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Sen. Paul Introduces Amendments to Transportation-Housing and Urban Development Bill

July 24, 2013 in Politics & Elections

Sen. Rand Paul has introduced the following amendments to the Transportation-Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill, S.1243. The amendments include redirecting current U.S. aid to Egypt to domestic infrastructure projects, repealing Davis-Bacon, establishing an Emergency Transportation Safety Fund, and other cost-saving initiatives.
‘It is no secret that our nation’s roads and bridges are crumbling at an increasing rate, many of which are in critical stages of disrepair. Instead of sending taxpayer money to countries that are ineligible to receive our aid, like Egypt, we should be directing that money to these pressing domestic needs. There are ways to fix our infrastructure needs without increasing our national debt or raising taxes, and my amendments to the T-HUD bill do just that,’ Sen. Paul said.
Below is a list of Sen. Paul’s amendments with summaries.

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Cost-Cutting Board Ready to Veto Your Doctor

July 24, 2013 in Economics

By Nat Hentoff

Nat Hentoff

A major section of Obamacare that requires employers to provide health insurance for their employees or pay a fine has been postponed until 2015, resulting in much confusion and controversy around the nation. But little attention has been paid to the president’s most threatening weapon for cutting health care costs: the Independent Payment Advisory Board. It still remains, causing the administration fury when it’s called a “death panel.”

As David B. Rivkin Jr., an alumnus of the Justice Department under presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and Elizabeth Foley, a professor of constitutional law at Florida International University, document in The Wall Street Journal: The cost-cutting IPAB “threatens both the Medicare program and the Constitution’s separation of powers” (“An ObamaCare Board Answerable to No One, Rivkin and Foley, The Wall Street Journal, June 20).

Under the ever-imperious Barack Obama, of course, these constitutional somersaults are not unusual.

The IPAB is, according to the authors, “directed to ‘develop detailed and specific proposals related to the Medicare program,’ including proposals cutting Medicare spending below a statutorily prescribed level.”

For instance, as I’ve pointed out, whatever Medicare-paid prescriptions your physician has authorized for your benefit can be vetoed by the IPAB (whose members have never examined you) if they cost too much.

Meanwhile, this 15-member board, which can remove you from the universe, “will control more than a half-trillion dollars of federal spending annually.”

Rivkin and Foley continue: “Once the board acts, its decisions can be overruled only by Congress, and only through unprecedented and constitutionally dubious legislative procedures — featuring restricted debate, short deadlines for actions by congressional committees … and super-majoritarian voting requirements.”

In this United States of Obama, “The law allows Congress to kill the otherwise inextirpable board only by a three-fifths super majority, and only by a vote that takes place in 2017 between Jan. 1 and Aug. 15.”

If this board “fails to implement cuts, all of its powers are to be exercised by (Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen) Sebelius or her successor.”

I don’t remember voting for her or him.

Rivkin and Foley say with fearful logic: “At a time when many Americans have been unsettled by abuses at the Internal Revenue Service and Justice Department, the introduction of a powerful and largely unaccountable board into health care merits special scrutiny.”

It sure does. What will members of Congress do about this next outrage by Obama? What will the 2016 presidential candidates say about it?

There’s …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Sens. Paul, McConnell, Alexander, Lee and Scott to Host ‘Success for Our Children: A Forum on School Choice’

July 24, 2013 in Politics & Elections

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On TUESDAY, July 30, Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.), Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Mike Lee (Utah), and Tim Scott (S.C.) will host a school choice forum that will include three panels composed of parents and students from Washington, D.C.’s top performing charter and private schools, as well as representatives from D.C. Prep, Kipp D.C., Washington Latin, the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, Alliance for School Choice and the D.C. Charter School Board.
‘The purpose of this event is to begin a new conversation about advancing education by encouraging the ideals of school choice,’ Sen. Paul said. ‘Parents should have a role and a voice when it comes to their child’s education. America’s education system is currently ranked No. 17 in the world and the ‘Success for Our Children’ forum will focus on raising standards, adding competition and strengthening our nation’s education system – a system that is broken. By nurturing the ideals of choice and individual freedom, we can find education solutions that direct our children toward success. I hope this forum will begin the process of finding a solution.’

