All Star Panelist Roger Simon Discusses Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s Response to Cuba’s Call for Freedom

All Star Panelist Roger Simon Discusses Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s Response to Cuba’s Call for Freedom

 

Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Senior Editor-At-Large at The Epoch Times Roger Simon in studio to discuss Cuba’s cries for freedom and Secretary of State Blinken’s response.

Leahy: We are joined in studio by our all-star panelist, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter, novelist, founder of PJ Media, my former boss at PJTV, editor and editor-at-large for The Epoch Times, Roger Simon. Good morning, Roger.

Simon: Good morning. I’m a little more awake this morning than usual. I don’t know why.

Leahy: Good. Now I have to admit to our audience, as a host, I’m falling down on my duty a little bit because I just delivered to you some stale radio-station and microwave-warmed coffee.

And I need to be delivering. I need to step up and we need to bring in. Scooter’s laughing because he knows it’s true. (Laughs) Our producer, Scooter.

Simon: It is true.

Leahy: What I need to do and I’m derelict in my duty here, Roger, because I’ve got to find a wonderful sponsor who can bring us really great coffee in the morning. So it’s on my to-do list. I promise.

Simon: I would move it up higher.

Leahy: (Laughs) That’s quite good. Roger, in the news today in Cuba, which has been under a Communist dictatorship for what, 60 years now –

Simon: 62.

Leahy: The people want freedom. They are demonstrating in the streets for freedom. What is the Biden maladministration doing about it?

Simon: Nada.

Leahy: Is that Español?

Simon: It’s a little bit of Spanish. No tiene interested. No le gusta. They don’t like it.

Leahy: What about Winken, Blinken, and Nod, the former partner there?

Simon: Antony Blinken.

Leahy: Tony Blinken.

Simon: Nodding off.

Leahy: The secretary of state of the United States. Now, what’s his big issue? It’s not freedom in Cuba.

Simon: No, it’s racism in the United States and he has gone to the UN asking them to investigate us. (Chuckles) This is the secretary of state of the United States, mind you.

Leahy: When I hear all these things, Roger, I think no, these guys didn’t really get elected. You know? Really? This kind of stuff.

Simon: They must have gotten there by a coup. (Laughs) Because how could anybody …

Leahy: Legal but not legitimate. Legal but not legitimate. That’s my mantra on these guys.

Simon: The whole thing about Cuba is you were very, very sad.

Leahy: Have you been to Cuba?

Simon: Yes. Yes.

Leahy: I’ve never been to Cuba.

Simon: As you know, shamefully I have a leftist past.

Leahy: No, no, no, Roger, that you are in the buckle of the Bible Belt and we believe in forgiveness. You are forgiven. Look at some of the great conservatives in history started out as liberal.

Simon: Ronald Reagan and Robert Conquest, my favorite.

Leahy: By the way, I did too. In 1980, I managed the reelection campaign of a Democrat running for Congress.

Simon: Uh oh.

Leahy: He won, but very shortly thereafter, I became a conservative Republican.

Simon: Well, you learned much faster than I. I’m a slow learner, but I was out in Hollywood where I was being essentially paid for keeping the other vision. Rollback to 1979. That’s the year I went to Cuba.

Leahy: So you went to Cuba in 1979.

Simon: It’s an amazing story.

Leahy: Was this during the Marielito?

Simon: No, no. I was invited as a Delgado to the first festival of a new Latin American cinema.

Leahy: Are you kidding me?

Simon: No.

Leahy: I didn’t know anything about this. Every time you come in, Roger, I learn a new, interesting fact about your fascinating, colorful past.

Simon: I’m sort of like the Woody Allen character Ziggy.

Leahy: Or a little bit like Forest Gump. Ziggy, Forest Gump at these main points in American history or world history.

Simon: Anyway, in this particular one, you couldn’t go to Cuba legally at the time. And so there were six of us on an illegal Cessna flying out of Miami.

Leahy: Is the statute of limitations expired, Roger? (Laughter)

Simon: Onboard the flight was my ex-wife and some other radicals. And one of the Hollywood 10.

Leahy: Tell everybody who the Hollywood 10 were.

