You are browsing the archive for 2014 July 28.

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Video: Robert Murphy on Energy Policy

July 28, 2014 in Economics

By Mises Updates

Archived from the live broadcast, this Mises University lecture was presented at the Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama, on 24 July 2014.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Sen. Rand Paul Appears on Fox's Hannity with Eric Bolling (Part 2) – July 25, 2014

July 28, 2014 in Politics & Elections

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Source: RAND PAUL

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Sen. Rand Paul Appears on Fox's Hannity with Eric Bolling (Part 1) – July 25, 2014

July 28, 2014 in Politics & Elections

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Source: RAND PAUL

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WSJ: “What Really Drove the Children North”

July 28, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

Fuerza_del_Estado_Michoacán

On July 14, Mark Thornton’s Mises Daily article explored how Drug War violence in Central America was a major factor in creating the child refugee crisis on the southern US border. On July 20, The Wall Street Journal published “What Really Drove the Children North” which contended that “Our appetite for drugs caused the violence that made life unbearable in much of Central America.”

Those skeptical of this thesis claimed that the theory does not explain why the refugee crisis is a new issue. In typical nationalistic fashion, many right-wing commentators assumed that Central America has always been pretty much the same, and that it’s all their fault anyway. The WSJ article addresses such claims directly:

[Marine Corps. General John Kelly] has spent time studying the issue and is speaking up. Conservatives may not like his conclusions, in which the U.S. bears significant responsibility, but it is hard to accuse a four-star of a “blame America first” attitude.

To make the “Obama did it” hypothesis work, it is necessary to defeat the claim that the migrants are fleeing intolerable violence. This has given rise to the oft-repeated line that “those countries” have always been very violent.

That is patently untrue. Central America is significantly more dangerous than it was before it became a magnet for rich and powerful drug capos. Back in the early 1990s, drugs from South America flowed through the Caribbean to the U.S.

But when a U.S. interdiction strategy in the Caribbean raised costs, trafficking shifted to land routes up the Central American isthmus and through Mexico. With Mexican President Felipe Calderón’s war on the cartels, launched in 2007, the underworld gradually slithered toward the poorer, weaker neighboring countries. Venezuela, under Hugo Chávez, began facilitating the movement of cocaine from producing countries in the Andes to the U.S., also via Central America.

In a July 8 essay in the Military Times headlined “Central America Drug War a Dire Threat to U.S. National Security,” Gen. Kelly explains that he has spent 19 months “observing the transnational organized crime networks” in the region. His conclusion: “Drug cartels and associated street gang activity in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, which respectively have the world’s number one, four and five highest homicide rates, have left near-broken societies in their wake.” He notes that while he works on this problem throughout the region, these three countries, also known as the Northern Triangle, are “far and away the …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Tom Woods on the Four Things the State Is Not

July 28, 2014 in Economics

By Mises Updates

Archived from the live broadcast, this Mises University lecture was presented at the Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama, on 24 July 2014.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Keep Chopping Federal Spending

July 28, 2014 in Economics

By Chris Edwards

Chris Edwards

President Obama is not doing enough to rein in spending and deficits. He says the deficit has been cut in half since he came to office. But that is a cut from the giant 2009 figure of $1.4 trillion, which was so high partly because of his costly stimulus bill.

Today, the recession is long over, but the government will still run a $583 billion deficit this year, every dollar of which is an added burden on future taxpayers.

President Obama is not doing enough to rein in spending and deficits.”

It is true that federal spending has leveled out in recent years, which is good news. But Obama’s budget shows spending accelerating again and chronic deficits of about half a trillion dollars annually over the next decade. Spending is expected to soar 31% in just the next five years, from $3.6 trillion in 2014 to $4.7 trillion in 2019.

The president has no plans to balance the budget or work with Congress on entitlement reforms.

Contrast that with Democratic President Clinton, who worked with a Republican Congress to trim spending, guide the deficit down to zero and then run surpluses to reduce accumulated debt.

