Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Just write the checks to Wall Street

When President Obama meets with Congressional leaders today, one of the issues on the agenda will be the Bush-era tax cuts scheduled to end for everybody December 31st.

On the eve of this important meeting, a report exposes why the U.S. Chamber has been waging an all out campaign to make sure the tax cuts for the top two tax brackets do not expire. It is fighting to protect its “richest CEO’s wallets”, according to U.S. Chamber Watch and Citizens for Tax Justice.

While the U.S. Chamber and the high-end tax cuts supporters claim they only want to protect small business owners (see my post on this lie), here are the real beneficiaries of their advocacy:

-- Rupert Murdoch, the CEO of News Corporation, whose donation of $1 million to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce led to well-publicized shareholder outrage, would pocket more than $1.3 million.

-- Don Blankenship, a former U.S. Chamber Board member and the CEO of Massey Energy, whose company owned the mine in which twenty-nine miners died in April 2010's mining disaster, the worst in forty years, would take home more than $700,000.

-- David Cote, the CEO of Honeywell and a member of the National Fiscal Commission, who keynoted an address to the National Chamber Foundation expressing concern about the national debt over the next ten years, would get a tax cut of over $1.2 million.

-- CEOs of big banks on Wall Street who helped collapse the economy and then used the U.S. Chamber to fight stronger financial regulations stand to reap between $700,000 and $1.6 million each.

-- The CEOs of the health insurance industry, whose industry saw an overall increase in profits this year even while they slashed benefits and instituted breathtaking premium increases, are looking to personally benefit from another hit on the middle class by taking in between $335,000 and $875,000.

-- U.S. Chamber president and CEO, Thomas Donohue, who has shifted the Chamber's mission from serving mainstream business to serving the interests of the CEOs whose corporations write the biggest checks, will personally gain over $200,000.
Every one of these CEO’s, I bet, is counted as a small business owner by the IRS because they own some rental property or some other passive investment. Someone needs to ask Rupert Murdoch or Tom Donohue how many new jobs they personally are going to create with their deficit-spending windfall. Or should the government just write their tax-cut checks to Wall Street since that is more likely where they’ll put their money.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The newly thankful for health insurance

There are thousands and thousands of employees across the country who have something to be very thankful for this Thanksgiving—new employer sponsored health insurance.

According to Bernstein Research there has been a 14 percent increase in businesses with fewer than 10 employees offering health insurance to their workers compared to last year. The authors of the study credit the business health insurance tax credits that went into effect this year as part of the new health care law.

Small businesses are not being burdened by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). They and their employees are benefiting from it.

Maybe that’s why health care reform—even after the health insurance industry paid the U.S. Chamber $86 million last year to convince Congress and the public that reform was evil socialism; and the U.S. Chamber’s lap dog, the National Federation of Independent Business, warned the country ad nausea of non-existent small business mandates in the legislation—wasn’t the all powerful voter issue predicted by Senator Jim “Waterloo” DeMint . Only 17 percent of voters mentioned health care as one of their issues affecting their vote. The economy was the dominant issue.

But even with this good news of more small businesses now being able to afford health insurance because of the ACA tax credits, the repeal of the reform is still being threatened by the empowered GOP in Congress.

What they are proposing is a $4 billion tax increase on all the small businesses that are and will be using the tax credits.

We didn’t vote for that either, did we?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Quit with the "small business" rhetoric

Are you tired of hearing all the newly elected confessing their love for small businesses, how everything they will do is for small business, how they live and die to please small business? I’m sick of it already.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate the attention but it would be meaningful if all the talk was being backed up by action that actually helped small business.

In Governor-elect Nikki Haley’s first sit-down interview with a reporter (Robert Behre of The Post and Courier) she mentioned “small business” ten times. She even said, “I’m very passionate about small businesses.”

But what does she say she will do to help small business? She wants to strengthen us by giving us “cash flow” by cutting government, lowering government mandates and lowering taxes.

First, the state has already cut government by 25% in the last couple years and the economy still sucks. All those people out of work aren’t in our main street shops spending money. If we cut state government another 25%, we’ll just have fewer customers and an even worse economy. No cash flow boost here.