Simon: Hollywood 10 were the poor souls who were supposedly irradiated out of Hollywood in the 50s for being Communist. And this one was Ring Lardner, Jr. Rather a famous guy.

Leahy: Famous writer.

Simon: His father was Ring Lardner, who was more famous. And we were all on this plane being flown by a – turned out – by a Vietnam vet who was very angry about where he was going.

He was just charted. So we’re flying over Cuba on our way in, and he just wants to turn back. And on the other hand, the flight control down on Vanity Airport, which in those days was the size of a postage stamp.

You could look down at it and there were some military vehicles and one airliner from Aeroflot.

Leahy: The Russian airline.

Simon: And it ended up that they only spoke Spanish at the airport.  So I ended up talking us down.

Leahy: So you spoke Spanish?

Simon: I spoke Spanish.

Leahy: Where did you learn Spanish, by the way?

Simon: I lived in Spain for a little while.

Leahy: Again, all of these mysteries of your past that you’re unveiling to our audience.

Simon: I was trying to be an author. (Laughter) Cuba at that time was worse than now almost. It was illegal to play Afro-Cuban music.

Leahy: In Cuba?

Simon: In Cuba.

Leahy: When we come back, we’ll learn more about what happened when you landed in Cuba in 1979.

Listen to the full third hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mayor Andy Ogles Has Two Words for Dr. Fauci on Local Vaccine Mandates: ‘Hell No!’

Mayor Andy Ogles Has Two Words for Dr. Fauci on Local Vaccine Mandates: ‘Hell No!’

 

Live from Music Row Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles in the studio to give his official comment on Dr. Anthony Fauci’s recent advice for local municipalities on local COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Leahy: We welcome to our microphones in studio the mayor of Maury County – that bastion of economic freedom, that turbocharged engine of economic growth – Andy Ogles. Good morning, Andy.

Ogles: Good morning.

Leahy: You like that little phrase we came up with last time? The bastion of freedom and turbocharged engine of economic growth in Maury County. It’s fun because it’s true.

Ogles: It is true. We are firing on all cylinders and it’s a great time, really, to be in Tennessee, period, but certainly Middle Tennessee and Maury County. And I’m blessed to be mayor and just got back from the beach and tan.

Leahy: Tan, rested, and ready.

Ogles: That’s right.

Leahy: Tan, rested, and ready is the phrase. I went a couple of weeks ago. I went down the beginning of July. I went down in a similar area and was tan, rested, and ready for a while. (Laughs)

We went to Dauphin Island. If you haven’t been, it’s very quiet and just outside of Mobile and not a lot to do there, which was fantastic.

My wife and I and our kids just hung out at the beach every day and built sandcastles and big trenches in the sand and just chilled.

Leahy: That would be my favorite thing to do – is basically not a lot. Just sit and hang out at the beach and maybe walk along the beach.

The problem is I can do it for, like, about an hour, maybe two hours. And then all of a sudden I started thinking. What about X?

What about Y? What about C? I better call so and so. And then it all starts again. So I got to pace myself a little bit.

Ogles: With three kiddos on the beach, one of them always wanted to get in the water. Especially our little one. So we had a blast. Totally fun.

Leahy: Well, welcome back. You do look tan, rested, and ready. And the challenges of being the mayor of Maury County: I think you thrive on that, from what I can tell.

It’s interesting. We deal with a lot of political figures here, and I think you like to talk to people. To me, this is why my best role is being a talk radio host because we talk to people in studio.

But when you go out in Maury County, everyone has a claim on your time. Everyone. And so everyone has a right to come up and say, now, Mayor, why didn’t we do X?

Over here I’ve got a problem there. What are you going to do about it? You seem to like that.

Ogles: Yeah. I mean, I think that’s the role of our elected officials is to be the advocate for our community. And that’s what I try to do, which is why I was so vocal during COVID.

I’ll have someone reach out or make a comment on social media. Maybe I’m being an advocate against or for some policy that maybe has a national or even statewide bent to it.

But what they don’t realize is that a vaccine mandate hypothetically affects us locally. And so it’s my job as mayor to be vocal and say, “hey, the constituents, my constituents here Maury County don’t want vaccine mandates.”

They don’t want mask mandates. They don’t want these shutdowns and this intrusive government that is wanting to lurch into Tennessee. And so I’ve been very vocal and try to be an advocate for everybody in Maury County.

