Despite Citizens United, Congress will try to suppress speech by other organizations. Schumer-Van Hollen relies on aggressive disclosure requirements to deter speech they do not like. CEOs of corporations who fund ads will be required to say they “approve of the message” on camera at the end of the ad.
Citizens United upheld disclosure requirements, but it also vindicated freedom of speech. The two commitments may prove incompatible if Schumer-Van Hollen is enacted. This law uses aggressive mandated disclosure to discourage speech. We know that members of Congress believe this tactic could work. Sen. John McCain said during the debate over McCain-Feingold that forcing disclosure of who funded an ad will mean fewer such ads will appear. In other words: more disclosure, less speech. Just after Citizens United, law professor Laurence Tribe called for mandating aggressive disclosure requirements in order to “cut down to size” the impact of disfavored speech.
During the next few months the critics of Citizens United may well show beyond all doubt that the purpose of its disclosure requirements are to silence political speech. In evaluating the constitutionality of Shumer-Van Hollen, the Court could hardly overlook such professions of the purpose behind its disclosure requirements.
Paul Craig Roberts, an economist that worked in the Reagan Administration, says that the United States is a police state:
It appears that scientists may be taking another look at whether the world is actually warming or not.
The United Nations climate panel faces a new challenge with scientists casting doubt on its claim that global temperatures are rising inexorably because of human pollution.
In its last assessment the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said the evidence that the world was warming was “unequivocal”.
It warned that greenhouse gases had already heated the world by 0.7C and that there could be 5C-6C more warming by 2100, with devastating impacts on humanity and wildlife. However, new research, including work by British scientists, is casting doubt on such claims. Some even suggest the world may not be warming much at all.
“The temperature records cannot be relied on as indicators of global change,” said John Christy, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, a former lead author on the IPCC.
While the climate alarmists often say winter weather is not an indiction that global warming doesn’t exist, it’s hard to to convince people when they see stories about snow in 49 of 50 states. Here in Georgia, we’re bracing for another couple inches. We may get one good snow every few years. We’re not used to two systems in the same weekend.
It does seem that the climate alarmists face a believability problem. Just 35 years ago, they were telling us to brace for another cooling period. Notice now how they are changing how they phrase their message. It’s no longer “global warming,” it’s “climate change.”
Whatever it is, it looks like the collectivists will have to find another means to convey their message.
Generally, companies only hire more workers if they think demand for their products is going to increase, notes Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center of the Urban Institute.
A tax credit now might drive some hiring on the margins, says Williams. It might push companies that were thinking of taking on new worker to move more quickly than they might have otherwise.
“But the real winners will be firms who were going to hire anyway,” he says.
Exactly. If congressional leaders were serious about spuring employment, they should cut the corporate income tax, the USA has the second highest in the world, and scale back regulation that hampers business.
Economist Bruce Barlett is endorsing Rep. Paul Ryan’s proposal to curb the federal debt by, get this, cutting spending:
For a long time I have maintained that a significant tax increase will be necessary if we are to avoid the fate of Greece, which is in the midst of a fiscal meltdown. If the bankruptcy of a little country like that can cause world financial markets to tank, imagine what a potential U.S. bankruptcy would do to your 401(k).
Whenever I make this point people always complain that I haven’t considered the option of cutting spending. The reason I haven’t is that the magnitude of spending cuts that would be required to prevent the need for higher revenues would be politically impossible to achieve. We saw proof of this when Barack Obama proposed cutting Medicare spending by a small amount to fund health coverage for the uninsured, and the Republican Party’s official position was to oppose any cut for any reason. We saw more proof in how quickly Republican leaders distanced themselves from a detailed budget plan recently put forward by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee.
Ryan unveiled the latest version of his plan on Jan. 27 and, to his credit, even got the Congressional Budget Office to score it. According to the CBO, under the Ryan plan federal debt as a share of the gross domestic product (GDP) would rise from 61% this year to 100% in the year 2045 before falling to zero in 2080. Under the CBO’s baseline budget projection, debt would equal 270% of GDP in 2045 and 716% in 2080.
Over at the American Spectator, Doug Bandow notes that despite the complaining of many members of Congress and bureaucrats, only a fraction of the government was affected by the recent snowstorms:
In theory the government closure is costing all of us. Some 230,000 D.C. area employees stayed home, costing an estimated $300 million “in lost productivity per day,” according to federal officials. But is the shutdown really hurting the public?
Using the term “productivity” in the same sentence as “federal government” is a dubious exercise. No doubt, in the sense of performing a task efficiently, the Feds can be productive. Just watch how quickly and completely the IRS attempts to clean out the average taxpayer. That explains the joke about Washington’s preferred tax form of just two lines: “How much do you earn? Send it in.”
