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Sen. Paul Introduces Amendment to Restrict Foreign Assistance to Egypt

March 22, 2013 in Politics & Elections

On Thursday, March 21, Sen. Paul introduced Amendment 378, to S.Con.Res.8, the Budget Resolution, which would enable Congress to block the transfer of further economic and military aid to Egypt until the President of the United States certifies that the President of Egypt has officially stated his intention to continue to abide by the Camp David Peace Accords.

Since 1984, the United States has provided more than $71 billion in sparsely conditioned military and economic assistance to Egypt. In addition to this, Secretary Kerry recently announced disbursement of $250 million in economic aid to Egypt. A second installment of $260 million will be granted to Egypt once the country commits to further reforms.

‘The Camp David Peace Accords serve as an important symbolic and strategic international alliance. My amendment requires the U.S. government to ask Egypt one simple question – is the country willing to abide by its cornerstone agreement with the United States, and the entire Middle East? If the answer is no, then Egypt should not only be deemed unworthy of our billions in foreign assistance; it should give us cause to reconsider the Morsi government’s intentions for the peace and stability of the entire region,’ Sen. Paul said.

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Source: RAND PAUL

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Sen. Paul Introduces Amendment to Discontinue Pay for Union Business on Government Time

March 22, 2013 in Politics & Elections

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Thursday, March 21, Sen. Paul introduced Amendment 509 to S.Con.Res.8, the Budget Resolution, which calls for the reduction of federal spending by ending the reimbursement of Federal employees for conducting union business while on taxpayer time. Currently, Title V of the U.S.C. Chapter 71 allows federal employees to use official time for union activities.
According to a survey conducted by the Office of Personnel Management, 3 million official time hours were used in collective bargaining or arbitration of grievances against an employee in FY2010. In FY2011, federal employees spent about 3.4 million hours conducting union business while on duty. This is a growth of almost 11 percent and this number has only been increasing over time. Also, in FY2011 the American taxpayers spent $155 million dollars for federal employee salary and benefits alone.
‘Overall, federal employees are paid more than the private sector, and with great benefits. But federal employees are supposed to be public servants, not the other way around,’ Sen. Paul said. ‘These special interests should be conducted during free time, and not on the taxpayer’s dime.’
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Source: RAND PAUL

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What to Watch this Weekend

March 22, 2013 in Economics

By Mises Updates

AERC lectures on the Mises YouTube channel. Available so far: Robert Wenzel on the collapse of the Soviet Union and Gary North on “How Come We’re So Rich?”

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Sen. Paul Introduces Amendment to Privatize the Transportation Security Administration

March 22, 2013 in Politics & Elections

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Thursday, March 21, Sen. Paul introduced Amendment 377 to S.Con.Res.8, the Budget Resolution, which would create a deficit-neutral reserve fund to reform aviation security, including the privatization of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
This amendment also precludes the use of new revenues in establishing a reserve fund for aviation security reform, an affirmation that the American people should not be asked to pay more for an improved, less intrusive airport screening process. Ultimately, it should be the responsibility of Congress to reform airport screening and reduce costs to the government.
‘While providing sufficient security is undoubtedly important, it must be our priority to ensure that the airport screening process does not violate a traveler’s basic rights, and that restraints are in place to protect travelers from government heavy-handedness as they move through an airport,’ Sen. Paul said. ‘TSA costs $1.2 billion per year, while doing very little to keep us safe. Privatizing airport security would ensure safer, more efficient and less costly way for the American people to travel. ‘
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Source: RAND PAUL

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Now We Know

March 22, 2013 in Politics & Elections

Campaign for Liberty

Dear WIlliam Gary,

Today, the Senate voted to support Internet sales taxes.  Since Reid’s budget will not be voted on in the House, Americans are safe from their plans… for now.

The proponents of the so-called “Marketplace Fairness Act” (S. 336) think this vote brings them one step closer to ramming their bill down our throats.

But the truth is they have strengthened our hand.

Now we know who our friends are…

And, more importantly, who our enemies are in the Senate on this issue.

Be sure to check www.CampaignForLiberty.org this weekend to find out where your senators stood.

We can – AND WILL – turn up the heat!

In fact, Campaign for Liberty members have already thrown a wrench into the statists’ carefully laid plans.

Last week, big corporate interests, high-paid DC lobbyists, and statist governors believed their agenda had the votes locked up and would breeze through the Senate.