And our businesses are booming because of it, because we are that turbocharged bastion of freedom that we’ve become known for. And our square is booming, which is fantastic.

Leahy: Now, Anthony Fauci.

Ogles: The man. (Chuckles)

Leahy: The man. This is coming in here just recently from Anthony Fauci and the Biden administration, and basically following Anthony Fauci’s comments the other day calling for more local vaccine mandates.

Local! The press secretary to the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Jen Psaki, said that the Biden administration won’t issue broader federal mandates, but the Biden administration plans to support local municipalities and their efforts to regulate COVID-19 vaccine administration and distribution.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds very Orwellian to me, Andy.

Ogles: Well, that’s what’s been frustrating for me about COVID, in general, is that how quickly we as a people really started giving up our liberties and freedoms, and we became a very Orwellian society almost overnight.

And we’ve got to get back to the fundamental beliefs and individual liberty.

Leahy: Comment on Fauci who said on Sunday, “I’ve been of this opinion, and I remain of that opinion, that I do believe at the local level there should be more mandates. There really should be.”

Do you have a message in response to Anthony Fauci?

Ogles: Hell no!

Leahy: Doctor Fauci, are you listening? For your request for local mandates, we have the official quote from Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles. This quote is for you, Dr. Fauci. Hell no! (Laughter)

Ogles: He’s not a very tall fellow. I’ll pat him on the head and send him on his way.

Leahy: Hell no, Dr. Fauci. That’s Andy Ogles. I agree with that.

Listen to the second hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Americans for Prosperity’s Grant Henry Talks Communism and Its ‘Useful Idiots’

Americans for Prosperity’s Grant Henry Talks Communism and Its ‘Useful Idiots’

 

Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Grassroots Director of Americans for Prosperity-Tennessee Grant Henry to the studio to discuss his in-laws’ experience with real communism and how Americans are born with liberty and freedom in their DNA that is being diluted by left-wing government propaganda its useful idiots.

Leahy: We are joined in studio by our good friend Grant Henry, the grassroots director for Americans for Prosperity, Tennessee. Good morning, Grant.

Henry: Good morning, sir. I’m happy to be back.

Leahy: Well, the fourth of July. You take a look at this fourth of July. The public demonstration seemed to be a little different than in the past.

There was a report that several members of the US women’s National Team turned away from the American flag as a 98-year-old World War II veteran played the National anthem on his harmonica.

And then Democrat Cori Bush went out and said, America’s a terrible country on the Fourth of July. Not exactly the way I think we should celebrate the Fourth of July. Grant, how did you celebrate your Fourth of July?

Henry: Completely opposite from that. I celebrated my Fourth of July, obviously spending time with friends and family. And in particular, having a conversation with my in-laws. My wife is her entire family is from Romania.

Leahy: Romania. Formally under Communist dictatorship. What? Ceaușescu is a terrible guy who was running it while the Soviets were they were part of the Soviet block.

Henry: Yes. And to hear them discussing it is an enlightening conversation, to say the least. And I’ll say right now if you have never had the pleasure of doing so, I would strongly recommend having a conversation with anybody you know in your life that may have fled communism.

My wife’s family did. My wife was the only first person in her family born in America. The rest of them grew up under communism. They fled Communism.

Leahy: Her parents were born in Communist-controlled Romania?

Henry: Well, obviously born in Romania prior to Communist control.

Leahy: Prior to Communism.

Henry: Prior to Communist control. And then tell stories about what that overtake looks like.

Leahy: That happened from the period of 1945 post World War II.

Henry: 1947 is when it started.

Leahy: When did the communist regime end there? 1990?

Henry: ’80 something. Don’t quote me on that but around that.

Leahy: So they were there during the period of the Communist take over. What was that like for them?

Henry: They told me a story yesterday in particular which somehow stumbled across this. Obviously, we were talking about July four th what it means to be an American.

We stumbled across this conversation of a term I’m sure everybody has heard before called a useful idiot. Which is a strange thing to bring up during the July Fourth conversation.

Leahy: Well, it’s a phrase. First, I think Vladimir Lenin wrote about useful idiots and he talked about people who were well-intentioned but ill-informed, and they advanced arguments that help Communists take control of Russia.

