Monthly Archives: May 2016

U.S. Economy in near-recession, Middle Class Suffers Most

Once again, the latest economic reports reveal very bad news for the U.S. economy in general, and the middle class in particular.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA)  reports that America’s real GDP-gross domestic Product—is a barely-above recession 0.8% for the first quarter of 2016.  That’s even less the dismal 1.4% for the last quarter of 2015. Incorporated into that figure is the latest trade deficit of $40.4 billion.

The New York Federal Reserve adds to the gloomy news with its latest Househild Debt and Credit Report, indicating that Americans are falling deeper into debt. “Aggregate household debt balances increased in the first quarter of 2016.  As of March 31, 2016, total household indebtedness was $12.25 trillion, a $136 billion (1.1%) increase from the fourth quarter of 2015… Mortgage balances, the largest component of household debt, increased in the fourth quarter. Mortgage balances shown on consumer credit reports stood at $8.37 trillion, a $120 billion increase from the fourth quarter of 2015.  Balances on home equity lines of credit…dropped by $2 billion, to $485 billion.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics piles on more worrisome news. “Real average hourly earnings for all employees decreased 0.1 percent from March to April, seasonally adjusted…This result stems from a 0.3-percent increase in average hourly earnings being more than offset by a 0.4-percent increase in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers…Real average weekly earnings increased 0.2 percent over the month due to the decrease in real average hourly earnings combined with 0.3-percent increase in the average workweek.”

The BLS figure of 0.4% increase in consumer prices doesn’t reveal how bad the inflationary impact truly is, since that figure doesn’t include the vital areas of food and energy. When those items are included, inflation is at 1.1%.

The Obama economic policy is becoming clearer.  There is a substantial tilt towards those on government assistance, employees on the low end of the wage scale, and foreign born workers at the expense of the middle class. According to the BLS  foreign born workers, of which there are 26.3 million in the U.S. labor force, comprising 16.7 percent of the total, have a .5% lower unemployment rate.

The President’s program of increased public assistance and emphasis on job policies that have worked better for foreign born workers has had a detrimental effect on Americans both in the middle and lower income brackets, and the problems could get far worse.

Mr. Obama has attempted to take action, without the permission of Congress, to render illegals eligible for federal benefit programs for which they are not currently eligible, including Social Security, disability, and Medicare, despite the fact that funds are already insufficient to pay for those who have paid into those programs for a lifetime.

According to the Pew Research Center …since 2010, Social Security’s cash expenses have exceeded its cash receipts. Negative cash flow last year was about $74 billion, according to the latest trustees’ report, and this year the gap is projected to be around $84 billion. While the credited interest on all those Treasuries is still more than enough to cover the shortfall, that will only be true until 2020…Social Security’s combined reserves likely will be fully depleted by 2034.”

The President’s priority can be seen in a fact recently reported by the Washington Examiner,  which reported that Mr. Obama’s budget of $17,613 for each of the approximately 75,000 Central American teens expected to illegally cross into the United States this year is $2,841 more than the average annual Social Security retirement benefit.

The overall impact of the Obama economic policy which slights the middle class was analyzed last September by Investors.com

“After six-plus years of President Obama’s … policies, middle-class families have seen their incomes decline and more families have fallen into poverty…The overall poverty number … climbed by almost 600,000 among blacks in 2014…the middle class is, incredibly, worse off than at the end of the Great Recession…From 2009 to 2014, real median household income dropped by more than $1,000 — or 2.3% — to $53,657. (And that decline would likely have been steeper if not for a 2013 change in the way the Census does its annual survey.)”

 

Report on China’s Military Developments: Conclusion

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government presents the final excerpt from our review of the Department of Defense 2016 report on Chinese Military Developments.  

CURRENT CAPABILITIES OF THE PEOPLE’S LIBERATION ARMY

The Rocket Force, renamed from the PLASAF late last year, operates China’s land-based nuclear and conventional missiles. It is developing and testing several new classes and variants of offensive missiles, including a hypersonic glide vehicle; forming additional missile units; upgrading older missile systems; and developing methods to counter ballistic missile defenses.

The force possesses approximately 1,200 short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM) in its inventory. China is increasing the lethality of its conventional missile force by fielding the CSS-11 (DF-16) ballistic missile with a range of 800-1,000 km. The CSS-11, coupled with the already deployed conventional land-attack and anti-ship variants of the CSS-5 (DF-21C/D) medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM), will improve China’s ability to strike not only Taiwan, but other regional targets. These ballistic missile systems are complimented by the CJ-10 ground-launched cruise missile (GLCM). The CJ-10 has a range in excess of 1500 km and offers flight profiles different from ballistic missiles that can enhance targeting options.

China is fielding a growing number of conventionally armed MRBMs, including the CSS-5 Mod 5 (DF-21D) anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM). The CSS-5 Mod 5, with a range of 1,500 km and maneuverable warhead, gives the PLA the capability to attack ships, including aircraft carriers, in the western Pacific Ocean.

China unveiled the DF-26 intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) during the September 2015 parade in Beijing. When fielded, the DF-26 will be capable of conducting precision strikes against ground targets and contribute to strategic deterrence in the Asia-Pacific region. The official parade announcer also referenced a nuclear version of the DF-26, which, if it shares the same guidance capabilities, would give China its first nuclear precision strike capability against theater targets.

The PLARF continued to modernize its nuclear forces by enhancing its silo-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) and adding more survivable, mobile delivery systems. China’s ICBM arsenal to date consists of approximately 75-100 ICBMs, including the silo-based CSS-4 Mod 2 (DF-5) and multiple independently-targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV)-equipped Mod 3 (DF-5B); the solid-fueled, road-mobile CSS-10 Mod 1 and 2 (DF-31 and DF-31A); and the shorter range CSS-3 (DF-4). The CSS-10 Mod 2, with a range in excess of 11,200 km, can reach most locations within the continental United States. China also is developing a new road-mobile ICBM, the CSS-X-20 (DF-41) capable of carrying MIRVs.

PLA Navy (PLAN). Over the past 15 years, China’s ambitious naval modernization program has produced a more technologically advanced and flexible force. The PLAN now possesses the largest number of vessels in Asia, with more than 300 surface ships, submarines, amphibious ships, and patrol craft. China is rapidly retiring legacy combatants in favor of larger, multi-mission ships equipped with advanced anti-ship, anti-air, and anti-submarine weapons and sensors. China continues its gradual shift from “near sea” defense to “far seas” protection as espoused in its most recent DWP, with the PLAN conducting operational tasks outside the so-called “first island chain” with multi-mission, long-range, sustainable naval platforms that have robust self-defense capabilities.

The PLAN places a high priority on the modernization of its submarine force and currently possesses five SSNs, four nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBN), and 53 diesel-powered attack submarines (SS/SSP). By 2020, this force will likely grow to between 69 and 78 submarines. In addition to the 12 KILO-class SS units acquired from Russia in the 1990s and 2000s, China has built 13 SONG-class SS (Type 039) and 13 YUAN-class SSP (Type 039A) with a total of 20 YUANs planned for production. China continues to improve its SSN force, and four additional SHANG-class SSN (Type 093) will eventually join the two already in service. The SHANG SSN will replace the aging HAN-class SSN (Type 091). These improved SHANG SSNs feature a vertical launch system (VLS) and may be able to fire the YJ-18 advanced anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM). Over the next decade, China may construct a new Type 095 nuclear-powered, guided-missile attack submarine (SSGN), which not only would improve the PLAN’s anti-surface warfare capability but might also provide it with a more clandestine land-attack option.

