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Where's Weyermuller? At Bug House Square Soapbox Debates

Stuff We Wish We Wrote - Homepage - July 28, 2015, 11:43 PM
By Mark Weyermuller - Standing on a soapbox giving a political speech sounds like fun. That was the order of business this past Saturday at Bug House Square.…

Cato University Day Three: Liberty and the American Experience

Somewhat Reasonable - July 28, 2015, 10:09 PM

Georgetown Law School Professor Randy Barnett speaks on jurisprudence.

Today, Cato University Director Tom Palmer concluded his lecture series on the origins of state and government. He showed how guilds, churches, and other associations served as an alternative to government in mediating disputes between private citizens. He also showed how earlier documents like the Magna Carta and Kosice and Hungarian tracts served as predecessors to the American republic because of their emphasis on limiting arbitrary monarchic rule. He also showed how the unique feudal system in Europe, while imperfect, introduced more equal relations between lord and subject and a contractual system of reciprocal obligations that would be echoed in today’s democracies.

Georgetown Law School Professor Randy Barnett gave Cato University attendees a treat when he interpreted various portions of the Declaration of Independence for us. Barnett discussed how natural rights are naturally found in humans, noting that the primary function of the government is to preserve its citizens’ natural rights. He discouraged the judiciary from “discovering” rights in the Constitution and to consider how their rulings may unintentionally benefit special interest groups. Barnett also showed how the theme of unalienable rights—life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—is also echoed throughout the Constitution.

United States Military Academy Professor Robert McDonald gave two lectures in the afternoon. The first concerned the role of property rights in improving the lots of the American colonists. In the settlements Jamestown and Plymouth, many inhabitants initially starved to death in the early 17th century because of the collective farming system imposed on the populations by the British government. Men were mandated to work together in the fields, give their crops to the state, and receive an equal amount of the total yield. Morale soon fell as they were disincentivized to work and committed themselves to other endeavors like seeking gold. When men in those towns were allowed to plant and keep their crops privately a few decades later, production skyrocketed and the overall population and life expectancies increased. These formerly backward colonies became so successful with newfound property rights that indentured servants and later slaves were brought from across the Atlantic Ocean to satisfy European demands for crops.

McDonald’s second lecture concerned liberty and the American experience. Oppressive tax laws by the British on the American colonies were repealed time and time again before the tragic Boston Massacre in 1770. The Tea Act taxed the colonies on that highly demanded good and led to the Boston Tea Party. Although the newly formed United States won the Revolutionary War a few years later, liberty was difficult to preserve. Contentious elections in 1800, 1860, 2000 and other years divided the country even while the United States grappled with an increasingly activist judiciary and the legacy of slavery and Native American displacement. McDonald argued that the American experiment, while fraught with tragedy and errors, is well-worth maintaining because of its unique history and the Founding Fathers’ emphasis on small government and liberty.

Our customary dinner lecture was given by Palmer on the history of the liberty movement in the world. Palmer highlighted every society has two narratives: one of power and domination and the other of liberty. Statist and individualist forces have often fought throughout history. Palmer located the American Revolution as a link in the chain of pro-liberty Atlantic Revolutions. Classical liberalism emphasizes the unalienable rights of individuals and has been used to promote the women’s movement and eliminate slavery and serfdom in the 19th century. The 20th century was tragic in that many nations became dominated by statist and fascist factions and wreaked havoc on their own people. Since the dawn of the 21st century, the liberty movement has shown promise due to new communications technologies and the appeal of the libertarian virtues of individual rights and responsibilities, solidarity, respect for peaceful diversity, and a belief in the dignity of mankind, he concluded.

Categories: On the Blog

Lowering the drinking age will have some bad effects. We should do it anyway.

Out of the Storm News - July 28, 2015, 8:54 PM

For the first time in decades, the legal drinking age is back in the news, and nearly all the credit for that belongs to the Amethyst Initiative. Signed by 136 college presidents from across the country, the initiative calls on Congress to revisit the 31-year-old Uniform Drinking Age Act, which deducts 10 percent of the federal highway funds from any state that sets its drinking age lower than 21. For more than a quarter-century, no state has dared violate it.

Amethyst is a worthwhile initiative. It’s one I support. And given the proper framing and strategy, I believe it’s one that can prevail. But success will not come without a forthright and realistic assessment of the likely consequences of lowering the drinking age. They won’t all be positive.

The wrong approach, in my view, is the line of argument made by John McCardell, the former Middlebury College president who founded the pro-drinking-age-reform organization Choose Responsibility in 2007. Most advocates for lowering the drinking age repeat some variation of what McCardell told CBS’ 60 Minutes in 2009:

‘This law has been an abysmal failure,’ McCardell told 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl. ‘It hasn’t reduced or eliminated drinking. It has simply driven it underground, behind closed doors, into the most risky and least manageable of settings.’

Clearly, the analogy McCardell is drawing is to the War on Drugs, and to Prohibition before it. But there are some pretty obvious ways that the analogy is inapt.

The true folly of both Prohibition and the War on Drugs is the ways both enriched the violent criminal gangs who administer the black market. That’s just not true of the national drinking age; today’s alcohol producers and distributors are legitimate and, for the most part, law-abiding. That the barrier between licit and illicit alcohol use is sometimes porous doesn’t render a convenience store into the Medellín Cartel or InBev into Al Capone.

Moreover, the analogy to the War on Drugs breaks down when you consider the nature of the products in question. Those who oppose the War on Drugs favor legalizing marijuana – a popular, but largely benign vice – and decriminalizing harder drugs that are much more destructive, but thankfully, also much less popular. Alcohol has the unfortunate distinction of being both very popular and – for many, though not most, of its consumers – also very destructive.

Alcohol’s more destructive effects, and the role the national drinking age has played in tempering them, have left a rather inconvenient paper trail of data. This data can, has and will continue to be summoned readily by opponents to undermine the credibility of those who would characterize the law as “an abysmal failure.”

It also doesn’t help when some advocates of lowering the drinking age seek to apply the Prohibition analogy in ways that stretch credulity. Writing in Newsweek, Jeffrey Tucker of the Foundation for Economic Education essentially made the claim that lowering the drinking age would help solve the campus rape problem:

People speak of a rape crisis on campus, and whatever the scope of the problem, the fact that women under 21 must retreat to dorm rooms and frat houses to drink puts them all in a vulnerable situation. It’s hard to imagine that consent is really there when people are falling down, passing out and feeling mortified the next day about what happened. In fact, the law represents a true danger to women in particular because it prohibits legal access to safe public places to drink responsibly, and go home to a safe environment afterward.

Tucker is certainly right to highlight the role Greek life appears to play in campus sexual assault, given multiple studies showing that fraternity members are three times more likely to commit rape than other college men, and that sorority members are 74 percent more likely to be victims of rape than other college women. Of course, this was also a problem back in the 1970s, when the drinking age in many states was lower, and it’s not at all clear how lowering the drinking age would address the many issues raised by Greek life. It’s also not clear why “retreat[ing] to dorm rooms,” presumably to drink with friends, would be less safe than the obvious alternative – bars filled with intoxicated strangers.

Ironically, arguments like Tucker’s may actually be overstating alcohol’s role in sexual assaults. While alcohol is not infrequently a tool of rape, that is quite a different thing than being a cause of rape. According to a 2001 study from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol use by either the perpetrator or the victim was present in about half of all sexual assaults. A sexual predator was present in 100 percent of them.

The problem of rape on campus is not that there are too few legal ways to get alcohol. The problem is that there are too many rapists on campus. They’ll be on campus whether the drinking age is 21 or 18, and alcohol is but one of many tools at their disposal. In any case, making it easier for them to buy alcohol does not seem likely to decrease the incidence of rape.

So, before some other advocate seeks to make a similar counter-intuitive claim that lowering the drinking age would help reduce college suicides or drunk-driving accidents, it’d be useful to recap how we got here and why the original push to lower the drinking age was broadly considered a failed experiment.

In 1971, the 26th Amendment was ratified, extending the right to vote to 18-year-olds. Two years before the amendment’s passage, the drinking age in all but a handful of states was 21. In the spirit of the times – in-line with the slogan “if I’m old enough to die for my country, I should be old enough to vote/drink” – between 1969 and 1973, 26 states reduced their minimum drinking age. Four others would lower their drinking ages in the following years.

In truth, the extent of the change tends to be somewhat exaggerated in the public imagination. There were actually only 21 states, representing about 42 percent of the population, that ever lowered the drinking age to 18 for all forms of alcohol. On the flip side, there were a dozen states, representing 27 percent of the population, that never lowered the drinking age from 21. States where it remained 21 to buy hard liquor covered 47 percent of the population.

But just as Oklahoma was becoming the last state to lower its drinking age, in 1976, there was an almost immediate reversal. Minnesota raised its drinking age in 1976, just three years after lowering it. In 1977, it was Maine that raised the drinking age. In 1978, it was Iowa and Michigan (twice in one year, in the latter case). In 1979, it was Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire and Tennessee. In 1980, it was Illinois, Nebraska, New Jersey, Georgia and Rhode Island. In 1981, it was Texas, Virginia and Rhode Island (again). In 1982, it was Maryland, New York, Connecticut and Ohio. In 1983, it was Alaska, Oklahoma, North Carolina, West Virginia, New Jersey (again), Virginia (again) and Connecticut (again).