Henry: My father-in-law, his father owned a farm, and in the community was large enough that it actually fed the rest of the community with vegetables.

Leahy: Really? That’s a pretty large farm.

Henry: It is. And unlike other farms in the area, we just feed your own family. He said, right after the Communist take over, the strangest things started happening where one day a judge came back and just happened upon his farm.

And he said, hey, listen, I was just fired yesterday. I can’t find work anywhere. Can I have work at your farm? A couple days later, a couple of weeks later, a University Professor came back. Same exact story.

I was just fired from the University, and I can’t find work anywhere. Can I work at your farm? Eventually, a high-level banker came back.

Exact same story. And he realized that across the nation, the nation’s most intelligent had been fired from their positions and replaced by people that would not ask questions.

They had been replaced by people that certainly were not qualified for those jobs, but simply followed orders. And I’m telling you, Michael, it illuminated this term useful idiot for me in a way that I had never heard before.

He followed this story by saying, listen, Grant. You see, he has a little bit of broken English, though. But he said, you see, there’s something that you Americans tend to forget.

You Americans have liberty and freedom in your DNA. You are born with it. You’re born into it. You’re all born with the will to fight for what’s right. And it caused me to think. We’re missing this message.

Leahy: Well, that DNA, each generation is being diluted. It seems to me. And intentionally being deluded by all the folks on the left who are promoting the falsehood that America is bad.

America is actually the greatest country in the world. But they are making it so that kids going to K-12 public schools feel embarrassed about their country.

Henry: And we need to tell people again, this is one of the reasons why I love working with Americans for Prosperity. We find social change entrepreneurs.

We need to pitch the message that you are not a liability that needs to be taken care of or not some type of victim that constantly needs to rely upon the government for some type of handout or hand up. You can do it on your own. You are empowered.

Listen to the full third hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crowd Size Matters: Host Leahy and Mayor Ogles Validate Trump Rally Attendees in Wellington, Ohio

Crowd Size Matters: Host Leahy and Mayor Ogles Validate Trump Rally Attendees in Wellington, Ohio

 

Live from Music Row Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles in the studio to discuss the actual crowd size and reporting by the fake news media at former President Trump’s rally on Saturday.

Leahy: In studio, the mayor of Maury County, the bastion of freedom, here in Tennessee. Andy Ogles. Good morning, Andy.

Ogles: Good morning.

Leahy: We were talking, of course, about Laura Baigert, The Star News Network, and The Tennessee Star reporter who had the exclusive interview on Saturday for half an hour with former President Donald Trump.

Road in the limousine from the fairgrounds rally to the airport with him. It was a great interview. She wrote it all up. And now it’s interesting, the president has done a couple of things, former president, to get out there in the public.

First, this rally, we’ll talk about that rally in a bit. Then the interview with Laura, the exclusive interview. Today at noon former President Trump will be guest for much of the hour I am told here on the Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show broadcast here on Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC from noon on.

So again, I think the former president has said, okay, I’ve had my five months of rest and relaxation. I am ready to take on the maladministration policies of Biden-Harris. Any thoughts on that, Andy?

Ogles: I think what they’re doing and the president has stated publicly is the 2022 election is critical. Obviously, I think he would like some closure with the 2020 elections. But you also have to look forward to 2022.

And I can only speak anecdotally as I’ve been speaking to communities across Tennessee. But there’s a lot of angst. I think for some, it’s these critical race bananas that are going on. You’ve got the election and the turmoil there, and then you just have COVID fatigue.

People are sick and tired of the shutdowns and the lockdowns and the infringements on liberty and freedom, even if they were scared of the virus. Instinctively, we’re a nation of people who believe in freedom.

And so people are fed up. And I think what you’re seeing is former president is on a full-court press to make sure that we take back the House, we take back the Senate. Sometimes people will fret about gridlock in Washington, D.C. Gridlock is a great thing because the more gridlock there is, the list of our money they’re wasting.

Leahy: Yes. I  could not agree with you more on that. Let’s go back to the media misreporting on former President Trump. Now I have a couple of little funny stories here. Do you know how in those rallies the media is in what they call the media pen?