Second, the only government mandate that Ms. Haley talks about is the non-existent mandate in the new federal health care law. She states that she will “fight off these health care mandates that are going to be detrimental to our small businesses”. Ms. Haley, 97% of the businesses in South Carolina (those with 50 or fewer employees) are not mandated to offer health insurance under the law. There is no penalty if they don’t, just a health insurance tax credit available to 53,000 small businesses if they do. No cash flow boost here either.

Third, lowering taxes on small businesses might be nice (unless it means state government shutting down resulting in even a weaker economy with fewer customers) but Ms. Haley doesn’t propose lowering the income tax on small businesses. She only wants the corporate income tax paid by big business C-corporations to be reduced and eliminated. So we get the potential downside without the benefits. No cash flow boost here either.

I’m not sure what exactly Ms. Haley means when she says that she is “passionate about small businesses”. But as of right now, the passion only seems to be for evoking the name of small business for advancing a political agenda that holds no real benefits for small business.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

D.C. potpourri

It's Wednesday evening and I’m sitting in a D.C. hotel room after an interesting day.

I was asked to join Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon in a press teleconference call today on the tax cut issue eating up Washington. As readers of this blog already know, the Small Business Chamber is opposing the extension of tax cuts on incomes in excess of $200,000 for an individual and $250,000 for joint filers. It’s a $700 billion bad business decision and Senator Merkley agrees.

This afternoon I was invited to attend a meeting on health care cooperatives sponsored by the Center for American Progress. CAP is working with the Obama administration to encourage the creation of these non-profit co-ops, which are required by the new health care law to be offered in each state as part of the 2014 insurance exchanges.

Ironically today was also the official announcement of the South Carolina Health Cooperative, a venture launched by a Georgia Tech student (Cooper Littlejohn) with assistance of some independent insurance agents. While Littlejohn’s business plan hasn’t been totally revealed, his co-op at this time is more of an insurance buying organization for small businesses formed as a group (which would not fit the criteria under the new health care law for being included in the insurance exchanges). But who knows how this effort will turn out and I wish Cooper success and applaud his initiative.

Tomorrow (Thursday) holds more meetings for me. First up is Sen. Mary Landrieu’s hearing on regulatory burdens facing small businesses. Then I’ll see my friend John Spratt and wish him the best in his post-Congressional future. Then it’s a meeting with key staff in Colorado Senator Michael Bennet’s office on the tax cut issue. I’ll end the day with a workgroup session at the Security and Exchange Commission where I’ll be supporting a petition effort to enable small businesses to capitalize with $100 or under investments without going through the regular time and expense normally required under SEC rules.

I’ll be back on a plane after a Friday breakfast meeting with some D.C. small businesses interested in starting their own small business chamber (inspired by our success in South Carolina). 

Now I'm off to Common Wealth Gastropub to meet some folks.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Help stop a bad business decision—Join public briefing call today

This is a crucial week in Washington. Congress is back in session and the White House is holding a meeting Thursday with Congressional leaders to discuss issues.

One of the issues will be extending tax cuts to the wealthiest 2 percent of the taxpayers—tax cuts that will increase the deficit by $700 billion over the next 10 years and not be effective at all in creating jobs and helping small businesses.

How can you help stop this bad business decision?

Join me in a public briefing to learn more today at 2:45 p.m., sign a petition (see below) and call your elected officials. Thanks to Business for Shared Prosperity for their hard work and coordination on this effort.

JOIN THE BRIEFING CALL on Monday, Nov. 15 at 2:45 PM EST with Frank Knapp, CEO and President of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce, and Steve Wamhoff, Legislative Director of Citizens for Tax Justice. Insight on the issues, legislative environment and tips for taking action.

► Call in #: (760) 569-7676, access code 818215. Monday, Nov 15 at 2:45 pm EST

SIGN/CIRCULATE PETITION: Urge Congress to let the high-end, budget-busting tax cuts expire for taxable income above $250,000.We can't afford to lose $700 billion to invest in small business job creation, education, health, infrastructure and renewable energy in the next decade.

