Today in Liberty: Obamacare’s missing Millennials, data review urges privacy law reform

“The strongest continuous thread in America’s political tradition is skepticism about government.” — George Will

— Just 28 percent of Obamacare enrollees are Millennials: The Obama administration finished first Obamacare open enrollment period far short of its target for 18 to 34-year-olds. The administration estimated that it needed between 38 to 40 percent of enrollments to be from Millennials for the risk pools to be sustainable. It got 28 percent. “The administration is still touting 8 million sign-ups—technically 8.019 million—when the official open enrollment period of October 2013 through March 2014 is combined with stragglers who came in during the special enrollment period through April 19,” Peter Suderman explains, based on the latest figures. “It’s still the case that just 28 percent of those sign-ups were between the ages of 18 and 34, far short of the administration’s target of 39 percent. State-by-state variation remains significant, with some states seeing robust sign-up activity and others posting relatively weak numbers.”

— 288,000 jobs added in April: The Obama administration has finally got some good news on the jobs front. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning that 288,000 jobs were added in April, above expectations, and the unemployment rate fell from 6.7 percent to 6.3 percent. Recent reports had been underwhelming. This one, however, is the best news the administration has had in some time. But — and, yes, there’s always a “but” — the labor participation rate, the measure of Americans working and actively seeking employment, actually fell back to a 35-year low, to 62.8 percent. For those wondering, the drop in the unemployment rate is directly related to the drop in the labor participation rate.

— Time for tougher privacy laws: The White House released its review of big data, which includes a call by the officials involved in the effort to update privacy laws. “The White House closed its so-called ‘big data’ review Thursday, including in its findings a set of recommendations for policies to protect individuals,” Politico reports. “Those suggestions include passing national legislation on responding to data breaches, and a fresh call for baseline consumer privacy legislation the White House first recommended in 2012.” Included in the recommendations is a call to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, a 1986 law that is, obviously, incredibly out of date. “Everyone who cares about their privacy should be glad that the president’s review group recommends updating ECPA to protect Americans’ communications,” said ACLU Legislative Counsel Christopher Calabrese. “By recognizing that online and offline communications should be treated the same, the report lays the groundwork for keeping everyone’s emails, texts, and photos private and secure. Now Congress and the administration need to make this vision a reality by enacting ECPA reform without any loopholes.”

— Tech companies buck the administration: They’re no longer going to hide communication and email requests made by the federal government from users. “Major U.S. technology companies have largely ended the practice of quietly complying with investigators’ demands for e-mail records and other online data, saying that users have a right to know in advance when their information is targeted for government seizure,” the Washington Post reports. “Fueling the shift is the industry’s eagerness to distance itself from the government after last year’s disclosures about National Security Agency surveillance of online services. Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Google all are updating their policies to expand routine notification of users about government data seizures, unless specifically gagged by a judge or other legal authority, officials at all four companies said. Yahoo announced similar changes in July.”

— George Will on the IRS and civil forfeiture law: Don’t forget that the IRS’s heavy hand isn’t limited to its targeting of conservative groups. The powerful tax agency’s abuse of its authority extends to asset forfeiture. George Will offers some background on the story of Terry Dehko and his daughter, Sandy Thomas. Dehko bought a store has been running it for nearly 45 years. That’s apparently where he went wrong. “The Internal Revenue Service, a tentacle of a government that spent $3.5 trillion in 2013, tried to steal more than $35,000 from Terry and Sandy that year,” George Will writes. “Sandy, a mother of four, has a master’s degree in urban planning but has worked in the store off and on since she was 12. She remembers, ‘They just walked into the store’ and announced that they had emptied the store’s bank account. The IRS agents believed, or pretended to believe, that Terry and Sandy were or conceivably could be — which is sufficient for the IRS — conducting a criminal enterprise when not selling groceries.” Why? Apparently, the cash deposits made to the store’s account caught the attention of the IRS, which used a secret warrant to access the money. They were eventually cleared of wrong-doing, but they’ve filed suit through the Institute for Justice to stop this sort of action against innocent Americans.

— How the GOP can win: Heritage Action CEO Michael Needham explains that one way the Republican Party can make in-roads with voters is by running on anti-cronyism platform. “Conservatives must put forward an anti-cronyism, anti-corporate welfare agenda that uplifts all Americans, not just the elites. Such an agenda would resonate with Americans’ deep-seated frustration with Washington, which is a well-oiled machine for those powerful enough to hire an army of lobbyists to descend on lawmakers, staff and bureaucrats,” Needham explained in a column at FoxNews.com. “Most importantly, they should commit to the elimination of the Export-Import Bank which then-Senator Obama called a ‘fund for corporate welfare’ in 2008. By standing up to the Chamber of Commerce, Boeing and a host of Wall Street interests that profit from the taxpayer-backed bank, the Republican Party can credibly tell the American people they are fighting to end corporate welfare.”

— Sigh. Earmarks. STAAAAHP: The Washington political establishment is once again talking about reviving the pernicious practice of earmarks, specific line-item spending for the politically-connected. The Washington Examiner’s editorial board has responded to some of the calls to renew the corrupt practice some, including Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY), Sens. Thad Cochran (R-MS), and Dick Durbin (D-IL). “[The] sudden spate of renewed earmark enthusiasm has sparked Coburn to join with Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., to challenge their colleagues to redouble their support of the earmark ban,” the Examiner’s editorial board writes. “That such a challenge is necessary helps explain why Congress has a single-digit public approval rating.”

— Jeb Bush gets involved in North Carolina Senate primary: Jeb Bush, one of many potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates, has endorsed state House Speaker Thom Tillis in the U.S. Senate primary in North Carolina. “Thom Tillis is a proven conservative leader with an impressive track record of results for North Carolina businesses and families,” Bush said, according to the Washington Examiner. “His work on key issues like improving education, keeping taxes low and eliminating burdensome regulations is a testament to his leadership as North Carolina’s House Speaker,” adding that the “road to a [Senate] majority runs through Thom Tillis.” Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) will campaign for Greg Brannon, Tillis’ top opponent, on Monday.

— House committee to look at college football unions: The House Education and Workforce Committee will hold a hearing next week on the recent court decision allowing Northwestern University’s football team to union. “The NLRB’s decision represents a radical departure from longstanding federal labor policies,” said Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN). “Classifying student athletes as employees threatens to fundamentally alter college sports, as well as reduce education access and opportunity. The committee has a responsibility to thoroughly examine how the NLRB’s decision will affect students and their ability to receive a quality education.” The hearing week be held on Thursday, May 8 at 10 am in room 2175 Rayburn House Office Building.

— Get ready for LPAC 2014: Campaign for Liberty has announced the date and location of LPAC 2014. “This year’s event will be held at the Hilton Mark Center in Alexandria, Virginia, on September 18-20, and event planners are working hard to make this the biggest and best LPAC yet!” says Campaign for Liberty, an organization founded by Ron Paul. “You can obtain tickets to all three days of General Session events for only $89 for now, but those tickets will return to $139 once our Early Bird rate ends.”

Other items we’re reading this morning:

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