In 1984, the Uniform Drinking Age Act was passed and, by the end of 1988, every state had a drinking age of 21.

So what happened?

In brief, drunk-driving fatalities by young people skyrocketed. In Arizona, the state Department of Public Safety estimated that traffic fatalities spiked more than 35 percent when the drinking age was lowered. In Michigan, the proportion of 16- to 20-year-old drivers with blood alcohol concentrations over 0.05 more than doubled. A 1984 paper by Philip Cook and George Tauchen estimated that in states that lowered the minimum age to buy beer to 18, overall fatalities among the 18-to-20-year-old age group rose 11 percent.

The trend reached what the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety deemed to be epidemic proportions. By the time it peaked in 1982, 61 percent of 16- to 20-year-old drivers killed in car crashes had illegal blood alcohol levels. A decade after passage of the national 21 minimum drinking age, that had fallen in half, to 31 percent.

Percent of fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers with BACs at or above 0.08 percent by age, 1982-2007

 

To be sure, just as not all of the increase in drunk-driving fatalities was due to the lowered drinking age, nor was all of the decrease due to the national age limit. Harvard University economist Jeffrey Miron found in a 2007 paper that most of the improvement was attributable to states that voluntarily raised their age limits before the federal mandate, and that the effect did not persist for long. The generally accepted realistic figure for the UDAA’s impact comes from a 1999 paper by Georgia Tech’s Thomas Dee, who found that raising the national drinking age reduced traffic fatalities by at least 9 percent.

Of course, these are not the only relevant data. There are studies to support findings that teens from states with higher drinking ages drank less frequently. That states with lower drinking ages had higher rates of vandalism. That the move to lower the drinking age was correlated with a 10 percent increase in the rate of suicide by young people in the relevant age bracket. One can no doubt find quibbles with the data or the methodology of all of these. But there is an impressively thick literature of findings, and attempting to knock them down one by one is simply a losing battle.

Let’s just be honest. Lowering the national drinking age back to its pre-1984 levels will have some bad effects. We should do it anyway.

We should do it because 18-year-olds are adults. They vote. They pay taxes. They serve our country in the military. They sign contracts and testify in court. They get married. They buy property. They start businesses and hold down jobs. There is no moral foundation for the proposition that they can participate in the full panoply of rights and responsibilities that this country provides, except for choosing which beverage they’d like to consume.

We should do it because the Uniform Drinking Age Act violates the principles of federalism. There is no constitutional justification for the federal government to regulate the age at which someone should be legally permitted to consume alcohol. We knew this when we passed Prohibition. It’s why it took a constitutional amendment to enact. The 21st Amendment returned authority over the regulation of alcohol to the states, and that’s where it should have remained. The precedent set by NFIB v. Sebelius, wherein it was ruled unconstitutional for the federal government to withhold funding for states that refused to expand their Medicaid rolls, should be applied to the UDAA. The law demands a fresh challenge.

We should do it because, in short order, self-driving cars will render much of the discussion about drunk-driving fatalities utterly moot.

Finally, we should do it because public policy cannot properly be guided only by an accounting of costs. We must also consider benefits. People like drinking alcohol an awful lot. That counts for something.

Alcohol abuse can cause a variety of harms, but only a relatively small fraction of the people who drink alcohol drink abusively or ever experience such harms. Americans spend $90 billion a year on alcohol, including $5.5 billion spent by students. No market could be so large without producing enormous consumer surplus, and no policy analysis is complete that fails to account for that surplus.

Alcohol provides delicious flavors and aromas in a never-ending diversity of forms. It is a means of social bonding that has been with us since prehistoric times and has been the subject of probably more songs and poetry than any other, save love and death. It is the reason we have agriculture and, thus, the reason we have civilization at all.

We should lower the drinking age because young people deserve to experience the same joy of drinking alcohol that the rest of us do. It is, quite simply, a central part of what it is to be human.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Patent reform is not a left wing thing

Out of the Storm News - July 28, 2015, 4:40 PM

From the The Beacon:

Over at R Street, Zach Graves has a good piece up looking at the American Conservative Union’s opposition to patent reform pending in the Congress. He points out that the sponsors of the much maligned legislation are not looney leftists, but solid leaders on the right…

…The article is a good read. Graves concludes by noting that “Patent reform has loud detractors of all stripes, but it also enjoys overwhelming support on both the left and right. And if we’re going to be honest, its support has always been stronger on the right.”

Leamer talks Trump on The Big Picture

Out of the Storm News - July 28, 2015, 4:38 PM

R Street Outreach Manager Nathan Leamer participated — along with  Neil Sroka of Democracy for America and Sean Noble of American Encore– in The Big Picture host Thom Hartmann’s July 22 politics panel to discuss why Donald Trump continues to lead polls of the likely 2016 Republican contenders. You can watch the full clip below.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Cities, states keep piling on the Internet taxes

Out of the Storm News - July 28, 2015, 11:27 AM

The City of Chicago has the dubious distinction of becoming the first jurisdiction to apply a sweeping tax to “cloud-based” services, ranging from streaming video to tax preparation.

Beginning Sept. 1, residents of the Windy City will be dunned a 9 percent levy on entertainment, online applications and data-processing services that depend on the computing, transmission and storage capabilities of the Internet and World Wide Web.

It’s the result of a Chicago Department of Finance decision to extend the city’s Amusement Tax and Personal Property Lease Transaction Tax to Internet downloads. The application of the Amusement Tax means that Chicagoans will be paying 9 percent more for streamed video and music services, such as those from Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and Spotify, whether the purchase is in the form of a monthly subscription or a one-off order. In doing so, Chicago joins the Alabama Department of Revenue, which wants to apply the state’s 1980s-era tax on videocassette rentals to streaming video.

But Chicago went one better with its new reading of the Lease Transaction Tax. This will now cover any paid cloud-based application that provides information or processing services, such as TurboTax’s Web-based tax preparation application, as well as database search services such as Lexis-Nexis, Ancestry.com, and Realtor.com, just to name three.

The “cloud tax” represents yet another government money grab from Internet users. Sales taxes already are applied to nontangible digital purchases such as software, movies, music and games that consumers then permanently store on their own media. Then there are the numerous taxes, surcharges and fees states and cities heap on the broadband wireless phone and cable services that serve as Internet connections. On wireless service alone, these charges averaged 17 percent, according to a 2014 report from the Tax Foundation.

And it’s not stopping. Prince George’s County, Md., recently raised taxes on landline and wireless phone services as part of an overall local tax increase. Meanwhile, Congress is debating once again whether to create a legal framework that would let states collect sales tax from online retailers outside their borders.

It’s no surprise to see jurisdictions targeting cloud-based services. Enough consumers have turned to streaming for entertainment that it’s been dubbed the latest “game-changer” in tech circles. Even the Federal Communications Commission is trying to figure out a way to regulate it. In the past three years, the percentage of viewers watching live television has fallen from 89 percent to 80 percent, while Internet streaming has increased from 4 to 11 percent, according to research by Nielsen Co. and broadcasters. The same research found that over that same three-year period, per-week streaming grew from four hours and 13 minutes to four hours and 17 minutes in a growing market. No doubt governments covet these dollars.

Sadly, it seems that streaming services see taxation as inevitable, “Jurisdictions around the world, including the U.S., are trying to figure out ways to tax online services,” a Netflix representative told The Verge, an online site covering technology, entertainment and science.

Chicago consumers should not despair yet. The law firm Reed Smith LLP, quoted by CBS Chicago, believes the tax may violate the Federal Telecommunications Act and the Internet Tax Freedom Act, which, as one of the few consumer-friendly tax laws pertaining to the Web, prohibits taxation of Internet access.

Legal questions aside, taxing the Internet is just bad policy. Tax a commodity and people will use less of it. Adding a tax to Web-based applications means decreasing utility for users and increasing barriers to success for entrepreneurs who seek to build innovative cloud-based services. Lawmakers in states and communities all say they want to foster digital inclusion and stimulate a robust information-based economy. Rampant taxation is no way to do it.

Chris Farley Government: Remember When It Was Congress That Made Law? That Was Awesome

Somewhat Reasonable - July 28, 2015, 11:00 AM

Remember that recurring Saturday Night Live skit where the late Chris Farley was the ultimate fanboy – interviewing those for whom he was the ultimate fanboy?

Sniveling and sweaty, he would bring up some of his favorite memories of his interviewees – pretending they were questions by prefacing them with “Remember…?”

And when the interviewee said he did in fact remember, Farley would blurt out “That was AWESOME.”

To wit: Farley’s sit-down with Paul McCartney.

“You remember Beatle Mania? Where those four guys went on stage and looked like you and then they played Beatles songs and….

“Yeah, I heard about that.

“That was AWESOME.

I often think of the Farley Model when watching the media “interview” a Democrat. Especially, sickeningly so when it’s Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.

But with the eternally overreaching Obama Administration, I am starting to feel more and more like the Anti-Farley.

This Administration issues executive fiat after executive fiat – piling the power grabs skyward.

And again and again, the allegedly opposition Republican Party – emplaced by We the People in control of the Legislative Branch – acts outraged and issues stern press releases. But does nothing to actually rein them in.

The President keeps encroaching on Congress’ lawmaking turf – and the lawmakers keep ceding the field.