► Sign the petition today

"Extending the high-end Bush tax cuts serves K Street lobbyists, not Main Street shop owners. Politicians should not use us to justify a very bad business decision." - Frank Knapp, CEO, South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce.

Sign the petition and follow it up with a personal call or letter for maximum impact.

► Phone the White House Switchboard 202-456-1414; Comment line 202-456-1111

► Congressional switchboard 202-224-3121.

► Write Your Senator at http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

► Write Your Rep at https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml

REPORT & TALKING POINTS: Restoring Top Tax Rates Makes Sense for Small Business.
 Our short report tells why it makes good business sense to reset top tax rates to where they were between 1993 and 2000 during the longest economic expansion in US history.

Read the Report, Use the Quotes and Talking Points


Press Release: Business Leaders Call on President, Congress to Let Bush’s High-End Tax Cuts Expire

Letter to the Editor: Write a short letter to the editor responding (pro or con) to an article, editorial or op-ed you see. Refer if you can to Business for Shared Prosperity. Letters to the editor are widely read!

Recent Press: Frank Knapp, We Didn't Vote for This, The Hill

Talk to the Press: The more people involved, the more areas we can cover. Contact Bob Keener at bobkeener@businessforsharedprosperity.org or 617-610-6766.

Thank you for signing the petition, speaking out and spreading the word!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Health insurers thrive, but are patients?

I couldn't help posting this great analysis of health insurance company doublespeak that I saw in The State on Friday.  Enjoy!

By DAVID LAZARUS Los Angeles Times

It’s a good time to be a health insurer.

Three of the biggest names in the insurance game reported rock-solid profits last week. Aetna said its third-quarter net income jumped 53 percent over the same period last year, to $497.6 million. Well-Point said its profit rose 1.2 percent to $739.1 million. Health Net posted a net income of $62.7 million, compared with a loss of $66 million a year earlier.

Angela Braly, chief executive of Well-Point, attributed the company’s strong performance to “disciplined administrative expense control.”

Aetna CEO Ronald Williams was more expansive. He cited “a reduction in utilization of health care services after the surge we saw in 2009, combined with appropriate pricing and effective medical quality and cost management.”

Well, that sounds fine and dandy until you parse what exactly he’s saying.

That “reduction in utilization of health care services” basically means fewer people went to the doctor. Did we all suddenly become healthier? Not likely.

Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog, a Santa Monica, Calif., advocacy group, said Americans are skipping doctor visits because they’ve switched to plans with higher deductibles or their employers have jacked up co-payments.

“People aren’t getting the care they need because they have to pay more out of pocket,” he said.

This raises an interesting question about the looming reform of the nation’s healthcare system, under which everyone will be required to have insurance. If available coverage is too pricey for people to use, will Americans be any better off, health-wise?

While most insurance policies will cover catastrophic events, it’s entirely possible that healthcare costs will be too high for the sort of routine care or preventive treatment that can head off illnesses before they become debilitating.

Then there’s that bit from Williams about “appropriate pricing.” What’s that mean?

“Rate increases,” answered Sabrina Corlette, a research professor at the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute. “It means higher rates, as well as more aggressive underwriting that excludes people for certain conditions or charges them higher premiums.”

In September, the California Department of Insurance approved a 19 percent rate increase for 65,000 Aetna policyholders. This followed rate increases of as much as 29 percent for Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield and Health Net, affecting more than 1 million policyholders.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, workers now pay 47 percent more for family health coverage they receive through their jobs than they did five years ago, while wages have gone up only 18 percent.

And what about “effective medical quality and cost management”?

Court at Consumer Watchdog said this is just another way of saying that insurers are denying more claims. “It’s code for some bureaucrat somewhere telling people that a treatment isn’t necessary,” he said.

The average health insurance agent now receives more than 200 requests annually from clients to provide assistance in pursuing a claim, according to a survey released this month by the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, an industry group.

Most agents say they have to contact an insurer at least twice on behalf of a client, the survey found. Eleven percent say they have to make six or more calls in trying to help resolve a claim.

