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Tuesday: Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) to Introduce Historic Medical Marijuana Legislation

March 9, 2015 in PERSONAL LIBERTY

By drosenfeld

First-Ever Bill in U.S. Senate To Legalize Marijuana for Medical Use

Tuesday: Senate Press Conference @12:30 pm and Drug Policy Alliance Teleconference @ 3 pm Will Reveal Details

Washington, D.C. – On Tuesday, March 10, at 12:30pm EST, Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) will host a press conference to announce sweeping bipartisan legislation that will end federal prohibition of medical marijuana, and allow patients, doctors and businesses in states with medical marijuana laws to participate in those programs without fear of prosecution.

March 9, 2015

Drug Policy Alliance

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Investor-State Proponents Need a Better Rebuttal to Senator Warren's Opposition

March 9, 2015 in Economics

By Daniel J. Ikenson

Daniel J. Ikenson

On nearly all matters of trade and investment, I am more likely to agree with Gary Hufbauer of the Peterson Institute for International Economics than with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. But Hufbauer’s attempted takedown of the substance of Warren’s argument against the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism comes up short. Hufbauer’s a smart guy and a straight-shooter, so the porousness of his ISDS defense should be seen as further validation of the critics’ concerns.

In full disclosure, like Warren, I have argued that ISDS should be jettisoned, finding the institution to be a subsidy to business that comes at the expense of domestic investment and the rule of law. But I have been waiting — indeed, almost expecting — to hear the definitive argument to prove me wrong, considering how confident proponents seem to be about, not only the propriety, but the necessity of ISDS to global trade and investment. After reading Hufbauer’s analysis (and some from CSIS, the Chamber, and the NAM, and hearing the views of four prominent pro-ISDS conferees at an event we hosted at the Cato Institute last year), I remain unaware of a comprehensive pro-ISDS argument that acknowledges and extinguishes the legitimate concerns raised about ISDS. The White House gave it a shot, but Simon Lester was unconvinced.

Hufbauer, like most other ISDS proponents, bases his argument on three rickety assertions: that ISDS has been around for a long time, so it must be necessary; that ISDS has protected U.S. investments overseas, so it must be sound; and, that the United States has never lost a case brought against it by a foreign investor, so those concerned about domestic sovereignty and democratic accountability are tilting at windmills. But what passes for the central tenets of this argument are that, so far, ISDS has worked to protect U.S. companies that invest abroad and, so far, no U.S. law, regulation, or policy has been found to violate investor’s rights.

Concerns about the ISDS system are legitimate and should be taken more seriously. Doing so will not kill the TPP.”

Now, take a step back and ask whether these rationales answer the concerns of ISDS skeptics. Perhaps they help neutralize some of the sensationalism surrounding the issue, but they plainly do not answer the serious indictments against ISDS: that it encourages outsourcing to the disadvantage of U.S. workers and communities; that it …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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How to Rate the New Congress

March 9, 2015 in Economics

By Richard W. Rahn


Richard W. Rahn

How would you measure congressional success? Even though the new Congress is only two months old, there has been much criticism of both the leadership and the members. The Republicans promised to reduce government spending, reform the tax code, and reduce the regulatory burden.

There are objective ways to measure whether they will have reduced government spending. Total government spending includes the amount state and local governments spend, some of it transfer payments from the federal government, money spent by the federal government on defense, interest, “entitlements,” including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and all other federal government programs. Despite most of the entitlements being labeled “mandatory spending,” in fact, Congress can alter these programs and thus can determine how much is spent on them. Interest payments on the debt are out of the direct control of Congress. The total amount of money that the government spends is not a particularly meaningful number. The more important number is government spending as percentage of gross domestic product.

In order to measure whether Congress is indeed reducing spending, it is important to establish the appropriate baseline.”

In order to measure whether Congress is indeed reducing spending, it is important to establish the appropriate baseline. In the enclosed table, I have taken total government spending minus the amount that state and local governments raise and spend on their own. I have also taken out net interest payments, and then provided two sets of figures, one including defense spending and one without it. The reason for separating it out is that defense is the primary function of the federal government, and the amount spent on defense should be what is necessary to protect the American people from external threats. The size and allocation of the defense budget is subject to endless debate. All other government spending should be subject to the following constraints: Is it constitutional? Do the benefits exceed the costs without restricting liberty? Finally, can the problem that the spending is supposed to cure be best done by the federal rather than some other level of government?

By the end of the Reagan administration in 1988, nondefense spending had been reduced to 11.9 percent of GDP. Remember, the Reagan administration had increased defense spending as part of its strategy to end the Cold War. As late as 1988, it was still running almost 6 percent of GDP (as contrasted with about 3.8 percent last year). …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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How to Fight for NSA Reform

March 9, 2015 in Economics

By Patrick G. Eddington

Patrick G. Eddington

The traditional civil-liberties advocacy model, in which nonprofit public-interest groups wage lobbying campaigns and file lawsuits in defense of the Bill of Rights, is facing its greatest challenge since the domestic-spying scandals of the 1970s.

The continued drumbeat of government officials’ terrorism-related fear mongering has largely succeeded in blocking any reforms to the NSA programs exposed by Edward Snowden. And this has happened despite relatively well-funded, and often innovative, campaigns by nonprofit organizations, old and new. The outcome of this struggle will determine whether the post-9/11 surveillance state will become merely an unpleasant memory or a permanent fact of life.

Simply stated, civil-liberties advocates are at a disadvantage because they are fighting on their opponents’ terms.”

The generation that won the Revolutionary War ensured that the new government was forbidden to engage in the kinds of warrantless searches and seizures that had sparked the rebellion in the first place. For over 170 years, that protection — embodied in the Fourth Amendment — acted as a shield against unreasonable government surveillance. That started to change in the 1960s and 1970s through a series of ill-considered federal court rulings. But those erosions were mild compared with the full-on assault that took place after 9/11, when Congress in haste and fear pushed through the PATRIOT Act and, several years later, the FISA Amendments Act.

Simply stated, civil-liberties advocates are at a disadvantage because they are fighting on their opponents’ terms. National-security bureaucrats feed politicians and the press a steady stream of untruths about the effectiveness and scope of these programs and the perils of allowing citizens to protect their private communications. These assaults on the Fourth Amendment are being fought every step of the way in Congress, the courts, and the press by a vast array of organizations and citizens, but the NSA’s mass-surveillance programs continue.

The executive branch’s fear-based campaign has caused a congressional paralysis that many argue can be overcome only by a countervailing, more intense, electorally focused campaign by citizen activists. Two competing measures proposed last year help highlight this reality.

As I’ve written elsewhere, those measures — the USA Freedom Act and the Massie-Lofgren amendment to the 2015 Defense Department spending bill — failed to become law. But whereas the USA Freedom Act was legislatively neutered in the House and failed even to clear a procedural hurdle in the Senate, the Massie-Lofgren …read more

Source: OP-EDS