Leaving us Less Government types to turn to one another and ask “Remember when it was Congress that made law? And defended their Constitutional prerogative to do so? That was AWESOME.”

Obama: ‘I Have a Pen and I Have a Phone’

Obama’s One-Man Rule Amounts To A ‘Gradual, Quiet Coup’

President Obama and every one of his Departments, Agencies, Commissions and Boards are working non-stop as stealth, unelected, unaccountable “law”makers.

By Unilaterally Changing ObamaCare, Obama Is Making A Mockery Of The Constitution

Obama EPA Climate Decrees Will Further Damage U.S. Economy

Obama’s Objective: Nationalize California’s Government-Made Water Disaster

Obama Proposes Massive Gun Ban by Regulation Fiat

Obama to Order Expansion of Overtime Pay for Millions of Workers

Likely the biggest Obama Administration power grabs have come from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Because they have so much more of the still-private sector to grab.

Because the FCC has set its sites on the Internet. Which – unlike just about every other economic sector – didn’t really have an agency (or eight) assigned to crush regulate it.

Back at the Internet’s dawn – during the Bill Clinton Administration – two unbelievably unleashing government decisions were made. The World Wide Web was privatized – and deemed to be basically regulation-free.

As always happens when the government doesn’t “help” – the Web has exploded. Becoming an always-evolving, ever-expanding, free-speech-free-market Xanadu.

President Obama could not let that stand. So he sicced on the Internet the FCC. Which is supposed to an independent agency – free from political arm-twisting.

President Obama’s FCC happily obliged. And unilaterally declared the Internet subject to 1934 law. Written for…land line telephones – and railroads. Seems eminently applicable, yes?

This is Network Neutrality – on century-old steroids. It is a HUGE power grab. Which will hopefully (yet again) be dumped by the courts.

Of course the FCC has by no means stopped there. Behold their abuse of the merger approval process.

When any two or more companies want to become one – the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Justice Department both have to give their approval. If those companies have anything to do with anything communications – the FCC piles in and piles on.

As does the FTC and Justice – when the FCC goes into merger-approval-mode, they grab their “law”-writing pens. And impose countless a la carte regulations they could never get through Congress. All three agencies take their licks – but the FCC usually hits the hardest.

These are called merger “conditions” or “concessions.” But that’s like saying I conceded my wallet to the guy with the gun and the mask. The merging companies are government hostages – to get out they have to give in. These are merger capitulations.

Rent Seeking in the FCC’s Approval of the AT&T/DirecTV Merger

(T)he FCC is largely free to ask firms for an almost unlimited range of concessions in exchange for favorable outcomes in matters before the commission. Such rent-seeking is business as usual.

In the merger context, the only practical limit on what the commission can request is however much the parties are willing to give up before walking away from the deal.

The FCC almost always takes full advantage.

FCC Approves AT&T, DirecTV Merger ‘With Conditions’

  • The soon-to-be single entity must expand high speed fiber Internet access to at least 12.5 million customer locations, E-rate eligible schools and libraries within the next four years.
  • AT&T must offer broadband access to low-income consumers at discounted rates. AT&T responded it will start with plans of 3Mbps service at $5 per month and 10Mbps for $10 per month.

These two capitulations will cost a LOT of money. These exorbitant costs will of course be passed along to AT&T and DirecTV customers – in the form of much higher monthly rates. Because “pro-consumer” – or something.

  • AT&T cannot write its own rules on data caps and providing access to online video, circling back into the tangled web that is net neutrality.

The FCC mandated a la carte Net Neutrality – in case the courts dump the whole-hog-grab. Something the Commission also did in the Comcast-NBC merger.

And remember this?

(FCC Chairman) Tom Wheeler Tweaks Net Neutrality Plan After Google Push

When the FCC Chair turned his law-writing pen into a waiter’s order-taking pen. Allowing huge President-Obama-and-Democrat-donating Google to order customized a la carte changes to the grab.

Fellow bandwidth-uber-hog Netflix is also in Waiter Wheeler’s section. And also gets to order way off the menu.

Netflix to Support Charter Acquisition of Time Warner Cable

So – merging companies now have to get Obama’s cronies’ approval, too. Which they will grant – in exchange for self-tailored capitulations, of course.

Netflix Inc. will support Charter Communications Inc.’s $55 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable Inc. in exchange for free access to Charters customers…. 

To quote another Saturday Night Live skit: “Well isn’t that special.”

So in the Age of Obama – the unelected regulatory agencies get to write “laws.” Their Crony Socialist donors get to write “laws.”

The only people who don’t get to write (actual) laws – are the Representatives elected and Constitutionally-mandated to do so.

All of which is anything but awesome.

[Originally published atRedState]

Categories: On the Blog

5 reasons to support the REINS Act

Out of the Storm News - July 28, 2015, 10:37 AM

The House is likely to vote this week on H.R. 427, the Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny Act, also known as the REINS Act. Introduced by Rep. Todd Young, R-Ind., the bill would require Congress and the president to approve major regulations (those with an economic effect of $100 million or more) before they could take effect. Congress would be granted 70 days to vote affirmatively to adopt such regulations. If it did not, the president temporarily could deem the regulation effective if national security or the public health or safety was imperiled.

Perhaps the third time will be the charm. The House overwhelmingly passed the legislation in 2011 and 2013, only to see it die in the then-majority Democratic Senate. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who has complained about ill-conceived regulation, has not yet said whether the Senate would take up its version of the REINS Act (S. 226), introduced by the junior senator from his state, Rand Paul.

There are at least five reasons why Congress should pass the REINS Act.

  1. Democratic accountability. Each year, about 4,000 new regulations take effect. Regulations have the force of law, and agencies that issue regulations usually are empowered to enforce them with fines and other penalties. Individuals who dislike a regulation are without recourse—they cannot vote regulators out of office. The Constitution declares: “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” The REINS Act would force Congress to take responsibility for the enactment of the largest and most economically significant regulations, thereby restoring some democratic accountability.
  1. Democratic equality. Who participates in federal rulemaking? Mostly, elites do. Regulations are proposed by unelected employees at federal agencies. Their final form is shaped through input from lobbyists and interest groups. Average citizens and their representatives seldom submit their own comments to an agency proposing a rule. The REINS Act would interject democracy into rulemaking by making the people’s representatives participate in regulatory policy.
  1. Oversight. The U.S. Constitution establishes a principal-agent relationship between the first and second branches of government. Congress legislates, and the executive effectuates the laws. The REINS Act would force Congress to spend more time overseeing the work of regulators to ensure they faithfully execute the law (and less time naming post offices and passing feel-good commemorative bills.)
  1. Reducing errors. Regulators do make mistakes. Under the present system, a private party has to file a lawsuit to get the problem fixed. Court challenges, in fact, have invalidated more than a dozen regulations in recent years, issued by agencies ranging from the Department of Health and Human Services to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Subjecting regulations to congressional review before they become law may prevent some errors and the costs thereof.
  1. Improving implementation. Current regulatory policymaking is dysfunctional. Congress delegates authority to agencies to implement a law, then yells when the regulations are not to its liking. Meanwhile, the American public foots the bill. Good policy implementation requires dialogue between lawmakers and agencies. This is why most states conduct legislative review of regulations before they take effect. Connecticut, for example, has a Legislative Regulation Review Committee. Michigan similarly has a Joint Committee on Rules that can disapprove rules.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

‘Repeal and Replace’ Fails in Senate, As Conservatives Scramble for Anti-Obamacare Votes

Somewhat Reasonable - July 28, 2015, 8:32 AM

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and other conservatives this weekend were unsuccessful in their attempt to repeal Obamacare through a parliamentary procedure. Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would not allow the “repeal and replace” legislation to be added to another bill regarding the Import-Export Bank. Conservatives are concerned the Senate does not have the votes to pass a veto-proof bill.

Consequently, the National Center for Public Policy Research is proposing a “five-point plan” to help Republicans repeal ObamaCare and replace it with free market-based reforms. The NCPPR plan is as follows,

1. Sponsor Regular Congressional Hearings. Congress should hold weekly hearings on key health care issues, including mounting problems with ObamaCare and alternatives for more free-market reforms. Hearings on the latter will enable lawmakers and the public to debate free-market alternatives.

2. Hold Regional Town Hall Meetings. Republicans should hold town hall meetings across the U.S., seeking advice from Americans on what works and what doesn’t work about our current health care complex.

3. Appoint Congressional Working Groups. Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should appoint health care working groups consisting of Members of Congress/Senators they trust who are committed to ObamaCare repeal.

4. Put Health Care Bills on the President’s Desk — Despite His Pledge to Veto Them.  Nothing gets a policy conversation started faster in Washington than sending a bill to the President’s desk.

5. Be Transparent. Americans should not have to wait for reform to pass to find out what’s in it.”

Experts commented that, all told, the cumulative effect of these moves would be powerful. “The hearings, town hall meetings, working groups and public debates of this Five-Point Plan will help insure that the process of evaluating, repealing and replacing ObamaCare is done in a transparent manner, which in turn will help insure that the next health care policy approved by Congress is one the American people are happy to live with,” said Amy Ridenour, chairman of the National Center for Public Policy Research.

Categories: On the Blog

Freedom to Move: Personal Freedom or Government Control, Part II

Somewhat Reasonable - July 28, 2015, 7:01 AM

There are many economic fallacies that surround the issue of freer or open immigration into the United States, and few of them can stand up to serious critical examination.