“The most effective cost management for insurers is to decline services,” said Ron Pollock, president of the advocacy group Families USA. “And when there’s a dispute, it’s often very difficult to get a satisfactory result from an insurance company.”

It’s a good time to be a health insurer. For patients, clearly, not so much.

Friday, November 12, 2010

We didn't vote for this

The opinion editorial below ran on the Huffington Post and The Hill yesterday.

We Didn't Vote for This
by Frank Knapp, Jr.

Whether Americans voted for Republicans or Democrats in the mid-term election, one thing is clear: Voters were demanding that Congress focus intensively on job creation on Main Street -- not lobbyists and campaign donors from big business and Wall Street.

Apparently, many in Congress and President Obama, if recent reports are true, either didn't get the message or simply don't care now that the voting is over.

The top legislative priority of the newly "Tea Party-empowered" during the lame duck session is hardly what Tea Party insurgents had in mind. The proposal is to (1) increase the national debt by borrowing $700 billion to $1 trillion over the next 10 years; (2) spend the money on big, non-job producing tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans; (3) use small business as the excuse.

This bad-business proposal is now being pushed in Congress and the media by those advocating extending the Bush-era tax cuts to the top two income brackets. While proponents acknowledge that less than 3 percent of the taxpayers who would receive the tax cuts actually have some business income, they insist that these approximately 900,000 taxpayers are the very successful small business owners who will stop hiring and purchasing if they don't get their tax cut. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

First, almost all real small business owners are middle-class Americans with middle-class incomes. Walk down any Main Street and you won't find small business owners netting over $250,000 a year in profit (dollars remaining after the cost of employee wages and other business expenses are deducted from taxable income).

These middle-income, Main Street small businesses are the ones we really need to help create the new jobs to lift us out of this down economy There is absolutely no evidence that the wealthiest small business owners create more jobs than those in any other tax brackets. As any small business owner knows, the number of employees does not correlate with profit.

So who are these mysterious high-income "small business" taxpayers in the top two brackets who Congress is considering borrowing hundreds of billions from foreign countries in order to give a tax cut?

Very few of them are what most would consider small business owners. They include partners in large corporate law firms, hedge fund managers, K Street lobbyists, high-powered consultants, Wall Street bond traders and the country's wealthiest millionaires -- all of whom claim some business income and thus are counted in IRS eyes as small businesses. These aren't "mom and pop" businesses, says Adam Looney, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Not only are the vast majority of these 900,000 "faux" small business taxpayers not involved in job hiring decisions, the tax cut won't even cause them to significantly increase their personal spending to create the demand for new jobs.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) evaluated 11 policy options in terms of boosting economic growth and creating jobs. It found that "policies that would temporarily increase the after-tax income of people with relatively high income... would have smaller effects because such tax cuts would probably not affect the recipients' spending significantly."

The wealthiest American's are more likely to save their money from a tax cut rather than spend it, according to Moody's Analytics, Inc.

If we really want to give a tax cut that will create jobs, then we could cut employer payroll taxes on businesses that actually increase their workforce. The CBO estimates this would have six to eight times as much job-creating impact as an income tax cut.
Alternatively we could create more customers for our small businesses through infrastructure projects, many of them long overdue upkeep or modernization, or keeping teachers and law enforcement officers working rather than laid off.  The policy the CBO found with the biggest bang for the buck is extending unemployment insurance -- a direct infusion of money into local economies by people buying for their basic needs.

Increasing the nation's deficit while not saving or creating jobs is just more politics as usual in Washington where those with the most money get rewarded with even more money.

Congress needs to hear this loud and clear. These high-end tax cuts serve K Street lobbyists not Main Street shop owners. Politicians should not use us to justify a very bad business decision.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Anticompetitive health insurance practices

One of the most popular parts of the new federal health care law is the establishment of the state insurance exchanges—large pools of customers for which insurance companies would compete to sign up for health insurance. Leveraging large numbers of customers to drive down insurance premiums is a concept loved by all—Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Tea Partiers, big business and small business.

But the idea relies on the premise that there is real competition in the health insurance market that actually works to drive down costs. Apparently that isn’t the case.

