Today in Liberty: Amash wants to avoid debt ceiling theater, anti-NSA bill moves in Arizona

“What is ominous is the ease with which some people go from saying that they don’t like something to saying that the government should forbid it. When you go down that road, don’t expect freedom to survive very long.” — Thomas Sowell

— Conservatives urge Boehner forego “theater” on debt ceiling: Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI) and Raul Labrador (R-ID), two of the most conservative members of the House, are urging Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) avoid political theater and pass a clean debt ceiling rather than delay the inevitable. “Our constituents are fed up with the political theater. If we’re not going to fight for something specific, we might as well let the Democrats own it,” said Labrador. Amash was more resigned to the ends of a showdown, saying, “It’s going to end up being clean anyway.”

— Oh, Chris Matthews, you are such a pitiful person: The MSNBC host says that complaining about President Obama’s use of executive power and lawlessness is “second-term birtherism.” Make fun of birthers all you want, we don’t mind. But the constitutional limits on the executive and separation of powers is not something that should be so easily tossed aside. No word on whether Matthews still gets a thrill up his leg when he hears Obama speak.

— Rand Paul on CBO report: Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) talked with Wolf Blitzer on CNN’s The Situation Room yesterday about the CBO’s budget report and how Obamacare is taking away freedom of choice away from Americans. “If you look dollar for dollar and you say you spend more on health care, we’ll be healthier, there are some preventive illnesses, but it’s not dollar for dollar, and often, it isn’t even correlated, to tell you the truth. Healthier behavior causes healthier people but not necessarily spending more on health care,” Paul told Blitzer. “But really, we’re missing the real point. The real point is is that Obamacare is going to cost two million fewer people to have jobs. The huge advance and increase in our debt also costs us another million, and really, we need the opposite. We need millions of new jobs created. Instead, what we’re seeing is an Obama economy with 20 million people really searching for work.”

— Majority disapprove of Obamacare: The latest Gallup poll shows that 51% of Americans disapprove of Obamacare, while 41% approve of the law. The poll also found that 37% believe that the law will hurt their family in the long-run. Just 24% said that it’ll help them.

— Entitlement, mandatory spending driving deficits: James Pethokoukis noticed this chart in the CBO’s budget outlook report. The chart measures spending and revenues in the past (1974), present day (2014), and the future (2024). While many people like to focus on discretionary spending, it’s actually fallen from 9.3% of GDP in 1974 to 6.9% this year. The CBO anticipates, based on current law, that discretionary spending will drop to 5.2% of GDP in 2024. The real drivers of federal spending, however, are entitlements and other mandatory spending (ie. debt service). These programs have grown from 7.4% of GDP in 1974 to 12.2% in 2014. All mandatory spending is expected to rise to 13.9% of GDP in 2024. Notice tax revenue part of the chart. We don’t have a tax problem, folks.

 Spending and Revenues (1974, 2014, 2024)

— European-style environmental policies would hit consumers: This isn’t something you didn’t already know, but a new study from the Manhattan Institute estimates that Americans would see their energy rates increase by 29% if the United States adopted the European-style environmental policies desired by radical environmentalists.

— Best talking of point of 2014: Shane Osborn, one of the Republicans candidates running for Nebraska’s open Senate, isn’t too worried about the prospect of going toe-to-toe with Majority Leader Harry Reid. Nope. Osborn, who was held captive by the Chinese for 12 days in 2001, says that if he “can stand up to interrogations by the Chinese,” then he “can certainly handle Harry Reid in Washington, D.C.”

— House Republicans target Obamacare’s insurance bailout provision: The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing today on the “risk corridors” provision in Obamacare, which would, basically, provide insurers with a taxpayer-backed bailout if not enough young and health people enroll on the exchanges. Politico has more detail this morning on the GOP’s focus on this and how Democrats are going to respond to the criticism. Insurers, by the way, are losing their minds over threats to the provision.

— Congress not exempted from NSA snooping: While they may be avoiding some of the pain of Obamacare, a Justice Department official told Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) that members of Congress and their staffers are “probably” caught up in the NSA’s domestic spying program. That same official, however, wouldn’t say whether President Obama’s phone metadata is being collected.

— Government workers lobby for unions on taxpayer dime: That’s right, folks. Based on numbers compiled by the Washington Examiner, in 2011, government workers spent 3.4 million hours, at a cost of $155.6 million, to perform various union duties, including lobbying Congress.

— Cato rolls out minimum wage research hub: With President Obama’s foolish push for a minimum wage increase, the Cato Institute has decided to put all of its resources on the issue into a central location. The think tank calls it a “one-stop-shop for minimum wage research.”

—  Little victories for civil liberties matter: That’s what a federal judge ruled in striking down an Ellisville, Missouri law that discouraged the practice of alerting other drivers of a police presence. “The chilling effect of Ellisville’s policy and custom of having its police officers pull over, detain, and cite individuals who are perceived as having communicated to oncoming traffic by flashing their headlamps and then prosecuting and imposing fines upon those individuals remains, regardless of the limited special order,” wrote Judge Henry Autrey. “As the other preliminary injunction factors are presumed when a likelihood of success on a First Amendment claim is shown, the Court will issue a preliminary injunction.”

— Arizona Senate committee moves anti-NSA bill: On Monday, the Arizona Senate Government and Environment Committee passed a measure, the Fourth Amendment Protection Act, that would prohibit state and local agencies, including utility providers, from providing the NSA with any material support. The first-of-its-kind legislation was introduced by state Sen. Kelli Ward (R-Lake Havasu City). Eleven other state legislatures have seen similar measures introduced. All of the proposals are based on model legislation written by the OffNow coalition.

— Internment could happen again, says Scalia: No, Antonin Scalia doesn’t support internment. He says the Supreme Court’s decision in Korematsu v. United States (1944), which sanctioned FDR’s policy of internment, was wrong. But the Reagan-appointed Supreme Court Justice warns that it could happen again. “That’s what was going on — the panic about the war and the invasion of the Pacific and whatnot,” said Scalia. “That’s what happens. It was wrong, but I would not be surprised to see it happen again, in time of war. It’s no justification, but it is the reality.”

Reason’s Nanny of the Month: Reason had plenty of choices for its “Nanny of the Month,” but only one can be chosen. This month’s dishonor goes to Peter Rustin, mayor of Tenafly, New Jersey. Rustin decided pull of his best impression of Mr. Grinch by ordering a family to remove their holiday decorations on Christmas Eve. Because nanny statists never rest, apparently, even at Christmas.

House of Cards renewed for  third season: Yeah, this has nothing to do with liberty, but we’re pretty big fans of House of Cards (though The West Wing was better) and we’re also pretty excited that Netflix has renewed the show a third season.

— There shall be birthdays: Happy birthday to Matthew Hurtt, a DC-based liberty activist; Will Upton, state affairs manager at Americans for Tax Reform; and Randy Barnett, a constitutional law scholar known for his efforts fighting Obamacare.

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