The Fallacy that Immigrants “Steal” Jobs from Americans.

Opponents of more open immigration sometimes argue that the arrival of more immigrants means the threatened loss of jobs for those already living in the country.

The often-implicit assumption behind this argument is that there are a fixed number of jobs in the country, and if more workers enter the labor market, by definition any work gained by one of the new arrivals must mean lost employment for someone else already there.

As long as there are unsatisfied wants that more production could gratify, then there is always more work for more hands to do. An increased number of workers within a country means that there can occur what economists call both more extensive and more intensive use of labor. By more extensive use of labor is meant that things that could not be done before because there were not enough hands to do them can now be undertaken.

The available number of employable workers might have enabled the production and supplying of a certain amount of, say, shirts, pants, and shoes. But given the availability of labor, and the importance that consumers assigned to having desired goods, it may have been impossible to also produce and supply hats that people also wanted to wear.

The arrival of additional hands through immigration to do productive work would now allow this unsatisfied want for headwear to be partly fulfilled without having to withdraw hands for the production of any of those shirts, pants, or shoes.

By more intensive use of labor, economists mean the more refined development of the system of specialization. More hands to perform desired work means that employers can undertake a more developed division of labor that enables an increased productivity.

Suppose that within a factory there were enough available workers to divide possible tasks into four steps or stages of production, each of which enables the participants to more industriously and productively focus their efforts and attentions to one part of the production process.

The arrival of more workers, again possibly through immigration, to be employed within such enterprises enables the potential and possible tasks to be divided into more refined and detailed steps that, again, raises the productivity and output of all those who participate in the economy’s activities. The increased output per worker means that all in the society can have available through trade a greater supply of wanted goods and services that might not have been possible without the new hands to assist in the work to be done.

Adam Smith began his famous book, The Wealth of Nations (1776), precisely by emphasizing the benefits from division of labor. He also pointed out that the extent of the division of labor is limited by the extent of the market. It makes little sense to take greater advantage of specialization to expand output to, say, a quantity of 1,000 units of some useful good from 500 units if there are not enough people participating in the network of exchange to buy all that can be produced through that intensified division of labor.

But in a country as large as the United States with its more than 320 million people and a global economy within which America trades with billions of people, any opportunity to more intensively develop the division of labor through the use of more available hands made possible by immigration can be successfully and profitably absorbed into the national work force.

The Fallacy that Immigrants Lower the National Wage Level.

Another fear often expressed about the arrival of large numbers of immigrants is that their addition to the national labor force will tend to push wages in general down in the economy as they compete for jobs currently held by the existing workers.

It should be remembered that there is no such thing as a “national wage level.” This, like the general “price level” of goods and services, is a statistical creation by selecting, summing, and averaging a large number of individual wages, each of which reflects the supply and demand for the specific types, skills and qualities of labor in particular markets for hiring workers.

It is certainly the case that if, all other things the same and unchanged, a significant number of qualified immigrant economists, all with teaching and specialization skills similar to my own, were to enter the job market for professors’ positions, the salary for my labor services in my narrow segment of the university teaching market would likely be bid down.

But this is no different than if more college and university age students out of the domestic population were to decide to major in economics, then earn their advanced degrees in the subject, and proceed to try to land jobs with their newly acquired PhDs. The greater supply of such economists might result in my employable salary being competed down.

On the other hand, the consumers of economics teaching services might very well find themselves able to acquire their education at a lower price because the cost of hiring such qualified economics professors will have decreased.

Suppose this were to happen. With a decline in the cost of an economics education, both parents and students may now have more money left in their pockets after having paid the tuition and related expenses. With this “freed up” sum of money they would now have the financial ability to buy more of other things they previously could not afford when paying higher tuition fees.

This will result in an increased demand for other desired goods and services. The prices for these goods and services, other things held given, would tend to rise, increasing the profitability of increasing their supply. This would open up new and increased demands for other types of labor – those able and skilled to, perhaps, produce more flat-screen televisions, or more service jobs at restaurants as people can afford to eat out more frequently, or more employment in other avenues of education. This greater demand made possible by the lower cost of some labor services due to immigrant workers in certain sectors or parts of the market would raise the demand for more workers, and therefore their potential wages and incomes, in other parts of the market.

The Fallacy that Unskilled Immigrants Have No Niche to Fill.

But what about the unskilled or poorly educated immigrants at the lower end of the employment scale? Studies over the years have shown that often it is the unskilled immigrants who fill niches in the market that many in the existing labor pool in the nation are unwilling to perform.

In the middle decades of the nineteenth century it was not unusual to find that many of the domestic servants in not just wealthy but middle class households were young Irish girls who had come over to escape from the potato famine in their native country as well as the British rule that they disliked. Uneducated with only simple “country manners,” this became their entry into the American labor market. Over a generation or two, the wave of Irish immigrants and their children improved their education and employment skills and left behind such domestic work as their talents fetched higher wages in other corners of the market.

In the early decades of the twentieth century, hired gardeners were often of Japanese background in places like California, for instance. As the descendants of these Japanese immigrants entered the mainstream of American life, especially after the Second World War, the image of the hired gardener was no longer that of Japanese.

Over the last few decades those of Hispanic background have filled the niche of hired gardeners, certainly not exclusively but often, as has the role of domestic servant in various parts of the country. If immigrant integration into American society follows the same paths as in the past, two or three decades from now, the stereo-types of Hispanics will have changed as they integrated into the general labor market, moving on to other economic niches and roles, as it did f other immigrant groups in earlier times.

We have seen this with many ethnic groups that have settled and integrated themselves into the general and greater social and economic environment within the country. It is no longer a caricature or cliché to refer to the “Chinese” laundry, because those of Chinese ancestry in America are simply, now, “Americans” distributed and dispersed among many professions and occupations and callings fully integrated into American society in almost all instances.

As new waves of immigrants have entered the American economy, they have filled roles that earlier waves have transitioned out of, just as they are most likely to do in the future. Think of it as the “new guys” who start their careers with the “entry level” jobs. They often are paid less than other workers at first, and are assigned tasks and jobs that others in the firm or enterprise no longer do and do not want to do. But it is the starting point for learning skills, gaining experience, and demonstrating higher worth and value for themselves over time to earn the promotion and better salary in the future, either from their initial employer or some other who sees and values their acquired abilities and potentials.

Filling these roles and entry level positions for the unskilled or low skilled enables part of the immigrant population to have an avenue for starting on the path of improved opportunity in America compared to the old country they have left behind.

To statistically cover over all these real and distinct changes and improvements in employments, incomes, and availabilities of goods by reducing them to price and wage averages and aggregates hides from view not only the real nature of adaptation to change in general, but more specifically many of the positive affects and impacts of immigrants to the United States.

Reducing Government Regulations and Welfare Temptations

We should keep in mind that the problems that some immigrants face are the same problems that government has imposed as stumbling blocks to improvement on all in the society: minimum wage laws, business taxes that hinder investment and capital formation, and regulations that prevent growth and innovation through anti-competitive policies.

These are the roots of many of our social and economic difficulties that harm both native-born and immigrant looking for work and trying to materially advance, including, for some, finding ways to escape from poverty and poor living conditions.

But what about the attempts of political panderers and plunderers to try to buy the votes of new immigrants who obtain or may obtain in the future the right to vote by offering them access to the “benefits” of the welfare state?

Let us remember that those who use such means for gaining political power have had their success with the American-born and American citizen population. It is their votes that have established, maintained, and expanded the interventionist-welfare state that so dangerously burdens the country. It cannot be blamed on “foreigners” – whether legal or illegal. As the cartoon character, “Pogo,” once said, “We’ve met the enemy, and he is us.”

Rather than punish those who, like our ancestors, want to come to America for their “second chance” for a better life for themselves and their children by closing the door of immigration, the task should be to eliminate the controls and regulations that hinder improvement for all of us.

Ending Access to the Welfare State for Any Immigrants

But given that fact that this is not likely to happen in any immediate future, what might be a “second best”? Let me suggest that one answer is to say that anyone may come to America to work, investment, live, and enjoy a freer life.

But for a period of, say, the first fifteen years during which they reside in the United States they are ineligible for access to any welfare-redistributive programs for themselves and their family members.

If this seems harsh, it is worth recalling that before the modern welfare state that is how every generation of immigrants came to America and made their way – either through they own hard work or the voluntary assistance of private charity.

I wonder how many critics of open or freer immigration into the United States would be as negative as they are if the new arrivals were expected to make their own way rather than receive any tax-based handouts from the government?

Part of America’s greatness has precisely been as a haven, a port of last call, for those denied religious freedom, or suffering under brutal and corrupt governments, or locked out of economic opportunities due to political systems of favor and privilege in their own lands.

It has not always been an easy or straight path for the new comer to America’s shores. But the fact that for over two centuries millions have come shows that it has not just been a dream but a reality of a land of opportunity and prosperity.

It has also been the country’s life-blood of new and innovative risk-taking, entrepreneurially spirited enterprisers, and youthful hopefuls who want to breath freer than where they were born. It is a good part of what had made America a dynamic and vibrant country unlike so many others around the world.

To turn our backs on this American tradition and legacy is to betray the essence of what America has been since its beginnings.

