America’s “infrastructure crisis” is an argument for decentralization rather than a bigger federal government

Michael Strain of the American Enterprise Institute looks at the topic of infrastructure spending and I’m left with mixed feelings.

Some of what he writes is very good.

Yes, the claims of an “infrastructure crisis” by President Obama, many liberals…are exaggerated. …yes, existing laws and regulations turn infrastructure projects into boondoggles that take an order of magnitude longer to complete than necessary and cost more than they should.

Amen, particularly with regard to the absurd notion that America is suffering some sort of crisis. The International Institute for Management Development in Switzerland, publisher of the World Competitiveness Yearbookputs the United States in first place when ranking nations on the quality of infrastructure.

Moreover, the just-released Global Competitiveness Report from the World Economic Forum puts the United States in 12th place for infrastructure, which also is a rather high score (if you want to know where the United States does lag, we’re in 73rd place for wastefulness of government spending, 82nd place for burden of government regulation, and 102nd place for the total tax rate on profits).

Well, this is unconstitutional: Senate Democrats want to go after corporations that have left the U.S. over the last 20 years

Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution explicitly prohibits ex post facto laws, those that are passed and signed to outlaw some sort of activity after the fact. But don’t tell that to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY). He may soon introduce legislation that would penalize companies that moved their headquarters overseas because the United States’ unfriendly tax climate, reaching as far back as 1994:

A top Senate Democrat’s proposal to limit future deductions for companies that moved tax addresses out of the U.S. as many as 20 years ago would penalize dozens of so-called inversion deals.

The proposal by Charles Schumer of New York, the No. 3 leader in the Senate’s Democratic majority, would reduce the amount of deductible interest for inverted companies to 25 percent of U.S. taxable income from 50 percent, according to a draft obtained by Bloomberg News.

President Barack Obama has included a similar provision in his annual budgets, and this is the first time the language made it into a legislative proposal, Robert Willens, a New York-based independent consultant on corporate taxes, said by phone yesterday.

“It would have a very profound and immediate effect on these companies and would be very effective at reducing the attractiveness of inversions,” Willens said. “This is certainly a political statement.”

Barack Obama punts on immigration until after the election to help vulnerable Senate Democrats

Make no mistake about it. President Barack Obama’s decision to delay an executive order on immigration has nothing to do with Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) recent statement that immigration reform could happen next year, with a new Congress and, possibly, a Republican Senate. It has everything to do with the mid-term election and concerns of vulnerable Senate Democrats, who have urged the White House to delay action:

Abandoning his pledge to act by the end of summer, President Barack Obama has decided to delay any executive action on immigration until after the November congressional elections, White House officials said.

The move is certain to infuriate immigration advocates while offering relief to some vulnerable Democrats in tough Senate re-election contests.

Two White House officials said Obama concluded that circumventing Congress through executive actions on immigration during the campaign would politicize the issue and hurt future efforts to pass a broad overhaul.
[…]
The officials said Obama had no specific timeline to act, but that he still would take his executive steps before the end of the year.

The last two paragraphs in the excerpt above are contradictory. President Obama realizes that an executive order would make it difficult to pass immigration reform in his remaining two years. But he still plans to do something before the end of the year, anyway. That doesn’t make any sense.

When America’s interests are threatened, it must act: Non-interventionism is not pacifism, and sometimes you have to hit back

The mainstream media is all atwitter this week about how the new breed of Republican doves is already turning back to their old hawkish ways in the face of new global threats. I’m not sure if this is a not-so-subtle attempt to paint non-interventionism as unsustainable, or if conventional wisdom is just that ignorant about what non-interventionism actually is.

So let’s set the record straight once and for all. Non-interventionism is not pacificism. When American interests are threatened or Americans are killed, non-interventionists are right to demand action, and that doesn’t make them no longer non-interventionists.

Robert Costa and Sebastian Payne at the Washington Post provide good reporting on a faulty premise in their “Rise of Islamic State tests GOP anti-interventionists.” Naturally, Hawk-in-Chief John McCain is using this piece to mock Rand Paul and others via subtweet.

Republicans who whine about unconstitutional power grabs are going to let Obama go to war without congressional authorization

Back in July, before members adjourned for its summer recess, the House of Representatives passed a Republican-backed resolution authorizing Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to file a lawsuit against President Barack Obama over his abuses of executive power.

The lawsuit is largely viewed as an alternative to impeachment and could be used to inform Americans on what the administration is going to get around Congress as well as its failure to enforce laws as they’re written. In an op-ed at CNN, Boehner defended the coming lawsuit amid criticism from White House and Democrats and expressed disappointment at President Obama’s “flippant dismissal of the Constitution.”