Wanting to rush their amendment to the floor early in the week, they thought an early vote would guarantee passage with an overwhelming majority of senators.

In theory, this would enable them to convince Harry Reid to fast-track the misnamed “Marketplace Fairness Act.”

They would then try to convince House Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor – both of whom have repeatedly betrayed the limited government cause this year – to pass the bill through their chamber.

But here’s what they didn’t count on: Campaign for Liberty members like you, who deluged the Senate with emails, calls, and faxes.

As senators heard from hundreds of thousands of Americans opposing this scheme, more of them began to shy away from the National Internet Tax Mandate.

The pressure from folks fed up with D.C.’s tax-and-spend status quo was so great that the vote on the amendment was delayed to give special interests more time to browbeat Senators into compliance.

Now, even though they won the vote today, WE have the MOMENTUM!

In fact, they’ve given us a gift.

The Senate is now on record in the 113th Congress, and we’ll continue to:

  • Pressure those who voted for this amendment to reverse their position – and make their vote known to their constituents;
  • Ensure those who opposed it stand firm;
  • And make sure Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor don’t once again cave into D.C.’s tax-and-spend caucus.

Over the next few months, C4L will turn up the pressure with hard-hitting mailings, op-eds, and ads designed to send one simple message: DO NOT pass the National Internet Tax Mandate.

But such an intensive program won’t be cheap.

Can I count on you to help make this effort possible with a contribution of just $15, $20, or more today?

If passed, the National Internet Tax Mandate will:

  • Raise prices on everything you buy online;
  • Essentially provide big-spending governors with new bailout money through the federal government imposing more taxes on their citizens.  Virginia’s “Tax Hike Bob McDonnell” is even counting on it to help fund his transportation boondoggle;
  • Violate the principle of “No Taxation Without Representation” by allowing state legislatures to raise taxes and leave small, out-of-state businesses with little, if any, recourse against those tax hikes;
  • Allow tax collectors in one state to pursue retailers across state lines.

The massive cost of compliance with the National Internet Tax Mandate could drive many smaller Internet companies out of business, while others may never even be created.

Meanwhile, the incentive to raise sales taxes will lead to an explosion of already out-of-control state budgets.

Growing government while shrinking the most dynamic sector of the economy is a recipe for economic stagnation.

This is just one reason why Campaign for Liberty will continue to fight against this scheme and any other assault on the Internet, and any financial support you can give today will be crucial to our success.

In Liberty,

Tim Shoemaker
Director of Legislation

P.S. The statists and special interests behind the National Internet Tax Mandate think they won a victory today.  But in reality, they’ve allowed us to see exactly which senators think you don’t pay enough taxes.

Thanks to the efforts of C4L members like you, we slowed their plans and chipped away at their support.

Now that the Senate is on record, you and I must turn up the heat on the House and Senate to make sure we stop the National Internet Tax Mandate from passing this Congress.

Please help C4L run an ambitious and thorough action program by donating just $15, $20, or whatever you can give today.

C4L website   Share this on social media   Forward this email to a friend   C4L on Facebook   C4L on Twitter

Because of Campaign For Liberty’s tax-exempt status under IRC Sec. 501(C)(4) and its state and federal legislative activities, contributions are not tax deductible as charitable contributions (IRC § 170) or as business deductions (IRC § 162(e)(1)).

www.CampaignForLiberty.org

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Sen. Paul Introduces Amendment to Restrict Government Domestic Drone Surveillance

March 22, 2013 in Politics & Elections

WASHINGTON, D.C – On Thursday, March 21, Sen. Rand Paul introduced an amendment, to S.Con.Res.8, the Budget Resolution, which would create a deficit-neutral fund to restrict the government’s ability to use drones to conduct surveillance within the United States. The amendment would specifically require all law enforcement agencies to obtain a warrant before using a drone in a law enforcement or evidence collection capacity, excluding the surveillance needed for border security.
‘The use of drone surveillance may work on the battlefields over-seas, but it isn’t necessarily well-suited for unrestrained use on the streets in the United States. Congress should be vigilant in providing oversight to the use of this technology and protection for rights of the American people. I will continue the fight to protect and uphold our Fourth Amendment.’ Sen. Rand Paul said.
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Source: RAND PAUL