Finally, China continues to produce the JIN-class SSBN (Type 094) with associated CSS-N-14 (JL-2) submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) that has an estimated range of 7,200 km. This platform represents China’s first credible, sea-based nuclear deterrent. China will probably conduct its first SSBN nuclear deterrence patrol sometime in 2016. Four JIN SSBNs are operational, and up to five may enter service before China begins developing and fielding its next-generation SSBN, the Type 096, over the coming decade. The Type 096 will reportedly be armed with a successor to the JL-2, the JL-3 SSince 2008, the PLAN has continued a robust surface combatant construction program of various classes of ships, including guided-missile destroyers (DDG) and guided-missile frigates (FFG). During 2015, the final LUYANG II-class DDG (Type 052C) entered service, bringing the total number of ships of this class to six. Additionally, a second LUYANG III-class DDG (Type 052D) entered service in 2015. It has a multipurpose VLS capable of launching ASCMs, land-attack cruise missiles (LACM), surface-to-air missiles (SAM), and antisubmarine missiles. China has also probably begun construction of a larger Type 055 “destroyer,” a vessel better characterized as a guided-missile cruiser (CG) than a DDG. China has continued to produce the JIANGKAI II-class FFG (Type 054A), with 20 ships currently in the fleet and five in various stages of construction. These new DDGs and FFGs provide a significant upgrade to the PLAN’s air defense capability, which will be critical as it expands operations into distant seas beyond the range of shore-based air defense systems.

Augmenting the PLAN’s littoral warfare capabilities, especially in the South China Sea and East China Sea, is a new class of small LBM. combatant. Twenty-five JIANGDAO-class corvettes (FFL) (Type 056) are in service and the latest ships have been upgraded to anti-submarine warfare (ASW) variants with a towed array sonar. China may build more than 60 of this class, ultimately replacing older PLAN destroyers and frigates. China also has 60 HOUBEI-class wave-piercing catamaran guided-missile patrol boats (PTG) (Type 022) built for operations in China’s “near seas.”

The PLAN continues to emphasize anti-surface warfare (ASUW) as its primary focus, including modernizing its advanced ASCMs and associated over-the-horizon targeting systems. Older surface combatants carry variants of the YJ-83 ASCM (65 nm, 120 km), while newer surface combatants such as the LUYANG II are fitted with the YJ-62 (120 nm, 222 km). The LUYANG III and Type 055 CG will be fitted with a variant of China’s newest ASCM, the YJ-18 (290 nm, 537 km), which is a significant step forward in China’s surface ASUW capability. Eight of China’s 12 KILOs are equipped with the SS-N-27 ASCM (120 nm, 222 km), a system China acquired from Russia. China’s newest indigenous submarine-launched ASCM, the YJ-18 and its variants, represents an improvement over the SS-N-27, and will be fielded on SONG, YUAN, and SHANG submarines. China’s previously produced submarine-launched ASCM, the YJ-82, is a version of the C-801, which has a much shorter range. The PLAN recognizes that long-range ASCMs require a robust, over-the-horizon targeting capability to realize their full potential, and China is investing in reconnaissance, surveillance, command, control, and communications systems at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels to provide high-fidelity targeting information to surface and subsurface launch platforms.

China’s investments in its amphibious ship force signal China’s intent to develop an expeditionary and over-the-horizon amphibious assault capability as well as HA/DR and counterpiracy capabilities. Since 2005, China has built three large YUZHAO-class (Type 071) amphibious transport docks (LPD) with a fourth soon to enter service, providing considerably greater and more flexible capability for “far seas” operations than the older landing ships. The YUZHAO can carry up to four of the new YUYI-class air-cushion medium landing craft (LCMA) and four or more helicopters, as well as armored vehicles and marines for long-distance deployments. Additional YUZHAO construction is expected in the near-term, as is a follow-on amphibious assault ship that is not only larger, but incorporates a full flight deck for helicopters. Two YUTING II-class tank landing ships (LST) are currently being built to replace older LST units that are reaching the end of their service lives, and to support logistics operations, particularly in the South China Sea.

In 2015, the PLAN’s first aircraft carrier, LIAONING, certified its first cohort of domestically trained J-15 operational pilots. The air wing is expected to deploy on the carrier in 2016. China also began construction of its first domestic aircraft carrier and could build multiple aircraft carriers over the next 15 years. Even when fully operational, LIAONING will not enable long-range power projection similar to U.S. NIMITZ-class carriers. LIAONING’s smaller size limits the number of aircraft it can embark, while the ski-jump configuration limits aircraft fuel and ordnance loads. LIAONING will possibly be used for fleet air defense missions, extending air cover over a fleet operating far from land-based coverage. Although it possesses a full suite of weapons and combat systems, LIAONING will probably continue to play a significant role in training China’s carrier pilots, deck crews, and developing tactics that will be used with later, more capable carriers.

PLA Air Force (PLAAF) and PLA Navy Aviation. The PLAAF is the largest air force in Asia and the third largest in the world, with more than 2,800 total aircraft (not including UAVs) and 2,100 combat aircraft (including fighters, bombers, fighter-attack and attack aircraft). The PLAAF is rapidly closing the gap with western air forces across a broad spectrum of capabilities from aircraft and command-and-control (C2) to jammers, electronic warfare (EW), and datalinks. The PLAAF continues to field additional fourth-generation aircraft (now about 600). Although it still operates a large number of older second- and third-generation fighters, it will probably become a majority fourth-generation force within the next several years.

The PLAAF and PLAN may become more prominent within the PLA if China proceeds with the personnel reductions announced in September 2015. Last year, the personnel levels of the PLAAF and PLAN were just 398,000 and 235,000 respectively, accounting for 27.5 percent of the PLA overall. The PLA’s planned personnel reductions may increase the relative size of the PLAAF and PLAN; Chinese analysts speculate the absolute size of the two services may even increase.

China has developed the J-10B follow-on to its first indigenously designed fourth-generation fighter and it is expected to enter service in the near-term. The PLA is also likely to acquire the Su-35 Flanker aircraft from Russia along with its advanced radar system. If China does procure the Su-35, the aircraft could enter service by 2018. In November 2015, talks to purchase 24 Su-35 fighters reportedly concluded successfully.