It’s usually a set of risers. And you’ll have the usual suspects there, CBS, NBC, ABC, MSNBC, CNN, they all have cameras there. Now, increasingly, I’m seeing more kinds of conservative news outlets. The Star News Network was there.

Of course, we were there. We didn’t have video cameras, but we were there. And Real America Voice News, for instance, was there. I think One America News was also there. Those are more kind of conservative outlets.

But what’s interesting and was kind of fun and it’s a bit of theater in every one of Trump rallies. And he did it again, this first post-presidency or the interim presidency. The interregnum, shall we say, between Trump 45 and Trump 47, which is what would happen if he were to run and get it elected in 2024.

He always rails at the fake news media. And you know what happens when he does that? He points to the media in the media pen. And the crowd turns around. And with a variety of hand gestures, shall we say, indicates to the press their opinion of them. (Laughter)

Visually, you can understand what those hand gestures might look like and they give them boos. Now we’re there. And we’ve been reporting fairly on the former president for all this time.

And it’s just sort of fun because there’s a crowd yelling at us, we’re standing next to the CNN people. And CNN people are shrinking and scowling. I’m just laughing. It’s just like it’s a wonderful moment to be there and experience that.

And, you know, you don’t say, hey, we’re not like them. (Laughs) It’s kind of fun. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen one of those. It’s kind of fun to see the way they react shall we say.

Ogles: Sure. But he’s right. I think we all get fed up with journalism and journalistic integrity, by and large, is dead right now. And I don’t know how you get that back. The old days of good journalism.

Everybody has an agenda. Everybody has an opinion. But people actually trying to report the news versus every news piece now seems to be more commentary. It’s like, where do you get good, honest news?

Leahy: Well, of course, at The Tennessee Star and the Star News Network. But, of course! but, of course! now a little thing that I’ve been working on for some time. There’s always this crowd size game, right?

There’s always a crowd size game. And the establishment media will kind of report in a way that minimizes crowd size, Ridiculously. For instance, with this particular crowd what I’ve always found is when you’re trying to report crowd size, the very best thing to do is go to a police officer.

And when you’re reporting it, instead of you saying the crowd size, go to a police officer and say, do you have any estimates on crowd size? And often the police have a pretty good sense of that, and they’ll give you something sometimes.

In this particular case, as we were exiting, we saw several law enforcement officers and we asked them specifically because we had our own estimate in mind about the crowd size. And so I asked the law enforcement officers what was the crowd size?

They said, well, we were far in the back, we weren’t able to see, but I’ve heard estimates of 25,000 to 30,000.

Ogles: Wow.

Leahy: I just can’t use that. We were too far in the back. I can’t quote a police officer saying that. If they had said, yes I’d estimate 25,000 to 30,000 I could use that. We actually had heard from one of the wire services, I won’t say the name AP.

I won’t say the name AP. One of the wire services there looked at the crowd and they said it’s about 500 people. Are you nuts?! I’ve been doing the crowd size thing for 15 years since I started the Tea Party movement.

And so I kind of tried to do my best crowd estimate. And looking at the various elements in the venue, the people and the chairs and the main venue and the people along the sides and in the back, I said it was at least 15,000.

So when I wrote a separate story at Breitbart News about it, I said an estimated crowd of 15,000. Interestingly enough, we’ve reached out to the folks there at Lorain County Fairgrounds, and apparently, we got back today an official estimate of 28,000 to 34,000.

Now you just showed me a photograph taken from the very top of the grandstand behind the stage where the president spoke. And I’m looking at that. And it is basically people as far as you can see.

Ogles: I compare that photo to MuleFest that we had in Maury County with Trace Adkins and the estimate from that concert that Friday evening was between 20,000 to 22,000 people.

And what I can tell you is if you were to overlay that photograph on top of that one, there are more people there than that were MuleFest. So, you know, there were at least 25,000 people based on that. Again, we have an accurate count of our event. That’s more. That’s incredible.

Leahy: What I was going to say about that is because there were no official estimates when I wrote that for my Breitbart story on it. And so I put that out as sort of the floor an estimated 15,000.

I felt very comfortable with that number. But now, looking at it, I think the number of 28,000 to 34,000 that Lorain County has given us is probably more accurate.