Today, the accumulated debt is twice as large relative to the size of the economy as it was when Clinton left office, and so cutting spending and deficits should be an even higher priority. Yet President Obama seems contented with the high-debt status quo.

That is a risky stance because unexpected events — such as a bad recession or a war — could cause deficits and the debt to spike higher, leading to a financial and economic crisis.

Official budget projections are too rosy because they do not include such negative shocks. Nor do they include new spending, and there is always plenty of that in Washington, such as current legislation to deal with the border and veterans health crises.

In our dangerous and uncertain world, the president should not be sitting on his hands while debt piles up and the entitlement programs are going broke.

He should be an active fiscal reformer, encouraging Congress to cut unneeded programs and working with legislators to steer a path toward budget balance.

Chris Edwards s director of tax policy and editor of DownsizingGovernment.org at the Cato Institute.

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Source: OP-EDS

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The Flip-Flopping Architect of the ACA

July 28, 2014 in Economics

By Michael F. Cannon

Michael F. Cannon

Last week, the D.C. Circuit ruled that the Obama administration has been implementing Obamacare illegally. Days later, a video featuring the law’s chief architect confirmed the court’s ruling and raised questions about whether administration officials knew they were breaking the law all along.

Jonathan Gruber is the MIT economist who helped congressional Democrats write the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2009. He has been sharply critical of Halbig v. Burwell, a lawsuit alleging the Obama administration is illegally subsidizing health insurance for 5 million Americans in the 36 states with exchanges established by the federal government. The PPACA offers those subsidies to only those who enroll through an exchange “established by the State.” (Disclosure: I helped lay the groundwork for Halbig and three similar lawsuits.)

Obamacare’s chief architect admits it withholds tax credits in uncooperative states.”

The administration’s supporters have called those lawsuits an “existential threat” to the PPACA. They’re right. Without those subsidies, exchange enrollees in two-thirds of the country would face the full cost of Obamacare coverage. The resulting backlash would force Congress to reopen the law.

The administration’s defenders responded to the Halbig case by insisting that Congress never intended to withhold subsidies from residents of states that did not establish exchanges. Like the Obama administration, Gruber told the D.C. Circuit that this idea is “implausible.” The D.C. Circuit disagreed when it ruled for the plaintiffs last Tuesday.

Gruber then became part of the story on Thursday when a video surfaced in which he espouses the very interpretation of the law he now publicly derides as “screwy,” “nutty” and “stupid.” In 2012, Gruber told an audience: “If you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits.”

The administration’s “implausibility” argument was itself always implausible. Even the 4th Circuit rejected it when it ruled in favor of the government (in King v. Burwellon the same day the D.C. Circuit ruled for the plaintiffs. The Gruber video demolishes that argument.

Gruber’s stature and role in writing the PPACA are critical here. One of the nation’s top health economists, he helped craft and implement a nearly identical law in Massachusetts. He was a paid adviser to the Obama administration in 2009 and 2010. The New York Times reports, “the White House lent him to Capitol Hill to help Congressional staff members draft the specifics of the legislation.”

Gruber was so heavily …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Conservatives Would Do Well to Resurrect Ronald Reagan's Middle East Policy

July 28, 2014 in Economics

By Gene Healy

Gene Healy

“What would Ronald Reagan do?”

That’s become the go-to inquiry for conservatives on nearly every public policy question, from the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 to corporate welfare in the Sooner State (visit the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs’ “Virtual Reagan Wall,” where you can “share your message about what Reagan would do to improve Oklahoma today”!).

When likely 2016 contenders Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Texas Gov. Rick Perry squared off for an op-ed duel on the Iraq crisis recently, it quickly degenerated into a rapid-fire “Reagan-off,” with Perry unleashing a hellstorm of Gipper references, roughly one per 100 words.

It’s not obvious that channelling a president who left office more than a quarter century ago is the best way for Republicans to craft sound policy for the 21st century Middle East. But if you think the Reagan legacy holds lessons for today, why not start with a question we can actually answer, like: “WDRD?” — that is, “what did Reagan do” in the region?