Many of us have been aware that the dominant health insurance company in a market demands that it be treated as a “most favored nation” by providers. In other words, these dominant insurance companies would negotiate fee rates with hospitals and other providers and require those providers to charge higher fees to the patients of other insurance companies. They leverage their volume of insureds to get a better deal.

In this way the dominant insurance company can always have more competitive premiums. If the providers don’t agree to play, the dominant insurance company can kick the providers out of their network thus reducing the provider’s revenue due to fewer patients.

This tactic makes it more difficult for other insurance companies to compete and insures (pardon the pun) that the dominant insurance company stays dominant.

As bad as this “most favored nation” tactic is for consumers because it reduces competition, it apparently is even worse than that.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is being taken to court by the U.S. Justice Department and is accused of anticompetitive behavior that encourages higher provider rates and thus higher premiums.

Specifically, Michigan’s Blue Cross is being charged with “paying hospitals higher prices for medical care in exchange for a promise they would charge competing insurers as much as 40% more than they charge Blue Cross.”

The reality is that without real competition in the health insurance market because the “most favored nation” tactic is allowed, there is no incentive for insurance companies to try to get the lowest price for health care services. In fact, the companies make more money when the service costs rise because their built-in profit margins are a percentage of their health service cost payouts.

Is Michigan the only state where this is going on and forcing the individual and small group markets to pay inflated premiums due to a health insurance company greed?  I doubt it.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Triple the impact of your holiday dollar$

With the holiday season fast approaching and customers getting ready to open up their wallets, this is really the time to remember your SC locally-owned small businesses.

Please join us in our “BuySC” nonprofit action campaign. Surveys continue to show that communities with programs encouraging buying from locally-owned businesses improve the sales for those businesses during the holidays. When customer awareness of these programs is high, they seek out locally-owned businesses for their shopping and purchases. It’s just that simple.

And not only do the locally-owned retailers benefit, their communities benefit in a very tangible way.

®© Cinda Baxter, 2009. All rights reserved. Used here with permission.
All studies indicate that your spending dollar has THREE TIMES the economic impact on your local economy when you buy from a locally-owned business than if that same dollar is spent at a big box store or national chain with out-of-state ownership.

You hold the key to growing your local economy and it is right in your wallet.

The nonprofit SC Small Business Chamber of Commerce isn't alone -- there are a number of "shop local" campaigns out there, from Lowcountry Local First and the SCDA's Certified SC Grown program to The 3/50 Project, which inspired our new Buy SC "Local Has It" quarterly action campaign.

TRIPLE THE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK in leading us out of these recessionary times without spending any more money during this holiday season and all year. Just make your purchases from a SC locally-owned small business.

If you need help, we’re building our BuySC.org website directory for consumers to find locally-owned small businesses. These business owners believe in the power of keeping our money in local economies.

If you believe and want to TRIPLE the impact of your money to help, start now. Shop with SC locally-owned businesses and watch your local economy grow.

Friday, November 5, 2010

More than just an election this week

I was a little pre-occupied this week so I’m late with this blog.
A little thing like an election sucked some energy out of me as it did most folks. But I was involved with some positive activities.

My declaration expressing support for the Environmental Protection Agency’s power to regulate greenhouse gas was filed along with similar support messages from 38 other state agencies, conservation groups and business organizations, such as Small Business Majority and Mainstreet Alliance.

I, Frank Knapp, Jr., co-founder, president and CEO of The South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce, make this Declaration in support of the response filed by the Environmental Defense Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and other environmental intervenors in opposition to motions filed by various parties to stay various actions of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) relating to the control of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under the Clean Air Act. The purpose of this Declaration is to express The South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce’s support for EPA’s decisions to move forward with controls on emissions of GHGs under the Act and to oppose motions to stay EPA actions in order to further delay implementation of the Act as to GHG emissions. Read more…
I also submitted a letter to the Internal Revenue Service in support of a citizen’s complaint against the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

On behalf of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce, I am writing to urge you to take prompt action on the letter filed on October 18, 2010 by U.S. Chamber Watch, the Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, and Corporate Ethics International. The letter describes a series of troubling transactions between the Starr Foundation, National Chamber Foundation (NCF), and U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and raises serious questions about whether these organizations knowingly structured their dealings to facilitate the covert use of charitable funds for significant non-charitable purposes – including electioneering by the U.S. Chamber and the payment of excessive compensation to its CEO, Tom Donohue – in violation of the federal tax rules. Read more…
It was a busy week.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Unmasking the danger of corporate political campaign funds

Now that Halloween is over and the elections are tomorrow, it is really the time to get scared.  The opinion blog below should frighten the hell out of any red-blooded American.

