50,000 who can use the deduction, Mercatus researchers Jason Fichtner and Jacob Feldman found.

They also report that the MID encourages high-income earners who are already likely to purchase homes to buy homes that are 10 to 20 percent larger than the homes they would have bought without the deduction.

The resulting increase in demand for housing has increased home prices by up to 15 percent, and the increase in demand for debt raises interest rates for taxpayers.

Despite the MID, the United States has a lower home ownership rate, 65 percent, than a number of nations that do not have the MID, including Italy (71 percent), Australia (70 percent), and Canada (68 percent).

The Tax Foundation is also critical of the MID, noting that few low- and middle-income taxpayers benefit and calling it subsidization of the real estate industry.

The ideal solution would be to repeal the MID and lower marginal tax rates, according to Fichtner and Feldman.

But the National Association of Realtors strongly opposes eliminating the MID, asserting that "housing is the engine that drives the economy, and to even mention reducing the tax benefits of home ownership could endanger property values."

The Mercatus researchers propose a different approach: "Considering the political hurdles that full repeal would create, policymakers could instead seek to replace the MID with a fixed $900 credit for all taxpayers with a mortgage, adjusted periodically for inflation.

"Such a credit could increase the home ownership rate, while also reducing tax code complexity and without encouraging greater debt-financing by home purchasers."

Editor's Note:



4. ISIS May Ultimately Target Mecca

The militant Sunni group ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) has already seized control of vast areas in Iraq and Syria, and its ultimate target could be Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally and home to Islam's holiest site, Mecca.

ISIS, which now calls itself simply the Islamic State, wants to re-establish the Islamic caliphate, and has made it clear that its ambitions extend beyond Iraq and Syria. Maps circulating online, allegedly from ISIS, show large portions of Asia (including the entire Middle East) and North Africa in the group's color, black — "denoting the group's alleged geographical ambitions," according to Vocativ, a New York-based news website.

After ISIS forces reached the Iraqi town of Rutba, just 70 miles from the Saudi border, worried Saudis tweeted a message translating to "ISISOnSaudiBorder" thousands of times within a few hours.

After Rutba's capture, ISIS supporters began posting online maps showing the group's proximity to Saudi Arabia and "hinting at its next likely advance into Saudi territory," Vocativ reported, adding that "a groundswell of ideological support combined with wide-reaching corruption [in Saudi Arabia] could pave the way for ISIS' penetration into the country."

While the Sunni extremists of ISIS have been battling mostly Shiite forces in Iraq, Saudi Arabia is almost 90 percent Sunni. The overwhelming majority of tweets posting to a hashtag translated as "ABillionMuslimsForTheVictoryOfTheISIS" originated in the Saudi kingdom.

The Syrian and Iranian governments have pointed to alleged financial links between ISIS and Saudi Arabia.

But on Tuesday, Saudi Arabia denied it was financing or supporting the militant group. The Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in London said in a statement that the nation "has not supported, financially, morally, or through any other means, the terrorist organization known as ISIS," Al Arabiya News reported.

The statement also said: "We believe it is the lack of international involvement that has paved the way for terrorist-affiliated networks to breed within Syria."

The Saudi military acknowledged in May that ISIS was already operating and recruiting within Saudi Arabia, and photos circulated online purported to show Saudi military officers holding up signs supporting ISIS.

The government claimed to have broken up a terrorist cell that had links to both ISIS and al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, and ISIS has launched a recruitment drive in Riyadh, Slate.com reported.

Vocativ added: "The appeal of Saudi Arabia for the terrorist group is clear. As the birthplace of Islam and home to some of the religion's holiest sites, the country could become the crown jewel for ISIS."

Editor's Note:



5. College Education Still Worth the Cost

Despite the soaring cost of attending college in recent years, the financial benefits of higher education still outweigh the expenses.

That's the conclusion of a new report in "Current Issues in Economics and Finance," published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

"In recent years, students have been paying more to attend college and earning less upon graduation — trends that have led many observers to question whether a college education remains a good investment," the report states.

"However, an analysis of the economic returns to college since the 1970s demonstrates that the benefits of both a bachelor's degree and an associate's degree still tend to outweigh the costs."

The report's authors acknowledge that many recent college graduates are struggling to find good jobs, while college tuition has reached record highs and graduates are increasingly burdened by debt from student loans.

It would appear, then, that the value of a college education has declined, but that is not the case. Instead, the return on a college degree has held steady for more than a decade at around 15 percent, far surpassing the return for a typical investment.

A key reason why a degree remains a relatively valuable asset is that "the wages of those Americans without a degree have also been falling, keeping the college wage premium near an all-time high," according to the report.

Between 1970 and 2013, those with a bachelor's degree (excluding those who went on to a postgraduate degree) earned about $64,500 per year, adjusted for inflation. Those with an associate's degree earned about $50,000, and those with only a high school diploma earned $41,000 per year.

"Thus, over the past four decades, those with a bachelor's degree have tended to earn 56 percent more than high school graduates while those with an associate's degree have tended to earn 21 percent more," say the report's authors, Jaison R. Abel and Richard Deitz. Abel is a senior economist and Deitz an assistant vice president, both with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Assuming that all workers retire at 65 and that those who went to college spent four years in school to earn a bachelor's degree or two years for an associate's degree, workers with a bachelor's degree earn well over $1 million more than high school graduates during their working lives, and those with an associate's degree earn about $325,000 more.

The return on a bachelor's degree, while averaging 15 percent for all college graduates, differs according to a student's major.

The return for engineering majors is 21 percent. For math and computer majors and health majors, it is 18 percent, and for business majors, 17 percent.

For leisure and hospitality majors the return is just 11 percent, and it is 9 percent for education majors.

But while 17 percent of graduates who majored in engineering are underemployed, just 7 percent of education majors are underemployed.

Overall, college graduates are far more likely to have jobs. According to the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey, 82.5 percent of native-born Americans with at least a bachelor's degree were employed during the first quarter of this year, while 64.7 percent of those with only a high school diploma and just 38.6 percent of those with less than a high school education were employed.

The "Current Issues" report concludes: "Once the full set of costs and benefits is taken into account, investing in a college education still appears to be a wise economic decision for the average person."

Editor's Note:



6. Poll: Pro-life Sentiment at All-Time High

In a sharp turnaround, pro-choice sentiment in the United States has dropped from an all-time Rasmussen polling high of 56 percent in March to just 48 percent today.

At the same time, the number of Americans who consider themselves pro-life is at an all-time high of 44 percent, according to a new national survey of likely voters by Rasmussen Reports, which began polling on the issue in 2003.

A slight majority, 52 percent, now consider abortion to be morally wrong most of the time, the highest percentage since August 2012, while 32 percent say abortion is morally acceptable most of the time, and 16 percent are undecided.

Asked if it is too easy or too hard to get an abortion in the United States, 39 percent think it is too easy, 21 percent say it is too hard, and 25 percent believe the level of difficulty is about right.

About half of those surveyed, 49 percent, say there should be a mandatory waiting period before a woman is allowed to get an abortion, and 37 percent disagree.

Participants were also asked: "In terms of how you will vote in the next congressional election, how important is the issue of abortion?" The result: 64 percent say it is at least somewhat important, including 34 percent who say it is very important, while 30 percent say the issue is not important, including 11 percent who say it is not at all important.

Other findings of the Rasmussen Reports survey include:


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