…read more

Source: RAND PAUL

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Democrats and Economic Alchemy

July 24, 2013 in Economics

By Michael D. Tanner

Michael D. Tanner

There was a time when people believed in magic. Say the right words and one could turn lead into gold; the laws of the natural world did not matter.

Today, too many politicians operate as if they have discovered special powers that allow them to rise above other laws — such as those of economics. All they need to do is to invoke the proper spell or incantation and the outcome they want will come to pass.

Take, for example, the Washington, D.C., city council. They recently became the latest group of politicians to decide that many workers were not being paid enough. They might have tried to fix the city’s high taxes and anti-business regulations, the kind of reforms needed to bring better-paying jobs to the city. Instead, they simply spoke the magic words and declared that, henceforth, big-box stores, such as Walmart or Home Depot, would pay their workers $12.50 per hour.

Politicians can’t make things happen just because they want them to, any more than the alchemists of old could transmute lead into gold.”

But here’s where the laws of economics come in: The amount of compensation a worker receives is more or less a function of his or her productivity. Walmart is not going to pay workers $12.50 per hour unless those workers provide roughly $12.50 worth of productivity. As Greg Mankiw notes, “Economic theory says that the wage a worker earns, measured in units of output, equals the amount of output the worker can produce.” This oversimplifies, of course. There are other factors involved. But one can’t just arbitrarily declare a worker’s value.

So, it should come as no surprise that Walmart has already announced that, if the law goes into effect (it faces a possible mayoral veto), the company will cancel plans to build three stores in the District and will explore the logistics of canceling the three others that are under construction. The net result will be a loss of at least 1,800 jobs.

In a similar way, reality trumps magic when President Obama declares that companies have to provide workers with health insurance. A worker’s compensation is not just wages but the full cost of employing that worker, including taxes, benefits, and health insurance. Obamacare’s employer mandate — now delayed but not canceled — simply increases the cost of employing workers.

It shouldn’t be a surprise, then, when employers are reluctant …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The Tea Party's Cynical Opposition to Immigration Reform

July 24, 2013 in Economics

By Jeffrey A. Miron

Jeffrey A. Miron

Last month, the Senate adopted immigration reform by a 68-32 vote, with 14 Republicans in favor. Prospects for reform are still grim, however, because Tea Party Republicans in the House are dead set against the bill’s “path to citizenship.” At a minimum, these members insist a path cannot occur without “enforceable” triggers that confirm the effectiveness of the bill’s new border security measures.

The Senate’s bill has real flaws — insufficient legal immigration, and grotesque over-complexity — but the Tea Party’s objections are misguided and cynical.

Tea Partiers claim that a path to citizenship is wrong because it rewards people who have broken the rules to immigrate. This perspective has a grain of truth. Other things equal, policy should promote respect for the law and avoid rewarding those who break it. In this instance, however, other factors are more important.

The Senate’s bill has real flaws, but the Tea Party’s objections are misguided and cynical.”

Undocumented immigrants have, in most cases, been law-abiding productive residents of the United States for years or decades. Their “crime” of entering illegally is unfortunate, but it is hardly the whole story. Many immigrants endured severe hardship to migrate; they came to build a better life for themselves and their children. Indeed, those who take these risks are often more energetic, entrepreneurial, hard-working, and sympathetic to America’s values than those who did not come. These are exactly the people America should welcome.

The costs and disruption of deporting even a fraction of existing undocumented immigrants would be unimaginable. So the relevant choice is not between the status quo and an imaginary world in which undocumented immigrants disappear; it is between the status quo and a path of some kind. Under the status quo, however, some 11 million people live outside the law and often outside society’s social fabric. How does that promote the rule of law, or assimilation, or any sensible goal?

Beyond these considerations, Tea Party opposition to a path has the distinct air of self-interest; these politicians fear that new immigrants-turned-citizens will vote for Democrats. That fear is reasonable (especially if the Republican Party continues to treat immigrants with disdain), and it is one reason liberals support a path. But political implications should be irrelevant to choosing the right policy.

The Tea Party position on enhanced border security is even more problematic.

The Senate bill calls for 20,000 more border guards, 350 miles …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Is This What 'Amnesty' Looks Like?

July 24, 2013 in Economics

Many opponents of immigration reform have labeled any type of legalization for unauthorized immigrants “amnesty.”  In common terminology, an amnesty is a general forgiveness for past offenses. Calling immigration reform amnesty brands it with a scarlet letter in the minds of many who are skeptical of reform. A new Cato video explains just some of the many steps an unauthorized immigrant will have to go through to become legalized if the Senate’s immigration reform becomes law.