Ogles: Right.

Leahy: I bring that to your attention because the establishment media are saying, well, it was a small crowd. (Ogles chuckles) I don’t know if this surprises you, Andy, but they are a bunch of liars. It was a huge crowd.

Ogles: That goes back to my other comment and everything’s relative, right? You have 30,000 people show up in this little small town. So it wasn’t like it took place in Legislative Plaza and Nashville in a big city. You have people who drove 30 minutes, an hour and a half, two hours to get to this venue.

Leahy: People came from Iowa, people came from Florida, all over the country because they wanted to see the president.

Ogles: Amazing. There’s a wave coming in 2022.

Leahy: The bottom line is there was a huge crowd in Wellington, Ohio, on Saturday to listen to an hour and a half vintage Donald Trump. (Laughter)

Ogles: Let her rip baby.

Listen to the second hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Samantha Fillmore of the Heartland Institute Explains the ‘Asphyxiation of the American Economy’

Samantha Fillmore of the Heartland Institute Explains the ‘Asphyxiation of the American Economy’

 

Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed Samantha Fillmore who is the state government relations manager at the Heartland Institute to the newsmakers line to discuss the federal governments’ legislative policies that prevent people from wanting to work and stifling small businesses from hiring employees.

Leahy: We are delighted to welcome on our newsmaker line, Samantha Fillmore, the head of government relations for the Heartland Institute. Good morning, Samantha.

Fillmore: Good morning. How are you?

Leahy: Well, we’re delighted to have you on. We are aligned because at the Star News Network, where we own and operate seven state-based news sites, soon to be eight, because we’re moving to Arizona, too.

We’re going to open The Arizona Sun-Times next week. We focus on state and local government issues just like you do at the Heartland Institute. But you’ve been doing it a lot longer than we have.

Fillmore: That’s true. But yes, I am the state government relations manager with the Heartland Institute, which is working on 40 years of working in all states nationwide.

Leahy: 40 years!

Fillmore: We’re working on it.

Leahy: Wow! And we’ve only been up for four years. So you’re way ahead of us now. You have a terrific piece, I think it was at the Washington Examiner about federal unemployment bonus benefits. What’s your argument there?

Fillmore: Absolutely. Thank you for asking. In March 2020, as we know, Congress passed the two-point two-trillion Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act, also known as the Cares Act.

Included in this federally subsidized additional unemployment benefits was known as the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program. And this program automatically provided an additional $300. per week and unemployment benefits for all individuals on top of their state-based unemployment benefits.

Some of the arguments from people who work in economics said as I do from the beginning, particularly from the right side, was that this was always going to end up de-incentivizing millions of Americans who eventually reentering the workforce because of the unemployment with these new bonus benefits, some individuals, in fact, money, we’re making more staying at home than they were at their previous job.

And so what was going to happen when God willing, at this time, we were hoping that there was an end of the tunnel for the Coronavirus Pandemic. What was going to happen when we needed more than ever to saturate the job market.

And now, unfortunately for many economists, our worst fear is coming true. And we’ve created a choking hazard in the labor market that could asphyxiate the economy.

Leahy: A choking hazard that could asphyxiate the economy. Now, for an economist, that is a very descriptive and colorful way to talk about the problem. Congratulations on being able to articulate an economic argument in ways that most people can clearly understand.

Fillmore: Well, thank you. I appreciate that. I have a little bit of practice. I’ve been trying my best, but I am so passionate about this because this is why we see the unemployment level still very high despite the fact that businesses are struggling to fill vacancies and fill unemployment quotas.

I’ve talked to many business owners and they want to fully reopen to full capacity seven days a week and the full hours they had. And they just can’t because they cannot fill the quotas for a staff large enough to do that.

Leahy: Here’s sort of the other thought about this. This is an excellent example of the unintended consequences of government policies. Now let’s step back. Why did Congress pass all these additional bonuses and unemployment benefits?

Because state governments there shut down small businesses and were putting people into the unemployment line. This was the state government’s policy all across the country. So they harmed the ability of these workers to make money. So you can understand, oh, well, we’re going to have to compensate for that. Not so fast right?