China has been pursuing fifth-generation fighter capabilities since at least 2009 and is the only country other than the United States to have two concurrent stealth fighter programs. China seeks to develop these advanced aircraft to improve its regional power projection capabilities and to strengthen its ability to strike regional airbases and facilities. The PLAAF has observed foreign military employment of stealth aircraft and views this technology as a core capability in its transformation from a predominantly territorial air force to one capable of conducting both offensive and defensive operations. PLAAF leaders believe stealth aircraft provide an offensive operational advantage that denies an adversary the time to mobilize and to conduct defensive operations. In 2015, China began flight testing its fifth and sixth J-20 stealth fighter prototypes. Within two years of the J-20’s first flight in January 2011, China tested a second next-generation fighter prototype. The prototype, referred to as the FC-31 (and unofficially as the J-31), is similar in size to a U.S. F-35 fighter and appears to incorporate design characteristics similar to the J-20. The FC-31 conducted its first flight on October 31, 2012, and debuted at China’s 10th China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai in November 2014. The Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) is actively marketing the FC-31 as an export fifth-generation multirole fighter to compete with the F-35 for foreign sales. AVIC is reportedly in negotiations with the PLAAF to sell the FC-31 for domestic use. In addition to manned fighter aircraft, the PLAAF also views stealth technology as integral to unmanned aircraft, specifically those with an air-to-ground role, as this technology would improve that system’s ability to penetrate heavily protected targets.

China is also producing bomber-class aircraft. China continues to upgrade its H-6 bomber fleet (originally adapted from the late-1950s Soviet Tu-16 design) to increase operational effectiveness and lethality by integrating new standoff weapons. The PLAAF operates three different H-6 bomber variants. The H-6H and the more capable H-6M have been in service since the last decade. The PLAAF also employs the new, fully redesigned H-6K variant with new turbofan engines for extended range and the capability to carry six LACMs. Converting the H-6 into a cruise missile carrier gives the PLA a long-range standoff offensive air capability with precision-guided munitions capable of striking Guam. In 2015, China flew H-6Ks into the western Pacific Ocean in a demonstration of the airframe’s long-range capability. PLA Navy Aviation utilizes a nearly identical version of the earlier H-6, known as the H-6G equipped with systems and four weapons pylons for ASCMs to support maritime missions. All of China’s H-6 variants maintain their traditional bomb bay for gravity bombs, target-acquisition systems, including SOF trained for deep-strike reconnaissance. All elements of the PLAA were major players in the extensive JOINT ACTION-2015 series of exercises which included a focus on SOF integration with long-range fire strike assets.

The growth of additional regional training centers with full-time non-cooperative OPFORs, along with dedicated observer-controller personnel to conduct unit training evaluations and training support elements, as seen in the expansion of the STRIDE exercise series noted above, continues to drive realistic training across major portions of the PLAA. The primary limiting factor at this time seems to be the simple availability of training time at the current centers, in comparison with the size of the world’s largest ground force. Extensive media coverage of Army exercises in 2015 again underscored a growing national confidence in the PLAA’s ability to conduct modern air-land battle.

Space and Counterspace Capabilities. Using its on-orbit and ground-based assets to support its national civil, economic, political, and military goals and objectives, China’s space program continues to mature. China has invested significantly in improving its space capabilities, with particular emphasis on satellite communications (SATCOM); intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR); satellite navigation (SATNAV); meteorology; as well as manned, unmanned, and interplanetary space exploration. In addition to its on-orbit assets, China’s space program has built a vast ground infrastructure supporting spacecraft and space launch vehicle (SLV) manufacturing, launch, C2, and data downlink. In parallel with its space program, China continues to develop a variety of counterspace capabilities designed to limit or to prevent the use of space-based assets by the PLA’s adversaries during a crisis or conflict.

China’s most recent DWP affirmed the PLA’s focus on new, emerging security domains such as outer space. The report called space the “commanding height in international strategic competition.” Although China continues to advocate the peaceful use of outer space, the report also noted China would “secure its space assets to serve its national economic and social development, and maintain outer space security.”

As of December 2015, China launched 19 SLVs carrying 45 spacecraft, including navigation, ISR, and test/engineering satellites. Noteworthy 2015 accomplishments for China’s space program include:

> Two New Launch Vehicles: September 2015 saw the successful debut of both the Long March (LM)-6 and the LM-11 “next generation” SLVs. The LM-6 is a small liquid-fueled SLV designed to carry up to 1000 kg into low Earth orbit (LEO), and the LM-11is described as a “quick response” SLV designed to launch a small payload into LEO on short notice in the event of an emergency.

> China’s Largest Multi-Payload Launch and Smallest Satellites: The 19 September 2015 inaugural launch of the LM-6 SLV carried the largest number of satellites (20) China has ever launched on a single SLV. Most of the satellites carried onto orbit by the LM-6 were technology-demonstration satellites smaller than 100 kg. Furthermore, the four Xingchen femtosatellites launched aboard the LM-6 are the smallest Chinese spacecraft to date, weighing just 100 g each.

> Launches Begin for Beidou Global Network: China’s Beidou SATNAV constellation began the next step of its construction in 2015 with the launch of the Beidou I1-S, an inclined geosynchronous orbit (IGSO) satellite, on March 30. In 2015, China launched two more medium Earth orbit satellites and two more IGSO satellite. This phase of the project plans to extend the Beidou network beyond its current regional focus to provide global coverage by 2020.

The PLA is acquiring a range of technologies to improve China’s counterspace capabilities. In addition to the development of directed energy weapons and satellite jammers, China is also developing anti-satellite capabilities and has probably made progress on the antisatellite missile system it tested in July 2014. China is employing more sophisticated satellite operations and is probably testing dual-use technologies in space that could be applied to counterspace missions.

In the summer of 2014, China conducted a space launch that had a similar profile to the January 2007 test. In 2013, China launched an object into space on a ballistic trajectory with a peak altitude above 30,000 km, which could have been a test of technologies with a counterspace mission in geosyncronous orbit.

Although Chinese defense academics often publish on counterspace threat technologies, no additional antisatellite programs have been publicly acknowledged. PLA writings emphasize the necessity of “destroying, damaging, and interfering with the enemy’s reconnaissance…and communications satellites,” suggesting that such systems, as well as navigation and early warning satellites, could be among the targets of attacks designed to “blind and deafen the enemy.”

China’s Engagement on International Cyber Issues. China is engaged in cyber related diplomatic and advocacy efforts in multilateral and international forums such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations ASEAN), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and among Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa (BRICS). China promotes international cooperation on combatting terrorists’ use of the internet and countering cyber-related criminal activity and advocates for cyber norms that include principles of sovereignty, non-interference and states’ rights to control online content. China, along with several other countries contributed to the UN Group of Governmental Experts on Development July 2015 report that addresses cyber related issues and state behavior in cyberspace.

U.S.-China Cyber Engagement. DoD engages China to bring greater transparency of each nation’s military doctrine, policy roles and missions in cyberspace as part of the U.S.-China Defense Consultative Talks, the Strategic Security Dialogue, and related dialogues. DoD participates in the U.S.-China Senior Experts Group on International Security Issues in Cyberspace, which was one of the outcomes of the cyber commitments between President Obama and President Xi in September 2015.

DEVELOPMENTS IN NUCLEAR DETERRENCE

China continues to modernize its nuclear forces across the PLA. In 2015, China maintained nuclear-capable delivery systems in its missile forces and navy, giving it a dispersed and more-survivable capability.

> The PLA Rocket Force’s (PLARF) arsenal contains 75-100 ICBMs. The PLARF is modernizing these airframes, including through the development of a new road-mobile ICBM capable of carrying multiple independent reentry vehicles (MIRVs). China has also tested a hypersonic glide vehicle, although official statements make no reference to its intended mission or potential capability to carry a nuclear warhead.