[Originally posted atThere are many economic fallacies that surround the issue of freer or open immigration into the United States, and few of them can stand up to serious critical examination.The Fallacy that Immigrants “Steal” Jobs from Americans.

Opponents of more open immigration sometimes argue that the arrival of more immigrants means the threatened loss of jobs for those already living in the country.

The often-implicit assumption behind this argument is that there are a fixed number of jobs in the country, and if more workers enter the labor market, by definition any work gained by one of the new arrivals must mean lost employment for someone else already there.

As long as there are unsatisfied wants that more production could gratify, then there is always more work for more hands to do. An increased number of workers within a country means that there can occur what economists call both more extensive and more intensive use of labor. By more extensive use of labor is meant that things that could not be done before because there were not enough hands to do them can now be undertaken.

The available number of employable workers might have enabled the production and supplying of a certain amount of, say, shirts, pants, and shoes. But given the availability of labor, and the importance that consumers assigned to having desired goods, it may have been impossible to also produce and supply hats that people also wanted to wear.

The arrival of additional hands through immigration to do productive work would now allow this unsatisfied want for headwear to be partly fulfilled without having to withdraw hands for the production of any of those shirts, pants, or shoes.

By more intensive use of labor, economists mean the more refined development of the system of specialization. More hands to perform desired work means that employers can undertake a more developed division of labor that enables an increased productivity.

Suppose that within a factory there were enough available workers to divide possible tasks into four steps or stages of production, each of which enables the participants to more industriously and productively focus their efforts and attentions to one part of the production process.

The arrival of more workers, again possibly through immigration, to be employed within such enterprises enables the potential and possible tasks to be divided into more refined and detailed steps that, again, raises the productivity and output of all those who participate in the economy’s activities. The increased output per worker means that all in the society can have available through trade a greater supply of wanted goods and services that might not have been possible without the new hands to assist in the work to be done.

Adam Smith began his famous book, The Wealth of Nations (1776), precisely by emphasizing the benefits from division of labor. He also pointed out that the extent of the division of labor is limited by the extent of the market. It makes little sense to take greater advantage of specialization to expand output to, say, a quantity of 1,000 units of some useful good from 500 units if there are not enough people participating in the network of exchange to buy all that can be produced through that intensified division of labor.

But in a country as large as the United States with its more than 320 million people and a global economy within which America trades with billions of people, any opportunity to more intensively develop the division of labor through the use of more available hands made possible by immigration can be successfully and profitably absorbed into the national work force.

The Fallacy that Immigrants Lower the National Wage Level.

Another fear often expressed about the arrival of large numbers of immigrants is that their addition to the national labor force will tend to push wages in general down in the economy as they compete for jobs currently held by the existing workers.

It should be remembered that there is no such thing as a “national wage level.” This, like the general “price level” of goods and services, is a statistical creation by selecting, summing, and averaging a large number of individual wages, each of which reflects the supply and demand for the specific types, skills and qualities of labor in particular markets for hiring workers.

It is certainly the case that if, all other things the same and unchanged, a significant number of qualified immigrant economists, all with teaching and specialization skills similar to my own, were to enter the job market for professors’ positions, the salary for my labor services in my narrow segment of the university teaching market would likely be bid down.

But this is no different than if more college and university age students out of the domestic population were to decide to major in economics, then earn their advanced degrees in the subject, and proceed to try to land jobs with their newly acquired PhDs. The greater supply of such economists might result in my employable salary being competed down.

On the other hand, the consumers of economics teaching services might very well find themselves able to acquire their education at a lower price because the cost of hiring such qualified economics professors will have decreased.

Suppose this were to happen. With a decline in the cost of an economics education, both parents and students may now have more money left in their pockets after having paid the tuition and related expenses. With this “freed up” sum of money they would now have the financial ability to buy more of other things they previously could not afford when paying higher tuition fees.

This will result in an increased demand for other desired goods and services. The prices for these goods and services, other things held given, would tend to rise, increasing the profitability of increasing their supply. This would open up new and increased demands for other types of labor – those able and skilled to, perhaps, produce more flat-screen televisions, or more service jobs at restaurants as people can afford to eat out more frequently, or more employment in other avenues of education. This greater demand made possible by the lower cost of some labor services due to immigrant workers in certain sectors or parts of the market would raise the demand for more workers, and therefore their potential wages and incomes, in other parts of the market.

The Fallacy that Unskilled Immigrants Have No Niche to Fill.

But what about the unskilled or poorly educated immigrants at the lower end of the employment scale? Studies over the years have shown that often it is the unskilled immigrants who fill niches in the market that many in the existing labor pool in the nation are unwilling to perform.

In the middle decades of the nineteenth century it was not unusual to find that many of the domestic servants in not just wealthy but middle class households were young Irish girls who had come over to escape from the potato famine in their native country as well as the British rule that they disliked. Uneducated with only simple “country manners,” this became their entry into the American labor market. Over a generation or two, the wave of Irish immigrants and their children improved their education and employment skills and left behind such domestic work as their talents fetched higher wages in other corners of the market.

In the early decades of the twentieth century, hired gardeners were often of Japanese background in places like California, for instance. As the descendants of these Japanese immigrants entered the mainstream of American life, especially after the Second World War, the image of the hired gardener was no longer that of Japanese.

Over the last few decades those of Hispanic background have filled the niche of hired gardeners, certainly not exclusively but often, as has the role of domestic servant in various parts of the country. If immigrant integration into American society follows the same paths as in the past, two or three decades from now, the stereo-types of Hispanics will have changed as they integrated into the general labor market, moving on to other economic niches and roles, as it did f other immigrant groups in earlier times.

We have seen this with many ethnic groups that have settled and integrated themselves into the general and greater social and economic environment within the country. It is no longer a caricature or cliché to refer to the “Chinese” laundry, because those of Chinese ancestry in America are simply, now, “Americans” distributed and dispersed among many professions and occupations and callings fully integrated into American society in almost all instances.

As new waves of immigrants have entered the American economy, they have filled roles that earlier waves have transitioned out of, just as they are most likely to do in the future. Think of it as the “new guys” who start their careers with the “entry level” jobs. They often are paid less than other workers at first, and are assigned tasks and jobs that others in the firm or enterprise no longer do and do not want to do. But it is the starting point for learning skills, gaining experience, and demonstrating higher worth and value for themselves over time to earn the promotion and better salary in the future, either from their initial employer or some other who sees and values their acquired abilities and potentials.

Filling these roles and entry level positions for the unskilled or low skilled enables part of the immigrant population to have an avenue for starting on the path of improved opportunity in America compared to the old country they have left behind.

To statistically cover over all these real and distinct changes and improvements in employments, incomes, and availabilities of goods by reducing them to price and wage averages and aggregates hides from view not only the real nature of adaptation to change in general, but more specifically many of the positive affects and impacts of immigrants to the United States.

Reducing Government Regulations and Welfare Temptations

We should keep in mind that the problems that some immigrants face are the same problems that government has imposed as stumbling blocks to improvement on all in the society: minimum wage laws, business taxes that hinder investment and capital formation, and regulations that prevent growth and innovation through anti-competitive policies.

These are the roots of many of our social and economic difficulties that harm both native-born and immigrant looking for work and trying to materially advance, including, for some, finding ways to escape from poverty and poor living conditions.

But what about the attempts of political panderers and plunderers to try to buy the votes of new immigrants who obtain or may obtain in the future the right to vote by offering them access to the “benefits” of the welfare state?

Let us remember that those who use such means for gaining political power have had their success with the American-born and American citizen population. It is their votes that have established, maintained, and expanded the interventionist-welfare state that so dangerously burdens the country. It cannot be blamed on “foreigners” – whether legal or illegal. As the cartoon character, “Pogo,” once said, “We’ve met the enemy, and he is us.”

Rather than punish those who, like our ancestors, want to come to America for their “second chance” for a better life for themselves and their children by closing the door of immigration, the task should be to eliminate the controls and regulations that hinder improvement for all of us.

Ending Access to the Welfare State for Any Immigrants

But given that fact that this is not likely to happen in any immediate future, what might be a “second best”? Let me suggest that one answer is to say that anyone may come to America to work, investment, live, and enjoy a freer life.

But for a period of, say, the first fifteen years during which they reside in the United States they are ineligible for access to any welfare-redistributive programs for themselves and their family members.

If this seems harsh, it is worth recalling that before the modern welfare state that is how every generation of immigrants came to America and made their way – either through they own hard work or the voluntary assistance of private charity.

I wonder how many critics of open or freer immigration into the United States would be as negative as they are if the new arrivals were expected to make their own way rather than receive any tax-based handouts from the government?

Part of America’s greatness has precisely been as a haven, a port of last call, for those denied religious freedom, or suffering under brutal and corrupt governments, or locked out of economic opportunities due to political systems of favor and privilege in their own lands.

It has not always been an easy or straight path for the new comer to America’s shores. But the fact that for over two centuries millions have come shows that it has not just been a dream but a reality of a land of opportunity and prosperity.

It has also been the country’s life-blood of new and innovative risk-taking, entrepreneurially spirited enterprisers, and youthful hopefuls who want to breath freer than where they were born. It is a good part of what had made America a dynamic and vibrant country unlike so many others around the world.

To turn our backs on this American tradition and legacy is to betray the essence of what America has been since its beginnings.