If you’re a logical person and let’s say you work in service in the food industry, and Draconian government policy shuts you down and you lose your job and you’re making a certain amount of money, and then the federal government pays you a little bit more than that to sit on your you know what and do nothing, even when you can go back to your job, it’s illogical to go back if you’re going to make less money.

Fillmore: Absolutely. 100 percent. That is exactly the case. If I could make more money from staying at home, I certainly would. I’m not afraid to admit it. (Chuckles) I’d pick up hobbies.

Leahy: Let the government pay for your hobbies. (Laughs)

Fillmore: I’d get better and it would be great. (Chuckles) No, but that’s the argument. And that is the issue. It’s actually fascinating is according to the Business Insider, companies have begun offering signing bonuses and wage increases not limited to but including Target, Hobby Lobby, Starbucks, Wayfair, Costco, Walmart, Chipotle, McDonald’s, and Bank of America.

It is so apparent. And if you were to just drive, I’m sure, across Nashville or across Tennessee and certainly where I’m at here in Chicago, there are help wanted signs in every window.

 There is no shortage of the desire in the demand for labor. And yet we’re struggling. And it’s so clearly because of this. An analysis by an economist at the University of Chicago, the Tent School of Economics estimated that about 68 percent of unemployed workers for the bonus receiving payments greater than the earnings before. So that’s exactly what’s happening.

Leahy: Here’s the other thing, Samantha. If this would happen to me and we didn’t know what would happen, but I’ve got an easy job. All I have to do is talk here on the radio. And then write at The Tennessee Star and Breitbart, where I’m a columnist and a reporter there as well.

I don’t serve in a situation where the government could force me out of a job. But if the state government, in most cases, force me out of a job for no good reason, would be my thinking back in March of 2020, you know what? I’d be pretty angry about that.

And then my attitude would be, well, if you were stupid enough to force me out of my job when I wanted to work and if you’re stupid enough to pay me more than I paid when I was working I’m just going to sit here until you change your mind and I’m going to take your money. That’s I think, how most people think about it.

Fillmore: And that flow of logic would not be lost on me. And I understand that completely. Thankfully, to that point, many governors and state lawmakers have recognized that this is happening in the harmful nature of this program.

So right now, this federal bonus unemployment benefit is scheduled to end on September 6. Now it’s scheduled but that doesn’t mean that it will end on September sixth because we know the federal government loves to continue to roll out, especially under this administration printing money like it’s going out of style.

Will it actually end federally on September sixth? That remains to be seen. However, many governors have decided to opt out of this program before September.

Leahy: Our governor here, Governor Bill, is opting out, I think, in July. At a national level, I think you’ve argued that this could possibly turn into a frightful campaign for universal basic income as proposed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, The Squad, Andrew Yang, and all that crowd. What do you see there?

Fillmore: UBI’s have been so short. They’ve been proposed for a while. And the fear around many of what I do is that if this were ever to catch on if there was ever an ability for people to realize that Uncle Sam could subsidize the lifestyle without actually working, that it would do exactly what is happening now.

It would disincentivize employment and promote dependence on the federal government. And ultimately, it does what a lot of people on the left do, which is give the federal government even more power over individual liberties and individual lives than anyone I know would want.

Then that snowball into so many things. Not only would the federal government be subsidizing your income for living, but at what point does that stop? What other powers have we given away to them to allow them to get to that point?

And the coronavirus pandemic is a pure example of that. We were told what to do with our families and our friends and our bodies and our health care and our homes. And now our employment ultimately is this frightening and heroing image of totalitarian control.

And that’s something I definitely do not want. But now it’s going to be hard to get these people off. And I think it’s been a strong pitch for UBI’s.

Leahy: Absolutely on that. I look at this, and I think you’re up in Chicago, and there are all sorts of problems down in Chicago Samantha.

Fillmore: Yes.

Leahy: What a mess. Is there a bigger mess than Chicago?

Fillmore: That’s a wonderful question. (Laughs) Perhaps, no. I mean, maybe in New York but at least 16,000 senior citizens’ deaths weren’t swept up under the rug in Chicago. So maybe in New York or California.

But no, Chicago is definitely a liberal bastion. I guess I’m seeing the height of help wanted signs and people really contingent to lean onto the government here.

Listen to the first hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Samantha Fillmore” by The Heartland Institute.