> The PLAN continues to produce the JIN-class SSBN, with four commissioned and at least one under construction. The JIN class and its SLBMs will give China its first reliable long-range, sea-based nuclear capability.

In 2015, China also continued to develop long-range bombers, including some Chinese military analysts have described as “capable of performing strategic deterrence”—a mission reportedly assigned to the PLA Air Force in 2012. There have also been Chinese publications indicating China intends to build a long-range “strategic” stealth bomber. These media reports and Chinse writings suggest China might eventually develop a nuclear bomber capability. If it does, China would develop a “triad” of nuclear delivery systems dispersed across land, sea, and air—a posture considered since the Cold War to improve survivability and strategic deterrence.

Report on China’s Military Developments: Part 2

The New York Analysis continues with its review of the Department of Defense’s 2016 Report to Congress on China’s Military Developments.  Today’s second of our three part except of the Report focuses on Beijing growing international activities. 

CHINA’S EVOLVING OVERSEAS ACCESS

China is expanding its access to foreign ports to pre-position the necessary logistics support to regularize and sustain deployments in the “far seas,” waters as distant as the Indian Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, and Atlantic Ocean. In late November, China publicly confirmed its intention to build military supporting facilities in Djibouti “to help the navy and army further participate in United Nations peacekeeping operations (PKO), carry out escort missions in the waters near Somalia and the Gulf of Aden, and provide humanitarian assistance.” This Chinese initiative both reflects and amplifies China’s growing geopolitical clout, extending the reach of its influence and armed forces.

 China’s expanding international economic interests are increasing demands for the PLAN to operate in more distant seas to protect Chinese citizens, investments, and critical sea lines of communication (SLOC).

 China most likely will seek to establish additional naval logistics hubs in countries with which it has a longstanding friendly relationship and similar strategic interests, such as Pakistan, and a precedent for hosting foreign militaries. China’s overseas naval logistics aspiration may be constrained by the willingness of countries to support a PLAN presence in one of their ports.

So far, China has not constructed U.S.-style overseas military bases in the Indian Ocean. China’s leaders may judge instead that a mixture of preferred access to overseas commercial ports and a limited number of exclusive PLAN logistic facilities—probably collocated with commercial ports—most closely aligns with China’s future overseas logistics needs to support its evolving naval requirements.

 Preferred access would give the PLAN favored status in using a commercial port for resupply, replenishment, and maintenance purposes. A logistics facility would represent an arrangement in which China leases out portions of a commercial port solely for PLAN logistics operations.

 Such a logistics presence may support both civilian and military operations. China’s current naval logistics foortprint in the Indian Ocean is unable to support major combat operations in South Asia.

A greater overseas naval logistics footprint would better position the PLAN to expand its participation in non-war military missions, such as non-combatant evacuation operations (NEO), search-and-rescue (SAR), humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HA/DR), and sea lines of communication (SLOC) security. To some extent, a more robust overseas logistics presence may also enable China to expand its support to PKO, force protection missions, and counterterrorism initiatives.

For example, in 2015, the PLAN’s naval escort task forces performing counterpiracy escort duties in the Gulf of Aden were able to utilize Djibouti and Oman for basic resupply and replenishment.

DEVELOPMENTS IN CHINA’S TERRITORIAL DISPUTES

South China Sea. China depicts its South China Sea claims by using a “nine-dash line” that encompasses most of the area. China remains ambiguous about the precise coordinates, meaning, or legal basis of the nine-dash line. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Indonesia, and Vietnam all contest portions of China’s territorial and maritime claims in the South China Sea.

In 2015, China accelerated land reclamation and infrastructure construction at its outposts in the Spratly Islands. When complete, these outposts will include harbors, communications and surveillance systems, logistics facilities, and three airfields. Although artificial islands do not provide China with any additional territorial or maritime rights within the South China Sea, China will be able to use its reclaimed features as persistent civil-military bases to enhance its presence in the South China Sea significantly and enhance China’s ability to control the features and nearby maritime space.

Throughout 2015, Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) ships maintained a presence at Scarborough Reef, continuing operations that began in 2012. Chinese officials asserted in 2015 that the patrols were normal and justifiable, claiming that China has indisputable sovereignty over the various features in the South China Sea and adjacent waters. Both China and the Philippines continue to claim sovereignty over Scarborough Reef and Second Thomas Shoal. China maintains a continuous CCG presence at both locations while the Philippines stations military personnel aboard a tank landing ship that has been grounded on Second Thomas Shoal since 1999. In October 2015, an arbitral tribunal constituted at the request of the Philippines and pursuant to Chapter XV of the Law of the Sea Convention ruled that it has jurisdiction to decide certain disputed issues between the Philippines and China, such as whether a particular feature is an “island” entitled to a territorial sea, an exclusive economic zone, and continental shelf; a “rock,” a subset of islands that are entitled only to a territorial sea; or a feature that is submerged at high tide and thus not entitled to any maritime zone of its own. The arbitral tribunal will not rule on sovereignty claims to land features. The tribunal is expected to issue a ruling on the merits of the case in 2016. China continues to reiterate that it does not accept the jurisdiction of the arbitral tribunal and will not abide by its decision.

Other disputed areas include the Luconia Shoals, Reed Bank, and the Paracel Islands. The Luconia Shoals are disputed by China and Malaysia and may contain extensive oil and natural gas reserves, as well as productive fishing grounds. Reed Bank is claimed by both China and the Philippines, and in August 2014, China sent hydrographic research vessels to survey the area. In disputed waters near the Paracel Islands, tensions between China and Vietnam spiked in 2014 when China deployed and commenced operation of a state-owned exploratory hydrocarbon rig in waters also claimed by Vietnam.

East China Sea. China claims sovereignty over the Japan-administered Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea; this territory is also claimed by Taiwan. Since 2012, China has used maritime law enforcement ships and aircraft to patrol near the islands in order to challenge Japan’s administration. Chinese officials continue to claim the islands are part of China’s territory and that China will resolutely respond to any perceived external provocation.

Last year, China balanced this concern with efforts to improve relations with Japan gradually. The two countries resumed official senior-level exchanges in 2015 following President Xi’s first bilateral meeting with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in November 2014, where both sides announced a four-point agreement to improve bilateral ties.

China-India Border. Tensions remain along disputed portions of the Sino-Indian border, where both sides patrol with armed forces. After a five-day military standoff in September 2015 at Burtse in Northern Ladakh, China and India held a senior-level flag-officer meeting, agreed to maintain peace, and retreated to positions mutually acceptable to both sides.

DEVELOPMENTS IN CHINA’S FOREIGN MILITARY ENGAGEMENTS

China seeks to leverage engagement with foreign militaries to enhance its presence and influence abroad, bolster China’s international and regional image, and assuage other countries’ concerns about China’s rise. PLA engagement activities also assist its modernization by facilitating the acquisition of advanced weapon systems and technologies, increasing its operational experience throughout and beyond Asia, and giving it access to foreign military practices, operational doctrine, and training methods.