[Originally Posted at Epic Times]
Categories: On the Blog

Cato University Day Two: Liberty, The State, and The Free Market

Somewhat Reasonable - July 27, 2015, 8:52 PM

Cato University Logo

Today, I started my second day at Cato University by attending a morning lecture by Jeffrey Miron, director of undergraduate economic studies at Harvard, on the power of incentives. Miron taught the audience about consequential libertarianism, an approach that advocates “small government across the board” and is healthily skeptical of policies from the political left and right. Consequential libertarianism asks questions about the relative impact of policies and serves as a useful system for ranking them. Miron distinguished this approach from philosophical libertarianism, which equally rejects most government policies because they violate individuals’ unalienable rights. Miron concluded by noting policies often have unintended consequences that must be taken into account by analysts and legislators.

Next, Tom Palmer, the director of Cato University and senior fellow at the Cato Institute, delivered his first of a two-part lecture series on the origins of state and government. He started by contradicting an interesting argument espoused by University of Chicago law professor Cass Sunstein: the state is the source of all created value. Palmer argued government exists because of the surpluses of individual and group production. Businesses and individuals create wealth through exchange, as seen in many modern economic institutions today. Palmer drew from Cicero and other thinkers to show that without an established rule of law, crime would run rampant and fruitful production would cease because of a breach of societal trust. Palmer also elaborated on the role of the rule of law in promoting trust, justice, and freedom in society.

After lunch, Palmer lectured on freedom from a historical perspective. He defined rights as “an instrument for human liberty” and voiced skepticism about Karl Marx characterization of history as a predictable and inevitable pattern of events, noting that history contains more accidents than most want to acknowledge. According to Palmer, a theory of higher law was born in the influence of philosophical Athens and religiously inspired Jerusalem. All humans derive their rights from their capacity to reason and are equally under the scrutiny of the law, so “law is not just what a guy with a big club says it is.” He highlighted John Locke’s robust definition of property as life, liberty, and estate and harkened to the belief that we also “own” our actions. Palmer also discussed how states successfully claim a monopoly on force and distinguished between external and internal sovereignty.

Miron gave another lecture on the economics of cooperation and coercion, arguing that many interventionist policies have a negative impact on society due to unintended consequences. Some unintended consequences include tax distortions, an elimination of Pareto voluntary exchanges that benefit one party at no expense to the other, and altered individual incentives. Government programs can be notoriously difficult to enforce, especially when evaders’ livelihoods depend on their illicit activities. Too many interventionist policies and complicated laws can incentivize the citizenry to select which laws to follow and which to break. Palmer argued that small governments are superior to their counterparts in promoting equity, efficiency, and economic liberty and said federal agencies performing the same actions as civic organizations and religious institutions should be eliminated.

After a scrumptious dinner, New York Times science columnist John Tierney discussed the role of self-control in successful people’s lives and how it is intrinsically linked to human freedom. During the American Revolution, the rebels realized “to be free from a tyrant’s rule, man had to be able to rule themselves.” The Victorian Era touted hard work and discipline as the path to success and happiness, as opposed to the feel good pop psychology of today’s self-help books. Will power is the ability to master your temptations and complete tasks. This ability can be sapped with too many decisions, indecisiveness, a poor diet, and exhaustion. Tierney said will power is a muscle that can be developed through setting realistic goals, monitoring progress, not juggling too many tasks at once, and above all not making decisions on an empty stomach.

 

Categories: On the Blog

Cato University Day One: Arrival and Settling In

Blog - Education - July 27, 2015, 8:39 PM

Goodie bags for Bastiat Scholars!

I am attending Cato University 2015, an immersive seminar program occurring on July 26-31 at the think tank’s headquarters in Washington, DC that educates students and professionals on political economy. I received a Bastiat Scholarship I that covers my hotel stay and conference-related expenses. Interning at Heartland helped me receive the scholarship, and I am very grateful to this organization for helping open new doors for me. I am structuring my Cato University 2015 experience as a five-part chronological blog series.

I arrived in the capital on Sunday in 90-degree weather. I visited The Newseum, a museum devoted to cataloguing the history of journalism and calling for freedom of the press throughout the world. The museum exceeded my expectations with its interactive exhibits and memorialization of journalists killed in civil and international conflicts. The juxtaposition of the gray East Germany side of the Berlin Wall with its graffiti-covered western counterpart spoke truths words couldn’t about the transformative role of democracy in people’s lives. Afterward, I visited the Capitol. Although the Rotunda and other parts of the building were closed, I watched the Senate proceedings in the chamber, spotting Senators John McCain and Rand Paul.

Later that Sunday afternoon, I registered for Cato University, receiving a large tote bag stuffed with educational sustenance. After a lovely reception on the roof of the Cato Institute headquarters, we ate dinner while listening to Cato University Director Tom Palmer lecture on the role of Cato the Younger in promoting liberty in the floundering Roman Republic and the impact of his legacy on the Founding Fathers and, indirectly, the founding of the Cato Institute. The audience also learned about the Cato Institute’s mission: promoting limited government that primarily serves to enhance individual rights around the world. After dinner, we attended a brief meeting for Bastiat Scholars before going to bed.

 

 

Cato University Day One: Arrival and Settling In

Somewhat Reasonable - July 27, 2015, 8:39 PM

Goodie bags for Bastiat Scholars!

I am attending Cato University 2015, an immersive seminar program occurring on July 26-31 at the think tank’s headquarters in Washington, DC that educates students and professionals on political economy. I received a Bastiat Scholarship I that covers my hotel stay and conference-related expenses. Interning at Heartland helped me receive the scholarship, and I am very grateful to this organization for helping open new doors for me. I am structuring my Cato University 2015 experience as a five-part chronological blog series.

I arrived in the capital on Sunday in 90-degree weather. I visited The Newseum, a museum devoted to cataloguing the history of journalism and calling for freedom of the press throughout the world. The museum exceeded my expectations with its interactive exhibits and memorialization of journalists killed in civil and international conflicts. The juxtaposition of the gray East Germany side of the Berlin Wall with its graffiti-covered western counterpart spoke truths words couldn’t about the transformative role of democracy in people’s lives. Afterward, I visited the Capitol. Although the Rotunda and other parts of the building were closed, I watched the Senate proceedings in the chamber, spotting John McCain and Rand Paul.

Later that Sunday afternoon, I registered for Cato University, receiving a large tote bag stuffed with educational sustenance. After a lovely reception on the roof of the Cato Institute headquarters, we ate dinner while listening to Cato University Director Tom Palmer lecture on the role of Cato the Younger in promoting liberty in the floundering Roman Republic and the impact of his legacy on the Founding Fathers and, indirectly, the founding of the Cato Institute. The audience also learned about the Cato Institute’s mission: promoting limited government that primarily serves to enhance individual rights around the world. After dinner, we attended a brief meeting for Bastiat Scholars before going to bed.

 

 

Categories: On the Blog

Congress’ plan to pass energy bills: Make them boring. But will it work?

Out of the Storm News - July 27, 2015, 4:43 PM

From the Washington Examiner:

“We’ve been waiting for this legislative action to turn into something for a while. On the House side, it’s not the sexiest bill they could have come up with, but it seems like they’ve done a good job of avoiding any pitfalls,” said Catrina Rorke, energy policy director and senior fellow with the free market group R Street Institute and a former adviser to ex-GOP Rep. Bob Inglis of South Carolina…

…And therein lies the difficulty of the Senate.

“My trepidation on the Senate side. Sen. Murkowski has done a pretty tremendous job in terms of leadership … except once it gets to the floor it sort of goes to the zoo of the Senate,” Rorke said. She said other developments, such as the expected August finalization of Environmental Protection Agency carbon emissions limits for power plants, which is opposed by Republicans and centrist Democrats, also could spark amendments that threaten the bill.

Senate still debating transportation bill with last-minute record-secrecy provisions

Out of the Storm News - July 27, 2015, 4:41 PM

From Marketwatch:

In a rare Sunday session, the U.S. Senate considered amendments to a transportation bill, a must-do by Friday before funds run out, without deciding on others related to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) slipped in by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell late in the game. Those amendments would allow information to be withheld when certain thresholds are met. According to a report by R Street Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, public policy research organization, none of these amendments went before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is the committee with jurisdiction on FOIA matters. The Senate will reconsider one version of the bill — more than one with the FOIA amendments are floating around — again Monday night, according to OpenTheGovernment.org.

Bughouse Square Debate Recap

Blog - Education - July 27, 2015, 4:25 PM

On July 25, Heartland Institute Senior Fellow Bruno Behrend took part in the famous “Bughouse Square Debate”  before an audience of 500 people in Washington Square Park in the North Side of Chicago. Behrend debated Troy LaRaviere, principal of Blaine Elementary School in Chicago’s Wrigleyville, on the question: “Public or private? What should be the future of public education in Chicago?”

The debate was passionate, yet civil. LaRaviere started explaining the difference between scientific data and  the use of averages and overall data. He then espoused the virtues of Chicago Public Schools (CPS), quoting statistics and claiming CPS was outperforming charter schools in Chicago. To bolster his claims, he referenced the Chicago Sun-Times article “CPS outpaces charter schools in improvements, especially in reading.” LaRaviere later revealed the data was furnished by CPS.