But government efficiency doesn’t mean productivity in a larger sense. That is, does government activity yield a better life for Americans? On net, the answer is no. The only problem with Snowmaggedon is that it has not affected the 85 percent of federal employees who work outside of the D.C. area.
If you believe the official estimates, the three day federal shut-down cost Americans nearly a billion dollars. But don’t worry. Although Snowmaggedon has been awful for those of us who live in the region, it likely has saved the American people billions of dollars by slowing down the waste of tax dollars and limiting the harm of regulations.
Now if we could only shut down Washington permanently.
This is how large we’ve allowed the federal government to get, and Bandow breaks down each department’s employment. While we joke around that “snowpocalypse” has brought Washington, DC to a stand still, it has barely slowed down the monster.
In case currently before the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, the Obama Administration is arguing that you have no expectation of privacy in any of your cell phone data:
Even though police are tapping into the locations of mobile phones thousands of times a year, the legal ground rules remain unclear, and federal privacy laws written a generation ago are ambiguous at best. On Friday, the first federal appeals court to consider the topic will hear oral arguments (PDF) in a case that could establish new standards for locating wireless devices.
In that case, the Obama administration has argued that warrantless tracking is permitted because Americans enjoy no “reasonable expectation of privacy” in their–or at least their cell phones’–whereabouts. U.S. Department of Justice lawyers say that “a customer’s Fourth Amendment rights are not violated when the phone company reveals to the government its own records” that show where a mobile device placed and received calls.
Those claims have alarmed the ACLU and other civil liberties groups, which have opposed the Justice Department’s request and plan to tell the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia that Americans’ privacy deserves more protection and judicial oversight than what the administration has proposed.
“This is a critical question for privacy in the 21st century,” says Kevin Bankston, an attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation who will be arguing on Friday. “If the courts do side with the government, that means that everywhere we go, in the real world and online, will be an open book to the government unprotected by the Fourth Amendment.”
As I await the Snowpocalypse to descend upon my small part of the Deep South, I come across this entry about a New York Times/CBS News poll that shows overwhelming support for repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The poll seemed innocent enough, asking participants a few questions about gays in the military and open service. In a test, those polling used different terminology for both halves of the respondents. One half were asked their opinion on permitting “gay men and lesbians” to serve, further asking about whether they should be allowed to serve openly, while the other half were asked were questioned about permitting “homosexuals” to serve, and whether that service should be allowed when they are open about their sexual orientation. The results are most certainly interesting:
The wording of the question proved to make a difference. Seven in 10 respondents said they favor allowing “gay men and lesbians” to serve in the military, including nearly 6 in 10 who said they should be allowed to serve openly. But support was somewhat lower among those who were asked about allowing “homosexuals” to serve, with 59 percent in favor, including 44 percent who support allowing them to serve openly.
Democrats in the poll seemed particularly swayed by the wording. Seventy-nine percent of Democrats said they support permitting gay men and lesbians to serve openly. Fewer Democrats however, just 43 percent, said they were in favor of allowing homosexuals to serve openly. Republicans and independents varied less between the two terms.
From Politico comes an overview of First Lady Michelle Obama’s counter-obesity plan:
The first lady is undeterred and describes childhood obesity as an “imminently solvable” problem. Her ambitious plan is designed to improve the nutritional quality of school meals, get children to exercise more, provide healthier, affordable food to rural areas and the inner city and help people make healthier choices.
While there’s alot of good-intention government intervention going on here, of the sort that creates new problems for each one it “solves,” there’s one aspect here that is a common sense proposal.
I went to public schools for the duration of my upbringing. I can say from personal experience that the choice of food is deplorable. It never made any sense why the Seattle Public School District’s exclusive contract with Coca-Cola Corp. resulted in an abundance of soda machines with the closest “healthy” option being the sport drink Powerade. Pressure on companies to put healthier options (which a trip to their corporate website will show are available) in public schools is not unreasonable intrusion. After all, those companies are there with the consent of a public institution.
Over at Reason, Peter Suderman hammers Republicans for pandering on Medicare during the health care “reform” debate:
Congressman Paul Ryan’s Roadmap for America’s Future—his sweeping entitlement and budget proposal—would cut Medicare. It would cut Medicare by a lot—more, as Paul Krugman notes, than even ObamaCare would cut it. Indeed, that’s exactly the point, and the virtue of the proposal: In its current form, Medicare is unsustainable. Unlike ObamaCare, Ryan’s proposal would fix that. And unlike ObamaCare, it would not plow funds generated from those cuts back into propping-up and expanding a failing, third-party-payer, employer-provided insurance system that pretty much everyone dislikes. But yes, it would cut Medicare significantly.
That’s a good thing, except that the Republican party is going to have a tough time fully embracing it. The problem is that by using opposition to Medicare cuts to build opposition to ObamaCare, the GOP has rendered itself unale to seriously deal with the program’s long-term problems.