Combined Exercises. PLA participation in bilateral and multilateral exercises continues to increase in scope and complexity. In 2015, the PLA conducted at least nine bilateral and multilateral exercises with foreign militaries. The PLA conducted its first field exercise with Malaysia, first naval exercise with Singapore, and first air force exercise with Thailand. China also conducted bilateral exercises with Russia, Pakistan, India, and Mongolia. China participated in the Mongolia-hosted multinational peacekeeping exercise, KHAAN QUEST and a counterterrorism exercise with Tajikistan under the auspices of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Many of these exercises focused on counterterrorism, border security, peacekeeping operations (PKO), and disaster relief; however, some also included conventional air, maritime, and ground warfare training.

China and Russia also conducted NAVAL COOPERATION 2015, which consisted of two phases; the first in the Mediterranean Sea and the second in the Sea of Japan. This was the fourth NAVAL COOPERATION exercise since 2012 between China and Russia and was intended to strengthen bilateral military ties and increase mutual trust between both militaries. Phase one in the Mediterranean focused on protecting sea lines of communications (SLOCs) and combating terrorism and phase two in the Sea of Japan featured simultaneous amphibious landings, joint air defense drills, and anti-surface ship drills.

A PLAN task force conducted a cruise around the world from August 2015 to February 2016, during which it conducted bilateral training with Denmark. Ships from the 20th Naval Escort Task Force in the Gulf of Aden stopped in 13 countries, including Poland, Cuba, Sweden, the United States, Denmark, and Australia. This is the first PLAN operation to circumnavigate the globe since 2002, building on more recent naval visits to Africa and Europe.

CHINA’S USE OF LOW-INTENSITY COERCION IN MARITIME DISPUTES

China has used low-intensity coercion to enhance its presence and control in disputed areas of the East and South China Sea. During periods of tension, official statements and state media seek to frame China as reacting to threats to its national sovereignty or to provocations by outside actors. China often uses a progression of small, incremental steps to increase its effective control over disputed areas and avoid escalation to military conflict. China has also used punitive trade policies as instruments of coercion during past tensions and could do so in future disputes. In 2015, China continued to employ Chinese Coast Guard and PLA Navy ships to implement its claims by maintaining a near-continuous presence in disputed areas in order to demonstrate continuous and effective administration. Recent land reclamation activity has little legal effect, but will support China’s ability to sustain longer patrols in the South China Sea. In 2012, China restricted Philippine fruit imports during the height of Scarborough Reef tensions. In 2010, China used its dominance in the rare earth industry as a diplomatic tool by restricting exports of rare earth minerals to Japan amid tensions over a collision between a Chinese fishing boat and Japanese patrol ship.

RECLAMATION AND CONSTRUCTION IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEA

China paused its two-year land reclamation effort in the Spratly Islands in late 2015 after adding over 3,200 acres of land to the seven features it occupies; other claimants reclaimed approximately 50 acres of land over the same period. As part of this effort, China excavated deep channels to improve access to its outposts, created artificial harbors, dredged natural harbors, and constructed new berthing areas to allow access for larger ships. Development of the initial four features—all of which were reclaimed in 2014—has progressed to the final stages of primary infrastructure construction, and includes communication and surveillance systems, as well as logistical support facilities.

At the three features where the largest outposts are located, China completed major land reclamation efforts in early October 2015 and began transitioning to infrastructure development, with each feature having an airfield—each with approximately 9,800 foot-long runways—and large ports in various stages of construction. Additional substantial infrastructure, including communications and surveillance systems, is expected to be built on these features in the coming year.

China’s Government has stated these projects are mainly for improving the living and working conditions of those stationed on the outposts, safety of navigation, and research. However, most analysts outside China believe that China is attempting to bolster its de facto control by improving its military and civilian infrastructure in the South China Sea. The airfields, berthing areas, and resupply facilities will allow China to maintain a more flexible and persistent coast guard and military presence in the area. This would improve China’s ability to detect and challenge activities by rival claimants or third parties, widen the range of capabilities available to China, and reduce the time required to deploy them.

Report on China’s Military Developments: Part 1

Each Year, the Department of Defense provides an annual report to Congress on “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s  Republic of China.”

 The New York Analysis of Policy and Government has reviewed the just-released 2016 report. We have excerpted key portions, and over the next three days will present them here.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The long-term, comprehensive modernization of the armed forces of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) entered a new phase in 2015 as China unveiled sweeping organizational reforms to overhaul the entire military structure. These reforms aim to strengthen the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) control over the military, enhance the PLA’s ability to conduct joint operations, and improve its ability to fight short-duration, high-intensity regional conflicts at greater distances from the Chinese mainland. China’s leaders seek ways to leverage China’s growing military, diplomatic, and economic clout to advance its ambitions to establish regional preeminence and expand its international influence. Chinese leaders have characterized modernization of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) as essential to achieving great power status and what Chinese President Xi Jinping calls the “China Dream” of national rejuvenation. They portray a strong military as critical to advancing Chinese interests, preventing other countries from taking steps that would damage those interests, and ensuring that China can defend itself and its sovereignty claims.

Throughout 2015, China continued to assert sovereignty claims over features in the East and South China Seas. In the East China Sea, China continued to use maritime law enforcement ships and aircraft to patrol near the Senkaku (Diaoyu) Islands in order to challenge Japan’s claim. In the South China Sea, China paused its land reclamation effort in the Spratly Islands in late 2015 after adding more than 3,200 acres of land to the seven features it occupies in the archipelago. Although these artificial islands do not provide China with any additional territorial or maritime rights within the South China Sea, China will be able to use them as persistent civil-military bases to enhance its long-term presence in the South China Sea significantly.

China demonstrated a willingness to tolerate higher levels of tension in the pursuit of its interests, especially in pursuit of its territorial claims in the East and South China Sea; however, China still seeks to avoid direct and explicit conflict with the United States. China’s leaders understand that instability or conflict would jeopardize the peaceful external environment that has enabled China’s economic development, which is central to the perpetuation of the CCP’s domestic legitimacy. In the near-term, China is using coercive tactics short of armed conflict, such as the use of law enforcement vessels to enforce maritime claims, to advance their interests in ways that are calculated to fall below the threshold of provoking conflict.

In the long term, Chinese leaders are focused on developing the capabilities they deem necessary to deter or defeat adversary power projection and counter third-party—including U.S.—intervention during a crisis or conflict. China’s military modernization is producing capabilities that have the potential to reduce core U.S. military technological advantages. China’s officially-disclosed military budget grew at an average of 9.8 percent per year in inflation-adjusted terms from 2006 through 2015, and Chinese leaders seem committed to sustaining defense spending growth for the foreseeable future, even as China’s economic growth decelerates.

The PRC continues to focus on preparing for potential conflict in the Taiwan Strait, but additional missions, such as contingencies in the East and South China Seas and on the Korean peninsula, are increasingly important to the PLA. Moreover, as China’s global footprint and international interests grow, its military modernization program has become more focused on investments and infrastructure to support a range of missions beyond China’s periphery, including power projection, sea lane security, counterpiracy, peacekeeping, and humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HA/DR). PLA global operations in 2015 included counterpiracy patrols, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, exercises, and sea lane security operations. China’s November 2015 public confirmation of its intention to build its first overseas military support facility in Djibouti likely reflects this more global outlook, as it will be utilized to sustain the PLA Navy’s operations at greater distances from China.