Behrend’s argument was clear: The current large urban districts, the teachers unions, and the public school system itself, are willing to protect themselves with lobbying in Springfield and Washington, DC. The lobbyists use cherry-picked data that obscure the truth. Behrend stated: “There is not enough money in the world to implement a top-down bureaucratic approach that will work for everyone.”

Two questions Behrend asked the audience put the matter into a proper perspective:

  1. Why is there such a high demand for charter schools if CPS is working so well?
  2. If CPS is doing so great, why are nearly 40 percent of the students not graduating?

Behrend went on to highlight the rights of parents to choose, for whatever reason they deemed important, the school and education for their children. He called for the breaking up of large urban districts such as CPS into local parent councils, wards, or individual schools run by excellent principals, such as LaRaviere.

LaRaviere, in praising CPS, also directly called parents who wanted out of CPS uninformed and misled due to continual talk of failing schools. This was reiterated during the audience Q&A. An audience member brought up the fact nearly 40 percent of CPS teachers choose to send their children to private schools. LaRaviere admitted that both teachers and principals do this.

Behrend noted the best “vote” a parent could make was not for mayor or alderman, but taking an education savings account and vote with the money following their child to the school of their choice, thus opening up a “vast new array of education opportunities.”

The crowd was heavily skewed center-left, with dozens of CPS teachers in attendance. Questions from the audience were heavily tilted to the protection of public schools and against capitalism. Behrend handled the audience questions deftly. There were two particular instances that stood out.

The first was an attack on Heartland as a stakeholder in education. Behrend rejected the premise of the question itself and the underlying connotation that unless one is certified by the system or employed by the system, one does not have a right to criticize it. He stated, “Everyone here is a taxpayer and is paying for the system.”

The second notable interaction with the audience when the questions turned to corporations and their profits. The audience, i.e. teachers union members, reacted very negatively when Behrend pointed out the union itself was actually a corporation.

At the end of the lively event, the debate moderator  stated, “This is the most civil and best debate I can remember here at the Bughouse Square Debates.”

 

Bughouse Square Debate Recap

Somewhat Reasonable - July 27, 2015, 4:25 PM

On July 25, Heartland Institute Senior Fellow Bruno Behrend took part in the famous “Bughouse Square Debate”  before an audience of 500 people in Washington Square Park in the North Side of Chicago. Behrend debated Troy LaRaviere, principal of Blaine Elementary School in Chicago’s Wrigleyville, on the question: “Public or private? What should be the future of public education in Chicago?”

The debate was passionate, yet civil. LaRaviere started explaining the difference between scientific data and  the use of averages and overall data. He then espoused the virtues of Chicago Public Schools (CPS), quoting statistics and claiming CPS was outperforming charter schools in Chicago. To bolster his claims, he referenced the Chicago Sun-Times article “CPS outpaces charter schools in improvements, especially in reading.” LaRaviere later revealed the data was furnished by CPS.

Behrend’s argument was clear: The current large urban districts, the teachers unions, and the public school system itself, are willing to protect themselves with lobbying in Springfield and Washington, DC. The lobbyists use cherry-picked data that obscure the truth. Behrend stated: “There is not enough money in the world to implement a top-down bureaucratic approach that will work for everyone.”

Two questions Behrend asked the audience put the matter into a proper perspective:

  1. Why is there such a high demand for charter schools if CPS is working so well?
  2. If CPS is doing so great, why are nearly 40 percent of the students not graduating?

Behrend went on to highlight the rights of parents to choose, for whatever reason they deemed important, the school and education for their children. He called for the breaking up of large urban districts such as CPS into local parent councils, wards, or individual schools run by excellent principals, such as LaRaviere.

LaRaviere, in praising CPS, also directly called parents who wanted out of CPS uninformed and misled due to continual talk of failing schools. This was reiterated during the audience Q&A. An audience member brought up the fact nearly 40 percent of CPS teachers choose to send their children to private schools. LaRaviere admitted that both teachers and principals do this.

Behrend noted the best “vote” a parent could make was not for mayor or alderman, but taking an education savings account and vote with the money following their child to the school of their choice, thus opening up a “vast new array of education opportunities.”

The crowd was heavily skewed center-left, with dozens of CPS teachers in attendance. Questions from the audience were heavily tilted to the protection of public schools and against capitalism. Behrend handled the audience questions deftly. There were two particular instances that stood out.

The first was an attack on Heartland as a stakeholder in education. Behrend rejected the premise of the question itself and the underlying connotation that unless one is certified by the system or employed by the system, one does not have a right to criticize it. He stated, “Everyone here is a taxpayer and is paying for the system.”

The second notable interaction with the audience when the questions turned to corporations and their profits. The audience, i.e. teachers union members, reacted very negatively when Behrend pointed out the union itself was actually a corporation.

At the end of the lively event, the debate moderator  stated, “This is the most civil and best debate I can remember here at the Bughouse Square Debates.”

 

Categories: On the Blog

Coalition to Congress: Support PTC Elimination Act

Out of the Storm News - July 27, 2015, 3:42 PM

Dear Representatives,

On behalf of the millions of members that our organizations represent, we encourage you to support H.R. 1901, the PTC Elimination Act, introduced earlier this year by Reps. Kenny Marchant, R-Texas, and Mike Pompeo, R-Kan. This is a commonsense bill that protects Americans from the large costs of an out-of-control subsidy.

This legislation phases out the Wind Production Tax Credit and includes several other important provisions. In the short term, it reduces the subsidy to make it harder for wind producers to profit while selling electricity at a loss because of the very generous tax benefit (this is called “negative pricing”). It also repeals the entire statutory framework on Dec. 31, 2025 to ensure the subsidies do not drag out beyond the next decade. Lastly, it includes a sense of Congress that the PTC should not be extended and should remain expired. Effectively, this is a true and fair phase-out of this subsidy. Should this legislation be included in the end of the year tax extenders package, it would be a significant improvement over existing law.

Ending the Wind PTC is an important initiative for several reasons. First, it is pro-taxpayer. Since it was created in 1992, taxpayers have sent billions of dollars to large multinational corporations in the wind industry. The last extension alone is estimated to cost taxpayers more than $6 billion over the next 10 years. Second it is pro-consumer. Since wind is an unreliable source of energy, it is often more expensive than other sources of energy. Eliminating the PTC allows the market to decide when wind power makes sense for consumers and when it doesn’t.

The subsidy also kills jobs and stifles innovation. The PTC leads to net destruction of jobs by diverting capital away from projects that make the most financial sense, and because wind is a more expensive form of electricity. For example, one study of Spain’s green-energy subsidies found that for every green job created, 2.2 jobs were eliminated elsewhere.

Finally, the wind PTC is an essential component of the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory agenda, including the looming carbon rule. EPA regulations are projected to shutter 90 GW of reliable energy by 2020. The EPA is pursuing aggressive regulations of existing power plants that amount to a federal takeover of the electricity system. One of the goals of this regulation is to shift electricity from reliable, low-cost sources like coal toward renewable energy like wind. Without the wind PTC, mandating renewables is a much more difficult task, because the true cost of wind is not obscured by a large subsidy. Extending the wind PTC helps enable this federal takeover by the EPA.

As Warren Buffett once said, “On wind energy, we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them. They don’t make sense without the tax credit.” Extending the wind PTC further enriches wealthy wind developers at the expense of the American people. Supporting H.R. 1901, which is pro-consumer, pro-free-market and pro-taxpayer, would finally end this costly wind welfare.

Sincerely,

Thomas Pyle, American Energy Alliance
Mike Needham, Heritage Action for America
Brett Gardner, Americans for Prosperity
Grover Norquist, Americans for Tax Reform
Adam Brandon, FreedomWorks
Myron Ebell, Competitive Enterprise Institute
Phil Kerpen, American Commitment
Matthew Kendrach, 60 Plus Association
George Landrith, Frontiers of Freedom
David Williams, Taxpayers Protection Alliance
Sabrina Schaeffer, Independent Women’s Forum
Heather Higgins, Independent Women’s Voice
Judson Phillips, Tea Party Nation
Colin Hanna, Let Freedom Ring
Andrew Moylan, R Street
Marita Noon, Energy Makes America Great
Seton Motley, Less Government
Kristin Fecteau, Campaign to Free America
Horace Cooper, Project 21
Tom Brinkman, Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes

Obama: Iranian oil, good. Canadian oil, bad. American oil, bad.

Somewhat Reasonable - July 27, 2015, 2:40 PM

President Obama’s confusing approach to energy encourages our enemies who shout “death to America,” while penalizing our closest allies and even our own job creators.

Iran’s participation in the nuclear negotiations that have slogged on for months, have now, ultimately, netted a deal that will allow Iran to export its oil—which is the only reason they came to the table (they surely are not interested in burnishing Obama’s legacy). International sanctions have, since 2011, cut Iran’s oil exports in half and severely damaged its economy. Iran, it is estimated, currently has more than 50 million barrels of oil in storage on 28 tankers at sea—part of a months’ long build up.

It is widely reported that, due to aging infrastructure and saturated storage, it will take Iran months to bring its production back up to pre-sanction levels. The millions of barrels of oil parked offshore are indicative of their eagerness to increase exports. Once the sanctions are lifted—if Congress approves the terms of the deal, Iran wants to be ready to move its oil. In fact, even before the sanctions have been lifted, Iran is already moving some of its “floating storage.”