…read more

Source: CATO HEADLINES

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Behind the Times’ ObamaCare 'News'

July 24, 2013 in Economics

By Michael D. Tanner

Michael D. Tanner

Let’s hold off on the celebration for a little while.

The Obama administration has been quick to seize on a report last week in The New York Times that the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as ObamaCare, will reduce premiums for individually purchased insurance in New York from $1,000 per month to just $300, a phenomenal 70 percent reduction. ObamaCare is a success! Happy days are here again.

Or not.

Start with that $1,000 monthly premium for a single individual buying insurance in the individual market. The Times implies that this is a typical New York City premium, but never fully explains how it calculated that number. In fact, this appears to represent a high-end estimate for residents of Manhattan — the highest-cost area of the state. Notably, the Times apparently excludes policies offered through Healthy NY — partly subsidized plans that run as little as $260 per month for New Yorkers with family incomes below $58, 875 (for a family of four).

ObamaCare essentially bails New York out by mandating that young healthy people buy insurance no matter how bad a deal it is for them.”

Upstate and in the suburbs, any savings will be far less. In fact, some estimates suggest that people living in the city’s suburbs could see premium increases. So we may be seeing less of a premium cut than a premium shift, with people living in the suburbs paying more to decrease the premiums of their city-dwelling brethren.

Note, too, that New York premiums were already so high — so even the reductions the Times cites would leave premiums in the state still some of the highest in the nation.

The bigger issue, though, is that state lawmakers already pretty well destroyed the individual insurance market in New York: It’s now so tiny as to be almost nonexistent, with fewer than 18,000 enrolled. Most New Yorkers will still get their health insurance through work, and so are unlikely to see significant savings, and could even see increases. All in all, there is a lot less here than meets the eye.

It’s important to understand why some New Yorkers are likely to see lower premiums.

Many of the provisions that are likely to increase premiums for much of the rest of the country are already law in New York. As far back as 1992, the state imposed “community rating,” prohibiting insurers from charging different premiums based on age or health — …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The Arab Spring Needs Economic Freedom

July 24, 2013 in Economics

By Dalibor Rohac

Dalibor Rohac

For most Egyptians, the revolution that overthrew Hosni Mubarak was driven as much by poverty and lack of economic opportunity as it was by anger over unaccountable and authoritarian government. Unfortunately, the country’s newly elected government under President Mohamed Morsi failed to tackle wasteful spending, over regulation, or the omnipresent grabbing hand of the government. In the months leading up to the recent military coup, the country had its lowest growth rates in two decades, rising unemployment, and a soaring budget deficit.

Strangely enough, among politicians and Middle East experts, economic issues seem to be on the back burner, overshadowed by concerns about the region’s political future. In Cairo and in Washington, most of the attention is devoted to the arcane power struggles, loyalties, and ideologies animating Arab political life. Maybe it is time to accept that it will probably take years until standard, Western-style democratic institutions emerge in Arab countries. In the meantime, however, radical economic reforms could go a long way in improving the lives of ordinary Arabs — and laying the groundwork for political stability.

The Middle East won’t have democracy soon, but economic liberalization can help.”

After sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East is the most rapidly growing region in the world. Although fertility rates are now falling, the number of young people entering the labor markets in Arab countries is rising rapidly and will continue to grow for at least another decade. Unless they’re able to find jobs, start businesses, and provide for their families, the Middle East will have to brace for a prolonged period of unrest.

Youth unemployment throughout the region consistently tops 20 percent — and many more young people are outside of the labor force, not captured by unemployment statistics. In the region, contrary to conventional wisdom, education often makes the problem worse. In Morocco, for example, those with the highest level of educational achievement face an unemployment rate of 19.4 percent, compared with only 4 percent for individuals with no degrees.

The lack of economic freedom is the single most important factor limiting job creation and economic growth in the region. According to the World Bank, to register a claim on a piece of real estate in Algeria it takes ten procedures, 63 days, and 7.1 percent of the value of the property. It takes 29 payments and 451 hours to prepare, file, and pay Algerian corporate income tax — which imposes an average …read more

Source: OP-EDS