During 2015, the PLA continued to improve key capabilities that would be used in theater contingencies, including cruise missiles; short, medium, and intermediate-range ballistic missiles; high performance aircraft; integrated air defense networks; information operations capabilities; and amphibious and airborne assault units. The PLA is developing and testing new intermediate- and medium-range conventional ballistic missiles as well as long-range, land-attack, and anti-ship cruise missiles, which once operational would extend the military’s reach and push adversary forces further from potential regional conflicts. China is also focusing on counterspace, offensive cyber operations, and electronic warfare (EW) capabilities meant to deny adversaries the advantages of modern, information technology-driven warfare.

Despite the PLA’s gains over the last two decades, its modernization program faces challenges. The organizational reforms unveiled by the leadership are part of a broader effort by President Xi to address the PLA’s deficiencies, such as corruption. Since Xi took power in 2012, more than forty senior officers have fallen in a wide-ranging anti-corruption campaign that last year ensnared the former top officer in the PLA. Moreover, Xi’s slogan exhorting the PLA to prepare to “fight and win” battles implies that the leadership is concerned about how the PLA, which has not fought a war in more than thirty years, would fare in combat.

The Department of Defense (DoD) approach to China is part of a broader U.S. strategy for the Asia-Pacific region that is focused on ensuring and building upon a stable and diversified security order, an open and transparent economic order, and a liberal political order. Combined, these factors have contributed to the peace and prosperity of the entire region since the end of the Second World War, directly benefiting China and its neighbors. U.S. policy toward China is based on the premise that it is in both our countries’ interests to deepen practical cooperation in areas where our countries’ interests overlap, while constructively managing differences.

Sustaining positive momentum in the military-to-military relationship supports U.S. policy objectives to encourage China to uphold international rules and norms and to contribute positively to resolving regional and global problems. DoD seeks to continue building a military-to-military relationship with China that is sustained and substantive. DoD will continue to focus on enhancing risk reduction measures that diminish the potential for incidents or miscalculation, and encourage China to contribute constructively to efforts to maintain peace and stability with the United States, our allies and partners, and the greater international community.

While the United States builds a stronger military-to-military relationship with China, DoD will also continue to monitor and adapt to China’s evolving military strategy, doctrine, and force development, and encourage China to be more transparent about its military modernization program. The United States will adapt its forces, posture, investments, and operational concepts to ensure it retains the ability to defend the homeland, deter aggression, protect our allies, and preserve a principled regional order founded in international law and norms that benefit all countries equally.

American Air Power Plummets

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, the former Secretary of the U.S. Air Force, and a top Marine Corps aviator have recently and substantially pointed out dire conditions that indicate the looming end of U.S. air supremacy. Americans are still under the illusion that their air power is in a league of its own.  Sadly, that is no longer true.

The U.S. retains a diminishing lead in the total number of aircraft versus any individual adversary, but worldwide commitments resulting from America being the guarantor of freedom across the globe, the advanced age of the aircraft themselves, the technological advances of potential opponents, and the growing cooperation and arms transfers between Russia and China eliminates any advantage those dwindling total numbers represent. That cooperation has included the transfer of advanced Russian air defense systems such as the S-300 to Iran and the S-400 to China. The growing closeness of the Russian-Chinese-Iranian alliance poses a massive threat to American air, land and seapower.

House Armed Services Committee member Rep. J. Randy Forbes (R-Va) and former Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne outline the challenge. Today, the U.S. Air Force’s fleet is the smallest and the oldest it has ever been. Meanwhile, Russia and China have been fielding and exporting new fighters and sophisticated air defenses to countries like Iran. Russia rolled out its first fifth-generation stealth fighter, the PAK-FA, in 2010. China followed in 2011, flight-testing the J-20, an F-22 look-alike, while Secretary Gates was visiting Beijing. Gen. Mark Welsh, the Air Force’s chief of staff, warned last year that future Russian and Chinese jets “will be better than anything we have today.”
Defense Industry Daily reports: “The current US Air Force fleet, whose planes are more than 26 years old on average, is the oldest in USAF history…Many transport aircraft and aerial refueling tankers are more than 40 years old – and under current plans, some may be as much as 70-80 years old before they retire…average aircraft age will climb even if the US military gets every plane it asks for in its future plans.”

The National Interest notes that the crisis is about to deepen. “Today’s Air Force is already struggling, and tomorrow’s is entirely at risk…Congress must step back and look at the collective impact of recent capacity and capability cuts on purchases of aircraft in particular. They will find that not only is there virtually no slack left in America’s current Air Force to meet global peacetime and war plan demands, the historically most innovative service is now left to incrementally upgrade existing capabilities while abandoning transformational and leap-ahead investments. Additionally, Congress must understand several trends underway in recent years that have it buying fewer and fewer planes, both in absolute and relative terms, while at the same time proposing hundreds for retirement.”

General Frank Gorenc, commander of U.S. air forces in Europe and Africa, quoted in the Diplomat reported that “NATO’s air superiority vis-à-vis Russia is waning.” The authoritative and objective publication Jane’s Defence Weekly states that “Russia’s military modernisation has diminished NATO’s air superiority in Europe.”

A Rand Corporation study  warns “in the event of a conflict [involving China],…the United States could find itself engaged with adversary air forces both qualitatively and quantitatively superior to any it has fought since the end of the Cold War…Indeed, the United States has not fought a conflict against an adversary capable of challenging its supremacy in the air since at least the Korean War.”

Forbes and Wynne advocate building more F-22 air superiority fighters to help begin resolving the issue. The original number of F-22’s slated to be built has been slashed, they note. “the Air Force had scaled back the F-22 program from 750 to 381 aircraft. In 2009, however, [former defense secretary] Mr. Gates canceled a number of defense-procurement programs and limited F-22 production to 187 jets.

The Marines have their own airpower issues. Lt. Gen. Jon Davis Davis, deputy commandant for aviation, is quoted in the Marine Corps Times  noting that there are not even enough aircraft within that service to allow for adequate training, and too few of those on active duty are actually operational and available to perform.

Legislation Seeks to Restrict Excess Rules and Regulations

A battle is brewing in Washington as President Obama seeks to accomplish his goal of empowering the federal government, through the passage of numerous regulations, to an unprecedented degree before he leaves office.

The imbalance between regulations, which are passed largely without any substantial input by either the Congress or the people, and actual legislation is substantial. The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) notes that “Congress passes and the president signs a few dozen laws every year. Meanwhile, federal departments and agencies issue well over 3,000 rules and regulations of varying significance. A weekday never passes without new regulation. Beyond those rules, however, we lack a clear grasp on the amount and cost of the many thousands of executive branch and federal agency proclamations and issuances, including memos, guidance documents, bulletins, circulars, and announcements with practical regulatory effect. There are hundreds of “significant” agency guidance documents now in effect, plus thousands of other such documents that are subject to little scrutiny or democratic accountability….In addition to non-congressional lawmaking, the executive branch often declines to enforce laws passed by Congress… without Congress actually passing a law … the federal government increasingly injects itself into our states, our communities, and our personal lives.”

The cost factor of all this bureaucracy is extraordinary.  Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) notes that the Obama Administration’s major regulations have cost $600 billion  in  since 2009.