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Little Island, Big Problem

March 22, 2013 in Economics

By Steve H. Hanke

Steve H. Hanke

Who’s going to bail out Cyprus: Brussels or Moscow? That’s the multibillion-dollar question. In mid-March, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund proposed a rescue package for the tiny island—to the tune of roughly $20.5 billion. But this bailout proposal was different: $13 billion in aid being offered was conditional upon Cyprus raising the remaining $7.5 billion through a hefty one-time tax on its bank depositors. Not surprisingly, the Cypriots, among others, were not pleased with this idea. And on March 19, to Brussels’s surprise, the Cypriot Parliament overwhelmingly rejected the bailout package. Officials are now scrambling to arrive at a solution before March 26, when Cypriot banks are scheduled to reopen.

To some, the Cyprus crisis may seem like much ado about nothing—surely a tiny country of under a million people couldn’t possibly destabilize an institution as large and established as the European Union, right?

Wrong. For starters, Cyprus’s banking system is actually quite large—more than eight times larger than the Cypriot economy itself. What’s more, if Cyprus does end up partially financing a bailout using depositors’ money, it would set a dangerous precedent and could shatter confidence in an already-fragile European banking system. And if Cyprus’s banks do go bust, it would send shock waves through the markets.

The financial crisis in Cyprus has global ramifications.”

Still, questions linger: why is this crisis happening now? And why did the EU prescribe such a bitter pill for the Cypriot depositors? If we look at who those depositors actually are, a clearer picture begins to emerge. The first thing to note is that European depositors’ money began to flow out of Cyprus’s banks back in 2010, and by now, most European depositors have already left. For European leaders, it was much easier to impose a tax on depositors once their constituents had pulled their money out of the country.

European leaders also waited until someone else showed up to pick up part of the tab for the bailout. It turns out that Russian depositors have been pouring money into Cypriot banks, taking advantage of Cyprus’s lenient money-laundering laws, among other things. Indeed, Russian deposits have more than doubled since the summer of 2010, reaching over $30 billion at the end of last year. But perhaps as much as another $30 billion of the so-called Cypriot deposits are also actually Russian. How can this be? Well, many …read more
Source: OP-EDS

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Fixing Egypt's Subsidy Nightmare

March 22, 2013 in Economics

By Dalibor Rohac

Dalibor Rohac

With gas at $1.73 a gallon, no wonder Cairo’s traffic is a nightmare. And with bread at less than a cent apiece, it’s no surprise that the city’s sidewalks are lined with discarded pitas. By using subsidies, governments in the Middle East and North Africa ensure that everyone, including the poorest, have access to basic consumer goods at an affordable price. But energy and commodity subsidies are becoming an increasingly heavy drain on public resources, while bringing only very small benefits to those in need.

In Egypt, the middle classes, the well-off and big business are the biggest beneficiaries of the subsidy system. A typical better-off Egyptian receives roughly twice the amount in subsidies as a genuinely poor one. At the same time, subsidies to fuels and food account for almost one-third of the total government budget, or over 10 percent of the country’s GDP. Thus the subsidy issue is the key to solving Egypt’s public-finance problems.

Yet reform is a daunting task. For Egyptians, subsidized commodities are an essential part of the perceived social contract between the citizens and the state. Egyptians have traditionally had little say in public affairs and could never expect much from their government (other than taxes, onerous bureaucracy and a constant hassle). When President Sadat attempted to cut bread subsidies in 1977, violent nationwide riots ensued. The same thing happened thirty years later, following a hike in food prices in 2008.

Making subsidy reforms popular will require compensating the losers—not only the poorest segments of the population.”

So far, attempts to address the subsidy problem have been shambolic. In October 2012, Prime Minister Hisham Kandil announced that the government was planning a gradual reform of energy subsidies. The proposal suggests setting a cap on how much cheap fuel and cooking gas each household can purchase, with each Egyptian household to have access to only two cylinders of fully subsidized butane (used for cooking); further consumption would be subsidized only partially to discourage pervasive leakage to the black market.

The proposed reform helps address one of the problems: subsidized commodities are available to everyone, regardless of their income or wealth. Wealthier Egyptians buy more cooking gas, gasoline or electricity than poorer ones. Thus the bulk of the spending on subsidies ends up benefiting the rich.

At the same time, a cap on purchases won’t solve the deeper problem with subsidies. As anyone who has …read more
Source: OP-EDS