Unfortunately, it looks like Republican leaders aren’t going to take a similar stand for the Constitution, which puts the question of war solely in the hands of Congress. The Daily Beast reports that the legislative branch may cede its power to the White House by allowing President Obama to use military force against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) without congressional authorization:

Another Brutally Disturbing Example of Government-Run Healthcare from the United Kingdom

Obama can’t say he wasn’t warned: Oh, look, the federal Obamacare exchange website was hacked in July

It may not be as headline grabbing as nude photos of celebrities that were lifted from Apple’s iCloud service, but a breach of Healthcare.gov, the federal Obamacare exchange, brings serious concerns about the security of the system as the Obama administration approaches the next open enrollment period.

The New York Times reports that, in July, hackers uploaded malware to a test server, one connected to Healthcare.gov, though they didn’t steal any information belonging to consumers:

The administration informed Congress of the violation, which it described as “an intrusion on a test server” supporting the website.

“Our review indicates that the server did not contain consumer personal information, data was not transmitted outside the agency and the website was not specifically targeted,” said Aaron Albright, a spokesman at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which runs the website. “We have taken measures to further strengthen security.”

Mr. Albright said the hacking was made possible by several security weaknesses. The test server should not have been connected to the Internet, he said, and it came from the manufacturer with a default password that had not been changed.

In addition, he said, the server was not subject to regular security scans as it should have been.

Keep the Internet tax-free: Conservatives urge the Senate to permanently extend the Internet tax moratorium

A coalition of more than 40 conservative and libertarian organizations and entities have written a letter to members of the United States Senate urging them to pass S. 1431, the Internet Tax Freedom Forever Act, a measure sponsored by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and John Thune (R-SD) that would permanent extend the tax moratorium on Internet access.

In July, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3086, the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act, to ensure that access to the Internet will never be subject to local, state, and/or federal taxes. Unfortunately, the measure has been stalled in the Senate, where some members, including Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), are trying to attach the so-called “Marketplace Fairness Act” to it.

The Marketplace Fairness Act is, basically, the Internet sales tax. The legislation, backed by brick-and-mortar retailers, would allow states to tax Internet purchases from businesses without a physical presence within their borders. Needless to say, attaching this measure to another one that promotes tax freedom makes no sense. But, well, we’re talking about Washington.

The coalition* — which includes Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, Phil Kerpen of American Commitment, and Norman Singleton of Campaign for Liberty — urges senators to pass a clean version of the Internet tax moratorium.

IRS inappropriately asked for conservative groups’ donor lists for a so-called “secret research project”

There’s a long-standing legal precedent that prevents the federal government from accessing information that belongs to private organizations. In 1958, the Supreme Court, ruled that the State of Alabama violated the rights of NAACP members when it demanded information from the civil rights organization, including its membership list.

“Effective advocacy of both public and private points of view, particularly controversial ones, is undeniably enhanced by group association,” wrote Justice John Harlan in the unanimous opinion. “It is beyond debate that freedom to engage in association for the advancement of beliefs and ideas is an inseparable aspect of the ‘liberty’ assured by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which embraces freedom of speech.”

The Internal Revenue Service, however, doesn’t care. Or, at the very least, the powerful tax agency didn’t care when it was scrutinizing nonprofit organizations, the bulk of which had conservative leanings. Judicial Watch has obtained emails through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed in October 2013 in which IRS officials say that donor lists were needed for a unexplained “secret research project”:

Stuck in the Senate: House-passed government funding measures stalled by Harry Reid

“One of my great frustrations with Congress is the chaos,” said Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) before members of the Carrollton Rotary Club on August 27. “I think we need a change in Washington, D.C., but when you get there you realize why there is so much inertia and how hard it is to change things when you get there.”

During the speech, Rep. Massie highlighted his frustration with the Senate’s lack of enthusiasm for going over the appropriation bills the House has passed so they may pass it before Congress hits the September 30th deadline. According to Massie, the Senate won’t review any of the nine bills that have passed so far:

“They’re not planning on passing any of them in the Senate. They are planning on doing one bill continuing resolution.”

While the House has spent the summer ensuring the bills funding the government for the new fiscal year are passed, Senate members have been reluctant to go over the specifics. The difference between passing several bills and one major bill, Massie explained, is that a continuing resolution will be their last shot at keeping the government functioning once they run out of time, putting the decision in the hands of four people, instead of the whole congressional body.

 


The views and opinions expressed by individual authors are not necessarily those of other authors, advertisers, developers or editors at United Liberty.