A Heritage Foundation study of regulatory action in 2014 found that “… regulatory overreach by the executive branch is only part of the problem. A great deal of the excessive regulation in the past six years is the result of Congress granting broad powers to agencies through passage of vast and vaguely worded legislation. The misnamed Affordable Care Act and the Dodd–Frank financial-regulation law top the list.

“…The federal government does not officially track total regulatory costs, as it does with taxation and spending. Estimates of these costs from various independent sources range from hundreds of billions of dollars to over $2 trillion annually…the number and cost of new regulations, and both have grown relentlessly.”

One visible impact of America’s excess regulation is that the U.S. ranks a dismal 49th on a list of nations in terms of ease of starting a new business, according to the World Bank Group.  That results in increased unemployment.

U.S. Congressman Tim Walberg (R-MI), U.S. Senator Joni Ernst   (R-IA), and U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) have introduced bicameral legislation, the Midnight Rule Relief Act, to prevent a surge in costly federal regulations as a President’s term comes to a close. According to Rep. Walberg  (R-Michigan) “Given the Obama administration’s tendency to overregulate and overreach, the American people can expect to see a surge of last minute regulations in the President’s waning days in office…This bill will hold outgoing administrations in check.

The legislation would:

  • Establish a moratorium period beginning on the day after the election through the inauguration on new regulations that cost the economy $100 million or more annually, or result in major cost or price increases for consumers, industries, or government agencies.
  • Include exceptions for rules that are necessary for imminent health or safety threats, enforcement of criminal laws, and national security.
  • Exempt rules that are limited to repealing existing regulations.

In 2015, Ernst also co-sponsored the REINS Act,  which would hold elected officials accountable to approve new major rules & regulations. The REINS Act would:

  • Designate a ‘major rule’ as any rule or regulation that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) determines to have a yearly economic impact of $100 million or more.
  • Require passage by a roll call vote in Congress and presidential signature before any new ‘major rule’ can be enacted.
  • Give Congress the ability to block burdensome new rules and regulations imposed by federal agencies.
  • Restrain the power and broad discretion of federal agencies to impose significant ‘major rules’ without congressional oversight or public discussion.
  • Pave the way for transparency and accountability within the federal rulemaking process.

Attacks on Gun Rights Lack Logic and Legality

The Second Amendment continues to be a divisive issue.  Those who wish to eliminate the right to bear arms continue to engage in indirect tactics, knowing that the majority of Americans are not favorably inclined to start dissembling portions of the Bill of Rights.

Cities across the nations continue to use a plethora of questionable regulations to discourage exercising this particular freedom. The reason given for their actions, the prevention of violence, has been disproven in numerous studies.

A Crime Prevention Research Center Report  notes that “Every place that has  banned guns (either all guns or all handguns) has seen murder rates go up. You cannot point to one place where murder rates have fallen, whether it’s Chicago or D.C. or even island nations such as England, Jamaica, or Ireland.”

The Gun Laws site reports:“An example of how stricter gun control laws did not aid in lowering crime rates is Washington D.C. In 1976, D.C. adopted what was to be considered one of the few extremely restrictive gun control policies in the country. The murder rate since the time of new gun control policy rose 134%. Yet another example is New York City, which also implemented similarly stringent gun laws as D.C. had similar results.

“In the early 1970s, about 19 % of homicides involved pistols, and shortly after the new laws were in place, this number rose to about 50%. Furthermore, the restriction of firearms allowed for only 28,000 lawfully possessed or acquired firearms, yet law enforcement estimations had the number at 1.3 million illegal handguns in the city. Conversely, states with fewer restrictions such as New Hampshire and Vermont, have proven to the safest of all the states, with Vermont ranking in at 49th in crime and 47th in murders.”

Devoid of either popular support or statistical justification, anti-Second Amendment advocates seek back door approaches to accomplish their goals.  An example is Hillary Clinton’s campaign position of opening up gun manufacturers to law suits based on the misuse of their products. According to her website :

“Hillary believes the gun industry must be held accountable for violence perpetrated with their guns. Hillary will lead the charge to repeal the so-called ‘Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act,’ a dangerous law that prevents victims of gun violence from holding negligent manufacturers and dealers accountable for violence perpetrated with their guns.”

Clearly, the Clinton concept is designed to increase the legal vulnerability of the gun industry so overwhelming that it would either have to cease operations or price their products out of reach for most customers. The latter goal, according to Americans for Tax Reform,  conforms with a 1993 push by Ms. Clinton to impose a $1,000 per gun excise tax. The placement of a  prohibitively high tax on the exercise of a Constitutional Right raises a dangerous legal precedent.

The same can be said for the concept of imposing legal liability on manufacturers for the misuse of their products.  The National Interest  asks: “Could you imagine being a business owner; selling a legal, functional product; and being sued every time an individual who buys your product uses it to commit a crime? Should a rope manufacturer be liable when someone is hanged by that rope? Should a knife manufacturer be liable when someone is stabbed? Could a restaurant be sued when someone eats its perfectly safe food but dies of a heart attack or diabetic shock?”

New York City provides a salient example.  New York Magazine  reports that “the number of slashings and stabbings in 2016 is up 20 percent compared to the same period of time last year. During a press conference Monday afternoon, Police Commissioner William Bratton said the sharp increase in felony assaults committed this year is thanks to a spike in the number of slashings and stabbings — 899 had occurred by the end of March, DNA Inforeports. ‘Make no mistake about it; stabbings and slashings aren’t going away,” Bratton said.”

Should the Big Apple now ban pointed eating utensils? Should steak knife manufacturers be held to a strict liability standard?

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Arizona) states: “The Second Amendment is one of the most important rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.  The operative text states that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms…shall not be infringed.”  In spite of the clarity of this amendment, we have seen repeated, consistent, and sustained attacks on this right and efforts across the spectrum to “infringe” on this individual right. The founders intended the Second Amendment to function as a citizen check against overreach in the event that the government started to take away civil rights guaranteed in the Constitution…With the attack on personal gun-ownership, the Second Amendment, and our God-given rights, the Obama-Biden Administration has been relentless in their pursuit of taking guns away from law-abiding Americans.

“This President and the anti-gun lobby continue to ignore the fact that violence is driven by a number of different factors, and that experience has shown gun control does not curb violent acts…inhibiting the ability of law-abiding citizens to exercise their Constitutional rights is nothing more than window dressing.  One needs to look no further than the states with the toughest restrictions on firearms to see that they are the ones consistently ranking the highest in violent crime.  When you limit an individual’s ability to lawfully purchase or carry firearms you are allowing only those with the intent to break the law to have weapons…the Obama Administration has taken unprecedented steps to bypass Congress and infringe upon the Second Amendment rights of U.S. citizens.  On January 5, 2016 the president announced a new wave of forthcoming executive actions on gun control.  The announcement of this likely unconstitutional executive order will likely violate the separation of powers and likely create a de facto law without the consent of Congress that attempts to prosecute American citizens under new mandates that have already been rejected by Congress.”

U.S. Justice Department Caught Lying to Court

Can, indeed should, the leadership of the Obama Justice Department, perhaps even the President himself, be disbarred?

A furious U.S. District Court judge has sharply rebuked  the U.S. Department of Justice for acts that would have resulted in substantial ethics charges being brought against any law firm.

