Friday, January 30, 2015

Paul: Congress shouldn’t reauthorize PATRIOT Act

It will not shock readers to hear that quite often, legislation on Capitol Hill is not as advertised. When Congress wants to do something particularly objectionable, they tend give it a fine-sounding name.

The PATRIOT Act is perhaps the best-known example. The legislation had been drafted well before the 9-11 terrorist attacks on the United States. but was going nowhere. The 9-11 attacks gave it a new lease on life. Politicians exploited the surge in patriotism following the attack to reintroduce the bill and call it the PATRIOT Act. To oppose it at that time was, by design, to seem unpatriotic.

At the time, 62 Democrats voted against the legislation. On the Republican side there were only three “no” votes: former Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, former Rep. Butch Otter, R-Idaho, and myself.

The abuses of the Constitution in the PATRIOT Act do not need to be fully recounted here, but Presidents Bush and Obama both claimed authority based on it to gut the Fourth Amendment. The PATRIOT Act ushered in the era of warrantless wiretapping, monitoring of our Internet behavior, watering down of probable cause, and much more. After the revelations by whistleblower Edward Snowden, we know how the National Security Agency viewed constitutional restraints on surveillance of the American people during the PATRIOT Act period.

After several reauthorizations of the PATRIOT Act, including some cosmetic reforms, Congress last October unveiled the USA FREEDOM Act. This was advertised as the first wholesale PATRIOT Act reform bill. In fact, the House version was watered down to the point of meaninglessness and the Senate version was not much better. The final straw was the bill’s extension of key elements of the PATRIOT Act until 2017.

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Obamacare program costs $50,000 in taxpayer money for every American who gets health insurance, says bombshell budget report

It will cost the federal government – taxpayers, that is – $50,000 for every person who gets health insurance under the Obamacare law, the Congressional Budget Office revealed on Monday.

The number comes from figures buried in a 15-page section of the nonpartisan organization’s new ten-year budget outlook.

The best-case scenario described by the CBO would result in ‘between 24 million and 27 million’ fewer Americans being uninsured in 2025, compared to the year before the Affordable Care Act took effect.

Pulling that off will cost Uncle Sam about $1.35 trillion – or $50,000 per head.

The numbers are daunting: It will take $1.993 trillion, a number that looks like $1,993,000,000,000, to provide insurance subsidies to poor and middle-class Americans, and to pay for a massive expansion of Medicaid and CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) costs.

Offsetting that massive outlay will be $643 billion in new taxes, penalties and fees related to the Obamacare law.

That revenue includes quickly escalating penalties – or ‘taxes,’ as the U.S. Supreme Court described them – on people who resist Washington’s command to buy medical insurance.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

NJ Teens Offering Shoveling Services Stopped By Cops Due To Town Ordinance

Two high schoolers who say they were just trying to make some money are now in hot water.

As WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported, Matt Molinari and his friend, both seniors from Bridgewater, were going door-to-door advertising their snow shoveling services in advance of the storm.

“We weren’t looking to break the law. We just didn’t know the law,” Molinari said.

But when the two crossed into Bound Brook, they were stopped by cops.

“Kind of saw like a spotlight, like a police spotlight,” he said.

Police were alerted after someone called to report a suspicious person.

Molinari said they then got a lesson in local ordinances, putting their high school shoveling business on ice.

“‘They need a permit, unpermitted solicitation is not allowed,’” Molinari said, recalling what the police told them.

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CBO Now Says 10 Mil Will Lose Employer Health Plans Under ObamaCare

The Congressional Budget Office now says ObamaCare will push 10 million off employer-based coverage, a tenfold increase from its initial projection…

The latest CBO report is supposed to be a big win for the Obama administration because the projected costs are 20% below what the CBO first projected in 2010.

But the CBO report also shows that ObamaCare will be far more disruptive to the employer-based insurance market, while being far less effective at cutting the ranks of the uninsured, than promised.

Thanks to ObamaCare, the CBO now expects that 10 million workers will lose their employer-based coverage by 2021.

This finding stands in sharp contrast to earlier CBO projections, which at one point suggested ObamaCare would increase the number of people getting coverage through work, at least in its early years.

The budget office has, in fact, increased the number it says will lose workplace coverage every year since 2011.

ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber, for example, said the law was specifically designed “to leave those who are happy with their employer-sponsored insurance alone.”

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

People Have More Money? Let’s Tax It!

As highlighted by David Henderson and Peter Boettke, markets and competition are like weeds, not delicate flowers. Economies recover even from severe boom-bust episodes and despite growth-retarding regime uncertainty. Even burdensome regulation, per Pierre Lemieux, causes a “slow-motion collapse” or stagnation, not a crash. But one thing can be counted on, as innovation or recovery begin to deliver additional spending power to the productive class of the economy, the “unmet needs” crowd will just as quickly be out clamoring for a heightened government share of the ‘bounty’ for some imagined greater public good.

A recent example; an editorial, “Capitalize on low fuel prices by raising Colorado gas tax,” in the Denver Post emphasized that the currently low and expected-to-remain-low gasoline prices presents an excellent opportunity to painlessly raise the gasoline tax, if not at the Federal level — due to resistance of some to raise taxes — then at the state level. Like many who support big government, an extra dollar in a potential taxpayer’s pocket is much better spent by the enlightened elite.

The Post’s argument, reminded me of my second favorite passage from classic libertarian literature, Lysander Spooner’s comparison of the taxman to the highwayman. I say second because if I said favorite someone would remind me of Franz Oppenheimer’s and Murray Rothbard’s distinction between the political means (plunder, predation) and the economic means (voluntary production and exchange), or Bastiat’s numerous contributions such as The Law, “The Candlemakers’ Petition,” or “What is seen and what is unseen.”

The Post’s proposal would, as Spooner argues, have the government ride beside you as you drive while extolling how much you benefit from this ‘partnership’ all the while the government continues to pick your pocket. You will hardly notice, we’re told. It’s only pennies on the dollar! Who could possibly object besides Walter Block?

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