Reagan decided the wise policy was to keep U.S. forces over the horizon and our boots off the ground.”

The man had a record, after all — and when you look at that record, it’s obvious that most of today’s conservatives, Perry included, would hate Reagan’s Middle East policies.

Perry imagines a reincarnated Reagan who’d bring “moral and strategic clarity” to our Iraq policy. “Strategic clarity,” perhaps; “moral,” not so much.

Reagan’s approach to Iraq was ruthless realpolitik: his administration viewed Saddam Hussein as an essential counterweight to Iranian power and backed the dictator in his bloody eight-year war with Iran. Reagan officials took Iraq off the State Department’s list of terror-supporting states, reestablished diplomatic relations and shared intelligence that “proved vital to Iraq’s conduct of the war.”

In the broader Middle East, Reagan fought a naval quasi-war to keep Gulf shipping open and, in 1986, launched airstrikes on Libya designed to punish without inducing regime change. But after cutting and running from the disastrous peacekeeping deployment in Lebanon in 1984, Reagan decided the wiser policy was to keep U.S. forces over the horizon and our boots off the ground.

Nor did Reagan think uncritical support for Israel served U.S. interests. He pushed for weapons sales to Saudi Arabia despite Israel’s vehement opposition, insisting “it is not the business of other nations to make United States foreign policy,” and he backed a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights. As Haaretz’s Chemi Shalev <a target=_blank target="_blank" …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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When Money Mischief Goes Global

July 28, 2014 in Economics

By Richard W. Rahn

Richard W. Rahn

Do you want the Obama administration sharing all of your financial information with the Russian, Chinese and Saudi Arabian governments? You may be thinking, not even President Obama would go that far. Not so, read on.

This past week, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released its full proposal for a global standard for the automatic exchange of financial information. The rationale behind this despicable idea is to more effectively enable governments, such as that of France and the United States, to identify tax evaders. This might sound like a good idea until one realizes that every individual and business will be stripped of all of their financial privacy if this becomes the law of the land — and it is very close to being just that.

Under the OECD proposal, all of the information that financial institutions now report to the U.S. government to try to ensure income-tax compliance, including your account balances, interest, dividends, proceeds from the sale of financial assets — would be shared with foreign governments. This would apply not only for individuals, but also for both financial and nonfinancial businesses, plus trust funds and foundations. The United States and other governments will, of course, claim that your sensitive financial information will remain confidential — and that you can trust the governments.

After the recent Internal Revenue Service scandals — which recur every decade or so — why would anyone believe anything the IRS says? Remember, the IRS leaked information on some of Mitt Romney’s donors during the 2012 presidential campaign. It was blatantly illegal, and the IRS (i.e., you the taxpayer) paid a small fine, but no one went to jail. Many U.S. presidents have misused the IRS, starting at least as far back as Franklin Roosevelt, and the American people are always told “never again,” which is the beginning of the new lie.

It is bad enough when American officials leak or misuse sensitive financial information about U.S. citizens and businesses, but just think what is going to happen when all of those corrupt officials in foreign governments get ahold of it. Some will use the information for identity theft and to raid bank accounts, others for industrial espionage, some to identify potential kidnapping victims and some for political purposes. The potential list goes on and on. The U.S. Treasury Department says it will insist on strict confidentiality protections. (Lois Lerner, please call your office.) If you are a Ukrainian-American who donates to Ukrainian free-market and democratic causes, would …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Another DC Handgun Ban Ruled Unconstitutional

July 28, 2014 in Economics

The United States District Court for the District of Columbia on Saturday overturned the Washington, D.C., ban on carrying handguns outside the home, saying it was unconstitutional. Cato scholar Tom G. Palmer was a plaintiff in the case, Palmer v. District of Columbia, which reinforces the landmark 2008 decision, District of Columbia v. Heller. Says Palmer, “The idea that [D.C.] can simply ban the exercise of a fundamental and enumerated constitutional right is absurd.”

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Source: CATO HEADLINES