The case concerns the Deferred Action for Parent of Americans program, initiated without legislative authority by President Obama in 2014. The intent of the action is to defer deportation of illegal aliens who are parents of a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident, sometimes known as anchor babies. The illegals would be given protected status and the right to apply for work permits. Up to five million illegals could be affected.

Opponents of the move have argued that the President ignored his constitutional duty to insure that the nation’s laws are faithfully executed. They argue that Mr. Obama did not have the authority to engage in action that was legislative in character, and that even if the measure was regulatory in nature, the Administrative Procedure Act mandated that there be an opportunity for the public to comment on it before its implementation.  In every way possible, it is obvious that the President acted far beyond any legal authority.

As previously reported by the New York Analysis of Policy and Government, the measure was challenged by 26 states. A preliminary injunction was granted to the states by U.S. District Court Judge Andrew S. Hanen. The Court turned down Washington’s request to delay the stay. Judge Hanen also issued an order rebuking the White House for granting three-year periods of deferred action to 108,081 individuals between the announcement of DAPA and the preliminary injunction, despite The Department of Justice’s denial that it had done so.  The Justice Department, in other words, was caught in a lie.

Judge Hanen reacted with fury to the Justice Department’s misdeeds. “The Government claims that the reason its lawyers were not candid with the Court was that they either ‘lost focus on the fact’ or that somehow ‘the fact receded in memory or awareness.’ Yet the Government’s lawyers chose not to tell the Plaintiff States or the Court…what counsel did borders on the incredible. The duties of a Government lawyer, and in fact of any lawyer, are threefold: (1) tell the truth; (2) do not mislead the Court; and (3) do not allow the Court to be misled…The Government’s lawyers failed on all three fronts.”

According to the legal memorandum and decision issued by the Court on May 19th, an order was given to provide the 26 States that sued the Obama Administration some avenue for relief from the possibility of any damage that may result from the misconduct of the Department of Justice and to prevent future harm due to the Government’s misrepresentations.

The Court also moved to deter and prevent future misconduct by Justice Department lawyers by ordering an appropriately tailored continuing legal education program, “which will not only serve to educate the uninitiated, but more importantly will remind all trial lawyers that their honest and ethical participation is a necessity for the proper administration of justice. It also compels the Attorney General, or her designee, to take the necessary steps to ensure that DOJ attorneys act honestly in the future.”

Despite a record debt so vast that any other organization would be considered functionally bankrupt, (with additional debt being piled on each year and many crucial needs being underfunded) the Obama Administration has engaged in extraordinary and extreme measures aimed at insuring that the costly tidal wave of illegal immigrants remains unsuppressed.  Despite the expenses this brings to the American taxpayer, the heightened competition for scarce jobs, the increase in crime, the spread of disease, and the potential for infiltration by drug cartels and terrorists, the current White House has vigorously opposed any attempt to staunch the human flood.

Lying to the Court now must be added to the White House’s list of inappropriate, illegal practices it has engaged in to counter any move to address the crisis.

The underlying issue of the President’s lack of authority will eventually be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Numbers, Costs for Illegals Soar

There are substantive indications that the Obama Administration’s immigration policy is burdening U.S. taxpayers and imposing health ristks at a time when key programs (such as Social Security and Medicare) already paid for by American citizens are going bankrupt.

According to the U.S. Border Patrol, 33,335 total apprehensions on the southwest border were reported in March, 4,201 were unaccompanied children and 4,448 were members of family units traveling together. Total apprehensions in March 2016 increased by 28 percent compared to February 2016.

These numbers, of course, only represent those that were caught. The fact that these individuals were apprehended does not mean that they will not eventually reside within the U.S. The Washington Times notes that the Obama Administration is engaging in “catch and Release,’ a practice “ordering Border Patrol agents not to bother arresting and deporting many new illegal immigrants…Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, …said the releases are part of President Obama’s ‘priorities’ program, which orders agents to worry chiefly about criminals, national security risks and illegal immigrants who came into the U.S. after Jan. 1, 2014. Mr. Judd said illegal immigrants without serious criminal convictions have learned that by claiming they came before 2014 — without even needing to show proof — they can be released immediately rather than being arrested. ’Immigration laws today appear to be mere suggestions,’ Mr. Judd testified…”

According to the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) the number of unaccompanied illegal children has soared during the Obama Administration. “ … From 8,000 in FY 2008, the number of apprehended unaccompanied alien children (UACs) grew to 69,000 in FY 2014. … border officials are expecting significant increases throughout FY 2016 and into FY 2017 (up to 75,000, if not more). According to DHS,the number of UACs coming across the border almost doubled in FY 2016 compared to the same period in FY 2015.”

Part of the justification presented by the White House for its welcoming posture is that those flooding across the border are “refugees.” However, the United Nations High Commission on Refugees, according to CIS, does not support that classification.

Why the surge in illegal minor entry? CIS notes: “Individuals from El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras come to the United States illegally. Then children (probably their own children) follow on their own, also illegally. They are, for the most part, welcomed, assisted, and reunited with their families here. New data provided by the Department of Health and Human Services, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, shows that 80 percent of the 71,000 Central American children placed between February 2014 and September 2015 were released to sponsors who are in the United States illegally. Parents were more than half of the cases; many others were siblings, aunts, and uncles.”

The cost of providing support for the illegals is significant.

A CIS analysis of the cost of funding the needs of illegals is onerous, and generally exceeds that of native-born household in similar circumstances.:

In September 2015, the Center for Immigration Studies published a landmark study of immigration and welfare use, showing that 51 percent of immigrant-headed households used at least one federal welfare program — cash, food, housing, or medical care — compared to 30 percent of native households. Following similar methodology, this new study examines the dollar cost of that welfare use.

  • The average household headed by an immigrant (legal or illegal) costs taxpayers $6,234 in federal welfare benefits, which is 41 percent higher than the $4,431 received by the average native household.
  • The average immigrant household consumes 33 percent more cash welfare, 57 percent more food assistance, and 44 percent more Medicaid dollars than the average native household. Housing costs are about the same for both groups.
  • At $8,251, households headed by immigrants from Central America and Mexico have the highest welfare costs of any sending region — 86 percent higher than the costs of native households.
  • Illegal immigrant households cost an average of $5,692 (driven largely by the presence of U.S.-born children), while legal immigrant households cost $6,378.
  • The greater consumption of welfare dollars by immigrants can be explained in large part by their lower level of education and larger number of children compared to natives. Over 24 percent of immigrant households are headed by a high school dropout, compared to just 8 percent of native households. In addition, 13 percent of immigrant households have three or more children, vs. just 6 percent of native households.

The health risks presented by illegals also leads to added costs, although these aren’t as easily calculated in financial estimates. Judicial Watch reports that “A government official warned employees deploying for the influx of illegal immigrant minors about health and safety risks because the new arrivals would have tuberculosis and some were young adults—not children—like the Obama administration proclaimed…. ‘We might as well plan on many of the kids having TB,”’states a June 26, 2014 guidance e-mail from a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) environmental health scientist, Alaric C. Denton, as the agency prepared to handle the crisis. ‘Most of these kids are not immunized, so we need to make sure all our staff are immunized.’”