On July 17, the Financial Times (FT) reported: “The departure of a giant Iranian supertanker from the flotilla of vessels storing oil off the country’s coast has triggered speculation Tehran is moving to ramp up its crude exports.” The Starla, “a 2 million barrel vessel,” set sail—moving the oil closer to customers in Asia. In April, another tanker, Happiness, sailed from Iran to China, where, since June, it has parked off the port City of Dalian.

Starla is the first vessel storing crude offshore to sail after the nuclear deal was reached—which is, according to the FT: “signaling its looming return to the oil market.” Reuters calls its departure: “a milestone following a months-long build-up of idling crude tankers.” Analysts at Macquarie Capital, apparently think the oil on Starla will not be parked, waiting for sanctions to be lifted. A research note, states: Iran is “likely assuming that either a small increase in exports will not undermine the historic accord reached or that no one will notice.” We noticed.

Already, before sanctions are lifted, global oil prices are feeling the pressure of Iran’s increased exports. Since the deal’s been announced, crude prices have lost almost all of the recent gains.

While the Obama Administration’s actions are allowing Iran, which hates America, to boost its economy by increasing its oil exports, they are hurting our closest ally but putting delay after delay in front of the Keystone pipeline—which would help Canada export its oil.

After six-and-a-half years of kicking the can down the road, and despite widespread support and positive reports, the Keystone pipeline is no closer to construction than it was on the day the application was submitted. It is obvious President Obama doesn’t like the project, which will create tens of thousands of jobs, according to his own State Department. Back in February, he vetoed the bill Congress sent him that would have authorized construction, saying that it circumvented “longstanding and proven processes for determining whether or not building and operating a cross-border pipeline serves the national interest.” At the time, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said: “Congress won’t stop pursuing good ideas, including this one.” But he was not able to gather enough votes to override the veto and, since then, we’ve heard nothing about the Keystone pipeline. In Washington, DC, silence on an important issue like Keystone isn’t always golden.

There is no pending legislation on Keystone, but the permit application has still not been approved or rejected. I had hoped that the unions, who want the jobs Keystone would provide, would be able to pressure enough Democrats to support the project, to push a bill over the veto-proof line. But that didn’t happen. For months, Keystone has been silently dangling. But that may be about to change.

Reliable sources tell me that Obama is prepared to, finally, announce his decision on Keystone. According to the well-sourced, and verified, rumor, he is going to say: “No”—probably just before or after the Labor Day holiday. He’ll conclude that it is not in the “national interest.” So helping our ally grow its economy and export its oil is not in our national interest but helping our sworn enemy do the same, is? It’s like the “Channeling Jeff Foxworthy” parody states: we just “might live in a country founded by geniuses and run by idiots.”

Speaking of economic growth and oil exports, what about here at home, in the good old U.S. of A.? Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) questions the deal that allows Iran to export its oil, while we cannot: “As Congress begins its 60-day review of President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical about whether it is in our nation’s—and the world’s—best interests. Not least among them are the underexplored, but potentially significant consequences the deal will hold for American energy producers.”

Most people don’t realize that the U.S. is, as Murkowski says in her op-ed, “the only advanced nation that generally prohibits oil exports.” Due to decades-old policy, born in a different energy era, American oil producers are prohibited from exporting crude oil because it was perceived to be in “short supply.” (Note: refined petroleum product, such as gasoline and diesel, can be exported and is our number one export. We are also about ready to ship our major first tanker full of natural gas headed for Europe.) Today, when it comes to crude oil, our cup runneth over. The U.S. is now the world’s largest producer or oil and gas. Rather than short supply, we have an over-supply—so much so that American crude oil (WTI) is sold at a discount over the global market (Brent). This disadvantages U.S. producers but doesn’t benefit consumers because gasoline is sold based on the higher-priced Brent.

Murkowski argues that it is time to lift the 40-year-old oil export ban. She’s introduced bipartisan legislation that would do just that, but, if he was so inclined, President Obama could reverse the policy himself—if he found it to be in the national interest. And how could it not be?

Allowing U.S. crude oil into the world market enhances global energy security, as it would be less impacted by tensions in the Middle East. Our allies in Europe and Asia would have access to supply from a friendly and reliable source—remember the Arab Oil Embargo crippled Japan’s economy because it had no domestic supply and was overly reliant on Arab sources. Lifting the oil export ban would allow U.S. crude to be sold at the true market price, not the discounted rate, which would help stem the job losses currently being felt throughout the oil patch due to the low price of oil and exacerbated by the drop in the price of crude triggered by the Iran deal.

So, the Obama Administration is lobbying Congress to lift the sanctions on Iran, a country that views America as The Great Satan. Lifting sanctions would allow Iran to resume full oil export capabilities and boost its economy—while refusing to give our allies and our own country the same benefit. Iranian oil will enter the world market, while Canadian and American oil is constrained. How is that in the “national interest?”

It appears we might just be living in a country founded by geniuses and run by idiots.

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column.

 

Categories: On the Blog

McConnell’s highway bill robbery

Out of the Storm News - July 27, 2015, 2:14 PM

Before I start into the GOP-on-GOP war that took place last night while I was zoning out watching a David Crosby-lookalike save puppies on Animal Planet, I want to say that I am, for starters, whole-heartedly opposed to the feel-good, get-it-off-our-plate legislative approach some of our elected officials occasionally take with hot-button issues. Last night, in a haste to get something on the record, Republican senators attached a doomed-to-fail amendment to “defund” Planned Parenthood to the same highway bill I’m about to discuss, claiming that they were “working hard” to put an end to baby-parts trafficking in this honorable country.

They weren’t. They were, as one friend termed it, engaging in “failure theater,” the practice of doing something, doomed to fail, just so they can claim to have done something about it. See also: shutting down the government over Obamacare. This happened last night, it got a bunch of people riled up, and all it did was boost a lagging presidential candidate’s poll numbers briefly in an early caucus state.

But I digress. The sin of “failure theater” is nowhere near the high crimes committed in the name of the Export-Import Bank last night. It started Friday, with a spat between Ted Cruz and Mitch McConnell on the Senate floor, after the former discovered that the latter had shut down all of the conservative amendments (including yet another Quixotic repeal of Obamacare and, ultimately, Cruz’s amendment forcing Iran to recognize Israel as part of their weapons deal) to the bill so that the latter’s Ex-Im extension (corporate welfare, how quaint!) could sail through a Senate vote without trouble, likely pursuant to a secret deal. After all, Boeing simply cannot live without those millions in taxpayer funds.

Last night, Ted Cruz asked for a roll call vote on his amendment. Denied.

Then, Mike Lee asked for a roll call vote on his (Obamacare) amendment. Denied.

Then, they were asked to approve a roll call vote on defunding Planned Parenthood. Denied.

Why? So that Mitch McConnell could prevent Democrats from filibustering the highway bill with the contentious amendments attached, just so that he could get his temporary Ex-Im reauthorization passed without delay. And that’s exactly what happened.

Lawmakers are pushing forward on must-pass highway legislation after an amendment reviving the federal Export-Import Bank provoked a heated clash on the Senate floor.

The amendment advanced over a procedural hurdle by a vote of 67-26 in an unusual Sunday session, and was likely to win approval Monday to be included on the highway bill. But that was only after senior Senate Republicans publicly rebuked Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz, who last week accused Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of lying to him about whether there was a deal to allow the vote on the Export-Import Bank.

Conservatives strongly oppose the bank, calling it corporate welfare, and are trying to ensure that it stays dead after congressional inaction allowed it to expire June 30.

Three of the Senate’s highest-ranking Republicans rose after the Senate convened Sunday afternoon to counter the stunning floor speech Cruz gave on Friday in which he attacked McConnell, R-Ky.

Like I said before, sure, the Obamacare thing, the Planned Parenthood thing, even the Iran thing – they were never going to pass. They were all ploys, on the part of public-relations seekers looking to get a temporary rise out of an electorate that has mostly forgotten they exist, because Donald Trump keeps opening his yap and monopolizing airtime. These plots allow them to go to their respective constituents, claim that the Mean Old Establishment Republicans were standing in the way of success, whilst they get away with not actually having to do anything meaningful in pursuit of their platforms. Obamacare won’t be repealed, Planned Parenthood won’t be defunded and Iran will recognize Israel when they use their newly manufactured nuclear weapons to turn it into a sea of green glass.

But that’s only the second most egregious crime that took place here. After all, all of those amendments would have easily passed the House, had they made it through a Senate filibuster, making Barack Obama responsible for vetoing the efforts. I suppose, also, in some way, it puts Democrats on record as supporting an organization now revealed to be chopping babies up into bits and selling those bits for scientific research, too, though I don’t think Democrats care that much about it.

The Republican leadership, which was, ostensibly, given a majority in a midterm election less than a year ago, is already wasting that “mandate” on corporate welfare and a literal highway boondoggle. They weren’t elected to bash other Republicans over the head in their haste to hand out checks to their financial backers. They were elected to actually do something. And even the “failure theater” of doomed amendments is something exactly opposite of and more than McConnell actually did. Do Americans really want a party that claims to be in favor of “limited government” and “tax reform” and “debt relief,” to be making reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank their crowning jewel?

Probably not.

Anyway, this bill is headed for the House, which also has its own highway bill that doesn’t intentionally fill corporate coffers, so I suppose we’re in for a battle royale. Stay tuned.

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