The Baseline Scenario

Foreign Money, National Security, And The Midterm Elections

By Simon Johnson

Campaign contributions by non-citizens are a huge issue lurking behind the midterm elections; they will be even more important in 2012. Think about the economic dynamics:

1.Americans have a long-standing and well-founded aversion to foreign involvement in their politics, and it is well-established that this can happen in part through corporate “commercial” structures. Thomas Jefferson objected to Alexander Hamilton’s plan for a national bank in part because he feared this would become a stalking horse for the British in some form (see Chapter 2 of 13 Bankers for the context). Dubai Ports World was not allowed to invest in the United States – for reasons of perceived national security. You may or may not think that case was handled well, but we have the CFIUS process to vet foreign direct investment for good reason.

2.The Supreme Court has determined that corporations can make political contributions virtually without limit, apparently not understanding or not caring that (a) management has a fiduciary responsibility to shareholders, (b) globalization means more foreign shareholders on average (for privately held companies and funds, as well as publicly traded companies), and (c) at the margin, key strategic shareholders – the people who provide extra capital when the chips are down – increasingly tend to be foreign. Think about the role of Sovereign Wealth Funds in providing funds to our banking system in 2007-08, or the fact that Citigroup goes cap-in-hand to Saudi Arabia every decade or so.

3.During the Reagan years and again, even more, under the Second President Bush, the US ran a large current account deficit – reaching 6 percent of GDP before the 2008 crisis (and still around 3 percent of GDP). You may think this a technical detail that is largely irrelevant to the political process, but you would be wrong. We finance our current account deficit with capital inflows from abroad or, to put that more plainly: Foreigners buy and hold financial assets in the United States. Some of those assets are US government obligations but traditionally and increasingly non-US people have also acquired claims on corporate entities – including common or preferred stock.There are good economic reasons to allow foreigners to buy financial assets in the United States. We like to invest around the world and a high degree of reciprocity is only reasonable.

The US dollar is the “reserve currency” of choice – for the past 50 years this is where countries and careful individuals have chosen to keep their rainy day funds. This was a core idea behind the international trading system constructed after 1945. You may not like it, but what alternative exactly would you propose?

And there is nothing wrong per se with running a current account deficit – although it would be much better if we used the inflow of foreign capital to finance investment, rather than (as in the Bush years) tax cuts that just further encourage overconsumption.

Irrespective of how you feel about foreign capital inflows in economic terms, you have to face the political reality. As foreigners accumulate claims on the United States, they will increasingly diversify into corporate assets (in fact, this is the advice they get from their Wall Street advisers). Some of these corporate assets explicitly come with voting rights – but those are supposed to be voting rights over the corporation (or investment fund), not voting rights in political elections.

We have effectively enfranchised foreigners in US elections. This is clearly and absolutely not what the drafters of the Constitutions had in mind.

This dissonance between our claimed political values and the political reality will grow over time – unless you think our current account deficit will swing into surplus at any time in the future, the net inflow of foreign capital will continue.

The only way to deal with this is to require complete disclosure by all corporate entities (and similar “veils” like investment funds of any kind) regarding the contributions they make to any organization or individual involved in political messaging or campaigning.

To be sure, this would be onerous. Thomas Jefferson and his colleagues would have wanted it no other way. The US Constitution was not drawn up to protect the rights of foreign citizens. It defines who is and who can become an American – and the rights and responsibilities of those who would like to rule the United States.

And however you prefer to define our legitimate national security interests, how are they consistent with letting foreign citizens influence or even determine the outcome of our elections?